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Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Liverpool

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Whoever is in goal for Liverpool, Southampton has a mighty task ahead of itself at St. Mary’s on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Liverpool was already without Alisson Becker when Adrian was injured in a freak accident after the UEFA Super Cup Final, though the Spaniard may be set to play. If he cannot go, it’ll be a Premier League debut for 35-year-old Danny Lonergan.

Let’s face it: It’s more rational for Southampton to hope the Reds are just a little weary after a busy week.

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Kevin “Futty” Danso looks set to debut at center back against Liverpool, the youngster arriving from Augsburg at the end of the transfer window.

That’s quite a challenge against a front three while may well be Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah.

Thing is, the score line may not be as bad as Saints’ first outing. Southampton was dominated by Burnley in a 3-0 nightmare at Turf Moor.


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn; Valery, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Danso, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Ings, Adams.

Liverpool: Alisson, Robertson, Gomez, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita, Mane, Firmino, Salah


What they’re saying

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl after canceling a day off: “To invest time in my job is normal because we are in the Premier League where we play against the best teams in the world and the only chance to be successful against these teams is to do more than they do. If you do more than they do then you have the chance to be successful.”

Liverpool’s James Milner on playing under exuberant Klopp“He’s on the side and he’s bouncing around; he wants to be out there. That energy’s big for us when we’re down. He seems to judge it right in terms of when to put an arm round the shoulder after a game, if we haven’t played well or something. He knows what to say at half-time, of if you need a rocket he’ll give you that as well.”


Prediction

Danso is a bit of a wild card here. The 20-year-old Austrian is a remarkable talent, but it’s baptism-by-fire against Liverpool. Something tells us the Saints surprise, especially with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg returning to action. That surprise is just a tight game, though, with Liverpool emerging with a 2-1 win.

Liverpool wins UEFA Super Cup on penalties over Chelsea

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Tammy Abraham‘s pressure shootout effort was saved by Adrian and Liverpool took home the UEFA Super Cup on penalties after drawing 2-2 with Chelsea in regulation and extra-time.

Christian Pulisic started for Chelsea and was fantastic, picking up his first Blues assist on Olivier Giroud‘s opener in the first half. Sadio Mane got the first of his brace to bring the Champions League winners back level just after the halftime break. With the game 1-1 after regulation, Mane delivered a thumping finish five minutes into the added period, but a Jorginho penalty leveled the match back up minutes later.

Liverpool was the brighter side off the jump, as Kepa Arrizabalaga was required on 16 minutes to keep out Mohamed Salah who got past the Chelsea defense. The Blues then began to attack brightly down the left with Pedro but the Spaniard struck the crossbar, bringing back nightmares of the Old Trafford defeat over the weekend.

As both teams traded first-half blows, Virgil Van Dijk just fired over the bar as he looked to head home a 29th minute corner, and another set-piece brought an open attempt for Mane who forced a save from Kepa. Deputising for the injured Alisson int the Liverpool net, Adrian was on hand to make a superb charging save past the half-hour mark.

The opener came nine minutes before the halftime break as Christian Pulisic picked up his first Chelsea assist, beautifully charging into the attacking third on the ball and feeding a perfectly-timed Olivier Giroud run to get past the back line. The Frenchman finished one-on-one past Adrian from the left edge of the six-yard area, putting the Blues in front.

Pulisic appeared to have his first Chelsea goal as well just minutes later, but Pulisic was judged correctly to be offside on the buildup, nullifying his impressive chopped finish. N’Golo Kante was excellent in midfield, looking rejuvenated under Frank Lampard despite reprising his central midfield role on the right side of a trio as Jorginho continued in a more defensive role.

After the break, Liverpool had exactly the response they required. Roberto Firmino came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and it bore immediate fruit as Fabinho pinged a looping ball over the Chelsea back line, and the Brazilian was on hand to receive the flick. Firmino poked it over to Sadio Mane just next to him, and the Ghanan got it past Kepa on his second attempt to level the scoreline at 1-1.

Chelsea struggled to get a foothold in the second half but past the half-hour mark they were back on the front foot as Pulisic had a volleyed effort from the top of the box go out off van Dijk for a corner.  The game ground to a halt with 20 minutes to go, but Liverpool came so close to going in front again on 75 minutes. A corner swung in and found an unmarked Salah at the far post, but his initial effort was blocked. It came to van Dijk back at the near post and somehow the Dutchman’s effort with the goal gaping was straight at Kepa who produced a fabulous reflex save to deflect the ball up and out off the crossbar.

Mason Mount came on for Pulisic with 15 minutes to go, and he nearly put Chelsea in front with the ball in the back of the net, but it was again ruled out for offside. The game progressed to full-time still level at 1-1, so extra-time was required to help decide a winner.

Mane grabbed his second goal five minutes into the added period with a thumping finish, played in by Firmino who delivered an exquisite cutback into the penalty area, perfectly weighted for Mane to then produce a thunderbolt strike. With Liverpool 2-1 up, Chelsea responded immediately as substitute Tammy Abraham was chopped down by Adrian in the penalty area and history-making referee Frappart – who had a stellar game in charge – pointed to the spot, with VAR confirming the decision. Jorginho made it 2-2 with a cool clipped penalty as Adrian crumbled the wrong way.

Abraham was dangerous in his appearance up front in place of Giroud, nearly giving Chelsea a winner just before the extra-time break, with his finish across the face of goal just beating the far post. Pedro and Mount both came close as well in the second half, but the game went to penalties with no winner produced. In the shootout, every penalty taker scored until the death when Abraham’s must-score effort was saved by Adrian to give Liverpool the victory.

Report: Liverpool looking to offload Dejan Lovren

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According to a report by ESPN correspondent Melissa Reddy, Liverpool is in talks to sell defender Dejan Lovren to Serie A side Roma.

The club confirmed its 23-man squad for the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea on Tuesday morning, and the 30-year-old Croatian was not among the group. The official release claims that Lovren is ill, but the ESPN report states the absence is due to an impending deal.

The report states that Roma is interested in a deal for around $18 million and that “positive negotiations” are under way. The club reportedly expects to recoup the entire $24 million fee paid to acquire Lovren from Southampton five years ago thanks to add-ons. His contract expires in the summer of 2021, having signed an extension in April of 2017.

Lovren saw his playing time sharply decline last season due to a combination of injury troubles and poor form, falling behind Joe Gomez and Joel Matip for a starting place alongside Virgil Van Dijk. Still, Lovren has been generally a regular in the squad since joining n the summer of 2014, making 170 total appearances for the club in his four seasons.

A potential sale of Lovren nonetheless would be surprising in the sense that Liverpool is somewhat thin in central defense, and the club has only brought on 17-year-old Sepp van den Berg in that position this summer. With just van Dijk, Gomez, Matip, and van den Berg on the books, offloading Lovren after the transfer deadline would leave the defending Champions League title winners vulnerable in a position they faced an injury crisis just last year. Van de Berg is reportedly highly thought of at Anfield and the club could be clearing a path for the Dutch youngster, while Fabinho deputized at center-back out of necessity last season and could be an option again if needed.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 1

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We here at ProSoccerTalk are trying to put a new spin on our weekly Premier League power rankings this season, and we’ve got a few weeks to figure out the best way to track the most powerful teams in the world’s top league.

[ MORE: USSF promotes Stewart, hires USWNT GM ]


20. Watford — Many were tipping Watford for bigger things after a very decent 2018-19, and those opinions were rewarded by conceding three goals at home to a club that scored 16 away goals last season. Shoulder shrug emoji?
Last season’s final power ranking: 11
Opening Day: Lost 3-0 v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Everton

19. Southampton — Maybe Burnley’s Erik Pieters and Ashley Barnes traded bodies with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino, but Saints need to be better than a 3-0 opening day loss to Burnley.
Last season’s final power ranking: 15
Opening Day: Lost 3-0 at Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

18. West Ham United — Not many teams can make Issa Diop look like an episode of “my very first time as a professional.” Ain’t too many teams like Man City.
Last season’s final power ranking: 10
Opening Day: Lost 5-0 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton and Hove Albion

17. Norwich City — Let’s be real: The 4-1 loss to Liverpool could’ve been 6-4. The Canaries created plenty of chances.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Lost 4-1 at Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

16. Newcastle United — Arsenal did the St. James’ Park faithful a solid by keeping Lacazette, Pepe, and David Luiz on the bench.
Last season’s final power ranking: 13
Opening Day: Lost 1-0 v. Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Norwich City

15. Bournemouth — Eddie Howe‘s teams are usually a bit more savvy against the lower lights of the league.
Last season’s final power ranking: 14
Opening Day: Drew 1-1 v. Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Aston Villa

14. Crystal Palace — Could’ve use Wilfried Zaha in the Starting XI, and how Roy Hodgson settles the Ivorian will go a long way towards its season fate.
Last season’s final power ranking: 12
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 v. Everton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Sheffield United

(Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

13. Sheffield United — 33-year-old Billy “Mr. Sheffield United” Sharp getting his first Premier League goal to draw the Blades’ first PL match in years was my favorite moment of the weekend.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Drew 1-1 at Bournemouth
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Crystal Palace

12. Chelsea — Frank Lampard is right in that the Blues were better than a 4-0, but he’s also wrong in ignoring Jose Mourinho’s overall point; The young lineup to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Opening Day was as naive as the players in it, even if Mason Mount was a nice surprise.
Last season’s final power ranking: 4
Opening Day: Lost 4-0 at Man Utd
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Leicester

11. Everton — A second-successive season opening red card at Palace. The 0-0 result is respectable, but not great if you want to be a Top Six side.
Last season’s final power ranking: 5
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford

10. Leicester City — Controlled play but really should’ve been able to get it over the line against a Wolves team who was in Armenia a few days earlier.
Last season’s final power ranking: 8
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 v. Wolves
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Chelsea

9. Wolves — To get a point at Leicester despite playing Thursday in Armenia is solid.
Last season’s final power ranking: 6
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday v. Man Utd

8. Aston Villa — Showed discipline under siege.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Lost 3-1 at Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

7. Arsenal — The problems Arsenal had winning the ball versus Joelinton, a promising player and big signing, makes you wonder what will happen against Roberto Firmino and Harry Kane.
Last season’s final power ranking: 7
Opening Day: Won 1-0 at Newcastle
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley

6. Burnley — We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We have too often bet against Sean Dyche, who like his Clarets is tactically smart and physically terrifying.
Last season’s final power ranking: 16
Opening Day: Won 3-0 v. Southampton
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Arsenal

5. Brighton and Hove Albion — Raise your hand if you saw the Seagulls going on the road and professionally out-maneuvering Watford at nearly every turn. Put your hand down. Dishonesty isn’t cool.
Last season’s final power ranking: 17
Opening Day: Won 3-0 at Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham

4. Liverpool — Mohamed Salah was wonderful and Fabinho a treat, but you’d be naive to gloss over another shaky defensive performance after a summer of rough ones.
Last season’s final power ranking: 2
Opening Day: Won 4-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

3. Tottenham Hotspur — Thoroughly dominated Aston Villa and, most important, found its way through the packed in back.
Last season’s final power ranking: 3
Opening Day: Won 3-1 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Man City

2. Manchester United — Spare a thought for David De Gea, whose first half allowed for the Red Devils’ standout final half hour.
Last season’s final power ranking: 9
Opening Day: Won 4-0 v. Chelsea
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday at Wolves

  1. Manchester City — Raheem Sterling is unfair, and City hasn’t even really worked Joao Cancelo into the mix. And Bernardo Silva was injured.
    Last season’s final power ranking: 1
    Opening Day: Won 5-0 at West Ham
    Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

Premier League Numbers Nerd: Week 1

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Small sample sizes can make for terrible science, but they’re delightful for stat hounds and simple amusements.

For example, the Premier League’s opening weekend saw a hat trick for Raheem Sterling and braces for Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Ashley Barnes.

[ MORE: USSF promotes Stewart, hires USWNT GM ]

Who was the top dog of the week in terms of match rating, though? Man City’s Riyad Mahrez, who was nearly perfect with two assists, 83.3 percent passing despite his placement in low success areas of the pitch, four tackles, two interceptions, and four key passes.

Here are our favorite numbers, notes, and names from Week 1 (Stats via WhoScored):

Two (2) assists is the current top total in the league. It won’t surprise you to see Mahrez and Paul Pogba on that figure, but the third player to do it is… Burnley’s Erik Pieters!

Four (4) players won eight or more aerial duels: League-leader Christian Benteke (9) of Crystal Palace, as well as Newcastle’s Joelinton, Burnley’s Ben Mee, and Brighton’s Shane Duffy.

Under five: Three players in the Premier League played 90 minutes and couldn’t register higher than a 5.0 on WhoScored’s rating system. Kurt Zouma of Chelsea (4.86) could not come close to replicating his stalwart play with Everton last season and conceded a penalty and four goals. West Ham star Issa Diop (4.93) had the sort of statistical day a lot of players do against Man City, and two of his back line teammates joined him in the Bottom Six. And Grant Hanley of Norwich City posted a 4.99, dinged largely by an own goal despite completing 92.3 percent of his passes against Liverpool.

Five (5) –> Villa fans will want this to be six, as Tyrone Mings couldn’t stop Tanguy Ndombele‘s equalizer, but no player in the Premier League blocked as many shots as the former Bournemouth man. And we’re not done with him yet.

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Five is also the league-best number of key passes recorded, by Chelsea’s Pedro. Perhaps Frank Lampard‘s feeling about his team’s play in a 4-0 loss to Manchester United will make sense over time.

And five is also the most fouls drawn by anyone in Week 1, with Villa’s Jack Grealish and Palace’s Jordan Ayew needing some time in an ice bath.

Finally, five is the number of players who completed more than 80 passes on Opening Day. Leicester’s Ben Chilwell led the way with 85, followed by Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Toby Alderweireld (Spurs), Harry Winks (Spurs), and Jonny Evans (Leicester).

Seven (7) interceptions were made by Newcastle’s Fabian Schar, the most in the league. Seven is also the amount of fouls committed by Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic against Everton, three more than anyone else (Yes, he saw yellow).

Eight (8): The amount of shots taken by Harry Kane, double the amount of anyone else in the Premier League.

Eight is also the most successful tackles won by a single player this weekend, done by Liverpool’s Fabinho and Aston Villa’s John McGinn?

Seventeen (17): This would also be more appropriately read as “Seven-(expletive)-teen!” Aston Villa’s Mings cleared danger 17 times against Spurs, almost double the No. 2 man, Palace’s Martin Kelly.

100%: Only one field player in the league played more than a half-hour and completed all of his passes, and that was… Christian Pulisic of Chelsea and these United States of America. He was 12-for-12, but here’s the bad news: That came as part of a statistically miserable 6.09 showing.