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Transfer news: Liverpool monitoring Ruiz, Ndicka

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Get ready for Liverpool links to midfielder upon midfielder given the strength of their attackers, defenders, and goalkeeper.

Actually, prepare for links to every position outside of starting goalkeeper.

The Reds were linked Saturday with Boubakary Soumare, whose status rose to a target of Chelsea and Manchester United in January. He reportedly turned down a move to Newcastle at the deadline.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The latest midfielder linked with Liverpool is Napoli star Fabian Ruiz, according to Football-Italia.

The Spaniard turns 24 in April.

Ruiz had three goals and six assists in La Liga play for Real Betis in 2017/18, and Napoli spent around $33 million to bring him to Serie A that summer.

He’s since scored 10 times with five assists in 72 appearances for Napoli. He’s passing at 90.5 percent this season, with 1.7 tackles and 1.2 tackles per game.

The Reds are also one of two Premier League clubs said to looking into Eintracht Frankfurt center back Evan Ndicka.

A left-footed center back, Ndicka is said to also interest Inter Milan, Arsenal, Sevilla, AC Milan, and Valencia (Sky Sports).

Arsenal has an option to buy left-footed center back Pablo Mari this summer, while Liverpool may part ways with Dejan Lovren. The Reds also use right-footed Virgil Van Dijk on the left side of their center back pairing.

Ndicka, 20, has fared better in Europa League than the Bundesliga, where he averages 1.3 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game.

Liverpool’s unbeaten run ends in blowout

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Ismaila Sarr and Watford battered sorry Liverpool 3-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday to stop two key aims of the Reds’ historic season.

The impending Premier League champions will not go down in history as one of England’s only unbeaten teams, and also fall short of setting a new record for consecutive league wins.

The Reds also come five matches short of Arsenal’s record for consecutive unbeaten matches in Premier League history (49).

[ MORE: Klopp reacts | Social media, too ]

Man City and Liverpool will live together (forever?) with 18-consecutive league wins.

Watford needed this win badly, and Nigel Pearson‘s men pull out of the drop zone with 27 points.

Liverpool still leads the league by 22 points over Manchester City.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three Four things we learned

1. A beautiful run ended by a messy performance: The 2019/20 Liverpool team may go down as the best in the history of England and, perhaps, the world. Let’s get that out of the way, as well as this: You’d hate to be on the Reds’ fixture list in the coming weeks.

The Reds had the ball a lot late as Watford closed up shop, but they had little to no foothold in the game from moment No. 1. Outshot 14-7 with just one shot on target, it was the variety of errors that killed them.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men will still win the league, and the manager was classy in greeting Pearson and assistant Shakespeare with a smile and hug before the final whistle. He’s an incredible ambassador for the club, who are still are favorites to have a claim as one of the best teams of all-time. But they won’t go unbeaten. And they’ll (probably) forever share the longest domestic win streak with their era rival. Fitting, fair, but frustrating for the Reds.

2. Let down by the brightest star: In a way befitting the shock of the occasion, the biggest errors of Liverpool’s history-ruining loss came for its best player.

Both Virgil Van Dijk and Andy Robertson were out to lunch as the Reds took the lead, a seemingly harmless ball bouncing over Dejan Lovren to Abdoulaye Doucoure. The Frenchman then got a pass beyond Van Dijk with ease, and Robertson had no handle on Sarr as the winger punched a shot into the back of the goal.

It was even worse for Van Dijk on the second, as he was asleep to Sarr’s danger after a 50-50 battle on the sideline led to a loose ball.

 

3. Sarr the star: Ismaila Sarr had two goals and an assist, but he could’ve scored five as the Reds were wide open and chasing the match. In 79 minutes, the danger man delivered scares across the soon-to-be champs back four. He now has five goals and four assists in his first Premier League season, but few will stand out more than the two and one on Saturday.

4. Dark cloud looms over incredible win: Watford needed this win badly, and it qualifies as a major surprise that the Hornets went on to win after a scary injury to star man Gerard Deulofeu.

The Spaniard has keyed Watford’s run from the depths of the table, and his absence will call into question the club’s hopes of staying in the top flight.

Man of the Match: Sarr.


Gerard Deulofeu had the match’s first chance, dribbling around Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho to fizz a shot wide of the near post.

Watford saw a shot from Deulofeu sail wide, and Fabinho broke up a Will Hughes chance in the 12th minute.

The Hornets continued to threaten against off-kilter Liverpool, with Doucoure and Deulofeu especially busy.

Watford’s heart would’ve sunk when Deulofeu’s leg appeared to lock up in a 50-50 with Virgil van Dijk. He was stretchered off the pitch.

An extraordinary sequence saw Alisson Becker bungle the ball upon Troy Deeney pressure, but Liverpool was able to thwart the chance.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The second half again saw Watford ready to roar, Roberto Pereyra setting up Sarr for a shot that Alisson pushed over the bar.

Moments after Liverpool failed to capitalize on a mess in the Watford box, the Hornets took the lead.

Sarr darted in front of Andy Robertson after Abdoulaye Doucoure got the better of a sleepy Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk was asleep again when Deeney belted a ball off the sideline that drifted past him and onto the path of Sarr, who beat Alisson 1v1.

Then came the third, as Sarr raced past the Liverpool back line and this time cued up Deeney for a goal.

Champions League squads changes for four PL teams

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Monday was the deadline for all clubs to submit their final 25-man squads to UEFA for the knockout phase of the Champions League. With all four qualified Premier League teams still in the mix, it’s time to run through each club’s squad and see who made the cut and who was left at home.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Tottenham sees goalkeeper Hugo Lloris back in the fold after a serious elbow injury forced him to withdraw from the Champions League squad in October.

One significant note, thanks to new UEFA rules instituted during last year’s competition, no players are cup-tied for the knockout phase regardless of what competition they played for in the group stage. This is particularly of note to Liverpool who was able to add winger Takumi Minamino to the list despite the former RB Salzburg player having been deployed for the German club in the group stage before his January move. Spurs also benefitted from the new rule as Steven Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes both would have previously been cup-tied.

The most notable exclusion comes for Tottenham Hotspur who sees Victor Wanyama left off the squad, having made just one appearance for Spurs since September in a six-minute showing against Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage finale. Liverpool also left off young defender Sepp van den Berg who was sacrificed for the inclusion of new boy Minamino.

For Manchester City, the injured Leroy Sane was left on the squad with nobody new arriving. The same occurred for Chelsea who saw Ruben Loftus-Cheek still in the group despite his recovery from an Achilles tear.

Liverpool

IN: Takumi Minamino (transfer, RB Salzburg)
OUT: Sepp van den Berg

Full squad: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan, Caoimhim Kelleher*; Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Adam Lewis*; Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones*, Herbie Kane*, Neco Williams*, Yasser Larouci*; Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Rhian Brewster*.

Manchester City

IN: [none]
OUT: Angelino (loan, RB Leipzig), Ian Poveda (transfer, Leeds United)

Full squad: Ederson, Claudio Bravo Scott Carson; John Stones, Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, Benjamin Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Joao Cancelo, Eric Garcia*; Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden*; Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero.

Chelsea

IN: [none]
OUT: Marc Guehi (loan, Swansea City), George McEachran (loan, Cambuur)

Full squad: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero, Jamie Cumming*, Nicholas Tie*; Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta, Fikayo Tomori, Emerson, Reece James*; Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Willian, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount*, Callum Hudson-Odoi*, Christian Pulisic, Billy Gilmour*, Tammy Abraham, Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi.

Tottenham Hotspur

IN: Steven Bergwijn (transfer, PSV), Hugo Lloris, Gedson Fernandes (loan, Benfica)
OUT: Christian Eriksen (transfer, Inter), Danny Rose (loan, Newcastle), Kyle Walker-Peters (loan, Southampton), Victor Wanyama, Troy Parrott

Full squad: Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm, Paulo Gazzaniga, Alfie Whiteman*, Brandon Austin*; Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vergtonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier, Juan Foyth*, Ben Davies, Ryan Sessegnon, Japhet Tanganga*, Timothy Eyoma*; Eric Dier, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko, Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele, Gedson Fernandes, Oliver Skipp*, Jamie Bowden*, Harvey White*; Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Heung-Min Son, Steven Bergwijn.

*denotes a “List B” player, who must be born on, or after, 1 January 1995 and eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since his 15th birthday. A club can list an unlimited number of List B players, whereas they may only list 25 List A players

Liverpool squanders lead as Shrewsbury forces FA Cup replay

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Liverpool may be crushing the Premier League, but League One side Shrewsbury Town wasn’t phased facing the juggernaut at its home ground New Meadow, not even after falling 2-0 down on a horrid own-goal. Instead, the hosts came back to draw 2-2 and force an FA Cup fourth round replay at Anfield.

Liverpool started a youthful lineup that featured youngsters Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Pedro Chirivella, and Harvey Elliott mixed in with Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, and Dejan Lovren. The opener came in the 15th minute via 18-year-old Jones who slurped up a fabulous through ball from Chirivella and slotted it home from a tight angle past a charging Shrewsbury goalkeeper Max O’Leary.

[ EARLIER: Man City torches Fulham | Man United hammers Tranmere ]

The second came just seconds after the second-half restart on a comical own-goal as former Manchester United defender Donald Love poked a Williams cross into his own net under absolutely no pressure. It was a brainless decision as it appeared Love meant to poke the ball behind for a corner, but with nobody nearby, he somehow finished into the lower left corner instead.

After Liverpool doubled its lead at 2-0, Shrewsbury came to life and began to challenge the young Liverpool lineup. Callum Lang found himself through on goal with a great chance to bring the hosts back into the match, but his one-on-one change was saved by the fingertips of a diving Adrian. Shrewsbury did eventually cut the lead in half after Yasser Larouci cut down Josh Laurent in the penalty area and substitute Jason Cummings slotted home the chance from the spot.

The Shrews were a tough out with confidence back high after the goal, O’Leary made a fantastic diving save to stop Divock Origi. He booted down the field and and they drew level in the 75th minute as Cummings grabbed his second as he brought down a long ball and split the Liverpool defensive duo Williams and Lovren. Once past the Liverpool defenders he slotted home cooly past Adrian to equalize.

Jones nearly won it for Liverpool late as the ball squirted across the line in a goalmouth scramble, but his sliding effort was blocked off the line by a Scott Goldbourne tackle.

How will Liverpool, Man United line up?

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Liverpool host Manchester United this Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Premier League leaders welcome their bitter rivals to Anfield.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

With Jurgen Klopp‘s side 14 points clear at the top of the table, Man United would love to play the role of spoilers and they are the only team to take points from Liverpool so far this season as they are in a battle for a top four finish. And, just leaving this here, Man United have only lost one of their last 11 Premier League games against Liverpool…

The big team news surrounding this game is whether or not Marcus Rashford will be fit after coming on as a sub in the FA Cup replay against Wolves, then injuring his back and having to come off 16 minutes later.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision to make as it is certainly not worth risking Rashford’s long-term fitness, even for a game as important as this one. With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, United’s midfield will likely be manned by Fred and Matic, with either Jesse Lingard or Andreas Pereira playing ahead of them and Mata starting in place of Rashford on the left. In defense it will be interesting to see if Brandon Williams gets the nod over Luke Shaw as he continues his impressive rise, while the rest of the back four picks itself.

The big worry for United is that if Rashford is out injured, they will lose a lot of their pace on the counter as their plan will likely be to sit back and look to hit Liverpool on the break. The gamble will then be whether or not it makes sense to play Mason Greenwood in attack to replace Rashford, with the teenager showing huge potential but an atmosphere like the one at Anfield may be too risky.

As for Klopp, things are very straightforward for him. Liverpool Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren back in training after their lengthy absences but it is unlikely the two center backs will start given Joe Gomez looks steady once again after a run of games alongside the silky brick wall that is Virgil Van Dijk. Oxlade-Chamberlain will play alongside Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield with Keita and Milner out injured, while Fabinho is also back in training but is unlikely to be rushed back. The front three and full backs pick themselves.

Below we share our potential starting lineups for both teams for the intense battle at Anfield this Sunday.


LIVERPOOL (4-3-3)

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Gomez — Van Dijk — Robertson —

—- Henderson —- Wijnaldum —- Chamberlain —-

—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-


MAN UNITED (4-2-3-1)

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — Williams —

—- Fred —- Matic —-

—- James —- Pereira —- Mata —-

—– Martial —–