Getty Images

PL Preview: Liverpool vs. Southampton

Leave a comment
  • Southampton has not scored a PL goal vs. Liverpool since 2016, a run of 4 games
  • Liverpool has never won its first 7 matches in a season in club history
  • Southampton has not won vs. any of last season’s PL top 6 teams in 24 games

Liverpool finally showed a weakness. Liverpool was finally human.

Until they weren’t.

When the Reds toppled Paris Saint-Germain in the 91st minute on Tuesday, it struck fear into the hearts of the rest of Europe. Can anyone actually stop this whirring machine? Sure, you might score some goals against Liverpool, but can you score enough?

[ WATCH LIVE: Liverpool vs. Southampton on NBCSports.com ]

Southampton visits Anfield hoping to avoid becoming Liverpool’s next victim Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com. The Saints have been a mixed bag so far this season, but coughing up a 2-0 lead at home to Brighton last weekend was a less than ideal way to send the team off to Anfield. Not only that, but they’ll have to match the Reds without top scorer Danny Ings, who is ineligible to play against his parent club.

That thrusts strike partner Shane Long into a solo role, or forces Mark Hughes to bring on the misfiring Manolo Gabbiadini to pair with Long, although the Italian is struggling with a hamstring injury himself and will require a late fitness test to make the squad. Either way, it appears a daunting task for the visitors to Merseyside.

For the Reds, Roberto Firmino is fully healthy, having recovered completely from his eye injury suffered last weekend against Tottenham. Adam LallanaDivock Origi, and Dominic Solanke are all out injured but otherwise the squad is nearly complete. Only Dejan Lovren remains on the sidelines, but even the Croatian is nearing a return from his pelvic injury.

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on playing at home: “Are we ready to create the best atmosphere of all games? That would be cool. We need to show Southampton how difficult it is to come to Anfield.”

Southampton manager Mark Hughes on playing Liverpool: “It’s a game that is going to test us because the team we are facing looks on top of their form in terms of individuals and the collective functioning really well.”

Prediction

Southampton has looked promising this season in spurts, but this isn’t the game where they put it all together. Liverpool is a nearly unstoppable force at home, and there’s no reason that should change. The only concerning bit of information for Liverpool heading into this match is last season’s record following Champions League games, when they won just once while losing once and drawing four, but this year has proven Liverpool has a new gear. The Reds will win 3-1, with things shaky for some time down the stretch until a late insurance goal puts the game away.

Sterling pulls out of England squad with back injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

England will be without winger Raheem Sterling as they take on Spain and Switzerland this weekend after the 23-year-old pulled out of international duty with a back injury.

Sterling has been a permanent fixture in the England squad since the 2014 World Cup, but has had this issue before. Sterling missed friendlies against Germany and Brazil last November with a back problem.

[ MORE: PL grades through 4 weeks ]

The news is particularly frightening for Manchester City, who is already without Kevin De Bruyne for an extended period of time, and have a few other injuries piling up. There is no word on how serious the injury is, or when it happened.

Sterling has been an important part of Gareth Southgate‘s England setup, but also has scored just four goals in 44 international appearances and has not hit the back of the net since October of 2015.

England will not replace Sterling in the squad, meaning players like Dele Alli will be in a more attacking role, while Adam Lallana could make his first start for England since June of last year. Still, they suddenly have a lack of wide players in the bunch. Without Sterling, Southgate has 22 players in his squad.

Henderson signs new long-term Liverpool deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jordan Henderson is sticking around at Liverpool.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The Liverpool skipper, 28, has signed a new long-term deal at Anfield, with the England international a mainstay in the team since he arrived from Sunderland in the summer of 2011.

Speaking about his new contract, Henderson revealed his delight at extending his stay as Jurgen Klopp‘s skipper.

“I’m very happy to have signed a new contract for a long period of time. I’m absolutely delighted,” Henderson said. “It doesn’t seem like too long ago when I signed my first one – it feels like yesterday, really – but a lot has happened since then. I feel it’s been a progressive journey for me throughout my time here and one I’ve enjoyed so much.

“There is no other place in the world I would rather play football. I want to be here for as long as I can be. I’m so privileged to have been a part of this club for so long, and hopefully even longer now.”

Henderson has improved during his seven years at Liverpool and is a regular for Gareth Southgate‘s England in central midfield.

When he signed for Liverpool he was supposed to be the replacement for Steven Gerrard but his role has developed into a more defensive one in recent years. His range of passing has always been impressive and his high levels of energy is perfect to spark Klopp’s pressing style from midfield.

Henderson doesn’t often get the praise he deserves but he does a lot of the dirty work for Liverpool and England.

Injuries have hampered his career at key times but he’s still made 283 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 24 goals.

This season could well be his toughest challenge yet to nail down a regular spot in the starting lineup with James Milner, Adam Lallana, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, when he returns from injury, as his competitors for a role in central midfield.

Henderson’s reliability in the engine room made this new deal a no brainer for Liverpool to set up.

Celtic extend Old Firm streak with win over Gerrard’s Rangers

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Steven Gerrard‘s first taste of the Old Firm Derby is quite sour.

Rangers were well-drilled in its visit to Celtic Park on Sunday, but Olivier Ntcham‘s 62nd minute goal extended Celtic’s unbeaten derby run into an eighth season.

[ MORE: Serie A: Cristiano Ronaldo still scoreless, but Juventus still perfect ]

The match was full of fouls, hard tackles, and struck cross bars, as both teams threatened the goal but Celtic controlled play.

The win moves Celtic to 3-1 on the season, three points back of leaders Hearts. Rangers are now seven points back of first.

Ntcham is a former Man City player, and capped off a tremendous counter attack to put Celtic in front. Tom Rogic started the play on the edge of the Celtic area, and both Odsonne Edouard and James Forrest played parts in setting up Ntcham.

Ryan Christie dove to win a free kick from Connor Goldson on the edge of the 18, but Allan McGregor made an outstanding save to deny Chris Griffith’s solid effort.

Shaw, Gomez, McCarthy in latest England squad

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gareth Southgate has called his first England roster since this summer’s successful World Cup run, with a few changes to the pack.

Manchester United left back Luke Shaw has earned his long-sought Three Lions recall, while Alex McCarthy of Southampton is the lone uncapped player on the 23-man list.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

James Tarkowski of Burnley is in the fold, taking the place of retired Gary Cahill. Manchester United’s Ashley Young and Phil Jones are absent, with Liverpool’s Joe Gomez among the defenders.

Southgate also had this very interesting quote regarding the challenges of an deeply international Premier League:

“I can’t rule out players in the Championship now as our pool is getting smaller and smaller.”

A wink to Jack Grealish or Nick Powell, perhaps, as well as an explanation for the inclusion of Stoke backstop Jack Butland.

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jordan Pickford (Everton).

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United),  Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).