Former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre announced as Nashville MLS Chief Executive in standout move

Nashville MLS have made a huge statement of intent ahead of their league debut in 2020 by announcing former Liverpool FC Chief Executive Ian Ayre as their first CEO. The Englishman was named Premier League Chief Executive of the Year in 2017 and will relocate to Nashville with his family this summer.

Ayre will instantly begin work on building and leading the Nashville MLS club ahead of their league debut, which is expected to arrive in the 2020 season. The 55-year-old spent 10 successful years with Liverpool and was responsible for restructuring the club at all levels. The fact they are now preparing for a UEFA Champions League final with Real Madrid speaks volumes of the foundations Ayre laid.

He left his post with Liverpool at the end of the 2016/17 Premier League season and then served briefly as managing director of 1860 Munich. However, he left his role with the German side after just a few weeks because of what he deemed “warring factions” within the ownership group. He should have no such problem with Nashville as they have further outlined their bold ambitions of making an immediate impact in Major League Soccer with the acquisition of Ian Ayre.

“We are committed to bringing world-class soccer to Nashville, as evidenced by the appointment of Ian as our CEO,” John Ingram, lead owner of Nashville MLS said. “Ian understands our vision for Nashville MLS and has the skill and experience to bring the best in soccer to our city. His passion for the sport and the business of the game, along with his progressive approach and commitment to community, will help us create Nashville’s MLS club while elevating soccer in Music City and MLS. I’m delighted to welcome him to Nashville and our club!”

As well as overseeing the successful $160 million stadium expansion of Anfield during his time with Liverpool, Ayre was directly responsible for all player transfers, including contract negotiations. He helped acquire the likes of Phillipe Coutinho, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Manè during his time with the Reds. While also working with top-class coaches such as Rafa Benitez, Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp.

“The opportunity to put Nashville on the national and international soccer map is a truly outstanding challenge, and I literally cannot wait to get started,” Ian Ayre said. “Becoming chief executive officer of the Nashville MLS club is a unique opportunity in the global soccer community. To take what is essentially a blank sheet of paper and build an entire club is an amazing challenge, and one I am hugely excited about.”

Nashville was awarded Major League Soccer’s 24th club in December 2017, and enthusiasm for soccer continues to grow in Music City. CONCACAF recently announced Nashville as a host city of the 2019 Gold Cup. Nashville Soccer Club, the city’s USL club, launched in spring 2018.

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Five MLS clubs set to battle for signing of former Liverpool and Chelsea star – report

Five Major League Soccer teams are set to fight for the signing of Spanish striker Fernando Torres this summer, according to Marca. The 34-year-old forward will be a free agent once his contract with Atletico Madrid comes to an end in June, leaving the former Liverpool and Chelsea star free to negotiate what will surely be the final move of his career.

Torres has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League but it’s understood he is not keen on making the move to Asia. He rejected the chance to join CSL side Dalian Yifang in February and would reportedly prefer a move to the United States.

With no La Liga sides making Torres an offer at this point, and just a month left of the season in Spain, Torres is looking to MLS. The five clubs who are reportedly interested in bringing him to the league are Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, New York City FC, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City.

A move to NYCFC would allow Torres to link up with former international teammate and good friend David Villa. The pair fired Spain to Euro 2008 glory as well as the 2010 World Cup title. New York City FC do not currently have a Designated Player slot free though, so Torres would need to accept being a TAM signing to move to the Big Apple.

Chicago and Montreal are the only sides of the five linked that have a DP slot available. It’s not certain that Torres would need to fill a DP slot, particularly at 34 years of age. But it will certainly help negotiations having that option.

The Fire are a particularly interesting option, given the fact that Torres played with Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic during his first spell at Atletico Madrid. The pair spent two seasons together in 2003/04 and 2004/05.

On top of that, Chicago own the discovery rights to Fernando Torres if he does indeed move to MLS, according to league sources. The Fire have opened the 2018 season with just four points from their opening five games. They’ve scored seven goals but could undoubtedly benefit from partnering Torres with 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic up front.

Liverpool putting their house in order before summer

The recent reports suggest that Liverpool FC are keen on further strengthening their backline after having signed Dutch international Virgil Van Dijk for £75 million in January this year. They are very keen on making a move for Dani Carvajal, the Real Madrid right-back.

He has emerged as the first choice everywhere for that particular position on the field, and has already appeared almost 200 times for the Galacticos. The attacking defender has also become a part of the Spanish national team, and his current contract runs until 2022.

Beyond the pros themselves, many people might also actually be punting on that possibility that Carvajal will join Liverpool on online betting sites like the Paddy Power football betting portal. The key to the ever-lucrative online sports betting industry is, as you may expect, all about making sure as many of the odds are in your favour as possible. And when it comes to a sport like football, where a single player could make all the difference between a smashing success and an embarrassing failure, putting your money on a win for your team can become entirely reliant on your team’s star players.

Jurgen Klopp is keenly looking forward to strengthening the right-back position of the Reds, as he prepares for a busy summer this year. This is mainly because of the ongoing injury problems surrounding Nathaniel Clyne. Owing to that, Klopp has had to resort to calling upon the young pair of Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Carvajal hails from Leganes and has been in Madrid for quite some time after becoming the first-team regular, so the deal seems like a little way off right now. He joined Madrid from Bayer Leverkusen in 2013 after one season in the Bundesliga.

The chase for Emre Can

In terms of one potential outgoing, Juventus need to wait until the summer to figure out if they have successfully managed to tempt Emre Can from Liverpool to Turin. The midfielder is out of contract this summer and everyone is expecting him to join Juventus on a free transfer. Some reports have suggested that the Reds are contemplating an extension, but Can has been insisting on a release clause, which is proving to be a roadblock in the deal.

Reports suggested the 24-year old midfielder already signed a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club in January, but is nevertheless keeping his options open.

Talking to the press Emre Can said: “Of course I have to think about my footballing future. I haven’t signed for any other club, I’m just focused on this season.

“We want to finish in second place in the Premier League, we’re in the Champions League quarter-finals and we want to progress. That’s all I’m focused on now. My agent has blocked all the negotiations, I’m thinking only of football.”

Can has so far scored 14 goals in his 162 appearances since joining Liverpool in 2014.

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Incoming Thomas Lemar?

Going by the French press, Liverpool could be all set to finalise a highly important transfer of midfielder Thomas Lemar. Le10Sport, a France-based popular sports portal reported that the 22-year old midfielder from Monaco is expected to move to Anfield. All signs suggest that Liverpool have finally won that race.

Apparently, Monaco had been holding out and were expecting a bid in the vicinity of £88 million. As per the French publication, the deal is almost final.

Premier League Predictions: Week 12 – Domestic action returns, North London Derby the standout fixture

Premier League Predictions: Week 12 – Domestic football is back following the international break. Many fans will be delighted that there are no more interruptions until March.

The top six are all in action on Saturday, with the North London Derby kicking things off at 12:30. League leaders Man City travel to Leicester, while Chelsea are also on the road at West Brom. Liverpool and Man United return with home fixtures against Southampton and Newcastle respectively.

Just the one game on Sunday as Watford and West Ham face off in another London Derby. Week 12 is finished off on Monday evening when Brighton host Stoke.

Read on for predictions to all ten of this weekend’s Premier League predictions: Week 12 could see plenty of change at the top…

Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham

Easily the biggest game of the weekend. The North London Derby usually doesn’t disappoint. Arsenal put in a poor display against Man City before the international break, losing 3-1. Arsene Wenger needs a response from his players, a loss to their bitter rivals could see them slip down to 7th. Spurs won 1-0 at Wembley against Palace last time out. A result that in years gone by they may not have been able to grind out. They look a strong force at the moment and confidence is high. Harry Kane and Dele Alli should be refreshed following his exclusion from international call ups, expect them to be at the forefront of the Spurs attack.

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Crystal Palace 1-1 Everton

The Premier League’s bottom side welcome out of form Everton to Selhurst Park. Palace fans may well have been looking forward to the international break in hope of their side having a chance to rebuild and get ready to face Everton. The Toffees really haven’t had anything to shout about. Their loss to Watford last time out meant that they have now conceded as many goals as Palace (22) this season. Both sides are desperate for a win, a scrappy score-draw could be on the cards.

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Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

Jurgen Klopp’s side have got their season on track again. They are sitting 5th in the league and that 4-1 thumping against Spurs seems a long time ago now. However, they are going to have to make sure they do not slip up this weekend. Sadio Mane is ruled out through injury once again, so the pressure for the inform Mohammed Salah to deliver has increased. Southampton have hardly set the world alight so far this season. Their home loss against Burnley before the internationals has left them loitering just four points above the relegation zone. A home win looks likely.

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Bournemouth 1-1 Huddersfield

Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are in desperate need of a run of form. They have been unlucky in stages so far this season but it cannot be used as an excuse for their league position. The Cherries are just one point outside of the relegation zone and if results were to go against them this weekend they could be second bottom by Sunday evening. Huddersfield are still progressing well. They won 1-0 before the international break and are more than worth the place bang in the middle of the table. They will no doubt see this as a winnable fixture so expect an energetic game. Score draw.

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Leicester 1-4 Man City

Leicester City may think they were unlucky not to take all three points last time out. But it’s the same inconsistency that cost them. They are creating plenty of chances but are not clinical enough. They are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games, so there is reason to be optimistic ahead of this game. Man City have looked on a completely different level to the rest of the league so far this season. Pep Guardiola’s men are already being spoken about as one of his best ever sides and there is even talk about whether they can go the season unbeaten. Goals are free flowing for the Citizens, so don’t expect anything less this weekend.

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West Brom 1-3 Chelsea

West Brom are in trouble. Tony Pulis reportedly has two games to save his job. One of those is at home to the reigning champions here. The other sees the Baggies head to Wembley to take on Spurs. If the West Brom squad want to show they are behind the manager, now is the time. But they haven’t won in nine-straight league games and have slipped to 16th in the table. Chelsea impressed in their 1-0 win over Man Utd before the international break. Now Antonio Conte’s men need to kick on and keep the pressure on the three sides above them. Expect the Blues to prove too strong.

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Burnley 1-0 Swansea

Swansea have a 100% record against Burnley in their four previous Premier League meetings. But don’t expect that to continue beyond the weekend. Burnley are flying and Sean Dyche’s men are picking up plenty of plaudits for their strong start to the season. The Swans are 19th and seem to be struggling for goals and creativity. Paul Clement will find himself under serious pressure if results don’t improve, but they are unlikely to find at joy at Turf Moor on Saturday in what should be a tight game.

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Man United 2-0 Newcastle

This is a big game for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. They could be 11 points behind Man City by the time they kick off on Saturday evening and they will have to get that gap back to eight, if City indeed win. They failed to score at Chelsea without properly threatening over the 90 minutes but they will have to take the game to Newcastle here. Rafa Benitez’s men will be setting up to contain the hosts and try and hit them on the break and from any set-pieces. It might not be pretty, but United should be able to get it done.

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Watford 2-2 West Ham

David Moyes starts life as West Ham manager with a tricky trip to Watford. Hornets boss Marco Silva looks like he’ll be staying put for now, and that’s a major boost for the home side considering their impressive start to the season. It’s unclear how much the speculation will have got to the Watford players but they’ll have a chance to show they are focused when the Hammers arrive on Sunday. Moyes has a tough job on his hands but he’ll set the visitors up to be solid and try and play as a unit. If they try and impress the new manager they could well come away with something positive.

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Brighton 1-1 Stoke

The fact that Brighton come into Monday night’s game three points ahead of Stoke highlights what an excellent start to the season they’ve made. Chris Hughton’s men have established themselves and have made the Amex Stadium a bit of a fortress so far. They’ve picked up eight points from a possible 12 since losing to Manchester City on the opening weekend of the campaign. They will fancy their chances here, especially with the whole nation’s eyes on them for Monday Night Football. Stoke showed signs of much-needed improvement before the break, beating Watford away before drawing 2-2 at home to Leicester. Mark Hughes has a talented squad of players but is not getting the best out of them. If they show up, they can cause anyone problems, but Brighton will be resolute and hard to break down.

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Premier League Predictions: Week 11 – Huge weekend in title race as City face Arsenal before Chelsea vs Man Utd

Premier League Predictions: Week 11 – Another huge weekend of Premier League football is upon us. The international break is looming and so all 20 clubs will be hoping to head into the break in high spirits.

There are ten games to enjoy this weekend but there’s no doubt what the two standout fixtures are. Sunday will see a colossal double-header in the title race as Man City host Arsenal before Chelsea face Man Utd straight after. Spurs face Palace in the earlier game on Sunday, while Everton entertain Watford at the same time as the Chelsea vs Man Utd game.

Before all of Sunday’s action, there are six matches on Saturday. The weekend begins as Stoke welcome Leicester to the Bet365 Stadium at 12:30. Then on Saturday evening, Liverpool travel to West Ham looking to put pressure on the rest of the top six ahead of Sunday.

Read on for predictions to all ten of this weekend’s Premier League predictions: Week 11 isn’t one you want to miss…

Stoke 2-2 Leicester

The lunchtime kick off has the makings of a tight one. Both sides are sitting in and around mid-table, separated by just one point. It’s all very tight in the middle of the pack and there are plenty of goals flying in. We expect there to be goals in this one. Stoke and Leicester’s fixtures have seen the ball hit the back of the net a combined 59 times. The Potters won 1-0 last time out, while Leicester extended their unbeaten run to five in all competitions with a comfortable 2-0 win over Everton. Score draw.

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Huddersfield 1-1 West Brom

Despite promising starts to the season, both Huddersfield and West Brom have tailed off in recent weeks. Huddersfield did shock everyone with that stunning win over Man Utd a couple of weeks ago, but that is their only win in eight in all competitions. They need to avoid defeat to West Brom here, and will fancy their chances at home. The Baggies aren’t playing well and haven’t kept a clean sheet in five. That’s uncharacteristic of a Tony Pulis side. This one might not be pretty.

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Newcastle 3-0 Bournemouth

The belief around St James Park is there for all to see. Players and fans alike are behind Rafa Benitez despite some inconsistent form of late. The Toon Army come into this one having narrowly lost 1-0 away at Burnley and now a response is needed. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth have been out of luck for the majority of the season so far and are the second lowest scorers in the league. They lost to Chelsea last weekend and a trip up North probably wouldn’t have been the next fixture they would have picked given the choice. Newcastle to take all three points.

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Southampton 1-1 Burnley

Burnley are flying high as they come into the weekend in seventh, level on points with Liverpool. Sean Dyche is further highlighting how good a manager he is and so there’s no wonder why he’s being linked with the vacant position at Everton. But for now, his focus will be on Burnley and getting as many points as possible every week. They will go to Southampton looking to hit them on the break and can expect to come away with a point. The Saints have been better in recent weeks but still lack a clinical edge. Both should score but the points look set to be shared.

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Swansea 1-1 Brighton

Swansea are sitting just above the relegation zone. On just eight points so far this season there is reason for concern. However, they probably considered themselves unlucky last weekend to lose away at Arsenal having held the lead. That made it three losses on the bounce in all competitions and they’ve won just one in their last seven in the league. By stark contrast, Brighton are on a three-game unbeaten run. They are sitting 12th in the league but a loss here would show them just how quickly things can change as it would put 17th placed Swansea just a point behind them. An important fixture that neither can afford to lose.

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West Ham 1-3 Liverpool

This is a big game for both sides. For West Ham, they need to show they are behind Slaven Bilic as he remains under intense pressure. For Liverpool, they need three points to make up ground on the sides above them ahead of Sunday’s games. West Ham carelessly threw away a win at Palace last week and had to settle for a point. They did beat Spurs in the League Cup before that, but in the Premier League, they have only one win in six. Liverpool have been inconsistent all season but looked good against Huddersfield last week. Expect them to prove too strong for a West Ham side that look to be in trouble.

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Spurs 3-0 Crystal Palace

What a rollercoaster week it has been for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. The low of losing narrowly to Man Utd last weekend in what wasn’t a pretty fixture, to their midweek heroics of taking apart Real Madrid. But, and it’s a big but – Spurs must stay grounded. The media frenzy which has surrounded them in such a positive light will very quickly turn with a poor result this weekend. If results go Tottenham’s way they could be within five points of top spot as the other four in the top five go head-to-head. There isn’t much to say about Crystal Palace’s league form this season. They remain bottom despite picking up a point last weekend. If Spurs play at their usual tempo, expect goals and a relatively easy win.

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Man City 4-1 Arsenal

At this stage of the season, it doesn’t look like anyone can stop Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s team are full of confidence and are brushing aside anyone in their way. Arsenal arrive at the Etihad as the underdogs but they are unbeaten in five in all competitions. The problem for Wenger’s men is they are still vulnerable at the back. They conceded two at Everton and then fell behind to Swansea last time out. Man City are ruthless and will exploit any weaknesses. Unfortunately, this looks like it will only end one way. And that’s with a convincing home win.

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Chelsea 1-2 Man Utd

Chelsea’s title defence has been far from convincing. The Blues are unconvincing and only just overcame Bournemouth last weekend before being torn apart in their midweek clash in Rome. If reports are believed to be true, all is not well behind the scenes for Antonio Conte and his side. Key players are missing for both Chelsea and Man Utd but Jose Mourinho will be eager to get one up over his old employers. Don’t expect a repeat of this fixture from last year. United will be difficult to breakdown and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them take all three points back up to Manchester. Is the clock ticking for Conte?

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Everton 2-2 Watford

Everton are in trouble. They’ve sacked their manager. They’ve spent a lot of money on a squad that haven’t clicked. And they’ve already been knocked out of Europe. They have lost five in a row in all competitions and Watford will arrive confident they can add to the Toffees’ woes. The Hornets have lost back-to-back league games for the first time this season but have enough about them to respond with a better performance at Goodison Park. The challenge for Everton is trying to rally and avoid dropping more points as a result of that Europa League hangover.

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Premier League Predictions: Week 10 – 2nd vs 3rd as Man Utd take on Spurs, while Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool expected to win

Premier League Predictions: Week 10 – The Premier League weekend kicks off with an absolutely huge clash. It’s 2nd versus 3rd as Manchester United welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford. Expect plenty of goals across the ten fixtures this week, while there is the potential for upsets in must-win games for the top sides.

The three o’clock action comes thick and fast after the early kickoff. Struggling Crystal Palace face off against West Ham in the only London Derby of the weekend. Pace-setting Manchester City travel to West Brom, while Arsenal and Liverpool have home ties. Chelsea complete Saturday’s action with the late kickoff away at Bournemouth.

Sunday has a couple of interesting fixtures, Brighton welcome Southampton, before Claude Puel begins his reign as Leicester City manager at home to Everton, who have recently sacked Ronald Koeman. The weekend’s action is completed with Monday Night Football as Newcastle visit Burnley.

Read on for all of this weekend’s Premier League predictions: Week 10 will be an interesting one…

Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham 

Easily the biggest fixture of the weekend. Man Utd vs Spurs has provided some classic fixtures through the years. Both sides are coming into this one needing to bounce back. United’s loss at Huddersfield last weekend was a shock result and Jose Mourinho needs a reaction like his side showed in their midweek Carabao Cup clash. Spurs were emphatic last time out in the league. Their 4-1 win over Liverpool sent out a message to the rest of the league, however their dismal loss against West Ham in midweek was unforgivable and they owe it to their fans to pick up a positive result here. Expect goals as Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku go head-to-head.

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Crystal Palace 1-1 West Ham

This is a big game. Make no mistake about that. Some reports suggested that failure to win this one would result in the sacking of Slaven Bilic as West Ham manager. However, Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win over Spurs may change that. Either way, Premier League points are the priority for both. Palace have struggled but did win their last home game. Another home win here would be a major boost. However, they haven’t scored in 9 of their last 10 games, losing each. West Ham haven’t been much better, failing to win 11 of their last 12 away games. Don’t expect this to be pretty.

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West Brom 0-3 Manchester City

Tony Pulis, like every West Brom fan was devastated not to have picked up at least a point last weekend. However, they have to hold their hands up to accept losing at the hands of one of the goals of the season. West Brom are sitting in and around mid table but they won’t be looking forward to a visit from league leading Man City. Pep Guardiola’s side didn’t have it all their own way in midweek, yet they sealed their place in the next round of the Carabao Cup, despite his displeasure of the ball. Normal service resumes with a ‘normal ball’ here and we expect City to continue their early title charge.

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Watford 2-0 Stoke

They might have lost 4-2 at Chelsea last weekend but Watford are undoubtedly this season’s surprise package so far. The Hornets are enjoying their best ever start to a season in the top flight. They beat Arsenal in their most recent home fixture and should prove too strong for Stoke here. The visitors are in trouble. Last week’s home loss to Bournemouth left them down in 17th. They’ve not won away from home yet this season. Don’t expect that to change here.

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Arsenal 3-0 Swansea

Arsene Wenger & co. have reason to be in high spirits. They took apart a very sorry Everton side last weekend keeping them at pace with the top four. Following up from that a much changed side secured progression in the cup in midweek. Arsenal should be looking to take three points in what has the makings of a routine home game this weekend. Swansea are sitting 15th but are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference. They cannot afford to take a drumming here as we all know how important goal difference can be in the Premier League. A win to ‘nil looks likely for the hosts.

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Liverpool 2-1 Huddersfield

The fact that Liverpool come into this game just one point ahead of Huddersfield tells you all you need to know. The Reds have been inconsistent and have not solved their defensive problems. Last week’s 4-1 loss to Spurs further highlighted their vulnerabilities and they now need to bounce back. They will fancy their chances at home, but the visitors are riding high in confidence. Their 2-1 win over Man Utd was arguably the shock result of the season so far. Don’t rule out another surprise result at Anfield, although Liverpool should edge it.

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Bournemouth 1-2 Chelsea

Bournemouth remain in the bottom three. They picked up a much needed win last weekend away against Stoke and made it a week with plenty to cheer about having progressed in the cup. This is going to be another big test for them but they’ll be relishing a visit from Chelsea. Antonio Conte’s side are coming through a rough patch with promise. Despite being a way off the top of the Premier League their squad depth stood the test of three games in a week. Last weekend’s win at home to Watford showed they have the resilience to fight back and if they go behind here, don’t expect them to let it phase them. Narrow victory for the Champions.

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Brighton 2-2 Southampton

Neither of these sides have really set the world alight yet this season. They have showed some signs of promise but inconsistency has prevented either side from making a statement. Brighton will be pleased with their start to life in the top flight. They are unbeaten in three-straight home league games and will now hope to keep that form going. The Saints picked up a first league win in four last weekend. It’s hard to tell which Southampton side will turn up. But goals could be on the cards here.

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Leicester City 1-1 Everton

The battle two sides who have recently sacked their managers. Leicester have acted promptly to replace Craig Shakespeare with Claude Puel. They picked up an impressive win away at Swansea last weekend and also reached the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup in midweek so things are on the up. Everton’s woes continue, they sacked Ronald Koeman after being demolished by Arsenal last weekend and were knocked out the cup by Chelsea on Wednesday evening. Their poor run of form has to come to an end soon, but we don’t expect them to win here. Score draw.

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Burnley 1-1 Newcastle

The weekend is rounded off with an intriguing matchup. Burnley have been a better side away from home so far but will still see Monday’s game as one they should be winning. Their only home win so far this term came against Palace. For Newcastle, they’ll be looking to keep picking up points. They’ve only lost one of their last seven and look like they’re all pulling in the same direction as Rafa Benitez. It might not be the most entertaining game, but expect it to be interesting.

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Premier League Predictions: Week 8 – Expect a one-sided affair as Liverpool host Man Utd, while Man City should keep on rolling

Premier League Predictions: Week 8 – Premier League action returns after the international break. Liverpool and Manchester United face off to get things going on Saturday lunchtime in what is the standout fixture of the weekend. Two games take place on Sunday, while Monday night rounds off what should be an action-packed weekend.

The remainder of the top four are in action on Saturday. Man City welcome Stoke, Spurs host Bournemouth and Chelsea travel to struggling Palace. Arsenal complete Saturday’s fixtures with a cross-London trip to Watford in the late game.

Brighton take on Everton, while Newcastle have the trip down south to Southampton in the Sunday double-header. The final fixture on Monday night sees Leicester face West Brom.

Read on for all of this weekend’s Premier League predictions: Week 8 marks the anticipated return of domestic football…

Liverpool 0-3 Manchester United

The latest instalment of the historic fixture. Jose Mourinho’s United have been in fantastic form this season, while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have struggled defensively. Both sides have been hit with injuries of late, Liverpool will be without Sadio Mane, while Paul Pogba remains out for United. Given how free-scoring United have been and that Liverpool have just a +1 goal difference, we predict a healthy win for the Red Devils.

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Burnley 2-2 West Ham 

Burnley are high-flying in sixth place. Sean Dyche’s men picked up three points away at Everton before the international break and they will be looking to continue their great run of form here. West Ham’s struggles have been all too apparent, but they steadied the ship last time out with a 1-0 win over Swansea. This is going to be a tight one. Score draw.

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Manchester City 4-0 Stoke

Pep Guardiola would not have wanted the international break to come after his City side put in an outstanding tactical performance to win away at Chelsea. The Citizens are league leaders on goal difference and will be praying results go their way to open a gap at the top this weekend. Stoke also picked up three points heading into the international break, but this is going to be a huge ask for them. Expect goals from City.

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Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea 

Negative runs have to come to an end at some point. Crystal Palace are yet to even score a goal this season, so what better way to do it this weekend against the Champions. Chelsea are without a few key faces, N’golo Kante and  is sidelined, while Alvaro Morata also continues recovery from a hamstring injury. Antonio Conte’s squad depth will be tested but in all honesty, anything less than three points and a clean sheet will be a failure for Chelsea fans here. It couldn’t happen, could it?

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Tottenham 2-0 Bournemouth

The end to the Wembley hoodoo for Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have to pick up three points this weekend and with the goalscoring form of Harry Kane they should do. That said, Spurs cannot be too reliant on their Ballon d’Or nominee. Bournemouth are sitting second bottom and will not be looking forward to an away tie off the back of the international break. Spurs to win to nil.

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Swansea 1-1 Huddersfield 

The Premier League can be a cruel animal and Swansea are experiencing how tough things can be. They are without a league win since August and are going to need to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later. Huddersfield have been giving a good account of themselves since so far this season. They’re only four points outside the top four, however as the games roll on they may quickly find out how quickly things can change. An away point will seem a better result for them than the hosts this weekend. 1-1 draw.

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Watford 2-2 Arsenal 

Arsenal’s early-season problems seem to be behind them. Contract sagas remain ongoing but on the field, the Gunners have won six of their last seven in all competitions. The only exception was that 0-0 draw at Chelsea. But Watford have impressed and the fact they come into this game just a point behind Arsenal is testament to their strong start. Marco Silva’s men lost 6-0 to Man City in their last home game and will be hoping to show more fight against one of the top sides this time around.

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Brighton 1-1 Everton

Both sides come into Sunday’s game tied on seven points from seven games. Brighton will be content with that. Everton will not. The Toffees have failed to get going, despite heavy summer investment. Ronald Koeman is under pressure and needs to get a result here. However, Brighton are tough to break down. They beat Newcastle in their last home game and will be hoping to secure at least a point here.

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Southampton 1-1 Newcastle

Southampton have really struggled to get going so far. They are short of goals and have lost three-straight home games in all competitions. They need to avoid defeat here but come up against a resolute Newcastle side. The Magpies seem to be growing in confidence. They battled well to a 1-1 draw with Liverpool before the international break and could add to their points tally with another strong showing here.

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Leicester 2-1 West Brom

Leicester come into the weekend outside the relegation zone on goal difference only. They could be in the bottom three by Monday night, depending on results and need to win this game. They have only won one league game all season so far but have enough quality to get three points here. West Brom are winless in five league outings themselves. The fact they are on the road here further limits their chances, so the Foxes should just edge it.

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Coutinho to Barca? Three reasons why Liverpool need to stand firm

Philippe Coutinho’s future at Liverpool has been cast into doubt as Barcelona are ready to splash the cash on the Brazilian. The La Liga giants have already had a £72 million bid rejected, but they’ll do whatever they can to bring Coutinho to Barca this summer.

An improved £80 million bid is being lined up, according to the Daily Mirror, so this could well be a transfer saga that lasts for the remainder of the window.

Barcelona have long been admirers of Coutinho. Many feel he is the perfect man to replace Andres Iniesta at the Nou Camp. But it’s Neymar’s potential world-record move to PSG that has accelerated the chase for the Liverpool playmaker.

Paris Saint-Germain are seemingly set to trigger Neymar’s £196m release clause, shattering the transfer record by £107m. That would leave Barcelona with a big void to fill in their squad, but a lot of money to fill it with.

But no matter what, Liverpool won’t want to lose their star attacker. Here are three reasons Liverpool need to hold on to Coutinho this summer:

1. ‘Not a selling club’

The club have insisted they are “not a selling club” and won’t be forced to sell. Jurgen Klopp made that very clear after news of the initial bid surfaced. He spoke directly to Coutinho about the issue during the team’s preseason tour at the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong, and he believes the Reds have no reason to part ways with the Brazilian.

It’s now crucial for Liverpool to stand by that statement. Their fans will be concerned with interest from a club as big as Barca. But if Liverpool want to continue improving, as they have made clear, they must stand by their word.

2. A worrying trend following big sales

Liverpool’s three biggest sales in club history are Fernando Torres, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez. All three were sold over the past seven seasons, but the Reds have tended to struggle after losing key men.

In Torres’s final season at Anfield, Liverpool finished 6th. The following season, they finish 8th. In Luis Suarez’s final season at the club, Liverpool hand one hand on the 2013/14 Premier League title before a late collapse saw them finish runners-up. After he left for Barcelona in the summer of 2014, Liverpool went on to finish 6th. That was in Raheem Sterling’s final season. Then, after he departed for Man City Liverpool ended up finishing 8th in the first season without him.

The trend is that Liverpool have worse seasons after losing star players. Yes, that will be the case for most clubs. Yes, it’s difficult to build once a star man has left. But some clubs cope, Liverpool have so far proven they cannot. Losing Coutinho to Barca would be potentially disastrous for what Klopp is building.

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3. Irreplaceable

The reason the Coutinho to Barca rumours have picked up so much pace is because there are arguably very few, if any suitable replacements for Neymar at the Nou Camp. Coutinho is excellent on the ball. He is highly versatile. He has the ability to beat a man with ease. And he is as good at finding the back of the net as he is a teammate. Barcelona know that he would be well suited to replacing the goals and assists Neymar provides.

So if Liverpool were to sell, there is no obvious answer as to who they’d bring in as his replacement. Yes, they’d have a big stack of cash to spend. But given the inflated prices during the current transfer window, Liverpool would likely have to settle for someone a lot less talented that Coutinho if they needed to replace him.

Premier League Predictions: Spurs can cut the gap to one point before Arsenal welcome Man United on Sunday

Another huge week of Premier League action is upon us. Tottenham could close the gap on league leaders Chelsea to just one point as they visit West Ham on Friday before Antonio Conte’s blues welcome relegation-threatened Middlesbrough to Stamford Bridge on Monday night. Manchester City kick things off on Saturday against Crystal Palace and there are some key games in the battle to avoid relegation as Hull welcome already doomed Sunderland.

Sunday sees two huge games in the race for the top four as Liverpool host Southampton, while the standout fixture of the weekend takes place at the Emirates as Arsenal welcome Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. Read on for all our Gameweek 36 predictions in the Premier League…

West Ham 1-2 Tottenham

Spurs will be looking to apply the pressure on Chelsea as they open gameweek 36’s fixtures on Friday night. Mauricio Pochettino’s sides remarkable run continued last weekend as they won the last ever North London Derby at White Hart Lane. West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says he wants to put relegation beyond all doubt on Friday evening, so Spurs could be in for a tough one.

Manchester City 2-0 Crystal Palace

Manchester City’s underwhelming season was somewhat summed up in their 2-2 draw away at Middlesbrough last weekend, a game that they could have easily lost with Boro left seething at what they thought was a dive for the penalty. Palace aren’t completely out of trouble yet and have caused upsets this season, but an away win would be a big ask for Big Sam’s side.

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Bournemouth 1-1 Stoke City

Bournemouth sealed Sunderland’s fate with a late win against the Black Cats last weekend and will want to pick up another positive result here after reaching that important 40-point mark. Stoke played out one of the less eventful games of the season against West Ham last time out and another draw looks likely, only this time with a bit of action.

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Hull City 1-0 Sunderland

Hull to take another huge step towards securing Premier League safety at home against relegated Sunderland. David Moyes was left devastated at what has been on the cards for some time now for Sunderland and more misery will surely be heaped upon the North East club in their final four games before they drop out of the top flight.

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Burnley 2-2 West Brom

Sean Dyche’s Burnley have battled their way to what looks likely to be Premier League survival as they’re now up to 14th. Their home form has been impressive all season and played a large part in their battle against the drop. West Brom have seen their season slump into second gear, which may be frustrating for Baggies fans but they’ve made progress this season and should finish in the top half.

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Leicester City 2-0 Watford 

These sides come into the weekend level on 40 points with Premier League safety guaranteed. Leciester have been excellent at home in recent weeks, winning four league games in a row at the King Power Stadium.Watford have lost three of their last four and look like they might already be on the beach. It’s tough to see anything but a home win here.

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Swansea 2-2 Everton

This is a crucial game for Swansea City, who will already know the outcome of Hull’s clash with Sunderland before they kickoff on Saturday evening. The Swans have to match Hull’s result – or better it – if they are to stay in the survival picture. Everton haven’t got much left to play for. They have secured Europa League football next season and can’t finish any lower than tenth. They’ll still be looking to end the season on a high and could stop Swansea from taking three vital points here.

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Liverpool 1-0 Southampton

Liverpool know this is another potential banana skin as they try to secure Champions League football. They come into the weekend four points clear of Man Utd in fifth, but their rivals have a game in hand. The Reds edged past Watford on Monday thanks to Emre Can’s incredible bicycle kick, and they look poised to get a similar result here against a Saints side that hasn’t won in three.

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Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United

This is undoubtedly the biggest game of the weekend, with both clubs fighting for a place in the top four. Realistically, only one of these has a chance of qualifying for the Champions League, while it’s also a distinct possibility that both miss out. Arsenal have to bounce back from last week’s loss at Spurs, while United are going to be tested after flying back from their Europa League semi-final with Celta Vigo on Thursday evening. Mourinho will likely set up for a draw, and that usually works as they look to keep their long-standing unbeaten league run going.

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Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough 

Chelsea could be just one point ahead of Spurs coming into Monday’s clash but they’ve responded to the pressure in this title race whenever it has come, and Middlesbrough are unlikely to threaten the Blues charge to a second title in three years. Boro showed fight against Man City in last week’s 2-2 draw, but ultimately they are set to be relegated and that could well be confirmed with defeat on Monday.

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Do Liverpool hold the key in Hazard’s Chelsea departure with attempt to sign €80m Madrid star?

Liverpool could potentially play a key role in Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea at the end of the season as they are reportedly interested in signing Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez, so long as they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The Colombian has been in and out of the Madrid side since joining for a whopping €80 million in 2014, but Los Blancos may well entertain offers for him this summer in a bid to fund a potential world-record transfer for Hazard.

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It’s no secret the Chelsea man is wanted by Real. Many have dubbed him a ‘Real Madrid sort of player’ and with the current state of the transfer market in mind this could be the first fee to reach over £100m.

Madrid have broken transfer records to land Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and are unlikely to hesitate doing the same thing to bring Hazard to the Bernabeu this summer.

Chelsea are not a club renowned for selling their top players but have been making a name for themselves with the business they’ve been doing over the last few seasons in terms of selling stars they no longer need for big money. While Hazard certainly doesn’t fall into that category it shows if the right price is offered they could agree to sell him.

An offer of the sort of value that is being spoken about would no doubt be tempting for any club, no matter how good the player is and it would provide Chelsea with the purchasing power to sign a like-for-like replacement and potentially break even.

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Jurgen Klopp looks set to be preparing for the possibility of life after Philippe Coutinho, who is heavily tipped for a move to Barcelona in the coming months, so the potential purchase of Rodriguez would almost definitely have a knock-on effect across Europe.

One thing is for sure, if Real Madrid want Hazard they will do everything possible to get him. They’ve got a history of splashing huge amounts of cash on players and would no doubt be willing to spend whatever it takes to get their man, even if they were to keep hold of Rodriguez.

Will Rodriguez join Liverpool? Is Hazard on his way out of Chelsea?