Champions Liverpool ended their season in strong fashion after a 3-1 victory away to Newcastle United.
Goals from Virgil van Dijk, Divock Origi and substitute Sadio Mane sealed the win, as the visitors battled back from the concession of an early goal to regular nemesis, Dwight Gayle.
After the celebrations that followed the title lifting ceremony and Wednesday’s win over Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp rung the changes and plumped for fresh legs in the team. Into the side came Neco Williams, James Milner, Origi, Takumi Minamino, and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.
So many alterations to the line up was always going to stymie the attacking rhythm and the fluency of build-up build play and the Reds were made pay for their laboured start after only 26 seconds.
Van Dijk brought down Allan Saint-Maximin near the halfway line and, from the result free-kick, Jonjo Shelvey picked out Gayle’s run. The striker, after a lengthy VAR check, was found to have been kept onside by Williams and he finished past Alisson to give the Magpies an early lead.
The game was played at a glacial pace and Liverpool, who owned the ball, probed and pushed but the closest they came to a goal in the opening half-hour was when Minamino — who, along with Naby Keita and Milner, was the brightest player in red — forced Martin Dubravka into an excellent save. The Japanese international’s powerfully hit strike looked destined for the top left corner, but the Slovakian pushed it wide to deny him his first Premier League goal.
The flow of the match was tepid and it took another set-piece scenario for the next goal. After the Reds initial free-kick attempt went awry, they struck from the second phase. Oxlade Chamberlain, in the manner of an old school, chalk on the boots winger, powered to the byline before hooking an accurate cross into the box. Van Dijk, who scored at St James Park last season, met the cross and delicately looped the header over Dubravka for the equaliser and the sides went into the interval tied one apiece.
The second half was played in much of the same manner as the first, but the visitors — with Keita conducting play and Williams improved after a few shaky first half moments — upped the tempo and began to pour forward in search of their second goal.
And it arrived just short of the hour mark. Origi, whose poor touch and decisions were a frustrating feature of the game, made amends when he brilliantly curled a 25 yard shot past Dubravka and into the bottom right corner. The Belgian, just like van Dijk, has now scored in consecutive seasons away to Newcastle. Van Dijk’s accurate long ball found Andy Robertson, whose deft touch squared the ball to the Belgian and he did the rest and in spectacular fashion.
Klopp called for the cavalry in the 64th minute with Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino entered the fray in place of Origi, Minamino and Oxlade Chamberlain and the changes paid dividends with only a minute remaining.
Collecting Firmino’s pass, Mane — who ought to win the PFA player of the year award — darted into the box before unleashing a curled effort into the right corner, beating Dubravka all ends up.
It was a goal worthy of the Champions and a fitting way for arguably the most important player in a historic season — a campaign which yielded 99 points — to bring proceedings to an end.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Williams, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Keita, Milner; Oxlade Chamberlain, Minamino, Origi.
Replacements: Jones for Keita, Alexander Arnold for Williams, Mane for Oxlade Chamberlain, Firmino for Minamino, Salah for Origi.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Andre Marriner
Date & Time – Wednesday, July 22nd @ 20:15
Current Odds – Liverpool 1/1, Draw 11/4, Chelsea 5/2
Wednesday night sees Liverpool’s last home game of the season and the presentation of the Premier League trophy. This fantastic journey we are on with Jürgen Klopp’s Redmen sees more silverware added to the trophy list at Anfield. Who knows where or what next season will bring us? Well done, Jürgen. Well done, Reds. Thank you for everything over the last couple of years. Now let’s try and keep it going.FORM
Liverpool lost 2-1 at Arsenal last week despite dominating possession and having 24 shots on goal throughout the game. Two out-of-character errors – one from Virgil van Dijk, the other from Alisson – gifted The Gunners with their goals as The Reds fell to their third defeat of the season. Two of those defeats came after Liverpool were confirmed as Premier League champions on June 25th.
The Reds will be keen to take at least a point on Wednesday night as they prepare for the official trophy presentation which will follow the game.
Chelsea just booked their place in this season’s FA Cup final, beating Manchester United 3-1 on Sunday. Frank Lampard’s side knows that just one more point from their remaining two games will guarantee them a top-four finish and Champions League football next season. Chelsea will certainly be up for this one.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Joël Matip and Jordan Henderson are out for the last two games while James Milner is also a doubt because of the muscle injury he picked up in the 0-0 draw at Everton in June.
I think Naby Keïta will get the nod to start ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield and Klopp will likely go full-strength in attack with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané.
Chelsea Team News
Chelsea are without young midfielder Billy Gilmour who has a knee injury. N’Golo Kanté is also likely to miss Wednesday night’s game with a hamstring issue.
Lampard seemed to use a 3-4-3 shape against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final win on Sunday night. However, it’s unlikely he’ll go with that formation against Liverpool and their three-pronged frontline at Anfield.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1) – Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, Zouma, Alonso; Barkley, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Giroud, Pulisic
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-0 when the sides met in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge back in March. Goals from Willian and Ross Barkley winning the game for The Pensioners.
Liverpool won 2-1 at Chelsea in the league last September. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino gave The Reds a two-goal lead at half-time before a wonder strike from N’Golo Kanté pulled one back in the second half.
Jürgen Klopp’s men beat Chelsea 2-0 the last time the sides met at Anfield with goals from Sadio Mané and *that* effort from Mohamed Salah.PREDICTION
LIVERPOOL 2 – 2 CHELSEA
Wednesday night’s game is extremely unpredictable given Liverpool’s recent results. There should be goals. That’s all you can really count on in this game. Chelsea will be well up for this game as they look to secure Champions League football for next season. The Reds never lost at home, though, and definitely won’t want to on the night they are to receive the Premier League trophy.
A lax display saw Liverpool fall to their second post title win defeat with a 2-1 reversal at the hands of Arsenal.
A Sadio Mane goal gave the Reds the lead, but two huge errors gift-wrapped two goals for the Gunners for Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson. The visitors dominated the possession, in terms of shots on goal and territory but a half-hearted effort meant they couldn’t capitalize and the hosts held on for a win that means Liverpool cannot break Manchester City’s 100 point record.
Arsenal, as is their style under Mikel Arteta, were keen to play out from the back but they were almost punished for it when Roberto Firmino charged down Emiliano Martinez’s kick and the deflected narrowly wide.
Liverpool, controlling possession and territory, were well in control and they made their dominance count on the scoreboard after twenty minutes with a beautifully crafted goal.
Firmino’s incisiveness pass found Andy Robertson bursting into the box and the Scot drilled a low cross the face of goal which Mané cooly slid past Martinez,
The Reds continued to push but their lack of incision was punished when a rare Virgil van Dijk mistake was capitalised upon by Lacazette to equalise for the Gunners. The Dutchman on the ball and was pressed by Nelson and his lazy pass inside his own box was pounced upon by Lacazette and the Frenchman rounded Alisson to score a hardly deserved leveller. Van Dijk claimed a foul in the build-up, but an uncharacteristic lapse in focus was his downfall.
More lax Liverpool play saw them concede a second on the brink of half time. A half-hearted and lazy Alisson pass was sprung upon by Lacazette and the striker fed Nelson, whose low shot in the shot beat the Brazilian. Two shots on goal from two glaring mistakes from the visitors saw arsenal lead 2-1 at the interval.
The Reds improved upon the restart and had a good opportunity when Mohamed Salah, who was a mere spectator until that point, forced a good save from Martinez after Alexander-Arnold’s driven low cross found the Egyptian in the box.
To try and add some cut and thrust to their possession, Jurgen Klopp elected for a double change on the hour. Naby Keita replaced the disappointing Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino came on for Firmino.
The Japanese international was sharp upon introduction and had a penalty claim when Kieren Tierney had a handful of his jersey in the six-yard box but his appeals were waved away.
The visitors were wholly dominant but couldn’t make it count, spurning good chances. Salah weakly heeded into Martinez’s hands from a Mané cross when he ought to have scored.
That was the Egyptians last act in anger as he was called ashore for Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi replaced Wijnaldum.
Mané, the standout player on the pitch, manufactured a good chance for himself down the left, but he dragged the ball wide.
The Reds kept pushing and probing, but fell to another meek post title defeat.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Keita for Oxlade Chamberlain, Minamino for Firmino, Origi for Wijnaldum, Shaqiri for Salah.
Referee: Paul Tierney
Venue – Emirates Stadium, London
Referee – Paul Tierney
Date & Time – Wednesday, July 15th @ 20:15
Current Odds – Arsenal 11/4, Draw 14/5, Liverpool 17/20
Three games remain. Two wins and a draw will take Liverpool to 100 points, equalling Manchester City’s record from 2017/18. Winning all three fixtures would take The Reds to a staggering 102 points.
After last season’s 97 points, and now this season’s title-winning performance, there’s little else can be said about Jürgen Klopp’s more-than-mighty Redmen. Absolutely staggering.FORM
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal team have won four, drawn one and lost three games in all competitions since June.
The Gunners will certainly have one eye on Saturday evening’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester City when they face Liverpool.
Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Europa League are quickly disappearing after they lost 2-1 to Spurs in the north London derby on Sunday.
Liverpool have won three, drawn two and lost one since returning to Premier League action in June. The 1-1 draw with Burnley was the team’s first dropped points at Anfield in over a year and a half.
The Reds should have beaten Burnley and actually played quite well to create so many opportunities against a side employing such a low block defensive approach. However, a combination of poor finishing and a great performance from Burnley’s Nick Pope meant Klopp’s men had to settle for just a point.TEAM NEWS
Arsenal Team News
Mikel Arteta has several players unavailable for selection for Arsenal.
Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Gabriel Martinelli and Pablo Marí are all out through injury. Mesut Özil faces a late fitness test on a back injury.
Edward Nketiah is suspended for the Liverpool game while Mattéo Guendouzi is listed as being unavailable due to an ‘Internal Disciplinary Matter’ following his on-field antics in the defeat at Brighton.
Arteta normally sets Arsenal up in a 3-4-3 formation which could mean a very, very open game is on the cards at the Emirates Stadium.
Liverpool Team News
Club captain Jordan Henderson and defender Joël Matip are out of Liverpool’s remaining games while James Milner is also a doubt. Milner is still suffering from the hamstring injury he suffered in the 0-0 draw at Everton in June.
The Reds don’t have any players suspended for this game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keïta are likely to come back into the starting lineup at Arsenal.
Liverpool will probably go with a full-strength front trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Arsenal XI (3-4-3) – Martinez; Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac; Bellerín, Xhaka, Ceballos, Tierney; Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, ManéWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool won 3-1 at Anfield when the teams met there in the league last August. Goals from Joël Matip and Mohamed Salah (x2) gave The Reds the victory that day. Lucas Torreira scored a late consolation goal for The Gunners.
The sides drew 5-5 at Anfield in a thrilling League Cup encounter with both sides giving some game-time to youngsters and fringe players on the night. Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties after the 5-5 draw.PREDICTION
ARSENAL 2 – 3 LIVERPOOL
When getting to the end of a season, some games can take on a life of their own. I think Wednesday night’s fixture could be a fantastic game with both sides just going for the cut-throat approach. There should be goals and plenty of excitement and I think Liverpool will take all three points. Yes, I do realise I’ve probably pretty much guaranteed that it will be a dour 0-0 draw now…
Liverpool had their 100% winning record at home in the league taken away from them, after poor finishing and inspired keeper saw them frustratingly draw 1-1 at home to Burnley.
Andy Robertson’s arching header gave the Reds a merited lead before the visitors — who were only in the contest thanks to heroics from keeper, Nick Pope — stole an equaliser through an angled Jay Rodrigues volley. The hosts had two clear penalty shouts denied in a frustrating afternoon.
With the chance to potentially beat Manchester City’s record 100 point total, the hosts started in a quick, bloody-minded fashion. Curtis Jones, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah all spurned opportunities, though, with a mixture of poor decisions — with Jones guilty — bad finishing — of which Mane was a culprit — and Pope’s infallibility denying the Reds an opener.
Continuing to probe and push, Liverpool — who ended the game with 71% and 23 shots — were rewarded for their intent in the 34th minute when Robertson — who looked back to his best after a couple of ropey performances following the confirmation of the league victory — beautifully redirected Fabinho’s dinked pass into the far left corner of the goal at the Anfield Road end.
Further chances came to extend the lead towards the end of the half but Pope — who is tied with Alisson with 14 Premier League clean sheets this season — brilliantly denied Mane, on his left foot, and Salah, on his right foot, with two saves that thwarted shots that were destined for the top left and right corners respectively.
The teams went into the half level, but, given Liverpool’s dominance, there was a sense of the floodgates would eventually open when the hosts would inevitably start to take advantage of their dominance.
It wasn’t to be, however, with Golden Boot chasing Salah spurning more good chances and the Clarets, with what would be classed as a half chance, drawing level with 20 minutes remaining.
A speculative punted free-kick into the Liverpool area saw James Tarkowski win a header — although VAR had to be checked to ascertain whether A: there had been a foul and B: if the visitors were offside — which fell to Rodrigues outside the box. Swivelling, the forward hit a sweetly struck half volley past Alisson and into the bottom left corner.
The Reds tried in vain for a winner — which, on the balance of play, they would have easily deserved — but all their efforts fall by the wayside.
Jurgen Klopp, clearly unhappy with his sides sharpness, made three substitutions in order to provide the attacking thrust so evidently missing. Naby Keita replaced Jones — who, despite some poor choices in front of goal, can be happy with his first-ever Premier League start; Trent Alexander Arnold came on for Neco Williams, who had a solid outing in his more natural right-back role, after playing on the left against Brighton; meanwhile, Georginio Wijnaldum, who has had better outings came ashore for Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.
The Champions had what looked a clear penalty on Robertson cleared away when Charlie Taylor recklessly fouled the Scot in the box, but Liverpool — who have only won five penalties all season — had their claims denied, without VAR even being consulted.
Roberto Firmino, whose Anfield goal drought in the league is now 18 games, came close to giving the Reds back their lead, but the Brazilian hit Salah’s through ball against the base of the post at the Kop end.
Burnley, who flooded the area around Alisson in goal and who arguably could have been reprimanded for fouling the keeper on several occasions, had a great chance when substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson hit the bar after a scramble in the box after a set-piece.
The last chance, though, was for Liverpool and it nutshelled their performance as a whole. Enterprising play down the right saw Alexander Arnold expertly deliver a flat, low cross that found Salah in the box. Instead of taking a touch, however, the Egyptian hit the ball harmlessly into the hands of Pope on his weaker foot and wasted an opportunity that he would usually gobble up to end a frustrating afternoon at Anfield.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Williams, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Jones, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Alexander Arnold for Williams, Keita for Jones, Oxlade Chamberlain for Wijnaldum.
Subs not used: Adrian, Elliott, Lovren, Shaqiri, Minamino, Origi.
Referee: David Coote