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EPL Sunday cracker: Liverpool, Man U face selection dilemma

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The fitness of Joel Matip and Naby Keita could have a key impact on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool line-up, while Victor Lindelof and Paul Pogba may give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a conundrum for Man Utd as the two sides clash today for the battle of the EPL table topper, Sunday January 17 at 4.30pm.

Which players are set to start on Sunday, when Liverpool host Manchester United in their huge Premier League clash at Anfield?

Sky Sports News reporters Vinny O’Connor and James Cooper joined Peter Smith on the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast to bring the latest team news and injury concerns ahead of the crunch clash between the league’s current top two.

They also shared their views on which selections the respective managers may lean towards for the big showdown.

Liverpool – Matip fitness holds the key

Sky Sports News reporter, Vinny O’Connor, says, “Liverpool have taken advantage of a nine-day break before this game. Jurgen Klopp made it clear ahead of the Aston Villa FA Cup game the lads were going to get a few days off and that’s how it has panned out. They were back in on Wednesday for training and their preparations for the game are building up.

“But on top of that, they’ve been doing everything they can to get Joel Matip fit. Before the Aston Villa game, Klopp said he wasn’t sure he would be recovered from his groin injury in time for Man Utd or whether it would be a few days after that.

“Centre-back is the key area and it affects the whole team because when you look at the XI Klopp put out against Southampton, Jordan Henderson dropped back to centre half alongside Fabinho, and with them playing at centre half you’re missing two massively influential figures in that engine room.

“If Matip is fit then it’s relatively straightforward: he would partner Fabinho at the centre of defence, you’d have Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back and Andy Robertson at left-back, which would enable Henderson to fill the holding role in midfield and then you’ve got the selection of probably Gini Wijnaldum and Thiago Alcantara.

“If Matip isn’t fit – does he drop Henderson back again or does he leave one of the youngsters to fill that role?

“Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams have done OK when they’ve been asked to in the Premier League – but against Man Utd, and their attacking threat, maybe it’s another step up and another challenge they’d have to rise to.

“Obviously the front three picks itself, with Diogo Jota still injured, and we’ll wait and see whether Naby Keita can offer another option in midfield.

“But the key issue is Joel Matip – because it affects the balance elsewhere of the entire team.”

Man Utd – Decision at centre-back and Pogba’s position

Sky Sports News reporter, James Cooper, says, “When Anthony Martial was taken off against Burnley, it looked precautionary to me. It looked as though he’d got a little pull and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thought, ‘this one might be in the bag and we need him at the weekend against Liverpool’.

“The other issue and problem for him is at centre back and whether Victor Lindelof is fit enough with that back injury.

“Eric Bailly’s form has been good, although Man Utd fans will tell you, in the big games – and you remember PSG last season – he has a ricket in him. It’s something he’s eliminated from his game so far this season, but most Man Utd fans are just maybe a little worried, going into a big game like this, that Bailly and Maguire are the two centre-backs.

“Although, Bailly does give you a bit more pace than perhaps Lindelof does.

“I think he’ll go with legs in midfield with Fred and Scott McTominay in midfield. They seem to be his go-to for the big games.

“Then, if you’re going to play that formation with the three attackers and then the one striker, Martial, if he’s fit, becomes the one down the middle, with Marcus Rashford probably on the right – although he doesn’t like being on the right – Bruno Fernandes in the middle and Paul Pogba on the left.

“I don’t think he will [try to play Edinson Cavani, Rashford and Martial] because he’ll want to accommodate Pogba. Most United fans would say they’ve seen the best from Pogba playing on the left at the moment.

“That’s probably what he’s weighing up – whether Pogba plays, or whether it is Cavani through the middle and Martial on the left, or perhaps even Mason Greenwood.

“But Ole has rotated and rested really, really well so they’re fresh for a game like this.”

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Nigeria’s Oshoala leads Barcelona to first women’s Champions League win

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Asisat Oshoala won the Women’s Champions League title with Barcelona Femeni after humbling Chelsea 4-0 in the final on Sunday.

The triumph is the first Champions League title for Barcelona Femeni and Oshoala became the first African woman to win the trophy.

Lluis Cortes’ girls took Chelsea apart with some blistering football at the Gamla Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Melanie Leupolz netted a freak own goal 33 seconds into the one-sided first 45 minutes.

Despite not getting on the score sheet, Lieke Mertens, the 2017 UEFA and FIFA women’s player of the year, was simply unplayable. The midfielder contributed to three of the four goals her side netted.

After making it 2-0 with a controversial spot kick, Alexia Putellas put a sensational pass through to Aitana Bonmati, who scored the third.

A glorious run from Martens ended with a tap-in for Caroline Graham Hansen to compound Chelsea’s woes in the first half.

Chelsea came into the second half guns blazing but were successfully contained by the Blaugranes.

Oshoala came off the bench in 71st minute for Jennifer Hermoso. The Super Falcons captain scored in added time but the goal was ruled offside.

Barcelona Femeni clinched their league title last Sunday with eight games remaining. They have won all 26 Primera Division games this season.

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Joshua, Fury heavyweight showdown confirmed for August 14

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Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury world heavyweight title showdown will take place in Saudi Arabia on 14 August, Fury has said.
He announced the fight date Sunday in a video on Twitter, saying, “All eyes of the world will be on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and I cannot wait to smash Anthony Joshua on the biggest stage of all times.
“This is going to be the biggest sporting event ever to grace the planet earth. Do not miss it.”
Neither Joshua, his promoter Eddie Hearn nor Fury’s co-promoters Bob Arum and Frank Warren have confirmed the fight date.
Last week, Hearn confirmed that the fight would take place in Saudi Arabia.
The all-British bout has been billed as one of the biggest in heavyweight boxing for decades and the winner will become undisputed champion.
Joshua, 31, holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts while Fury, 32, is WBC champion.
The fight will see all four belts contested in a heavyweight bout for the first time in history.
The last undisputed heavyweight champion was Britain’s Lennox Lewis from 1999 to 2000 before a boxer had to also hold the WBO belt to be recognised as undisputed champion.
-BBC

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Iga Swiatek humiliates Pliskova to lift Rome Masters title

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Polish teenage star Iga Swiatek produced the best tennis of her short career to thrash Karolina Pliskova 6-0 6-0 to win the Rome WTA 1000 title on Sunday.

The match lasted just 46 minutes.

Swiatek dropped just 13 points in total – four in the first set and nine in the second, to record the double bagel.

She faced only four game points against her opponent as she claimed the most one-sided victory in the history of the event, since 1983.

This was when Andrea Temesvari defeated Bonnie Gadusek 6-1 6-0.

The French Open champion last year will climb five spots to No 10 in the rankings on Monday after sealing her third WTA title.

After winning the championship, Iga posted this on Twitter:

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