Getty Images

PL promotion update: Fulham comes from behind to win, pile pressure on Cardiff

Leave a comment

Back and forth we go at the top of the Championship table.

With Wolves already confirmed as the title winners to grab the first of three promotion spots, the second automatic bid is being hotly contested down the stretch.

Cardiff City and Fulham have gone back and forth over the last two weeks, and once again the Whites have piled on the pressure. Fulham stretched its unbeaten streak to a club record 23 games, coming from behind to top basement dwelling Sunderland 2-1 moving them back into second place, two points ahead of Cardiff.

Fulham didn’t look its usual self early on, and Sunderland capitalized to pull ahead in the first half via route one a half-hour in. Sunderland goalkeeper Jason Steele booted a long ball forward that came to 18-year-old birthday boy Joel Asoro who squeaked his effort past Marcus Bettinelli. The goal marked the first time that Fulham had trailed since a 3-1 victory over Barnsley on January 27th.

Sunderland – the last team to beat Fulham in Championship play way back on December 16th – couldn’t hang on as their misery continues. Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon leveled things up just before halftime as Ryan Fredericks scorched one across the face of goal past Steele, and Piazon spiked it in to equalize. Aleksandar Mitrovic then bagged the winner in the 76th minute when he headed home a free-kick for his 12th goal since joining Fulham in January. The only drawback was an early injury to Southampton loanee Matt Targett, who has been spectacular since joining in January as well.

Cardiff City still controls its own destiny down by two points with a game in hand, but the Bluebirds have stumbled of late. They wasted their game in hand last time out, falling to Derby County 3-1 on Tuesday to let Fulham back in the mix. The loss was the third in their last five games for Neil Warnock’s side, and they now take on a Hull City squad that has lost just once in its last six matches, playing to a wild 5-5 draw with Bristol City its last time out.

Fulham’s final match of the regular season comes next Sunday at Birmingham City, while Cardiff City finishes things out at home against Reading.

PL Preview: Merseyside Derby a chance for Liverpool to build momentum

Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Everton has not beaten Liverpool in a PL derby since 2010
  • Liverpool is 16 games unbeaten vs. Everton across all competitions
  • Sadio Mane has a goal in each of his last 2 visits to Goodison Park

Everton’s run-in to the season seems to be a formality, but for Liverpool, there’s plenty to play for. Then, of course, we remember that this is a derby, so there’s plenty to play for on either side.

Liverpool has the opportunity to jump Manchester United into second place with a game in hand should they earn all three points at Goodison Park on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET. However, a loss or draw would open the door for Tottenham to pull level or even go ahead.

[ WATCH LIVE: Everton vs. Liverpool live on NBCSports.com ]

If you needed proof the Reds are looking to keep the momentum rocking from the 3-0 win over Manchester City in Champions League, they are looking to push Mohamed Salah towards availability despite a groin injury before halftime of the big midweek victory. Salah needs just one more goal to become the first African to reach the 30-goal mark in the history of the Premier League, and the Reds are one of the most electric teams in the English top-flight with Salah on the pitch.

For Everton, their best motivation might be the long drought of victory against their Premier League neighbors. The Toffees have not downed Liverpool in Premier League play since October of 2010, a run of 14 games, while they have gone 16 across all competitions without a win. It is the longest unbeaten streak for Liverpool in club history against Everton.

INJURIES

Everton: Probable – Gueye (hamstring). Out – Eliaquim Mangala (knee), James McCarthy (broken leg), Mason Holgate (ankle), Gylfi Sigurdsson (knee).

Liverpool: Questionable – Mohamed Salah (groin). Out – Emre Can (back), Adam Lallana (thigh), Joel Matip (thigh), Joe Gomez (ankle).

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s availability: “We’ve tried everything to make him available. There are 23 hours to go so let’s see what happens.”

Everton manager Sam Allardyce on timing of the game: “It’s a good time to play a derby for us in between the two Champions League games [for Liverpool]. But Jurgen [Klopp] has a very strong squad and they haven’t let him down all season. If he changes his squad it will still be strong and fresh. We have to stand on the front foot, be brave and be clinical if we get an opportunity.”

Prediction

It’s a derby, and these players know what’s at stake, but it’s just hard to imagine that Everton can match Liverpool’s motivation for a result in this match. Even with the midweek match, the Reds will keep focused and be fresh enough, and if the game is tight, Salah might be available off the bench to provide a late spark. Liverpool takes it 2-1 in a hard-fought match.

UCL Weds: Just watch the fireworks

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With apologies to Cristiano Ronaldo’s amazing goal and a standout day for Franck Ribery and Bayern Munich, Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League fixtures feel a bit like the buildup to Wednesday’s ffering.

[ RECAPS: Juve-Real | Sevilla-Bayern ]

That’s because Premier League powers Manchester City and Liverpool begin their UCL quarterfinal at 2:45 p.m. ET, the same time Lionel Messi’s Barcelona tangles with Daniele De Rossi and AS Roma.

Liverpool vs. Man City

The first leg at Anfield will be memorably loud at the jump, as Liverpool supporters feel their status as the only club to trip up City in a meaningful match this season is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Reds fell 5-0 in the first meeting of the season, and did nearly give away the farm after building a 4-1 lead at Anfield on Jan. 14, but there are only a select few sides with the attacking firepower to put a scare into Man City, and Jurgen Klopp‘s trident of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane is one of them.

[ MORE: How will Liverpool, Man City line up? ]

Another perceived advantage for the Reds is Man City’s surprising history at Anfield; Liverpool has only lost once to City in 37 years. Kevin De Bruyne is not worried.

“In the end, people talk about these things but I’ve only been here two and a half years,” De Bruyne said. “This is only the second time I’ll play here. It’s different, but at the end of the day, it’s just a game and now we play two games home and away and we have to try to manage tomorrow, get a lead if possible, if not we can finish it next week.”

Joel Matip is out for the rest of Liverpool’s season, but the Reds defense won’t have to contend with Sergio Aguero (at least not Wednesday).

Barcelona vs. AS Roma

There’s no questions visiting i Lupi is the supreme underdog of the round, and their chances of sneaking up on Barcelona are slim to none.

Ernesto Valverde has a chance to lead Barca to the UCL title in his first season in charge, and said Roma “are no surprise package. If you look at their matches in the group stages, they played really well.”

Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco is still playing with house money after winning a group with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. He may not have Radja Nainngolan at his disposal, but there’s plenty of steel around starting with De Rossi.

“We’re going up against a team that forces you onto the back foot. You can see it in the statistics and in their approach. Every footballer, though, has to have as part of their temperament the ability to handle the pressure of these situations, particularly if you play for an important club. You have to be prepared to take risks, to believe in better. The mentality that ‘what will be will be’ is dangerous though; our objective is to prepare as much as possible so that we can make it a competitive match.”

How will Liverpool, Man City line up?

Getty Images
1 Comment

What an occasion this should be.

The two Premier League teams remaining in the UEFA Champions League meet at Anfield on Wednesday for the first leg of their quarterfinal.

Liverpool v. Manchester City promises so much with Liverpool’s dramatic 4-3 home win over City in January (City’s only PL defeat all season long) still fresh in our minds.

One thing that’s for sure going into these two huge games over the next week: Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola will not waver from their philosophies.

All-out attack is expected and it could well be a classic European encounter between two teams built to entertain first, then worry about the rest later.

Here’s a look at the projected starting lineups for this clash at Anfield.


Liverpool

—– Karius —–

—– Alexander-Arnold —– Lovren —– Van Dijk —– Robertson —–

—– Can —– Henderson —– Oxlade-Chamberlain —–

—– Salah —– Firmino —– Mane —–

Analysis

The only way Liverpool could really be stronger than this is if Nathaniel Clyne (getting back to fitness) or Joe Gomez were available to start at right back. Joel Matip likely being out for the rest of the season is unfortunate and it’s now up to Dejan Lovren to step in and deliver solid displays. In midfield Klopp could go with the experience of James Milner but after Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fine goal and display against City a few months back, surely he will get the nod. The front three picks itself.


Manchester City

——- Ederson —–

—– Walker —– Kompany —– Otamendi —– Laporte —–

—– Fernandinho —–

—– Sterling —– Silva —– De Bruyne —– Sane —–

—– Jesus —–

Analysis

City’s only real concern going into this game is at left back but club-record signing Aymeric Laporte has been steady since he arrived in January and he could get the nod ahead of Fabian Delph and Danilo who are recovering from injury, even though the former Bilbao star is usually a center back. Gabriel Jesus will likely start up top after it was revealed Sergio Aguero is out injured, while John Stones will be City’s best defensive option on the bench as the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva hope to be involved at some point but could be saved for the Manchester Derby at the weekend.

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Watford

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool host Watford at Anfield on Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Jurgen Klopp‘s men aiming to go third in the Premier League table.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

With Liverpool’s other top four rivals Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea all in FA Cup action this weekend, this is a chance for the Reds to give themselves some breathing space.

Javi Gracia and Watford know the pressure is off as they sit in 10th place in the table and they will see this game as a free hit.

In team news Liverpool bring in Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum into the starting lineup.

Watford bring in Britos for Janmaat.


LINEUPS

Liverpool

Watford