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Updated: 23 hours 39 min ago

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Mon, 02/17/2020 - 06:06

Liverpool claimed a 17th consecutive Premier League win and moved 25 points clear at the summit of the table with a 1-0 win away at Norwich City.

Substitute Sadio Mane’s 78th minute sealed the win in what was a poor game, marred by the blustery winds brought on by Storm Dennis.

The Reds began the game with an attacking intent, but the swirling winds of Storm Dennis made enterprising passing moves difficult.

Oxlade Chamberlain tamely tested Tim Krul, as did Naby Keita, but the shots were speculative and weren’t the end result I’d Norwich being prized open.

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The hosts, who had the wind behind their backs, showed a level of performance that belied their lowly position in the table and they had the best opportunity of the first half.

A long ball over the top of the Reds’ high line perfectly found the incisive run of Lukas Rupp. The German looked marginally offside but the linesman’s flag remained down and, when presented the opportunity to shoot, the former Hoffenheim player elected to square a pass to Teemu Pukki. Ever vigilant, though, Alisson read the move and intercepted the pass that would’ve seen the Fin score into an empty net and Liverpool escaped a goal that may well have been chalked off.

The European champions continued to probe — with Roberto Firmino displaying his full skillet with some sumptuous flicks — but the final pass, no doubt influenced by the wind, was lacking and the teams went into the interval at 0-0.

The second period began in much the same manner; Liverpool dominant but their possession sterile and non threatening.

Working their way into the game near the hour mark, the Reds forced Krul into strong saves. First the Dutchman denied Keita’s long range rasping drive. Moments later, he saved a right footed Mohamed Salah shot and, from the rebound, denied Keita once more from close range.

In a move to force the issue, Jurgen Klopp elected for a double change; introducing Fabinho and Mané for Georginio Wijnaldum and Oxlade Chamberlain.

Upping the ante, Liverpool won a spate of corners and ought to have had a penalty when Grant Hanley wrestled Virgil van Dijk to the ground.

To the credit, in their rare spells of possession, Norwich knitted passes together well and an Alexander Tettey strike from distance— although whether the Norwegian meant to shoot was debatable — hit the outside of the post.

The double substitution made by Klopp earlier in the half gave the Reds an extra impetus and it paid dividends with 12 minutes remaining. Jordan Henderson’s flighted and beautifully weighted ball over the top found Mané and the Senegalese smashed a left footed shot past Krul into the bottom left corner to give the table toppers a deserved lead.

The visitors almost doubled their lead when Alexander Arnold’s venomous cross was diverted wide by Firmino.

The Canaries, fighting to the end, manufactured a half chance that saw Pukki shoot at Alisson. Typically, the Brazilian held it comfortably and the Reds held out for another win in what has been a record breaking campaign.

Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita; Oxlade Chamberlain, Firmino, Salah. Substitutions: Mane for Oxlade Chamberlain, Milner for Keita, Fabinho for Wijnaldum. Subs not used: Adrian, Lallana, Lovren, Origi.

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Thu, 02/06/2020 - 18:50

What a night. We’ve had a few of those now, haven’t we? Maybe none like this though.

Liverpool 1-0 Shrewsbury Town in an FA Cup fourth round replay isn’t exactly a headline score when taken out of context, but oh the context involved in this one is quite something.

A Liverpool team where the oldest player was 22, with 19-year-old Curtis Jones the youngest captain in Liverpool’s history. Against a League One side full of grown men, looking to seize the biggest chance of their careers. In front of a packed house.

Let’s go into that one for a minute – a packed house! 54,000 people clambered inside Anfield and whipped up an atmosphere that your average 3pm Saturday kick-off would die for, all in aid of a bunch of lads, of whom only a few will clock up more than 10 league appearances for Liverpool over the course of their careers.

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And in front of that packed house, they marvelled. From the get-go, the gap in technical quality between the sides was apparent, even more so given the crisp nature of the pitch. However, it was how Liverpool stood up to the physical test that impressed.

Keeping the ball for the first 10 minutes whilst the opposition get a feel for the match is one thing, but keeping the Salopians penned in for most of the 90 was a much trickier task, made possible by a huge improvement in the performance levels of Sepp van der Berg. Whenever Shrewsbury went long in an attempt to release pressure and build an attack, the young Dutchman was there to beat their attempts away, in a way that we hadn’t seen so far in his short Liverpool career.

Partnering VDB (yeah, that’s what we’re going for) was his countryman Ki-Jana Hoever, who swept up superbly with a calm assurance whenever he was on the ball. Adam Lewis and Neco Williams put in fine impressions of Robertson and TAA at full-back, Williams somehow not getting himself on the scoresheet at the start of the second-half after a spell-binding move that ended with the Welshman getting in at the back post.

Shrewsbury’s travelling contingent, having been held up by the traffic on their way to L4, were also made to wait for a decent attack by their team, only to find themselves putting the ball in the net on the hour mark, Shaun Walley heading in to spark mass jubilation (and a smoke bomb), all for it to be ruled out for an offside.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the goal, even though it was disallowed, would have shaken the young Liverpool team. Pedro Chirivella would beg to differ, the ‘experienced’ 22-year-old anchoring Liverpool through a tricky period, allowing them to go back through the gears.

Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones continuted to threaten, despite the referee’s seeming unwillingness to dish out yellow cards for the plethora of fouls against the pair. Jones especially stood out, again, looking far beyond his years as he took responsibility for attack after attack.

The hard work of that exciting pair and their young teammates eventually got reward, thanks to a deserved slice of luck, as another daring ball by Nico Williams was too hot for Ro-Shaun Williams to handle, the Manchester United academy product nodding the ball over his ‘keeper and into the net.

And with that, Liverpool had their lead, 15 minutes to hold onto it. You’d imagine that it would have been the Liverpool kids that tired first, yet it was their Shropshire opponents that were pulling up with cramp, manager Sam Ricketts admitting post-match that they struggled to meet the physical test.

Joe Hardy was sent on for his debut, replacing the hardworking Liam Miller. Using everything he had in those 15 minutes, the striker put in a number of gut-busting runs to pressurise the Shrews defence, leaving them unable to build any real momentum in the final stages.

One final individual mention, for Caoimhin Kelleher, who produced his finest action of the match with a terrific claim as Shrewsbury launched a hopeful ball into the area. And with that, the game was done. Wild celebrations in front of the Kop followed, the Liverpool faithful adoring their youngsters just as they do their European Champions.

A special night, a kind of evening is rare for even Anfield. One that won’t be forgotten.

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Mon, 02/03/2020 - 17:45
The Details

Venue – Anfield, Liverpool

Referee – Andrew Madley

Date & Time – Tuesday, February 4th @ 19:45

AI Tees

Current Odds – Liverpool 21/20, Draw 3/1, Shrewsbury Town 21/10

_________________________________________________________________

Liverpool failed to hold onto a two-goal lead at New Meadow in the first game. Now, with the controversy of Jurgen Klopp’s plans for the first-team to take their break, as scheduled, The Reds face into a replay against the League One side with the U23s squad and manager ready to fill in.

Form

Liverpool Form

The last run-out for Liverpool’s U23s in a ‘senior’ fixture ended in a 5-0 defeat for the youngsters at Villa Park in the League Cup clash in December.

While Jurgen Klopp’s men continued on the road to a 19th league title with a 4-0 win over Southampton on Saturday, that squad will not be involved in this FA Cup replay clash on Tuesday night. The first-team squad are on their planned break for a week. Thus, judging ‘form’ for this game is a non-runner.

Shrewsbury Town Form

Since drawing 2-2 with Liverpool, Shrewsbury Town have lost two league games without scoring a goal. They went down 2-0 at Gillingham followed by a 1-0 defeat at Rochdale on Saturday. No doubt, minds were probably on the upcoming trip to Anfield and the very real possibility of progressing to the fifth round of this season’s FA Cup.

Shrewsbury are still 16th in League One but with a 12-point gap between them and the relegation zone, they should be safe from the drop for this season. Looking up the table, they are 13 points off a playoff place so, as it stands, a mid-table/bottom-half finish is likely for Sam Rickett’s side in League One come May.

Team News

Liverpool Team News

We can only base our predictions for this Liverpool lineup off the League Cup lineup at Aston Villa, along with some other players who played a part in the first game against Shrewsbury.

Neco Williams, Yasser Larouci, Pedro Chirivella, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott will be some of the side’s more ‘experienced’ players on Tuesday night, should they be involved.

Caoimhin Kelleher could deputise in place of Adrian because of the planned break for the senior players, even though Adrian was Klopp’s preferred FA Cup goalkeeper for this season.

Shrewsbury Town Team News

Jason Cummings could have played his way into a starting spot at Anfield thanks to his two-goal cameo appearance in the first game. Other than that, I think Sam Ricketts may stick with a familiar starting lineup for Salop.

It’s a 3-5-2 formation Ricketts prefers but this can drop back to be a 5-3-2 shape when out of possession.

Predicted XIs

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Kelleher; Williams, Hoever, Van den Berg, Larouci; Christie-Davies, Chirivella, Jones; Elliot, Longstaff, Hill

Shrewsbury Town XI (3-5-2) – O’Leary; Williams, Ebanks-Landell, Pierre; Love, Laurent, Norburn, Goss, Golbourne; Cummings, Udoh

When they last met

The first game finished 2-2 at New Meadow on January 26th. Curtis Jones gave Liverpool a first-half lead before an unfortunate Donald Love own-goal put The Reds 2-0 up early in the second half. Super-sub Jason Cummings brought Shrewsbury back into the game, however, earning a replay with two goals after coming.

Prediction

LIVERPOOL 2 – 3 SHREWSBURY TOWN

This is likely to be the end of the road for The Reds in this season’s FA Cup. Shrewsbury Town will be buoyed by their comeback in the first game. They also know this is a huge opportunity to make the fifth round of the FA Cup – something they’ve only managed once in the last 29 years (2015/16).

It will be another chance for Neil Critchley’s U23s to learn and grow as players but I don’t think they’ll have enough to get the win over Shrewsbury on this occasion.

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Sun, 02/02/2020 - 17:43

A Mohamed Salah brace and a goal each from Alex Oxlade Chamberlain & Jordan Henderson saw Liverpool beat a very game Southampton 4-0, and open a 22 point lead at the summit of the Premier League.

Going in 0-0 at the interval against Ralph Hasenhüttl’s well drilled and high pressing visitors, an imperious second half showing — furnished with four goals and many more chances — saw the Reds claim a deserved three points.

A subdued opening 20 minutes — with the swirling wind making enterprising football difficult — had its first close call when Mohamed Salah‘s shot was deflected narrowly wide of Alex McCarthy’s goal.

The Saints commitment to pressing made any attempt to play between the lines difficult and the usually accurate long passing of the Reds back four was rendered less effective by the wind.

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The best move Liverpool mustered in the opening 25 minutes saw Georginio Wijnaldum — after being fed by Fabinho — shoot softly into the palms of McCarthy.

Southampton had a shot of their own, too, but Alisson turned Moussa Djenepo’s drive behind for a corner. A flaccid game which was still waiting for ignition.

As is commonplace in the Premier League this season, VAR controversy ensued.

McCarthy denied Virgil van Dijk with a strong save from a corner, but, from the next phase, Shane Long clearly fouled Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian was waiting near the goal line and would have surely nodded in Henderson’s cross if it wasn’t for Long’s foul.

Inexplicably, after consulting VAR, Kevin Friend and co waved away the penalty appeal and the drab contest continued unchanged.

Given the flow of the game — or lack of — it was going to take an individual error, rather than a moment of quality — to open the scoring.

Firmino’s hashed pass sent Danny Ings through on goal, but the Englishman, against his former club, was thwarted by Alisson who, minutes later, also denied Long and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg.

So often the proponents of pressing, the Reds couldn’t live with Southampton’s orchestrated squeeze, even if it wasn’t evidenced on the scoreboard.

The half time whistle sounded with the European champions glad of the respite of the dressing room and Southampton ruing not taking their chances.

If the Reds’ first half was typified by staid possession and sluggishness, then the second began in the polar opposite manner.

Good work by Robertson down the left found Firmino in the left hand channel and the Brazilian fed Oxlade Chamberlain. Running infield and manufacturing a better shooting angle, the former Saint’s driven, low shot arrowed into the bottom left corner to spark relieved celebrations at Anfield.

Firmino’s influence extended to another assist as Liverpool doubled their lead. A long Trent Alexander Arnold clearance found the Brazilian, who was marginally offside. Delaying the pass until the opportune moment, Firmino found the onrushing Henderson and the captain sold a dummy before lashing past McCarthy.

With the weight off their shoulders, Liverpool opened up and added a third. Henderson’s arching ball around the corner filleted the Southampton defence and found the run of Salah. The Egyptian waited for McCarthy to commit himself before deftly lifting the ball over the Englishman for the Reds third goal of the afternoon.

More chances came the home sides way, with Takumi Minamino blazing a good chance over after brilliant work from Salah.

Another piece of Salah magic saw the hosts notch a fourth, with a move started by a strong Fabinho tackle and was laid on by Firmino’s third assist of the afternoon.

The final whistle blew with Liverpool another game closer to claiming their holy grail.

Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Oxlade Chamberlain.

Substitutes: Lallana for Henderson, Minamino for Oxlade Chamberlain, Keita for Wijnaldum.

Subs not used: Adrian, Matip, Origi, Lovren.

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Sat, 02/01/2020 - 05:40
The details

Venue – Anfield, Liverpool

Referee – Kevin Friend

Date & Time – Saturday, February 1st @ 15:00

AI Tees

Current Odds – Liverpool 2/7, Draw 9/2, Southampton 10/1

_____________________________________________________________

19 points clear, on the way to a 19th league title, with all other 19 Premier League teams defeated in the one season. Next up for Jurgen Klopp’s mighty Redmen is the visit of a much-improved Southampton side to Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

Form

Liverpool Form

Liverpool’s 2-0 win at West Ham on Wednesday means The Reds have now taken 70 points from 72 this season. It’s simply unheard of. Take this all in because you are never going to see the likes of this again. Not from Liverpool or from any other club.

Jurgen Klopp’s side has won 23 and drawn one of their 24 league games. Liverpool have not lost a Premier League fixture since they went down 2-1 at Manchester City in their first game of 2019, almost 13 months ago now. They haven’t lost a league game at Anfield since April 2017.

Southampton Form

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints have only lost once in their last 9 in all competitions. This run has seen them rise to 9th in the table.

Former Liverpool man, Danny Ings, is in red-hot form for Southampton this season with 14 goals in 24 league appearances. Ings is sure to receive a warm reception at Anfield on Saturday but let’s just hope Virgil van Dijk and co don’t allow him to get too comfortable.

Southampton have the fifth-best away record in the Premier League this season, winning six, drawing two and losing four on the road. They’ve won their lost four away games in a row – at Aston Villa, Chelsea, Leicester City and Crystal Palace.

Team news

Liverpool Team News

Divock Origi went off after 70 minutes against West Ham but it’s reported to have been just bad cramps the Belgian forward was suffering from. Origi should be fit and available for Saturday.

Sadio Mané is expected to miss the game against his former club while another Southampton old-boy, Nathaniel Clyne, is still a long-term injury absentee.

Jurgen Klopp will wait for further news on James Milner, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri.

In Mane’s absence, Klopp could well opt to give Takumi Minamino a first-ever Premier League start on the left of the front three.

Fabinho will probably start in midfield with Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum ahead of him.

Southampton Team News

Cedric Soares is ruled out for the visitors. Yan Valery, Jannik Vestergaard, Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong are also doubtful and will face fitness tests later in the week.

Ralph Hasenhuttl seems to favour a 4-4-2 shape for his side in recent months and it has seen a great upturn in form and performances for Southampton.

Predicted lineups

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Minamino

Southampton XI (4-4-2) – McCarthy; Danso, Stephens, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Boufal; Redmond, Ings

When they last met

Liverpool won 2-1 at St Mary’s back in August thanks to goals from Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino. Danny Ings scored The Saints’ late reply.

This fixture at Anfield last season finished in a 3-0 win for Jurgen Klopp’s men. A Wesley Hoedt own-goal gave The Reds an early lead before strikes from Joel Matip and Mohamed Salah finished the job in September 2018.

Prediction

LIVERPOOL 2 – 1 SOUTHAMPTON

This is going to be a tough one. Ralph Hasenhuttl has his side playing some excellent stuff in recent weeks and I can see Southampton nicking at least a goal. Yes, probably Danny Ings. However, Liverpool should have enough left in the tank to take all three points and continue on the road to a 19th league title success.

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Fri, 01/31/2020 - 05:38

Liverpool move 19 points clear at the top of the Premier League after a comfortable 2-0 win in their game in hand away to West Ham. Despite some stubborn defending for the first half-an-hour from the Hammers, it ended up being a very simple task for the Reds to take all 3 points.

In goal, Alisson had to make a couple of smart saves. Firstly, from Robert Snodgrass after Gini Wijnaldum had given the ball away in our defensive third. Secondly, to stop Declan Rice’s dangerous long-range header. Another excellent performance from the Brazilian.

In defence, the usual back four lined up together. Trent Alexander-Arnold didn’t have his best game. Going forward he found it difficult to get involved and defensively he made a few poor decisions. Andy Robertson had a couple of nice runs forward and went close to finding the net, while he also deserved an assist after his tantalising cross was missed by both Origi and Salah. In the centre, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk were both imperious once again. What a partnership these two are – the best centre back duo in Europe.

The midfield contained the three men that we have come to expect to see in the Premier League over the last few weeks; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum. After a slightly disappointing performance against Wolves, The Ox put in a brilliant showing in this one. He got himself a goal after a brilliant counter attack, was involved in a lot going forward and also did well defensively. His best game since his most recent return from injury. Both Gini and Henderson had solid games as well.

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Divock Origi replaced the injured Sadio Mane in the front 3, while Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino kept their place from the most recent league match. Origi was pretty horrific against Shrewsbury on the weekend but played better tonight. He went close to scoring, forcing a good stop from Fabianksi and also won the penalty which gave us the chance to break the deadlock. Sadly, he looked to go off with an injury during the second half. Roberto Firmino was on top form. His touch was sublime all evening and he was very unlucky to not score yet another away goal after his shot was brilliantly kept out by Fabianski. Mo Salah was the star of the attack, though, scoring once from the spot and also creating Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal with a stunning outside-of-the-boot pass into the Englishman’s path.

As for Man of the Match, it has to go to Mo Salah. A goal and an assist to cap a very impressive overall individual performance is more than enough to win.

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Tue, 01/28/2020 - 17:35
THE DETAILS

Venue – London Stadium, London

Referee – Jonathan Moss

Date & Time – Wednesday, January 29th @ 19:45

AI Tees

Current Odds – West Ham 15/2, Draw 9/2, Liverpool 1/3

________________________________________________________

On to London Stadium, one of the rare grounds where Liverpool dropped points last season. The club’s 19th league title success is now within touching distance. Yet, there is no time for complacency. Get the three points and move onto the next one.

FORM

West Ham Form

West Ham United are without a win in four games in all competitions. David Moyes’ return doesn’t seem to have done much in terms of revitalising the club’s form.

The Hammers are 17th in the Premier League, ahead of Bournemouth (18th) and Watford (19th) on goal difference only. They also were knocked out of the FA Cup on Saturday, losing 1-0 at home to Championship side West Bromwich Albion.

With one of the tougher remaining fixture schedules between now and May, West Ham could be about to endure a long and painful relegation battle.

Liverpool Form

Jurgen Klopp selected a Liverpool team of fringe players and youth talent for the FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury Town on Sunday. The Reds had to settle for a 2-2 draw in the end, meaning a replay will be played at Anfield at some stage over the next couple of weeks.

In the Premier League, Liverpool overcame their toughest test so far, winning 2-1 at Wolves last Thursday night. It was a fantastic game with Wolves really putting it up to Klopp’s Red machine.

The Reds need 9 more wins to secure the league title – that’s if City win all 14 of their remaining games. It’s important for Klopp’s men to keep the pedal to the floor. No relenting, just yet.

TEAM NEWS

West Ham Team News

It’s certainly not getting any easier for David Moyes at London Stadium. A quick look at The Irons’ injury-list shows exactly what kind of task the team will have in retaining their Premier League status this season.

Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko, Ryan Fredericks, Felipe Anderson and Lukasz Fabianski are all ruled out for the Liverpool game. Robert Snodgrass and Arthur Masuaku could also miss Wednesday night’s game.

Moyes has been lining his team out in a 3-5-2 shape as of late. This will probably be the case against Liverpool too. The three-man backline can become five with the wing-backs – Zabaleta and Cresswell – dropping back when out of possession.

Liverpool’s defence has struggled in the past with Michail Antonio and he is likely to be their main danger-man again this week.

Liverpool Team News

Sadio Mané suffered an injury in the 2-1 win at Wolves last Thursday night. The Senegalese number 10 is expected to miss out on the trip to West Ham and possibly the Southampton game on Saturday too.

Nathaniel Clyne is still out while James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri and Adam Lallana will all undergo late fitness tests to decide if they can make the matchday squad on Wednesday.

Fabinho was given some much-needed game-time in the 2-2 FA Cup draw at Shrewsbury Town on Sunday. The Brazilian looked well off the pace but is likely to start again at London Stadium against West Ham.

With Mané out, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be asked to fill in on the left side of the front three, meaning the midfield is likely to be Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

West Ham XI (3-5-2) – Randolph; Diop, Balbuena, Ogbonna; Zabaleta, Rice, Noble, Fornals, Cresswell; Haller, Antonio

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Oxlade-Chamberlain

WHEN THEY LAST MET

West Ham United is the only Premier League side that Liverpool has not played yet this season. The sides meet again on February 24th at Anfield.

Last season, Liverpool drew 1-1 at West Ham. Sadio Mané gave Liverpool a first-half lead only for Michail Antonio to equalise just a few minutes later.

PREDICTION

WEST HAM UNITED 0 – 2 LIVERPOOL

David Moyes’ Hammers are really struggling at the moment. Anything less than three points for Liverpool on Wednesday night would be hugely disappointing for Jurgen Klopp’s side. Liverpool to win, even without Sadio Mané.

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Fri, 01/24/2020 - 18:28
The Details

Venue – Montgomery Waters Meadow, Shrewsbury

Referee – Andre Marriner

Date & Time – Sunday, January 26th @ 17:00

AI Tees

Current Odds – Shrewsbury 6/1, Draw 4/1, Liverpool 2/5

_________________________________________________________________

Jurgen Klopp’s mighty Reds disposed of Merseyside rivals Everton in the last round. Now, Liverpool’s youngsters have a chance of progressing to the last sixteen of the oldest cup competition in the world. While that may not mean a huge amount to some fans in light of The Reds’ 30-year pursuit of league title number 19, there are others who would give anything for another cup final, another day out at Wembley in the May sunshine.

Form

Shrewsbury Town Form

Aside from the FA Cup, Shrewsbury have struggled to show any real consistency this season. Currently, they’re languishing down in 16th in the League One table. They are without a win in their last five league games. Last season, The Shrews only managed to finish 18th in League One so it seems the club might just be content with maintaining its League One status at the moment.

In the FA Cup, Shrewsbury have beaten Bradford City, Mansfield Town and, most recently, Bristol City. Both the Bradford and Bristol City ties were decided by a replay.

Liverpool Form

Liverpool are 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League table with two games in hand over second-placed Manchester City. The team is also still alive in the defence of its Champions League crown, facing Atletico Madrid later this month in the knockout stages.

Earlier in January, a young Liverpool side knocked Everton out thanks to a fantastic Curtis Jones strike which settled the tie at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp is likely to go with a similar starting eleven against Shrewsbury this Sunday evening.

Team News

Shrewsbury Town Team News

Sam Ricketts seems to favour either a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation for Shrewsbury Town this season. On Sunday, I expect them to go with the five-man midfield in a bid to overrun Liverpool in that area of the pitch. The two wide-midfielders, Love and Golbourne, will also be tasked with some extra defensive duties. This will be to ensure Harvey Elliott and Divock Origi don’t have too much space on the flanks of Liverpool’s attack.

Shrewsbury have really struggled for goals this season, managing just 24 in 25 league games so far. The club’s top scorer, Jason Cummings, has just four league goals to his name.

Liverpool Team News

In the last two weeks, Liverpool have welcomed Fabinho, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren back to full training. James Milner, Naby Keita, Nathaniel Clyne are still missing due to injury while Xherdan Shaqiri is also carrying a slight knock that could keep him out on Sunday.

Nat Phillips has returned to VfB Stuttgart on loan after impressing in the 3rd round victory over Everton.

Adrian should start between the sticks for The Reds with other experienced heads such as Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi also getting the nod.

This means Neco Williams and Yasser Larouci will again be given the opportunity to shine for the first-team as well as Pedro Chirivella, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott.

New signing Takumi Minamino will probably get his second start, in the ‘Firmino’ role as a deep-lying number 9.

Predicted XIs

Shrewsbury Town XI (3-5-2) – Murphy; Williams, Ebanks-Landell, Pierre; Love, Goss, Norburn, Giles, Golbourne; Cummings, Laurent

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Adrian; Williams, Matip, Lovren, Larouci; Lallana, Chirivella, Jones; Elliot, Minamino, Origi

When they last met

The sides have had one previous meeting – a 4-0 win for Liverpool back in the FA Cup 4th round in February 1996. An own-goal along with strikes from Stan Collymore, Robbie Fowler and Jason McAteer finished off the home team on that occasion.

Prediction

SHREWSBURY TOWN 0 – 2 LIVERPOOL

I predict Liverpool will go marching on. Yes, it won’t be a full-strength team by any stretch of the imagination but there’s still enough quality within the expected starting eleven to overcome a struggling League One side. Of course, I could be eating my words come Sunday night but I doubt it!

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Wed, 01/22/2020 - 17:24

Liverpool’s march towards a highly anticipated first Premier League title seemed to take a significant step on Sunday evening when they defeated old rivals Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield. 

The win saw the Reds extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 16 points but it didn’t come as so usually seen at Anfield these days. Jurgen Klopp’s men created the best chances of the game against a depleted United side but the scoreline remained on a knife edge at 1-0 until Mohamed Salah’s stoppage time settler. 

On another day, Salah would have converted an earlier chance and Roberto Firmino’s disallowed goal might not have been ruled out by VAR. Klopp’s side could have been three or four to the good by half time, but United ultimately stayed in the game. 

Whilst such big chances must be remembered, it’s also worth outlining that United’s performance was one of the best from any opposition at Anfield this season. That isn’t to say that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a tactical genius by any stretch of the imagination. But with high intensity, a willingness to match up against the Reds and, of course, several slices of luck, the away side might well have snatched a point if they converted their chances in front of goal. 

Liverpool were far from their best against United when it came to taking chances. The full-time xG registered at 2.11 – 1.22 in favour of the home side, but that’s without two goals marginally ruled out by VAR from Firmino and Wijnaldum. One thing that United did well for the majority of the match was limiting Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson’s creative influence in attack. 


United’s use of a back five offered a different challenge for Liverpool (Image: Wyscout)

Opting to use a back five has been a frequent theme for teams against Liverpool this season. Manchester United’s use of two wing-backs on Sunday was perhaps one of the most successful attempts at using it against the Reds. With such attacking threat all over the pitch, Liverpool are one of the most potent attacking forces in world football which means that the decision to play with five defenders would often appear to be a wise choice. Jose Mourinho had opted for a similar method a week earlier, using Serge Aurier in front of right-back Japhet Tanganga for additional protection. 

Interestingly, though, United’s use of five defenders on the weekend wasn’t an attempt to sit in for 90 minutes. Instead, it saw Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka attempting to stop Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold and Robertson at source.


Brandon Williams’ high press stopped Alexander-Arnold advancing (Image: Wyscout)

Starting in only his eighth league match this season, Brandon Williams was tasked with stopping Alexander-Arnold high up the pitch. Through pressing deep in Liverpool’s half, the United wing-back halted Alexander-Arnold’s advancement with the ball.

Alexander-Arnold has registered 65.97 passes p90 this season but only had 42 versus Manchester United. In addition, his nine league assists this season have seen him build on creativity from last season – only Kevin De Bruyne has more (13). 

Such figures are unrivalled by full-backs across Europe’s top five leagues and opposing team should be trying to stop his output above anyone else on the pitch. What is most impressive is the 21-year-old’s 15.57 progressive passes p90 which is the best in the league. High pressing from Williams, then, illustrates that United were trying to thwart the attacking influence of Alexander-Arnold who averages a league high of 7.05 crosses p90.


Liverpool’s passing network versus Manchester United (Image: Wyscout). 

One noticeable takeaway from Sunday’s game was Liverpool’s passing network. The dark lines indicate a higher volume of passes which shows that United allowed much more play down Liverpool’s left through Robertson than on Alexander-Arnold’s right. 

The defensive solidity of a back five enabled Williams to push higher up the pitch to pressure Alexander-Arnold in possession. Notice, below, Luke Shaw’s average positioning over the 90 minutes as the deepest of any United player as the left-sided centre-back. 


Luke Shaw’s average positioning illustrates an awareness of Liverpool’s long-ball threat (Image: Wyscout)

Whilst that highlights his focus on marking Salah, it further illustrates United’s focus on stopping Liverpool’s threat down the right – Alexander-Arnold has registered 12.4 long passes p90 this season which is higher than any other player in the league, including goalkeepers. 

Alexander-Arnold’s decrease in overall activity indicates how highly United rate Liverpool’s full-back and such focus on stopping him is a compliment to the right-back. But one key thing to emphasise is that the young full-back offers an attacking threat from many areas of the pitch.

To showcase his influence to this Liverpool side, he is just four assists away from beating his own record for most Premier League assists by a defender in a single season (12). Such a number of assists can’t simply be stopped by trying man-mark the right-back. 

Therefore, you must give some credit to United who successfully curbed the threat of the most creative full-back in the world right now. Williams, playing left-wing back, stood up to the task well with high intensity on Alexander-Arnold who wasn’t allowed the time or space to find key passes. 

But Alexander-Arnold provided the vital assist for van Dijk’s opening goal of the game. United’s method of marking may be questioned, but the way in which Alexander-Arnold placed that corner onto van Dijk’s head shows that the opposition can succeed in stopping Alexander-Arnold in many aspects of play, but set-pieces isn’t one of them. 

United should be praised for the way they dealt with Alexander-Arnold’s creative threat throughout the game. But, if this game showed anything, it is that the young English right-back can have a decisive impact on a match even when the opposition try to completely shut him down.

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