Goals from Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah sealed a 2-0 win for Liverpool over Midtjylland at Anfield in Group D of the Champions.
After making five changes from the victory over Sheffield United — with only the back five and Jota retained — a performance devoid of any fluency still yielded a win, which was sealed by substitute Salah’s penalty.
The slow start to proceedings from the hosts wasn’t surprising, given the rhythm sapping number of personnel changes from the Reds. It was the visitors — who were routed 4-0 in their opener at home to Atalanta that started brighter with Ander Dreyer shooting straight at Alisson after a long punt from the back sent him in behind the Liverpool rearguard.
In case Jurgen Klopp didn’t have enough of a headache at centre half, Fabinho — appearing to hold his hamstring — was withdrawn to be replaced by Rhys Williams as an all-round wretched half reach its end with little to speak of bar a few badly timed Midtjylland tackles.
Clearly, in a pre-planned move, Georginio Wijnaldum replaced Henderson at half time but there must have been the temptation to substitute several more, given the meek first-half display from the hosts.
The Dutchman brought a calm to proceedings and Liverpool — although it is hard to envision them being worse — improved thereafter.
After a lackluster first 55 minutes, which failed to lead to a shot on goal, the Reds scored with their first attack of any conviction.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s beautiful against the grain reverse ball set Alexander-Arnold free in the box and the full back’s inviting cross was tapped into the net by the well-positioned Jota.
The cavalry were called on the hour mark, as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané came on for Minamino and Origi, players whose performances would be charitably tagged as ineffective.
Roberto Firmino also joined the fray late — replacing goal scorer Jota — but missed a golden chance to kill the game when he skied Alexander Arnold’s pullback in the box.
The Brazilians profligacy was almost immediately punished when Dreyer — after skipping past Gomez — narrowly clipped the ball wide.
Alexander Arnold was proving the Reds only real source of creativity and it was his sumptuous through ball to Salah that sealed the win. Racing through on goal, the Egyptian was fouled by full-back Paulinho. And with composure, Salah sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot for 2-0.
Similar to last weeks win at the Amsterdam Arena, the victory was not a thing of beauty, but Liverpool — whose only real worry will be the extent of Fabinho’s injury — won’t care as Ajax’s 2-2 draw in Bergamo against Atalanta means the English Champions outright top the group.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Milner; Shaqiri, Minamino, Jota; Origi.
Replacements: Salah for Origi, Mane for Minamino, Firmino for Jota, Williams for Fabinho, Wijnaldum for Henderson.
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Pawel Raczkowski
Date & Time – Tuesday, October 27th 2020 @ 20:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 1/9, Draw 17/2, FC Midtjylland 20/1
Liverpool welcome FC Midtjylland to Anfield this Tuesday as The Reds look to continue their winning start to their Champions League campaign. It’s the first-ever meeting between the clubs and Jürgen Klopp’s side will be hoping for a convincing win on a night the boss is likely to use all five substitutions as he looks to spread the work-load throughout the squad.FORM
On Saturday night, Liverpool had to dig deep for another come-from-behind victory after Sheffield United were gifted an early penalty from some dreadful VAR officiating. However, Jürgen Klopp’s ‘Mentality Monsters’ once again showed some serious mettle.
Liverpool are now second in the Premier League, with Everton top on goal difference. The Reds’ only league defeat so far was the 7-2 hammering they suffered at Aston Villa before the recent international break.
Last week, Liverpool started their Champions League journey with an impressive 1-0 win away to Dutch giants Ajax.
FC Midtjylland Form
Like Liverpool, FC Midtjylland are second in their domestic league, only behind on goal difference. They lost their opening league game, 2-0 at SønderjyskE, but then went seven games unbeaten in all competitions up to last week. They lost 4-0 at home to Serie A side Atalanta in their first Champions League group game last week.
FC Midtjylland returned to winning ways with an impressive 3-2 victory at Brøndby on Saturday.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are without Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while Naby Keïta still remains a doubt.
Keïta will take a fitness test this week as well as Thiago Alcântara, Joël Matip and Kostas Tsimikas.
Thankfully, Alisson Becker returned to the starting lineup for the win over Sheffield United. He should start in goals again on Tuesday night.
Jürgen Klopp will probably aim to continue nurturing the new central-defensive partnership of Fabinho and Joe Gomez, giving them as much time playing together as possible.
In midfield, I think it will be a trio of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Naby Keïta.
Klopp may well rotate the front three so Diogo Jota could start again after his match-winning goal on Saturday. He may replace Sadio Mané on the left, giving Liverpool’s number 10 a rest. Roberto Firmino could also be on the bench with Takumi Minamino starting in his place.
FC Midtjylland Team News
Oliver Olsen and Kristian Riis are both out injured for FC Midtjylland.
Head coach Brian Priske has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation for most of this season and will most likely to stick to this familiar shape for the visit to Anfield.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Keïta; Salah, Minamino, Jota
FC Midtjylland XI (4-2-3-1) – Hansen; Andersson, Sviatchenko, Scholz, Paulinho; Onyeka, Cajuste; Dreyer, Sisto, Mabil; KabaWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool and FC Midtjylland have never met before in any competitive fixture.PREDICTION
LIVERPOOL 4 – 0 FC MIDTJYLLAND
Liverpool are the clear favourites for this game and, even with a rotated starting lineup, The Reds should be able to make the gulf in class fairly evident over 90 minutes. Jürgen Klopp’s Reds to win by a fairly convincing margin.
Goals from Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota saw Liverpool fight back from 1-0 down to beat Sheffield United 2-1 at Anfield.
Far from their best, the Reds — who were on the receiving end of more farcical VAR decisions — eked out a win and moved level with Everton at the top of the table.
With Alisson returning from injury, the Champions lined up in a 4231 shape with the regular front three plus Jota.
The Reds showed their intent early almost had a goal in the first minute. Andrew Robertson’s arching pass into the left hand channel saw Sadio Mané round the onrushing Aaron Ramsdale and square for Mohamed Salah. The intervention of Chris Basham stopped the Egyptian tapping into an empty net and the Blades escaped.
The hosts came close again moments later when Trent Alexander Arnold’s quickly taken free kick caught Ramsdale unawares and the number one had to scramble to tip it over the bar.
After weathering the initial storm, Sheffield United scored after their first meaningful attack although with a huge helping hand from the VAR official. Fabinho was adjudged to have fouled Oliver McBurnie inside the box and a penalty was awarded. Upon review, though, it was clear the foul — even when the Brazilian appeared to win the ball — was outside the box, but Mike Dean nevertheless pointed to the spot. Sander Berge stepped up and comfortably sent Alisson the wrong way to open the scoring.
Rattled by the concession, Liverpool were laboured for most of the rest of the half and were fortunate to not be two behind when John Lundsram’s volley was well parried by Alisson.
The hosts — whose 4231 shape clearly took some adapting to — continued to probe and were rewarded for their attitude, which didn’t always match their output, when Jordan Henderson’s cross was directed at goal by Mané and Roberto Firmino tapped the rebound into an empty net.
The Blades the score at 1-1 into half time and the Reds, despite the injustice of their conceded penalty, can’t be too unhappy with the score after a disjointed half.
Liverpool started the second half with a gumption and almost took the lead when Salah’s arching left footed shot flew inches wide of the top corner.
The visitors made the game scrappy and almost retook the lead when Oliver Burke spun Fabinho tight to the touchline but shot was blocked by Gomez. This moment spurred a response and Salah had the ball in the net — beautifully controlling an Alexander Arnold pass and sweeping home in the same fluid movement — only for it, correctly for once, to chalked off for offside.
The Reds didn’t have to wait long for their second goal, however, as Diogo Jota, who improved as the half went on, nodded in Mané’s cross with aplomb. It was a fitting reward for a much improved second half.
An entertaining game, the affair was end to end and Salah almost made it three when his deft footwork saw him skip free in the box and dink a clipped shot off the post.
Liverpool continued to push for a third and the visitors for a leveler, but the Reds — who brought on James Milner to shore things up — held on for an important three points.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum; Mane, Jota, Firmino; Salah.
Replacements: Milner for Jota, Minamino for Firmino.
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Mike Dean
Date & Time – Saturday, October 24th @ 20:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 2/9, Draw 11/2, Sheffield United 11/1
Liverpool have a tough season ahead of them with so many injuries to contend with. The obvious one is Virgil van Dijk who is out for the whole campaign, but the injury list also seems to be getting longer by the day. Squad depth has never been more important for Jürgen Klopp’s Redmen.
The Reds now have three consecutive home games so that should help reduce fatigue among the squad, hopefully reducing the potential for further injuries in the coming weeks.FORM
Liverpool are third in the Premier League with 10 points from their opening five games. Last weekend, they were very unlucky not to take all three points from their 2-2 draw at Everton.
On Wednesday, The Reds flexed their muscles in the Champions League for the first time this season, winning 1-0 at Ajax. Perhaps the most pleasing aspects from the game in Amsterdam were the clean sheet for a Fabinho-led defence and the evident strength-in-depth when Jurgen Klopp was able to make a triple substitution after an hour, replacing the front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané with Xherdan Shaqiri, Takumi Minamino and Diogo Jota.
With three home games in a row now, The Reds have a chance to gather some momentum and get some more wins under their belt.
Sheffield United Form
Sheffield United’s last league win, or win in any competitive fixture, was in July when they beat Chelsea 3-0 at Bramall Lane. Since then, The Blades have lost seven of their eight Premier League fixtures.
Last weekend, they picked up their first point of the season in a less-than-impressive 1-1 draw at home to bottom-of-the-table Fulham.
Chris Wilder’s side has one point from a possible 15 so far. They have managed to score just two goals in five league games, conceding seven. They’re currently 19th in the table.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are without Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Saturday’s game.
Thiago Alcântara, Joël Matip, Kostas Tsimikas and Naby Keïta will all face fitness tests before the weekend.
Joe Gomez and Fabinho formed a pretty solid partnership for Liverpool’s win at Ajax on Wednesday night. Expect to see more of the same against Sheffield United as Klopp is unlikely to risk Matip too soon with defensive cover so short at the moment.
I think Thiago will return in midfield with Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum ahead of him.
Roberto Firmino has looked jaded at times already this season. He may need a short break but I don’t know if he will be given that rest on Saturday.
Sheffield United Team News
John Fleck, Lys Mousset, Jack O’Connell and Max Lowe are all unavailable for Sheffield United this weekend.
Chris Wilder has stuck with his 3-5-2 formation, dropping back to a 5-3-2, or even a 5-4-1, when out of possession. However, it’s not served them well at all so far this season.
New-boy Aaron Ramsdale will start in goals for Sheffield United with Dean Henderson having returned to his parent club, Manchester United, at the end of last season.
It’s likely that David McGoldrick and Oliver McBurnie will lead the line for The Blades.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Adrián; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Fabinho, Robertson; Thiago, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2) – Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Lundstram, Stevens; McBurnie, McGoldrickWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool beat Sheffield United 2-0 at Anfield last season with goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané.
The Reds also won at Bramall Lane in 2019, thanks to a Gini Wijnaldum strike which led to a Dean Henderson howler.PREDICTION
LIVERPOOL 3 – 1 SHEFFIELD UNITED
Sheffield United are struggling this season so Liverpool should take all three points from Wilder’s team again. With or without Van Dijk and co, The Reds have enough talent in the squad to beat The Blades, especially with Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah in the form they have been in so far.
An own goal from Nicolas Tagliafico saw Liverpool open their Champions League Group D campaign with a 1-0 victory away to Ajax.
Far from their best, the Reds — who played a makeshift centre half pairing of Joe Gomez and Fabinho — battled their way to a win in a professional rather than purring showing.
It was clear from the opening that the hosts — so renowned for their offensive style of football — would endeavour to attack the English Champions and they marginally had the better of the opening half an hour with Adrian making saves from a corner — which was comfortable for the Spaniard — and another, with his foot, when David Neres bore down on goal.
Liverpool, however, looked dangerous on the break with Andrew Robertson an effective out ball down the left-hand side. And it was down this flank that the visitors — thanks to a huge stroke of fortune — opened the scoring.
Sadio Mane, after twisting his way into the box with a beautiful body feint, totally miscued what appeared to be a cross and Tagliafico, the Argentinian international left-back, seemed so dumbfounded by the sequence of events that he could not readjust his body and ball deflected off him and past Andre Onana and into the net.
The Reds, with James Milner a calming influence in midfield, and Gomez and Fabinho sturdy at the back, held their lead into the interval.
Ajax started the second half with intent and only the post denied them an equalizer. Dusan Tadic, the Dutch sides creative hub, laid a ball off to Davy Klaassen and the former Everton midfielder smacked an outside of the right boot shot off the post. Adrian appeared to get the faintest of touches on the ball as it cannoned off the woodwork.
The almost concession of a goal elicited a response from Liverpool and they came close to a second goal when Roberto Firmino — who earlier ought to have won a penalty when he nutmegged Perr Schuurs in the box before being dragged down — miscued a header from a corner when he should have scored. It did appear that the Brazilian’s path to the header was impeded by an Ajax player, however, and he could not make the requisite contact with the ball.
That was to be the number 9’s last major action, when he — and Mohamed Salah and Mane — were called ashore in a triple substitution with Takumi Minamino, Diogo Jota and Xherdan Shaqiri all entered battle in their place.
So many changes, with Ajax also making five of their own, meant the game lost much of its rhythm and Liverpool, with Jordan Henderson — who replaced Curtis Jones at half time — bringing leadership and calm to the equation saw the game out relatively comfortably.
In fact, with Jota — in particular — looking lively, they could have won by a bigger margin, with the Portuguese forward laying on chances for both Georginio Wijnaldum and Minamino late on which Onana saved.
Youngster Rhys Williams — who played Conference football last season — was given a late European debut as the English team reverted to a back five in the closing minutes.
It was far from pretty, but all away wins in Europe are valuable and the Reds will be extremely happy with the win and the three points.
Liverpool team: Adrian; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, Fabinho, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Henderson for Jones, Williams for Milner, Jota for Mane, Shaqiri for Salah, Minamino for Firmino
Venue – Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam
Referee – Felix Brych (GER)
Date & Time – Wednesday, October 21st 2020 @ 20:00
Current Odds – Ajax 7/2, Draw 3/1, Liverpool 8/11
Liverpool arrive in the Netherlands without their own Dutch colossus, Virgil van Dijk. The Reds’ number 4 is out for the rest of this campaign so ‘life without Virgil’ begins now, as far as the 2020/21 season is concerned. And what a place to start…
Amsterdam would have been the ideal away day for many Kopites this week with a potentially cracking game of football included. Let’s hope Jurgen Klopp’s Mentality Monsters live up to their reputation. It’s going to be a tough slog of a season but nothing is impossible with these Reds.FORM
Ajax have lost once in their last eight competitive fixtures. That was 1-0 defeat at Groningen in the Eredivisie earlier this month.
On Sunday, they beat Heerenveen 5-1 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA thanks to goals from Dušan Tadic (x2), Mohammed Kudus, Davy Klaassen and Antony Santos.
Currently, Ajax sit second in the Eredivisie, one point behind PSV Eindhoven.
Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals two seasons ago, losing to Spurs to a very late Lucas Moura strike. Liverpool would beat Spurs 2-0 in the final in Madrid.
Last season, they were eliminated in the group stages, finishing behind Valencia and Chelsea.
Liverpool played very well on Saturday, dominating the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Only for a disastrous performance from the officials, Michael Oliver and David Coote (VAR), The Reds would have taken all three points from the game. As it happened, Everton were gifted the 2-2 draw thanks to several calamitous refereeing decisions.
That draw leaves Liverpool third in the Premier League, three points adrift of Everton who are top.
Liverpool were knocked out of the Champions League in the last-sixteen stage last season by Atlético Madrid. The Reds lifted European Cup number six the previous season.TEAM NEWS
Ajax Team News
Ajax boss, Erik ten Hag, favours a 4-3-3 formation but seemed to experiment with a 4-2-3-1 shape in Sunday’s win over Heerenveen. This may have been in preparation for their clash with Liverpool on Wednesday night.
I fully expect the Dutch side to start with the 4-3-3 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA and revert to 4-2-3-1 if the game is going their way in the second half.
Currently, Ajax have no players missing through injury or suspension.
Liverpool Team News
Virgil van Dijk is the one name we never wanted to be on our long-term injury list. Well, 2020 just served us a plate of lemons. Van Dijk’s ACL injury will likely keep him out for the rest of this season at least.
Liverpool are also still without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alisson.
Thiago Alcântara and Naby Keïta will both have fitness tests this week ahead of the Ajax game.
With Van Dijk out, I believe Jürgen Klopp will play Fabinho in defence quite a lot now. If Joël Matip can stay fit, he should be Fabinho’s partner at the heart of the defence for the coming games.
Thiago will hopefully be recovered fully from the Richarlison challenge that resulted in a straight red card on Saturday. Klopp could trial a midfield trio of Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum against Ajax.
The Reds should be at full strength in attack.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Ajax XI (4-3-3) – Onana; Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Tagliafico; Álvarez, Klaassen, Promes; Neres, Labyad, Tadic
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Adrián; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Thiago, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, ManéWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool and Ajax have only ever met twice in competitive fixtures. That’s remarkable considering the pedigree of both clubs on the European stage.
Liverpool didn’t win either of those games against the Dutch giants. Bill Shankly’s Reds lost 5-1 away to Ajax in December 1966 and could only draw 2-2 at Anfield in the second leg a week later. It was the season that Celtic would go on to win their only European Cup title.PREDICTION
AJAX 2 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool and Ajax could well play out a fantastic game of football on Wednesday night. With Van Dijk gone, Klopp’s men could certainly be shaky at the back so I expect a score draw in Holland. How Liverpool react without Van Dijk will be very interesting indeed.
Liverpool were frustrated at Goodison Park, as a late VAR decision ruled out Jordan Henderson’s winner. Sadio Mané and Mo Salah had previously given Liverpool the lead before equalisers from Michael Keane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the Blues a point. But what were the key stats from the match?The Thiago effect
Having played just 45 Premier League minutes for Liverpool before tonight, Thiago could be forgiven for being rusty. However, rusty is the opposite of how he looked, as he controlled the midfield, oozing class along the way. On first watch, he seemed to be gliding through the midfield, completely dominating proceedings. And the numbers absolutely back that impression up.
Thiago completed made 76 passes at 92% accuracy, compared to Everton’s midfield trio who made 83 passes between them, with Gomes and Doucoure both having a passing percentage of less than 80%. He also completed four dribbles out of four, whereas Everton’s midfield collectively completed one of their five attempted dribbles.
Thiago also created two chances worth 0.14 xA, exactly the same as Everton’s midfield combined. Off the ball, Thiago was the only person to make any interceptions (two) and won seven of his nine ground duels, one less than the total number of Gomes (three of 12), Allan (four of 13) and Doucoure (one of five). A real barnstorming performance from Thiago.Defensive issues continue
Liverpool have now conceded 13 goals in five games, and are conceding on average 1.36 xA per 90, which is ironically the exact amount they shipped in this game.
It’s a small sample size, but an alarming one, and becomes less small when you stretch back over the last few games of last season too. Everton created two big chances, scored two goals and caused Liverpool a lot of problems, with Richarlison hitting the post in the second half, and Calvert-Lewin missing the ball completely for the best chance of the match.
With Van Dijk and Alisson both injured and no sign of when both will return, this is a problem that could get worse before it gets better, which is why it’s lucky that…Salah and Mané firing on all cylinders
Liverpool’s two wingers have often been compared and contrasted over the last two years or so, but the reality is that both are hugely important and both are exceptional players.
Both players scored in this game and both players created a big chance.
Mané fired in inside two minutes, created a lovely cross that Henderson should have scored from and was 4/4 on dribbles, but did miss two big chances to win the game, while Salah rifled in a delicious goal to give the Reds the lead and set Sadio away for a huge chance late on, but looked a little off the pace at times.
Overall, with Roberto Firmino a little out of sorts, Liverpool’s top two forwards contributing ten goals between them in nine league games is vital for the Reds.
VAR controversy abounded as Liverpool were robbed of a late 3-2 victory over Everton at Goodison Park.
With the game squared at 2-2 going into injury time, a perfectly good Jordan Henderson goal — supposedly because Sadio Mané was offside, an assertion that had no evidence in tv pictures — was disallowed and Everton hung on for a scantly deserved point.
The Reds, whose performance was — in the large part — was excellent recovered well from their debacle at Villa Park and lead 2-1 — thanks to goals from Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah — with ten minutes to go.
However, scoring their second goal from a header — the first came from Michael Keane from a set-piece — via Dominic Calvert Lewin the Blues equalized. The goal will surely stick in the craw of the Reds because it came through a header and Virgil van Dijk — who was injured by a disgusting Jordan Pickford challenge that ought to have merited a red card — is world-class in defending these scenarios.
Liverpool, who would have been keen to make amends after their record defeat to Aston Villa, started the game in superb shape and they made their only dominance count after only three minutes.
A superb pass from Salah found its way to Andrew Robertson on the left-flank and the Scotland captains pinpoint cross was hammered into the top corner by Mané.
The Reds — whose midfield trio of Thiago, Fabinho, and Henderson were well in the ascendancy and continued to push forward and only bad finishing, Mané screwing another Robertson cross wide, and horrendous officiating kept Everton to a one-goal deficit.
From a second phase set-piece, van Dijk looked to meet a Trent Alexander Arnold set-piece but was felled by Pickford in the box. The English keeper recklessly flew in and went through the Dutchman in a challenge that was every inch a red card. Inexplicably, Pickford escaped punishment but Liverpool weren’t so lucky and their talismanic centre half went off injured.
It was a cruel twist of faith, then, that the hosts equalised from a set-piece — Keane nodding in James’ corner — that van Dijk — given how imperious he is in the air — likely would have dealt with with the minimum of fuss.
The Reds took a while to recover from the concession of their goal, but rarely looked threatened with Everton confined to hitting speculative punts to Calvert Lewin which Joel Matip and Joe Gomez — van Dijk’s replacement — easily dealt with.
The half time whistle sounded with Everton the happier side to have a break in play.
The hosts did start the second period better, with Richarlison hitting the outside of the post with a header and Calvert Lewin — a mere spectator for most of the game — failing to make contact from an inviting Lucas Digne cross.
The Reds, though, soon settled into their stride with Thiago running the show from the centre of the park.
Salah and Fabinho both went close with shots from distance and Matip was denied by a brilliant Pickford save, which — given he should have been sent off — was a sickening moment for the Reds.
The pressure did tell in the 72nd minute when Salah rifled a brilliantly hit volley past Pickford and into the bottom corner to give the visitors a richly deserved lead.
Everton, though, levelled once again when Calvert Lewin — again in the left channel where van Dijk would have been — rose above Robertson to nod Digne’s cross into the bottom corner and away from the despairing Adrian.
The game was becoming feisty and there was some nasty tackles, not least from Richarlison — who was correctly sent off after lunging at Thiago off the ball — after an idiotic rush of the blood to the head. Had there been justice, it would have been Everton’s second red.
There was a sense of injustice to the draw and Liverpool poured forward in search of a winner and they thought they had it when Thiago’s superb ball found Mané and the Senegalese squared a ball with his left foot than Henderson swept past Pickford.
Inexplicably, for the second time, Everton got the VAR call and Liverpool were deemed offside and the Blues held on for a draw.
It was a massive miscarriage of justice, but the Reds can be happy with a mostly excellent performance.
Liverpool team: Adrian; Alexander Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Replacements: Jota for Firmino, Gomez for van Dijk, Wijnaldum for Fabinho.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Venue – Goodison Park, Liverpool
Referee – Michael Oliver
Date & Time – Saturday, Oct0ber 17th @ 12:30
Current Odds – Everton 11/4, Draw 16/5, Liverpool 4/5
This Saturday, it will be 10 years to the day since Everton managed a win against Liverpool in any competition. That was a very different world, however. A world where David Moyes was a god-like figure at Goodison Park and Roy Hodgson was already on borrowed time across Stanley Park. In the 22 encounters since, The Toffees have lost exactly half of those games. Yet, they’ve always made it difficult for Liverpool at Goodison in recent years. With the form they’re currently enjoying under Carlo Ancelotti, Saturday’s game is going to be one hell of a battle.FORM
Everton are top of the Premier League. Four games in and Carlo Ancelotti’s side has been in absolutely outstanding form, winning all their games so far, including three Carabao Cup fixtures against Salford City, Fleetwood Town and West Ham United.
Everton’s league wins have come at Spurs and Crystal Palace while they’ve beaten West Bromwich Albion and Brighton at home. There has been no shortage of goals for The Toffees, averaging three per game in the league so far. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is in the form of his life, already bagging six goals while new signing James Rodríguez has scored three and laid on two assists as well.
Liverpool will be keen to move on from the 7-2 hammering they suffered at Villa Park last time out. The Reds’ defence was cut open at will by Dean Smith’s side and Aston Villa could have scored at least three more on the night.
That was Liverpool’s first league defeat of the season and, contrary to what thousands of knee-jerk supporters would have you believe, it’s not panic stations just yet for Jürgen Klopp’s team.
Liverpool beat Arsenal and Leeds at Anfield this season while winning comfortably away to Chelsea. They are currently fifth in the league, three points adrift of Everton.TEAM NEWS
Everton Team News
Everton’s injury-list at the moment consists of Cenk Tosun, Jonjoe Kenny, Mason Holgate and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
Seamus Coleman, Yerry Mina and Allan will all face late fitness tests later in the week.
Carlo Ancelotti has been using an attacking 4-3-3 system for Everton this season and it has worked wonders so far. Expect more of the same on Saturday.
Fabinho will be tasked with snuffing out James Rodríguez as the Colombian playmaker is Everton’s creative hub at the moment.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool will be without Alisson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kostas Tsimikas and Naby Keïta.
Thankfully, it seems that Thiago, Sadio Mané and Joël Matip may all be available for selection after missing the last couple of weeks.
Adrian is likely to continue in goal for The Reds. Joe Gomez could be taken out of the starting eleven after having an especially difficult game at Aston Villa. Klopp could opt for Matip to partner Virgil van Dijk in central defence this weekend.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson should return to the first eleven with Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum also starting. Thiago is likely to be on the bench.
Mané will probably come straight back into the team as well, replacing Diogo Jota on the left of the front three.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Everton XI (4-3-3) – Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne; Allan, Doucouré, Gomes; Rodríguez, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Adrián; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, ManéWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool drew 0-0 at Everton back in June in the first game back after last season’s COVID-enforced break.
The sides met twice at Anfield in 2019/20, with Liverpool winning both games. Curtis Jones scored the only goal in the FA Cup meeting while The Reds ran riot, winning 5-2, in the Premier League clash. Divock Origi (x2), Xherdan Shaqiri, Sadio Mané and Gini Wijnaldum were on the scoresheet that day for Liverpool. Micheal Keane and Richarlison got Everton’s goals that day.PREDICTION
EVERTON 2 – 2 LIVERPOOL
It’s hard to be confident after Liverpool’s tough defeat at Aston Villa. Add to that the fantastic form Everton are in at the moment as well as Liverpool’s struggles at Goodison Park in recent years and you’d have to be a brave man to back a Liverpool win. I think The Reds will be much better than they were at Villa Park – how can they not be? – and I think a score-draw is likely on Saturday.
Liverpool suffered their first loss of their Premier League title defence as they were torn apart by Aston Villa in a 7-2 defeat at Villa.
Two goals from Mohamed Salah were the Reds’ only riposte to an avalanche of goals — including a hattrick from Ollie Watkins — from the home side who ruthlessly exploited the visitors poorly orchestrated high-line time and time again.
Jurgen Klopp confirmed before the game that Alisson Becker’s shoulder injury would keep him out for six weeks and the Brazilian’s understudy, Adrian, was selected to start the game.
From the offset, the Spaniard spread a nervousness throughout the defence and he made a mistake early on which saw Villa take the lead. A poor pass to Joe Gomez inside his own box fell to the feet of Jack Grealish and the England international found Watkins who finished an easy chance to open the scoring.
With a lack of pressing in midfield and the defensive line suicidally high, Liverpool looked vulnerable every time the hosts attacked. Watkins, latching onto a long pass and cutting in from the left flank, doubled the Villains lead as he smashed a shot into the top right corner past Adrian.
Perhaps the only positive the Reds can take was that, at times, they looked threatening going forward. After good work from Diogo Jota, Salah — the only player who could come away with any semblance of pride in his own performance — accurately drilled a left-footed shot past Emiliano Martinez to open the Champions’ account.
The Egyptian ought to have had a penalty, too, with Martin Atkinson inexplicably missing a clear foul in the box, but another goal would have been scantly deserved for the visitors.
The goal didn’t spook Villa or inspire the visitors and Dean Smith’s men had two more goals before the interval. The first, from John McGinn — in a fortuitous manner that would become a recurring theme for the hosts — took a huge deflection and flew past an unsighted and wrong-footed Adrian.
Then, after springing Liverpool’s high-line from a set-piece, Watkins completed his hattrick by tapping into an empty net from a well-worked set-piece routine.
The half-time scoreline was a scarcely believable 4-1 to Aston Villa.
The second half began in a similar fashion for the beleaguered Reds and Ross Barkley — a recent arrival on loan from Chelsea — made it 5-1 with another long-range, deflected shot. Liverpool’s showing was wretched enough and Villa’s performance was sufficiently sharp, but when you’re on the receiving end of massive misfortune — not once, not twice, but thrice — you know it won’t be your day.
Salah added another consolation goal when — after receiving a through ball from Roberto Firmino, the Brazilians sole positive contribution in an awful individual showing — he finished into the bottom right corner with aplomb from just outside the box.
Once again, Villa — who poured forward at every opportunity, smelling blood and sensing Liverpool’s glaring weaknesses — reacted well to the concession of a goal and they added two more before the final whistle.
Grealish scored the first of his brace when a speculative hit from the outside the box was totally redirected by a deflection off Fabinho and cruelly trickled over the line and past Adrian for the host’s sixth goal.
The traveling Reds — who looked lethargic and shellshocked — were fortunate not to concede more with Adrian saving a one versus one from Grealish after the midfielder was sent through on goal — once again exploiting a lax defensive line — by a through ball. Watkins, coming close to his fourth goal, also hit the bar when he ought to have scored from a cross that found him unmarked in the box.
The final nail in the coffin arrived with 15 minutes remaining. Grealish, the source through which all Villa’s moves flowed, trapped a long ball over the top and ran through on goal before clipping over Adrian to take the score to 6-1.
Liverpool team: Adrian; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Jota.
Replacements: Minamino for Keita, Milner for Firmino, Jones for Gomez
Venue – Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Sunday, Oct0ber 4th @ 19:15
Current Odds – Aston Villa 9/1, Draw 9/2, Liverpool 3/10
Most Liverpool fans are in agreement about The Reds’ trip to Villa Park last season. That comeback win… that was when we really, really, really began to believe, wasn’t it? Two late goals for the come-from-behind victory really had the stamp of ‘champions’ about it. It turned out to be prophetic.FORM
Aston Villa Form
Dean Smith’s Aston Villa have started the season very positively as they look to avoid another relegation battle this season. Villa won their opening four games of the campaign. Two of those were Premier League fixtures and they knocked Burton Albion and Bristol City out of the Carabao Cup as well.
On Thursday night, Villa’s Carabao Cup journey did come to an end, however. They lost 1-0 at home to Stoke City. Villa had reached the final of the same competition last season only to lose 2-1 to Manchester City at Wembley. Maybe their earlier EFL Cup exit will lead to a stronger showing in the league for Smith’s team.
Aston Villa are yet to concede a Premier League goal after beating Sheffield United 1-0 and winning 3-0 away to Fulham. In fact, they’ve only let in two goals in their five competitive fixtures so far.
Liverpool also went out of the EFL Cup during the week, losing on penalties after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at Anfield.
The Reds have impressed so far in their bid to retain the Premier League title. Jürgen Klopp’s men have won their opening three games – 4-3 at home to Leeds, 2-0 at Chelsea and 3-1 against Arsenal at Anfield.
Liverpool join Leicester City and Everton as the only sides with a one-hundred per cent record at this early stage. However, if Aston Villa win on Sunday, they will also have won their opening three league games.TEAM NEWS
Aston Villa Team News
Tom Heaton, Björn Engels and Wesley are all out for Aston Villa while Kortney Hause will undergo a late fitness test to see if he is okay to face Liverpool.
Smith is likely to stick with the 4-3-3 shape that has served the hosts so well so far. Villa will certainly drop back to a 4-5-1 formation when out of possession but Trézéguet, Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins will look to cause The Reds problems going forward.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool will be without Kostas Tsimikas, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago Alcântara and Joël Matip.
Thiago and Matip are expected to return to action after the upcoming international break. Tsimikas and Oxlade-Chamberlain may both be out for a little bit longer.
Jordan Henderson is not fully fit yet but he could be back to play some part at Villa Park on Sunday evening.
Joe Gomez returned to action in the Carabao Cup so he should start alongside Virgil van Dijk in defence.
The midfield trio is likely to be Fabinho at the base with Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keïta ahead of him.
* Update – following the news of Sadio Mané’s COVID-19 diagnosis, I believe Diogo Jota will start in his place on the left of the front three.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3) – Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Hourihane; Trézéguet, Watkins, Grealish
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, JotaWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Anfield in July thanks to second-half goals from Sadio Mané and Curtis Jones.
Last season’s clash at Villa Park saw Klopp’s side come from a goal down to win it late. Andy Robertson and Mané provided the goals for the great escape.PREDICTION
ASTON VILLA 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Sunday evening’s game is likely to be Liverpool’s toughest game of the season so far. Yes, they’ve played Arsenal and Chelsea already but both of those league victories were comfortable for The Reds. Dean Smith’s Villa team was a tough proposition last season and they’re a better unit now. I think Liverpool will do enough to take all three points, however.
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Kevin Friend
Date & Time – Thursday, December 1st @ 19:45
Current Odds – Liverpool 1/1, Draw 14/5, Arsenal 12/5
Time for more Carabao Cup action on Thursday night. Arsenal, again, are the visitors. Let’s hope for something similar to last season’s 5-5 encounter! Expect stars like Curtis Jones and Takumi Minamino to shine again for The Reds.FORM
Liverpool made it three league wins from three by beating Arsenal this week. They disposed of Lincoln City with a 7-2 win away to the League One side last Thursday night.
Jürgen Klopp’s Reds have certainly hit the ground running this season and the youth and fringe players who will feature in the Carabao Cup will be hugely motivated to progress further. This would guarantee these players more first-team game-time as the season goes on.
Monday night’s defeat was Arsenal’s first since a 1-0 loss at Aston Villa close to the end of last season. The Gunners have six points from 9 in the league and won convincingly at Leicester City last week in the previous round of this competition.
It does look like Mikel Arteta is the right man for the job at Arsenal and winning the FA Cup against Chelsea in August will have done wonders for the club.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Joël Matip, Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all out for Liverpool.
The back four and Alisson will all be rested for this game. That means Adrián will start in goals for Klopp’s side. Kostas Tsimikas and Neco Williams should be the full-backs and I think Rhys Williams will partner Sepp van den Berg at the heart of the defence.
Marko Grujic could start in midfield like he did last week at Lincoln City. Curtis Jones will get another runout and James Milner might be thrown in to add a wealth of experience.
Klopp’s front three may be Xherdan Shaqiri, Takumi Minamino and Diogo Jota.
Arsenal Team News
Arteta is still without Shkodran Mustafi, Gabriel Martinelli, Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares and Emile Smith-Rowe.
Defender Sokratis will face a late fitness test ahead of the game.
Arteta will stick with his preferred 3-4-3 shape. Bukayo Saka will provide a particular threat from the left while Nicolas Pépé will add a huge impetus of pace on the right.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Adrián; Williams N, Williams R, Van den Berg, Tsimikas; Grujic, Milner, Jones; Shaqiri, Minamino, Jota
Arsenal XI (3-4-3) – Leno; Holding, Luiz, Kolašinac; Maitland-Niles, Willock, Elneny, Saka; Pépé, Nketiah, NelsonWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool won 3-1 on Monday night against Arsenal in the Premier League. Sadio Mané, Andy Robertson and Diogo Jota were the scorers after The Gunners had gone in front through an Alexandre Lacazette strike.
The sides played out an incredible 5-5 draw at Anfield in this competition last season. Liverpool went on to win on penalties. Half as much action this Thursday night would keep us very happy indeed.PREDICTION
LIVERPOOL 3 – 4 ARSENAL
I think Arsenal could sneak this one, simply because Arteta could put out a slightly stronger starting lineup. Against Liverpool’s young and inexperienced defence, the visitors are likely to create chances aplenty. I think there will be another feast of goals in store for us but The Gunners might just shade this one.