Man City issue injury update on De Bruyne, Mendy; Liverpool on Keita

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Understandably Pep Guardiola kept his cards close to his chest ahead of Manchester City’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), with the Spanish coach asked for a fitness update on two key players.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live

Pep admitted that both Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy were back in training and have to be assessed of the huge game at Anfield between the top two teams in the Premier League who both remain unbeaten so far this season. Asked specifically about KDB, who has been out since August with a knee injury, Guardiola confirmed the Belgian superstar is back in training.

“He made part of the training today and he is training with us,” Guardiola said.

It appears that KDB could be on the bench for this weekend which would be a miraculous recovery given the initial diagnosis as it was thought he’d be out until November.

As for Mendy, he has recovered from a metatarsal injury but Fabian Delph is out and Ilkay Gundogan is struggling to be fit for the clash between title contenders.

Given the fact that City have lost three of their last four outings against Liverpool, having De Bruyne and Mendy back in contention would be a huge boost for Guardiola, even if they’re only available to come off the bench. Seeing De Bruyne come off the bench would no doubt scare Liverpool late in the game, as the likes of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Sergio Aguero are tough enough to handle during 90 minutes.

As for Liverpool, like Man City they’re going through a tough run of games with the League Cup, UEFA Champions and PL, and Jurgen Klopp issued an injury update on Naby Keita.

The Guinean midfielder was forced off late on in the defeat at Napoli on Wednesday with a back injury.

“He had a back spasm, so we have to wait a little bit today,” Klopp said. “He’s in today but whether he can do something on the training ground I don’t know.  We have to see the doctor again and we’ll make a decision. Tomorrow we’ll have to see. It didn’t look to serious, so there is a chance he can play but we don’t know.”

If Keita isn’t ready to play, Jordan Henderson will likely play in central midfield alongside James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum.

England calls up new faces, Southgate deal confirmed

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Straight into the fire, boys.

Gareth Southgate is going to test some new faces in England’s UEFA Nations League matches in Croatia and Spain.

Confirming reports from Thursday, England also announced a new contract for Southgate which extends through the 2022 World Cup.

[ MORE: Atlanta eyes Almiron replacement ]

The FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, has lofty expectations for the program:

“We have great ambition. We will win a World Cup. We will win a Euros. We’re going to give ourselves the best possible chance with the players we have got. We want to see progress. We can feel progress. The public can sense and feel it. We want to see progress on and off the pitch.”

Derby County’s Mason Mount, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, Leicester City’s James Maddison, Spurs’ Harry Winks, and Watford’s Nathaniel Chalobah are the fairly unusual names in the bunch.

Luke Shaw is back in the fold, the lone Manchester United player on the roster.

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

Defenders: John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Man City), Kieran Trippier (Spurs), Danny Rose (Spurs), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Luke Shaw (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Eric Dier (Spurs), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Derby County), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford), James Maddison (Leicester City), Harry Winks (Spurs), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund).

Forwards: Harry Kane (Spurs), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Man City)

Top Premier League storylines for Week 7

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There’s potential for a major Top Four shakeup and maybe even a change in perception of title contention when the Premier League brings Week 7 to the forefront this weekend.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]


Can Chelsea beat Liverpool again, go top of Premier League?
Chelsea vs. Liverpool — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC STREAM ]

The Premier League season will near its one-fifth point after this weekend, and three teams could sit atop the table following six match days.

Two of those teams meet at Stamford Bridge four days after Chelsea came back to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in the League Cup.

Jurgen Klopp is winless in four against the Blues after winning two of his first three matches against Chelsea as Liverpool boss. Following wins at Stamford Bridge in his first two league visits, Liverpool fell 1-0 last season.

Both teams kept key players out of the Starting XI on Wednesday, though as the intensity of the match ramped up both managers injected some: N'Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, Eden Hazard, Mohamed Salah, David Luiz, Jordan Henderson.

Yeah, they cared.

So will Liverpool get right back on track at the Bridge following its first setback of the season, or will it be staring down consecutive losses to the same opponent in under a week?

The Reds passed their first two tests of the season, beating Spurs and PSG. The next was a failure versus the Blues, but revenge would keep the PL season firing forward.

Manuel Pellegrini hopes to get another one over on Man Utd
West Ham United vs. Manchester United — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN STREAM ]

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini has had his fair share of success against Manchester United dating back to his time as the manager of Manchester City, posting a 3W-1D-2L record against the Red Devils.

A win on Saturday could rank right up there amongst his favorite conquests, and maybe even be a momentous moment in the tenure of Jose Mourinho at United.

Pellegrini’s 0-4 start to life at West Ham was well-documented, but the Irons beat Everton before drawing Chelsea last week with very different tactical deployments. An 8-0 throttling of Macclesfield Town in the League Cup now yields to this match, which could further endear Pellegrini to the West Ham support.

And if he doesn’t win? We bet they’d agree with Pellegrini that a draw is the next best thing.

United is coming off a 10-man loss to Derby County at home in the League Cup and a wealthy of rough headlines involving Mourinho and Paul Pogba. It’s a “rise up” moment for the Red Devils under Mourinho. They’ve done it plenty of times. Will they bail him out again?

Hornets hope to reclaim footing as Arsenal aims to pass them
Arsenal vs. Watford — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on Gold STREAM ] 

The Top Four race could be pretty cluttered after the weekend, and Arsenal’s ability to leapfrog Watford and sits fifth or better is one to watch closely. Javi Gracia‘s Hornets keep scoring, but have just one result from their last three matches in all competitions.

Try a free preview of the NBC Sports Gold pass this weekend.

Can Spurs avoid letdown without Eriksen?
Huddersfield Town vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN STREAM ]

There will be no Christian Eriksen again for Spurs, but Erik Lamela and Dele Alli have been in-form and firing. A visit to the John Smith’s Stadium isn’t a cakewalk, but the Terriers have been struggling and Spurs will be expected to walk over their Bottom Three opponents.

Clarets try to keep building momentum against desperate Bluebirds
Cardiff City vs. Burnley — 11 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN STREAM ]

The Bluebirds may not know what to make of Burnley, who struggled in both the Europa League and Premier League before breaking out for a 4-0 win over Bournemouth last week. Burnley rolled out a second-choice squad for the midweek League Cup loss to Burton Albion, but Cardiff will still be viewing this as a chance to pick up its first win of the PL season.

Tuchel: Traditional No. 10s struggle against Liverpool

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If Thomas Tuchel is willing to move one of the best players in the world out of a preferred position on the pitch, then perhaps we’ll see Premier League teams do the same in a bid to break down Liverpool.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 3-2 PSG ]

The Paris Saint-Germain boss admitted that he used Neymar at left wing and Kylian Mbappe on the right — neither a grand departure for the electric attackers, but a departure — despite his desire to line Neymar up as more of a traditional central playmaking No. 10.

The reason? Liverpool. And reading between the lines, Tuchel probably thought Neymar would get butchered by Jordan Henderson and Virgil Van Dijk if he was played centrally. From The Liverpool Echo:

“There wasn’t much space for Neymar to play number 10. Liverpool try to get you to play in that area and then close that area well, our plan was to utilize the space on the flanks and use the space of Neymar and Mbappe.

“We wanted to use our full-backs to control the ball and slow things down. We tried to play well. It’s time to emphasize the mental strength of my players and their quality on the ball.

“You have to remember that Liverpool’s closing down is second nature, it’s automatic to them. They do it naturally.”

West Ham deployed 4-2-3-1 and lost 4-0. Palace went straight 4-4-2 and put a scare in the Reds but lost 2-0.

Brighton’s 1-0 loss came with a 4-1-4-1, while Leicester also went 4-2-3-1 in a 2-1 loss.

Oddly enough, Spurs didn’t get much done with their 4-3-1-2, but their No. 10 scored in the match and Lucas Moura was a danger trying something similar.

Then again, Klopp said he “changed the system” to thrive in the match, which could mean Tuchel’s initial plan could’ve been more successful.

UCL, LIVE – Liverpool v PSG headlines group stage kick off

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The Chaammpionsssss League is back with a bang.

Liverpool host Paris Saint-Germain to kick off their Group C campaign, while Napoli head to Red Star Belgrade in the other game in that group. Will Mohamed Salah or Neymar triumph at Anfield? It promises to be an epic clash.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

In team news Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino is only fit enough for the bench after his eye injury, as Daniel Sturridge replaces him in the starting lineup. Jordan Henderson comes in for Naby Keita in the only other change.

Elsewhere, stacked Group A gets underway with Borussia Dortmund heading to Club Brugge, while Monaco host Atletico Madrid. Group D sees Galatasaray host Lokomotiv Moscow, while FC Porto head to Schalke.

In USMNT news, Christian Pulisic is on the bench for Borussia Dortmund on his 20th birthday after recovering from injury, while Weston McKennie makes his Champions League debut for Schalke.

Click on the link above to follow all the action live, while we will keep you up to date with all of the UCL across Europe right here at Pro Soccer Talk.

Here’s the full schedule for Tuesday’s late games, with all six encounters kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group A
AS Monaco vs. Atletico Madrid
Club Brugge vs. Borussia Dortmund

Group C
Liverpool vs. PSG
Red Star Belgrade vs. Napoli

Group D
Galatasaray vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
FC Porto vs. Schalke