Sadio Mane

Liverpool smash five past rivals Everton

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Sadio Mane had a goal and two assists as Liverpool tore through Everton back line in a 5-2 win at Anfield on Wednesday to bring their table lead back to eight points.

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Divock Origi scored twice, with Xherdan Shaqiri and Georginio Wijnaldum also scoring in the win.

Michael Keane and Richarlison netted for Everton, who slipped into the relegation zone. The Toffees sit 18th, a point behind three teams.


Three things we learned

1. Klopp’s “second choice” attack brings first class results: Origi continued his Toffee-killing ways with a first half brace, and Shaqiri delivered a goal while Adam Lallana didn’t look too rusty in a rare start. The manager has done this to his Merseyside rivals before, thumbing his nose at the gulf in class by keeping stars out of the Starting XI. It’s difficult to perceive it as anything but that, especially considering that there’s no giant ahead: Bournemouth is Saturday’s opponent.

2. Reds open floodgates and own back line in 6-goal first half: Make no mistake about the fact that Liverpool was much, much better than the Toffees in opening a 4-1 lead before halftime, but Richarlison’s wide open headed goal as the teams headed to the locker rooms showed the

3. Toffees do little to save under fire Silva: There was graft and guile, but Everton had little impact on a wobbly Reds back line. Alex Iwobi and Richarlison had their moments, to be sure, and the two goals are nice, but the Toffees were carved up like a holiday feast. Now in the Bottom Three, Everton looks at the following fixtures ahead: Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal, with a League Cup trip to Leicester City thrown into the mix.

Man of the Match: Origi had two great goals and Sadio Mane relished his Derby day. He would’ve gotten our nod after a goal and two sensational assists but he missed an 81st minute chance as if to prove his fallibility and then blew a breakaway chance in the 85th. Origi gets his derby due.


Origi had Liverpool ahead before the clock hit six, finishing a lightning counter attack. It was inspired by an incredible pass from Sadio Mane, and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made the highlight look better by charging to the top of the 18 and letting the Belgian walk around him.

Shaqiri had it 2-0 just over 10 minutes later. Trent Alexander-Arnold sent a rocket cross some 60 yards that Mane took down with his chest before playing the Swiss striker into the box for calm finish past Pickford.

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The Toffees answered through unlikely source Keane, who walked over Dejan Lovren after trapping a Alex Iwobi pass and drilled it past Adrian in the 21st minute.

Iwobi then sent Calvert-Lewin behind the Reds back line, but the Everton youngster took a sloppy touch. Virgil Van Dijk fouled the player but it wasn’t called by Mike Dean and VAR was not going to call it back.

Origi had it 3-1 before long, though, running onto a long ball from Dejan Lovren and taking two classy touches to complete his brace.

Liverpool were still in danger at times, as Richarlison was denied an assist from a sliding Lovren in the 44th.

Mane then made it 4-1 before the end of the half, as Alexander-Arnold led a counter attack off an Everton corner.

Richarlison answered in first half stoppage, turning a Bernard cross past Adrian with a fine header.

Liverpool started the second half in brighter fashion, and Everton’s chances were fewer and farther between. Tom Davies mishit a chance that Adrian comfortably gathered in the 65th.

Mane missed two chances to seal the deal, but Moise Kean let him off the hook by beating Adrian but firing wide in the 85th.

Wijnaldum added Liverpool’s fifth in the 90th minute, taking a feed after Roberto Firmino roasted Mason Holgate and poking past Pickford.

Eden Hazard on 2019 Ballon d’Or: ‘Mane, Salah or Van Dijk deserve it’

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The 2019 Ballon d’Or should not be awarded to five-time winners Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but to either Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah or Virgil Van Dijk, according to Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard.

The former Chelsea star – and shortlist candidate for the award itself – stressed that each Reds player did enough last season to win the prestigious award. The trio have been nominated for the award following Liverpool’s Champions League title and second place Premier League league finish last season.

To the Le Parisien: 

I would give it to a Liverpool player. Mane, Salah or Van Djik deserve it. If Sadio had won AFCON with Senegal, there would have been no debate. It would be beautiful if he won it. Or Momo [Salah], who is one of my friends. It would be a good thing for both African and English football.

To the same tune, Jurgen Klopp weighed in on which nominee from a 30-man shortlist deserves the award the most. And to no surprise, the 52-year-old manager is set on the notion that it is his undoubtable starting defender who deserves the golden ball, following a spectacular 2018/2019 campaign.

If you give the Ballon d’Or to the best player of this generation then you should give it always to Lionel Messi. That’s how it is. But if you give it to the best player of last season, then it was Virgil van Dijk.

I don’t know exactly how it will work but that is how I see it. The best player of all? That’s Lionel. Best player of last season? That’s Virgil. We will see.

The aforementioned trio aren’t the only Liverpool players on the ballot, however. Alisson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino also made the list, which features defending champions Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva.

A winner will be announced in Paris on December 2.

PL Sunday Preview: Wolves, Man United in action; Liverpool host Man City

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features the likes of Wolves, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Brighton all in action. It is also headlined by the biggest match of the season yet: Liverpool vs Manchester City.

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Wolves vs. Aston Villa — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Just weeks removed from a EFL Cup bout between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa that saw the latter come out victorious 2-1, both West Midland sides will meet again.

This time, however, the scenario will be distinct. Both sides won’t meet at Villa Park; instead,  Stadium will be the stadium of choice. Second-choice sides will not be front and center. It’s a league match, both teams will lineup with the best they have to offer and, as a result the intensity, will be vastly fiercer.

That’s if Wolves have the legs for that scenario to be a reality in the first place.

With Europa League added to an already daunting schedule, Nuno Espirito Santo and company have played eight matches since the start of October, averaging more than one per week. Villa, who’ve lost back to back league matches, are mindful of that and hope it will benefit them when all is said and done.

“They’re very tough to beat, they’ve got great organization and structure,” Villa manager Dean Smith ahead of Sunday’s derby. “They’ve got players who can score goals having gone to Manchester City and won, gone to Arsenal and equalized to come away with a point…so they’ll feel they’re in a run of form.”

“People look from the outside and think ‘is the amount of games they’re playing going to catch up with them?,'” he added. “We’re hopeful that is does on Sunday.”

INJURIES: Wolves — OUT: Gibbs-White (back), Boly (leg)| Aston Villa — OUT: Keenan Davis (hamstring)

Manchester United vs. Brighton and Hove Albion — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCS and NBCSports.com

Brighton and Hove Albion have never won at Old Trafford.

Graham Potter and his group of players want to make history and change that against a historically-poor Manchester United.

“It would be great to get a result this weekend at one of the best places in world football,” Potter said. “Their quality is undoubted and we respect that – but we want to go there and be ourselves and take on the challenge in a positive way.”

Brighton are in positive form, sitting eighth on the table and two points clear of United, who haven’t had a start to the season as dreadful as 2019’s – 13 points in 11 matches – since 1986 under Ron Atkinson. In their last four bouts, Brighton have earned victories in three, defeating Tottenham, Everton and Norwich City.

It’s all very different for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Red Devils.

Despite a convincing 3-0 win over a paltry Partizan midweek, the pressure at Old Trafford keeps looming over the injury-riddled team, who lost their previous league match against Bournemouth 1-0. Time and time again, the questions have been asked, but the answers have yet to surface.

Even then, Solskjaer feels their latest Europa League victory has left them with a blueprint.

“This is a little bit of a template on how we want to play, definitely,” the Norwegian manager stated following his team’s win on Thursday. “No disrespect to Partizan, but they gave us spaces. Of course after we scored the first goal, they went forward.”

“These boys are learning,” he added. “Tonight will give them loads of pointers of how to play. Even though the opposition is not the same as in the Premier League, it was still good principles.”

Nowhere was the word “consistency” mentioned, however. If they want to right the ship, they’ll need to learn it.

INJURIES: Manchester United — OUT: Dalot (hip), Matic (knock), Luke Shaw (thigh), Tuanzebe (hip), Eric Bailly (knee), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Pogba (ankle); SUSPENDED: Ashley Young (one match) | Brighton — OUT: Bernardo (knee), Izquierdo (knee), Webster (ankle)

Liverpool vs. Manchester City — 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBCS and NBCSports.com

It’s the match everyone had circled on their calendars: Jurgen Klopp‘s unbeaten Liverpool against Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City in front of a sold-out Anfield.

It’s the type of spectacle that requires no added hype, even though Klopp did just that heading into the season’s biggest match yet.

“From a sport’s point of view this rivalry is getting bigger and bigger,” the German manager said in front of an eager press conference room this weekend. “Thank god there is a rivalry because it means we are a pretty good team as well.”

“If you are not brave against Man City you don’t have the chance of even a point,” he added. “Everyone has to be in top shape in the stadium on Sunday, even the guy selling the hotdogs. Everyone has to be there from the warm-up and invest all our emotions.”

With City in position to jump to second and be only three points from Liverpool with a win, the match promises to have it all. And Guardiola main message is urging his players to leave it all on the field when they take on the league’s favorites.

“I just want my team to fight to the end,” the 48-year-old said. “Liverpool are a team that lost one game last season, none this season, so you cannot believe that they will lose many, but the season is long.”

“They do everything well,” he added. “You see the team, what is the weak point? They are a real complete team and we need this kind of rival.”

That said, City is stuffed with injuries – namely, Ederson and David Silva, who were both unable to recover and get fit for Sunday’s clash. Claudio Bravo, who saw a red card midweek in Champions League play, will be between the sticks for the defending champions.

What many think will prove to be problematic for the visitors, is the opposite of loss of quality for Guardiola. The Spaniard is convinced that the Chilean goalkeeper has the ability and is of the pedigree to play in matches of such stature.

“He is an exceptional goalkeeper,” Guardiola said. “He is an international goalkeeper. I have no doubts.

“Why shouldn’t I be confident about my players? I see him every day in training. We won’t lose because of Claudio.

“The red card the other day was because we lost the ball,” he added. Respect the guy. He is a top keeper.”

Surely, Liverpool, led by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, will look to exploit any deficiencies City puts forward. For now, those deficiencies are unknown.

What is public knowledge, however, is that very few matches – if any – this season will be as big as Sunday’s.

INJURIES: Liverpool  OUT: Joel Matip (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Nathaniel Clyne (knee) | Manchester City  OUT: Ederson (knock), Rodri (hamstring), David Silva (thigh), Zinchenko (knee), Leroy Sané (knee), Laporte (knee)

Mane jokes he will dive to win a penalty kick

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Sadio Mane has got jokes.

After Pep Guardiola suggested that the Liverpool forward likes to dive, conveniently ahead of first place Liverpool host his second place Man City at Anfield on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Jurgen Klopp defended Mane and said he isn’t a diver.

Asked if Guardiola and Man City are worried about facing unbeaten Liverpool this weekend, here’s what Mane said…

“Maybe. I don’t know. You guys know more than me. The only thing I can say I will be for sure ready for the team, to give everything possible, and to help my team,” Mane said. “If it could be a penalty for sure I will ‘dive’ again. If the dive will give me a penalty then I will do it to get it back. Why not? But what Jurgen said is correct. I do not dive.”

Oh, Sadio…

In essence Mane is saying that he would dive to get a penalty kick, but it was with his tongue placed firmly in his cheek. All of this talk came up after he was booked for simulation in Liverpool 2-1 win at Aston Villa, and Mane has history of winning plenty of penalty kicks.

“[I will keep doing] like I’m always doing. It’s what I want to keep doing. If I get a penalty, yeah it’s a penalty. If no penalty, no penalty, but [it will never] change the way I’m playing or the way I’m doing my things,” Mane said.

His pace often gets him past defenders and then they have a decision to make. Usually they make a bad one. That’s not Mane’s fault.

On a more serious note, does Mane believe Guardiola is trying to influence the officials ahead of the game?

“I think it’s a bit clever from him to get the attention of the referee but I will just play my football like I’m always doing,” Mane added. “I don’t pay attention to what he’s saying because it’s part of football. It doesn’t make anything for me. Even though I saw him commenting about it, what he said, for me, I think it’s positive …”

If Mane goes down in the box this Sunday it will be intriguing to see how the referees react.

Mane: Pep’s diving criticism won’t change my game

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Sadio Mane is known off the field for being one heck of a good guy. On the field he’s pretty content to play his game and let the judges say as they please.

Criticized by Man City boss Pep Guardiola as a special talent when it comes to diving — a claim refuted by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp — Mane didn’t bat an eye at the description.

[ RECAPS: Atalanta-Man City | Red Star-Spurs ]

In fact, he went on a little bit of a bizarre ramble.

“If it could be a penalty for sure I will ‘dive’ again,” he said, via The Liverpool Echo. “If the dive will give me a penalty then I will do it to get it back. Why not? But what Jurgen said is correct. I do not dive.”

Huh?

He’d later expand on the thought. Best we can gather, Mane says he’s just playing the game. If he thinks he can no longer get a scoring chance and also win a penalty, he’s not going to hesitate to hit the deck if there was any contact whatsoever.

“For sure it can happen in football and we have seen many people, some diving and get penalties, some got a penalty and the referee didn’t give it. That’s football. You have to deal with it. It’s what I want to keep doing. If I get a penalty, yeah it’s a penalty. If no penalty, no penalty, but [it will] never anything wrong or change the way I’m playing or the way I’m doing my things.”

Sunday’s match between City and Liverpool at Anfield is going to have many subplots, especially with Ederson joining a long line of injured players for the visitors (Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, David Silva, Oleksandr Zinchenko).

A potential Mane goal celebration would be one to monitor at Anfield.