Liverpool Seek Wembley Redemption

first_imgThe English Premier League resumes today after the international break with some tantalising fixtures with the standout game being the early kickoff between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. The Reds will not only be staking their unbeaten run but would also want to wipe out the memories of last year’s 4-1 loss at Wembley Stadium, while Spurs would be hoping to bounce from their Week Three 2-1 loss to Watford in spite of scoring first. It is, however, a good game for the neutrals to enjoyLiverpool will not have happy memories of their last visit to Wembley Stadium and will head south with a point to prove against Tottenham Hotspur.Eleven months ago Juergen Klopp’s side were swept aside 4-1 by a rampant Tottenham leading to a bout of navel-gazing that, as it transpired, helped transform Liverpool’s season. The defensive lapses that undermined them that day were soon eradicated, the goals began to flow and with the addition of central defender Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January, Liverpool became a force to be reckoned with.The damage had already been done though and, just like every other contender, they never got anywhere near a Manchester City side that strolled to the Premier League title.They did reach the Champions League final and have continued the momentum into the new campaign, topping the table with four wins from four, scoring nine goals and conceding one.Tottenham began with three wins but slipped up in their last game before the international break, losing 2-1 at Watford who are surprisejoint-leaders.Early in the season it may be, but the lunchtime clash will offer a pointer as to which club can push on and make a credible challenge to a City side who host Fulham.Tottenham’s starting line-up will be similar to the one that started last year’s fixture after the London club bucked the trend by spending nothing in the transfer window.Liverpool, on the other hand, splashed out in the region of 160 million pounds on the likes of Naby Keita, versatile Brazilian Fabinho, Brazil keeper Alisson and Swiss playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri from relegated Stoke City.The Merseysiders have lost only one of their last 11 Premier League meetings against Tottenham.There is an edge between the clubs and Klopp knows three points today would send out a message of intent.Defeat for Tottenham in a fixture that was supposed to be the christening of their new stadium will lead to further scrutiny of the decision to trust the same players that have achieved three successive top-three finishes but no silverware.While Liverpool’s outlay on new players has, so far, proved beneficial, the same cannot be said of West Ham United. The London club bolstered their squad with nearly £100 million worth of new signings for incoming manager Manuel Pellegrini, but are pointless after four games.Things do not get any easier either with West Ham away to Everton on Sunday.Jose Mourinho takes his Manchester United side to high-flying Watford today knowing they cannot afford another slip-up if they are to stay on the coattails of the Premier League pacesetters.A 2-0 victory against struggling Burnley followed by an international break has taken the heat off the Portuguese manager as he tries to inject momentum into a stuttering start to the season.Defeat at Watford – who have won all four of their games would leave United nine points off the lead and their title ambitions in tatters midway through September.Former United and England defender Gary Neville hopes his old club can still mount a challenge to Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool despite two defeats in four matches.“If they can stay in it until January and maybe get one or two defenders in, they may have a chance, but I doubt it,” he told The Timesnewspaper. “I think United will be third or fourth.”Neville insisted it is far too early to write Mourinho off despite his early-season struggles, which have given rise to the suspicion he is yesterday’s man.“I think Jose is a brilliant manager, and, in a 25-year career, young managers will emerge, people will ask questions if you aren’t successful,” he added.“He’s having a more difficult time, but finished? I genuinely think that’s a nonsense.”Mourinho’s tasks in solving a rift with World Cup-winning midfielder Paul Pogba and his side’s defensive frailties have not gone away in the international break, even if some of his stars showed the richness of the resources at his disposal with their countries.Romelu Lukaku continued a fine start to his season by netting three times for Belgium and Marcus Rashford scored twice for England, against Spain and Switzerland.Rashford has struggled for time on the pitch at United this season with Mourinho able to pick from a clutch of attacking options including Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata.But the United boss will be spared the difficult decision of whether to play Rashford over the next few weeks, with the 20-year-old starting a three-game ban against Watford following a red card in the Burnley match.Mourinho could also be without defender Luke Shaw, who suffered a nasty head injury in England’s match against Spain on his return to the national side.Watford brushed aside Brighton, Burnley and Crystal Palace as they made a perfect start to the season.But their real statement of intent came in their come-from-behind win against Tottenham that enabled them to keep pace with Liverpool and Chelsea.Watford boss Javi Gracia, though, warned his side of underestimating United.“Nowadays we talk about the coaches a lot more, but they have a great squad, many internationals, recently crowned champions of the world,” said the Spaniard.“We’ve seen them in all the big international games and we know it is going to be a very difficult game. But we will try to compete in the same way we have done things in the last couple of games.“I think that as soon as we begin to think the next game is going to be easier for some reason, we are dead… we will pay heavily for any sense of over-confidence against a team like United.”Chelsea, who have quietly gone about their business under new manager Maurizio Sarri, are also 100 per cent after four games and will relish a home clash against Cardiff City.Premiership TableTeam P GD PtsLiverpool 4 8 12Chelsea 4 7 12Watford 4 6 12Man City 4 8 10Tottenham 4 5 9Bournemouth 4 1 7Everton 4 1 6Leicester 4 1 6Arsenal 4 0 6Man Utd 4 -1 6Wolves 4 -1 5Southampton 4 0 4Fulham 4 -2 4Brighton 4 -2 4Crystal Palace 4 -3 3Cardiff 4 -3 2Huddersfield 4 -8 2Newcastle 4 -3 1Burnley 4 -6 1West Ham 4 -8 0Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Even-keel Badgers rolling into showdown with Spartans

first_imgWide receiver Nick Toon sat out against Indiana as a precautionary measure after hurting his left foot against Nebraska in the conference opener. Toon leads UW with 25 catches in five games.[/media-credit]The Wisconsin Badgers are looking to get back to full strength against Michigan State Saturday with injured wide receiver Nick Toon expected to return to practice this week.Toon was sidelined against Indiana with a left foot injury he sustained during the Nebraska game. Toon sat out as a precautionary measure against Indiana, but is expected to see playing time against Michigan State.“He ran around on Sunday and felt really good, he is going to jump into Tuesday’s practice,” Bielema said. “He felt good on Saturday, we probably could have played him, but I wanted to see the other guys perform.”Defensive tackle Patrick Butrym also suffered a minor ankle sprain – not a high-ankle sprain, Bielema said – against Indiana and is expected to participate in light practice and be back on the field for the Badgers this weekend.“He said basically he felt really tight on Sunday, but it was better [Monday] and he has got a goal in his mind to run around a bit Wednesday and hopefully practice Thursday,” Bielema said. “He is so smart with the game plan, I would feel really good about him playing even if he didn’t really get any time until Saturday.”Focus remains consistentWhen it comes to preparing, the Badgers tend to take a similar approach every week.Bielema said he likes his team to be fired up, but has the confidence in his players to know the difference between right and wrong.“It’s not what happens, it’s how you react to what happens. We’ll do our talking between our pads,” Bielema said. “To me, there are three things you need to have on the road – you need to have great execution, great communication and discipline.”For Bielema, this discipline cannot be installed in a week. Rather, it has to be something built into the Badgers’ framework over time.“That’s something you can’t really install in a week, you have to have discipline in your mentality, in your framework, and that’s what we recruit,” Bielema said.Quarterback Russell Wilson also said he feels that the daily activities in preparing week-in and week-out foster success.“I think that games are won on the field, by our preparation during the week, by the extra film we put in,” Wilson said. “Everything that you do during the week really helps you prepare for the game.”When it comes to preparing for the games, Wilson is a visual learner. He studies the opponent and visualizes how the game will be played out ahead of time.“I visualize a lot, when I am preparing during the week especially when I am playing away, I envision myself being in the stadium – where the clock is, the first downs, all that stuff I visualize,” Wilson said. “That prepares me for the game.”Badgers return to East LansingOffensively, the Badgers will look to continue their solid ball security, while defensively Bielema hopes to create some turnovers and capitalize on them.“We have been great with ball security and that will need to continue on the road,” Bielema said. “Defensively, if we have a chance to get our hands on the football, we need to come up with it.”Michigan State’s strong defensive stance will prove to be a challenge for the Badgers in the upcoming game.Bielema still remains confident in Wilson’s ability, despite the Spartans’ aggressive defense that has proven capable of bringing pressure all over the field.“You can mentally or physically challenge a quarterback, and that’s exactly what they (Michigan State) are doing,” Bielema said. “One of the good advantages of [Wilson] is that he doesn’t get overly rattled by anything that I’ve seen thrown at him.”A big part of Wilson’s success comes from the success of Wisconsin’s offensive line.“Our offensive line is doing such a great job right now, we have a lot of experienced guys up front and their blocking ability gives me a lot of time to make decisions, to stay up on my feet, make the right throw at the right time, that obviously helps,” Wilson said.This weekend’s game will mark only the second away game for the Badgers this season. Road games may come with a different set of challenges, but Wilson remains confident.Keeping confidence and trust along with knowledge for the game is what Wilson tries to show his teammates are important in winning.“The calmer you are, the more confident you play, the more that you trust your offense, the more that you trust what you see, the better off you are going to be,” Wilson said.Confidence in BCS rankingsWith the release of the BCS rankings this week, the Badgers find themselves sitting at No. 6 just behind Oklahoma State (No. 4) and Boise State (No. 5). However, Bielema is not too concerned with UW’s current status.“The computers, the rankings and all that stuff, it’s all going to sort itself through in the end, I really do believe in that,” Bielema said. “If we keep winning and taking care of things around us, than everything takes care of itself.”Wilson agreed with Bielema in regard to the requirement of patience.“All that really matters is playing great football week by week and see where we are at the end,” Wilson said, “We have to weather the storms, just play with confidence, play with a little bit of swagger and play great football.”last_img read more