Joel Matip

Keita powers Liverpool past injury-hit Bournemouth

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Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah each had a goal and an assist as Liverpool blew out Bournemouth 3-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

There was some bad news in the mix for both team’s already injury-hit center back corps: Nathan Ake and Dejan Lovren both left the match early.

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Its lead over Leicester City is back up to 11 points before the Foxes play at 9 a.m. ET Sunday, while Man City is 14 behind the Reds before Saturday afternoon’s Manchester Derby.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored Liverpool’s first goal of the win.


Three things we learned

1. Keita shoots his shot (literally and figuratively): When Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool captured Naby Keita, it felt like the beginning of something special. Instead it’s been fits and starts, with plenty of reports saying struggles with the language and the system might be holding hims back.

Well, if he’s back to his Leipzig-infused best, then look out world, because Keita was simply marvelous in his first PL start of the season. He had his goal and his assist, combining so well with Salah, but also completed 89 of 94 passes, 110 touches, three key passes, five of eight duels won, three tackles, and two interceptions.

2. Ake injury a huge hit: Nathan Ake has been a force for a poor Cherries side this season, and his injury did not look good. With Chelsea now able to buy players and possessing a buyback clause on their former stud, was this the last we saw of the Dutchman in a Bournemouth jersey? It could be the difference between Bournemouth staying comfortably midtable and dipping into the relegation zone.

3. Lovren injury a worry: Whether Lovren misses a long time or just a bit is still a problem for the Reds, who are going to be taxed heavily with Joel Matip already out and matches all over the world in the coming weeks.

Remember that Liverpool isn’t yet through to the Champions League knockout rounds, and that Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez could need to play every minute including Tuesday’s massive trip to dangerous Red Bull Salzburg. The good news, of course, is that Joe Gomez at his best has not been a downgrade from Lovren.

Man of the Match: Keita.


Bournemouth had a moment in the 26th miniute, Dominic Solanke unable to find a deflected cross that worried Adrian.

The Cherries lost their best player to injury, and that seemingly opened the doors at the back. Nathan Ake was felled by a muscle strain.

Moments later, Oxlade-Chamberlain got on the end of a Jordan Henderson long ball and took advantage of a sleeping Aaron Ramsdale to make it 1-0.

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The visitors made a sub soon after the goal, Dejan Lovren exiting for Trent Alexander-Arnold to send Joe Gomez to center back.

That’s when the Reds got their second goal from Keita, via Salah’s lovely pass.

A bad mistake from debutant Jack Simpson allowed Keita to cue up Salah for a return gift, the Egyptian calmly slotting past a struggling Ramsdale.

Klopp angry with Brighton in Liverpool’s narrow win; Alisson red card

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Jurgen Klopp wasn’t too happy with Brighton and Hove Albion after Liverpool’s narrow 2-1 win at Anfield on Saturday.

The Premier League leaders momentarily extended their lead at the top to 11 points but had to play the last 15 minutes plus stoppage time with 10 men after Alisson was sent off for a deliberate handball.

Adrian came off the bench to go in goal but as he was setting up his wall for the ensuing free kick, Lewis Dunk took it quickly and slotted it home with Adrian out position. Klopp wasn’t best pleased with Brighton’s sportsmanship.

“I think in a situation like this, when you have sense for human beings, you don’t do it like this,” Klopp said. “It was very clever from Brighton but the goalkeeper has just come on and is trying to set the wall. They are trying to get used to each other and the referee lets it go like this. We cannot change it but for me it’s not 100 per cent right.”

Discussing Alisson’s red card, which means he will be suspended for the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Wednesday, Klopp admitted he hadn’t seen the incident.

“I think it was handball but I haven’t seen it. There was no offside and then it is a tricky situation. Alisson is a front-footed goalkeeper. We want that from him. He wanted 100 per cent to head the ball but the other player got there earlier so we can’t change that,” Klopp said.

He also praised Adrian, despite the goalkeeper coming on, conceding right away and then spilling a simple shot on goal.

“Virgil [van Dijk] was probably man of the match with the two goals but Adrian is for me – to come in to a game like this and make two saves. Even the goal kicks are difficult with cold feet! We were not prepared for that situation so I am completely happy,” Klopp said.

Liverpool now face Everton, Bournemouth and Watford in their next three Premier League games as they continue to grind out narrow wins and are dealing with injuries to Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Joel Matip, plus Alisson is now out.

Klopp’s side are making this title bid look very easy, on paper, but recent results prove they are able to dig deep and grind it out.

10-man Liverpool edge past Brighton

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10-man Liverpool edged past Brighton and Hove Albion despite a late scare at Anfield.

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Jurgen Klopp‘s side were flying in the first half as two Virgil Van Dijk headers set them on their way but Brighton were dangerous throughout and especially after Alisson was sent off.

Liverpool’s star goalkeeper was sent off for a deliberate handball and from the resulting free kick Lewis Dunk made it 2-1. Substitute goalkeeper Adrian had a tough time late on but managed to hold his nerve as Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the table to 11 points, momentarily.


3 things we learned

1. Van Dijk stands tall: He beat Brighton’s towering defense to score two headers in the first half and without Fabinho ahead of him and Matip alongside him, VVD put on a show. He was the leader in attack and at the back for Liverpool and when they went down to 10 men late in the game their leader stood tall.

2. Brighton not clinical enough: On another day Graham Potter‘s side should have scored three or four. Dunk missed a big chance in the first half and they squandered several opportunities. Brighton play some very good stay from box to box but must be more clinical if they’re going to get to the next stage.

3. Alisson adds to Klopp’s woe: Liverpool will now have to do without Alisson to add to Klopp’s woes, as he was put in a terrible situation by his defenders. He didn’t need to handle the ball, but the way Adrian played when he came on proved this is now a big problem for Liverpool going forward.

Man of the Match: Virgil van Dijk – Dominant at the back, especially late on, and popped up with two headers in the first half. With Joel Matip, Fabinho and now Alisson out, VVD has to step up once again in the coming weeks. A superb overall display.


A bright start at Anfield saw both teams have chances as Mooy and Connolly combined to cause havoc, while Liverpool’s front three were looking as dangerous as ever.

Roberto Firmino forced Mat Ryan into a fine save down low and from the ball then broke for a free kick as Alexander-Arnold’s cross found Van Dijk who nodded home.

Soon after Firmino and Mane were both denied by Ryan as Liverpool put their foot down on the accelerator, and then a second arrived in very similar fashion to the first.

A corner from the left found Van Dijk as he beat Shane Duffy and flicked home his and Liverpool’s second goal of the game with his meaty Dutch forehead.

Mane almost squeezed in another before half time as Liverpool totally dominated, but Brighton had a few chances as Davy Propper forced Alisson into a decent stop, then Lewis Dunk shanked an effort wide when wide open at the back post and the Seagulls put the hosts under pressure late in the first half.

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At the start of the second half Brighton continued to impress as Dunk flicked a header inches wide.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain almost wrapped up the win in style as he cut inside but Dunk denied him with a brilliant block.

Then, all hell broke loose.

A long ball over the top found Leandro Trossard who tried to lob Alisson but the Brazilian goalkeeper handled outside his box and was shown a straight red card. From the resulting free kick Lewis Dunk rolled in a bizarre finish to make it 2-1, and substitute goalkeeper Adrian was put under severe pressure late on.

Adrian denied Aaron Mooy but almost spilled a routine effort into his own goal as Liverpool held on for their 13th win from their first 14 games this season.

Report: Salah, Robertson out for Liverpool trip to Crystal Palace

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Liverpool has some significant injury concerns ahead of this weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace, with the international break not serving to give its top players the required rest.

Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson both sat out key international games hoping to be healthy enough for Liverpool’s return to Premier League play, but that has not come to pass. Sky Sports has confirmed that both will miss the game against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Salah re-aggrivated his persistent ankle injury near the end of Liverpool’s big win over Manchester City just before the break, and while he reported for international duty with the Egypt squad, he did not appear in either of the country’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Kenya or Comoros, both of which ended in draws. He has dealt with this ankle problem for over a month now, since it was injured against Leicester City in early October.

Robertson, meanwhile, has played every minute of the Premier League season to date, but withdrew from international duty with Scotland thanks to an ankle problem of his own. That leaves a gaping hole at left-back for Jurgen Klopp to fill, with backup full-back Nathaniel Clyne also out long-term thanks to an ACL tear. Candidates could include James Milner or even Xherdan Shaqiri, while he could also potentially move one of the center-backs in Joe Gomez or Dejan Lovren out wide. Joel Matip is not expected back until the end of the month.

Liverpool kicks off against Crystal Palace at 10:00 a.m. ET live online at NBCSports.com.

PL Sunday Preview: Wolves, Man United in action; Liverpool host Man City

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features the likes of Wolves, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Brighton all in action. It is also headlined by the biggest match of the season yet: Liverpool vs Manchester City.

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Wolves vs. Aston Villa — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Just weeks removed from a EFL Cup bout between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa that saw the latter come out victorious 2-1, both West Midland sides will meet again.

This time, however, the scenario will be distinct. Both sides won’t meet at Villa Park; instead,  Stadium will be the stadium of choice. Second-choice sides will not be front and center. It’s a league match, both teams will lineup with the best they have to offer and, as a result the intensity, will be vastly fiercer.

That’s if Wolves have the legs for that scenario to be a reality in the first place.

With Europa League added to an already daunting schedule, Nuno Espirito Santo and company have played eight matches since the start of October, averaging more than one per week. Villa, who’ve lost back to back league matches, are mindful of that and hope it will benefit them when all is said and done.

“They’re very tough to beat, they’ve got great organization and structure,” Villa manager Dean Smith ahead of Sunday’s derby. “They’ve got players who can score goals having gone to Manchester City and won, gone to Arsenal and equalized to come away with a point…so they’ll feel they’re in a run of form.”

“People look from the outside and think ‘is the amount of games they’re playing going to catch up with them?,'” he added. “We’re hopeful that is does on Sunday.”

INJURIES: Wolves — OUT: Gibbs-White (back), Boly (leg)| Aston Villa — OUT: Keenan Davis (hamstring)

Manchester United vs. Brighton and Hove Albion — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCS and NBCSports.com

Brighton and Hove Albion have never won at Old Trafford.

Graham Potter and his group of players want to make history and change that against a historically-poor Manchester United.

“It would be great to get a result this weekend at one of the best places in world football,” Potter said. “Their quality is undoubted and we respect that – but we want to go there and be ourselves and take on the challenge in a positive way.”

Brighton are in positive form, sitting eighth on the table and two points clear of United, who haven’t had a start to the season as dreadful as 2019’s – 13 points in 11 matches – since 1986 under Ron Atkinson. In their last four bouts, Brighton have earned victories in three, defeating Tottenham, Everton and Norwich City.

It’s all very different for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Red Devils.

Despite a convincing 3-0 win over a paltry Partizan midweek, the pressure at Old Trafford keeps looming over the injury-riddled team, who lost their previous league match against Bournemouth 1-0. Time and time again, the questions have been asked, but the answers have yet to surface.

Even then, Solskjaer feels their latest Europa League victory has left them with a blueprint.

“This is a little bit of a template on how we want to play, definitely,” the Norwegian manager stated following his team’s win on Thursday. “No disrespect to Partizan, but they gave us spaces. Of course after we scored the first goal, they went forward.”

“These boys are learning,” he added. “Tonight will give them loads of pointers of how to play. Even though the opposition is not the same as in the Premier League, it was still good principles.”

Nowhere was the word “consistency” mentioned, however. If they want to right the ship, they’ll need to learn it.

INJURIES: Manchester United — OUT: Dalot (hip), Matic (knock), Luke Shaw (thigh), Tuanzebe (hip), Eric Bailly (knee), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Pogba (ankle); SUSPENDED: Ashley Young (one match) | Brighton — OUT: Bernardo (knee), Izquierdo (knee), Webster (ankle)

Liverpool vs. Manchester City — 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBCS and NBCSports.com

It’s the match everyone had circled on their calendars: Jurgen Klopp‘s unbeaten Liverpool against Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City in front of a sold-out Anfield.

It’s the type of spectacle that requires no added hype, even though Klopp did just that heading into the season’s biggest match yet.

“From a sport’s point of view this rivalry is getting bigger and bigger,” the German manager said in front of an eager press conference room this weekend. “Thank god there is a rivalry because it means we are a pretty good team as well.”

“If you are not brave against Man City you don’t have the chance of even a point,” he added. “Everyone has to be in top shape in the stadium on Sunday, even the guy selling the hotdogs. Everyone has to be there from the warm-up and invest all our emotions.”

With City in position to jump to second and be only three points from Liverpool with a win, the match promises to have it all. And Guardiola main message is urging his players to leave it all on the field when they take on the league’s favorites.

“I just want my team to fight to the end,” the 48-year-old said. “Liverpool are a team that lost one game last season, none this season, so you cannot believe that they will lose many, but the season is long.”

“They do everything well,” he added. “You see the team, what is the weak point? They are a real complete team and we need this kind of rival.”

That said, City is stuffed with injuries – namely, Ederson and David Silva, who were both unable to recover and get fit for Sunday’s clash. Claudio Bravo, who saw a red card midweek in Champions League play, will be between the sticks for the defending champions.

What many think will prove to be problematic for the visitors, is the opposite of loss of quality for Guardiola. The Spaniard is convinced that the Chilean goalkeeper has the ability and is of the pedigree to play in matches of such stature.

“He is an exceptional goalkeeper,” Guardiola said. “He is an international goalkeeper. I have no doubts.

“Why shouldn’t I be confident about my players? I see him every day in training. We won’t lose because of Claudio.

“The red card the other day was because we lost the ball,” he added. Respect the guy. He is a top keeper.”

Surely, Liverpool, led by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, will look to exploit any deficiencies City puts forward. For now, those deficiencies are unknown.

What is public knowledge, however, is that very few matches – if any – this season will be as big as Sunday’s.

INJURIES: Liverpool  OUT: Joel Matip (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Nathaniel Clyne (knee) | Manchester City  OUT: Ederson (knock), Rodri (hamstring), David Silva (thigh), Zinchenko (knee), Leroy Sané (knee), Laporte (knee)