AP Photo/Alastair Grant

PL Sunday preview: Two London derbies, plus the Merseyside

Leave a comment

Sunday is Derby Day in the Premier League, as a pair of sides from each of west London, north London and Merseyside will square off back-to-back-to-back, beginning at 7 a.m. ET.

[ MORE: Man City find groove in win | Man United come back for draw ]

Chelsea vs. Fulham — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the PL season — and with it, most realistic title hopes, perhaps — came to an end last weekend, as Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Maurizio Sarri’s side and handed the Italian his first defeat. Chelsea actually sit fourth in the table, despite their lone defeat — compared to Tottenham’s three — ahead of Sunday’s visit from west London rivals Fulham. Sarri will face his compatriot, newly appointed Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri, some 20 years after their first face-to-face meeting, in Florence.

“Friend is a big word, but I like him very much,” Sarri said this week. “I visited him in Florence 20 years ago. I think he doesn’t remember this meeting but it was very important for me. He visited us around 40 days ago to see our training. He spoke to me and Gianfranco (Zola).”

Since taking over at Craven Cottage, all Ranieri has done is inspire the Cottagers to one victory — their second of the season and first since August — in his one game in charge. While the three points were a welcome change after nine games without a win (and six straight defeats), the defense remains as leaky as ever, which will almost certainly be a major stumbling block against Player of the Year candidate Eden Hazard (7 goals, 4 assists in 12 appearances).

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: None | Fulham — OUT: Kevin McDonald (hamstring), André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (knock)


Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The season-long narratives surrounding Arsenal and Spurs couldn’t be any more different heading into Sunday’s north London derby, yet it’s Spurs — the disappointing nomads of the PL — who sit third in the table, while Arsenal — the reinvigorated giant under new manager Unai Emery — sit fifth, albeit just three points behind their bitter rivals.

Spurs have picked up their points in far less entertaining fashion — a great departure from the last two seasons under Mauricio Pochettino, when they played some of the most attractive attacking soccer in the world — and relied heavily upon makeshift defensive and midfield units, as the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele have all taken turns missing a handful of games each through injuries following a heavy workload at the 2018 World Cup. With Vertonghen only recently back in the fold, it’s Davinson Sanchez who’s set to miss the next month. Throw in the fact that Spurs signed not a single player in the summer transfer window, and it would be hard to argue against this being Pochettino’s best managerial job to date.

Arsenal, on the other hand, are scoring goals with great regularity (28 in 13 games), but it’s the narrow decline in goals conceded (16 in 13 games, 1.3 per game, compared to 1.5 per game last season) that has painted a different picture to what many had grown accustom to from the Gunners in recent years.

“Each match for me is very special,” Emery said this week. “The derby is perhaps more special because my responsibility is bigger because of every supporter. Also we need three points in the league because we want to be closer to the other teams, like Tottenham, and we have this challenge.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Nacho Monreal (thigh), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Laurent Koscielny (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Alexandre Lacazette (groin) | Tottenham — OUT: Davinson Sanchez (hamstring), Mousa Dembele (ankle), Kieran Trippier (groin), Danny Rose (groin)


Liverpool vs. Everton — 11:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The day’s final derby will feature a second-place Liverpool side — now five points behind Manchester City after Saturday — in desperate need of not only a win, but a performance that inspires confidence they’re up to the challenge of staying with Man City for 25 more games. With a must-win game against Napoli set for the final day of the Champions League group stage, the 2018-19 season is filling up with do-or-die fixtures far earlier than Jurgen Klopp would have liked. Goals and points have been hard to come by for Anfield visitors this season, as the Red have conceded just one goal and dropped only a pair of points, against Man City, in six league games.

Everton, on the other hand, have flown somewhat under the radar as all the headline go to City and Liverpool on another title race; Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal leapfrogging each other every week; and Manchester United hugely underperforming. Under new manager Marco Silva, the Toffees entire Sunday’s showdown in sixth place and having lost just one of their last seven league games. Alas, it’s been nearly 20 years (Sept. 27, 1999) since Everton were last victorious at Anfield.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Jordan Henderson (suspension), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) | Everton — OUT: James McCarthy (fitness)

Liverpool win at Watford, stay unbeaten

Leave a comment
  • Liverpool unbeaten in their opening 13 PL matches for the first time since 2007-08.
  • Salah, Alexander-Arnold score
  • Liverpool second in table 

Liverpool beat Watford 3-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday, as Jurgen Klopp‘s side battled to yet another victory.

Second half goals from Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino did the damage, as the Reds have now gone 13 games unbeaten to start the season. Jordan Henderson was shown a late red card, but Klopp’s men were home and dry by that point.

With the victory Liverpool move on to 33 points for the season, while Watford slip to ninth and have 20 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Watford thought they’d gone ahead with just a few minutes on the clock but Gerard Deulofeu was offside after racing through and firing past Alisson.

Liverpool took a while to settle in the game, and their first big chance came after Xherdan Shaqiri‘s ball into the box almost found Firmino.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Watford were quite content to sit back and let Liverpool have the ball and on the occasional break they rarely threatened. Roberto Pereyra was denied by Alisson who pushed his effort away, while Mane forced Ben Foster into a save at the other end.

Salah, of all people, almost scored with a header from a corner but Ben Foster got down low to push his effort out.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

In a second half which saw Liverpool push hard for the opener, it finally arrived. But only after Andrew Robertson was lucky to not have given away a penalty kick as he caught Will Hughes in the box.

The famous three were all involved in Liverpool’s opener, as Firmino flicked the ball to Sadio Mane who found Salah in the box. The Egyptian’s shot hit Foster but Watford’s goalkeeper couldn’t stop it going over the line. 1-0.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Late on Watford pushed forward in search of an equalizer but it didn’t arrive as Liverpool doubled their lead.

Alexander-Arnold curled home a fine free kick to make it 2-0 but then Henderson was shown a second yellow card for fouling Ettiene Capoue as Liverpool went down to 10 men.

Firmino scored another late on to seal the win, as Liverpool’s unbeaten record now stands at 13.

Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Fulham

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fulham’s leaky defense meets Liverpool’s firepower at Anfield on Sunday (Watch live at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Xherdan Shaqiri starts in the midfield for Liverpool, who keeps James Milner, Jordan Henderson, and Naby Keita on the bench.

Sergio Rico starts in goal for Fulham, and should be quite busy.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri, Mane, Salah, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Lovren, Milner, Keita, Henderson, Sturridge, Moreno.

Fulham: Rico, Christie, Odoi, Mawson, Le Marchand, Anguissa, Chambers, Cairney, Schurrle, Mitrovic, Sessegnon. Subs: Bettinelli, Fosu-Mensah, Ream, Seri, Johansen, Kebano, Vietto.

England announces roster for USMNT, Croatia matches

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
1 Comment

Gareth Southgate has named his 28-man roster for next week’s friendly against the United States and pivotal UEFA Nations League match with Croatia.

Dave Sarachan’s USMNT announced its roster on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Europa League wrap ]

Wayne Rooney is back with England for one final cap, while Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund is the only other player on the roster not based in England.

The Three Lions seem likely to deploy their second-choice players for the match against the USMNT on Thursday, Nov. 15.

England roster in full

Goalkeepers: Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Spurs), Kyle Walker (Man City)

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Spurs), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Man City), Eric Dier (Spurs), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Harry Winks (Spurs)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Spurs), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (DC United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

Three things we learned: Arsenal v. Liverpool

Leave a comment

Arsenal and Liverpool clashed in north London on Saturday with a 1-1 draw enough to see Jurgen Klopp‘s men momentarily go top of the Premier League table as they remain unbeaten this season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Unai Emery‘s side huffed and puffed and gave a good account of themselves against a fellow top six team with Alexandre Lacazette‘s equalizer a thing of beauty. There is still plenty of work for the Spanish coach to do in the weeks and months ahead but this will be another positive step forward.

What did we learn from an end-to-end encounter at the Emirates?


ANOTHER BIG STEP FORWARD FOR ARSENAL

The Gunners deservedly grabbed a point on Saturday and the progression under Emery is clear for all to see when you compare this game against Liverpool to their opening two games of the season against Manchester City and Chelsea. Emery has now made Arsenal more solid defensively and they always carried a threat going forward against Liverpool. Overall there is now a better balance about the team. If you’d said to anyone connected with Arsenal at the start of the season that they would be unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions entering November and in fourth place in the Premier League, just four points off top spot, they would have snapped your hand off. Lucas Torreira epitomizes this new-look Arsenal with the diminutive Uruguayan midfielder shielding the back four, pressing Liverpool’s midfield and always looking to spring attacks with his slick passing. He gives them a solid base to launch their attacks.

Heading into games against Wolves and Bournemouth next up, Arsenal will hope to take care of business before back-to-back games against Manchester United and Tottenham in the space of four days in December. That will be the next big test to see how far Emery’s men have come. Right now, everything is heading in the right direction and their progress is clear.


DIRECT LIVERPOOL TRIED TO BYPASS ARSENAL PRESS

I’m not saying Liverpool are a long ball team every week, I’m just saying that on Saturday that’s how they played. The most joy Liverpool had going forward was when they went direct and got the ball up to Roberto Fimrino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as quickly as possible. A clipped ball over the top found Fimrino who hit the bar in the first half, with Mane finishing off the rebound which was incorrectly given offisde. If there was ever a decision which showcased why VAR most arrive in the Premier League next season, it was this one. Anyway, with the pace of Mane and Salah on the break, the key from Klopp was to bypass the likes of Mesut Ozil and Torreira, especially with Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita out injured and Fabinho looking a little shaky in midfield. It was a composed away display and although Liverpool will be upset to let in a goal late on after taking the lead, Klopp will be happy to leave the Emirates with a point.

Liverpool have now drawn against Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea and won away at Tottenham in their opening 11 games of the Premier League season. They’re top of the table and Klopp’s men look composed, as they have done for much of this season as they’ve contended with injuries and look much better defensively than in previous campaigns. Against Arsenal they hit the post, had a good goal disallowed and Virgil Van Dijk went close on several occasions and although Arsenal did threaten at times, Liverpool who were in second gear for most of the game. Klopp’s record against the rest of the top six has always been good since he arrived in England, with dropped points against the so-called smaller teams causing problems in the pursuit of the Premier League title. Liverpool’s status as one of the Premier League’s title favorites remains intact.


GOALKEEPING BLUNDERS COSTLY

At both ends of the pitch Alisson and Bernd Leno will be disappointed with the goals they conceded. Both came and flapped at crosses during the game which almost saw them concede, but on Liverpool’s goal Leno was caught pushing a harmless cross back into danger when he probably should have stood back and let one of his defenders clear. Instead he knocked it into James Milner‘s path and Liverpool led.

In the first half Alisson did something similar but Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn’t make him pay, while he was then caught out a little on Lacazette’s brilliant equalizer. It’s true that Lacazette finished superbly from a tight angle when everyone expected him to cross, but did Alisson need to rush off his line and try to get to that ball? Probably not. Leno and Alisson are new to the Premier League and they showed that on Saturday.