Divock Origi

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Premier League preview: Sheffield United v. Liverpool

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  • Liverpool holds 5-point lead over Man City
  • Sheffield United 10th through six games
  • Liverpool has never won at Bramall Lane in PL play

The early morning Saturday match sees the current Premier League leaders look to keep a stranglehold on the top spot with a trip to newly promoted Sheffield United at 7:30 a.m ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Blades are rested and ready, having made 10 midweek changes in the League Cup hoping to keep the regulars fresh for a clash with the leaders. David McGoldrick will miss out with injury while Billy Sharp completes a three-match ban, but Sheffield United is otherwise at full strength. Their results this season have been a mixed bag, but a convincing road win last weekend over Everton proves they are not to be taken lightly and could be more of a threat to stay up than many thought to start the campaign.

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Liverpool has yet to fall in Premier League play this season, and while the Champions League opener at Napoli didn’t go the Reds’ way, they bounced back nicely with a quality road victory at Stanford Bridge last time out. They’ve won 15 league matches in a row dating back to last season, all the way back to their fateful loss to Manchester City that likely cost them the league title.

James Milner seems to be ok despite a midweek back problem against MK Dons, as is Sadio Mane. Alisson is nearing a return to training but will not be ready for this weekend, while Xherdan Shaqiri remains sidelined.

The Reds will be facing a dubious record at Bramall Lane, one of just three grounds Liverpool has played at in Premier League action and not won. They have two draws and a loss at the Sheffield United ground in their last three top flight matches there, with the last victory coming in 1990 when the hosts were forced to play defender John Pemberton in goal thanks to an early injury.

Injuries/suspensions

Sheffield United: OUT – David McGoldrick (groin), Bobby Sharp (suspended).

Liverpool: OUT – Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Alisson (calf). QUESTIONABLE – James Milner (back), Sadio Mane (dead leg), Divock Origi (ankle).


Projected lineups

Sheffield United: Henderson; Egan, Basham, O’Connell; Stevens, Norwood, Lundstram, Fleck, Baldock; McBurnie, Robinson.

Liverpool: Adrian; Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Mane, Firmino, Salah.


What they’re saying

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder on Jurgen Klopp“There are all sorts of different aspects in successful managers but I love his connection with his players. There’s a genuine affection from him for them, and vice versa as well. Even the players who aren’t heavily involved. And his connection with the fans is there to be seen.”

Liverpool manager Klopp on playing Sheffield for the first time: “It’s really interesting what they do. In the system they play it’s really aggressive, good pressing. Then of course when they have the ball they have this interesting pattern where the centre halves overlap. I’m four years in England so I don’t know everything about the clubs historically, but it seems to be a big club.”


Prediction

Liverpool will face a tough test, but Klopp seems rightly prepared on how the opponent will play. Being aggressive against Liverpool can lead to deadly mistakes, and while Sheffield may find a goal against Liverpool’s defense that has been spotty this season, they won’t find enough. The Reds win 3-1 for their first Premier League win at Bramall Lane.

UCL preview: Messi back for Barcelona v. Dortmund, Liverpool visits Napoli

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The Champions League group stage is back. So is Lionel Messi.

Tuesday kicks off the 2019/20 Champions League in earnest, with a litany of powerhouse matchups dotting the landscape. Most notably, Barcelona’s five-time Ballon d’Or winner is in the squad for the trip to the Rhur valley to take on Borussia Dortmund, potentially set for his first appearance of the season after missing Barcelona’s first four matches of the season with a calf injury.

[ PST writers predict the CL group stage ]

Those two teams are both roaring back from disappointing league losses, and come into this match in good attacking form. Barcelona fell to Athletic Bilbao on the opening weekend of the La Liga season, but is unbeaten in their last three with 12 goals in those three games. Dortmund, meanwhile, fell to Union Berlin at the end of August but crushed third-tier Ergenie Cottbus in cup action before blowing out fellow Champions League participants Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 this past weekend. 19-year-old Jadon Sancho provided two assists in that most recent game and will get his first crack at the La Liga giants.

Defending champions Liverpool are on the road at Napoli, with the Italians having integrated Hirving “Chucky” Lozano into the squad. The Mexican international got his first start against Sampdoria over the weekend in a 2-0 win, playing 65 minutes. The Reds fell in this same fixture last season en route to the title, losing 1-0 at San Paolo Stadium in one of their worst performances of the season. This time around they are top of the Premier League through five matches – all wins – but will be without Divock Origi, Alisson, and Naby Keita through injury while Andy Robertson is a game-time decision.

[ Villa, West Ham meet in scoreless draw ]

Chelsea hosts Spanish side Valencia in an absolutely wide-open and loaded Group H that features four quality sides, meaning every game will be a significant challenge. The Blues’ defense has been quite poor so far this season, and will again be without Antonio Rudiger thanks to a groin problem picked up after just making his return over the weekend from knee surgery. Chelsea has never lost to Valencia in six European meetings, their joint-most games without losing against any European opponent.

On the other end of that brutal Group H, new-look Ajax hosts French side Lille. The visitors finished second in Ligue 1 last season and have three wins in their first five this campaign, proceeding without Nicolas Pepe after his sale to Arsenal this summer. Ajax has also lost highly valued young talent, with Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt having left for greener pastures, although they have thus maintained an unbeaten record this season, earning a berth in the group stage while proceeding through two qualifying stages.

Benfica hosts RB Leipzig in another brutal group, Group G that also features Zenit St. Petersburg and Lyon who match up in France. Leipzig leads the Bundesliga with an unbeaten first four matches, including a draw against defending champions Bayern Munich. Striker Timo Werner has a fabulous five goal haul through RB Leipzig’s first four league matches including a hat-trick against Borussia Monchengladbach. Benfica has also started its league campaign well with four wins in five, a solid sign after the loss of young star Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid.

FC Salzburg takes on Genk in Austria, with Salzburg boss Jesse Marsch set to become the first American head coach of a Champions League side. He has quite the home record to protect, with the Austrian side unbeaten in 18 European home matches.


Tuesday Champions League matches:

Inter v. Slavia Prague (12:55pm ET)
Lyon v. Zenit St. Petersburg

Ajax v. Lille (3:00pm ET)
Benfica v. RB Leipzig
Borussia Dortmund v. Barcelona
Chelsea v. Valencia
FC Salzburg v. Racing Genk
Napoli v. Liverpool

Liverpool overcomes early blip, dominates Newcastle

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Sadio Mane scored twice as Liverpool overcame an early concession to continue its brilliant start to the Premier League season with a 3-1 win over Newcastle United at Anfield.

Roberto Fimino set up Mohamed Salah for Liverpool’s third goal, as the Reds look very ready for their trip to Napoli to start the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

The Reds are the fourth team to win 14-straight top flight matches in English history.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jetro Willems scored a terrific 7th minute goal for Newcastle, which was unable to produce another goal despite a gilt-edged chance for Emil Krafth.

Liverpool is now 5-0, the only perfect team in the league, while Newcastle’s four points through five matches have them above the drop zone for now.


Three things we learned

  1. Soothed, soothed Sadio — Mane’s two goals came in very Mane fashion; The drama of last match week behind him, the Senegalese winger curled a powerful shot home for his first goal, and put off Dubravka with his pace and industry to produce an easier second. This will be exactly what Liverpool wanted: A quick cleansing of whatever residue was left by his very public displeasure with Mohamed Salah, although it is a little bit of an eyebrow raiser that they didn’t celebrate together much over the course of three goals.
  2. Almiron absent — There were not too many signs that Miguel Almiron’s Paraguay goal, his first in 27 appearances for club and country, snapped him out of his slump. Over 67 minutes, the ex-Atlanta United man continued his PL struggles: 64 percent passing, just one successful dribble, and 30 total touches.
  3. Firmino the Man — It’s not often a first half sub makes the opposition feel worse about its chances, but the game changed when Roberto Firmino entered the match for injured Divock Origi. He created a few beautiful moments, none better than the dizzying assist to Salah.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Newcastle took a shock lead with a vicious counter attack, Christian Atsu getting behind the back line to collect a long ball before playing Willems into the box for a thunderous shot.

It was all Liverpool going forward, and Jamaal Lascelles was very fortunate not to have conceded a penalty for a foul of Joel Matip in the box.

Mane made it 1-1 within moments, as Liverpool finally got its first shot on target. Andy Robertson fed Mane for a rocket of his own in the 28th minute, as Jonjo Shelvey could not catch up with the Senegalese star.

An Atsu giveaway sent the ball and Mane toward goal, and Martin Dubravka failed to collect the ball with a slide as Mane leapt over him. The striker was there to tap home the loose ball.

Georginio Wijnaldum nearly scored a sensational goal in the 49th minute when he used the outside of his boot to nearly writhe a shot around Dubravka.

Great work from Atsu was nearly redemptive for the score line, as Emil Krafth couldn’t settle the cross and could not take advantage of a slow-to-react Virgil Van Dijk.

The Reds could’ve put it to bed twice in the next five minutes, Firmino unable to head an Alexander-Arnold cross past Dubravka and Robertson missing wide from an acute angle.

Firmino’s assist on Salah’s goal was magnificent, and the match was over with 17 minutes to play.

Origi limps off for Liverpool, ending Firmino’s day off

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Roberto Firmino’s planned rest ahead of a UEFA Champions League match against Napoli at midweek lasted all of 37 minutes.

The in-form Brazilian is into Saturday’s Premier League home match against Newcastle United with the score level at 1 following an injury to Divock Origi (Sadio Mane would complete a brace moments later to make it 2-1).

[ STREAM LIVE: Liverpool v. Newcastle ]

The Belgian striker was clipped by Miguel Almiron on a freak early play, but played on another half hour.

It seemed to only get worse, and Origi limped off the field for Firmino in the 37th minute.

Firmino has two goals and two assists in four matches for the Reds this season, so it’s not exactly something Newcastle was hoping to see in its bid for a surprise point.

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Newcastle United

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Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool brings its unbeaten record to Anfield when Newcastle United visits on Saturday as the Premier League returns from international break (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain head into the Starting XI, taking the places of Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson.

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Both are on the bench along with Xherdan Shaqiri and Adam Lallana.

Newcastle does not have Sean Longstaff and Allan Saint-Maximin available, though Sean’s younger brother Matty Longstaff is available off the bench.

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Newcastle United: