The Premier League are preparing to introduce concussion substitutes from the start of the 2020/21 season amid increasing concerns for player safety.
The debate around head injuries in football and how to handle such incidents remain prevalent as studies continue to show lasting and debilitating effects.
One of which showed footballers were three and a half times more likely to die of degenerative brain disease than the general population.
Football has been heavily scrutinised for its approach to head injuries across the world, and how to best change the laws to facilitate concussion substitutes is high on the agenda for the International Football Association Board in February.
Various systems are set to be recommended on a trial basis and according to the Daily Mail, the Premier League are “keen to be at the forefront of any experiments involving concussion subs” starting from next season.
IFAB will appoint a panel of medical experts who will present their findings over how football can best introduce concussion substitute protocols.
Early suggestions are two different methods are being considered, the first would see a player suspected of suffering from concussion to be removed and not allowed to return.
That player would then be replaced but the change would not count towards the permitted three substitutions.
Alternatively, an approach similar to rugby union and the AFL would see the player replaced and taken into the dressing room for a 10-15 minute assessment by the club doctor.
They will be able to return if they are deemed medically fit to do so, but if not the substitution would become permanent.
Following the meeting early next year, the Premier League will weigh up their options from IFAB’s findings before entering into discussions with each of the 20 clubs and holding a vote.
A more conservative approach would be a welcome and sensible change, but despite the international players’ union lobbying for independent doctors to assess concussion incidents at every game, IFAB are currently not considering this course of action.
This will likely see the debate rage on surrounding the rules potentially being used for tactical gain, but a player’s health has to be the priority and taken seriously – unlike the aftermath of Loris Karius‘ diagnosis following the Champions League final in 2018.
However, their European crown could be under threat against Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday and, if they do not secure a point in Austria, they will face the prospect of dropping into the Europa League.
There is an argument, should that happen, Klopp could then write off the competition and play a second-string side in order to concentrate on the Premier League.
When it was suggested to him he could field a team of youngsters in the Europa League, he added: “Ahh! In the last 32, or 64. Whatever? Yeah interesting.
“So, we are not part of these thoughts obviously. We are really ambitious in that tournament – no really.
“So yeah, actually we want to go until the end again – we have nothing better to do in the middle of May or whenever the final is played.
“That was cool (last season) and we want to do it again. Absolutely nothing else is on our mind.
“But we know (it is) step-by-step. Tomorrow is really difficult and we have to be ready for that.”
An injury scare to Dejan Lovren at Bournemouth on Saturday threatened to leave Klopp with just two fit central defenders in Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, but the Croatia international has been passed fit and travelled with the squad.
With Joel Matip still out for at least another two weeks, having been sidelined since October 20, Klopp was asked whether he had considered bringing in reinforcements in January.
“But Lovren is not injured. It was a little bit of cramp, and it was the right moment to take him off, but it is cool, everybody is fine.
“We will not sign a centre-half because of injuries – that is the world outside who thinks we are short and we have to do it. But afterwards we would have six centre-halves and that wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
“And you need quality. You can’t have just somebody – I am somebody, I am tall, not quick but I look like a centre-half at least.”
The club are currently in the middle of a run of eight matches in 26 days in December.
Klopp’s side, top of the table domestically, need a point against Red Bull Salzburg in Austria to progress to the knockout stages in Europe on Tuesday but anything less will likely mean an unthinkable drop into the Europa League for the defending champions.
Also looming on the horizon is a week-long trip to Doha for the Club World Cup, which also comes in the same week as a Carabao Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa for which Klopp has had to assign to the youth team.
Asked whether his players could handle the physical demands he said: “No I don’t expect drops (in fitness and intensity) and if they happen I will prepare the solution then.
“Yes it is difficult but there is a job to do. We don’t ask for excuses, we know our schedule. We know where we have to go.
“We play in another in four days a very tough game (against Watford) and then we fly to Qatar.
“We don’t expect drops, we don’t accept drops; not just me the boys as well.
“We ask ourselves for the highest concentration. Then we will see what we get for it.
“We are a group which is in the most intense period of our lives and we will try to enjoy it.
“It is difficult, no doubt about that, but that is nothing that can stop us.”
One thing they may have to do is stop a free-scoring Salzburg side which has found the net 16 times already.
Only by Bayern Munich (21) and Tottenham (17) have scored more and they also have Erling Braut Haaland, son of former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder Alf-Inge, whose eight goals in the competition – bettered only by Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski’s 10 – have contributed to a tally of 28 in just 21 appearances.
The hosts have to win to progress and so they will attack Klopp’s side but the Reds boss believes their recent experience, having got to the last two finals, winning one, and the way they have qualified in the last two seasons from their final group match will stand them in good stead.
“It’s not that I expect us to go through, it’s just I expect us to play the best game we can play,” he said.
“Salzburg has to win against Liverpool; it’s possible because it’s football, I like that, but we are there. We are not a typical Champions League winner (of) last year or finalist of two years before.
“We are still ambitious like crazy, we will go for everything, we will run for our lives – that’s what we are, plus playing football.
“It’s not that we come here and think that we have to dominate Salzburg, we will fight in each challenge, 100 per cent.”
Liverpool travel to Austria next for our final Champions League group game; here’s all the build-up plus the other news regarding the Reds.
All the focus very quickly moved away from an easy weekend win, and straight on to our next game: a crucial tie at Salzburg.
Jurgen Klopp‘s press conference is this evening—all the coverage will be here on This Is Anfield from 6:30pm—but even before that we have news after the pre-game training session.
Meanwhile, here’s the latest on our opponents and Salzburg’s weekend win.Fan zone details for Doha
Heading to Qatar to cheer on the Reds at the Club World Cup? FIFA have confirmed plans for a Fan Zone in Doha, a free-to-enter zone running from 9 to 21 December.
It will be at the Doha Sports Park, next to the Doha Golf Club, and will be open from 2pm to midnight each day—where fans can take advantage of local and international cuisine, live matches being shown on the big screens and plenty of music.
The likes of Jamie Webster, Space, the Tea Street Band and others will feature from 18-21 December—while the Reds are in action, essentially—and more details on the fan zone can be found here.
Just don’t wear your lucky, non-approved, betting company-sponsored underwear, as you know what FIFA are like with that sort of thing.Keep an eye on the short-term and the long
Yes, our focus is and must be on Tuesday’s big game. But Liverpool’s quest for trophies and dominance is ongoing and never-ending, so we must look further afield, too.Curtis Jones earning his rewards
Curtis Jones made his Premier League debut at the weekend, coming on for Andy Robbo in the final 15 minutes of the win at Bournemouth. He would have had about five minutes more, mind, but for the Reds’ fantastic ability to retain possession for ages at a time.
The boss was happy with the teenager’s contribution, but stressed that it was a tactical decision because of what Jones can offer, rather than a throwaway appearance to get him on the gametime ladder.
“It was his third time in the squad, so then I thought it makes sense to bring him on.
“But it was not a present, I have to say. It’s his development. We want to show respect for that and we appreciate that.
“Then you need a player and today we were without Adam and Gini here. We thought we need a midfielder because we want to rest Robbo a little bit, so move Millie there. That’s then a good choice.”
Hopefully there’s plenty more action ahead for a player who looks the part both technically and tactically.Quickfire LFC news
Arsenal have discovered the route to success and ending their abysmal defensive record: sign Chris Smalling!
Then again, it’s Arsenal—they might be right…Tweet of the day
Next up on our Goal of the Decade list, it's 2013… ???
Get voting! ?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 9, 2019What we’re reading
On the Guardian, the circumstances and the fallout around Russia being banned from international sport – including the 2022 World Cup.
And on the Athletic by Rafa Honigstein, a look at how it’s Borussia Moenchengladbach who are sounding the message that Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga stranglehold is over.Worth watching tonight
Liverpool have unveiled their new Retro Collection of nostalgic track jackets and shirts.
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— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) December 9, 2019
Liverpool face a potentially nervy trip to Salzburg on Tuesday evening, with defeat likely to see them eliminated from the Champions League.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019 – 5.55pm (GMT)
Red Bull Arena
Champions League Group Stage (6)
Referee: Danny Makkelie (NL)
After struggling to hit top gear for a while, in terms of performances, there are signs that Jurgen Klopp‘s men are starting to click.
Salzburg await in midweek, in what could be a tricky Champions League night for the reigning European champions.
Defeat for the visitors, as well as Napoli presumably winning at home to Genk, would mean Liverpool crash out at the first hurdle.
Salzburg showed what a threat they can be in the return fixture at Anfield, with the Reds’ 4-3 victory extremely hard-earned.
Jesse Marsch’s side have the ability to cause Liverpool big problems on Tuesday, especially with man-of-the-moment Erling Braut Haaland leading the line.
The 19-year-old has already scored 28 goals this season and Liverpool are one of a host of clubs linked with a move for him.
This Liverpool team are still the most feared in club football at the moment, however, and they should have too much for their opponents.
Confidence is high and the thought of going out this early in the competition is not a pleasant one.
It is likely to be an evening that has its scares, but Liverpool should progress to the knockout rounds.Team News
Adam Lallana is another who isn’t expected to feature, having missed the weekend action.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also a midfield option, however.
Salzburg are without Alexander Walke, Antoine Bernede, Patrick Farkas and Sekou Koita.Red Bull Arena
Address: Stadionstraße 2/3, 5071, Austria
Capacity: 31,895Did You Know?
Ahead of the game, it is worth remembering that Liverpool’s Achilles heel in recent times has been away games in the Champions League.
The Reds have only won two of their eight away group stage matches in the competition under Klopp, both of which came against relative minnows in Maribor and Genk.
Liverpool have still enjoyed some impressive wins on their travels in the knockout stages, in fairness, but it has still been a noticeable issue.
They must be switched on from the off against Salzburg, or risk getting themselves into a sticky situation.Form
Salzburg – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 5-1 vs. Swarovski Tirol
Drew 1-1 vs. Admira
Won 4-1 vs. Genk
Drew 2-2 vs. St. Polten
Won 3-0 vs. Wolfsberger AC
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Salzburg vs. Liverpool is live on BT Sport 3 from 5.15pm (GMT), with kickoff at 5.55pm.
Don’t make the error of thinking it’s the usual later Champions League start time!
Ben Twelves is in charge of This is Anfield’s live blog from 5.10pm, hopefully guiding you through another Reds victory.
Liverpool’s visit to Asia next summer will consist of just one match in China and not a full pre-season tour, it is reported.
The Reds didn’t visit the continent last summer, with Jurgen Klopp having been disappointed after the trip to Hong Kong in 2017 was beset by problems due to waterlogged pitches.
That meant Klopp requested a return to America last summer, rather than alternating between heading west and east as has been the norm for the club over recent history.
So with a new kit deal with Nike also in the pipeline and their massive distribution in Asia, the club decided to grant Klopp’s wish and delay their return to the continent.
It’s now reported, by the Athletic‘s David Ornstein, that Liverpool will only play one game though rather than a full pre-season ‘tour’.
Klopp is said to be keen to ensure most of the pre-season is spent in Europe, and owners FSG are to grant that wish.
Liverpool have spent increasingly less time on vast pre-season tours under Klopp, with training camps instead taking place in Europe, including in Germany and France in the last two summers.
That could mean taking part in the Audi Cup in Munich, as the Reds did in summer 2017, basing themselves at nearby Rottach-Egern.
What’s pleasing is to see the owners and decision-makers at the club put football before business decisions and granting Klopp these wishes, however disappointing that may be for fans in Asia.
Speaking in Hong Kong after monsoon-like conditions had greeted the players on their arrival, Klopp said: “I’m a football manager, I’m interested in the game, I’m interested in the quality of the game and different things have influence on the quality.”
The Reds played two games in the PL Asia Cup, on a pitch that then-Sunderland boss Paulo di Canio had described as a “killer pitch” and had seen Jan Vertonghen suffer ankle ligament damage in waterlogged conditions.
Liverpool also played in torrential rain against a Thai All-Stars side in 2015 in Bangkok.
As things stand, Liverpool cannot launch their new Nike kits until after June 30, due to the New Balance deal not ending until then, so a launch of a kit in China seems highly likely.
Gametime took a downturn this week for Jurgen Klopp’s borrowed Reds, as only six loanees featured.
Despite that limited match action there was no shortage of talking points, as those who played experienced severely contrasting fortunes on a dramatic weekend.
There was a stunning display from Grujic and an agonizing cup final loss for Ojo, while the season came to a successful end for one Red.
Here’s the full lowdown on all the action, starting with that star performance.Grujic produced a midfield masterclass…
Grujic is wasting no time in proving his worth to new boss Jurgen Klinsmann, who was denied his first win as Hertha were held to a 2-2 draw at Frankfurt on Friday night.
In that stalemate Grujic was the star of the show, as he scored one and assisted another to ensure his side took a point back to the German capital.
The assist came first and it was a brilliant piece of play.
Out on the left flank after breaking from midfield, Grujic produced a delightful, one-touch reverse flick through his marker’s legs to release Dodi Lukebakio who put Hertha 1-0 up.
HE'S DONE ITTTTT!! ?
Marko #Grujic with the second!! ?
— Hertha Berlin (@HerthaBSC_EN) December 6, 2019
Grujic himself then doubled the lead on 63 minutes with a real poacher’s effort – converting from close range from Dedryck Boyata’s ball across the face of goal.
It was a man-of-the-match performance from the Serbian, who now has three goals and two assists from 15 appearances this season.
Such contributions will ensure he continues to play a key role as Hertha undertake a new era with Klinsmann at the helm.There was cup final disappointment for Ojo…
Sunday’s mouth-watering Scottish League Cup final against Celtic presented the ideal chance for Ojo’s Rangers to prove they are back to the force of old.
At a rain-soaked Hampden Park, the Gers missed that opportunity, falling to a 1-0 defeat to their arch-rivals who snatched victory from a game Steven Gerrard’s side dominated.
It made for a day of double-disappointment for Ojo, who was denied the chance to play his part as he watched on from the bench for the duration.
Given how several of Rangers’ attacking players underperformed when it mattered most on the big stage, it may be a move the Reds legend regrets in hindsight.
Ojo – and his teammates – will have to move on swiftly and attempt to bounce back by overhauling their rivals to emerge victorious from the season-long title race.The season came to an end for one Red…
Brazil’s Serie A campaign drew to a close on Sunday night, thus bringing to an end Allan Rodrigues‘ season with Fluminense.
Injury forced the Brazilian midfielder to miss his side’s last two games, including the final day 2-1 victory against Corinthians.
That win signed off what has been a long, hard-fought campaign for Fluminense, who produced a late season surge to finish in 14th place and comfortably avoid relegation.
Allan made 36 appearances in total and posted a solitary assist, and this spell back on home soil has unquestionably been the most rewarding of his senior career to date.
Given how it has seemingly been a successful move for both sides, chances are we now see that deal made permanent.A mixed bag for the remaining Reds…
Five more loanees joined Grujic in enjoying game time but there was only one who tasted victory.
Loris Karius and his Besiktas team are flying currently, and the German helped his side record a sixth successive win in all competitions with a dramatic 3-2 victory at Kasimpasa.
Elsewhere in the goalkeeper’s union, Kamil Grabara‘s run without a clean sheet in the Championship extended to five games after Huddersfield suffered a 2-0 derby-day loss to Leeds.
North of the border, Liam Millar had an unsuccessful return to Kilmarnock’s starting XI, with the Canadian unable to notch his first goal since September as Killie lost 3-0 at Livingston.
Back in Europe, Taiwo Awoniyi enjoyed a rare outing at Mainz 05 with a welcome extended run-out.
The Nigerian played 45 minutes as his side went down 2-1 to Augsburg, and he couldn’t mark his return with a goal.
Finally, it was another rewarding week at Kidderminster for Rhys Williams, who competed back-to-back full games – first drawing 1-1 against Gateshead before a 3-1 loss to Boston.Liverpool’s Loanees This Weekend
Keita, who arrived at Anfield to much fanfare in the summer of 2018, has been reduced to a peripheral figure and played a limited role in last season’s Champions League success and the club’s current 33-game Premier League unbeaten run.
The Guinea international gave a reminder of his ability with a goal and an assist on his first top-flight start of the campaign in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth.
Reds boss Klopp, who has reassured the 24-year-old about his lack of first-team opportunities, admits the relentless form of his league leaders and a series of tight matches have made it difficult to give him minutes.
“Naby had injuries, the team is in really good shape, so then do you change?,” said Klopp.
“We are not flying, it’s not like we won all of the games 4-0, or 5-0, so we had to bring on a player who helps us with defending set-pieces.
“Then Naby is sitting outside thinking, ‘why don’t I play?’ I get all that.
“So we stayed in contact, we talked and we spoke a lot about it.
“But in the end of course a player needs to have this evidence that the manager still believes in you. I was never in doubt about that.
“It was just unlucky and in life you need luck always. He started (his Liverpool career) really well – everybody forgot that – then got injured. And again we had two really good seasons.
“(I was) never in doubt about his quality.”
Liverpool last lost a league game back in early January but, despite building a sizeable points advantage over Leicester and Manchester City at the top of the table, Klopp is not getting carried away.
The comfortable nature of the south coast success meant Klopp was afforded the luxury of giving breathers to unused substitutes Divock Origi – who scored twice in Wednesday’s Merseyside derby win over Everton – and Sadio Mane ahead of Tuesday’s crunch European clash with RB Salzburg.
Klopp also gave midfielders Adam Lallana and Georgino Wijnaldum the weekend off because of minor injury concerns.
He believes resting and rotating his players will be key to successfully negotiating a hectic December schedule and competing in five different competitions.
“It was wonderful – maybe the best thing of the (Bournemouth) game – we didn’t have to use Sadio Mane,” said the German, whose team must avoid defeat in Austria to reach the Champions League knockout stages.
“He was the all-time (ever-present) player in the last couple of weeks, so he could stay outside, Divock outside.
“We will see how we start on Tuesday. I have no clue about that now.
“But (on Saturday) we could give at least one or two – plus Gini (Wijnaldum), plus Adam – kind of a rest, and hopefully they are all fit again on Tuesday and then we make a new decision.”
Salzburg continue to fire on all cylinders ahead of Liverpool’s visit for the decisive Champions League tie on Tuesday.
Salzburg’s convincing victory over the weekend was their 13th in 17 games, a result which ensures they remain atop of the Austrian Bundesliga with a two-point buffer over LASK.
The Austrian outfit headed into the clash with WSG Wattens off the back of two score draws in the league, with a convincing 4-1 win over Genk in the Champions League sandwiched in the middle.
But having scored in every game this season, Salzburg would continue to see their attacking prowess come to the fore, with Patson Daka, Masaya Okugawa, Andreas Ulmer, Erling Braut Haaland and Takumi Minamino – the latter two of whom both found the net at Anfield – all on the scoresheet.
Despite the Reds’ upcoming visit, Salzburg fielded a strong starting XI as Jesse Marsch had few injuries to consider as his side cruised to their third win in five games across all competitions.
In fact, their outing was one which ensured they have now scored three or more goals in seven of their last 12 games – a run of form which has also seen them concede 12, a welcome record for the Reds.
Haaland, who has attracted interest from the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Man United, has been a key contributor to Salzburg’s formidable form in front of goal having notched 10 goals and one assist in his last 10 appearances.
Moreover, the 19-year-old has been prolific in the Champions League this season and sits behind only Robert Lewandowski in the standings with eight goals to his name.
And ahead of Liverpool’s visit, Marsch has instructed his side to play with all of their “confidence” as they no longer possess the element of surprise.
“We are excited but calm, the energy and concentration are optimal, we can not surprise [them], they understand our football,” he said.
“But if we get our best performance, we have a good chance, we have to play with all our confidence.”
But Liverpool head to Austria with a clear agenda, as avoiding defeat will ensure the Reds safely secure their passage to the last 16.
It will be anything but straightforward, however, as Salzburg have tasted defeat just twice this season by a single goal – against both Liverpool and Napoli – and will have nothing to lose on Tuesday as they currently sit third in Group E, three points adrift of Liverpool at the top.
Liverpool FC Women finally found an avenue to goal to rescue a point in a 1-1 draw with West Ham on Sunday.
Women’s Super League, Prenton Park
December 8, 2019
Goals: Charles 77′; Leon 5′
And Liverpool Women made a change at both ends of the field for the Hammers’ visit, with Fran Kitching taking up the role in between the sticks while Ashley Hodson was given the nod to lead the line as the Reds remained on the search for their first league goal in open play.
A feat which would prove successful and offer a timely boost to Liverpool’s bid to move up the table.
Having taken confidence from their recent outings, despite the final scoreline, Liverpool Women started brightly as they looked to mount early pressure on the visitors by peppering the face of goal.
But the Reds found their first mistake in possession punished as West Ham quickly transitioned to the opposite flank after capitalising on Becky Jane’s loose pass, with Adriana Leon’s first-time strike evading the wrong-footed Kitching with just five minutes gone.
Liverpool would continue to flirt with danger at the back as West Ham seized the ascendency after their opener, as the Reds’ inability to find the end product in the final third continued to be a source of frustration.
With Melissa Lawley’s breakaway from a West Ham corner let down by a wayward pass to an onrushing Hodson who was in acres of space, before Niamh Charles’ brilliant interception on the halfway line came to nothing as her final product failed to test the ‘keeper.
The start of the second half required a number of desperate interventions from both Kitching and her fellow defenders to keep within striking distance.
And just when it seemed as though the Reds were handed a lifeline after Rhiannon Roberts was impeded in the area midway through the term, Lawley dragged her spot-kick wide.
To their credit, Liverpool Women failed to let their heads drop and Lawley would soon find her redemption as the Reds finally found the route to goal when her driving strike from a tight angle took a deflection before finding Charles near the goal line.
It was all Liverpool as the clock moved closer to the 90 minute mark, but the score failed to be added to – ensuring the Reds picked up their second point of the season, where Jepson and Co. will hope their shackles in front of goal have well and truly been unlocked.
TIA Woman of the Match: Rhiannon Roberts
Liverpool Women: Kitching; Robe, Fahey, Bradley-Auckland, Jane; Roberts, Bailey, Linnett (Murray 82′); Lawley, Charles (Sweetman-Kirk 86′), Hodson (Babajide 67′)
Subs not used: Preuss, Rodgers, Kearns
Next game: Durham (H) – WSL Cup – Wednesday, December 11, 6.30pm (GMT)
European champions Liverpool must on Tuesday avoid defeat at RB Leipzig to guarantee progress to the Champions League last 16 and manager Klopp is eager for another solid defensive display.
“I forgot actually how it feels, to be honest. It’s great, we should have that more often,” Klopp said of not conceding.
“For the boys, that was the most used word in the dressing room when I came in, ‘clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet’.
“Obviously everybody was desperate for that and now we have it, so let’s have it more often.
“The next game where a clean sheet would be useful is already around the corner, against Salzburg on Tuesday. It feels good.”
The clean sheet coincided with first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s return from a one-match suspension, although he did not have a save to make against a team which has now suffered five successive defeats and sits a point above the drop zone.
Klopp’s Red Machine churned out a 15th win in 16 league games to further extend the lead at the top of the Premier League table.
This is what the media made of a routine victory at Dean Court.Reporters were impressed with how Liverpool made victory so routine…
The BBC’s Emma Sanders assessed that the routine nature of the win was most welcome after some nervy victories, and thinks the “dominance” of the display will have pleased Klopp:
Saturday’s victory at the Vitality was so routine – though the early loss of Ake to injury weakened an already struggling Bournemouth back four.
But the Reds played with a swagger and a dominance which would have surely pleased manager Jurgen Klopp greatly.
The Telegraph’s Jim White wrote a comical line on how Liverpool were so comfortable that Klopp’s side could have played in slippers:
As the rest of the Premier League huffs and puffs in their wash, they are not so much marching on as embarking on a Christmas cruise.
Because this was not just another win for Jurgen Klopp’s points-gathering machine, at times it was so comfortable it appeared as if his players were wearing slippers.
With a crucial Champions League game against FC Salzburg just three days away, a simple win with an under-strength team was just the ticket.
Meanwhile, the Mirror’s John Cross is seeing signs that Liverpool can become the new “invincibles”, noting how the Reds’ “air of superiority” makes them look unbeatable:
But every time they go to a ground, they arrive with a wonderful belief that they will not be beaten. When Arsenal did it in 2004 under Arsene Wenger, teams would say they were beaten before kick-off such was their air of superiority.
This Liverpool team has the same feel. You actually cannot see them losing this season. With that sort of confidence, you cannot see anyone beating them. Because they’re beaten before kick-off.Members of the media were once again full of praise for Klopp’s squad management…
Capps was impressed with how Liverpool maintained the performance level despite another batch of changes being made:
Writing for Goal.com, Neil Jones thinks Liverpool’s performance level has improved as a direct result of Klopp freshening up his starting XI:
It didn’t affect Liverpool. If anything, they looked better than they have in recent weeks.
Those that came in looked like they’d been playing every week.
The Mirror’s Neil Moxley explained how the competitiveness in the squad for starting XI places is spurring the Reds on and helping maintain the performance level:
To be honest, at this stage of the season Klopp can rotate a roulette wheel with the squad numbers and use a game of chance to choose his starting XI – and the result will still be the same.
As far as the players are concerned, they know also in that dressing-room that should their standards drop off, that they will not be immune to the axe.
Cross commented on how the “unshakeable belief” Klopp has in his squad has rubbed off on the players:
But the loudest was “The Reds Are Top Of the League” and surely nothing can stop them now because they go into every game with unshakeable belief that they will win.
It’s a wonderful feeling to have and should carry them to their first title in 30 years.
Discussing the players who have benefitted from Klopp’s approach, the Guardian’s Ben Fisher noted how Salah looks “reinvigorated”, which inspired the Egyptian to act as the architect behind the win:
An irresistible performance by a reinvigorated Mohamed Salah, who Klopp declared is again firing at 100%, proved the catalyst as Liverpool extended their unbeaten league record to 33 games.The media applauded another excellent squad effort, singling out Keita in particular…
Jones praised the way the whole squad is contributing currently, and provided some great numbers of the goal share so far this season:
Both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita decorated their performances with goals, smartly-taken ones too.
Liverpool have now had 16 different goalscorers in the Premier League this season. The club record, set in 1911-12 and 2015-16, is 17.
Cross waxed-lyrical on Keita’s performance, assessing that it was an exciting demonstration of the “player Liverpool hoped they were signing”:
Keita has struggled at times to fulfil expectations since joining Liverpool but, on this evidence, he is ready to seize his opportunity. A goal, assist and bags of energy. This was the player Liverpool hoped they were signing.
The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle wrote how Keita “oozed class” and showed the different dimension he adds to the midfield:
Keita oozed class, his touch confident from the start, gliding across the Vitality Stadium turf and always looking to move possession forward.
The Guinean has always offered a different dimension to the midfield. The problem has been a lack of fitness and self-belief to justify his talent. This outing surely bolstered both.
Echo colleague Theo Squires thought it was a performance boasting plenty of promise and stated that the No.8 now needs to build on it to launch his Anfield career:
With a goal and an assist under his belt, he’ll return to Merseyside happy, guaranteed a hug from his manager and with fans satisfied to see the Naby Keita they believed their club were signing.
But, by taking a step in the right direction, it could prove to be a decisive one. Now player, manager and fans alike will all be hoping it isn’t just a case of Keita’s latest false dawn.
Their march goes on and the performances of Keita – in his first start of the season – and substitute Curtis Jones will give Klopp particularly satisfaction.
As their to-do list continues to pile up, he will need every member of his squad if they are to make this early advantage count.
There was plenty to celebrate for Liverpool players as they scored three and kept a clean sheet at Bournemouth on Saturday.
The Reds made the trip to the south coast with a 15th league win firmly in their sights, where they came up against a Bournemouth outfit without a win in their last four.
And while Jurgen Klopp’s side have been one for the dramatics in recent weeks, the Reds instead cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory this time around as the decision to rotate the side again reaped its rewards.
The boss made seven changes to the side who clinched an emphatic 5-2 win over Everton last time out.
The Reds would continue to flex their muscles in the second half and inflict further misery on the Cherries, as Mohamed Salah found the scoresheet for the fifth consecutive time against the hosts as Liverpool successfully shut up shop to notch a rare clean sheet and another three points.
“It was a professional performance and a very solid performance. Overall, we are delighted with that.
“Offensively, I thought we were very good, we kept the ball for large periods of the game and we defended really well as well, so overall we are really pleased.”
Similarly, Oxlade-Chamberlain lauded the Reds’ “professional” performance and revealed how deep the desire was from the team was to control the game and walk away with a clean sheet.
“Robbo and Millie were probably shouting at me for the last 30 minutes to just make sure we keep the clean sheet…to make sure we kept it tight and be professional and not getting carried away going forward all the time.
“So, like Hendo said, it was really professional from start to finish really and I think it was probably the main thing we needed to improve on.
“In weeks gone by, we have gone 2-0 up and we just haven’t controlled the game well enough and we’ve made it difficult.
“Today, we learned from that and it was a really professional performance and some really top performances from all the boys.”
After the game, players swiftly took to Instagram to share their joy at picking up another three points to take their tally to 46 after 16 games.
It was a “solid” and “strong” performance rightfully worth celebrating for Milner and Henderson:
The opening goal scorers in Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita, similarly, lavished praise on their teammates as “another big win on the road” was secured:
The Reds’ 15th win of the campaign stretches their unbeaten run in the league to 33 games, a result which increases their lead over Man City to 14 points and 11 over Leicester – who play on Sunday.
Klopp’s men, however, will now turn their attention to Champions League action where Liverpool can secure their place in the last 16 with a win or draw at Salzburg.
Goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah in a devastating 19-minute spell either side of half-time saw the Reds make it 33 Premier League games unbeaten to move 11 points clear at the top of the table.
Bournemouth’s cause was not helped by a hamstring injury to key defender Nathan Ake moments before Oxlade-Chamberlain’s opener, while Cherries striker Callum Wilson limped off in the second half on a miserable afternoon for Eddie Howe’s out-of-form hosts.
With a commanding three-goal lead after 54 minutes, Klopp was afforded the luxury of not taking unnecessary risks as he negotiates a packed December fixture list and interest in five different competitions.
Asked if it was a perfect day, the Liverpool boss replied: “Yeah, it was, 100 percent.
“I really feel for [Howe] because you can lose against us, obviously that can happen, but losing Ake and Wilson in the same game is of course a major blow.
“We scored wonderful goals, we had more chances, did really well, were really uncomfortable to play [against].
“From 3-0 on we controlled the game absolutely and nothing really happened anymore.
“The players didn’t like it too much, they wanted to be really loud in these moments, but I didn’t want to see any unnecessary risk.
“It was maybe not the most exciting but necessary. It was an absolutely super performance, super individual performances and the team performance was just really mature and professional, just what we needed.”
Klopp made seven changes at the Vitality Stadium following the emphatic midweek Merseyside derby win.
The German opted to give Sadio Mane a well-earned rest on the bench, while Divock Origi was also given a breather following his heroics against Everton as the Reds cantered to a first clean sheet in 14 games, without conceding an attempt on target.
Klopp, who was also without Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana because of minor issues, does not believe the Croatian’s injury to be severe ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Champions League clash with Red Bull Salzburg.
“You don’t always know exactly but it looks not too serious, it looks like a bit of cramp,” Klopp said of Lovren.
“We have two days to make sure that they can go again. I don’t know 100 percent.”
The Reds were faced with a tough task at Dean Court until Nathan Ake’s hamstring injury late in the first half, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain breaking the deadlock soon after.
Energy-preservation was a key topic for Klopp in his post-match press conference, as he praised his players for seeing the game out.
“We had so many games now we had to chase until the last second,” he told reporters at Dean Court.
“When you have this really rare comfortable situation when you’re 3-0 up you really should control the game.”
The manager also praised a number of individual performances, with Keita, Salah and Joe Gomez singled out, while he added that the key positive was “especially how we controlled it from midfield.”
A first clean sheet in 14 games, and over two months, was obviously a focus for the squad.
Klopp revealed: “For the boys the most-used word in the dressing room was ‘clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet’. The next game it would be useful!”
However, Klopp was optimistic over his fitness, with the initial diagnosis being “a little cramp.”
A much rotated Liverpool made light work of a despondent Bournemouth, with the Reds cruising to a 3-0 victory on the south coast.
There’s nothing like a brisk walk along the seaside to wake you up on a cold afternoon, and that is exactly what Jurgen Klopp‘s men experienced Saturday afternoon.
It was a game in which Liverpool managed over 1000 touches of the ball, forcing their opponents into 35 clearances – absolute total dominance, the only surprise was that the scoreline wasn’t more than the three eventually reached.
However, it was the first time in nine Premier League games that the Reds have kept a clean sheet – more important than goals scored perhaps for Klopp, who mentioned the stat post-match.
The Liverpool captain’s searching ball landed on Oxlade-Chamberlain’s toe and the midfielder poked it home.
One soon became two, and it was from another rotated into the side – Naby Keita. A clever one-two with Salah saw the Guinean start and finish a move of real class, and of course, there were smiles all around.
Keita then turned provider, for Mohamed Salah – who slipped in Liverpool’s third.
Liverpool could have had plenty more if they wanted, instead the Reds just calmly stroked the ball around – making their hosts work hard to try and get at least one touch.
With the game all but won, Klopp gave a debut to Curtis Jones. The one time U9 now had a Premier League game under his young belt, and he didn’t look out of place. Almost grabbing a fourth, but his volley just cleared the Bournemouth bar.
The only sour note, an injury to Dejan Lovren in the first half – however, it looks to have been just a spot of cramp.
It was the perfect result prior to a tricky match midweek in Salzburg, a game the Reds must win (or at least draw) should they wish to make the Champions League round of 16.
Anfield is not being considered for England’s Euro 2020 warmup against Romania in June due to Liverpool’s ban on S*n journalists.
The FA announced the friendly clash on June 7 without a venue as, with Wembley unavailable, Gareth Southgate is pushing for a northern stadium.
But with journalists from the S*n not permitted at Anfield, the Mail report that the Reds’ ground is not being considered, despite a host of others already being fully booked.
Old Trafford and the Etihad are already hosting events, while Goodison Park is “unsuitable due to its dated facilities and access issues,” which leaves St James’ Park as the most viable option.
The Mail add that Liverpool are “unwilling to alter their position,” which stems from the S*n’s treatment of supporters in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield received a not guilty verdict at his retrial last month, and ‘Justice for the 96’ rang out across Anfield during the first six minutes of Wednesday night’s Merseyside derby.
The Kop was laden with banners, one reading “injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere” and another, spanning the divide between home and away fans, “all Scousers know the truth.”
Liverpool’s matchday programme was dedicated to the 96, while a mosaic was organised in their honour, held up by fans prior to kickoff.
Anfield has not hosted an England game since the 2-1 win over Uruguay in 2006, and there appear to be no plans for that to change any time soon.
It is a credit to the club that that is the case, as their hardline stance over the S*n, and the memories of the 96, are significantly more important.
His hat-trick here last season was the first ever by any Liverpool player against Bournemouth in the league.
The Egyptian has scored six goals against Eddie Howe’s men in just four appearances.
Bournemouth have conceded on average three goals per game in the last seven encounters.
The Reds have scored 37 goals in their 15 league games this season—it equals their Premier League best, set in 2016/17.
The Reds have lost one of the 15 meetings between the clubs in all competitions, winning 11.
In the eight previous meetings at Dean Court, Liverpool have won five with two draws and a defeat.
When losing in 2016 Liverpool conceded more goals in 37 minutes (four) than they have in all the other seven visits to Bournemouth put together (three).
The teams have met only eight times in the league (all in the Premier League) with the Reds winning six, drawing one and losing the other.
Liverpool have done the double over the Cherries in three of the four league campaigns in which they have met.3 O’Clock Blackout
This will be the first time since May 2007 that Liverpool will have kicked off at 3pm on a third successive Saturday.Absent King
Bournemouth have not scored in any of the last four meetings with Liverpool, home and away.
The last player to do was Josh King with an 87th-minute equaliser at Anfield in April 2017.
King, with two, is the only Bournemouth player to score more than once against Liverpool in the club’s history, while Simon Francis has played most games for his club against the Reds (10).
The Norwegian is set to miss this game through injury.Ex-Reds and Klopp’s Loanee
Jordon Ibe played 58 times for Liverpool scoring four times. In the league he netted once in 41 appearances.
Harry Wilson has scored six goals in his 14 league appearances this season. He is ineligible to play today against his parent club.This Season’s Scorers
Bournemouth: H.Wilson 6, C.Wilson 5, King 3, Ake 1, Fraser 1, Mepham 1, S.Cook 1
Liverpool: Mane 13, Salah 9, Origi 5, Firmino 4, Oxlade-Chamberlain 4, Milner 3, Van Dijk 3, Wijnaldum 3, own goals 3, Matip 2, Robertson 2, Alexander-Arnold 1, Fabinho 1, Henderson 1, Hoever 1, Lallana 1, Lovren 1, Shaqiri 1
* Stats courtesy of LFC statistician Ged Rea (@ged0407).
Saturday, December 7, 2019 – 3pm (GMT)
Premier League (16)
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Following a trio of unconvincing results, the Reds enjoyed the rout they had long been threatening as a much-changed side thrashed Everton 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Three days after, and they are back on the road for a trip to the south coast, taking on a Bournemouth side who, like the Blues, are struggling this campaign.
Eddie Howe has overseen just four wins in the league, with four of the Cherries’ seven defeats coming in the last four games.
However, their most recent victory came with an impressive showing at home to Man United, and Howe will be clinging to this as he hopes to inspire Bournemouth to become the first side to take three points from Liverpool.
With many of his big names rested, though, Jurgen Klopp will be confident of another positive result as the Reds set the pace at the top of the table.Team News
Klopp did, however, indicate that there were “little concerns” within his squad after the Merseyside derby, which could impact his planned lineup for the weekend.
The manager is likely to make more changes, having opted for five in midweek, with Alisson set to return after his suspension, and Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah almost guaranteed to start too.
Possible Bournemouth XI: Ramsdale; Francis, Mepham, Ake, Rico; Danjuma, Billing, Lerma, Fraser; Solanke, WilsonLast 5 Away to Bournemouth (All Competitions)
Won 3-1 – December 2014 (Gosling; Sterling x2, Markovic)
Won 2-1 – April 2016 (King; Firmino, Sturridge)
Lost 4-3 – December 2016 (Wilson, Fraser, Cook, Ake; Mane, Origi, Can)
Won 4-0 – December 2017 (Coutinho, Lovren, Salah, Firmino)
Won 4-0 – December 2018 (Salah x3, Cook OG)
Away fans’ pubs: The best bet for away fans is to head into the centre of town before the match. The stadium is about three miles from it and there are plenty of buses and taxis to get you to the ground.
This will give you a much bigger variety of bars and pubs to suit any taste.
A piece of advice for the visiting fan: My standard advice would be to make a weekend of it. Bournemouth is known as a tourist haven for a reason.
Information courtesy of Neil Grover (@AFCBNG).Did You Know?
Despite Liverpool’s 4-3 loss back in 2016 depicting Dean Court as a difficult stadium to visit, only two current Premier League sides boast a worse home record against the Reds.
Klopp’s side have won on three of their four visits to Boscombe, for a win ratio of 75 percent.
This is equal to their record on trips to Norwich (75%), albeit based on half the amount of games, and behind only Burnley (83.3%) and Brighton (100%).
Liverpool have also scored more league goals at Dean Court than at any other stadium during Klopp’s reign as manager, with 13.Form
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Bournemouth – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking at Melwood on Friday, Klopp expressed his relief that Wilson was unable to play against his parent club, and assessed the loanee’s progress so far:
“Oh, Harry. I’m happy, to be honest, that he cannot play against us!
“Each free-kick is a proper, proper threat. But we were never in doubt about Harry’s shooting abilities, his skills in that part of the game are incredible. World class for sure.
“But Harry is at Bournemouth to improve all the rest of his game as well. So being involved, being decisive, being between the lines, using the speed and all that stuff.
“He makes big steps, so that’s really important.
Bournemouth vs. Liverpool is not on TV in the UK, with the Saturday 3pm kickoff the last of the Reds’ games to not be broadcast in 2019.
This Is Anfield’s Chris Williams will be providing updates, analysis and our usual biased view on our matchday liveblog, however, kicking off from 2.15pm.
The Senegal international has been in sensational form in 2019 and actually won Messi’s vote in FIFA’s Best awards in September.
However, he finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or stakes behind the Barcelona forward, team-mate Virgil Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi said it was “a shame” Mane finished fourth but Klopp does not expect that to be the case for much longer.
“The first three in the Ballon d’Or was Messi, Van Dijk, Cristiano and then Sadio. That’s a nice row. Having two players there shows a lot,” said the Reds boss.
“Mo was fifth and Alisson was seventh. We obviously played a good season and they had to respect that.
“Sadio is in incredible shape. Since the first day he came in he has been an incredibly important player.
“I can still remember his first goal, the Arsenal goal: running down the line, cutting inside and with the next step left-foot into the far corner.
“An incredible goal. And each year he made big steps and is in a good way.
“For an offensive player when Messi says something like this… Sadio, especially against Barcelona at home, was very impressive, it was like we had three of him on the pitch.
“If he stays healthy he will have an incredible career in front of him and I think he can climb in that Ballon d’Or table.
“But then some other people make decisions – not even Lionel Messi can decide that.”
Mane is Liverpool’s top scorer this season with 13 and at times was unplayable in the midweek Merseyside derby win over Everton which restored their eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Victory at Bournemouth, who have lost the last four, guarantees Klopp’s side are top at Christmas.
The Reds have been top on December 25 three times previously but remain the only club never to have gone on and won the Premier League from that position.
“I’ve told you often enough I am really not interested in these numbers and this history but that is part of the deal when you are in a good position,” said the manager.
“There are a lot of people who celebrate already, a lot of people who worry still and a lot of people who hope that you will still fail.
“I don’t listen to any of them. What that means for Christmas I never thought about.
“We need to be lucky that players stay fit and healthy. These are all things which worry us much more than who will be first at Christmas and what it means.”
Liverpool’s December programme has been complicated by their involvement in the Club World Cup, which will see them play two matches in Qatar later this month – the first 24 hours after a Carabao Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa.
Weeks of speculation were ended when the designated 23-man squad travelling to Doha was published this week, naming all his first-team players plus youngsters Rhian Brewster, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Neco Williams.
There is an outside chance Liverpool will try to field that youthful quartet in the Carabao Cup and then immediately fly them to Qatar to sit on the bench for their Club World Cup semi-final.
“We had to do it like this. I think it’s a really nice opportunity for the younger players to face that (Villa). I know everybody thinks ‘no chance’ but football is a wonderful game,” he said.
“There was absolutely no chance to do it differently, in the moment when it was clear when it would be played and all the other dates were absolutely not possible for us to play it later.
“At the end we will not suffer because of it. That’s not possible. If somebody thought I should have done it differently, I cannot change that.”