Xherdan Shaqiri

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Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v. Liverpool

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Tottenham Hotspur would love to be the club to end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season when the two sides meet in North London on Saturday (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Jose Mourinho insists his club believes it can a result despite the dour mood accompanying Harry Kane’s injury.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Liverpool is facing injuries, too, but its trident remains healthy and led by Player of the Season candidate Sadio Mane.

The Reds hold a 13-point lead on the Premier League field and have a match-in-hand on everyone except West Ham United.

Spurs are still very much a part of the race for the Top Four should they be able to again navigate a long Kane absence. Tottenham is six points back of fourth place Chelsea.


Injuries/suspensions

Spurs: OUT —  Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies, Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko. QUESTIONABLE — Danny Rose.

Liverpool: OUT — Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, Fabinho, James Milner, Naby Keita, Nathaniel Clyne. QUESTIONABLE — Xherdan Shaqiri.


Probable lineups

Spurs: Gazzaniga; Vertonghen, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Sessegnon, Dier, Lo Celso, Dele, Aurier; Lucas, Son.

Liverpool: Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Mane, Firmino, Salah.


What they’re saying

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho on facing Liverpool: “It’s the best team in our competition, just to say that – I could say more than that. We would prefer to play against them with everybody available. … But again that’s the way it is and we worked hard in the week, and the boys that are available, of course they are happy to play and when somebody doesn’t play you open the opportunity for somebody else, and we know the situation. We know how good they are, we can imagine that in this room only two persons think that we can win. Maybe only two, but we believe (puts his arm around Spurs’ press officer). We have to believe. If you don’t believe, get out man.”

Jurgen Klopp on Jose Mourinho: “A world-class manager with a specific mindset. He wants to win. I respect that a lot. Each situation his team is in he tries to use. That is how managers work. The good news is, we don’t play. We send out two teams and we have to make sure it works out. I don’t think anyone wants to play us right now. Spurs are never easy but they are now so let’s see.”


Prediction

Liverpool’s biggest question mark is in the midfield, but Tottenham’s hit there, too. We imagine this one will be a bit cagier than usual, perhaps even a surprise 1-1.

Firmino winner sends Liverpool into Club World Cup final

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Jurgen Klopp planned to give a number of regular Liverpool starters the day off, but the best laid plans go to waste. With Monterrey matching Liverpool in Qatar, Roberto Firmino was on hand to save Liverpool from extra time and penalties, scoring in the 91st minute to put Liverpool into the Club World Cup final via a 2-1 win over the Mexican club.

The Reds were was forced into a few changes and Jurgen Klopp made a few more on his own, most notably sitting Virgil Van Dijk due to illness while resting Trent Alexander-Arnold, Firmino, and Sadio Mane, although they would all eventually be required. That left Jordan Henderson to deputize at center-back while James Milner took a spot at right-back. Xherdan Shaqiri took a spot along the top three, while Adam Lallana played in a defensive midfield role behind Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

[ MORE: New Arsenal manager? | Everton? ]

The Reds still showed an attacking intent and got on the board early as Keita was filtered through the middle by crowd favorite Mohamed Salah, and the Guinea international finished expertly one-on-one past Marcelo Barovero for an 11th minute lead. Monterrey would not be deterred, however, and found an immediate response just three minutes later. The Mexican side caught the injury-riddled Liverpool defense ball-watching at the far post, with an initial shot by Jesus Gallardo saved by Allison, but the rebound fell to Rogelio Funes Mori alone at the back post for the equalizer.

Dorlan Pabon had a go on 26 minutes but forced a quality save from Alisson, and Monterrey came close again past the half-hour mark as Alisson just barely wrong-footed a counter-attack by getting his fingertips to a Pabon cross that just trickled behind a racing Funes Mori. Salah was bright up front to the delight of the Doha crowd, while Keita came close to a double just before halftime but was thwarted in his efforts to round the keeper after being released down the left edge of the six-yard box.

After the second-half restart, Liverpool thought it had the lead past the hour mark but Divock Origi‘s strike was flagged for offside on a great trap by the Monterrey back line. Monterrey began to grab hold of the game, and Klopp responded by bringing Mane, Alexander-Arnold, and Firmino off the bench.

The latter was the man to grab the decisive touch. As Salah did hard work down the right edge of the box before being shut off, he tapped back to Alexander-Arnold who delivered a perfect ball into the box for Firmino. The Brazilian poked it past a wrong-footed Barovero and into the back of the net to send Liverpool through.

The Reds will play Brazilian club Flamengo in the championship game on Saturday, while Monterrey will take on Saudi side Al-Hilal.

Salah’s magic leads Liverpool past Watford

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A shaky Liverpool beat bottom-side Watford 2-0 at Anfield on Saturday as they are now unbeaten in the Premier League in 34 games.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

But this was far from comfortable for Jurgen Klopp‘s side. Watford wasted several glorious chances as new manager Nigel Pearson had an immediate impact but Mohamed Salah scored in each half to seal the win. It was also Liverpool’s first home clean sheet of the season as they have three-straight shutouts in all competitions.

With the win Liverpool move 11 points clear, momentarily, at the top of the table on 49 points, while Watford remain bottom on nine points.


3 things we learned

1. Sluggish Liverpool grind it out: It wasn’t pretty, especially in the first half, but Liverpool got the job done. That has been the story of their incredible season so far. Klopp’s side have now won 16 of their 17 games this season and are unbeaten but Klopp’s side lacked energy in the attacking third and maybe that is to be expected after their draining win in Salzburg on Tuesday. This was another case of grinding it out and like all title-winning teams, Liverpool have the knack of doing just enough to get over the line. In past seasons they’ve played so much better but dropped points in games like this.

2. Watford squander glorious chances: New manager Nigel Pearson will be filled with optimism by the way his team played, especially in the first half. He will also be concerned with the lack of confidence the Premier League’s lowest goalscorers have in front of goal. Doucoure and Sarr were guilty of missing big chances and for all over their energetic play in midfield and excellent deliveries from out wide, Watford failed to make the most of it. The Hornets know it will be a tough battle to stay up this season but if they can keep creating as many chances as they did against Liverpool they will give themselves a fighting chance.

3. Injuries begin to hit hard: Wijnaldum joined Liverpool’s growing injury list, as he joins Lovren, Matip and Fabinho on the sidelines, while the likes of Alisson and Salah have only recently returned to full fitness. The long-hard grind of competing in multiple competitions has sucked the life out of Liverpool, as they now face Aston Villa in the League Cup quarterfinal on Tuesday with one team and another squad of players fly out to Qatar for the Club World Cup semifinal on Wednesday. Liverpool face Leicester, Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham, Man United and Wolves in their next six PL games. They will need to keep players fit to get through that tough stretch of games unscathed.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah – Had the extra bit of quality to win the game and always looked dangerous on the last shoulder of the Watford defense. The Egyptian king is back fully fit and almost back to his best.


The first big chance of the game arrived for Watford as Ismaila Sarr‘s cross from the right was just missed by Troy Deeney who came flying in at the near post.

Liverpool eventually got going as Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped in plenty of dangerous balls from the right and Mane then sparked an attack but Jordan Henderson fired over.

Will Hughes then dragged a shot wide for Watford as the Hornets held their own in the first half as Virgil Van Dijk cleared after Abdoulaye Doucoure ran into the box and sent in a cross. Doucoure then totally missed the ball from a good position as Watford were more dangerous than the hosts.

But Liverpool then scored with their first, and only, shot on goal in the first half as they hit Watford on the counter. Firmino and Mane set up Salah and the Egyptian winger curled home a superb shot into the far corner.

Right on half time Watford should have levelled as a cross into the box found Sarr but he fluffed his lines badly at the Kop end as his new manager Nigel Pearson was left shaking his head in disbelief.

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At the start of the second half it seemed like Liverpool had doubled their lead as Xherdan Shaqiri whipped in a superb cross which Mane headed home, but VAR checked the goal and Mane’s hip was offside.

Watford had a glorious chance on the break to equalize as Gerard Deulofeu was played in but Allison came out and stood tall to keep Liverpool ahead.

Liverpool had various half chances during the rest of the game as Salah and Firmino tried to put the game to bed but Georginio Wijnaldum had to come off injured and the flow of the game was impacted.

After a defensive mix-up Watford’s Deulofeu whipped in a corner which hit the post as Liverpool looked nervous late on, but Salah then flicked home superbly to make it 2-0 and seal yet another win for the Reds.

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Watford

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Liverpool host Watford at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as top play bottom in the Premier League.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Fresh from signing a new contract extension, Jurgen Klopp‘s side are flying high with an eight-point lead at the summit. This is the start of a busy week as they play Aston Villa in the League Cup quarterfinal on Tuesday and then their Club World Cup semifinals against on Wednesday in Qatar as Klopp will put out two separate teams.

As for Watford, their new manager Nigel Pearson is in charge for his first game as Hornets boss as they currently sit six points from safety with just one win so far this season. That said, Pearson knows a thing or two about great escapes as he led Leicester to safety thanks to a dramatic comeback in 2014-15.

In team news Liverpool start with Xherdan Shaqiri in midfield, Joe Gomez at center back and James Milner at left back as Klopp shuffles his pack and copes with injuries.

Watford make two changes with Will Hughes and Adrian Mariappa come into the starting lineup.

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Klopp: Liverpool provided ‘a lot of great football moments’ in derby win

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The latest gem in Liverpool’s glittering season came courtesy of their depth in an emphatic 5-2 defeat of Everton in the first Merseyside Derby of the season.

Wednesday’s win at Anfield was a little leaky at the back, yeah, but Liverpool’s offensive show left little hope for their rivals.

[ MORE: Match recap | Silva, Holgate react ]

With Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench, Liverpool scored three times in the first 31 minutes and led 4-2 at halftime.

Divock Origi had two goals and Xherdan Shaqiri another by the time Sadio Mane added a goal to his pair of first half assists.

Their manager was loving it. From the BBC:

“Oh, a lot of great football moments in that game. We spoke before about the five changes. I had to show respect to the boys for what they do in training. I speak a lot about the quality of the squad so have to show it. What they made of it was incredible. Divock’s goals, Sadio’s passes, Shaqiri’s everything, Lallana was everywhere.”

Klopp rang in the changes with Shaqiri, Origi, Adam Lallana, Adrian, and James Milner. He said he would’ve liked to play Naby Keita as one of six changes, but he “was not brave enough to make six changes, that is the only problem.”

The Reds were actually out-attempted 12-11 by the visitors but were oh-so-clinical with the ball in the danger areas (until late, when Mane missed a pair of bids which could’ve supplied a hat trick).

Next up is Bournemouth away at 10 a.m. ET Saturday.