How will Liverpool, Man United line up?

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Bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester United lock horns on Sunday at Anfield (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) but both have plenty of injuries to contend with.

[ MORE: Mourinho: “Job done” in UCL ]

United and Jose Mourinho could have up to nine regulars missing as Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling struggle with knocks, while Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool are sweating on the fitness of Trent Alexander-Arnold after losing center backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip over the last week.

Both Liverpool and United play in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, with the Reds battling to a hard-fought win against Napoli at home and a much-changed United losing 2-1 at Valencia.

It is likely that Klopp could bring in the likes of Fabinho, Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri for this game but given the fact that Liverpool are top of the table, and the magnitude of this game against their fierce rivals, he will likely stick with his best possible XI.

Here’s a look at a possible starting lineup for both teams on Sunday, as Liverpool aim to remain top of the table and United will try to play the role of spoilers.


LIVERPOOL

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Lovren — Van Dijk — Robertson —

—- Wijnaldum —- Henderson —- Milner —-

—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-


MANCHESTER UNITED

—– De Gea —–

— Valencia — Bailly — Smalling — Young —

—- Matic —- Herrera —-

—- Lingard —- Mata —- Rashford —-

—– Lukaku —–


Five things we learned from midweek PL

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Before we start with the specifics, we learned that the midweek games were crazy in the Premier League.

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For the first matchday since 2010 all 20 teams scored, as there were upsets, goals galore, huge mistakes and plenty of talking points.

Lets dig in on five specific things we learned from what occurred over the past 48 hours.


1. Gutsy Liverpool prove the strength of their squad
Trailing at Burnley in the second half, this was a huge test of Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool. They passed with flying colors. Klopp left Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino out of his starting lineup and it looked like they could pay the price. But Salah and Firmino came on in the second half after James Milner pulled Liverpool level and the rest is history. Alisson made a fine save late on to keep the score at 2-1 and Xherdan Shaqiri finished plucky Burnley off. Klopp hit out at Burnley’s rough tactics after the game as Joe Gomez suffered a lower leg fracture in the first half, and it was a gruelling test to win at Burnley even if the Clarets are nowhere near the team they were last season. Shaqiri, Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, Naby Keita and others stepped up to help Liverpool get the job done as they sit two points behind leaders Manchester City heading into the busy festive period. Liverpool’s squad this season is so much stronger than last year and they have considerable, and game-changing, options on the bench each game.


2. Man United’s defensive issues likely to cost them top four spot
Jose Mourinho wanted two new center backs in the summer and he didn’t get them. At every opportunity Manchester United’s manager is reminding Ed Woodward what a monumental mistake he made for not releasing the funds for United to buy new defenders. Then again, Mourinho did want Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof to join United… Before the game against Arsenal he said he had no center backs fit. He played three of them in Bailly, Smalling and Rojo on Wednesday. Individuals aside, the 2-2 draw with Arsenal underlined the good and the bad about United. The good: they have a wealth of attacking options who are actually scoring goals and creating opponents problems. The bad: they can’t defend for toffee. That is very unlike a Mourinho team. David De Gea‘s blunder and an own goal from Marcos Rojo gifted Arsenal two goals at Old Trafford and Mourinho lambasted the defensive play of his side. If they’re going to reach the top four this season at all (not just by Mourinho’s previous prediction of early January) they will have to shore things up defensively. As bad as United have been this season, and leaving the Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku situation to one side, they are only eight points off the top four. But they do have the sixth-worst defensive record and also have a negative goal difference. That says it all.


3. Chelsea’s title charge may already be over
The way Chelsea folded at newly-promoted Wolves on Wednesday suggests they are nowhere near ready for a title push. Maurizio Sarri said he is “very worried” after watching his side surrender a 1-0 lead as they were pushed over and roughed up by a hungry, out-of-form, Wolves to lose 2-1. Chelsea’s tremendous early-season form relied heavily on Eden Hazard and the Belgian has been off the boil in recent weeks. He hasn’t scored since early October and unlike Liverpool, those who Sarri brought into the team at Wolves struggled. Alvaro Morata had another off day, Cesc Fabregas was overpowered and Andreas Christensen was hardly rock solid. 10 points behind Man City who they face on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, it is fair to say Chelsea’s title bid is pretty much over before it ever began.


4. Hasenhuettl has plenty of defensive work to do too
Southampton’s new manager Ralph Hasenhuettl met the media on Thursday and he has quite the way with words. He also knows the one area where he needs to improve the team immediately: defense. It is often cliche to say a manager ‘needs to sort the defense out’ when he first comes in midseason, but this is so very true in this case. Saints lost 3-1 at Tottenham and trailed 3-0 early in the second half before Spurs stopped playing. Hasenhuettl has a bloated squad at Saints and the likes of Yoshida, Stephens, Vestergaard, Bednarek and Hoedt have all been used this season without finding a successful combination. Sorting out their backline is the main issue for Hasenhuettl early on as Saints have let in seven goals in their last three games in the PL, although they have scored five in that period. Going forward they have weapons to hurt their opponents but building a solid foundation is key. Then, and only then, will Hasenhuettl be able to promote his 4-2-2-2 formation which relies on high-pressing and relentless running. Southampton will be hoping Hasenhuettl has the same impact as the last manager they brought in midseason, Mauricio Pochettino back in January 2013.


5. Fulham improving slowly under Claudio Ranieri
Even though they coughed up a late goal at home against Leicester, the signs are good for Fulham under Claudio Ranieri. Fulham led the Foxes 1-0 and although they will be disappointed to not open up with two wins from Ranieri’s first three games in charge, there are encouraging signs that the players are grasping his ideas. Fulham’s defense has conceded just three times over the past two games and after the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea at the weekend, Ranieri revealed he was more pleased with how his team played there than he was in the 3-2 home win against Southampton on his debut. They look solid in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Chambers and Seri shoring things up in front of the back four. Ranieri is getting this Fulham side back to basics and the pace of Kamara and Sessegnon on the break works well with Mitrovic’s hold-up play. Working Andre Schurrle back into the team will also help, but shoring up Fulham’s defense is key to Ranieri’s philosophy.

Liverpool launch comeback to beat Burnley

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  • Mane, Salah, Firmino left out of team
  • Gomez injured in first half 
  • Cork gave Burnley lead, Milner equalized
  • Firmino, Shaqiri score go-ahead goals 
  • Liverpool remain unbeaten

Liverpool beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor on Wednesday, as the Reds remain unbeaten in the Premier League through 15 games and showed incredible spirit to battle back from falling behind in the second half.

Jack Cork gave Burnley the lead via a scrappy lead, but James Milner equalized, Roberto Firmino jumped off the bench to put them ahead and Xherdan Shaqiri wrapped up a far from straightforward win late on.

Liverpool remain in second place with the win and cut Manchester City’s lead at the top to two points, while Burnley are now winless in eight and remain in the bottom three.

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The home side started on the front foot and launched plenty of high balls into the box which tested Liverpool’s defense.

A real moment of concern arrived for the Reds in the first half.

Joe Gomez stayed down after a sliding challenge with Ben Mee on the touchline and the England star, who was playing at right back, was stretchered off the pitch and replaced with Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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Virgil Van Dijk had a header easily saved by Joe Hart before the break as neither side got going in attack in the first half.

Chris Wood‘s shot from distance which deflected and looped just wide, Phil Bardsley‘s rasping effort from distance whistled wide and Ashley Barnes‘ volley was correctly ruled out for being offside as Burnley rallied before the break.

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Daniel Sturridge forced Hart into a fine save to his right in the second half. The English forward wriggled free and got his shot off, but Hart tipped his effort wide. Hart then made an even better save soon after, as he tipped Naby Keita‘s rising shot onto the post.

Burnley then took the lead against the run of play. Alisson couldn’t get hold of the ball after a knock down in the box, and Cork reacted first to the loose ball to tap home and send the home fans wild.

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But Liverpool fought back valiantly as Milner made it 1-1 with a low shot from the edge of the box. Then Firmino was the hero as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ball from a short free kick found Virgil van Dijk who crossed for the Brazilian to tap home to seal the win.

Late on Mohamed Salah and others tried to put the game to bed but Burnley’s defense threw themselves in the way time and time again. At the other end Alisson saved a header from a corner and Salah then broke before playing in Shaqiri who made it 3-1 to wrap up the win.

FA charges Sturridge for breaking gambling rules

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The FA announced Thursday that it had charged Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge with misconduct related to two FA betting rules. The 29-year-old has until 6pm local time on Tuesday to respond to the charge.

One rule states that a “participant” shall not bet on matches or anything relating to soccer across the world including transfers, while the other rule concerns providing insider information to someone else who is making a bet. Liverpool released a statement on Monday evening, denying the charges.

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“Daniel has given his full and unequivocal co-operation throughout this process and has assured the club he will continue to do so,” a Liverpool spokesperson said via the BBC. “Daniel has also stated categorically that he has never gambled on football. As with any issue of this nature, we will allow the process to be concluded in its entirety before making any further comment.”

Below are the two rules in which Sturridge is alleged to have breached.

Rule E8(1)(a) – a participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on – (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition; or (ii) any other matter concerning or related to football anywhere in the world, including, for example and without limitation, the transfer of players, employment of managers, team selection or disciplinary matters.

Rule E8(1)(b) – where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game and which is not publicly available at that time, the participant shall be in breach of this Rule where any of that information is used by that other person for, or in relation to, betting.

Injury updates: De Bruyne returns, Keita out, Barkley struggling

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Ahead of the Premier League returning this weekend after the international break there is plenty of team news to catch up on.

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Kevin De Bruyne is back fit and available to play for Manchester City after injuring his knee back in August, with Pep Guardiola confirming he is ready for selection against Burnley on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

The Belgium star was said to be out until the end of November but he is back fully-fit way ahead of schedule.

“I don’t know if he is able to play 90 minutes. He’s trained well last two weeks,” Guardiola confirmed. “He’s such an important player for us. Whenever a player is out, I like it when they come back – we will be stronger.”

So, good news for league leaders and reigning champs Man City.

Not such great news for Chelsea or Liverpool, though.

Ross Barkley, who has been in fine form for Chelsea and England so far this season, has picked up a knock during the international break. Sarri confirmed that Barkley’s issue is a small problem and he will likely be out for a few days, which could mean he misses the clash against Manchester United (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) on Saturday.

“As usual after the national teams we have some problems” Sarri said. “The most serious is with Ethan Ampadu. We have a little problem with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ross Barkley, which are less serious. Antonio Rudiger has done better in the last two days, like Mateo Kovacic. I think they will be able to play.”

Chelsea’s midfield trio of N'Golo Kante, Barkley and Jorginho have been superb this season with a great balance of defensive and attacking play. That said, having the likes of Mateo Kovacic and Cesc Fabregas to step in isn’t bad at all…

As for Liverpool, their injury situation over the international break has been well documented with Virgil Van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita all picking up knocks.

Keita will not be available to play against Huddersfield Town on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC online via NBCSports.com) after picking up a hamstring injury.

“We had a session yesterday and a few trained. We’ll have to see how they react, but Naby Keita will not be available for Huddersfield,” Klopp said.

With James Milner battling back early from a hamstring injury he picked up against Manchester City before the break, Liverpool will have plenty of options in midfield. If Mane or Salah aren’t risked either, then Klopp does have the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri waiting in the wings. The next few weeks will test Liverpool’s squad depth.