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PL Preview: Liverpool vs. Southampton

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  • 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.

Mourinho accuses journalists of ‘obsession’ with him

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Jose Mourinho is playing games in the media again.

There’s been plenty of talk about Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford in the last few days, with some debating how good he truly is, how much playing time he’s earned, and whether he’s rotting away on the Old Trafford bench. So, the Manchester United manager has resorted to the oldest deflection trick in his book to take the pressure off his young England international – make it all about the boss instead.

When asked if he believes Rashford has earned more playing time after scoring twice for England over the international break, Mourinho gave a sarcastic response, making his feelings towards the media well known. “I think I can expect that Sunday I’m going to be highly criticized for not playing him,” Mourinho said, knowing that Rashford is suspended this weekend due to his sending off last time out, “because some of the boys are really obsessed with me and some of them have a problem with some compulsive lies.”

“I can expect that Sunday some of them will wake up in the morning and the first thing they think is Jose Mourinho, so I can imagine on Sunday I am going to be criticized for not playing Marcus but it’s not my fault, he’s suspended,” Mourinho said. “Probably you should remind them he is suspended and cannot play.”

Mourinho came with a prepared list of statistics he read off to the media highlighting his belief that Rashford has played a significant amount of time. He noted that Rashford eclipsed 3,000 minutes in the 2016/17 season across all competitions, and then accumulated another 2,676 minutes in the 2017/18 season. Last campaign, Rashford made 35 Premier League appearances – 18 of them starts – completing at least 80 minutes just 10 times. He also appeared in all eight of Manchester United’s Champions League games, although he started just three of them and averaged just 43 minutes a game.

The Manchester United boss also took an interesting shot at a trio of Chelsea youngsters who happened to at one time be England youth international teammates of Rashford, seeming to subversively criticize Chelsea’s sparing use of its youth products. “Marcus Rashford is not Dominic Solanke. He is not Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he is not Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He is Marcus Rashford, a Manchester United player, with an incredible number of appearances and an incredible number of minutes played at the highest level in the best possible competitions. So Manchester United supporters, for you and just for you, to know what we are doing with Marcus Rashford, that’s what we are doing here.”

Mourinho says he felt the need to read off numbers because the media doesn’t paint a fair picture of Rashford’s role within the squad.

“But for the Manchester United supporters it is important they have the right idea of how things are in reality but the most important thing of all is that the kid is a good kid, a good player, knows what Manchester United did for him. Since I was here, he was never one day out of selection because of my decision, only if he was injured or suspended. He was never ever out of a selection, so he knows and that’s the most important thing.”

Liverpool nips Man City in New Jersey

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Sadio Mane converted a Dominic Solanke-won stoppage time penalty as Liverpool beat Manchester City 2-1 in an International Champions Cup game in New Jersey on Wednesday.

Leroy Sane and Mohamed Salah traded goals early in the second half.

Man City started few familiar names, with Riyad Mahrez and Claudio Bravo the most experiences, while Liverpool used nine regulars from last season as well as new man Fabinho.

Second half subs included Sadio Mane and Dominic Solanke for Liverpool, while Pep Guardiola introduced Joe Hart, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, and new signing Claudio Gomes.

[ MORE: Brighton breaks transfer record ]

Fabinho was fortunate to not give a penalty away to Lukas Nmecha within the first quarter hour. Riyad Mahrez found Nmecha in the box and Loris Karius put the rebound back to the player. Fabinho made contact with the back of Nmecha’s leg before the player popped the ball over a goal, but what followed was only a corner kick.

Fabinho then fouled former NYCFC midfielder Jack Harrison moments later.

Curtis Jones provided rare early danger for Liverpool, but Claudio Bravo had little trouble with the youngster’s shot.

Man City’s Riyad Mahrez was the bright spot of the first half hour for both teams.

Jones forced Bravo into another low save in the 33rd minute. He’d later be whistle for a perceived dive in the 43rd minute, but this was clearly a man not in the penalty-giving mood.

Liverpool made plenty of halftime changes, and Sadio Mane nearly scored in the 48th minute.

Caoimhin Kelleher stopped a Leroy Sane effort in the 53rd minute. At the other end, Solanke had a goal pulled back for offside.

That’s when Sane scored a beautiful goal, using his speed to get behind the Liverpool back line before hammering a shot inside the far post that bounded into the top of the goal.

Salah subbed into the game, and scored a headed goal moments later. He was offside, but the fans were pleased and the linesman didn’t spot it.

Salah could’ve made it two had a back post header not been cleared wide by Cameron Humphreys-Grant.

Liverpool was the better money for a goal over the rest of the match, Mane and Salah giving the American crowd plenty of reason to ooh and aah.

Solanke was taken down in stoppage time with a body check from Tosin Adarabioyo.

Transfer rumor roundup: Ings on the move; Godin to Man United

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Danny Ings looks set to leave Liverpool this summer with multiple outlets reporting he has agreed with Jurgen Klopp to move on to find regular action.

Ings, 25, has been hit with two major knee injuries during his three seasons at Liverpool and battled back to make 14 appearances last season off the bench for the Anfield club.

However, it doesn’t appear that regular minutes will be upcoming for Ings with Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Dominic Solanke ahead of him in the pecking order.

Tottenham, Crystal Palace and Inter Milan are all said to be interested in signing the England international and many more clubs will be sniffing around Ings as he’s been linked with Burnley, Newcastle and West Ham in the past.

He is a poacher in the box, works the channels superbly and is hungry to regain the form which saw him score 11 PL goals in 2014-15 for Burnley. A sharp Danny Ings is a danger to any defense in the Premier League.


Diego Godin, 32, has been linked with a move to Manchester United.

Uruguay’s captain has been a monster so far for La Celeste at the World Cup, as the Atletico Madrid center back has led them to three victories in the group stage to set up a last 16 clash with Portugal.

Per a report from Spanish outlet AS, Godin could be available for just $23.8 million this summer as he has just one year left on his current deal at Atleti. Although contract talks are expected with Atleti, the Uruguayan is said to be contemplating a move with both United and Juventus interested.

Jose Mourinho wants to add extra steel to his defense and with United already signing Fred and Diogo Dalot this summer, the Red Devils aren’t messing around when it comes to rebuilding their squad.

Godin’s no-nonsense style of defending will certainly slot in with Mourinho’s love for combative play and you can see him being one of his generals at Old Trafford.

Championship Sunday, rounded up

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The Premier League put a bow on its remarkable season with a 100-point flourish from Man City, and a new single-season scoring mark.

[ MORE: Full match replays | Final table | Final grades ]

It also waved goodbye to Arsene Wenger, at least at Arsenal. All that and more in the PL roundup.

Southampton 0-1 Manchester CityRECAP

Gabriel Jesus‘ stoppage time winner — man, does this club play to the final season’s whistle — made sure Man City added “first 100-point club” to its list of amazing accomplishments.

Liverpool 4-0 Brighton and Hove Albion — RECAP

Mohamed Salah set the new Premier League scoring record, while Dejan Lovren, Andy Robertson, and Dominic Solanke also scored to lead Liverpool back into the UEFA Champions League regardless of the final against Real Madrid.

Huddersfield Town 0-1 Arsenal — RECAP

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang became the fastest Gunner to 10 Premier League goals and notably has status as the last player to score in Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal.

Newcastle United 3-0 Chelsea — RECAP

Newcastle fans are dreaming of the transfer market after Rafa Benitez put another fine line on his resume with a demolition of the Blues. Ayoze Perez scored twice and Jonjo Shelvey also scored to clinch a Top Ten finish for the Magpies, who were in a relegation battle deep into the season. Chelsea is off to the Europa League, and in poor form ahead of next week’s FA Cup Final against Manchester United.

Swansea City 1-2 Stoke City — RECAP

Spirit remains at Stoke despite its relegation, as it dragged Swansea down with it. An early goal for Andy King was long forgotten after Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch gave the traveling Potters support a win in their final Premier League match for at least 15 months.

Tottenham Hotspur 5-4 Leicester City — RECAP

Don’t tell these clubs they had nothing to play for…

Harry Kane became the second Premier League player to score 30 goals this season, as Spurs trailed 1-0 and 3-1. They also were level at 4 following Jamie Vardy‘s second of the night when Kane completed his brace.

What a way to end a season.

West Ham United 3-1 Everton — RECAP

David Moyes‘ Irons hammered his former club, in doing so embarrassing former West Ham boss Sam Allardyce. The Toffees spent big this season and hired Big Sam to fix their season and lead them back into European contention. He largely failed. As for Moyes, has he reclaimed his Premier League mojo?

Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth — RECAP

Chris Wood‘s early goal was canceled out by Joshua King, then substitute Callum Wilson claimed all three points for the Cherries in this match-up of two of the finest British managers in the game.

Crystal Palace 2-0 West Bromwich Albion  — RECAP

Wilfried Zaha and Patrick Van Aanholt ended Roy Hodgson‘s Manager of the Year campaign with another win, as left-for-dead Palace finishes 11th despite an 0-7 goalless start!

Manchester United 1-0 Watford  — RECAP

Marcus Rashford scores the lone goal on a play began by Michael Carrick and helped along by Juan Mata. That’s why Mourinho plays Lukaku so much (#jab).