Nathaniel Clyne

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Premier League Preview: Liverpool v. Arsenal

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  • Top of the table: 1st-place Reds host 2nd-place Gunners
  • Liverpool won 5-1 at Anfield last season
  • Both sides nearing full fitness but a few injuries linger

Thanks to one half of north London, Liverpool enter Matchweek 3 atop the Premier League table. To maintain their two-point lead on two-time defending champions Manchester City, they must knock off the other half of north London, Arsenal, who also double as the PL’s second-place side 180 minutes into the campaign, at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

When the margins between champions and runners-up are as fine as one point, every clash with a fellow top-six side could ultimately prove to be the difference maker in the title race. Yes, even in the third week of the season.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Neither side was overwhelmingly dominant in picking up a 2-1 victory last weekend — Liverpool away to Southampton; Arsenal at home to Burnley — though the Reds were coming off a midweek trip to Istanbul for the UEFA Super Cup and the Gunners are still in the process of working club-record signing Nicolas Pepe into the team as well as bringing Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac back into the fold.

Dani Ceballos, on the other hand, has hit the ground running and appears set to become a hugely influential figure for Arsenal, even if he only spends one season at the club before returning to Real Madrid. The Spanish midfielder made his first start in the win over Burnley and provided assists on both goals, scored by Alexander Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Injuries/suspensions

Liverpool: OUT – Alisson (calf), Nathaniel Clyne (knee); QUESTIONABLE – Naby Keita (hip)

Arsenal: OUT – Kieran Tierney (groin), Hector Bellerin (knee), Rob Holdin (fitness); QUESTIONABLE – Mesut Ozil (fitness), Grant Xhaka (back)


Projected lineups

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

Arsenal: Leno – Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac – Torreira, Guendouzi, Ceballos – Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe


What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp, on the early-season challenge of facing Arsenal: “We have to be brave, have to play your own football, you have to try to keep possession, you have to be direct. There are a lot of things to do and consider, against a very strong opponent. That’s why I’m really looking forward to it. It’s the early part of the season but these games will come up anyway. Now it’s pretty early and we have to show we are ready again.”

Unai Emery, on testing his side against Liverpool: “We really are in a very good position, but we only played two matches in the Premier League. We know it’s only the beginning but we can be positive and optimistic for that match and wishing to show our moment against them, but knowing that it is going to be difficult but it is a very big challenge and a very big opportunity for us to do something.”


Prediction

While Arsenal spent big in the summer, they didn’t actually address their team’s biggest area of need: the defense. Thus far, it hasn’t mattered, against Newcastle United and Burnley. Liverpool are, shall we say, slightly more prolific going forward and will cause the Gunners considerably greater problems — particularly Salah anytime he gets isolated one-on-one with Ainsley Maitland-Niles. A 2-0 victory for Liverpool which is far more comfortable than the final score would suggest.

Liverpool allows two more goals in Sporting draw

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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Liverpool’s still working out the kinks after surrendering two more goals against Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Simon Mignolet allowed a howler to Bruno Fernandes, who set up Wendel for an equalizer after Liverpool had taken a 2-1 lead on goals from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum.

[ MORE: Key questions for 20 PL clubs ]

The result means the Reds have allowed two or more goals in all three of their U.S. based friendlies (3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund, 2-1 loss to Sevilla, and Wednesday’s draw).

The Reds have also beaten Bradford City and Tranmere Rovers, and are yet to see Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane in the lineup.

Last season’s preseason wasn’t perfect, it must be noted, but the Reds only once lost and allowed multiple goals (A 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund).

The rough night in defense came after the news that Nathaniel Clyne will be lost until at least January with an ACL injury.

On a bright note, a young Liverpool defender said hello to the club after moving from PEC Zwolle this summer.

Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame

Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune via AP
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A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.

Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.

Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.

Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.

It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.

Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.

PL friendly roundup: Liverpool win; Everton, Saints, Norwich draw

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s preseason action involving Premier League teams, wherever in the world they might be preparing for the 2019-20 season…

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

Bradford City 1-3 Liverpool

James Milner scored twice — once from open play and once from the penalty spot — as Liverpool continued the long, slow build toward their PL opener against Norwich City on Aug. 9. 19-year-old Rhian Brewster continued to make noise this preseason, as he followed up his brace against League One side Tranmere Rovers during the week with another goal against another League One side on Sunday.

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain started and played 45 minutes, as did all 10 outfield players before Jurgen Klopp made wholesale changes at halftime. Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne, both of whom have been linked with moves away from Anfield this summer, also started.

Arminia Bielefeld 2-2 Norwich City

Dennis Srbeny and Josip Drmic scored a goal each for Norwich City, but the newly promoted PL side conceded an 88th-minute equalizer away to German second-division side Arminia Bielefeld.

The Canaries suffered injuries to a pair of key players on Sunday, with both Louis Thompson and Ben Godfrey being forced off. Head coach Daniel Farke indicated after the game that Thompson suffered a hamstring strain, while Godfrey left the stadium on crutches.

Other PL preseason results

Sion 0-0 Everton
Altach 1-1 Southampton

Transfer rumor roundup: Dembele to Man Utd, Fraser to Arsenal

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Manchester United will fire off a $45 million opening bid to bring Moussa Dembele from Lyon to Old Trafford.

It seems unlikely that number will do the trick for the Ligue 1 outfit which bought him from Celtic for $25 million last summer.

Prolific in Scotland after making his name at Fulham and letting his contract run out, the 22-year-old scored 15 goals with five assists in his first Ligue 1 season. He also scored three goals between UEFA Champions League qualifying and the tournament itself.

That comes from Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre, which also has the report that United remains interested in Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff — we’ve covered that before — and has cooled on Idrissa Gana Gueye of Everton due to a $45 million price tag.

Nathaniel Clyne is a man in demand after his loan stint at Bournemouth furthered his chances of leaving Liverpool.

Sky Sports says the right back’s price tag is around $20 million, and that Napoli, Crystal Palace, and West Ham are all interested in his services.

Clyne had an assist in 13 matches on loan for the Cherries, who are also worried about interest in star playmaker Ryan Fraser.

The diminutive midfielder showed a dynamic connection with Callum Wilson and rang up seven goals and 14 assists at the age of 25.

But Bournemouth is said to want $38 million for its star. Will Arsenal go that high?