A starlet-studded Liverpool under-23s side were humbled at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, as Michy Batshuayi’s double helped Chelsea to a 3-0 victory.
Premier League 2, Stamford Bridge
August 19, 2019
Goals: Batshuayi 40′, 47′, Anjorin 75′
Among the opposition were Batshuayi and Antonio Rudiger, promising a tough challenge for Neil Critchley‘s side at both ends of the pitch.
Chelsea enjoyed the best of the early stages, with Kelleher forced into a sharp save to his right after both Larouci and Morgan Boyes were sold on the turn, while the young Reds’ attempts to play it out from the back invited more pressure.
The Blues’ two senior players created the opener as Liverpool’s two back from injury flapped, with Rudiger’s long ball evading a hapless Van den Berg in the air and, after Kelleher wiped him out outside the box, Batshuayi chipped in for 1-0.
Liverpool were another goal behind two minutes after the break, with Faustino Anjorin fed down the left to tee Batshuayi up to hammer home, with Boyes not close enough to thwart him.
The young Reds began to create opportunities after going two behind, but too often were lacking the final pass, with Jones particularly frustrating as he wasted promising openings.
Kelleher denied Batshuayi a hat-trick on 55 minutes with a clever block with his feet, and soon after Critchley made three changes as Neco Williams, Tony Gallacher and Bobby Duncan replaced Hoever, Larouci and Brewster.
Chelsea‘s third came through some more wastefulness from Jones, who lost the ball near the halfway line after dithering in possession, and Anjorin cut inside to fire past a furious Kelleher.
The game ended at 3-0, with Dixon-Bonner arguably going closest with a weak effort from range, as the U23s were humbled on the road for their second defeat in two league games.
TIA Man of the Match: Yasser Larouci
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Hoever (N.Williams 63′), Van den Berg, Boyes, Larouci (Gallacher 63′); Dixon-Bonner, Kane, Lewis; Elliott, Jones, Brewster (Duncan 63′)
Subs not used: Atherton, Clayton
Last Updated: 20/08/19 6:37am5:00 Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville compare Kevin de Bruyne to David Beckham and Steven Gerrard and discuss who they think is the best crosser in PL history Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville compare Kevin de Bruyne to David Beckham and Steven Gerrard and discuss who they think is the best crosser in PL history
Gary Neville lauded Kevin De Bruyne on Monday Night Football, calling the Manchester City playmaker "mesmerising" and comparing him to David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.
De Bruyne produced a man-of-the-match display on Saturday as City drew 2-2 with Tottenham at the Etihad.
The 28-year-old, who missed much of last season with injury, provided assists for both City goals with splendid crosses from the right side.'De Bruyne matches Beckham and Gerrard'
Former Manchester United and England midfielder Beckham is regarded as one of the best crossers in the history of the Premier League, while Gerrard was also renowned for his pin-point passing.
But Neville said De Bruyne is delivering the same quality as his former England team-mates.
"I like watching tactical games, close games, I have never really got over-awed by watching an individual but De Bruyne mesmerises me. He is the type of player that is so good, he is world class, and for the first hour on Saturday it was stunning.3:06 Watch highlights from Manchester City's draw against Tottenham Watch highlights from Manchester City's draw against Tottenham
"His positions are always good. David Beckham and Steven Gerrard are two of the best crossers I have seen on the right side in the Premier League. He matches them in terms of the quality he delivers - and that is high praise. He does things that they did just as well."
Neville also praised De Bruyne's intelligence.
For the opening goal he dropped back to receive the ball before crossing deep for Raheem Sterling to score. He then ran down the line for the second goal and crossed for Sergio Aguero to finish.
"On the first goal he drops back and then you are talking about the quality of the delivery and it is so special," said Neville.De Bruyne dropped back to create City's first goal against Tottenham
"The second goal is slightly different. He has got people covering the drop back so he goes the other way. He is intelligent and the timing of his movement is perfect. You are never in doubt that his cross is going to go exactly where he should do.
"For about an hour on Saturday he was unplayable and it took me back to playing with the best crosser of the ball I played with - David Beckham.B'mouth vs Man City
August 25, 2019, 1:00pm
"Teams ordinarily tucked in narrow and tight but that tactic never worked against Manchester United. You had to get out and close him down and make sure he couldn't get the ball out of his feet. Even from deep positions the crossing was out of this world.
"De Bruyne is repeating the level of quality and precision from that inside right channel that Beckham produced for United and that is not something I would see again in the Premier League for a long time."How United stopped Gerrard
While Neville played alongside Beckham at club level, he came up against Gerrard on a number of occasions when Manchester United faced Liverpool.
Neville says the problems Gerrard caused meant Sir Alex Ferguson had to change United's tactics.
"For about two or three seasons he was dropping into that right channel and we were defending conventionally. Then we changed and, if he could, Sir Alex Ferguson always put Anderson on the left of midfield and Ryan Giggs tucked in narrow.Anderson was tasked with marking Steven Gerrard by Sir Alex Ferguson
"It didn't matter who was running wide, just make sure you are against Steven Gerrard. Don't go with the decoys and distractions - stay with Gerrard.
"For three or four years we stopped Gerrard and nullified him. We changed the way we played, and very rarely did Manchester United change the way we played for a team, but Gerrard made us do that."How can teams stop De Bruyne?
Neville thinks the challenge now for teams is to stop De Bruyne getting space to cross from the right.Can teams stop De Bruyne from crossing?
"I think it's getting to a point now where you cannot allow De Bruyne into this space on the right. You have to deal with the threat, which is De Bruyne. He is that good from that position.
"Teams started to do it against Beckham and would leave me. Exactly the same is happening at City and teams have to stop him by defending a bit unconventionally."
The Premier League is back and you can watch more games than ever before on Sky Sports. We'll show 128 Premier League games exclusively live - and have the first pick of matches every weekend.
We have new Saturday Night Football slots, with games every weekend at 5.30pm, Friday Night Football, Super Sunday and Monday Night Football.
Plus, you'll be able to watch Premier League highlights shortly after the full-time whistle on the Sky Sports website and app - without being a Sky Sports subscriber.
As well as all that great live action, we'll also bring you Saturday Social (9.30am, Saturdays), Soccer AM (10.30am, Saturdays), Soccer Saturday (12pm, Saturdays), Sunday Supplement (10am, Sundays), Goals on Sunday (11.30am, Sundays) and The Debate (weeknights) for the best reaction and analysis.Soccer Saturday Super 6 is Back
FREE TO PLAY: £2m jackpot if 2m Players Enter
When Philippe Coutinho moved from Liverpool to Barcelona in January 2018, who else envisaged him being shipped out on loan in the space of 19 months?
The Brazilian’s “dream” switch has turned into a nightmare and having been deemed surplus to requirements, Bayern Munich have snapped him up on a temporary basis.
According to the Evening Standard‘s David Lynch, Liverpool will only miss out on £4.5 million because of Coutinho’s switch to Germany.
The 27-year-old’s poor spell at the Nou Camp has “had little effect on the size of the fee received by Liverpool for his transfer.”
Liverpool were guaranteed to receive £111 million of the £146 million Barca paid for Coutinho’s signature, with the rest made up of “realistic add-ons”.
It is, therefore, expected that the Reds will make a cool £141 million from the sale of their former No.10.Lewis Linked with Tranmere Move
According to Football Insider, League One side Tranmere Rovers are eyeing up a loan move for the left-back “in the final 11 days of the lower league window.”
In many ways, a switch to Prenton Park would make perfect sense, providing Lewis with the challenge of first-team football at senior level.
It’s also just a quick ferry ride across the River Mersey, allowing Liverpool to keep a close eye on his progress.
Although nothing is concrete yet, Football Insider‘s Pete O’Rourke was correct in reporting Corey Whelan’s move to US side Phoenix Rising earlier this summer.Klopp Hails “Really Outstanding” Trio
It was Mane and Firmino’s turn to take centre stage at Southampton on Saturday, with a goal a-piece.
Speaking to LiverpoolFC.com, Klopp gushed about the trio, saying it is a joy to manage such special players:
“A lot of times in my life I had sensational players always [but] not world-class players. Now, thank God I have them and they make the difference. We don’t have to talk about that.
“They were a constant threat, however tired they are. That’s brilliant and, of course, made the difference. We don’t have to talk about that.”
Next up for Salah, Mane and Firmino is Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday – a fixture that saw them score five goals between them last season in a 5-1 win.Wijnaldum Shrugs Off Adrian Error
Gini Wijnaldum isn’t worried about the Spaniard, though, saying that his reaction to the mistake is more vital than anything.
“How is he [Adrian] going to react to the mistake? I think that is more important than the mistake itself.”
The Dutchman also spoke about Adrian getting used to his new surroundings, saying: “Everyone needs time to adjust. He is just in for, not even two weeks, so we have to get used to each other.”
He is a sizeable step down from the Reds’ world-class No.1, but he should improve over time.Emery Admits to Fearing Liverpool
Arsenal were destroyed at Anfield last season, as has been the case a number of times during the Klopp era, and even before it.
In an interview with Sky Sports, manager Unai Emery admits he isn’t cherishing the prospect of facing the Reds, but says it’s a great challenge for his team:
“For us we don’t want to play against Liverpool ever. We’d prefer not to play against them.
“That is really our challenge, a good test. For the supporters, for all of us, going there with six points is good. Really our target is to reduce the distance to Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham and Chelsea.
“When we play against them it is a big challenge to show how we can be. Next week is going to be a very good match.”
It promises to be a thrilling encounter at Anfield on Saturday, with goals to be expected between two of the country’s most dangerous attacking sides.
Liverpool will need to improve defensively if they are to keep out the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.Klopp’s Brilliant Gesture to Wilson
The 22-year-old’s impact did not go unnoticed by Klopp, with the German’s brilliant man-management revealed after the game.
The Telegraph report that Wilson received a fitting WhatsApp message from the 52-year-old on Saturday – “a ‘selfie’ photograph of him clenching his fist with a short message of congratulations”.
It perfectly sums up the Liverpool manager as a character, with his delight so genuine when a loanee excels away from Anfield.
Wilson may never end up making the grade with the Reds – equally, he may still be in Klopp’s long-term plans – but gestures such as these will do his confidence the world of good.
Last Updated: 20/08/19 6:34amAndy Carroll signed for Liverpool in January 2011
Andy Carroll has admitted he was 'googling' his new Liverpool team-mates on his way out of Newcastle in 2011, but has vowed to return to Tyneside with "a purpose".
Carroll says his "daft" years are behind him as he prepares to resume his career at first club Newcastle.
The Gateshead-born 30-year-old striker burst on to the scene as a teenager at St James' Park and found himself thrust into both the limelight and a series of off-field scrapes as his stock rose on it, eventually resulting in a then-British record £35m switch to Liverpool in January 2011.
"When I was here [at Newcastle], I'd go home, mess about with my mates, play football, go out, whatever, but I'd never watch football, I never knew any players," he told Newcastle's club website.
"I'd come in on the Friday or wake up on the Saturday morning saying, 'who are we playing?' It was just completely oblivious to all the football that was going on. I would work at the training ground and knew my tactics, but until we had a meeting I didn't know who we were playing, unless I asked someone.
"When I was in the helicopter down to Liverpool, I was like, 'I know Stevie G [Gerrard], I know [Jamie] Carragher. Who else?' My agent at the time had to tell me, and I would get it on Google and find out the team. So that's actually a true story.
"It's bad because it's Liverpool players, but it's not disrespectful - I just literally didn't watch football, so I didn't know."Carroll watched Newcastle's 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal from the stands
Now back on Tyneside after a surprise deadline-day move by the Magpies, he is adamant he is a different man to the one who left the north east eight and a half years ago and by his own admission, that is due in large part to his fiance Billi Mucklow.
He added: "I've got no doubt that I was daft when I was here, and no doubt that I was daft for a couple of years after as well. But I met my missus, and we've got four kids living at home now, we've got animals, we've got responsibilities.
"There's no more behaviour like it was, you know? I was stupid, I was young, and I was carried away with the lifestyle that I had.
"Now it's completely different. I'm actually a dad, I've grown up, and got responsibilities, so... I've got a purpose."2:59 Highlights from Norwich's 3-1 win against Newcastle in the Premier League. Highlights from Norwich's 3-1 win against Newcastle in the Premier League.
Despite the promise he showed during his first spell at Newcastle, Carroll's career has not panned out the way he might have hoped with injuries limiting his involvement with clubs Liverpool and West Ham as well as England.
He is currently working his way back to full fitness after ankle surgery, and is acutely aware of the amount of football he has missed.
He said: "It's not my fault. I don't want to be sitting in the gym by myself doing rehab. I want to be outside doing what I love to do, playing football and being with the lads. I've been out of it for so long and I don't want to be like that.
"People think you're getting paid so it doesn't matter. No, that's not the case. I haven't come into this job to get paid. Yeah, it pays well, but I've come into it because I love it - there's a difference.
"I don't love being in the gym. Everyone that knows me knows I hate the gym, it's the worst thing ever. I want to be outside.
"I'm working my ******** off to get fit and I was working my ******** off when I was injured as well. It's non-stop."
Head coach Steve Bruce will not rush Carroll back into action before he is ready despite the club's pressing need for results, and his second debut may still be several weeks away.
However, a man who at his best can terrorise defenders cannot wait until the day he can pull on the black and white shirt once again.
He said: "I'm more buzzing to put it on now, the shirt, than I was when I was 17. I'm so excited."Soccer Saturday Super 6 is Back
FREE TO PLAY: £2m jackpot if 2m Players Enter
Liverpool goalkeeping coach John Achterberg has confirmed there have been discussions within the club over a move for ex-Tottenham ‘keeper Michel Vorm.
Vorm is still a free agent after being released by Spurs at the end of last season, and was one of the most popular options when considering short-term additions at Anfield.
But with Lonergan lacking top-level experience, and youngster Caoimhin Kelleher yet to debut, the possibility of a more proven third goalkeeper has been mooted.
According to Achterberg, speaking to Dutch outlet NOS, he and the rest of Jurgen Klopp‘s backroom staff had “discussed” the prospect of signing Vorm.
“A good third goalie at a top club is not a superfluous luxury, I have always said,” he explained.
He did add, however, that Lonergan’s record at Championship level is “not to be underestimated,” while it is “not for nothing” that Kelleher is established in the Republic of Ireland setup.
It is possible that Vorm was considered prior to the decision to sign Lonergan, but Achterberg’s “superfluous luxury” line indicates that he would come in as competition for Adrian.
This is not the first time the Dutchman has been on the Reds’ radar, of course, and they made a concerted effort to sign Vorm when he was at Swansea back in 2014.
He instead joined Spurs and remained there for five seasons, but spent his entire spell in north London as backup to Hugo Lloris, making just 47 appearances for the club.
Regardless, he is still a strong, experienced goalkeeper, proven in the Premier League, and if he were brought in he would improve Klopp’s squad considerably.
The Gunners head to Anfield on Saturday evening in the first top-six clash of the season for either side, and they sit joint-top of the Premier League with two games played.
Unai Emery’s side have conceded just once so far, with Liverpool shipping two but faring considerably better in front of goal with six scored to Arsenal‘s three.
“It is a different game. Maybe it is more easy, because you don’t have to fight a lot,” the Greek centre-back said.
“But they also play football. If they are on good day and you are having a bad day, it is hard.
“In the end, we know that it is difficult and we respect Liverpool a lot.
“But I think the best [way] is to go and play our style of game. We will see what happens.”
Sokratis was hapless in his efforts to stop an on-fire Firmino back in December, though he suggested Arsenal were unfortunate to lose 5-1, saying “we made mistakes.”
“The 5-1 last season…it was not the game to take five goals—the penalty kicks [from Firmino and Salah], we made mistakes,” he continued.
“I think this year will be different, but we have to improve of course from the work we do with the coach and his staff.”
The 31-year-old had a new centre-back partner at the Emirates on Saturday, with David Luiz joining him at the back following his late arrival from Chelsea.
In theory, that could prove to be a weakness for the Gunners if Jurgen Klopp‘s attacking line are on form, but on this season’s evidence so far Liverpool cannot underestimate their visitors.
But Sokratis has certainly tempted fate with his comments, and it can be argued that Barnes and Wood present a more straightforward challenge than Firmino, Salah and Mane.
It was a game that every Liverpool fan knew was going to be a struggle. Not only was it an away match against a solid Southampton side, but with the 120 minutes played in midweek added to that, 3 points was looking a difficult ask. The front three were going to have to work their magic and dig us out of a hole, and, thankfully, they did just that – despite Adrian’s best efforts to throw it all away late on.
It was an unfortunate event for the Spaniard as he’d been very good up to that point. He made a very important point-blank save to deny Yoshida in the first half which gave Mané the opportunity to put the Reds ahead in the dying minutes of the period. Sadly, though, the main takeaway from his performance will be his Loris Karius impression which gifted Danny Ings with a goal against his former club. Had he not made the error, he would have been in with a shout of being the man of the match. Hopefully, it doesn’t dent his confidence and he can continue his good form until Alisson returns.
Van Dijk had a decent afternoon despite the number of chances Southampton managed to create, while Robertson looked like himself for the first time this season, especially in the second half. He defended well and also was on hand to cause the opposition back four problems with his attacking prowess. Wijnaldum was more involved than he has been in the previous two games and, perhaps most pleasing was the performance of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. After he made his first start since April 2018 against Chelsea last Wednesday, he followed that with yet another appearance in the starting eleven this weekend. While he is not quite at his brilliant best as yet, the signs are reappearing, and it is very exciting to see.
This game was all about the attack, though, and how they were going to somehow find a way to snatch us a victory. While it was not one of Mo Salah’s best games – much to the dismay of fantasy football managers across the world – Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino stepped up yet again, just as they did in the Super Cup against Chelsea. Bobby got himself on the scoresheet for the first time this season and should have had another a few minutes before. In the 65th minute, with just the goalkeeper to beat following a pass across goal from Mané, the Brazilian opened his body up and placed his effort just wide of the far post. Fortunately, just five minutes later, he found the bottom left-hand corner with a drive from the edge of the area. It came after some excellent work again from Sadio Mané, as he pressed Southampton deep inside their half before stealing the ball and laying it off to Firmino.
This leads me on to the actual man of the match, which I’m going to give to Mané. Two goals in midweek and now a goal and an assist against Southampton. He has started the season in superb form. The Saints were by far the better team in the first half, but Sadio showed his individual world-class ability by unleashing a powerful strike into the far corner in the 46th minute to send us into the break in front. Liverpool were much improved in the second half and Mané shone even brighter, creating the second goal and going close to bagging himself a second. He is right up there with the best forwards in the world right now and there are no signs of that stopping any time soon. Fingers crossed that he can remain healthy with the lack of pre-season he has been afforded. We now have a full week’s rest before we host Arsenal at Anfield, so hopefully all the big guns – bar Alisson – will be feeling 100% for what will likely be a tough test against the Gunners and their new-look side.
The International Football Association Board have warned that VAR is a “10-year project,” with understanding of the controversial technology in its infancy.
This is the first season that video assistant referees are being fully implemented in the Premier League, and after just two weekends it has prompted some high-profile calls.
At the London Stadium, Raheem Sterling was adjudged to have been fractionally offside with the help of VAR as he laid on a goal for Gabriel Jesus—the decision based on a millimetre.
Jesus thought he had scored a last-minute winner at the Etihad as he curled home following a corner, but the goal was ruled out after the ball struck Aymeric Laporte’s hand in the buildup.
Pep Guardiola and a host of his players, rightly or wrongly, questioned the use of VAR and the new handball rules after the game.
And many fans, not just of a City persuasion, lamented the impact it has on the emotional influence of the game.
Liverpool are yet to be meaningfully impacted by VAR this season, but there will no doubt be occasions when the Reds will feel aggrieved as decisions go against them after review.
IFAB have already confirmed that the technology’s protocol will be reviewed over the coming months, with any change likely to take place in March.
And speaking as part of ProTipster’s VAR From Perfect study, IFAB secretary Lukas Brud has stressed that VAR is seen as a “10-year project,” and highlighted its popularity with referees.
“The VAR concept is still at the beginning; it is a 10-year project until we are at the stage where people really understand how it works,” Brud explained.
“Every single referee has said to us ‘for us, it’s great. We don’t have to be afraid of killing our careers’.
“Many people forget that referees can decide matches with wrong decisions not because they are not good—they are a very high level—but they make mistakes because they are human.
“They will have someone to fall back on and they love it.”
Mike Riley, general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), added that “while VAR will not capture everything, it will help us make better decisions.”
There was always likely to be a teething process as VAR was introduced to the Premier League, but though there are certainly arguments for its use, most against it are based on the interpretation of new rules.
Offsides and handballs have become increasingly strict, and the main issue comes with its impact on football for fans.
If this is to be a 10-year process—and there is no indication VAR will be scrapped—there will no doubt require to be more leniency, or common sense, in its use if the game is to avoid descending into an emotionless bore.
Harry Wilson and Marko Grujic were both on the scoresheet during their fixtures on the weekend.
Wilson marked his Premier League debut by scoring a trademark long-range effort for Bournemouth in their 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday.
“I loved it. It’s what I’ve been working towards," the Welshman told afcbTV afterwards. “I have had a lot of minutes in the Championship and internationally but never in the Prem.
“I was delighted to get my first minutes, thankful to the manager for picking me from the start and I enjoyed it.
“I just wanted to get out there, get on the ball, try to create stuff and I felt I did that."
Grujic's second spell in the Bundesliga with Hertha BSC got off to a promising start as the midfielder scored at the Allianz Arena in a 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich on Friday night.
Elsewhere in Germany, Nathaniel Phillips was on the winning side when he appeared as a second-half substitute in Stuttgart's 2-1 victory over St. Pauli on Saturday. Taiwo Awoniyi played a handful of minutes in Mainz's defeat at Freiburg.
In Scotland, Sheyi Ojo scored Rangers' second in the second leg of their Europa League third-round qualifier with FC Midtjylland on Thursday.
Liam Millar recorded an assist in extra-time to help Kilmarnock beat Hamilton Academical in the second round of the Scottish League Cup on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Ovie Ejaria played 85 minutes of Reading's 3-0 victory over Cardiff City in the Championship.
But there were defeats for Kamil Grabara's Huddersfield Town and an Oxford United team featuring Ben Woodburn.
Defender Rhys Williams earned a clean sheet in Kidderminster Harriers' 1-0 win over Curzon Ashton.
Allan Rodrigues de Souza, who has been called up for Brazil's Olympic Selection, played the entirety of Fluminense's 1-0 defeat to CS Alagoano on Sunday.
Last Updated: 19/08/19 4:28pm0:49 Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has joked he would rather not face Liverpool ahead of next Saturday's trip to Anfield Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has joked he would rather not face Liverpool ahead of next Saturday's trip to Anfield
Unai Emery has admitted he would rather not play Liverpool this season but insists Arsenal will be positive when they face the European champions at Anfield.
Liverpool are the early Premier League leaders after beating Norwich and Southampton in their opening two games, while Arsenal are second in the table after wins over Newcastle and Burnley.Liverpool vs Arsenal
August 24, 2019, 5:00pm
The top two sides meet at Anfield on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, and Emery admits Jurgen Klopp's side are formidable opponents on current form.
"For us we don't want to play against Liverpool ever," he joked after Saturday's 2-1 win over Burnley.
"We'd prefer not to play against them.
"That is really our challenge, a really good test. For the supporters, for all of us, going there with six points is good.Liverpool and Arsenal have both started the new Premier League season with two wins out of two
"Really our target is to reduce the distance to Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea.
"When we play against them it is a big challenge to show how we can be. Next week is going to be a very good match."
Liverpool thrashed Arsenal 5-1 in the same fixture last season thanks to a Roberto Firmino hat-trick and goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
However, Emery is confident his new-look team can keep Liverpool's dangerous front three quiet this time around.
He said: "We are going to prepare first with the adaptation to them, their gameplan and individual players and after to impose our gameplan and capacity.Arsenal lost 5-1 at Anfield last season
"We are going to prepare both defensively and offensively.
"I think first is to be positive in our capacity and then work hard. I know my past is to work hard, the present and future is going to be the same.
"After we can win, we can lose. But above all is be positive and keep moving ahead."Soccer Saturday Super 6 is Back
FREE TO PLAY: £2m jackpot if 2m Players Enter
Liverpool U23s face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Premier League 2 on Monday night - watch the game live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO from 6.30pm BST.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7pm, but our coverage begins half an hour earlier when Mark Benstead will be joined by former Reds Neil Mellor and Dominic Matteo.
Jürgen Klopp saluted the world-class talents of his front three that he believed made all the difference during Saturday's 2-1 victory at Southampton.
Sadio Mane unlocked a tense affair at St Mary's with a superb curling effort in first-half stoppage time before Roberto Firmino doubled the Reds' lead midway through the second period.
After a midweek trip to Istanbul for the UEFA Super Cup encounter with Chelsea that involved extra-time and penalties, the Liverpool manager was thankful to have a trio of match-winners in his starting XI on the south coast.
"A lot of times in my life I had sensational players always [but] not world-class players," Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com. "Now, thank God I have them and they make the difference. We don't have to talk about that.
"Sadio Mane, Bobby Firmino, Mo Salah – these guys in the last situation are really outstanding.
"They were a constant threat, however tired they are. That's brilliant and, of course, made the difference. We don't have to talk about that."
Mane's curler came right at the end of a strong showing in the opening 45 minutes from Ralph Hasenhuttl's side, who responded well to their opening-day defeat at Burnley.
But a small tactical tweak at the break then helped Liverpool take more control of the encounter as they made it two wins from two in the Premier League.
"I think Southampton tried to kill our game with their formation and they played different against Burnley obviously," Klopp explained.
"They had a real proper fight at the back, so that gave us space on the wings. We used that but not often enough, otherwise they would have had to run much more. We could adjust that a little bit at half-time.
"I'm really happy. It's so important. The start of the season is so important. Having an away game at Southampton is always difficult, but in the week we had, it was special."
Liverpool edged past Southampton for a 2-1 victory on Saturday, with the result laying a crucial groundwork ahead of their first big heavyweight tie of 2019/20.
With Alisson injured, fitness doubts over Adrian and generally nursing the aching limbs of a long night in Istanbul—sustained less than 72 hours earlier—it was with a sharp intake of breath that Liverpool headed to Southampton.
Mission accomplished though.
Being sluggish in the first half and then punishing opponents for not fully taking advantage of us seems to be our new thing.Half-Time Oranges
Last Wednesday, Chelsea strolled out for the second half proudly in possession of a one-goal lead, only to see it cruelly snatched from them within a short few seconds of the restart.
At St Mary’s, on Saturday, Southampton came within seconds of taking in their half-time oranges with a hard-earned goalless scoreline, only to see Sadio Mane ruthlessly plunder a goal of style and substance just as the referee began to wonder where his whistle was.
On both occasions, we then located the type of higher gears that very few other teams own.
It was akin to Liverpool giving the opposition a head-start, covering their eyes and and counting to 20, generously giving them the chance to run and hide, to make the contest a fairer one.
Footballing hide and seek, if you will?
Coming, ready or not.Peculiar
This was a peculiar game. We scored our opener against the run of play, we mostly bossed the second half, but could quite easily have thrown two points away.
This was our first ‘we might look back on this one’ game of the new campaign.
The final score could easily have been 4-0 or 2-2.
Liverpool always keep you thinking; Liverpool always keep you on your toes, whether that is as a supporter watching them, or as opposing players and coaches trying to deal with them.
Southampton are a peculiarity. We wouldn’t be the team we are today without having plundered them directly for half a dozen players or so.
Mane and Virgil van Dijk might be the only ones that still walk into Klopp’s team, but even the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana were defined stepping stones from the days when we used to field Paul Konchesky, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Christian Poulsen.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also previously of their parish.Aura
Although they no longer possess players we covet, Southampton are ambitious enough to want to create a haven of football, somewhere free of the more bludgeoning aspects of the English game.
It isn’t a place you’d see Sam Allardyce, David Moyes or Tony Pulis surface. It was the first English port of call for Mauricio Pochettino, yet conversely, they did employ Mark Hughes for a while.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was an admirable appointment as Hughes’ successor.
Given the vagaries of the Premier League, after seeing his team lose their opening two games of the 2019/20 season he is probably two further defeats from losing his job.
The odds would certainly be against him being the man that brings Southampton to Anfield in February.
At least from the perspective of somebody who not only remembers their previous life at The Dell but went to their old ground many times over.
This isn’t just me speaking, as it is something the author Mat Guy agreed with, as a Southampton supporter, when I was talking to him a week or so ago.
It’s why I cringed for the best part of a decade over the concept of Liverpool transferring themselves into Stanley Park.
Back in 2019, however, this was a win that was made more valuable by City’s issues with VAR, Tottenham and that likeable man Pochettino.Beware Presumptuousness
We now have a week to rest up before the visit of Arsenal, next Saturday.
A game that will offer us our first heavyweight clash of the season.
A game where we can’t afford to be generous in our goalkeeping, spacious in our defending and presumptuous in our approach to opponents that we have had the upper hand over during recent seasons.
These early victories are simply laying the groundwork for the focus that will need to come, if we are to challenge for the Premier League title, if we are to go one better this time around.
Two wins out of two, yet the jury is still out on that one.
One thing that is certain though. That away kit is awful.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in his favoured midfield role for the first time in 16 months on Saturday, and his performance suggested he can return to his best.
When Oxlade-Chamberlain left Arsenal for Liverpool in 2017, he did so with a view to establishing himself as a central midfielder.
“I’ve always wanted to be Steven Gerrard, so I’ve still got a hope of that,” he famously said after the FA Cup final, two months before swapping the Emirates for Anfield.
“We want to give him the opportunity to perform, to shine if you want, and in those circumstances, on the position, it obviously was not as possible as we would have wished,” the manager said, having withdrawn the 26-year-old at half-time.
“But that’s then my mistake, not his mistake, because I made the decision.”
The physical toll of 120 minutes in intense heat in Istanbul, and a trip to St Mary’s coming just three days later, saw Klopp retain Oxlade-Chamberlain in his XI however.
Unlike that night on the left, though, his chance came in the role that saw him make such a big impression prior to the ACL injury that ruled him out for a year.
And unlike that night, he was able to showcase glimpses of the vibrancy, fluidity and cutting edge that make him such a unique option for the Reds in the middle of the park.
Such was the way Liverpool set up on Saturday, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all starting in attack for the first time this season, in possession Oxlade-Chamberlain effectively served as a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1.
Off the ball, he grew into the game in terms of pressing and tracking back, with the dynamic of Klopp’s system requiring he serve as right-back at times when Trent Alexander-Arnold found himself further forward.
In many ways, this is the all-encompassing Gerrard role that the England international envisaged, and his output at St Mary’s highlighted why he is so eager to remain there.
The potential for Oxlade-Chamberlain to dovetail with a deep-dropping Firmino and supply passes for the onrushing Mane and Salah is a dangerous one.
In fact, the best moment from his largely anonymous 45-minute showing in the Super Cup was a brilliant outside-of-the-boot pass to set up a chance for Salah—coming, predictably, from a central position.
He replicated that with a perfectly weighted ball from inside his own half, over the defence, for Salah to blast at goal with his left in the victory over Southampton.
It was the best of the chances Liverpool enjoyed prior to Mane’s opener, though after the Reds went in 1-0 up at the break Oxlade-Chamberlain and the rest of his team-mates were able to go up the gears in the second half.
This found him able to drive at the Saints’ defence and either open fire or thread passes more effectively, and speaking after the game the midfielder said he felt he “settled into [the rhythm] a bit better” in the second 45.
He was Liverpool’s most clinical passer (89.5% accuracy), only James Milner had more touches of the ball out of any of the starting midfield and attack (70 to 55) and only Firmino broke through the lines with more dribbles (three to two).
It wasn’t the pinnacle, by any means, with Oxlade-Chamberlain himself describing it as “an alright game” for him, but there is cause to believe the spark is reigniting.
In his post-match press conference, Klopp described his performance as “brilliant,” and gave an indication that his spell on the flanks—both in pre-season and on his first start back—was part of a long-term rehabilitation.
“It was different, it was outstandingly good,” he told reporters.
“[The] 45 minutes on Wednesday, we can now say they helped for sure as well. To get the minutes, to feel the intensity and know you are ready for the intensity.
“Today we had to make changes and we did make changes, and especially for us in the centre of the park it’s really important that we are there, ready for all these long runs, for all these decisive things.
Brought off with two minutes left of normal time, Oxlade-Chamberlain is yet to complete a full competitive game for the Reds since that huge setback against AS Roma.
This underlines the long road ahead as he looks to recapture the form that made him undroppable in his first campaign on Merseyside, and why Klopp is working sensitively to steel him for the rigours of that central duty.
But he offers something to Liverpool arguably only Naby Keita could otherwise, and the Guinean’s own struggles have left a void to fill.
For Klopp, a determination to nurture Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to key-cog status will stem not only in his quality on the field, but his character off it.
That was clear as the ex-Southampton youth—who was born in Portsmouth, the manager needed reminding—made his way over to the travelling Kop at full-time to give his shirt to a young supporter.
It was fitting that this landmark afternoon came at the ground that he first made his name, and now Oxlade-Chamberlain can aim to make further steps as he looks to make that midfield role his own once again.
For much of the opening 45 minutes, Klopp’s side struggled for fluency on the ball and, in particular, at the back with a disorganised group struggled to shield stand-in stopper Adrian.
Adrian himself was far from perfect, with the Spaniard caught by Southampton‘s energetic forward line on a number of occasions when dallying on the ball, and Danny Ings‘ second-half charge saw Liverpool’s No. 13 concede embarrassingly.
With a week until their next outing at home to Arsenal there is plenty of time for the Reds to work on the training pitch.
So what can Klopp and his backroom staff from this game, for better or worse?
This Is Anfield’s Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) was joined by The Redmen TV’s Ste Hoare (@stehoare) and Danish site Redmen Family’s Patrick Pilov (@PatrickPilov) to discuss the highs and lows from St Mary’s.The good…
STE: Although it was a tight game, one where Liverpool looked sloppy at times, there were actually quite a few positives.
I thought Ox looked more like his old self playing in midfield, which was great to see.
The biggest positive, though, was once again the front three.
Having three genuine world-class attackers means that Liverpool can score goals even when they aren’t playing particularly well.
All three had moments of just pure brilliance that helped win that game.
PATRICK: As Ste said, the front three.
No, Salah did not have his best game, but in the second half we created loads of chances.
Mane especially looks like he has a point to prove from the beginning of the season, while Firmino has looked like he has got a taste for winning trophies and is more ready than he has ever been before.
We are now two games into the Premier League and all three of them are on the scoresheet already.
Situations and circumstances might be difficult but world class can never be denied, which was clearly the case yesterday.
People saying we are playing bad might have a case to their argument, but imagine how Salah, Mane and Firmino will turn defenders’ lives into nightmares when we start playing well and are firing on all cylinders.
JACK: It was a very difficult game, and watching from the stands at St Mary’s it was clear the rigours of Wednesday night were having an impact.
One of those to struggle in Istanbul was my standout positive, however, with Ox much more effective deployed in his favoured midfield role.
It wasn’t his best performance by a stretch, but there were clear signs that he could get back to the form that made him a key fixture in 2017/18.
Obviously Mane’s strike was excellent too; I was sat basically in line with the No. 10 as he cut inside and curled it beyond Angus Gunn, and it looked like a certain goal as soon as he picked it up.
The second half was much better, too, and the sight of four, five or even six Reds flooding forward on the counter-attack is a joy.The bad…
STE: I still think Liverpool are conceding far too many good chances that better teams will exploit.
Yoshida’s header and Ings’ shocking miss are two examples that really should have been goals.
I can’t quite put my finger on what’s allowing opponents to create some excellent chances against us but it is a concern.
I know he took a blow to the head that may have had an impact in his performance, but for the second game in a row, Milner looked like a 33-year-old man playing as a central midfielder in a Premier League game.
He just looked half a yard short in terms of his tackling and his use of the ball wasn’t really up to standard either.
PATRICK: The midfield looks completely out of sorts.
I am not sure if it is a tactical change by Klopp or it is rhythm, but the volume in midfield is missing.
We are clearly standing with a very high defensive line, which we are often very good at, but with wanting to play out from the back, two of our three midfielders often seek the line of our defence whilst our full-backs pace forward.
This creates acres of space for the opponent to operate in within the midfield when they regain the ball, and it looks set to catch us on our heels.
The last pass or second-to-last pass becomes much easier for our opponents with our midfielders being either on the wings or in our defensive line.
JACK: The obvious defensive issues were still there, and while Van Dijk improved as the game went on, there was a clear lack of organisation at the back.
I though Matip had one of his poorer games, and particularly struggled up against the pace and physicality of Che Adams—since he and Gomez seem to be rotated at this stage of the season, this was a game better suited to the latter.
Milner was out of sorts too, as Ste noted, and it certainly appears time is catching up with him.
Another negative for me, in a way, is the lack of variety in Klopp’s changes.
That’s three games now that Shaqiri hasn’t made it onto the pitch, and while the qualities Origi can offer are much different, surely there’s a case to argue our No. 23 should be involved more.And should we be concerned after Adrian’s shaky display?
STE: Honestly, no. I’m absolutely fine with Adrian.
The error was so bad that you can’t really put too much stock into it.
All good goalies have howlers—see Ederson against Spurs or Tom Heaton against Bournemouth as examples.
I think, like Alisson did after Leicester away last season, Adrian will learn from that and not do it again. I’d be more worried if the fundamentals of his game looked poor; his positioning, handling etc.
However, I thought his goalkeeping was actually very good. The instinctive save from Yoshida’s header was excellent, he made some other good saves and his positioning looked solid too.
As backup goalkeepers go, he seems like a decent one.
Someone just needs to put a rocket up his backside about his kicking though! Attackers will constantly be pressuring him now after seeing the Southampton goal.
The difference is that Mignolet and Karius made mistakes as goalkeepers and Adrian’s mistakes came with his footwork.
Adrian is our second ‘keeper for a reason, and while he does not seem to be able to kick the ball past the halfway line when it is on the ground, it is something that can be worked on.
It is not his goalkeeping skills which are the problem: he does not have to change his style of play fundamentally, he just needs to play the ball more safely and with no risks.
JACK: Ste’s latter point is the one that immediately struck me after Ings’ goal.
The atmosphere in St Mary’s was amplified in the minutes after Adrian‘s costly error (I specify, as there were a few others) and it’s clear this will be a flaw both opposition players and fans will target.
His use of the ball throughout was tough to watch, and reminded me of those Premier League games Karius played in his troubled first season.
But the sooner we get the Brazilian back, the better…
Liverpool produced a gritty display to beat Southampton 2-1 on Saturday, with a number of eye-catching statistics emerging from the game.
Trips to St Mary’s have rarely been comfortable for the Reds in recent years and this one was no different.
A below-par opening 45 minutes looked to be finishing goalless, only for Sadio Mane to rifle his side in front seconds before the interval.
Here are five key statistics from the match, as Liverpool sit top of the Premier League table.Reds Equal Record Winning Run
The Reds have become winning machines under Jurgen Klopp, finding that rare ability to grind out victories even when they’re not playing well.
Saturday’s triumph on the south coast was Liverpool’s 11th in a row in the Premier League, equalling their best-ever run of consecutive wins in the competition.
That is also held by Brendan Rodgers’ class of 2013/14, who rattled off 11 victories on the bounce prior to the heartbreaking defeat to Chelsea in April 2014.
Three points at home to Arsenal next Saturday would equal the club’s best winning run overall, set by Sir Kenny Dalglish’s Reds in 1990.
This Liverpool team have now won 32 out of 40 league games since the beginning of last season—it’s quite extraordinary.300 Up for Klopp
Klopp is doing a stunning job as manager.
One new statistic sums up why he deserves to be the focal point of so much praise this weekend.
Saturday’s win means the German has now recorded 300 points in the league as Liverpool boss in 146 games—no manager in Reds history achieved that feat in faster time.
Dalglish (150) is Klopp’s closest challenger, followed by Rafa Benitez (159), Bob Paisley (161), Bill Shankly (166) and Gerard Houllier (169).
Remember when people were mocking him for having a worse record than Rodgers?Magic Mane
Mane has enjoyed an exceptional week, scoring twice in the UEFA Super Cup win over Chelsea, before bagging a stunner against former club Saints.
Is there a better left-sided player in Europe on current form?
Mark Viduka is the last to have done that, between 2002/03 and 2005/06, showing what an impressive effort it is by the Senegalese.
It’s now 16 goals in his last 18 Premier League starts for Mane.Selfless Front Three
Liverpool’s world-class front three of Mane, Firmino and Mohamed Salah may be lauded for their goals, but their assist tallies are also outstanding.
That was proven yet again on Saturday afternoon, as Mane set up Firmino for the Reds’ second goal, having won the ball back in a dangerous area.
Liverpool’s regular front three have now all each assisted and scored one goal this season.
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) August 17, 2019
It means Liverpool’s brilliant trio have now all registered at least a goal and an assist apiece this season.
They will continue to share the workload as the season progresses, showing why they are club football’s most devastating attacking unit.Defensive Struggles Remain
Liverpool have may won both league games and the Super Cup so far this season, but they haven’t been at their best defensively.
Last season, only Barcelona and Chelsea managed more than two in a match, further exposing Liverpool’s current malaise at the back.
They have also only kept one clean sheet in their last five league outings—they need to go up a gear in that area, with a week on the training ground surely helping in that respect.