Jamaal Lascelles responds to Liverpool transfer speculation

Liverpool are lining up a move for Jamaal Lascelles (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Newcastle star Jamaal Lascelles has spoken out amid speculation linking him with a move to Liverpool.

Lascelles, 24, captained Newcastle to a 10th-placed finish in the Premier League this season and reports suggest the centre-back is firmly on Jurgen Klopp’s radar ahead of the summer transfer window.

The Reds are on the hunt for defensive reinforcements ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, with Burnley’s James Tarkowski also understood to be a target.

However, it appears Lascelles has ruled out the possibility of a move to Merseyside this summer after the Englishman insisted that he’s ‘very happy’ at St James’ Park.

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Asked about the growing speculation around his future, he responded: ‘This is the happiest I’ve been. I’m playing week in, week out, and I’m the captain here.

‘The fans love me. I’ve got a good relationship with them, because I love them. And we’re doing well, too.

The defender became Newcastle’s captain in August 2016 (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)‘I’m very happy here. You hear things – you hear rumours and stuff – but I’m a young player, and I need to be playing football at a good club – and that’s what this is.

‘Overall, it’s been an unreal season as far as I’m concerned, both for me personally, and, more importantly, for the club.’

Jamaal Lascelles is optimistic that Rafael Benitez can lead Newcastle to success  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Lascelles has been impressed with Rafael Benitez and is keen to be a part of Newcastle’s future under the Spaniard.

‘This is the right club for me at the right time,’ he added.

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‘We have a huge fanbase, an amazing manager, and this club is massive. It has so much history.

‘As captain, I want to see how far we can go – and, potentially, take it back to where it belongs.’

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Which Premier League games are on TV today? Sky Sports showing three matches live on final day

Will Mohamed Salah secure the Premier League Golden Boot this afternoon? (Picture: Getty Images)The Premier League season comes to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon and three of the 10 games will be shown live on Sky Sports.

There is little to play for going into the final game of the season, but the matches that have anything on the line are being broadcast.

The battle for fourth spot is still alive and so both Liverpool and Chelsea’s games are being shown.

The Reds have the upper hand in that duel as they just need a draw at home to Brighton to confirm their spot in the Champions League next season.

Antonio Conte may be taking charge of his last Premier League game as Chelsea manager (Picture: Getty Images)Chelsea got to Newcastle needing a victory and in hope of Liverpool losing at home to the Seagulls.

Liverpool vs Brighton will be shown on Sky Sports Main Event, whilst the Blues against the Magpies will be on Sky Sports Premier League.

The other match being shown is Southampton vs Manchester City, with the Saints hoping to confirm survival in the division, but City wanting to reach 100 points for the season.

Raheem Sterling has had a superb season with Manchester City (Picture: Getty Images)Southampton need a point to guarantee their safety, although a loss will probably not hurt them as Swansea need  to win and make up a 10-goal swing to overhaul the Saints.

The Swans are at home to Stoke so victory for them and a loss for Southampton is not out of the question, but the goal difference will likely be too much for them to recover from.

Southampton vs Manchester City is on Sky Sports Mix.

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Which Premier League games are on TV?

Liverpool vs Brighton – Sky Sports Main Event – 3pm

Newcastle vs Chelsea – Sky Sports Premier League – 3pm

Southampton vs Man City – Sky Sports Mix – 3pm

Premier League fixtures on the final day of the season

Burnley  vs Bournemouth

Crystal Palace vs West Brom

Huddersfield vs Arsenal

Liverpool vs Brighton

Manchester United vs Watford

Newcastle vs Chelsea

Southampton vs Manchester City

Swansea vs Stoke

Swansea City look doomed (Picture: Getty Images)Tottenham vs Leicester

West Ham vs Everton

All 3pm kick-offs

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Rafa Benitez a ‘great fit’ to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, says Ray Parlour

Rafa Benitez would be an ideal fit for Arsenal, says Ray Parlour (Picture: Getty)Rafa Benitez would be a ‘great fit’ to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, according to Ray Parlour.

The Gunners confirmed on Friday that Wenger, 68, will step down at the end of the season, bringing an end to his 22-year reign in charge of the club.

As manager of Arsenal, Wenger won three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and reached the Champions League final.

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Confirmation of his departure has provoked speculation over who will be the next manager in the Emirates hot-seat, with Luis Enrique and Max Allegri thought to be leading contenders.

Parlour believes the club should be looking closer to home, however, with former Liverpool boss Benitez doing an ‘amazing’ job at Newcastle United.

‘What he has done for Newcastle this season is amazing,’ former Arsenal and England defender Parlour told talkSPORT.

Arsene Wenger is set to leave the Emirates at the end of the season (Picture: Getty)‘With not a lot of investment he’s got them playing so well. They are out of trouble when it looked like they would be in a relegation battle, and now they are sitting really healthy in the league.

‘He would be a great fit, but whether Arsenal want to go down that road…

‘There are younger managers as well, and they may say “let’s give one of them an opportunity”, or go for one of the more experienced ones; Luis Enrique is favourite, but I know Chelsea might be looking at him as well.

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‘So this board have got to make a big decision now, because I’ve always thought whoever replaces Arsene Wenger is going to have a hell of a job taking the club forward. It’s not an easy job.’

Wenger, meanwhile, admits it would be ’emotionally difficult’ to take a job at another English club.

‘I don’t know how well I would deal with that,’ the Frenchman said. ‘It’s difficult to say never, but at the moment I’m too attached to this club.

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‘I honestly cannot tell you much more, because I don’t want you to come back to me in six months and say you lied to us.

‘I know I did that a few times. I wouldn’t like to be definite today. I don’t know how I will respond to that situation.’

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Michael Owen’s Premier League predictions, including Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal

It has not been the best of weeks for top-of-the-table Manchester City and things might get even worse for the Champions-elect this weekend given they meet a Tottenham side who are looking to cement their Champions League spot for next season.

Ahead of that match, and the rest of the weekend’s Premier League action, BetVictor brand ambassador Michael Owen makes his predictions…

Southampton v Chelsea

The opening goal is normally very important in any game but perhaps less so at St Mary’s this weekend, given both sides failed to hang on to a lead last time out. Indeed, Southampton have now failed to win any of the last six Premier League games in which they have opened the scoring!

Southampton lost to Arsenal last weekend despite having been in the lead (Getty)The Saints badly need the points as they look to maintain their Premier League status and if there is to be a winner at St Mary’s I feel it will be the hosts, despite them having lost their last four league games against Chelsea.

Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Chelsea

Burnley v Leicester City

Burnley manager Sean Dyche (Getty)Burnley are looking to win five consecutive top-flight games for the first time since November 1968 and Sean Dyche must be a leading candidate for LMA Manager of the Year irrespective of the outstanding claims of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

Only Mo Salah (21) has scored in more Premier League games than Jamie Vardy (15) so far this season and I fancy the Foxes will pick up a hard-earned point at Turf Moor.

Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Leicester City

Crystal Palace v Brighton

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha (Getty)Palace have not had much luck at Selhurst Park in recent months but that might change this weekend in their ‘derby’ clash with Brighton.

Brighton have failed to score in five of their last seven away Premier League games and I think they will struggle to cope with the pace and flair of Wilfried Zaha. You would have got big odds at the start of the season had you backed Luka Milovejic (10) to be top Premier League scorer for the Eagles this term and it is about time that Christian Benteke stepped up to the plate for Roy Hodgson’s side.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Brighton

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Huddersfield v Watford

There have been 32 goals in the last seven league games between the sides and I expect to see another entertaining clash in West Yorkshire.

The Hornets have only picked up one point from their last nine Premier League away games and coach Javi Gracia is yet to see his side score a goal away from Vicarage Road in four previous games. A hard game to call but I would be surprised if we did not see goals at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Prediction: Huddersfield 1-2 Watford

Swansea v Everton

Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal (Getty)I was disappointed with Everton, despite them picking up a point, against Liverpool in last weekend’s Merseyside Derby. They were second best for much of the game before suddenly waking up in the last fifteen minutes due to the fact that the Reds were there for the taking.

It might be a long time before they a have a similar opportunity to break their Derby hoodoo such is the respective strength of the two clubs at present.

Carlos Carvalhal has won seven of his nine home matches since taking over at the Liberty Stadium and both defeats have come at the hands of Spurs. I think the Swans might edge a low-scoring contest.

Prediction: Swansea 1-0 Everton

Liverpool v Bournemouth

Mohamed Salah will be looking to crack the 30 goal mark (Getty)Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 18 home Premier League games and when they take the field at Anfield on Saturday evening against Bournemouth we will just know the winner of the 2018 Grand National – which starts fifteen minute earlier. But more importantly we’ll also know who the Reds will meet in the semi-final of the Champions League.

The Cherries have only won at Stamford Bridge against the ‘Big Six’ sides on the road in the history of the Premier League and I cannot see past another home win for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Mo Salah has scored in 21 Premier League games so far this season and is one goal from becoming just the eighth player in the history of the competition to score 30 league goals in a season. Seventeen of those goals have come at Anfield but his midweek goal at the Etihad again showed just what a great player he is.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth

Tottenham v Manchester City

It’s been a poor week for Pep Guardiola (Metro.co.uk)Manchester City have played two great halves of football against United and Liverpool this week, but they were not able to sustain that brilliance over 90 minutes and it has to go down as a disappointing week for the club.

That should not detract, however, from a magnificent season for the team and they will be fitting champions – even if the champagne is currently on ice.

Spurs have won their last two home league games against City and the visitors would not be human if they did not feel a little sorry for themselves.

As an England supporter, I am concerned that England’s first-choice defender John Stones did not even make the bench for either of the games this week and Gareth Southgate must be a little worried about his lack of regular playing time.

These two sides can only play one way and that is to attack, but I feel the hosts will keep the points in the capital.

Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Manchester City

Newcastle v Arsenal

Can Rafa Benitez mastermind a win over Arsenal? (Reuters)Newcastle will be well aware that they have lost their last 10 Premier League games against the Gunners but I think they will buck that trend at St James’s Park on Sunday.

United have won their last three league games while the Gunners have actually lost their last four Premier League games on the road. Yes – they have not played an away league game since their 2-1 defeat at Brighton at the beginning of March!

Arsenal have only won thirteen of their 54 points so far this season on their travels and if there is to be a winner on Sunday, I expect United will edge it.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Arsenal

Manchester United v West Brom

Manchester United stunned Man City last time out (Getty)Manchester United have kept a league-high 16 clean sheets in the league so far this season and with a trip to Bournemouth to come on Wednesday I expect to see a no-frills success from Jose Mourinho’s side whose confidence must be sky-high after their Etihad derby win.

The Baggies have not won in their last 15 away league games while United have won their last five league games. This looks a banker home win.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 West Brom

West Ham v Stoke City

David Moyes would love to see his side win the Monday night game (Getty)You have to go back to December 2016 for the last time West Ham gained back-to-back home wins and I feel the Potters might take a vital point in the capital on Monday night.

Stoke are fighting for the Premier League lives but do have a good record at West Ham where they are unbeaten in their last five league visits.

Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Stoke City

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Michael Owen is a Brand Ambassador for BetVictor. For more tips from Michael read his column here.

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Michael Owen’s Premier League predictions, including Chelsea v Tottenham

The Premier League returns this weekend following the final international break of the season with the visit of Tottenham to Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge the highlight of the fixture list.

BetVictor brand ambassador Michael Owen shares his thoughts on every top-flight match…

Crystal Palace v Liverpool

You have to go back twenty years for the last time Liverpool did the double over Crystal Palace in the Premier League but I will be surprised if the Eagles prevent the Reds from taking the points at Selhurst Park in the early kick-off on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool (Getty)Mohammed Salah has scored in 20 of his 30 Premier League games so far this season and he is only one away from the record set by Robin van Persie (2012-13) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08). That statistic shows vividly what a tremendous impact he has had on the Premier League in just his first season.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool

Brighton v Leicester City

Jamie Vardy scored for England against Italy during the international break (Getty)Brighton have won their last three home league games at the Amex but I feel they may have to settle for a point against a Leicester side who put four past West Brom in their last away game.

Twenty of Leicester’s thirty Premier League games so far this season have seen both sides find the back of the net – more than any other side in the division – and I think we will see goals again at the weekend.

Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Leicester City

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Manchester United v Swansea

Romelu Lukaku is one goal away from joining the 100 club (Getty)Manchester United have already beaten Swansea twice so far this season and I think they will land the treble at Old Trafford.

Romelu Lukaku has 99 Premier League goals to his name and I feel he will join the 100 club against a Swans side who have won their last two league games against ‘big six sides’ albeit both at the Liberty Stadium.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Swansea

Newcastle v Huddersfield

Dwight Gayle is Newcastle’s top scorer (Getty)Huddersfield have failed to score in their last three Premier League games and I feel they will struggle against a Newcastle side who have won their last two home Premier League outings.

Dwight Gayle is the Magpie’s top Premier League scorer with five so far this season, which highlights the fact that United have struggled for goals this term, but they put three past Southampton in their last game and I expect the hosts to keep the points in a low-scoring contest.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-0 Huddersfield

Watford v Bournemouth

Watford manager Javi Gracia (Getty)Watford have only lost one of their last 16 home games against Bournemouth and the Hornets will be keen to put behind them their five-goal defeat at Anfield last time out. The hosts have a perfect three from three home record under Javier Gracia and they have never lost to Bournemouth in five previous Premier League games between the clubs.

Prediction: Watford 2-1 Bournemouth

West Brom v Burnley

Alan Pardew’s side look doomed (Getty)West Brom have lost their last seven league games but I feel they can take a point at the Hawthorns against a Burnley side who have only conceded 14 times on the road so far this season. To put that into context only leaders Manchester City (10) have shipped fewer.

The Baggies have fond memories of Burnley, however, winning nine of their last 10 home league games against the Clarets. Albion are ten points from safety and look sure to be playing Championship football next term, but they will not lack for commitment and I feel they might take a point.

Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Burnley

West Ham v Southampton

West Ham will be fearful of a repeat of the ugly scenes that marred their last home fixture (Getty)This is a massive game near the foot of the Premier League table and Mark Hughes will have been delighted by the Saints’ win at Wigan in the FA Cup a fortnight ago.

It is well-documented that West Ham have their problems on and off the pitch having lost their last three league games by a three-goal margin. It looks sure to be a tight, tense affair and if there is to be a winner, I feel the Saints might take the points.

Prediction: West Ham 0-1 Southampton

Everton v Manchester City

Man City boss Pep Guardiola (Getty)Everton won the corresponding fixture 4-0 last season and Manchester City have not actually beaten the Blues in their last four Premier League games, having picked up a point at the Etihad earlier in the season.

Pep Guardiola has never beaten Everton in three previous attempts as a manager but feel he will buck that trend at Goodison as City play the first of two very big games on Merseyside over the next week.

Prediction: Everton 1-3 Manchester City

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Arsenal v Stoke City

Arsene Wenger’s side will be seeking back-to-back league wins for the first time since November (Getty)Arsenal have won their last 15 home games against Stoke in all competitions and it is hard to see past another home win at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Gunners have won their last 24 home league games against sides who started the day in the bottom three but if they beat the Potters at the weekend, it will be the first time they have won back-to-back in the league since November, which highlights their inconsistency this term.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City

Chelsea v Tottenham

Chelsea have an incredible record over Spurs at Stamford Bridhe (Getty)Chelsea have not lost at home to Spurs in the league since February 1990 – a run of 27 games. Indeed, Spurs have never won at Stamford Bridge in the history of the Premier League – an unwanted record of 25 games and counting.

Sunday’s clash promises to be a quality, full-blooded encounter and I expect to see goals. Spurs have taken the lead but failed to hang on in their last two league games at the Bridge losing 2-1 last term and, famously, surrendering a 2-0 lead back in May 2016 – a result that went down particularly well in Leicester.

Both sides came through difficult FA Cup quarter-final away ties before the international break and this could be a dress rehearsal of the FA Cup final in May, although Manchester United and Southampton will have much to say in the semi-finals.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham

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Michael Owen is a Brand Ambassador for BetVictor. For more tips from Michael read his column here.

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The best, worst and surprisingly successful January transfers featuring Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Virgil van Dijk

Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcot, Daniel Sturridge, Virgil van Dijk and Patrice Evra were among the players on the move in January (Picture: Getty; PA)It’s been nearly two months since the close of the January transfer window and with the cheques having cleared we can assess which moves really warranted all the hype.

It was arguably the most exciting mid-season window ever, with huge stars switching between some of the biggest clubs and vast sums of money changing hands.

But which new arrivals have had fans out of their seats and which have had them pulling their hair out?

Biggest flop – Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez couldn’t stop Manchester United being dumped out of the Champions League by Sevilla (Getty)Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United was the biggest deal of the lot, with the Chilean dramatically snubbing Manchester City in favour of Old Trafford (and the £350,000-a-week that came with it). The Red Devils revelled in his capture with the release of a cringey video to make the announcement, but things haven’t gone so well since.

In 10 appearances he’s scored just one goal and has looked well short of the levels he once showed at Arsenal. His arrival has also caused Jose Mourinho a selection dilemma in attack, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial pushed to the margins. Paul Pogba’s bad season has also deteriorated since January, with some pointing to Sanchez’s role in the team.

And now it’s even being reported that Sanchez is cutting an isolated figure and is eating alone in the Manchester United canteen. Is the former Arsenal man the new Angel Di Maria?

The perfect fit – Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk’s arrival was announced before the window even opened (Getty)For what felt like years Liverpool were persistently told ‘buy a top quality defender and you could be genuine contenders’. In January they finally heeded that advice with the £75m signing of Virgil van Dijk and the upturn in defensive displays from Jurgen Klopp’s side has been dramatic.

They’ve kept clean sheets in half the 10 games the Dutchman has played and some are beginning to believe Liverpool could be Man City’s biggest title challengers next season.

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Inevitably disappointing – Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley upon his arrival at Chelsea (Getty)Chelsea’s signing of Ross Barkley always felt more likely to fall into the category of a Scott Parker or Steve Sidwell arrival than the next Frank Lampard. And so far there’s been little evidence to the contrary.

Following his switch from Everton he’s made just three appearances and has since suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury that scuppered a move last summer. His one showing in the Premier League was the 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth.

Surprising success – Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott has been Everton’s best player since his arrival (Getty)There was so much focus on a certain Alexis Sanchez and the possibility of some big-name arrivals at Arsenal that the departure of Theo Walcott went relatively unnoticed. But he’s arguably been the most successful transfer of the January window. In his eight appearances for Everton he’s scored twice, created another two and overall been the Toffees’ standout player.

Potential life saver – Kenedy

Kenedy celebrates one of his two goals against Southampton (Getty)In Newcastle’s final match before the international break young Chelsea loanee Kenedy scored a brace in a 3-0 win over relegation rivals Southampton. A couple more performances like that will be enough to save the Magpies from the drop.

Depressingly predictable – Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge moved to West Brom on loan (Getty)Switching to West Brom on loan looked the perfect move for Daniel Sturridge. Away from Liverpool he would get the regular football he needed and with the motivation of a place in the England World Cup squad there would be no stopping him.

But just three games into his loan spell at the Hawthorns the inevitable injury happened and, without a goal to his name, he hasn’t played since.

Smart buy – Alex Pritchard

Alex Pritchard celebrates (Getty)Huddersfield looked to be on an inevitable slide back to the Championship with the club suffering five straight Premier League defeats in January. But since then, they’ve picked up seven points from 15 and moved away from the relegation zone.

The busy displays of Alex Pritchard in midfield, signed for around £12million from Norwich, have been key to that. The former Tottenham academy product has weighed in with a goal and an assist and could just keep David Wagner’s team up.

Least missed – Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho switched to Barcelona (Getty)Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona saw him become the second most expensive player in history. But rather than feeling the void of one of the world’s best players having just left, Liverpool have thrived in his absence with the club third in the Premier League and through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Still to convince – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has three in six (Reuters)The most expensive arrival in the Premier League during the January window has bagged three goals in six appearances for Arsenal which is a healthy return. But having essentially ousted Alexandre Lacazette from the side and been unable to play in the Europa League (the only competition that actually matters to Arsenal) it’s too early to say if he was worth the £56m Arsenal paid.

Unhappy return – Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra in action for West Ham (Getty)Patrice Evra is something of a Premier League legend having won a shedload of titles with Manchester United. So when it was announced he was returning to England in the colours of West Ham it was widely welcomed. But since the veteran’s free transfer, he’s played twice and been on the wrong end of two 4-1 scorelines. Meanwhile West Ham fans have suffered a total meltdown and recently came close to a full-on riot at the London Stadium (although to be fair to Evra, that wasn’t really his fault).

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The one that got away – Michy Batshuayi

Michy Batshuayi celebrates one of his eight goals for Borussia Dortmund (Getty)During the January window Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wanted a striker who could provide competition for Alvaro Morata and bang in a few crucial goals. So in came Olivier Giroud from Arsenal who’s managed to score one goal in eight appearances. At the same time Michy Batshuayi went out on loan to Borussia Dortmund where the Belgian has since scored eight goals for his new club. It’s impossible not to conclude that somewhere Chelsea made a mistake.

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Jurgen Klopp refuses to ease rotation in defence as Joel Matip named on bench against Newcastle

Joel Matip was named on the bench against Newcastle (Picture: AP)Jurgen Klopp has explained Dejan Lovren started ahead of Joel Matip against Newcastle for rotation reasons.

The Liverpool boss picked Lovren to partner Virgil van Dijk in defence despite Matip being available for selection.

Matip and Van Dijk had started the last two Premier League games in a row together, but Klopp has regularly been rotating his centre-backs in and out of his eleven.

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Van Dijk and Matip were thought to be the first choice partnership, but Klopp has refused to be drawn into a discussion about which defender he prefers to play alongside his record signing.

‘Yeah, little bit, but also to keep them all going and in good shape,’ Klopp told BT Sport when asked why Lovren was starting.

‘Milly [James Milner] had a knock in the last game.

Virgil van Dijk seems to be assured of a spot in the team (Picture: PA Wire)

Lovren has started crucial games against Tottenham (Picture: EPA)‘We have eleven 100 per cent players so we should not risk anything, that’s pretty much the reason.’

Liverpool have a busy schedule ahead of them with the second leg against Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Matip is now line to start against Porto at Anfield, but could be left out when the Reds travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United next Saturday.

A 5-0 win in the first game in Portugal virtually assures the Reds of a spot in the quarter-finals and Klopp has adopted a strict policy of rotation after watching his players burn out in his previous two seasons as Liverpool boss.

Liverpool 2017/18 Fixtures

Newcastle United (H) – Sat March 3 Porto – Champions League (H) – Tues March 6Manchester United (A) – Sat March 10 Watford (H) – Sat March 17Crystal Palace (A) – Sat March 31 Everton (A) – Sat April 7AFC Bournemouth (H) -Sat April 14 West Brom (A) – Sat April 21

Matip and Lovren are battling for the last centre-back spot (Picture: Getty)

(Picture: Reuters)Mohamed Salah is the only Liverpool player to have played almost every big game, and Klopp seems determined to continue his rotation policy.

But that does not mean Klopp is letting his players’ focus slip as Liverpool welcome their former manager, Rafael Benitez, back to Anfield.

Klopp said: ‘We built a new stand, we’re building a new training ground and we’ve brought in fantastic players. The club is in a very good moment but if we don’t perform here then it will feel different.

‘I like Rafa Benitez as a person but we’ve given enough presents to him. We were 2-0 up [at Anfield in 2016 and drew 2-2].’

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Jurgen Klopp confirms Nathaniel Clyne needs more time as sickness hits Liverpool squad

Liverpool play Newcastle this weekend (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp has confirmed two of his players have been struck down by illness this week as Liverpool prepare for the visit of Newcastle on Saturday night.

Rafael Benitez makes his return to his former stomping ground and Newcastle are desperate to get something from the game with the threat of relegation bearing down on the Magpies.

Klopp was set to have an almost completely fit squad available for the game, but revealed on Friday that the wait will go on for him to have an injury-free team.

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Ben Woodburn and Georginio Wijnaldum are suffering with illness and are doubts for the Newcastle game.

‘Woodburn and Wijnaldum have been ill for a week or so. It’s more than a cold,’ Klopp said in his pre-match press conference.

‘We have no big injuries it’s true and hopefully it stays like this.

Illness has struck down two Liverpool players (Picture: Getty)

Georginio Wijnaldum is ill (Picture: Getty)

Temperatures were freezing this week in Liverpool (Picture: Getty)‘Rotation is not always about resting players, it’s about using the competition in the squad to get them to perform again. It’s about making pressure.’

Nathaniel Clyne sparked jubilation among Liverpool fans when he recently returned to full training, but Klopp insisted the defender was still finding his feet after a lengthy spell on the sidelnes.

The right-back has yet to play at all this season, and Klopp announced he would not rush his defender back.

Liverpool 2017/18 Fixtures

Newcastle United (H) – Sat March 3 Porto – Champions League (H) – Tues March 6Manchester United (A) – Sat March 10 Watford (H) – Sat March 17Crystal Palace (A) – Sat March 31 Everton (A) – Sat April 7AFC Bournemouth (H) -Sat April 14 West Brom (A) – Sat April 21

Nathaniel Clyne is nearing full fitness (Picture: Getty)

Former Sunderland man Jordan Henderson should be fit for the Newcastle game (Picture: Getty)‘He [Clyne] has no rhythm and will need more games to be at his best,’ he said.

‘Milner got a knock in the last time and that hurts a bit, it’s not an injury. Hendo [Henderson] is fine.’

Liverpool are aiming for their third Premier League win in a row on Saturday as they look to pile the pressure on second place Manchester United, who do not play till Monday.

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Liverpool vs Newcastle TV channel, live stream, kick-off time, date, odds and team news

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have been in sensational form of late (Picture: Getty Images)One of the Premier League’s classic fixtures comes around again on Saturday as Liverpool host Newcastle at Anfield.

There have been some extremely memorable contests between these two sides over the years and the neutrals will be hoping for another classic on Saturday evening.

Liverpool are in fine form and can reclaim second place in the table with a win over the Magpies.

However, Newcastle have not lost in their last four and have not lost in their last three meetings with the Reds, so they will be confident of causing an upset on Merseyside.

Rafael Benitez has relied heavily on Jamaal Lascelles in defence this season (Picture: Getty Images)When is Liverpool vs Newcastle?

The match is on Saturday, March 3 with kick-off at 5.30pm.

What TV channel is Liverpool vs Newcastle on?

BT Sport 1 will be showing the game live with coverage starting at 5pm.

You can stream the match if you have a BT Sport account through BT Sport Player.

Jurgen Klopp is hoping to reclaim second place in the table (Picture: Getty Images)Team news

Liverpool have enjoyed a relatively calm schedule of late and have a pretty clean bill of health as a result.

Gigi Wijnaldum and Danny Ings have been ill but are expected to be available, leaving just Nathaniel Clyne who is out.

Rafa Benitez will be sweating on the fitness of Dwight Gayle who has a tight hamstring after scoring twice last weekend, but may return in time.

Jonjo Shelvey, Islam Slimani and Jesus Gamez all remain sidelined.

Matt Ritchie has not been as prolific in front of goal as he had hoped (Picture: REUTERS)What are the odds? (Courtesy of Betfair)

Liverpool – 2/9

Draw – 6/1

Newcastle – 14/1

Head-to-head in last five meetings

01 Oct 2017 – Newcastle 1-1 Liverpool – Premier League (Joselu) (Coutinho)

23 Apr 2016 – Liverpool 2-2 Newcastle – Premier League (Sturridge, Lallana) (Cisse, Colback)

06 Dec 2015 – Newcastle 2-0 Liverpool – Premier League (Skrtel OG, Wijnaldum)

13 Apr 2015 – Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle – Premier League (Sterling, Allen)

01 Nov 2014 – Newcastle 1-0 Liverpool – Premier League (Perez)

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Premier League all-stars: How a North XI v South XI proposed by Romelu Lukaku might look

Romelu Lukaku has suggested a Premier League all-stars clash (Picture: Metro.co.uk)Romelu Lukaku has suggested the Premier League introduce an NBA style all-star game – but what might it actually look like?

Every February in the NBA an exhibition game involving the best talent in basketball is organised and is a major fixture on the calendar.

The proposal put forward by Lukaku is for a North XI v South XI contest.

Here’s an idea for you guys… the nba has all-star game! Don’t you guys think we should organise one in the @premierleague.. The north vs the south! And the fans vote… what do you guys think? @premierleague @FA 😏😉
— R.Lukaku Bolingoli9 (@RomeluLukaku9) February 26, 2018

To start imagining what the two teams would look like, first the 20 Premier League teams would need to be split into those representing the north and those representing the south…

Teams from the north

Man City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Burnley, Leicester, Everton, Huddersfield, Newcastle, Stoke, West Brom

 

Teams from the south

Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, West Ham, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Swansea

In the NBA, teams are drafted by two players with the most votes. But wanting to see every team in the Premier League represented, we’re insisting on at least one player from every club.

Based on performances this season and sheer star quality – this is how we imagine the XIs to look…

NORTH XI

The front three of Alexis Sanchez, Jamie Vardy and Mohamed Salah looks lethal, with a ridiculous amount of pace between them.

In midfield there’s enough quality to find the passes, with Kevin de Bruyne the standout player. His Man City team-mate Fernandinho joins him to provide some defensive mindedness to proceedings.

Kevin de Bruyne and Alexis Sanchez are in the XIA defence with Burnley defender Nick Pope commanding them looks a solid bet, with West Brom’s Jonny Evans making the cut despite his recent late night antics.

North team in full…

Man City – Kevin de Bruyne + Fernandinho

Manchester United – Alexis Sanchez

Liverpool – Mohamed Salah

Burnley – Nick Pope

Leicester – Jamie Vardy

Everton – Cuca Martina

Huddersfield – Aaron Mooy

Newcastle – Jamaal Lascelles

Stoke – Xherdan Shaqiri

West Brom – Jonny Evans

SOUTH XI

Harry Kane and Eden Hazard were the two easiest selections for the South XI with the pair consistently tormenting defences over the last few years.

There’s pace and creativity behind them in Richarlison, Wilfried Zaha and Manuel Lanzini while Mesut Ozil will be able to pick out the killer passes.

Harry Kane was the easiest pick (Getty)Marcos Alonso of Chelsea is the standout defender while Lucasz Fabianski goes in goal having impressed for Swansea this season despite their struggles.

North team in full…

Tottenham – Harry Kane

Chelsea – Marcos Alonso + Eden Hazard

Arsenal – Mesut Ozil

Watford – Richarlison

Bournemouth – Nathan Ake

Brighton – Shane Duffy

West Ham – Manuel Lanzini

Southampton – Mario Lemina

Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha

Swansea – Lukasz Fabianski

 

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