Mohamed Salah

ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Napoli scores on late penalty, rare Van Dijk error in 2-0 win

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The good news is that Liverpool lost to Napoli last season in the UEFA Champions League, then went on to win the whole darn thing.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jose Callejon won a late penalty that Dries Mertens converted, and Fernando Llorente took advantage of a Virgil Van Dijk error to pad the lead as Napoli held serve at home with a 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeepers immense: No, he’s not Alisson Becker, but Adrian is probably the biggest reason Liverpool didn’t open its UCL defense with a blowout loss. He made a pair of early stops on Dries Mertens before a show-stopping effort in the second half. Napoli got two fine saves from Alex Meret, including a terrific denial of Mohamed Salah in the 65th.

2. Salah, Mane can’t deliver in key moments: Take away Salah’s penalty in the UCL Final, and Liverpool’s two top threats have not accounted for a goal in four matches inside the competition. Mane was mostly good on the day, but misled Salah on an early second half pass which would have almost certainly been a goal. Salah simply had an off day

3. Callejon sells the drama: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson lost a 50/50 with Jose Callejon, who ran into the fulback and hit the deck to win a penalty. That was the difference here, as Mertens beat Adrian.

Man of the Match: Meret was especially good, the 22-year-old Italian goalkeeper big in several key moments to edge Mertens for the honor.


Napoli thought it had gone ahead through El Tri star Hirving Lozano, who nodded over the line following two Alisson Becker saves on Dries Mertens, but the Mexican was offside.

Sadio Mane had a 20th minute chance at the other end, but pumped a point blank low shot to Napoli keeper Alex Meret which led to a corner kick.

Fabinho intervened in the 53rd minute as Napoli emerged from the locker room with energy, but the best chance of the early second half was flubbed in uncharacteristic fashion: Sadio Mane was through 2v1 with Mohamed Salah but made a miserable pass to his teammate.

The first goal arrived when Callejon tapped the ball past Robertson and leapt into the defender to earn a penalty from referee Felix Brych.

It was 2-0 in stoppage time when Fernando Llorente ran onto a Virgil van Dijk error and passed beyond Adrian.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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The Premier League is back, and Matchweek 5 didn’t disappoint.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

There are plenty of new entries in our first rankings after the international break, with the likes of Norwich, Chelsea and Liverpool well represented throughout our top 20.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – Up 4
2.  Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Up 2
3. Teemu Pukki (Norwich) – New entry
4. Mason Mount (Chelsea) – New entry
5. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – New entry
6. Emiliano Buendia (Norwich) – New entry
7. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 6
8. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) – New entry
9. Harry Maguire (Man United) – New entry
10. Ibrahim Amadou (Norwich) – New entry
11. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Down 4
12. Sergio Aguero (Man City) – Down 10
13. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Even
14. Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – New entry
15. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) – New entry
16. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – New entry
17. Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton) – Even
18. Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea) – New entry
19. Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth) – New entry
20. James Maddison (Leicester) – New entry

Liverpool overcomes early blip, dominates Newcastle

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Sadio Mane scored twice as Liverpool overcame an early concession to continue its brilliant start to the Premier League season with a 3-1 win over Newcastle United at Anfield.

Roberto Fimino set up Mohamed Salah for Liverpool’s third goal, as the Reds look very ready for their trip to Napoli to start the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

The Reds are the fourth team to win 14-straight top flight matches in English history.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jetro Willems scored a terrific 7th minute goal for Newcastle, which was unable to produce another goal despite a gilt-edged chance for Emil Krafth.

Liverpool is now 5-0, the only perfect team in the league, while Newcastle’s four points through five matches have them above the drop zone for now.


Three things we learned

  1. Soothed, soothed Sadio — Mane’s two goals came in very Mane fashion; The drama of last match week behind him, the Senegalese winger curled a powerful shot home for his first goal, and put off Dubravka with his pace and industry to produce an easier second. This will be exactly what Liverpool wanted: A quick cleansing of whatever residue was left by his very public displeasure with Mohamed Salah, although it is a little bit of an eyebrow raiser that they didn’t celebrate together much over the course of three goals.
  2. Almiron absent — There were not too many signs that Miguel Almiron’s Paraguay goal, his first in 27 appearances for club and country, snapped him out of his slump. Over 67 minutes, the ex-Atlanta United man continued his PL struggles: 64 percent passing, just one successful dribble, and 30 total touches.
  3. Firmino the Man — It’s not often a first half sub makes the opposition feel worse about its chances, but the game changed when Roberto Firmino entered the match for injured Divock Origi. He created a few beautiful moments, none better than the dizzying assist to Salah.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Newcastle took a shock lead with a vicious counter attack, Christian Atsu getting behind the back line to collect a long ball before playing Willems into the box for a thunderous shot.

It was all Liverpool going forward, and Jamaal Lascelles was very fortunate not to have conceded a penalty for a foul of Joel Matip in the box.

Mane made it 1-1 within moments, as Liverpool finally got its first shot on target. Andy Robertson fed Mane for a rocket of his own in the 28th minute, as Jonjo Shelvey could not catch up with the Senegalese star.

An Atsu giveaway sent the ball and Mane toward goal, and Martin Dubravka failed to collect the ball with a slide as Mane leapt over him. The striker was there to tap home the loose ball.

Georginio Wijnaldum nearly scored a sensational goal in the 49th minute when he used the outside of his boot to nearly writhe a shot around Dubravka.

Great work from Atsu was nearly redemptive for the score line, as Emil Krafth couldn’t settle the cross and could not take advantage of a slow-to-react Virgil Van Dijk.

The Reds could’ve put it to bed twice in the next five minutes, Firmino unable to head an Alexander-Arnold cross past Dubravka and Robertson missing wide from an acute angle.

Firmino’s assist on Salah’s goal was magnificent, and the match was over with 17 minutes to play.

Preview: Liverpool v. Newcastle

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  • Liverpool unbeaten in 23 home games v. Newcastle
  • Newcastle have won 3 of last 5 PL away games
  • Bruce has just 4 defeats in 17 PL games v. Liverpool

Liverpool host Newcastle United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the international break is over and the Premier League action resumes.

Hurrah!

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Jurgen Klopp‘s men have a 100 percent record so far and sit top of the table, where they hope to stay all season long. On paper this should be a comfortable home win for the Reds but Steve Bruce‘s Newcastle have already won on the road at Tottenham Hotspur this season and will sit back, soak up pressure and look to hit Liverpool on the counter.

In team news Liverpool are still without goalkeeper Alisson, while Naby Keita has returned to training but won’t be ready to play this weekend.

Newcastle are without promising midfielder Sean Longstaff who turned his ankle in training, while DeAndre Yedlin, Florian Lejuene, Matt Ritchie, Allan Saint-Maximin, Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle are all still out.


Possible lineups

Liverpool: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Newcastle: Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems; Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu; Joelinton.


What they’re saying

Klopp on Alisson’s calf injury: “Funnily enough, we had lunch together [just now]; he looks good and he is improving, but we cannot put any pressure on it. It was a really serious injury in the calf. It is now much better, of course, and that’s good for us and good for him, but we don’t know exactly [how long it will be]. The target was always after the next international break [that] he could be ready, but we don’t know. So, as I said, there is no pressure and hopefully everything will be fine for the rest of the season, that’s the plan.”

Steve Bruce on facing Liverpool: “They have been together for a couple of years. The core are really really honest and a genuine group of players. When you’ve got that, you’re capable of doing anything. Let’s go and have a crack and enjoy the occasion and see if we can pull off a shock.”


Prediction

Liverpool may chop and change a few players due to their UEFA Champions League game at Napoli on Tuesday, but Klopp will be focused that his side continue their great start to the season. This should be an easy home win. I’m going for 3-0, and more importantly I think Mohamed Salah will pass to Sadio Mane…

Top PL storylines: Week 5

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The Premier League is finally returning after what somehow felt like the longest international break in ages.

Anyone else feel that way?

[ MORE: USMNT roundtable ]

Here’s what we have on the docket for a busy weekend in England.


The reigning champs begin life without Laporte

  • Norwich City v. Man City, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Aymeric Laporte may not get the headlines of Virgil Van Dijk, but the Man City man has been a close second to the Liverpool star when it comes to how important a role he plays to his defense. Fortunately, Man City has reliable Nicolas Otamendi and a healthy John Stones. How they perform together will go a long way to determining whether a 3-peat is an option once Laporte returns after the new year. The first Laporte-less test comes against Teemu Pukki and defense-starved Norwich City


Spurs aching for stability, return to form

  • Tottenham Hotspur v. Crystal Palace, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Both Tottenham and their visitors had a key attacker in the rumor mill throughout August, and both Christian Eriksen and Wilfried Zaha stayed put at the transfer deadline. Spurs have just five points through four games, but have already played two Top Four rivals (draws with Man City and Arsenal). It’s fair to say nothing short of a home win over Palace will be acceptable to the Lilywhite faithful. Can Spurs “re-focus?”


New (old) boss bump against dangerous Gunners?

  • Watford v. Arsenal, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Watford fired Javi Gracia in favor of a return to Quique Sanchez Flores, and the Hornets’ home faithful will see whether it gives the moribund Hornets a return to 2018-19 form. Watford has just one point from the first four matches of the season, while Arsenal has only lost to Liverpool. Goal fest?


Someone’s stalling has to end here

  • Wolves v. Chelsea, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Europa League congestion can rightfully be blamed for some of Wolves’ struggles to start the season, but no such prognosis can be made ahead of a visit from less-than-inspiring Chelsea. This is a good litmus test for two teams’ high-end hopes, and a loss for the hosts could see them finish the weekend in the drop zone.


Business as usual for Salah, Mane versus Newcastle

  • Liverpool v. Newcastle United, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Forget the argument last week: Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and their fellow Reds will be licking their lips to face a Newcastle team which hasn’t won at Anfield since a League Cup match in 1995. The goal scorer? Steve Watson.


Brendan Rodgers aims to make statement at Old Trafford

  • Manchester United v. Leicester City, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

The hosts Red Devils are running out of excuses for their in-game dominance not producing three points, and the latest test at Old Trafford comes via an in-form Leicester City. Will Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers deliver his first big result of the season?