To mark Lunar New Year this weekend, we brought together Mohamed Salah and Dejan Lovren to face off in a table tennis challenge at Melwood.
On numerous occasions, the duo have used their own social media accounts to document previous encounters with the rackets, all of which have been competitively contested.
But who would prevail when we finally put them head-to-head in front of our own cameras?
Find out in the video below...
Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool will equal a club record set nearly 100 years ago if they prevent Wolverhampton Wanderers from scoring at Molineux on Thursday night.
The Reds have kept a clean sheet in each of the last seven league games and another would match the eight consecutive shutouts recorded by the 1922-23 title-winning side.
Klopp's men would be the first to emulate that milestone since Rafael Benitez's Reds also hit the landmark in December 2005.
In the last five league trips to Wolves, the Reds have conceded just one goal: a 90th-minute Kenny Miller equaliser almost 16 years ago to the day.
For more need-to-know pre-match facts and figures, courtesy of club statistician Ged Rea, read on...
Liverpool have won eight and drawn two of their 11 Premier League encounters with Wolves, scoring 17 of the 20 goals netted in the fixture.
The Reds have won the last six league clashes home and away, scoring 13 times and conceding once.
Sadio Mane has found the net three times in his last two appearances against Wolves.
Roberto Firmino has scored five goals in his last four games away from Anfield. All of his nine league and cup goals during this campaign have come on the road.
Sunday's 2-0 win over Manchester United saw Klopp's side set a new club record by scoring in each of their opening 22 games of a top-flight campaign.
The Reds have scored in each of the last 31 league games.
Liverpool have conceded just five goals away from home in the league this season – fewer than any other team in the four highest divisions in England.
They are unbeaten in their last 39 Premier League games – the third-best run in the competition's history, behind Chelsea (40) and Arsenal (49).
Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves side have recovered 18 points from losing positions in the top flight this season – more than any other team.
Since the beginning of last season, Wolves have accumulated 24 points from 19 meetings against the so-called 'big six' – more than any other team.
Only two visiting teams have left Molineux with all three points in the top flight this season – Chelsea won 5-2 and Tottenham claimed a 2-1 victory.
Premier League 2019-20 Premier League 2019-20
Liverpool make the trip to face Wolves on Thursday evening aiming to keep up their record-setting pace atop of the Premier League table.
Sunday, January 23, 2020 – 8pm (GMT)
Referee: Michael Oliver
The Reds’ 21st win of the campaign was secured with a 2-0 victory over Man United, where the scoreline failed to reflect Liverpool’s superiority.
While Man City’s win over Sheffield United on Tuesday closed the gap to 13, they have played two more games than Liverpool and now the 22nd win of the season is on the agenda.
It will be a tricky outing, however, with Wolves awaiting at Molineux off the back of their 3-2 comeback win at Southampton last time out.
The Reds will enter the clash off the back of a four day break, an encounter which is the second game in a run of five within 13 days.
Confidence is surging for Liverpool both on and off the field and while the hosts have won only one game in five across all competitions since their 1-0 defeat at Anfield, they will pose a real threat to Klopp’s men on Thursday evening.
Another win here, against the strongest level of opposition they’ll face within the next six games, would no doubt provide yet another boost and move us one step closer to clinching the league in record time.Team News
The former pair have yet to return to training after picking up their respective injuries at the turn of the new year, while Shaqiri is still absent after a minor tweak to his calf prior to United’s visit.
A place on the bench could again come the way of Curtis Jones should Liverpool’s No. 23 fail to recover in time as the youngsters’ star continues to shine.
Fabinho, on the other hand, is “growing closer and closer” to his first starting berth since sustaining ankle ligament damage against Napoli in late November having featured for the final 10 minutes against United, but Klopp was coy on whether that will be at Wolves.
The hosts, meanwhile, will continue to be without Ruben Vinagre due to a hamstring injury, while Diogo Jota and Willy Boly are back in the mix to feature.Last 5 away to Wolves (All Competitions)
Lost 2-1 – January 2019 (Jimenez, Neves; Origi)
Won 2-0 – December 2018 (Salah, Van Dijk)
Won 3-0 – January 2012 (Carroll, Bellamy, Kuyt)
Won 3-0 – January 2011 (Torres x2, Meireles)
Drew 0-0 – January 2010
Away fans’ pubs: The Blue Brick is right next to Wolverhampton train station, with a 10-minute walk to the stadium.
But a popular move is to enjoy pre-match in Birmingham and make the move up to Wolverhampton, a journey which takes approximately 25 minutes.Did You Know?
Recent topflight history against Wolves make for very good reading as Liverpool have lost just once against Thursday’s hosts in the last 11 Premier League meetings.
The Reds have emerged victorious in the last six and have restricted Wolves to just one goal within that period.
And while the recent FA Cup meeting did not fare well for Liverpool, the Molineux has proved to be a happy hunting ground in the league as we have not left the ground with the taste of defeat since August 1981.
It is a run which could continue as both history and recent form is on our side, not to mention we have won each of our last eight evening league kick-offs.Form
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Wolves – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the boss was clear that anything less than a “50-60 percent” effort against Wolves would not secure the desired result against such a “difficult” outfit:
““Wolves are really difficult to play, they play a similar system to other teams defensively, three, five in the back but they do it differently.
“They make pitch the pitch really big and they ask for a lot of footwork, they run a lot. There are solutions for all that, but not without working a lot.
“You can’t play on a 50-60 percent basis against Wolves [otherwise] you’ll have absolutely no chance.”TV & Liveblog Info
Liverpool’s trip to Wolves will be shown live on BT Sport 1and BT Sport Ultimate from 7pm (GMT), with kickoff set for 8pm.
Chris Williams will be taking you through all the action and keeping you entertained on This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog, starting from 7.15pm.
Premier League leaders Liverpool travel to Molineux on Thursday to take on a Wolverhampton Wanderers side who are pushing for a place in the top four.
Last Saturday, Nuno Espirito Santo's team fought back from two goals down to win 3-2 at in-form Southampton and close the gap to the Champions League spots.
The Reds narrowly beat Wolves 1-0 at Anfield in December, when Sadio Mane's first-half strike proved to be decisive.
So, what can we expect from Wanderers on their own patch? We caught up with Wolves Blog writer and Molineux season ticket holder Ben Rasmin (@benrasmin) to get some answers...
How would you rate Wolves' season so far and what are your expectations for the rest of it?
Excellent. At the start of the season, a lot of fans and pundits were unsure how our small squad would cope with the added demands of the Europa League. But the competition has been a help rather than a hindrance, taking the team above and beyond the high standards they set for themselves last season. I think qualifying for the Champions League might be a step too far for us, but there's no reason why we can't hold onto our current position and finish inside the top six.
Wolves have already played 39 games this campaign - more than a full Premier League season - so are there any signs of fatigue creeping in?
We have looked a bit leggy during our January fixtures, up until the astonishing second-half performance against Southampton. But, with Willy Boly well on the road to recovery and new signings incoming, I don't think it's anything to be too concerned by.
After three Premier League games without a win, how important was the comeback victory against Southampton?
Very. The defeat at Watford was disappointing, the draw with Newcastle United even more so. With three tough games on the horizon, it was important we got something at Southampton. At half-time that looked nigh-on impossible, but the second half was astonishing and further proof that this team just doesn't know when it's beaten.
Wolves lost 1-0 at Anfield in December, will Nuno do anything differently tactically at home?
I'm biased, but Wolves should have got something at Anfield. We really took the game to you and were good value for a point. I think we'll take a similar approach at home, while obviously remaining mindful of your clear attacking threat.
Who has been Wolves' star player this season?
It's hard to single out one player as they've all been excellent. Adama Traore is definitely worth a mention, he's probably the most improved player in European football and Nuno has transformed him into one of the division's most exciting players. Joao Moutinho continues to enjoy his Indian summer at Molineux, oozing class and laying on assists for fun. But for me, Raul Jimenez leads the way. He's been involved in more goals than any other Premier League player this season and is so crucial to how we play.
Which key player battle are you most looking forward to seeing on Thursday?
I'm looking forward to seeing our wingers go up against your full-backs. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are both world-class players, but they'll have to be at their very best to keep Traore and Pedro Neto quiet. With Jonny and Matt Doherty overlapping, that could be an area where we cause you trouble. The midfield battle will also be crucial, as ever.
How do you expect Wolves to line up?
Finally, what is your score prediction?
I'm really looking forward to this game. The atmosphere at Molineux is always great under the lights and the away end will be in good voice, given you have plenty to sing about at present! I really think we should have got something in the reverse fixture, so I'll back us to go one better this time around and get a result. 1-1.
Liverpool’s march towards a highly anticipated first Premier League title seemed to take a significant step on Sunday evening when they defeated old rivals Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield.
The win saw the Reds extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 16 points but it didn’t come as so usually seen at Anfield these days. Jurgen Klopp’s men created the best chances of the game against a depleted United side but the scoreline remained on a knife edge at 1-0 until Mohamed Salah’s stoppage time settler.
On another day, Salah would have converted an earlier chance and Roberto Firmino’s disallowed goal might not have been ruled out by VAR. Klopp’s side could have been three or four to the good by half time, but United ultimately stayed in the game.
Whilst such big chances must be remembered, it’s also worth outlining that United’s performance was one of the best from any opposition at Anfield this season. That isn’t to say that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a tactical genius by any stretch of the imagination. But with high intensity, a willingness to match up against the Reds and, of course, several slices of luck, the away side might well have snatched a point if they converted their chances in front of goal.
Liverpool were far from their best against United when it came to taking chances. The full-time xG registered at 2.11 – 1.22 in favour of the home side, but that’s without two goals marginally ruled out by VAR from Firmino and Wijnaldum. One thing that United did well for the majority of the match was limiting Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson’s creative influence in attack.
United’s use of a back five offered a different challenge for Liverpool (Image: Wyscout)
Opting to use a back five has been a frequent theme for teams against Liverpool this season. Manchester United’s use of two wing-backs on Sunday was perhaps one of the most successful attempts at using it against the Reds. With such attacking threat all over the pitch, Liverpool are one of the most potent attacking forces in world football which means that the decision to play with five defenders would often appear to be a wise choice. Jose Mourinho had opted for a similar method a week earlier, using Serge Aurier in front of right-back Japhet Tanganga for additional protection.
Interestingly, though, United’s use of five defenders on the weekend wasn’t an attempt to sit in for 90 minutes. Instead, it saw Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka attempting to stop Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold and Robertson at source.
Brandon Williams’ high press stopped Alexander-Arnold advancing (Image: Wyscout)
Starting in only his eighth league match this season, Brandon Williams was tasked with stopping Alexander-Arnold high up the pitch. Through pressing deep in Liverpool’s half, the United wing-back halted Alexander-Arnold’s advancement with the ball.
Alexander-Arnold has registered 65.97 passes p90 this season but only had 42 versus Manchester United. In addition, his nine league assists this season have seen him build on creativity from last season – only Kevin De Bruyne has more (13).
Such figures are unrivalled by full-backs across Europe’s top five leagues and opposing team should be trying to stop his output above anyone else on the pitch. What is most impressive is the 21-year-old’s 15.57 progressive passes p90 which is the best in the league. High pressing from Williams, then, illustrates that United were trying to thwart the attacking influence of Alexander-Arnold who averages a league high of 7.05 crosses p90.
Liverpool’s passing network versus Manchester United (Image: Wyscout).
One noticeable takeaway from Sunday’s game was Liverpool’s passing network. The dark lines indicate a higher volume of passes which shows that United allowed much more play down Liverpool’s left through Robertson than on Alexander-Arnold’s right.
The defensive solidity of a back five enabled Williams to push higher up the pitch to pressure Alexander-Arnold in possession. Notice, below, Luke Shaw’s average positioning over the 90 minutes as the deepest of any United player as the left-sided centre-back.
Luke Shaw’s average positioning illustrates an awareness of Liverpool’s long-ball threat (Image: Wyscout)
Whilst that highlights his focus on marking Salah, it further illustrates United’s focus on stopping Liverpool’s threat down the right – Alexander-Arnold has registered 12.4 long passes p90 this season which is higher than any other player in the league, including goalkeepers.
Alexander-Arnold’s decrease in overall activity indicates how highly United rate Liverpool’s full-back and such focus on stopping him is a compliment to the right-back. But one key thing to emphasise is that the young full-back offers an attacking threat from many areas of the pitch.
To showcase his influence to this Liverpool side, he is just four assists away from beating his own record for most Premier League assists by a defender in a single season (12). Such a number of assists can’t simply be stopped by trying man-mark the right-back.
Therefore, you must give some credit to United who successfully curbed the threat of the most creative full-back in the world right now. Williams, playing left-wing back, stood up to the task well with high intensity on Alexander-Arnold who wasn’t allowed the time or space to find key passes.
But Alexander-Arnold provided the vital assist for van Dijk’s opening goal of the game. United’s method of marking may be questioned, but the way in which Alexander-Arnold placed that corner onto van Dijk’s head shows that the opposition can succeed in stopping Alexander-Arnold in many aspects of play, but set-pieces isn’t one of them.
United should be praised for the way they dealt with Alexander-Arnold’s creative threat throughout the game. But, if this game showed anything, it is that the young English right-back can have a decisive impact on a match even when the opposition try to completely shut him down.
Liverpool are building up to the Thursday night game against Wolves, with Jurgen Klopp holding his press conference today. Oh and new transfer rumours, too.
A host of Premier League teams have been rumoured to be in for Boubakary Soumare this winter—but a move away from Lille appears remote now before the end of the month.
French outlet Le10 Sport say the Reds are ready to challenge their domestic rivals for the energetic midfielder’s signature.
Soumare has been rated at between £30m and £60m, depending on the publication you choose to believe, and it’s well-known that Lille must sell one big-money player per summer in line with their investor plans.
Team-mate of Soumare, Victor Osimhen, is another who has been linked with the Reds – he’s a forward.Klopp ready for Reds’ next test
The boss has been preparing the boys for our next league fixture, the away trip to Wolves.
It’s a tough place to go and a tough team to face, but the Reds have shown extraordinary consistency this term and this should be but the next challenge to face the same way.
The best news of the presser was that Fabinho is looking in great shape and is getting closer to starting a game – though we’ll see whether that comes midweek or in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury at the weekend.
There’s praise, too, for Alisson as Klopp explains his personal traits which make him such a perfect No. 1, as well as his thoughts on the goalkeeper’s outrageous knee-slide celebration against Man United!
As usual, we have the entire press conference available for you to see.Nothing but positive
Everything surrounding the Reds appears to be good news this week!Talented youngsters, but not for us
Seemingly, the pair have a great relationship and “speak regularly” by phone.
Don’t read too much into it in terms of a transfer back to Anfield, but it’s another indication of the manager’s approach, going well beyond being just a coach in the dressing room and taking a full interest in his players’ lives.
Meanwhile, one which won’t be happening is the Reds signing Brazilian talent Reinier, who has now joined Real Madrid.
It might have been different though, with the Reds cited as one of several clubs who tried to agree a move with his agent before the Spanish side closed the deal.
There’s no suggestion a move was ever close, and it’s no surprise to see the Reds keeping tab on talented youngsters.Quickfire LFC news
“He is the best left-sided central defender in the world.”—Pep Guardiola on the returning Aymeric Laporte.
Liverpool’s No. 4 waves hello from his lofty perch, 13 points above Laporte and Co.Tweet of the day
Ex-Newcastle full-back Olivier Bernard, complete with really weird Twitter handle, pays special homage to Divock’s favourite goalkeeper after yet another howler.
— olivier bernard (@seedorf77) January 21, 2020What we’re reading
Have you seen Rayan Cherki play yet? If not, you’re in for a treat when Lyon next cross your screens. The 16-year-old is a huge talent, though this piece from Goal’s Robin Bairner cautions him from following the path of a player he has been likened to: Hatem Ben Arfa.
And for the Athletic, Adam Hurrey presents an A-Z of the transfer window, including “W” for “warchest” and “wantaway striker,” because that’s what January is all about.Worth watching tonight
Nobody wants to be bored to tears by United vs. Burnley, let’s face it. The best game of the night isn’t on TV, Spurs vs. Norwich. So grab a stream or fly overseas for the evening for a 7:30pm kick-off. Juve vs. Roma is your Coppa Italia offering at 7:45pm on BT Sport 3.
Jurgen Klopp has identified Liverpool’s “concentration levels” as a key area from improvement as the Reds look to continue their upward trajectory.
From ending last season one agonising point behind Man City to amassing a
record 64 points from a possible 66, it is fair to say Liverpool are not leaving anything to chance in 2019/20.
The disappointment of the second-place finish was relieved by a European Cup triumph and importantly provided the Reds with the belief and recognition that they were a force to be reckoned with.
Lessons were learned and invaluable experiences of a title race were under the belt, but for Klopp it was not the one point differential which was the catalyst for the current campaign rather the plotting of the natural steps of progression.
“The one point deficit made absolutely no impact, why should it?” Klopp told the media.
“It was just the situation last year, what we learned from last year is that we are a good football team.
“We thought we should use that in the new season as well. You don’t have a lot of difference, you meet all the opponents and you meet Man City twice a year.
“The results [against City] were a draw at home and a loss there, it is clear we wanted to improve that but all the rest is nothing to do with the opponents.
“It’s all about using your football skills, attitude, character, team play, individual skills – all that stuff in all the Premier League games.
“That’s what we have to do, but being one point down if we were that angry and thought that next year we will catch them, nobody had an idea before the season started if we can be even close because they can make their next steps as well.
“We thought about our next steps and tried to do them, nothing to do with the situation last year.”
And they have certainly taken the right next steps as Liverpool have amazed the masses and have left various opponents in their wake to date, having dropped points on just one occasion in the league so far this season.
To the naked eye, Liverpool are as close to perfect as you could wish to see.
However, within the camp from the manager and all the players, there is still plenty of improvement to be had.
And the boss pointed to the Reds’ “concentration level” as a prime example, with a dip in output inviting pressure, as seen against Man United, when the fixture should have already been tied up.
Liverpool’s superiority within a 90 minute spell has rarely been reflected on the scoreboard to date, setting up a few tense and nervy finishes – and Klopp is eager to see an improvement in the level of focus and intent deployed at various moments throughout a game.
“Concentration level. The last five minutes of the first half and the last 20 minutes [of the game] when United came back the game should have been decided already,” Klopp explained in regards to an area for improvement.
“I get it 100 percent, we are all human beings and that is normal. We do a lot of things right in the right way, dominate the game but don’t finish the situation off.
“The quality in the Premier League is just too high.
“There is a lot of space for improvement. How can we help ourselves? How lively can we stay even without creating constantly?
“We need to find a common way in these situations to still dominate the game in a slightly different manner.”
Liverpool visit Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Thursday, with kick-off at Molineux scheduled for 8pm GMT.
The match will be shown live on BT Sport in the UK.
Extended highlights will be available on on LFCTV GO from midnight.
For Reds fans outside of the UK, global TV listings for the match can be found here.
Jürgen Klopp explained why Liverpool do not intend to further trim the first-team squad this month as he looked ahead to Thursday's clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
During his pre-match press conference at Melwood, the boss was asked about the future of Xherdan Shaqiri, the challenge of taking on a Wolves side the Reds edged 1-0 in December, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Read what Klopp had to say on the subjects below…
On Shaqiri’s future and how important he can be for the rest of the season…
The majority of December and January we had a bench full of kids – wonderful kids, but kids. So, how could we think about giving a player to anybody? I don’t understand that. It’s not about Shaq or whatever, it’s about pretty much everybody. That we just have to keep them for sorting our situation and not the situation for different clubs. If somebody would come around the corner and ask properly – which didn’t happen – maybe, if they are desperate, we think. But there’s absolutely no intention from our side to do anything.
On Wolves being a difficult team to face…
Wolves are not only this year, but last year, really difficult to play. They play a similar system to other teams. It depends a little bit how they set up – three or five at the back. But they do it differently, Coady has a different role, they make the pitch really big and ask you for a lot of footwork. You have to run a lot. That’s normal and good, it’s their way to play. For us, there are solutions for that but not without working a lot. You cannot play on a 50 or 60 per cent basis against Wolves, then you have absolutely no chance. That’s the challenge for that game.
On whether Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ‘frustrated’ after recent games…
Oxlade is in a good shape. He’s not [frustrated with himself], he just looks like this. I asked him, it’s all fine. It’s normal a player wants to play 90 minutes. We have to learn from our own past. Oxlade is an unbelievably important player for us and there are moments in a game when players get a bit tired, then they show up again and stuff like this. I try to read the players during the game and try to understand in which moment or situation they are, energy level-wise and stuff like this. I make a decision and sometimes I hit the point and sometimes not.
Maybe with Ox last time I was a bit too early but he got a knock on top of that, he was limping a little bit. If a midfielder is limping you start looking in more detail and then if in one or two defensive situations the midfielder is not there where he should be, you think, ‘OK, it has an impact’ and then we have to make a decision. That’s what we did. After the game, it didn’t feel that bad anymore with the knock he got. That’s good, absolutely good and all OK. Most of the time we had really good options to make substitutions and in this case as well. Adam [Lallana] came on and helped us in the last few games a lot. We have good options and as long as we have good options we will make changes.
Jürgen Klopp has welcomed the return of Fabinho and revealed the Brazilian is getting 'closer and closer' to full fitness.
The No.3 made his first appearance since November on Sunday after an ankle injury when he appeared as a second-half substitute in the victory over Manchester United.
Klopp, however, is unsure when the 26-year-old can be considered fit enough to start a fixture, but added the Reds will remain patient.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the boss said: "It's sensationally good that we have him back. How close is he to starting? I don't know exactly.
"It was a long time out. Not too long, thank God, but it was long enough, so he needs to find rhythm again and then we will see how we introduce him step by step.
“But [it’s the] best news you can get that we have these boys back – Joel back, Dejan is on a way back – and we played through the toughest period of the season with two centre-halves.
"Our fifth centre-half Fabinho, who can play the position as well, was injured as well, so it was really tough.
“We came through, thank God, and now we have to make sure that the boys are in the best possible shape before we use them again.
“But of course we do that with training sessions – Fab was in more than a week, which is good. In a different squad situation, maybe he would have trained last week around the Man United game than being involved in the game.
“But he had a few minutes and that was good for him as well. [He's] getting closer and closer.”
Jürgen Klopp offered the latest on Liverpool’s injury concerns ahead of Thursday’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Reds have welcomed back Dejan Lovren to full training this week, with the centre-back recovering from an issue that had kept him out since the Champions League tie in Salzburg on December 10.
However, James Milner, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri remain sidelined with respective knocks, meaning they will miss the clash at Molineux tomorrow.
“Dejan trained now since the start of the week, Monday,” Klopp told his pre-match press conference on Wednesday. “So, [it’s his] first steps out on the pitch, it’s good.
“Millie is not in team training, Naby is not in team training and Shaq is not in team training.
“They are all back soon.”