Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs. Liverpool

Venue: Old Trafford – Sunday, January 15 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Man Utd 21/20 – Draw 12/5 – Liverpool 13/5

Match Preview

Manchester United face Liverpool for the 50th time in the Premier League on Sunday in what is undoubtedly the weekend’s biggest game.

United are looking as strong as they have done for several years at the moment, having won nine games in a row in all competitions. Six of them have come in the Premier League and Jose Mourinho will be delighted with the progress being made.

The only concern for the Red Devils is that their Premier League rivals are all winning too, so they still find themselves in sixth place ahead of this weekend’s schedule.

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Liverpool enter the weekend in second, only five points higher than United, so this is a huge chance for the home side to close the gap and keep their winning run going.

Jurgen Klopp’s men had a strong festive period themselves but have been disappointing in their last three games in all competitions.

A 2-2 draw at Sunderland was followed by a 0-0 FA Cup draw against Plymouth last weekend. Before the Reds then fell 1-0 at Southampton in the first leg of their EFL Cup semifinal on Wednesday night.

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Sadio Mane is not available as a result of Africa Cup of Nations commitments with Senegal, although Philippe Coutinho has returned from injury, so Klopp needs to ensure he gets his team selection spot on for Sunday’s game.

The reverse fixture at Anfield ended 0-0 back in October but these sides have not drawn a league game at Old Trafford for 17 years, so it looks likely that someone will emerge victorious in what is a vital game at the top end of the table.

Team News

Jose Mourinho will be without Eric Bailly for the next few weeks as the defender has flown out to play for Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations. Marcos Rojo is a doubt after picking up an injury in last week’s FA Cup game against Reading. Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the midweek clash with Hull because of illness but should return in time for this huge match.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be without Sadio Mane for the rest of the month at least as he is with the Senegal squad for AFCON 2017. Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Marko Grujic are all doubts, while Danny Ings and Mamadou Sakho remain out.

Key Points

Man Utd’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Liverpool’s last five: W/W/W/W/D

Key Stat: This will be the 50th Premier League clash between these long-standing rivals. Manchester United have won 27 of the previous 49 games.

Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The United striker should be passed fit to play and the home side need him as he has been in incredible form since moving to the Premier League last summer. He has 13 goals in his first 19 league games this term and has found the net in nine of his last nine PL matches.

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Score Prediction

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool – Both sides will fancy their chances here, as both are so dangerous going forward, but United look stronger at the minute and Liverpool have looked vulnerable since the turn of the year. The loss of Mane could prove to be a factor as the home side look poised to seal a narrow, but important victory on Sunday.

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Norwich City vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Norwich City vs. Liverpool

Venue: Carrow Road – Saturday, January 23 – 12:45 GMT (07:45 ET)

Match Odds: Norwich City 3/1 – Draw 5/2 – Liverpool 13/5

Match Preview

Norwich City welcome Liverpool to Carrow Road in Saturday’s early Premier League kick off, in which three points are vital for both teams.

Norwich return back to East Anglia after back-to-back defeats to Stoke City and Bournemouth. They conceded six goals in those two fixtures and need to shore up defensively now.

Manager, Alex Neil has been busy in the last few days with the signings of Scotland international Steven Naismith, Swiss centre-back Timm Klose and Ivan Pinto from Dynamo Zagreb joining to try and help maintain the Canaries’ Premier League status.

As we said in this week’s Podcast, Steven Naismith’s signing could prove valuable for the club with his goals and experience. Five more wins this season could keep them up, and with nine fixtures to play at home, Norwich will hope they can rely on home comforts to see them through.

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Liverpool have been very inconsistent this term and are sitting in ninth place in the Premier League, with no win in three league matches. The latest being the 1-0 defeat at Anfield to Manchester United last Sunday.

A win over Exeter City in the FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday might have put some confidence back into the Reds, and Klopp ensured several first-team players were rested for that tie.

The German manager has plenty of injury worries that don’t seem to want to go away, with several first-team players out with injuries for extended periods of time. But one positive is that Jon Flanagan has returned after 18 months out.

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The reverse fixture saw Norwich take a point at Anfield with a 1-1 draw back in September and the Canaries will be desperate to go one better this time around.

Team News

Norwich have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game but Gary O’Neil will continue to serve his suspension after his red card against Stoke City.

Liverpool have a whole host of injuries as Divock Origi (knee), Philippe Coutinho (hamstring), Dejan Lovren (hamstring), Martin Skrtel (hamstring), Danny Ings (ACL), Joe Gomez (ACL) and Daniel Sturridge (hip) are all still sidelined

Key Points

Norwich City’s last five: L/W/W/L/L

Liverpool’s last five: W/W/L/D/L

Key Stat: Liverpool last lost at Carrow Road in May 1993.

Key Player: Wes Hoolahan – The Irish playmaker will want to add to his impressive tally of six assists for the season. With Steven Naismith expected to play some part, Norwich fans will be hoping they strike up a formidable partnership to propel them up the table.

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Score Prediction

Norwich City 1-1 Liverpool – This one has draw written all over it. An impressive draw at Anfield for Norwich earlier in the season will give them belief. The Reds played in the week and Norwich have had that extra rest, so they will fancy their chances. But Liverpool will still be hard to beat. There might not be many goals but a score draw looks likely.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: West Ham vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – West Ham United vs. Liverpool

Venue: Upton Park – Saturday, January 2 – 12:45 GMT (07:45 EST)

Match Odds: West Ham United 13/5 – Draw 12/5 – Liverpool 21/20

Match Preview

West Ham will host Liverpool in the Premier League’s first game of 2016 at Upton Park this Saturday lunchtime in a game in which the Reds will be looking for revenge after losing 3-0 in the reverse fixture back in August.

West Ham come into this one unbeaten in six Premier League games, but have only managed one win in their last nine and don’t look to be as much of a threat as they were in the early weeks of the campaign.

It’s remarkable how they are still in the top half of the table, after taking just nine points from a possible 27 in their last nine matches.

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Injuries haven’t helped Slaven Bilic’s men, though they have managed well enough with the loss of Dimitri Payet. But with his return nearing, things look positive for the Hammers if they can make winning a more frequent event from now.

West Ham United’s Premier League record: P19 – W7 – D8 – L4

Liverpool have been impressive as well as efficient recently, winning their last two games 1-0 in the Premier League.

Inconsistency, however, is letting them down. A 3-1 win against Chelsea and a 4-1 win against Manchester City have been blighted by losses to Watford and Newcastle in the last couple of months.

They come into the game in seventh place, just one point and one place above West Ham in the table, so a win for either here would be an important one.

Liverpool’s Premier League record: P19 – W8 – D6 – L5

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Liverpool will want to push on for the top four now they have put two wins together and manager Jurgen Klopp knows a good start to 2016 will increase the club’s chances of Champions League qualification.

Team News

West Ham are likely to still be without Dimitri Payet, although he is nearing a return to action. Aaron Cresswell and Nikica Jelavic are also doubts and might miss this one too through injury. Winston Reid, Diafra Sakho and Victor Moses are all definitely out and will miss the clash.

Liverpool will be without Jordan Henderson, Martin Skrtel, Jon Flanagan, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, Divork Origi, James Milner and Jordan Rossiter. Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen are doubts but could start as Jurgen Klopp will need to make changes again.

Key Points

West Ham United’s last five: D/D/D/D/W

Liverpool’s last five: L/D/L/W/W

Key Stat: West Ham are undefeated in their last seven home matches in the Premier League.

Key Player: Christian Benteke – The Belgian striker has been more clinical in front of goal recently, scoring in Liverpool’s last two games, and we expect him to be on the scoresheet once again here.

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Score Prediction

West Ham United 0-1 Liverpool – We’re not expecting many goals in this clash as both will want to start the new year in as solid a way as possible. However, we feel that Liverpool have enough quality to just edge out an injury-stricken West Ham side here.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Toronto vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Toronto vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: BMO Field – Wednesday, June 24 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST – Thursday, June 25)

Match Odds: Toronto 5/6 – Draw 11/4 – Montreal Impact 3/1

Match Preview

Toronto FC and Montreal Impact clash in a crucial MLS Canadian derby at BMO Field on Wednesday night.

Toronto come into the 401 derby following an extremely disappointing 2-0 home defeat to New York City at the weekend, which marked their first loss in five games.

Greg Vanney’s side had previously won three on the bounce and they currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with 19 points from their opening 13 games.

The Reds also have numerous games in hand on the teams above them, so they’re in a good spot as it stands and a win over their Canadian rivals could lift them into third depending on other results.

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Montreal Impact will arrive in high spirits after an impressive 2-0 win against Orlando City last time out and have won five of their last seven games.

The Impact secured a first MLS away win since September 2013 when they beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 on June 6, so that’s a burden they will be happy to have off their back and should give them a real incentive to believe they can win the derby.

Frank Klopas’ side are fifth in the Eastern Conference with 17 points from 12 games and will leapfrog Toronto with a victory as their challenge for a playoff spot this season is in good shape.

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The last MLS meeting between the two sides was a 1-1 draw back in October 2014. They most recently met in the 2015 Canadian Championship with the Impact winning the first leg 1-0 and Toronto winning the second leg 3-2 as Montreal progressed on away goals.

Team News

Toronto’s Clement Simonin (knee), Steven Caldwell (achilles), Mark Bloom (leg) and Daniel Lovitz (knee) are all out injured.

Montreal Impact will be without the injured Adrian Lopez (knee), Justin Mapp (elbow), Cameron Porter (knee) and Kenny Cooper (knee). There’s also doubts over the fitness of Hassoun Camara (knee) and Eric Miller (hamstring).

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Key Points

Toronto’s last five in MLS: D/W/W/W/L

Montreal Impact’s last five in MLS: L/W/W/L/W

Key Stat: Montreal Impact have failed to win 27 of their last 28 away matches in MLS (D7, L20). The Impact have also never beaten Toronto away from home.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – The Italian has been a revelation so far and if ever there is a game that the Toronto fans want see him provide the goods, then this is it. He could make the difference as he has done so many times this season already.

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Score Prediction

Toronto 2-2 Montreal Impact – This is a clash that has the potential to be a fascinating watch. And it’s likely it will be, as both sides will hopefully serve up an entertaining affair that should provide us with goals.

STATS: Could this young MLS star replace Raheem Sterling at Liverpool?

It’s looking increasingly likely that Raheem Sterling is heading for the Liverpool exit door this summer after turning down a £100,000-a-week deal and the transfer rumours are growing rapidly.

With that in mind, the Reds may already be eyeing up a potential replacement, and will probably be scouting the top European clubs to see who they can bring in to fill the void left by Sterling should he leave.

An alternative option to consider is looking outside of Europe and the possibility of making a move for a player in the mould of FC Dallas winger, and one of Major League Soccer‘s hottest prospects, Fabian Castillo.

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The 22-year-old Colombian has had an excellent start to the 2015 MLS season with Dallas and has continued from where he left off in 2014. But how does Castillo compare statistically to Sterling over the course of 2014 and 2015?

Apps

Mins

Goals

Assists

Total goals contributed

Total goals contributed-per-game

Successful take ons-per-game

Raheem Sterling

35

3,047

7

7

14

0.40

2.94

Fabian Castillo

39

3,355

14

9

23

0.59

4.49

The stats show that Castillo contributes more goals-per-game and has more successful take ons-per-game than Raheem Sterling has had this season.

While no-one is suggesting that the level of the Premier League and MLS is comparable, the numbers still show that Castillo is an exciting prospect and if he continues to grow at the rate he currently is, he will undoubtedly draw attention from top European clubs.

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The Colombian attacker has raw pace and at just 22-years-old, he is a long way from reaching his peak as he improves consistently each season.

Replacing Sterling is going to be a tough task for Liverpool and any potential new signing will have his work cut-out trying to live up to the Anfield faithful’s expectations, but Fabian Castillo could be a realistic option if he carries on performing.

Would you like to see Fabian Castillo in the Premier League? Or should he stay in MLS?

Steven Gerrard writes emotional farewell letter to fans ahead of LA Galaxy move

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has delivered one final message to the fans before he jets off for the USA in July to join up with his LA Galaxy teammates and prepares for life in MLS.

“Saying goodbye hasn’t been easy. Liverpool Football Club has been such a massive part of my life since I was eight years old and I know how much I’m going to miss it,” said Gerrard in an open letter.

“It’s been an emotional time for my family and I with my final game at Anfield against Crystal Palace and then my last appearance away to Stoke City. But I’ve been blown away by the send-off I’ve been given by the supporters and I’d like to thank every one of you.

“It’s been very humbling and it’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. It’s been an absolute privilege to represent this football club for so long.”

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The 34-year-old points to the dramatic Champions League final turnaround against AC Milan in 2005 as the highlight of his time at Anfield and is thankful for the support the fans have given him.

“Of course the pinnacle of my career arrived in Istanbul 10 years ago. That was the best night of my life. When I lifted the European Cup, there was no prouder man on the planet.”

“It meant so much to me to deliver that trophy for you. The supporters played such a big part in helping to inspire that famous comeback against AC Milan. I’ll never forget how they helped to lift our chins off the floor after that nightmare first half.”

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The ex-England skipper hasn’t bemoaned the extra responsibility that came with being the main man at such a big club but says it was something he enjoyed.

“People have often asked me about the pressure on my shoulders to deliver for Liverpool but I’ve never seen that as a burden. There’s been huge responsibility on me but I’ve always loved and embraced that. It’s been a massive honour to be captain of this club for so long.”

Gerrard rounded off his goodbye with a short and simple message that most Liverpool fans would agree is a fair reflection on the efforts he’s put in for the club.

“I’ve always given my best and tried to lead by example.”

Will Liverpool cope with life after Steven Gerrard? And will he enjoy his MLS experience with LA Galaxy?

Manchester United legend criticises Liverpool for allowing Gerrard MLS move

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has criticised Liverpool for allowing club captain Steven Gerrard to leave for MLS side LA Galaxy.

“There is no way in a million years that Liverpool should be allowing him to pack up and sign for LA Galaxy,” said Neville in his column for The Telegraph.

The former United defender believes that Liverpool should be doing more to hold onto their best players and should emulate the way United in recent years have very rarely let their stars leave unless the boss wants them gone.

“If you compare Liverpool to Manchester United over the same period of time, I can think of only one player – Cristiano Ronaldo – who left when he wanted to go, rather than when Sir Alex Ferguson wanted it to happen.”

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Gerrard has little to play for but pride in his final Premier League game for the Reds on Sunday afternoon away to Stoke City at the Britannia as Liverpool have missed out on a Champions League spot and will finish trophy-less after being knocked out of the FA Cup semi-final by Aston Villa.

The 34-year-old will bid an emotional farewell to the club he has spent his entire career with before heading to the USA to link-up with his LA Galaxy teammates in July following a summer break.

The reigning MLS Cup champions will be hoping Gerrard can help fire them to another title when he arrives to play alongside former Liverpool colleague and Galaxy skipper Robbie Keane.

Should Liverpool have held on to Steven Gerrard for longer or were they right to allow him to move to MLS?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Liverpool

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Sunday, May 10th – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Chelsea 21/20 – Draw 5/2 – Liverpool 11/4

Match Preview

Premier League champions Chelsea welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon with the visitors set to give the Blues a guard of honour after they secured the title last weekend.

Jose Mourinho‘s side clinched the Premier League crown when they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 last Sunday thanks to another goal from the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Eden Hazard.

Chelsea have been subjected to criticism from some who have labelled them “boring” but the Blues will care little now that the title is on the sideboard alongside the League Cup in what has been a fantastic season.

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Mourinho could be tempted to field an experimental side with nothing on the line, although it’s unlikely he will make too many changes as they look to finish the season as strongly as possible. The fans creating a party atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge will still be expecting a good performance.

Liverpool arrive in London knowing they absolutely have to take all three points if they are to prolong any very faint hopes of finishing in the top four as they sit seven points behind Manchester United with only two games remaining after this one.

Brendan Rodgers will know that defeat for his team means they cannot finish in the Champions League places, while a draw will make it almost mathematically impossible given United’s superior goal difference, so they can throw caution to the wind and try to get at Chelsea.

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The Reds won their last game 2-1 at home to QPR but have recorded just two victories in their last six games (D1, L3) and have lost on all of their visits to the other three sides in the top four, so they need to break that trend here.

These two sides last met in the Capital One Cup semi-final which saw Chelsea prevail with a 2-1 aggregate win over the two legs. The reverse fixture in the Premier League at Anfield back in November 2014 ended with a 2-1 win for Chelsea.

Team News

Chelsea will be without the injured Oscar, while Diego Costa could return to action. Ramires is expected to miss out through illness.

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Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will be out until September following a hip operation. Jon Flanagan and Mamadou Sakho are both out nursing injuries, while Mario Balotelli and Lucas Leiva could return to the side.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: W/W/D/W/W

Liverpool’s last five: L/W/D/L/W

Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten against Liverpool in their last five Premier League meetings (W3, D2).

Key Player: John Terry – Should the Chelsea skipper start the game, he will once again be vital at the heart of the defence, just as he has been all season. His performances have been one of the main reasons for their success.

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Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool – Despite the pressure being off now that the Premier League title is already won, Mourinho won’t allow his side to let up and another efficient performance should see Chelsea just edge it.

Is this future Liverpool captain the man to build the team around?

With the season drawing to a close and the imminent departure of Steven Gerrard, Liverpool face a summer of change as they will look to mount another challenge on the top four in the Premier League next season.

With England international Raheem Sterling currently stalling on a new contract, Liverpool have acted quickly to nail down future captain Jordan Henderson to a new five-year deal in what could be their best business this summer as Manchester City were circling.

Henderson has been sensational this season and has arguably been the Reds’ best player. Yet it was Philippe Coutinho who made the PFA Team of the Season. So is the England International undervalued?

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Current vice-captain, Henderson is the expected replacement for the long-serving Gerrard once he leaves for the LA Galaxy in the summer, having been an ever-present figure in Brendan Rodgers’ side this term.

Henderson has made huge steps this season towards being the midfield player that Liverpool need and signing him to a new contract and fighting off interest from other clubs is paramount to Liverpool’s project.

So compared to the other marquee midfielders in the side, how does Henderson fair?

Sterling Coutinho Henderson
Appearances 33 32 34
Goals 7 5 6
Assists 7 5 8

Should Sterling decide not to agree a new deal by the end of the summer, it’s a huge possibility that Liverpool will want to cash in on him while they can.

They will need to bring in reinforcements regardless of Sterling’s situation but Jordan Henderson is arguably the man to build a team around if the Reds are to remain a force at the top end of the Premier League.

Who is a greater asset for Liverpool – Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho or Jordan Henderson?

Liverpool legend urges Sterling to ‘forget contract’ and ‘just perform’

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes that Raheem Sterling will have a “long and successful career” despite the recent attention he’s received over failure to agree on the terms of a new contract with the Reds.

“He’s one of Liverpool’s best attacking players. But forget the contract and money, the best way to prove your worth and keep the fans off your back is just perform. Don’t tell people how good you are, show them,” Carragher said on Sky Sports’ Monday night football.

Sterling scored the first goal in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Newcastle at Anfield last night, which leaves them four points behind fourth-placed Man City and keeps them in the hunt for a top four Premier League finish.

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But the 20-year-old is struggling to shake off the heavy criticism he’s been subjected to for not putting pen to paper on the £100,000-a-week deal he was offered, but Carragher thinks he will learn from the experience.

“There’s no doubt over the last six to 12 months, that in years to come he will look back on this period as a massive learning curve.

“You make mistakes at that age, I did, we all do. It’s just important that we learn from them. Raheem Sterling needs to be on the back pages, not the front pages.

“That’s a problem for him in the last few months, hopefully he learns from them. He’s going to be a great talent.”

Should Raheem Sterling sign a new deal for Liverpool or move elsewhere?