James Milner

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Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Liverpool

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Whoever is in goal for Liverpool, Southampton has a mighty task ahead of itself at St. Mary’s on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Liverpool was already without Alisson Becker when Adrian was injured in a freak accident after the UEFA Super Cup Final, though the Spaniard may be set to play. If he cannot go, it’ll be a Premier League debut for 35-year-old Danny Lonergan.

Let’s face it: It’s more rational for Southampton to hope the Reds are just a little weary after a busy week.

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Kevin “Futty” Danso looks set to debut at center back against Liverpool, the youngster arriving from Augsburg at the end of the transfer window.

That’s quite a challenge against a front three while may well be Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah.

Thing is, the score line may not be as bad as Saints’ first outing. Southampton was dominated by Burnley in a 3-0 nightmare at Turf Moor.


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn; Valery, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Danso, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Ings, Adams.

Liverpool: Alisson, Robertson, Gomez, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita, Mane, Firmino, Salah


What they’re saying

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl after canceling a day off: “To invest time in my job is normal because we are in the Premier League where we play against the best teams in the world and the only chance to be successful against these teams is to do more than they do. If you do more than they do then you have the chance to be successful.”

Liverpool’s James Milner on playing under exuberant Klopp“He’s on the side and he’s bouncing around; he wants to be out there. That energy’s big for us when we’re down. He seems to judge it right in terms of when to put an arm round the shoulder after a game, if we haven’t played well or something. He knows what to say at half-time, of if you need a rocket he’ll give you that as well.”


Prediction

Danso is a bit of a wild card here. The 20-year-old Austrian is a remarkable talent, but it’s baptism-by-fire against Liverpool. Something tells us the Saints surprise, especially with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg returning to action. That surprise is just a tight game, though, with Liverpool emerging with a 2-1 win.

Liverpool handle business in Wales (video)

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  • Wiljnaldum scores opener off corner
  • Milner converts Salah-won penalty
  • Cardiff cannot finish chances

Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner scored to put Liverpool back atop the Premier League following a 2-0 defeat of Cardiff City on Sunday.

Neil Warnock‘s Bluebirds had their chances but simply lacked quality in finish. They remain three points back of Brighton and Hove Albion in the race to avoid relegation.

Liverpool is a point ahead of Man City before Wednesday’s Manchester Derby at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino broke the Cardiff back line, but Neil Etheridge closed down to help force the Brazilian to fire over the goal.

It was mostly Liverpool’s game, but Oumar Niasse need nearly luck into an in-tight finish after Victor Camarasa flubbed a shot into his path. Alisson Becker tipped it over the bar.

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Wijnaldum put the Reds on top about 12 minutes into the second half when he wrapped his right foot around a bounding set piece to send it flying past Etheridge.

Henderson’s would-be goal was blazed over the goal in the 61st minute. It wasn’t quite a sitter, but there was certainly some beckoning goal.

Cardiff’s Sean Morrison missed his second significant chance of the match off a 64th minute corner kick.

Roger East awarded a penalty kick to Liverpool when Morrison manhandled Mohamed Salah in the box. Milner rarely misses from the spot.

Etheridge made a tremendous save on Salah in the 90th.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Milner: Liverpool’s style, flair mean little without trophy

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The only point at which Liverpool can be considered one of the world’s best teams is if/when the current squad wins a trophy, according to Reds midfielder/defender James Milner.

[ MORE: Messi scores 2 in first 20 minutes to sink Man United (video) ]

Milner admitted this week that it’s been nice for Liverpool to receive plaudits from all over the world regarding their exciting brand of attacking soccer, but it matters very little if they can’t soon secure a first major trophy under Jurgen Klopp.

Indeed, Porto manager Sergio Conceicao, whose side will host the Reds in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, has joined the chorus in praising Liverpool for playing the game in a way which is very pleasing on the eye.

“I like the Liverpool dynamics. I like the Liverpool game model,” he said this week. “I like the way they play and the way they are with the ball, and also without it. It is similar to how I see football and in a lot of these moments in a game they are the best team in the world.”

[ MORE: Unplayable Messi reacts as Barca “finally” returns to UCL semis ]

It’s the last little bit against which Milner pushed back — “the best team in the world.” Whether it’s the Champions League or the Premier League, only a shiny piece of silverware can validate such a title — quotes from the Guardian:

“That’s a nice compliment, and you get those compliments by playing good football over a sustained period. But to be that, you have to win trophies. That’s something we haven’t done yet and something we are trying to do this season. There are a lot of good teams left in the Champions League and it’s down to us to prove that and win these games and hopefully win at least one trophy this season. But there are a lot of good teams between us and the last game of the season. We have to keep improving and keep playing as we have been at the moment.”

Liverpool lead Porto 2-0 after their victory in the first leg at Anfield last week.

Klopp: Liverpool’s defeat of Fulham ‘a brilliant afternoon’

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Jurgen Klopp wasn’t grasping for positivity after Liverpool escaped Craven Cottage with a 2-1 defeat of Fulham and a place atop the Premier League table.

As a matter of fact, he felt great about his team’s performance in the win even after a colossal misunderstanding between Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson Becker nearly cost the side all three points through an equalizer from ex-Reds forward Ryan Babel.

[ RECAP: Fulham 1-2 Liverpool ]

Fortunately for Liverpool, Sadio Mane won a penalty and James Milner converted it to give the Reds their win.

“It is clear at 1-0 if you don’t kill it off that can happen,” Klopp said. “Babel was there that is how football is. They deserved a goal but we deserved three points. A brilliant afternoon I have to say.”

Klopp said his side was hampered by its midweek Champions League defeat of Bayern Munich, and that he is not worried about them moving forward in pursuit of a Premier League title.

“I am not the most experienced manager and I have similar problems after Champions League games,” Klopp said, later adding, “I am not in any doubt about my players nerves. It is about intensity. We go for perfection but it is rare that you get it. Burnley, Munich, Fulham – you have to adapt. People will say we need to be more convincing, but we are at the start of a development, not the end.”

As for the mishap that had the score line at 1-1, both Milner and Van Dijk weren’t looking for excuses. Milner butchered a clearing attempt that put Van Dijk on the hook, and the Dutch defender’s pass back to Alisson was poor.

At the time, it had more than a hint of Steven Gerrard‘s infamous slip a few years back, one of the players of the season succumbing to misfortune.

At least Milner had a sense of humor about it.

“The gaffer told me to come on and calm it down and the first thing I do is slice it and put Virgil under pressure which wasn’t ideal,” Milner said.

“I am not giving excuses,” Van Dijk said. “I should have handled it better. They scored but so did we and we have three points and move back to the top of the table. … We knew it would be tough. We made it difficult for ourselves. We weren’t calm on the ball. We got the three points though and we can now focus on the national teams.”

Liverpool has a two-point lead on Man City, who has played one fewer match but that match is currently the Manchester Derby.

Late penalty puts Liverpool atop table (video)

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  • Mane opens scoring in 26th
  • Ex-Reds striker Babel stars in loss
  • Mane wins late penalty, Milner converts

James Milner‘s 81st minute penalty saved Liverpool blushes in a 2-1 defeat of Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The Reds had a Sadio Mane-inspired lead, but had given it back through a comedy of errors Ryan Babel equalizer.

Liverpool goes atop the Premier League on 76 points, having played one more match than Man City (74 points).

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Some lively dribbling from ex-Liverpool man Ryan Babel cued up Jean-Michael Seri for a shot that sailed over the goal.

Andrew Robertson hit a cross too close to Fulham keeper Rico after some fancy dribbling of his own.

Liverpool was asking all the questions when Mane put them ahead, beginning the move on the left wing before passing to and receiving from Roberto Firmino for 1-0.

Mane joins three players chasing Sergio Aguero’s league-leading goal total of 18: Mohamed Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Harry Kane.

Mane has nine goals in his last nine PL matches, and 11 in 11 overall.

Liverpool was a bit lucky that a rash foul from Fabinho didn’t earn him as second yellow card and send the Reds down to 10 men at the break.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Fulham did not quit, and looked the better money for a second half goal. A first break saw Aleksandar Mitrovic nod into the goal only to see an offside flag deny the marker.

Babel was at the center of it all, and led a second break which ended with a Alisson Becker save on Andre Franck Zambo Anguissa.

That’s when calamity occurred in the center of the pitch. James Milner mishit a clearance, and Virgil Van Dijk casually headed back toward Alisson. The goalkeeper lost the ball in his feet, and Babel was on the doorstep to slot home.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The stalemate lasted just a few minutes, as Milner converted a penalty conceded when Rico impeded Mane in the box.

Mohamed Salah had a chance to put the match to bed following a Mane-led run, but the Egyptian fired right at Rico.