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Liverpool again show they will sacrifice style in favour of results on the road to the Premier League title

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In any title-winning season there are games that end up being almost forgotten: staging posts along the road that offer essential nourishment but nothing in the way of vivid scenery.

Should Liverpool see the job through in May, this laborious win over an excellently drilled Brighton side will only merit a few seconds of the highlight reel. It will not matter one bit, because these may prove to be their most important three points of the entire campaign.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Make no mistake, there were question marks over Jurgen Klopp’s side before this one; the smallest of signs that their narrow defeat at Manchester City had opened up wider wounds would have been seized upon. If that sounds harsh, it is just the way things work these days when you are in the throes of a title race with a margin for error that appears smaller than ever.

“From a maturity point of view, I would say it was the most mature of the season,” Klopp said of a slow-burning affair that was decided three minutes after half-time by a Mohamed Salah penalty. At full-time Klopp allowed himself an understated fist pump, and it was a reaction in character with the previous 90 minutes. There was not a lot to warm the blood — not even when Brighton, who had fulfilled one of Chris Hughton’s primary objectives by still being in the game with 10 minutes to go, sent the cavalry up at the end. But there was a coolness, a shared purpose, a diligence to Liverpool that has been the hallmark of their current campaign as much as the full-throttle approach that characterised the previous two.9

“We are not the Harlem Globetrotters,” Klopp said. “We have to deliver a result, and that’s difficult.” It was a revealing statement, because it reiterated that Liverpool are absolutely content to be mean and grim-faced when it suits them. Last season they won this fixture 5-1, blowing Brighton away either side of half-time. That never looked on the cards this time but nor, really, did any kind of mishap once they were ahead. With six minutes to play Roberto Firmino could be seen tracking back 30 yards to dispossess Anthony Knockaert, thwarting a promising counter for the hosts. in the time that remained there were big defensive interventions from Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk, and those were the moments that satisfied Klopp as much as any.c

“It was obviously a big challenge for everyone to stay calm and concentrated because each little situation can be a massive threat on the counter or whatever,” he continued. “And not to make any fouls because Brighton are unbelievably strong on set pieces. That level of concentration is difficult to keep, but they did it.“nike cheap nfl jerseys

It was a particular relief that Fabinho, whose increasing prominence in midfield had been a big factor in Liverpool’s recent form, stayed firm at the back. He faced a gnarled, wily customer in Glenn Murray, and when he let the striker go in the 15th minute, watching in relief as the resulting header looped over, their shortage of centre-back bodies seemed at risk of being laid bare. Fabinho took an arm in the face from Murray shortly afterwards but would respond later with one of his own; after that rocky start he looked well attuned to the physical battle and excelled just before the hour, too, with a vital block from Pascal Gross’s goal-bound shot.

Manchester United target Herrera, Mata, Young extensions – sources

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They have been free to negotiate with clubs outside England from Jan. 1 but United are confident they will reach agreements as negotiations continue.

Mata, 30, is keen to stay at Old Trafford but has been the subject of interest from a number of clubs in the Premier League and across Europe.cheap nfl nike jersey

Herrera would also like to stay and is prepared to snub interest from former club Athletic Bilbao to extend his contract. Herrera, according to a source, is happy playing under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after starting three of the Norwegian’s five games in charge. He was rested for the FA Cup victory over Reading and is expected to start against Tottenham at Wembley on Sunday.11

Young, 33, is also open to staying but is keen to seek assurances about how many games he is likely to play. The full-back has options in Italy, Spain, the United States and China and has not ruled out playing abroad if it means getting regular first team football. After spending last season at left-back under former manager Jose Mourinho, Young has made himself the regular right-back with Luke Shaw taking over on the left.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Joel Pereira has returned early from a season-long loan spell at Vitoria Setubal. The 21-year-old is likely to head back out on loan before the end of the January transfer window.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah is also free to return to Old Trafford from Fulham after being told he is not in manager Claudio Ranieri’s plans. The Dutchman, 21, was due to spend the season at Craven Cottage but could now find a new club ahead of the second half of the campaign.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Sources have told ESPN FC that United also expect a number of under-23 players to head out on loan with Ethan Hamilton, Regan Poole and Ro-Shaun Williams among those who could secure a temporary move for the rest of the season.

Solanke transfer, like Neymar deal before it, could permanently distort the transfer market

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This may be the only time you will see Neymar’s and Dominic Solanke’s names appear in the same sentence, but the two forwards actually have something in common: Both men may have distorted the transfer market with their fees.

At £198 million, Neymar’s world-record move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017 was a moment of financial folly that sent shockwaves through the game. The transfer was over £100m more than the previous record of £89.3m — set by Paul Pogba’s 2016 switch from Juventus to Manchester United — and it triggered a domino effect of similarly inflated deals. PSG went on to negotiate a £166m deal for Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, following an initial 12-month loan period. Barcelona dipped into their Neymar cash by spending a potential £135m on Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and then, six months later, splashed out a further £142m on Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

In a game flush with money at the top end of the market, those transfer fees were perhaps an inevitable consequence of the riches flowing through Europe’s biggest clubs. In fairness to the players involved — even Dembele and Mbappe, teenagers at the time of their big moves — they had all shone in the Champions League before making their moves. Even Bayern’s repeated bids for Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi, an 18-year-old with high potential, look reasonable given the Bundesliga giant’s need for young talent, as does Chelsea spending nearly £60m for Christian Pulisic, a player with a track record in Germany and a skill set that will help the Blues over the long term.8

Yet Bournemouth’s move for Solanke feels significant in a different sense. It’s not unusual to see teams completing surprisingly expensive deals, but the Cherries’ £19m move for a player with one Premier League goal and just five starts since his Chelsea debut in 2014 feels significant for all the wrong reasons.nfl nike jersey cheap

Solanke cost Bournemouth less than a tenth of Neymar’s world record fee but it’s still a major outlay for a club of their stature; it could yet rise to an eventual £25m if the former Chelsea youngster is able to trigger £6m worth of incentivised add-ons.

The deal means that Solanke becomes the third-most-expensive English striker of all time behind Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney. Carroll ultimately flopped at Liverpool after his £35m move from Newcastle in January 2011, but he had at least proven himself in the Premier League at St James’ Park — Carroll had scored 33 goals in 90 league games for Newcastle — prior to his transfer. Rooney, who was just 18 when he completed a £30m move to United from Everton in August 2004, was a star for club and country before swapping Goodison Park for Old Trafford. He was also clearly a prodigious talent.

However, Solanke makes the top three on the list having scored just one Premier League goal during his time at Liverpool and Chelsea. The 21-year-old started five league games in a season-and-a-half under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield (also making 16 substitute appearances) and did not appear at all in the Champions League. At Chelsea, he never kicked a ball in the Premier League and became a symbol of the club’s failure to promote its highly rated youth-team prospects.

Lionel Messi: Neymar return from PSG welcome; Barcelona my ‘home’

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And, while Messi said he believes a reunion for the pair in Spain is unlikely, he would be delighted should it happen.

“It would be difficult,” Messi, 31, told Marca when asked about the idea of the Brazil international returning to Barca. “We would love it if he came back for what he means as a player and in the dressing room.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“We are friends, we enjoyed nice moments, as well some which were not so nice, but we spent a lot of time together. It is undoubtedly difficult to imagine him leaving Paris. PSG won’t let Neymar go.”8

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has said he would love to have Neymar back at Camp Nou, while ruling out the possibility of leaving the Catalan side.

Neymar, 26, left Barca to join Paris Saint-Germain in a world record €222 million deal in 2017. Since leaving, he has regularly been linked with a return to the club — as well as a move to rivals Real Madrid.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“I don’t need to change anything,” Messi said. “I am playing for the best team in the world.

“My goals change from year to year. I don’t need to change team or league in order to find new objectives.

“I am at home, at the best team in the world and I don’t have any reason to want to change.”

Jaylen Samuels latest cog in Steelers’ plug-and-play run game

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That Samuels, a fifth-round rookie, just ripped off 142 yards against New England — the most ever by a Steelers player against the Patriots, according to ESPN Stats & Information — is a credit to both Samuels’ development and a Steelers offense that has had success with a variety of backs.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Le’Veon Bell will seek an all-world contract for his All-Pro production, averaging nearly 130 total yards per game since 2013. His numbers are so prolific they prompted him to sit out the entire 2018 season to make sure nothing happens to them.

But when Bell’s out of the game, the Steelers can get their numbers, too.10

DeAngelo Williams rushed for 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns on 298 carries from 2015 to ’16, starting 14 games with Bell out.

James Conner, who’s working his way back from a high ankle sprain, has 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns on 233 career carries. Though Conner’s production dipped in November, he was the AFC’s most potent weapon in October and has a conference player of the month award to show for it.

In 12 games and two starts, Samuels has 201 yards on 42 carries.

Those three have combined for 2,504 yards on the ground while in Pittsburgh, along with 982 yards on 126 receptions. In a little more than two years of starter’s work, that’s nearly 3,500 yards — not Bell-level production, but solid nonetheless.

Even Jordan Todman and Fitz Toussaint, who are both out of the league, combined for 123 yards on 28 carries in a 2016 playoff win over Cincinnati.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“That just shows we’ve had good running backs,” guard David DeCastro said with a smile.

DeCastro doesn’t need to say it, but one of the league’s most consistent offensive lines, a high-level quarterback and weapons on the outside open rushing lanes for backs. What Bell did with those lanes won’t be overlooked and will get him seriously paid.

How Germany helped flip the NFC Pro Bowl fan voting

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Mark Nzeocha isn’t a household name. At least not in America.

But in his home country of Germany, Nzeocha’s name is starting to ring out like the most famous German professional athlete in American sports: legendary Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

For proof of Nzeocha’s blossoming fame in his home country, look at fan voting for this year’s Pro Bowl. Amid the usual suspects topping the ballot, there sits Nzeocha as the leading vote-getter in the NFC for the special-teams spot.

Fan voting ended Thursday with Nzeocha racking up 183,150 votes, most among all special-teamers. According to the NFL, roughly 80 percent (146,520) of Nzeocha’s votes came from Germany. Nzeocha had support from all over Germany, not just his tiny home municipality of Neusitz. Unless, of course, every person in Neusitz voted for Nzeocha roughly 71 times.9

“Honestly, it means the world,” Nzeocha said. “The football community in Germany is so small and it’s such a tight-knit group, it’s just like if one of us makes it, everyone is behind him. Which is super, super cool to see. … It’s still a new sport in Germany and the interest is growing, which is really cool to see. I guess they have shown all the Sunday games on free TV now and more and more people are really getting into the sport, which honestly can only help the sport in Germany and it helps the NFL, too, just expanding the platform. It’s a great thing.”

According to Motzkus, the broadcast for each week’s games featured reports on Nzeocha and the network’s website featured information on Nzeocha and Pro Bowl voting. Beyond that, RanSport and NFL Deutschland made regular use of their social media channels, putting out tweets that could be retweeted by fans, which would count as a vote for Nzeocha. One such tweet from RanSport on Nov. 29 garnered 805 retweets, good for as many votes.

“Mark gets the support of the whole football nation in Germany,” Motzkus said. “We are very proud to have a player in the best football league of the world. He has a lot of supporters in his homeland.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Among them is the German fan organization that specifically supports the 49ers, known as “The Niners Empire Germany.” That group also did extensive work to get out the vote for Nzeocha.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 44 tie career high, shed taste of sour loss

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Giannis Antetokounmpo had not let Wednesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers go when he took the court in Cleveland on Friday night.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Using his performance in Indianapolis as fuel, Antetokounmpo exploded for 44 points, tying his career high, to lift the Milwaukee Bucks past the Cleveland Cavaliers.10

“I think he’s a competitor — he wants to be great,” coach Mike Budenholzer said after the 114-102 victory. “Anytime he doesn’t meet the standards and expectations he sets for himself, the next game he is going to come out with a very aggressive mindset.”
Against the Pacers, Antetokounmpo scored just 12 points on a season-low seven shot attempts. Afterward, he sat for nearly 20 minutes in silence, staring at his phone and icing his feet and knees, reflecting on the game.

On Thursday afternoon, he slunk away from practice in Indianapolis and shut himself away to watch film with Budenholzer.

He showed up at Quicken Loans Arena early Friday night to get in an extended pregame workout. He was the first player ready to tip off and the first man in a Bucks uniform out on the court after the halftime break.

Against Cleveland, Antetokounmpo was looking to score from the get-go, scoring his first points off a dunk. With Khris Middleton (finger) and Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring soreness) out of Milwaukee’s lineup, Antetokounmpo played 38 minutes.

When Antetokounmpo rested in the third quarter, the Cavaliers were able to go on a 10-0 run to slice the Bucks’ once-commanding lead to seven points.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“It’s a game I had to put in the past,” Antetokounmpo said of Wednesday’s showing. “Today was a great win for us. We have to keep building, keep getting better.”

LeBron James gets logic of critiques by Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant about his workload

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Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, made his comments to SiriusXM NBA Radio last week after ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that advanced scouts were noticing that James was running point more and more for the Lakers, taking the ball out of point guard Lonzo Ball’s hands and frequently running the offense without consulting Lakers coach Luke Walton possession by possession.

Bryant chimed in Monday at the Lakers’ annual “All-Access” event when he credited James for righting the ship but said he sees that style of play as merely a temporary solution.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Walton is playing James 34.7 minutes per game, which would be a career low for the 16-year veteran. The coach explained months ago that his plan is to manage James for the long run, making sure the four-time MVP can be at his best when the Lakers’ championship window opens. James signed a four-year, $154 million deal to come to L.A. in July.10

James, while conceptually behind the plan, sometimes balks at the minutes restriction. For instance, he sat the entire fourth quarter of L.A.’s 120-96 blowout win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, finishing with 22 points in 31 minutes, but he doesn’t think that little extra rest does him much good.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“It doesn’t matter,” James said. “Like you guys asked me the other day, ‘Do you feel better after playing 30 minutes compared to playing 40 minutes?’ It’s like, ‘No.’ I work myself all year round to get in tip-top shape all year round. I don’t stop. So I can do whatever. I mean, I played a Game 7 of the Finals and I damn near played every minute. Last year I played every single game. Every single game. So, you know, you can kind of slice it how you want it, but I understand what Magic and Kobe are saying, and we have to continue to develop these guys because if we don’t, then long-term, what does that do for our franchise?”

“I understand the logic behind it,” James said. “I understand what Magic and Kobe are saying because we want to continue to grow the young guys. We want to see how much our young guys can grow and be the best they can be. I mean, Magic and Kobe know who I am. I know who I am. They know what they’re going to get out of me.

“That is, you know what you’re going to get out of me every game. Am I going to play well every game? Am I going to shoot the ball well every game? No. But you know who I am, and when it’s time to — when it’s really, really, really money time, you know who is going to be there. So we got guys who just want to continue to develop and guys that continue to get better and better just from experience. They haven’t had a lot of experience. So I think people are trying to blow it out of proportion, like, ‘OK, why do you have LeBron if you don’t want to use him?’ They don’t understand the logic behind it.”

With Cowboys in first place, pressure is not off Jason Garrett

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The all-or-nothing trade for Amari Cooper and the change at offensive line coach did not favorably impact the Cowboys in their Nov. 5 loss to the Tennessee Titans. It all looked bleak, especially for Jason Garrett.

Eight full seasons was enough. Two playoff appearances were too little. The whispers for Lincoln Riley to be the next head coach became louder, as anybody but Garrett would do.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping
The four-game winning streak has brought expectations. The win against the Saints has some thinking bigger things than just making the playoffs. The Cowboys don’t have any opponent with a winning record the rest of the way.

“He does a good job conveying the message to us and making it very clear of where we stand and where we need to go,” cornerback Byron Jones said. “You can see it throughout the team, people are bought in.”9

After the victory over the Saints, owner and general manager Jerry Jones was somewhat muted in his praise of the coach.

“Well, he’s won a big game tonight,” Jerry Jones said outside the locker room. “I’ll just leave it at that. He won a big game tonight.”

Was there any reason Jones was holding back?cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“What? I’m not. Give him everything you should give him for having just beaten the top-rated team in the NFL,” Jones said. “You’re the wordsmith. Give it to him. I’m serious. Give it to him, yes, because we know how tough it is when it goes the other way. But give that to him, for sure.”

It’s always tricky to read into Jones’ words one way or the other. He backed Garrett in the difficult times at the start of the coach’s career during three straight 8-8 finishes. At the start of this season, he said Garrett was not on the hot seat. Jones said after the Tennessee loss that he would not make an in-season head-coaching change.

Cowboys’ path to playoffs becomes clearer after stunning upset of Saints

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the Dallas Cowboys went to the Superdome with their season on the line against the undefeated New Orleans Saints and left with a win that propelled them to an 11-5 finish and a wild-card playoff victory.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

On Thursday, the Cowboys faced a Saints team that came to AT&T Stadium with a 10-game winning streak and was considered perhaps the best in the NFL. The Cowboys had some momentum of their own and pulled off a signature 13-10 win that gives them an 80.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Cowboys have won four straight — after a 3-5 start — for the first time since 2016 and when they return to action Dec. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles, they know they will remain in first place in the NFC East with four games to play.

It was not a pretty affair, but there were enough magical moments for Dallas — almost all from the defense. The Cowboys are now allowing 18.6 points per game, which is second-best in the NFL behind only the Ravens (18.0), according to ESPN Stats & Info.

“It was a collective effort,” Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith said. “The one thing about our defense, what makes us elite, is that we run to the ball like no other team. We put that on display.”9

The offense was stifled for most of the night, and the defense sealed the win with a Jourdan Lewis interception with 2 minutes, 35 seconds to play. A pass interference penalty against the Saints allowed Dak Prescott to take a knee and kill the clock.

In their first 11 games, the Cowboys used their dime package sparingly, which cut back on Lewis’ snaps. He nearly had a pick on the first series of the game, but he did not let the ball get out of his grasp in the fourth quarter.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

As Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli waxed poetic about the Saints’ offense all week — and with good reason — there was always a feeling that the Cowboys’ defense was ready for a breakout performance.

On the first series, Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie and Lewis had pass breakups. In the first half, the defense kept the Saints out of the end zone, coming up with a stifling goal-line stand in the second quarter, stopping the Saints on four plays from their 7. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, DeMarcus Lawrence tracked down Alvin Kamara from behind and Tyrone Crawford set up a wall in front to change over the possession. Entering the game, the Saints had converted 11 of 12 fourth-down opportunities.