Divock Origi

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Liverpool, Chelsea battle in UEFA Super Cup

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The Premier League takes a stranglehold of the latest UEFA competition as Champions League winners Liverpool meet Europa League title holders Chelsea in the Super Cup on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. ET.

The matchup is the first between two Premier League clubs in the Super Cup, and represents the first time since 2013 that a Spanish side will not be competing.

The two clubs come into the matchup on very different ends of the spectrum. Liverpool obliterated Norwich City 4-1 in its Premier League opener, looking to kickstart a league campaign they hope will see them end up on top of Manchester City in the title race. Chelsea, meanwhile, was hammered 4-0 by Manchester United in Frank Lampard‘s competitive debut over the weekend, although Blues fans will be encouraged by the bright moments in the match as Chelsea struck the post twice and were only beaten against the run of play.

While history will see the first English Super Cup winner, they will also witness the first female referee in a major UEFA final as French official Stephanie Frappart will take charge of the match.

Liverpool has some key missing parts as goalkeeper Alisson who is out with a calf injury suffered in the Norwich win. They are also without defender Dejan Lovren who is officially ill, although his absence is due to his reported upcoming move to Roma. Jurgen Klopp will also have to decide whether to start Sadio Mane, who made the bench against Norwich City after en extended summer participating in the Africa Cup of Nations. European hero Divock Origi started in his place over the weekend, and he could be in contention to contribute to another European success.

The Blues, meanwhile, are hoping to have a key contributor back to full participation as N’Golo Kante could start after he was on the bench for the Manchester United loss. Kante’s ability to break up counter-attacks was sorely missed against the Red Devils, and while he could return to full fitness for the match, Lampard may also look to ease his star midfielder back in with a Premier League game against Leicester City coming up on Sunday. Antonio Rudiger is still injured, and Christian Pulisic could get a chance to start his first competitive match in Blue.

New boys Norwich thrashed by Liverpool

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Liverpool’s bid for the 2019-20 Premier League title is off to a flying start, as Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds dismantled newly promoted Norwich City, 4-1 at Anfield in the season-opening fixture at Anfield on Friday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Norwich’s return to the PL began as disastrously as it could have done, gifting the European champions an own goal (courtesy of Grant Hanley) inside the season’s first seven minutes. Things only got worse from there.

Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 just 12 minutes later, and the rout was officially on.

Nine minutes later, Virgil Van Dijk made it 3-0.

14 minutes later, it was 4-0 through Divock Origi.


Three things we learned
1. No change of identity for Liverpool, who will continue to suffocate opponents with defensive pressure and attack relentlessly after they win the ball.
2. Liverpool didn’t make any major first-team signings this summer, and that has them looking like a squad that bonded together long ago.
3. Norwich’s commitment to playing (trying to, at least) progressive, attacking soccer is laudable, but might just see them blitzed on a number of occasions this season.

Man of the Match
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – A goal and an assist for the 2017-18 Player of the Year, and he — along with his teammates in red — never had to leave second gear.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines for opening weekend | How VAR will work in PL ]


Origi was the architect on the opening goal, as he worked his way down the left side of the penalty area and hit a low cross into the six-yard box. Hanley went for the right-footed clearance but shanked 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Salah made it three straight seasons of scoring a goal in Liverpool’s PL opener (his fourth straight season, including his final campaign at Roma) and he needed just 19 minutes to do. Roberto Firmino slipped the Egyptian a through ball and Salah stroked it home to double Liverpool’s lead (WATCH HERE).

[ MORE: Premier League TV, streaming schedule | Predicting the PL table ]

Van Dijk headed home from Salah’s corner kick just before the half-hour mark (WATCH HERE), the final nail in the coffin of Norwich’s hopes for a shocking comeback. Origi waltzed toward the penalty spot and headed home Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s brilliant bullet cross three minutes before halftime, for good measure.

The worst news for Liverpool came in the form of a curious injury to goalkeeper Alisson. Upon taking a goal kick, the Brazilian appeared to injure his right leg. The pain appeared to affect him prior to kicking the ball, as he quickly glanced over his shoulder as if something or someone had touched him from behind.

Norwich’s Teemu Pukki led the EFL Championship with 29 goals last season, and the Finnish forward picked up right where he left off with a goal in his PL debut, in the 64th minute. It was the lone bright spot of the day for the Canaries, but perhaps a comforting sign they’ve got a consistent goalscorer in the top flight.

AT THE HALF: Liverpool rampant, Norwich nightmare in PL opener

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This is probably not how Norwich City saw their return to the Premier League going: down 1-0 after seven minutes; down 2-0 after 19 minutes; down 3-0 after 28 minutes; down 4-0 after 42 minutes.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Alas, that’s the reality of visiting Anfield, home of European champions Liverpool, on the opening day of the 2019-20 season. Daniel Farke’s side, which stormed to the EFL Championship title last season, has been undressed and badly exposed by one of the world’s best teams — no shame in that, but the goal-differential column is taking a hammering already.

A quick rundown of the goalscorers (thus far): Grant Hanley (own goal), Mohamed Salah (WATCH BELOW), Virgil Van Dijk (WATCH ABOVE) and Divock Origi.

Hit the link above to watch the second half, and check back on PST for a full recap and reaction from players and managers after the final whistle.

Premier League transfer grades

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The summer transfer window is over. All of the deals are done. Premier League squads are now set until January.

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Wow. That was fun. Given all of the records broken, all of the big names arriving, leaving or staying in the Premier League, which club did the best business this summer?

[ MORE: PL season previews ]

Below we dish out grades to all 20 Premier League teams based on their ins and outs.


Arsenal: B+

A very decent window for the Gunners, who added two key defenders in the final hour. Kieran Tierney David Luiz arrived and all of a sudden this looks like a more balanced squad. Nicolas Pepe arrived in a club record-deal to spice up their attack, plus Dani Ceballos oozes quality in midfield. Losing Laurent Koscielny was a blow, but Luiz is better than their current central defenders even if he takes a few risks on the ball. Overall, Unai Emery‘s squad is stronger than they were 12 months ago.


Aston Villa: B+
Where do we start with Villa!? 12 new signings this summer from the newly-promoted team, who are one of the big spenders with over $180 million spent on transfer fees alone. Tom Heaton, Wesley, Trezeguet, Jota and Tyrone Mings all look like being very important signings, and Villa have a very strong squad. Will it be enough to keep them up? We are about to find out. Villa get an A for ambition, but a B+ right now because it is so tough to predict how bringing in so many players at the same time will work out. Ahem, Fulham…


Bournemouth: C
The Cherries did a few pieces of decent business with Harry Wilson arriving on loan, plus Jack Stacey, Lloyd Kelly and Arnaut Danjuma all coming in to strengthen their squad. Bournemouth kept hold of Nathan Ake, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson, which is huge, but maybe they needed a few more experienced defenders to improve their goals against column.


Brighton & Hove Albion: C+
Graham Potter has been given money to spend and he’s strengthened Brighton’s attacking unit. Trossard arrived from Genk and Neal Maupay from Brentford in club-record deals, but will they settle in quickly in the Premier League? It looks a big gamble for Brighton. Losing Anthony Knockaert was a strange one, but they did keep hold of Lewis Dunk. A decent window for a side who struggled massively in the second half of last season, and needed a little more in midfield and attack. They’ve got that.


Burnley: D
Danny Drinkwater‘s arrival on deadline day was the biggest move for the Clarets, as Sean Dyche‘s side once again kept their wallets in their pockets. Jay Rodriguez arrived from West Brom and the hometown hero will be tasked with scoring goals, but overall it was an underwhelming window for Burnley. After their relegation scrap last season, many would have called for bigger changes. They did keep James Tarkowski though.


Chelsea: C-

Well, we can’t judge Chelsea on incomings due to their transfer ban, but Christian Pulisic did arrive after his loan spell at Dortmund and he looks like a star in the making. Matteo Kovacic is now a permanent Chelsea player too, while the big arrivals for Frank Lampard have been those coming back from loan deals. Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori will all be important players this summer. Losing Eden Hazard was a hammer blow, while the loss of Luiz should not be understated either. As expected, not the best window for the Blues.


Crystal Palace: D
Losing Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Man United was far from ideal, and even though Wilfried Zaha remains at Selhurst Park, is he happy enough to put on a show each week and push the Eagles up the league? Zaha looked set to join Arsenal, Everton, Napoli and others this summer, but the move just didn’t happen. Palace’s asking price of close to $100 million didn’t help out Zaha, and now they have to deal with him not being happy about having to stay in south London. This will be tricky for Roy Hodgson to handle.


Everton: B+
A very good window for the Toffees, led by the acquisition of rising star Moise Kean from Juventus. The deadline day capture of Alex Iwobi is also a very smart buy and they now have so many attacking options behind Kean. Sidibe gives them extra cover at center back, while Andre Gomes is a star in midfield and it was key to make his loan move from Barcelona permanent. Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph are shrewd signings to plug the gap left by Idrissa Gueye and Marco Silva has all the tools to lead this team to a top six finish. Very very decent.


Leicester City: B
Yes, they lost Harry Maguire, but they did so on their own terms and got close to $100 million for him. Adding Youri Tielemans was a must after his superb spell on loan from Monaco in the second half of last season. The Belgian midfielder oozes class and was worth breaking their transfer record for. Ayoze Perez will be a great understudy to Jamie Vardy up top and although it would have been nice to add another center back to replace Maguire, it was a smart move to not pay over the odds for James Tarkowski or Lewis Dunk. Dennis Praet’s arrival on deadline day strengthens their midfield further and this young, exciting team will push for the top six. Brendan Rodgers will be content with this summer. Nothing more. Nothing less.


Liverpool: C

Just $6 million spent by Jurgen Klopp on two youngsters, and the German coach is very comfortable with that. With Rhian Brewster, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returning from injury and Divock Origi back in the frame, they have options outside of their best starting lineup. That said, is this Liverpool squad deep enough for a PL and Champions League push? If they suffer a few injuries to attacking players, you would be right to worry about Liverpool’s staying power. Having got Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Simon Mignolet and Danny Ings off the wage bill, maybe Liverpool will spend money in January. This is a bit of a gamble for the reigning European champions.


Manchester City: B

Joao Cancelo and Rodri give Man City cover in two key areas, right back and central midfield. Rodri is the long-term replacement for Fernandinho in the hooding midfield role and it will take him a little while to get used to the pace of the Premier League. Elsewhere they tried to sign Maguire but didn’t want to pay what Man United did, so there is a sizeable gap at center back after legend Vincent Kompany departed over the summer.


Manchester United: B+
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted young, quick, hungry players this summer and he got them. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire arrived for huge fees and Daniel James looks a huge talent out wide. Paul Pogba has remained at United, for now, and Romelu Lukaku departed for $90 million to balance the books. United’s back four of Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and Shaw is very solid, but they are still a little tough to figure out in midfield. Going forward they are now led by Rashford, James and Mason Greenwood should emerge. All in all, a very positive window. Linked with approximately 8,992 players over the summer, the three they did sign are all quality additions.


Newcastle United: C
After losing Ayoze Perez and failing to sign Salomon Rondon permanently, the start of the window wasn’t looking great for the Magpies. Add in the fact that Rafael Benitez walked out as a manager and journeyman boss Steve Bruce replaced him, and there was almost a riot in Newcastle as much-maligned owner Mike Ashley once again failed to sell the club. There were the additions of Joelinton, Andy Carroll and Allan Saint-Maximin to boost their attacking options but Newcastle’s fans won’t be overjoyed with this summer.


Norwich City: D
Daniel Farke has kept faith in the team which got the Canaries promoted last season as the champions of the Championship spent very little. Teemu Pukki is their main threat up top, and it will stay that way, while they kept hold of young full back Max Aarons. Norwich’s squad is really interesting but they probably should have showed a little more ambition this summer. That said, we’ve seen newly-promoted teams spend big and fail to integrate all of their new signings successfully, so it is a fine line.


Sheffield United: C+
Ollie McBurnie and Lys Mousset arrived in club-record deals as Chris Wilder kept his defensive unit together but strengthened the attack. Bringing Dean Henderson back in on loan from Manchester United was brilliant business and the Blades have gone right in the middle of fellow new boys Villa and Norwich. Villa have spent big, Norwich have spent nothing and Sheffield United have spent a little on some young, quality lower-tier players.


Southampton: C+
Saints needed to strengthen their defense and they look to have done that right at the end of the window with the addition of Kevin Danso. That was much needed for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side. In attack they upgraded the team massively with Moussa Djenepo and Che Adams arriving for big money, so they look like they will be more dangerous. Moving on players has been tough but they managed to sell Charlie Austin, Matt Targett and a couple of others to balance the books. Steady summer.


Tottenham Hotspur: A-

Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele are two superstars, while youngsters Jack Clarke and Ryan Sessegnon have arrived too. What a good summer for Spurs. They also kept Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen, for now, and they will try and get both to sign new deals. In the case of Eriksen it seems like a lost cause as he could still leave for Real Madrid or elsewhere in the final weeks of the European window. If he does, and Danny Rose joins him in moving to a club outside the PL, Spurs are set with their additions this summer. Lo Celso is initially a loan deal but is expected to sign permanently and the fact they were linked with Dybala and Coutinho shows the caliber of players Spurs are now going for.


Watford: B+
A wonderful end to the window for Watford, who brought in Danny Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr in the final 24 hours. Sarr is a club-record signing and a hugely talented winger, while Welbeck will compete with Gray and Deeney for minutes up top. If Welbeck can stay fit, that is a great buy. Craig Dawson is a steady head in defense and Watford do need to shore things up at the back a little. Javi Gracia has done well to add to his squad which did so well last season.


West Ham United: B+
Sebastian Haller and Pablo Fornals strengthen West Ham’s already strong attack and they managed to move on Marko Arnautovic who finally sealed his move to China. Manuel Pellegrini‘s squad is a little top-heavy but keeping hold of Diop and Rice was crucial to their defensive unit. The Hammers are primed for a European push, with plenty of attacking options the envy of their rivals.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: C
Probably should have done a little more to add to their squad given their European campaign. Patrick Cutrone will challenge Raul Jimenez in attack and allow Nuno Espirito Santo to rest the Mexican star from time to time. That is crucial. But apart from that they’ve only brought in youngsters after signing Leander Dendoncker and Jimenez permanently. A solid enough window, but their lack of signings could impact their PL form after a Thursday-Sunday slog due to the Europa League.

Did Liverpool need to spend more this summer?

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After coming one point away from the Premier League title and winning the UEFA Champions League for a sixth time in club history, Liverpool did something few people expected.

It had a quiet summer.

To date, Liverpool has only signed a pair of teenagers, Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliot, along with goalkeeper Adrian on a free transfer, to add to the squad. That’s instead of getting involved with the likes of Manchester City, Man United and Arsenal in making big-money transfers over the summer to bolster what’s already a strong team.

Earlier in the summer, manager Jurgen Klopp warned to Liverpool fans to not expect much this summer, even when rumors were swirling that Philippe Coutinho could make a sensational return to Anfield.

“…it will not be the biggest transfer window of LFC; we invested a lot in the team in the last two years, I would say, Klopp told Liverpool’s website on July 17. “We cannot spend every year in the same manner.

“People talk about it like, ‘Now another £300m or £200m’. There are maybe only two clubs in the world – it looks in the moment like Barcelona and [Real] Madrid can do the same – City and PSG that can do it every year.

“But we are fine. I’m happy with the team, we are really happy. We have to see if we find maybe one position, if we find something for it, but there’s no real pressure because it’s not about signing a player. We have solutions for all the situations.”

In a way, Klopp is correct. Liverpool has spent quite a bit in the transfer market, especially with the signings of defender Virgil Van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Then again, the club were basically able to finance those purchases with the sale of the aforementioned Coutinho to Barcelona. In addition, the club earned more than $100 million last season between Premier League and UEFA Champions League rewards and television money.

But there is precedent that Liverpool’s strategy this summer isn’t a bad one.

The closest example is also the most recent. Tottenham went an entire calendar year, two transfer windows, without adding to their squad. Sure, they didn’t win the Premier League but they made the Champions League Final and still qualified for next year’s Champions League.

In another example from two seasons ago, Real Madrid didn’t make any major signings on its way to winning the 2018 Champions League title.

If you think about it, Liverpool certainly could have won the Premier League last season. If not for two dropped points at Man United, it may have been a double for the Reds. So why improve the squad when there’s no need to improve?

If everyone returns to peak form and fires on all cylinders, there’s no reason why this squad can’t push Man City again and make a deep Champions League run. Plus, with new contracts given over the past year to Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, and Divock Origi, the players are as motivated as ever to improve.

So should Liverpool have spent more this summer? Maybe. But maybe they have everything they already need.