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Liverpool FC News, Opinion, Transfer Rumours and Discussion
Updated: 10 hours 38 min ago

Liverpool’s plan to sell Dejan Lovren shows scale of faith in Ki-Jana Hoever & Sepp van den Berg

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 18:00

Dejan Lovren may not leave Liverpool this summer, but the club’s plan to part ways with the centre-back shows faith in Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg.

The Reds have recent previous in allowing long-serving, but increasingly peripheral, players depart if their reasonable terms are met.

Lucas Leiva left after 10 years on Merseyside in 2017, with the Brazilian joining Lazio for just £5 million as he was given Jurgen Klopp‘s blessing to pursue regular first-team football.

“When he left, we both had a little tear in our eye. It was really a special moment,” the manager reflected at the time, conceding that he was not able to give Lucas any assurances over his playing time.

This summer, Simon Mignolet was granted a £6.4 million switch to Club Brugge in his native Belgium, having spent a campaign as backup to Alisson and making it respectfully clear that he didn’t wish to do the same in 2019/20.

“The service he has given this club during his time here means I cannot ignore an opportunity for him that will impact so positively on his future,” Klopp said of his former first-choice goalkeeper.

“I think what he has done for LFC means he earns the right to do something that helps him in this moment.”

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren waves to supporters after a friendly match between Liverpool FC and Sporting Clube de Portugal at the Yankee Stadium on day nine of the club's pre-season tour of America. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lovren has hoped to follow their path this summer, with the Croatian setting his sights on a move away from Anfield after dropping down the pecking order.

Behind Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez at centre-back, Lovren’s representatives held talks with both AC Milan and AS Roma, and the latter had been expected to seal a £15 million deal earlier in August.

Negotiations broke down between Roma and the Reds, however, as no official offer was forthcoming from the Serie A outfit.

Brief suggestions of a loan move to Bayer Leverkusen have been quashed, and it could be that Lovren is left to spend at least the first half of the season back with Liverpool.

Returning from ‘illness’ to take part in training ahead of the Reds’ first top-six clash of the campaign at home to Arsenal, the 30-year-old showed the first sign that he is preparing to stay.

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren before a friendly match between Liverpool FC and Borussia Dortmund at the Notre Dame Stadium on day four of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But regardless of the side he is turning out for when the transfer window closes across the rest of Europe’s top leagues on September 2, a big statement has been made with the club’s stance on Lovren.

The latest valuation to emerge for the Croatian was just £15 million—the fee believed to be enough to make him a Roma player—which, given his reputation, is decidedly low.

Lovren, despite his detractors, is an international centre-back with at least five more playing years ahead of him, and having signed a four-year deal with Liverpool in 2017—with the option for a fifth—he is in a secure position in terms of his contract.

He is clearly well-liked within the dressing room and by Klopp, and that relationship may have influenced the Reds’ decision as it did with Lucas and Mignolet.

Departing without rocking the boat—as he did, it must be noted, in a tumultuous exit from Southampton—would be a comfortable situation after a campaign that saw him play just 1,261 minutes.

This is particularly so given the stock placed in two young defenders brought in over the past year, with Hoever and Van den Berg no doubt factoring strongly when Klopp and his backroom staff weighed up whether to allow Lovren to leave.

Hoever’s place on this carousel is fitting, as his debut for the club came replacing Lovren six minutes into his last regular run in the starting lineup.

The 17-year-old became the club’s third-youngest debutant when he came on in the 2-1 loss to Wolves in the FA Cup, and though this was an anomaly, Hoever is set for a long future with Liverpool.

Having helped the Netherlands win the Under-17 European Championship in May, Hoever grew in both stature and confidence over the summer and was one of the Reds’ standout performers in pre-season.

Van den Berg, meanwhile, was forced to wait for his first outing following a £1.3 million move from PEC Zwolle, and when it eventually came during the US tour, it was clear Klopp is taking a cautious approach with his transition.

 Liverpool's Sepp van den Berg during the English Football League Trophy Northern Group B match between Oldham Athletic AFC and Liverpool FC at Boundary Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But the lofty centre-back, also 17, is tipped to be fast-tracked into the senior setup once he adjusts to life in England, and English football.

The timeline for this adaptation is, of course, flexible, and it has been apparent in Van den Berg’s first forays into competitive action with the Liverpool under-23s that it will take time for the Dutchman to settle.

His biggest test yet came against Michy Batshuayi in the 3-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, and the youngster was culpable for the Chelsea striker’s opener after failing to judge the flight of a long pass.

Similarly, while his long-term role is earmarked as a centre-back, Hoever’s route to the first team may require a longer apprenticeship—plus, a stint serving as full-back cover.

 Liverpool's Ki-Jana Hoever during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Murrayfield Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking earlier in August—after Hoever signed his first professional contract with the club—Klopp described him as a “sensational player,” and highlighted his second-half cameo at left-back against Napoli as “maybe his best 15 minutes in the pre-season.”

If Lovren does stay beyond midnight on September 2, immediate opportunities for Hoever and Van den Berg may dry up, as there is no way Klopp will overlook his No. 6.

It could also be argued that, for now, Fabinho will also be ahead of them if another injury crisis strikes and any two of Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez are sidelined.

But in the long term, the plan to allow Lovren to leave, with no sign of a senior replacement, is a real show of faith in the teenagers.

 Liverpool's Rhian Brewster applaud the supporters after a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Murrayfield Stadium. Liverpool lost 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is a similar situation to that of Rhian Brewster, who despite being yet to feature in a matchday squad this season, is the effective replacement for Daniel Sturridge.

Further parallels can be drawn with Caoimhin Kelleher, now third-choice ‘keeper, and Harvey Elliott, a 16-year-old signed with a view to a swift rise.

And if they are able to find a foothold at senior level when given the chance, their youth and significant potential bodes very well for the Reds’ future.

Their success would embody the changing ethos of the club in recent years, from the ‘quality over quantity’ shift in the academy, to the fading memories of the mediocre squad of 2014/15, to Klopp’s fruitful commitment to youth.

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Reds quartet won’t leave & Adrian on Klopp’s “animals” – Wednesday’s Liverpool FC News Roundup

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:49

We round up the latest Liverpool news and transfer rumours on Wednesday, as preparations continue for Saturday’s visit of Arsenal.

Today’s Main Headlines Reds Won’t Allow Lovren & Kent to Leave

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren before a friendly match between Liverpool FC and Borussia Dortmund at the Notre Dame Stadium on day four of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s been a quiet summer at Liverpool overall, but two players regularly tipped to leave have been Dejan Lovren and Ryan Kent.

Lovren has slipped to fourth-choice centre-back behind Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, with a move to Bayer Leverkusen mooted on Wednesday.

According to the Press Association, however, there has been “no approach” from the Bundesliga side for the 30-year-old and Liverpool “would not sanction a loan.”

Meanwhile, Kent was rumoured to be forcing through a move to Rangers, with claims he could “down tools.”

The same report states that his “behaviour has been exemplary,” though, and Liverpool also have no plans to loan him out again.

Having both Lovren and Kent available certainly can’t do any harm in terms of squad depth, but from a personal point of view, the pair may have benefited from moves away.

Adrian Enjoying Playing with Defensive “Animals”

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo bites his winners' medal as he celebrates after saving the decisive fifth penalty from Chelsea in the shoot-out to win the Super Cup during the UEFA Super Cup match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Besiktas Park. Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s been quite a ride for Adrian at Liverpool, with UEFA Super Cup glory and a dreadful mistake at Southampton already thrown in, less than three weeks after arriving.

The Spaniard is clearly a great character, and in an interview with, he explained what a joy it is to play behind such a formidable defence:

“It’s really easy to play with them in front of you because, as you say, they were the best defenders in the Premier League [in 2018/19] and we have one of the best defenders in the world.

“I think, for me as a goalkeeper, they make easy decisions. Honestly, they defend everything like animals! They help me a lot.

“I played against them [the forwards] many times, so now I play with them and I’m enjoying how they play from behind.

“I’m really happy for them because they are doing really well, they have a great connection between them.

“They are good players individually, but they are good friends in the dressing room also and you can see that feeling on the pitch.”

Adrian will face his biggest game yet for Liverpool on Saturday evening, as a dangerous Arsenal side make the trip to Anfield.

Alisson responded magnificently from his mistake at Leicester last season—let’s hope his current deputy can do the same this weekend.

Duncan to Stay at Liverpool

 Liverpool's Bobby Duncan during the pre-match warm-up before a friendly against Sevilla FC at Fenway Park on day six of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bobby Duncan has been linked with a loan move away from Liverpool this summer, with Danish team FC Nordsjaelland keen on signing him.

According to the Evening Standard, thoug, the striker will now be staying put at Anfield, continuing to mature with the under-23s.

Duncan was instrumental in Liverpool’s under-18s winning the FA Youth Cup last season and the club have high hopes for him.

The former Man City youngster will have to make do without his strike partner Paul Glatzel for a large part of the season, though, after the teenager suffered an ACL injury in pre-season.

Kane to Feature in League Cup?

 Liverpool's Herbie Kane during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool and Everton at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Herbie Kane excelled on loan at Doncaster Rovers last season, helping them to a sixth-placed finish on his way to being named in League One’s Team of the Year.

The midfielder has been tipped to join Portsmouth before the transfer window ends, but their hopes are “fading”, according to the Portsmouth News.

The report adds that “it is understood Kane has this week been instructed to remain at Anfield to feature in their Carabao Cup campaign.”

Retaining a youngster on the fringes of the senior squad in order to potentially make just one appearance seems strange, but this could indicate Kane will at least stay with the U23s.

On top of that, Doncaster manager Darren Moore has played down reports linking the 20-year-old with a return to the club, telling the Doncaster Free Press “it’s probably just speculation that has got out of hand.”

Kane started for the U23s in their 3-0 defeat at Chelsea earlier this week and will hope to inspire a change in fortunes when they visit Southampton next Monday.

Reds Internationals’ Latest Call-Ups

Virgil van Dijk of Holland during the UEFA Nations League A group 1 qualifying match between The Netherlands and Germany at the Johan Cruijff Arena on October 13, 2018 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Tom Bode/VI Images/PA Images)

The dreaded international break is hovering ominously on the horizon, with two more rounds of Premier League fixtures taking place before it occurs.

Liverpool will be well represented in September, at least giving us something to look forward to.

Van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum have both been named in the Netherlands’ preliminary squad for their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Germany and Estonia, on September 6 and September 9 respectively.

Meanwhile, Liverpool youngsters Harry Wilson and Ben Woodburn are in Wales’ squad to face Azerbaijan (September 6) and Belarus (September 9), both of which are also qualifying matches.

A host of other squads were recently named, with the likes of Lovren, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino called up for their respective nations.

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Daniel Sturridge overlooks interest from MLS and La Liga to seal move to Turkey

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:01

Daniel Sturridge has turned down interest from across Europe and the US to seal a move to Turkish side Trabzonspor after a six-and-a-half-year spell at Liverpool.

Sturridge bid farewell to Anfield after his contract came to a close at the end of last season following 160 appearances and 68 goals.

The England international joined the Reds in 2013 from Chelsea, and while his first full season at the club saw him hit prolific heights alongside Luis Suarez, much of his career at the club was marred by a torrid run of injury.

Even when fit, the 29-year-old remained on the periphery of Jurgen Klopp’s plans with Liverpool’s attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane regularly locking up the positions up front.

He made just eight starts across all competitions last season and with the club not tabling a new deal, Sturridge was free to find himself a new home—with Turkey now awaiting the forward.

Trabzonspor’a ho? geldin @DanielSturridge!

— Trabzonspor Kulübü (@Trabzonspor) August 21, 2019

Sturridge has put pen to paper on an initial three-year deal at Super Lig side Trabzonspor, with confirmation of his move made public by the club on Wednesday.

Trabzonspor finished last season in fourth place to secure a Europa League qualifying spot, where only a two-legged tie against AEK Athens over the coming week now separates them from a spot in the group stage.

Sturridge’s new team only kicked off their 2019/20 season over the weekend, where they were forced to settle for a draw after initially taking the lead.

He will join former Chelsea team-mate John Obi Mikel and go head to head with Alexander Sorloth, who is on loan from Crystal Palace.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

According to ESPN’s Melissa Reddy he did receive interest from Fenerbahce, MLS outfit D.C. United alongside various clubs in Qatar and La Liga.

While his chosen destination to ply his trade may come as a surprise, Sturridge still possesses a wealth of talent and Trabzonspor could provide him with the level of playing time he will no doubt be craving in the latter stages of his career.

Wishing you all the best, Daniel!

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Jamie Carragher on the issue with Liverpool’s defensive setup that Arsenal could exploit

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 13:51

Jamie Carragher has argued that Liverpool could face a tougher test against Arsenal on Saturday evening due to their new defensive approach.

The Reds are yet to keep a clean sheet this season, having conceded to Norwich, Chelsea and Southampton, and the formidable back line of the previous campaign has looked decidedly shakier.

One of the most common reasons cited for this is a higher line held by the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, and how often they have been caught out as a result.

The belief is that, due to the influence of VAR in offside decisions, Liverpool are staying further up the pitch in the knowledge that opposition attackers are more likely to be flagged.

But against Norwich in the Premier League opener, Jurgen Klopp‘s side faced 12 shots on goal, while at St Mary’s in the first away game of 2019/20, the Saints had 14 efforts.

Though the UEFA Super Cup should be considered an anomaly given it is effectively a late pre-season game, Chelsea fired 20 shots on Adrian‘s goal.

By way of example, the Reds restricted Chelsea to just six shots in their last meeting—the 2-0 win at Anfield in April—on their way to conceding just 22 goals over 38 games in the Premier League.

 Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Cardiff City FC and Arsenal FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Both Norwich and Southampton had opportunities to score more, with strikers Teemu Pukki and Che Adams particularly troublesome in behind the Liverpool defence, and failed—but Carragher believes Arsenal won’t be as lenient.

“When I say Liverpool have got away with it [so far], the quality they’ve played against hasn’t been top class,” he told Sky Sports.

The Gunners certainly have top-class attackers, with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang in excellent form and Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe dangerous in support.

“The quality Arsenal have, if Liverpool get caught in those positions and don’t run back, they’re going to have major problems within that game,” Carragher continued.

“You think about on the counter-attack as well, Liverpool playing higher up on the pitch on Saturday.

“And listen of course Liverpool are going to cause big problems the other way, I have no doubt about that.

“But the chances, the shots on goal that they’re allowing at this moment, better quality teams, better quality strikers, are going to make Liverpool pay.”

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo reacts during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 41-year-old certainly makes a good point, particularly given Liverpool are unable to field their first-choice goalkeeper as Alisson remains sidelined and Adrian fills in.

Whether the Spaniard suits the higher defensive line is questionable, as Adrian has been slow off his line at times during his two starts so far.

Matip was preferred to Gomez last time out at Southampton, but has also struggled with a relative lack of pace on the recovery, and it could be that the No. 12 is better suited for Saturday.

Klopp, Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold have all rejected claims that Liverpool are deliberately operating with a higher line this season, but their approach seems to have changed nonetheless.

 Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher working for Sky Sports before the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Carragher isn’t a fan, arguing that his old club have been “lucky and fortunate at different times” already this season.

“I’m not necessarily sure it’s a higher line, but it looks to me as if they’re trying to play offside,” he added.

“They caught players offside more than anyone in the Premier League this season.

“[But] I don’t like it and I think they’ve been lucky and fortunate at different times this season to get away with it.”

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Bundesliga club emerge as option for Dejan Lovren after failed Roma move

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 11:31

Dejan Lovren could still leave Liverpool this summer despite the breakdown of his expected move to AS Roma, with Bayer Leverkusen emerging as a late suitor.

The transfer window remains open for the majority of European clubs until midnight of September 2, and this combined with the Football League loan window could see further departures from Merseyside.

Beyond the likes of Herbie Kane and Ryan Kent, Lovren is the one first-team player whose future remains up in the air.

The Croatian is back in training at Melwood this week following a conveniently timed illness, which coincided with talks between Liverpool and Roma.

The Reds halted negotiations with the Serie A outfit after their failure to make a formal offer, despite indications that they would be willing to pay £15 million for the 30-year-old.

Jurgen Klopp has so far alternated between Joel Matip and Joe Gomez as Virgil van Dijk‘s centre-back partner, and with Lovren far down the pecking order it could be that he still heads for the exit.

According to Sport Bild, Leverkusen are considering a move for Lovren as they seek an experienced addition to their defensive ranks.

However, the deal mooted is a season-long loan including a €3 million (£2.75m) fee up front, which may not appease the Reds given they do not need to part ways with their No. 6.

 Liverpool's Divock Origi (L) and Dejan Lovren after a friendly between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at Fenway Park on day six of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But their willingness to sell Lovren does suggest they could be open to arranging a switch, particularly if they were to agree to an obligation to buy at the end of the campaign.

Leverkusen are also interested in Freiburg’s Dominique Heintz, which could complicate matters if Liverpool were to hold firm on their valuation.

Lovren was on the substitutes’ bench for the Community Shield defeat to Man City, but has been absent for each of the Reds’ three competitive games this season so far.

And given the options at Klopp’s disposal, with one of Gomez or Matip and likely James Milner making the bench as cover at the back, he could also miss out on the squad for Saturday’s clash with Arsenal.

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Liverpool’s lighter schedule provides a welcome opportunity for Jurgen Klopp & his squad

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 19:00

After four games in 14 days to begin the season, two of them being ‘finals’ – and one of those being 2,000 miles away in Istanbul, Liverpool now have just two games in 27 days.

Those two fixtures, at home to Arsenal and away to Burnley, each see a week’s preparation time, with a two-week international break thereafter before a home match against Newcastle.

It’s something that will be most welcomed by Jurgen Klopp, with the manager always speaking of his desire for good preparation time for his players.

And after a somewhat hectic pre-season that saw key players returning just a week before the Community Shield, and, in Sadio Mane‘s case, just four days before the opening league game, Klopp will relish the opportunity to work with his full squad.

The players too, will be relieved for this lighter schedule. Mohamed Salah has clocked up 379 minutes, plus 45 in his only friendly appearance of the summer against Lyon, just 20 days since returning to pre-season.

Roberto Firmino has played 329 minutes in the same period, while Mane played 209 minutes of competitive action in the 13 days since he returned.

Meanwhile, players who were on the US tour, they went from Notre Dame, to Boston, to New York, one day back in Liverpool with their families, back away to Edinburgh, then directly to Evian in France and straight to London for the Community Shield.

A full week back in their own homes and working at Melwood will be welcomed by all at the club, from staff, players and their families.

Fitness… for some

While playing 90 minutes so soon after returning isn’t ideal, Klopp does like to typically use early season fixtures to build up full fitness for his key players.

Which could explain why he’s used just 16 players in these opening four games – one of them being Adrian, which is only due to Alisson‘s injury.

It’s been the same 14 outfield players used in each league game, with Divock Origi the attacking sub, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip rotating at centre-back, and four centre-midfielders used.

Klopp, though, spoke after the Southampton game of ensuring players weren’t playing 50 or 60 games a season – which, at the current rate of involvement the front three certainly would be when including international commitments, and the Club World Cup to come in December.

“No football player should play 50 or 60 games a season, especially not in these intense positions,” said Klopp.

But watching on from the sidelines in these opening weeks has been the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, whose only appearance was in the final 11 minutes of the Community Shield.

 Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

He’s been quoted this week speaking of his disappointment at no longer getting playing time, saying that “I need to take a good look at the situation and find a solution.”

Whether that means assessing his application in training, or seeking a solution away from Anfield is open to interpretation. But if he isn’t getting any involvement against the likes of Norwich and Southampton when the front three are all being pushed to their physical limits, it’s hard to see where he comes in.

Last season Klopp was extremely reluctant to use the Swiss international when using the 4-3-3 formation, with one of his rare outings in that shape being the 4-0 win over Barcelona when the manager’s hand was forced by injuries.

Shaqiri and Rhian Brewster will be hoping Liverpool get a favourable draw in the League Cup third round next week, giving them chance to play at least.

Improvements to come

While the Reds have enjoyed two wins from two opening league games, those games plus the ‘finals’ vs. Man City and Chelsea have seen some concern over the uncharacteristically high amount of chances afforded for opponents.

This next few weeks, then, should give Klopp plenty of time to work on ironing out any such issues.

“We know we have to improve,” he acknowledged last week. “We know that we have to do a couple of things but a few things will just come because we are then longer together, in different situations and get used to it again.”

Vital time, then, on the training ground should see an improvement in the chances against, whatever the reasons for them so far.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Olympique Lyonnais at Stade de Genève. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The other good news is that Egypt don’t have any competitive fixtures during the September international break so Salah should remain on Merseyside.

And, after the international break, we could well see Alisson back for the visit of Newcastle to Anfield on September 14, which will be over four weeks since he picked up his calf injury.

Two wins before then, against Arsenal and Burnley, would guarantee Liverpool were top of the table going into the first international break.

We also have the Champions League draw to look forward to next Thursday, so the season should be taking shape nicely a month from now.

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Mohamed Salah ready to be awarded “more penalties” thanks to introduction of VAR

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 17:24

Despite his reservations over VAR, Mohamed Salah is insistent that he will see more penalties handed his way this season thanks to its introduction.

The Premier League is the latest to introduce video technology this season, but the system, or more so the rules which it adjudicates over, has already earned widespread criticism.

The major talking points have emerged in each of Man City‘s games to date, with Raheem Sterling first ruled offside by the smallest of margins against West Ham before Gabriel Jesus’ ‘winner’ against Spurs was ruled out due to a handball in the buildup.

Much of the criticism comes from the emotional aspect of the game being extracted in favour of the most minute details, and it is something Salah is not particularly fond of himself as mistakes are simply part and parcel of the game.

“I don’t like it … that’s my answer, always. I don’t like it. I love football how it is,” he said during an interview with CNN.

“It’s like that with the mistakes of the referee, with the aggression from the player sometimes.

“It’s OK sometimes to protect the players from dangerous play. But OK, that’s it, in my opinion, that could be the only reason that happened, just to protect the players.

“But for me, I accepted the football with the mistakes of the referee, mistakes of the player, I don’t know, whatever. That’s how the football gets more excited.”

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is brought down by Cardiff City's captain Sean Morrison for a penalty during the FA Premier League match between Cardiff City FC and Liverpool FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, the increased scrutiny in and around the box is something the Egyptian feels he will benefit from throughout the season and dispel any notion that he is a diver like some outside the club like to believe.

For an age, it seemed as Liverpool were invisible in the eyes of the referee in the penalty area – with only three awarded in 2017/18 – but the Reds were awarded seven penalties in the league last season, with Salah converting three of those.

And Liverpool’s No.11 is confident he will find himself on the right side of VAR decisions this term.

“More penalties for me, you will see that,” he said.

But it is not just about scoring penalties or simply finding the net for Salah, who has notched 72 goals in 108 appearances for the Reds, as his job also centres around creating chances for those around him.

“I’m not a striker, I play as a winger, so it’s my job not just to score but to also assist, play with the midfield.”

“I play on the wing which no one recommended. For a long time I didn’t play as a number nine.

“I’m comfortable with that. It’s not my first job. Like, the number one his job is only to score but as a winger it’s not just to score, it’s to give assists … and play with the team. I’ll do a lot of things to defend.”

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Jurgen Klopp says ‘don’t be surprised if I retire in 2 or 3 years’

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:29

Jurgen Klopp has disclosed that he could be ready to retire at the conclusion of his contract with Liverpool in 2022.

The German has long remained coy over the specifics of his future beyond his deal at Anfield, which at the current date of conclusion would see him at the helm for seven years – the same exact time spent at former clubs Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.

And while Klopp has flirted with talk of a prolonged break after his deal with the club comes to a close, talks over retirement is a relatively new area for him to touch upon.

The 52-year-old did say early last year that “It’s possible that I will end my career a lot earlier than coaches usually do,” but his new comments provide a few more specific details.

Upon being named Sport Bild’s manager of the season after guiding Liverpool to a 97 point finish in the Premier League and to a European Cup, Klopp opened up on his future.

“I hope to continue like this, but in two, three years I don’t know what may happen. Maybe I’ll retire,” he said, via Gianluca Di Marzio.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen, however, but if that were the case, you wouldn’t be surprised.”

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp is thrown into the air by his team after the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. Liverpool won 2-0 to win their sixth European Cup. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The club’s owners are eager to tie him down to a new extended deal, but Klopp has so far resisted such overtures and any decision will be respected when the time comes.

But with the manager already insisting that he will not leave his position at the helm prematurely, the Reds will have at the very least two seasons on top of the current one with Klopp steering the ship.

Since taking over from Brendan Rodgers in 2015 Klopp has overseen widespread changes and an exponential rise which now has Liverpool firmly back on their perch where they belong.

And while any thought of the German tipping his cap and bowing out at Anfield isn’t a pleasant one, there is no doubt that whenever his time is up that he will have left a lasting legacy.

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Chelsea hand Liverpool youngsters a tough lesson which would be a “crime” not to learn from

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 15:57

It will have been a “crime” from Liverpool’s youngsters should they fail to learn from the experience and quality on display in the recent defeat to Chelsea.

The Reds’ under-23s, led by Neil Critchley, fell to their second successive defeat to the tune of 3-0 at the hands of Chelsea in a Premier League 2 clash on Monday.

Liverpool fielded a strong lineup which included the likes of Caoimhin Kelleher and Sepp van den Berg, both returning from injury, who were flanked by Ki-Jana Hoever, Harvey Elliott, Rhian Brewster and Yasser Larouci among others.

But the Blues possessed senior figures in Antonio Rudiger and Michy Batshuayi, the latter of whom scored a double alongside a Faustino Anjori strike to ensure the young Reds were again on the wrong side of the scoreline.

It was a largely disjointed affair and while Critchley was left to lament “a tough night”, valuable lessons will undoubtedly emerge from the defeat.

“That was a tough night, to be honest. There were a million moments where we could have done a lot better in and loads of situations in and out of possession where we failed,” he told the official club website.

 Liverpool's Under 23's manager Neil Critchley during a pre-season friendly between Liverpool and Coventry City at the Liberty Way Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

“We stuck at it and showed a bit of character towards the end, but the game was gone at that stage. The manner in which we got beat and our performance was disappointing really.

“I thought Rudiger and Batshuayi played the game properly and they were a credit to themselves, real professionals,” he added. “They showed a proper good attitude and were a great example to not only their players, but ours as well.

“That was a tough night for our defenders playing against Batshuayi and our forwards against Rudiger.

“The biggest crime from the game is if we don’t take anything from this. If we don’t learn from it, we don’t improve and don’t look to improve then that’s worse than the defeat.”

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during a preseason friendly match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Ewood Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool were far from their best throughout proceedings and remain on the pursuit to see the team gel together after a few new faces were added to the fold through a rise in the ranks or in the transfer window.

“We looked a bit disjointed and we looked a new team playing for the first time on the pitch.

“We made quite a few changes from our last game and it does take time to build those relationships. We didn’t have that on the pitch, it will take time.

“But again, the boys have to show that right mentality every day in training and that willingness to learn.

“It was tough at times but we have to dust ourselves down, learn from it, move on and see if we can do better in the next game.”

That next game comes in the form of a trip to Southampton, who have one loss and one win to their name thus far, on Monday evening.

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Bobby Duncan emerges as loan target for Danish outfit as search for first-team action continues

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 14:28

Liverpool youngster Bobby Duncan has reportedly been subject to an offer for a season-long loan at Danish outfit Nordsjaelland.

The 18-year-old had a prolific debut season for the Reds primarily at under-18 level after joining from Man City, scoring 30 and setting up a further 16 in a total of 43 appearances.

Duncan was duly rewarded in the summer with a place in Jurgen Klopp‘s pre-season squad, where he made five appearances from the bench which returned one goal and an assist.

In the season thus far he has twice featured from the bench for the under-23s in their defeats to Tottenham and Chelsea, the latter of which saw a host “of scouts from across Europe” watch on.

Duncan, however, harbours hopes of playing first-team football which appears a ways off at Anfield with fellow youngster Rhian Brewster ahead of him in the pecking order.

Not to mention he would also be competing against the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi.

He is highly-rated at the club and possesses an abundance of raw talent but with a slim window of opportunity in his position, he is said to be open to a move abroad.

According to the Daily Mail, Nordsjaelland are offering regular senior football on a season-long loan deal which would also see them pay his wages in full.

 Liverpool's Bobby Duncan during the pre-match warm-up before a friendly against Sevilla FC at Fenway Park on day six of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Danish Superliga side, who are currently fourth in the table after six games, have made a formal move for Duncan, which Liverpool are said to be considering – and is not believed to include an option to buy.

However, conflicting reports from Sky Sports suggest the Reds have already rejected their approach for the teenager who was also subject to interest from Porto and Benfica earlier in the summer.

While the reliability of each report remains to be seen, it is clear that Duncan is demanding a wide array of interest in his services and that up and coming English talent remain firmly on the radar of clubs across Europe.

Duncan is tied to the club until 2021 after penning a three-year deal upon his arrival in 2018, ensuring Liverpool are in a comfortable position if and when they weigh up his immediate future.

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Analysing Liverpool’s ‘new defensive line’: The reasons for it and how it will improve

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 13:00

Although Liverpool has made a solid start to the new season, the way opponents have repeatedly carved open their defence has been a real cause for concern. Edward Stratmann analyses.

Having conceded 49 shots in their first four competitive games – 19 more than at the same time last season – Jurgen Klopp will want to quickly address this issue. For the team who had the best defensive record in the Premier League last campaign, letting in only 22 goals, they must do better.

Appearing to play a slightly higher line than throughout a fair chunk of last season, this combined with some individual errors and opponents clearly doing their homework, has seen Liverpool’s backline breached far too frequently.

When quizzed on the high line and these defensive difficulties, Klopp’s comments made for interesting reading, as he cited that the perception of the problem is greater than it actually is. “If you compare us to August last year, it’s not that big a difference,” he explained.

[embedded content]

“The thing is Chelsea had a lot of finishes that were offside but there were no whistles, so then you see that it was two or three yards offside and so that means it’s good defending.

“We know that we have to improve a couple of things, but those things will come together the longer we are together and get used to it again. We have to find our best path.”

A brilliant tactician who knows how to find solutions to problems, it would take a brave man to bet against Klopp ironing out these deficiencies in the coming weeks.

Judging by his comments, he firmly believes the Reds aren’t too far off getting it right and all they need is some more repetitions on the training ground and to fully get back to playing together again.

VAR and more

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another reason behind why Klopp might be pushing the defensive line slightly higher could be due to the introduction of VAR, which should eliminate any offside errors and therefore give Liverpool more confidence to play further up.

Whatever the exact explanation is, the fact remains that their adversaries have found plenty of joy getting at Liverpool in their early-season fixtures. Upon analysing this, and the blame can’t solely lie on the advanced positioning of the backline, for their play further up hasn’t been flawless either.

While Liverpool have still pressed effectively for the most part, there has been the odd occasion when they’ve given the ball holder too much time and space to launch long balls in behind. This is definitely something that must not happen when playing a high line, for it can leave the defence horribly exposed.

A far bigger problem has been that Liverpool have turned the ball over and missed tackles far too often in central midfield areas.

On the many occasions this has happened, especially against Norwich City and Chelsea, this has meant their central defenders have been put in terrible trouble. Whether it be stepping out rashly, getting caught on the ball, hitting a sloppy pass or through a poor first touch, these needless errors have hurt the Reds severely.

Midfield balance?

Moreover, the fact two of their three central midfielders usually push high or into the half spaces, in combination with the fullbacks usually bombing on, has only compounded their issues.

With hardly any access to counterpress effectively once a turnover is committed, Liverpool have often found themselves very stretched and struggling to react to quell the danger. This has regularly left their holding midfielder and central defenders stranded to defend in scenarios where there’s very little room for error.

While they’ve still counterpressed with some success and have fast defenders to track runners in behind, losing the ball in the middle of the park is a killer for any side, so if they can fix this, they will instantly alleviate some of their worries.

The way Klopp’s men have been uncharacteristically guilty of being found out of position hasn’t helped either. With players getting exposed due to not scanning their surroundings adequately, being in poor body postures and caught ball watching, there’s been a handful of moments when they’ve completely lost their marker.

Despite these not costing them badly yet, these blown assignments can destroy the defensive organisation, for they force another teammate to leave his post to cover, which can subsequently create space in their original zone of operation.

vs. Last season

Liverpool’s opponents also deserve plenty of credit for their part in making life tough for them.

Having clearly done their research, the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Teemu Pukki, Pedro, Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic have brilliantly directed their runs between defenders and on their blindside to find joy.

Moreover, the way their foes have used methods like opposite movements, rotations and strategically drawn and pinned Liverpool’s defenders has been effective in generating disconnects in their backline.

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the UEFA Super Cup match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Besiktas Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Comparing some numbers in key metrics from last season to this term have shown a slight drop off in some of their defensive success (albeit from a small sample size).

Not only have they conceded more shots per game (9.30 pg compared 7.71 pg last term), had a higher XG against (1.47 pg compared to 0.85), allowed more passes per defensive action (11.09 pg compared to 10.17) and given their opponents more passes per possession (4.24 pg compared to 3.75), they’re also turning the ball over more (76 pg compared to 71).

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as there’s been multiple times when their high line and accompanying high press has enabled them to condense the pitch to suffocate their opposition. In addition, catching their adversaries offside 23 times has clearly illustrated the benefits of this tactic.

With the Reds still winning matches and playing some pretty good football, it’ll be fascinating to see how Klopp deals with the aforementioned issues. Knowing him and his meticulous coaching staff, though, you can guarantee he’ll be working tirelessly to smooth over these cracks.

Looking at the issues listed, the problems would be best addressed collectively, for the finger shouldn’t be pointed just at the defensive line, as the lack of compactness and frustrating turnovers are the main stumbling blocks.

If the Reds can overcome these early issues, then there’s no reason to suggest the high line can’t be a consistent success.

Only time will tell if they, in fact, can. But under’s Klopp’s expert tutelage, Liverpool will surely come up with the answers to this intriguing conundrum sooner rather than later.

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Caoimhin Kelleher returns but Liverpool U23s taught lesson by experienced Chelsea

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 20:53

A starlet-studded Liverpool under-23s side were humbled at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, as Michy Batshuayi’s double helped Chelsea to a 3-0 victory.

Chelsea U23s 3-0 Liverpool U23s

Premier League 2, Stamford Bridge
August 19, 2019

Goals: Batshuayi 40′, 47′, Anjorin 75′

The young Reds emerged from the tunnel at Stamford Bridge with a very strong lineup, as Caoimhin Kelleher and Sepp van den Berg both returned after fitness issues.

Pre-season first-team regulars Ki-Jana Hoever, Yasser Larouci, Adam Lewis, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Rhian Brewster all started, along with Herbie Kane despite speculation over a loan move.

Among the opposition were Batshuayi and Antonio Rudiger, promising a tough challenge for Neil Critchley‘s side at both ends of the pitch.

Chelsea enjoyed the best of the early stages, with Kelleher forced into a sharp save to his right after both Larouci and Morgan Boyes were sold on the turn, while the young Reds’ attempts to play it out from the back invited more pressure.

The Blues’ two senior players created the opener as Liverpool’s two back from injury flapped, with Rudiger’s long ball evading a hapless Van den Berg in the air and, after Kelleher wiped him out outside the box, Batshuayi chipped in for 1-0.

 Liverpool's Curtis Jones looks dejected as they kick off after Tottenham Hotspur's fourth goal during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at the Academy. Tottenham Hotspur won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool were another goal behind two minutes after the break, with Faustino Anjorin fed down the left to tee Batshuayi up to hammer home, with Boyes not close enough to thwart him.

The young Reds began to create opportunities after going two behind, but too often were lacking the final pass, with Jones particularly frustrating as he wasted promising openings.

Kelleher denied Batshuayi a hat-trick on 55 minutes with a clever block with his feet, and soon after Critchley made three changes as Neco Williams, Tony Gallacher and Bobby Duncan replaced Hoever, Larouci and Brewster.

Chelsea‘s third came through some more wastefulness from Jones, who lost the ball near the halfway line after dithering in possession, and Anjorin cut inside to fire past a furious Kelleher.

The game ended at 3-0, with Dixon-Bonner arguably going closest with a weak effort from range, as the U23s were humbled on the road for their second defeat in two league games.

TIA Man of the Match: Yasser Larouci

Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Hoever (N.Williams 63′), Van den Berg, Boyes, Larouci (Gallacher 63′); Dixon-Bonner, Kane, Lewis; Elliott, Jones, Brewster (Duncan 63′)

Subs not used: Atherton, Clayton

Next Match: Southampton (A) – Premier League 2 – Monday, August 26, 7pm (BST)

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How Coutinho to Bayern affects LFC, & Lewis loan link – Monday’s Liverpool FC News Roundup

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:30

We round up the latest Liverpool news on Monday, as Jurgen Klopp and his players begin to turn their attentions to the weekend visit of Arsenal.

Today’s Main Headlines Liverpool Shouldn’t Suffer Financially from Coutinho Move

 Philippe Coutinho Correia poses with thumbs-up in his new red Bayern Munich shirt at Bayern Munich's Säbener Straße HQ after completing a loan move from FC Barcelona. (Pic by Handout/Bayern Munich)

When Philippe Coutinho moved from Liverpool to Barcelona in January 2018, who else envisaged him being shipped out on loan in the space of 19 months?

The Brazilian’s “dream” switch has turned into a nightmare and having been deemed surplus to requirements, Bayern Munich have snapped him up on a temporary basis.

According to the Evening Standard‘s David Lynch, Liverpool will only miss out on £4.5 million because of Coutinho’s switch to Germany.

The 27-year-old’s poor spell at the Nou Camp has “had little effect on the size of the fee received by Liverpool for his transfer.”

Liverpool were guaranteed to receive £111 million of the £146 million Barca paid for Coutinho’s signature, with the rest made up of “realistic add-ons”.

It is, therefore, expected that the Reds will make a cool £141 million from the sale of their former No.10.

Lewis Linked with Tranmere Move

 Liverpool's Adam Lewis during a friendly between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at Fenway Park on day six of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Adam Lewis was talked up as a possible deputy to Andy Robertson this season, but Yasser Larouci appears to have jumped ahead of him in the pecking order.

According to Football Insider, League One side Tranmere Rovers are eyeing up a loan move for the left-back “in the final 11 days of the lower league window.”

In many ways, a switch to Prenton Park would make perfect sense, providing Lewis with the challenge of first-team football at senior level.

It’s also just a quick ferry ride across the River Mersey, allowing Liverpool to keep a close eye on his progress.

Although nothing is concrete yet, Football Insider‘s Pete O’Rourke was correct in reporting Corey Whelan’s move to US side Phoenix Rising earlier this summer.

Klopp Hails “Really Outstanding” Trio

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the first equalising goal with team-mate Roberto Firmino (#9) during the UEFA Super Cup match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Besiktas Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The attacking unit of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino should now be considered one of Liverpool’s greatest of all time, as they continue to wreak havoc every week.

It was Mane and Firmino’s turn to take centre stage at Southampton on Saturday, with a goal a-piece.

Speaking to, Klopp gushed about the trio, saying it is a joy to manage such special players:

“A lot of times in my life I had sensational players always [but] not world-class players. Now, thank God I have them and they make the difference. We don’t have to talk about that.

Sadio Mane, Bobby Firmino, Mo Salah – these guys in the last situation are really outstanding.

“They were a constant threat, however tired they are. That’s brilliant and, of course, made the difference. We don’t have to talk about that.”

Next up for Salah, Mane and Firmino is Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday – a fixture that saw them score five goals between them last season in a 5-1 win.

Wijnaldum Shrugs Off Adrian Error

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo reacts during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Adrian‘s howler could have cost Liverpool dearly on Saturday, but fortunately the Reds held on against Southampton.

Gini Wijnaldum isn’t worried about the Spaniard, though, saying that his reaction to the mistake is more vital than anything.

“Those kind of things can happen with a goalkeeper. Last season it happened to Alisson against Leicester City and in a pre-season friendly,” said Wijnaldum.

“How is he [Adrian] going to react to the mistake? I think that is more important than the mistake itself.”

The Dutchman also spoke about Adrian getting used to his new surroundings, saying: “Everyone needs time to adjust. He is just in for, not even two weeks, so we have to get used to each other.”

Alisson‘s absence was clearly felt on Saturday, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that Adrian also made a couple of important saves.

He is a sizeable step down from the Reds’ world-class No.1, but he should improve over time.

Emery Admits to Fearing Liverpool

 Arsenal's manager Unai Emery reacts during the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at the Vitality Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arsenal were destroyed at Anfield last season, as has been the case a number of times during the Klopp era, and even before it.

In an interview with Sky Sports, manager Unai Emery admits he isn’t cherishing the prospect of facing the Reds, but says it’s a great challenge for his team:

“For us we don’t want to play against Liverpool ever. We’d prefer not to play against them.

“That is really our challenge, a good test. For the supporters, for all of us, going there with six points is good. Really our target is to reduce the distance to Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham and Chelsea.

“When we play against them it is a big challenge to show how we can be. Next week is going to be a very good match.”

It promises to be a thrilling encounter at Anfield on Saturday, with goals to be expected between two of the country’s most dangerous attacking sides.

Liverpool will need to improve defensively if they are to keep out the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.

Klopp’s Brilliant Gesture to Wilson

 Tim Goode/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Harry Wilson enjoyed a dream start to his Bournemouth career on Saturday, scoring in the Cherries’ 2-1 win at Aston Villa.

The 22-year-old’s impact did not go unnoticed by Klopp, with the German’s brilliant man-management revealed after the game.

The Telegraph report that Wilson received a fitting WhatsApp message from the 52-year-old on Saturday – “a ‘selfie’ photograph of him clenching his fist with a short message of congratulations”.

It perfectly sums up the Liverpool manager as a character, with his delight so genuine when a loanee excels away from Anfield.

Wilson may never end up making the grade with the Reds – equally, he may still be in Klopp’s long-term plans – but gestures such as these will do his confidence the world of good.

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Liverpool coach confirms ‘discussions’ over deal for Michel Vorm

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 14:51

Liverpool goalkeeping coach John Achterberg has confirmed there have been discussions within the club over a move for ex-Tottenham ‘keeper Michel Vorm.

Vorm is still a free agent after being released by Spurs at the end of last season, and was one of the most popular options when considering short-term additions at Anfield.

With Alisson still sidelined, Adrian has been filling in between the sticks so far, while 35-year-old Andy Lonergan has been drafted in as an emergency backup.

But with Lonergan lacking top-level experience, and youngster Caoimhin Kelleher yet to debut, the possibility of a more proven third goalkeeper has been mooted.

According to Achterberg, speaking to Dutch outlet NOS, he and the rest of Jurgen Klopp‘s backroom staff had “discussed” the prospect of signing Vorm.

“A good third goalie at a top club is not a superfluous luxury, I have always said,” he explained.

He did add, however, that Lonergan’s record at Championship level is “not to be underestimated,” while it is “not for nothing” that Kelleher is established in the Republic of Ireland setup.

It is possible that Vorm was considered prior to the decision to sign Lonergan, but Achterberg’s “superfluous luxury” line indicates that he would come in as competition for Adrian.

 Swansea City's goalkeeper Michael Vorm in action against Arsenal during the Premiership match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is not the first time the Dutchman has been on the Reds’ radar, of course, and they made a concerted effort to sign Vorm when he was at Swansea back in 2014.

He instead joined Spurs and remained there for five seasons, but spent his entire spell in north London as backup to Hugo Lloris, making just 47 appearances for the club.

Regardless, he is still a strong, experienced goalkeeper, proven in the Premier League, and if he were brought in he would improve Klopp’s squad considerably.

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Sokratis has tempted fate for Arsenal with his comments on defending Liverpool

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 13:16

Arsenal centre-back Sokratis believes it could be “more easy” to defend against Liverpool than Burnley, and their best approach is to “play our style of game.”

The Gunners head to Anfield on Saturday evening in the first top-six clash of the season for either side, and they sit joint-top of the Premier League with two games played.

Unai Emery’s side have conceded just once so far, with Liverpool shipping two but faring considerably better in front of goal with six scored to Arsenal‘s three.

In the same fixture last season, Roberto Firmino netted a hat-trick while Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah also got on the scoresheet in a 5-1 humiliation for the away side.

But Sokratis claims Saturday “will be different,” and even argued that “maybe it is more easy” to keep the Reds’ front three at bay than Burnley‘s physical duo of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood.

“It is a different game. Maybe it is more easy, because you don’t have to fight a lot,” the Greek centre-back said.

“But they also play football. If they are on good day and you are having a bad day, it is hard.

“In the end, we know that it is difficult and we respect Liverpool a lot.

“But I think the best [way] is to go and play our style of game. We will see what happens.”

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sokratis was hapless in his efforts to stop an on-fire Firmino back in December, though he suggested Arsenal were unfortunate to lose 5-1, saying “we made mistakes.”

“The 5-1 last season…it was not the game to take five goals—the penalty kicks [from Firmino and Salah], we made mistakes,” he continued.

“I think this year will be different, but we have to improve of course from the work we do with the coach and his staff.”

The 31-year-old had a new centre-back partner at the Emirates on Saturday, with David Luiz joining him at the back following his late arrival from Chelsea.

In theory, that could prove to be a weakness for the Gunners if Jurgen Klopp‘s attacking line are on form, but on this season’s evidence so far Liverpool cannot underestimate their visitors.

But Sokratis has certainly tempted fate with his comments, and it can be argued that Barnes and Wood present a more straightforward challenge than Firmino, Salah and Mane.

And that is without mentioning Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and so on…

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VAR seen as “10-year project” as high-profile decisions impact the Premier League

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 11:42

The International Football Association Board have warned that VAR is a “10-year project,” with understanding of the controversial technology in its infancy.

This is the first season that video assistant referees are being fully implemented in the Premier League, and after just two weekends it has prompted some high-profile calls.

Most prominently, these have come in Man City games, both in their opening 5-0 win at West Ham and ultimately deciding their 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday.

At the London Stadium, Raheem Sterling was adjudged to have been fractionally offside with the help of VAR as he laid on a goal for Gabriel Jesus—the decision based on a millimetre.

Jesus thought he had scored a last-minute winner at the Etihad as he curled home following a corner, but the goal was ruled out after the ball struck Aymeric Laporte’s hand in the buildup.

Pep Guardiola and a host of his players, rightly or wrongly, questioned the use of VAR and the new handball rules after the game.

And many fans, not just of a City persuasion, lamented the impact it has on the emotional influence of the game.

 The VAR check for a potential penalty is broadcast on the scoreboard during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Porto at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool are yet to be meaningfully impacted by VAR this season, but there will no doubt be occasions when the Reds will feel aggrieved as decisions go against them after review.

IFAB have already confirmed that the technology’s protocol will be reviewed over the coming months, with any change likely to take place in March.

And speaking as part of ProTipster’s VAR From Perfect study, IFAB secretary Lukas Brud has stressed that VAR is seen as a “10-year project,” and highlighted its popularity with referees.

“The VAR concept is still at the beginning; it is a 10-year project until we are at the stage where people really understand how it works,” Brud explained.

“Every single referee has said to us ‘for us, it’s great. We don’t have to be afraid of killing our careers’.

“Many people forget that referees can decide matches with wrong decisions not because they are not good—they are a very high level—but they make mistakes because they are human.

“They will have someone to fall back on and they love it.”

 Referee Nestor Pitana to consults VAR before awarding France a penalty kick during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Final match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mike Riley, general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), added that “while VAR will not capture everything, it will help us make better decisions.”

There was always likely to be a teething process as VAR was introduced to the Premier League, but though there are certainly arguments for its use, most against it are based on the interpretation of new rules.

Offsides and handballs have become increasingly strict, and the main issue comes with its impact on football for fans.

If this is to be a 10-year process—and there is no indication VAR will be scrapped—there will no doubt require to be more leniency, or common sense, in its use if the game is to avoid descending into an emotionless bore.

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Liverpool’s jury still out despite Southampton victory – as first heavyweight clash awaits

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 17:00

Liverpool edged past Southampton for a 2-1 victory on Saturday, with the result laying a crucial groundwork ahead of their first big heavyweight tie of 2019/20.

With Alisson injured, fitness doubts over Adrian and generally nursing the aching limbs of a long night in Istanbul—sustained less than 72 hours earlier—it was with a sharp intake of breath that Liverpool headed to Southampton.

Mission accomplished though.

Being sluggish in the first half and then punishing opponents for not fully taking advantage of us seems to be our new thing.

Half-Time Oranges

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last Wednesday, Chelsea strolled out for the second half proudly in possession of a one-goal lead, only to see it cruelly snatched from them within a short few seconds of the restart.

At St Mary’s, on Saturday, Southampton came within seconds of taking in their half-time oranges with a hard-earned goalless scoreline, only to see Sadio Mane ruthlessly plunder a goal of style and substance just as the referee began to wonder where his whistle was.

On both occasions, we then located the type of higher gears that very few other teams own.

It was akin to Liverpool giving the opposition a head-start, covering their eyes and and counting to 20, generously giving them the chance to run and hide, to make the contest a fairer one.

Footballing hide and seek, if you will?

Coming, ready or not.


 Liverpool's Sadio Mane during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was a peculiar game. We scored our opener against the run of play, we mostly bossed the second half, but could quite easily have thrown two points away.

Adrian offered Danny Ings the chance to provoke a sharp intake of breath from us at the end.

This was our first ‘we might look back on this one’ game of the new campaign.

All that said, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah both had opportunities to have doubled the amount of goals we eventually settled on.

The final score could easily have been 4-0 or 2-2.

Liverpool always keep you thinking; Liverpool always keep you on your toes, whether that is as a supporter watching them, or as opposing players and coaches trying to deal with them.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) celebrates at the final whistle with Virgil van Dijk after the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Southampton are a peculiarity. We wouldn’t be the team we are today without having plundered them directly for half a dozen players or so.

Mane and Virgil van Dijk might be the only ones that still walk into Klopp’s team, but even the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana were defined stepping stones from the days when we used to field Paul Konchesky, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Christian Poulsen.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also previously of their parish.


 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and Southampton's manager Ralph Hasenhüttl before the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Although they no longer possess players we covet, Southampton are ambitious enough to want to create a haven of football, somewhere free of the more bludgeoning aspects of the English game.

It isn’t a place you’d see Sam Allardyce, David Moyes or Tony Pulis surface. It was the first English port of call for Mauricio Pochettino, yet conversely, they did employ Mark Hughes for a while.

Ralph Hasenhuttl was an admirable appointment as Hughes’ successor.

Given the vagaries of the Premier League, after seeing his team lose their opening two games of the 2019/20 season he is probably two further defeats from losing his job.

The odds would certainly be against him being the man that brings Southampton to Anfield in February.

Football clubs tend to project an aura and Southampton have long since stopped feeling like Southampton.

At least from the perspective of somebody who not only remembers their previous life at The Dell but went to their old ground many times over.

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This isn’t just me speaking, as it is something the author Mat Guy agreed with, as a Southampton supporter, when I was talking to him a week or so ago.

The name of the club might move to the new stadium, but the spirit of the club doesn’t travel with it. See Man City, Arsenal and Leicester etc., for further examples.

It’s why I cringed for the best part of a decade over the concept of Liverpool transferring themselves into Stanley Park.

Back in 2019, however, this was a win that was made more valuable by City’s issues with VAR, Tottenham and that likeable man Pochettino.

Beware Presumptuousness

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates at the final whistle after the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We now have a week to rest up before the visit of Arsenal, next Saturday.

A game that will offer us our first heavyweight clash of the season.

A game where we can’t afford to be generous in our goalkeeping, spacious in our defending and presumptuous in our approach to opponents that we have had the upper hand over during recent seasons.

These early victories are simply laying the groundwork for the focus that will need to come, if we are to challenge for the Premier League title, if we are to go one better this time around.

Two wins out of two, yet the jury is still out on that one.

One thing that is certain though. That away kit is awful.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shows return to the familiar can be key to his Liverpool revival

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 15:00

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in his favoured midfield role for the first time in 16 months on Saturday, and his performance suggested he can return to his best.

When Oxlade-Chamberlain left Arsenal for Liverpool in 2017, he did so with a view to establishing himself as a central midfielder.

“I’ve always wanted to be Steven Gerrard, so I’ve still got a hope of that,” he famously said after the FA Cup final, two months before swapping the Emirates for Anfield.

His versatility saw him fielded out wide on his returning to the starting lineup in the Reds’ UEFA Super Cup victory over Chelsea in midweek, but Jurgen Klopp was the first to admit it was a mistake.

“We want to give him the opportunity to perform, to shine if you want, and in those circumstances, on the position, it obviously was not as possible as we would have wished,” the manager said, having withdrawn the 26-year-old at half-time.

“But that’s then my mistake, not his mistake, because I made the decision.”

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The physical toll of 120 minutes in intense heat in Istanbul, and a trip to St Mary’s coming just three days later, saw Klopp retain Oxlade-Chamberlain in his XI however.

Unlike that night on the left, though, his chance came in the role that saw him make such a big impression prior to the ACL injury that ruled him out for a year.

And unlike that night, he was able to showcase glimpses of the vibrancy, fluidity and cutting edge that make him such a unique option for the Reds in the middle of the park.

Such was the way Liverpool set up on Saturday, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all starting in attack for the first time this season, in possession Oxlade-Chamberlain effectively served as a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1.

Off the ball, he grew into the game in terms of pressing and tracking back, with the dynamic of Klopp’s system requiring he serve as right-back at times when Trent Alexander-Arnold found himself further forward.

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (C) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (L) and Mohamed Salah (R) during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In many ways, this is the all-encompassing Gerrard role that the England international envisaged, and his output at St Mary’s highlighted why he is so eager to remain there.

The potential for Oxlade-Chamberlain to dovetail with a deep-dropping Firmino and supply passes for the onrushing Mane and Salah is a dangerous one.

In fact, the best moment from his largely anonymous 45-minute showing in the Super Cup was a brilliant outside-of-the-boot pass to set up a chance for Salah—coming, predictably, from a central position.

He replicated that with a perfectly weighted ball from inside his own half, over the defence, for Salah to blast at goal with his left in the victory over Southampton.

It was the best of the chances Liverpool enjoyed prior to Mane’s opener, though after the Reds went in 1-0 up at the break Oxlade-Chamberlain and the rest of his team-mates were able to go up the gears in the second half.

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (R) and Southampton's Moussa Djenepo (L) during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This found him able to drive at the Saints’ defence and either open fire or thread passes more effectively, and speaking after the game the midfielder said he felt he “settled into [the rhythm] a bit better” in the second 45.

He was Liverpool’s most clinical passer (89.5% accuracy), only James Milner had more touches of the ball out of any of the starting midfield and attack (70 to 55) and only Firmino broke through the lines with more dribbles (three to two).

It wasn’t the pinnacle, by any means, with Oxlade-Chamberlain himself describing it as “an alright game” for him, but there is cause to believe the spark is reigniting.

In his post-match press conference, Klopp described his performance as “brilliant,” and gave an indication that his spell on the flanks—both in pre-season and on his first start back—was part of a long-term rehabilitation.

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“It was different, it was outstandingly good,” he told reporters.

“[The] 45 minutes on Wednesday, we can now say they helped for sure as well. To get the minutes, to feel the intensity and know you are ready for the intensity.

“Today we had to make changes and we did make changes, and especially for us in the centre of the park it’s really important that we are there, ready for all these long runs, for all these decisive things.

“We changed there [with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson], so it was just good to have these opportunities and Ox was obviously not bad today.”

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes over the number 15 shirt from Daniel Sturridge during a pre-season friendly match between Bradford City AFC and Liverpool FC at Valley Parade. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brought off with two minutes left of normal time, Oxlade-Chamberlain is yet to complete a full competitive game for the Reds since that huge setback against AS Roma.

This underlines the long road ahead as he looks to recapture the form that made him undroppable in his first campaign on Merseyside, and why Klopp is working sensitively to steel him for the rigours of that central duty.

But he offers something to Liverpool arguably only Naby Keita could otherwise, and the Guinean’s own struggles have left a void to fill.

For Klopp, a determination to nurture Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to key-cog status will stem not only in his quality on the field, but his character off it.

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during a training session ahead of the UEFA Super Cup match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Besiktas Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That was clear as the ex-Southampton youth—who was born in Portsmouth, the manager needed reminding—made his way over to the travelling Kop at full-time to give his shirt to a young supporter.

It was fitting that this landmark afternoon came at the ground that he first made his name, and now Oxlade-Chamberlain can aim to make further steps as he looks to make that midfield role his own once again.

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The good, the bad and Adrian’s error – Debating Southampton 1-2 Liverpool

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 13:00

Liverpool fought hard for a 2-1 win over Southampton on Saturday, in a game which raised both positives and negatives for Jurgen Klopp to consider.

Goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were enough to secure back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the Reds, but that does not tell an accurate story of the game.

For much of the opening 45 minutes, Klopp’s side struggled for fluency on the ball and, in particular, at the back with a disorganised group struggled to shield stand-in stopper Adrian.

Adrian himself was far from perfect, with the Spaniard caught by Southampton‘s energetic forward line on a number of occasions when dallying on the ball, and Danny Ings‘ second-half charge saw Liverpool’s No. 13 concede embarrassingly.

With a week until their next outing at home to Arsenal there is plenty of time for the Reds to work on the training pitch.

So what can Klopp and his backroom staff from this game, for better or worse?

This Is Anfield’s Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) was joined by The Redmen TV’s Ste Hoare (@stehoare) and Danish site Redmen Family’s Patrick Pilov (@PatrickPilov) to discuss the highs and lows from St Mary’s.

The good…

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (C) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (L) and Mohamed Salah (R) during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

STE: Although it was a tight game, one where Liverpool looked sloppy at times, there were actually quite a few positives.

I thought Ox looked more like his old self playing in midfield, which was great to see.

The biggest positive, though, was once again the front three.

Having three genuine world-class attackers means that Liverpool can score goals even when they aren’t playing particularly well.

All three had moments of just pure brilliance that helped win that game.

PATRICK: As Ste said, the front three.

No, Salah did not have his best game, but in the second half we created loads of chances.

Mane especially looks like he has a point to prove from the beginning of the season, while Firmino has looked like he has got a taste for winning trophies and is more ready than he has ever been before.

We are now two games into the Premier League and all three of them are on the scoresheet already.

Situations and circumstances might be difficult but world class can never be denied, which was clearly the case yesterday.

People saying we are playing bad might have a case to their argument, but imagine how Salah, Mane and Firmino will turn defenders’ lives into nightmares when we start playing well and are firing on all cylinders.

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (L) and Southampton's Jan Bednarek (R) during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: It was a very difficult game, and watching from the stands at St Mary’s it was clear the rigours of Wednesday night were having an impact.

One of those to struggle in Istanbul was my standout positive, however, with Ox much more effective deployed in his favoured midfield role.

It wasn’t his best performance by a stretch, but there were clear signs that he could get back to the form that made him a key fixture in 2017/18.

Obviously Mane’s strike was excellent too; I was sat basically in line with the No. 10 as he cut inside and curled it beyond Angus Gunn, and it looked like a certain goal as soon as he picked it up.

The second half was much better, too, and the sight of four, five or even six Reds flooding forward on the counter-attack is a joy.

The bad…

 Liverpool's James Milner with  during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

STE: I still think Liverpool are conceding far too many good chances that better teams will exploit.

Yoshida’s header and Ings’ shocking miss are two examples that really should have been goals.

I can’t quite put my finger on what’s allowing opponents to create some excellent chances against us but it is a concern.

I know he took a blow to the head that may have had an impact in his performance, but for the second game in a row, Milner looked like a 33-year-old man playing as a central midfielder in a Premier League game.

He just looked half a yard short in terms of his tackling and his use of the ball wasn’t really up to standard either.

PATRICK: The midfield looks completely out of sorts.

I am not sure if it is a tactical change by Klopp or it is rhythm, but the volume in midfield is missing.

We are clearly standing with a very high defensive line, which we are often very good at, but with wanting to play out from the back, two of our three midfielders often seek the line of our defence whilst our full-backs pace forward.

This creates acres of space for the opponent to operate in within the midfield when they regain the ball, and it looks set to catch us on our heels.

The last pass or second-to-last pass becomes much easier for our opponents with our midfielders being either on the wings or in our defensive line.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) celebrates at the final whistle with Virgil van Dijk after the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: The obvious defensive issues were still there, and while Van Dijk improved as the game went on, there was a clear lack of organisation at the back.

I though Matip had one of his poorer games, and particularly struggled up against the pace and physicality of Che Adams—since he and Gomez seem to be rotated at this stage of the season, this was a game better suited to the latter.

Milner was out of sorts too, as Ste noted, and it certainly appears time is catching up with him.

Another negative for me, in a way, is the lack of variety in Klopp’s changes.

That’s three games now that Shaqiri hasn’t made it onto the pitch, and while the qualities Origi can offer are much different, surely there’s a case to argue our No. 23 should be involved more.

And should we be concerned after Adrian’s shaky display?

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo reacts during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

STE: Honestly, no. I’m absolutely fine with Adrian.

The error was so bad that you can’t really put too much stock into it.

All good goalies have howlers—see Ederson against Spurs or Tom Heaton against Bournemouth as examples.

I think, like Alisson did after Leicester away last season, Adrian will learn from that and not do it again. I’d be more worried if the fundamentals of his game looked poor; his positioning, handling etc.

However, I thought his goalkeeping was actually very good. The instinctive save from Yoshida’s header was excellent, he made some other good saves and his positioning looked solid too.

As backup goalkeepers go, he seems like a decent one.

Someone just needs to put a rocket up his backside about his kicking though! Attackers will constantly be pressuring him now after seeing the Southampton goal.

PATRICK: Alisson has made a couple of mistakes, as have Mignolet, Karius and now Adrian.

The difference is that Mignolet and Karius made mistakes as goalkeepers and Adrian’s mistakes came with his footwork.

Is there a huge gap from Alisson to Adrian? Most definitely! Is it something we should be worried about? Not too much.

Adrian is our second ‘keeper for a reason, and while he does not seem to be able to kick the ball past the halfway line when it is on the ground, it is something that can be worked on.

It is not his goalkeeping skills which are the problem: he does not have to change his style of play fundamentally, he just needs to play the ball more safely and with no risks.

 Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri and goalkeeper Alisson Becker fist pump after the opening penalty kick of the shoot out during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Manchester City won 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We are going to miss Alisson’s ability with his feet, but it is important to remember that Adrian is not taking over from our Brazilian he is a stand-in.

They do not have the same style of play and that is something that Adrian, Klopp, the rest of the team and all of the fans will have to adapt to, as long as Alisson is out.

JACK: Ste’s latter point is the one that immediately struck me after Ings’ goal.

The atmosphere in St Mary’s was amplified in the minutes after Adrian‘s costly error (I specify, as there were a few others) and it’s clear this will be a flaw both opposition players and fans will target.

His use of the ball throughout was tough to watch, and reminded me of those Premier League games Karius played in his troubled first season.

However, I agree with both Ste and Patrick that Adrian is still a capable stand-in, and it’s unfair to compare him to Alisson.

But the sooner we get the Brazilian back, the better…

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Klopp tops Dalglish, Shankly & Paisley – 5 key stats as Liverpool clinch 2-1 win at Southampton

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 12:00

Liverpool produced a gritty display to beat Southampton 2-1 on Saturday, with a number of eye-catching statistics emerging from the game.

Trips to St Mary’s have rarely been comfortable for the Reds in recent years and this one was no different.

A below-par opening 45 minutes looked to be finishing goalless, only for Sadio Mane to rifle his side in front seconds before the interval.

Roberto Firmino doubled Liverpool’s lead with a well-taken effort, and fortunately Danny Ings‘ late strike—scored after a dreadful mistake by Adrian—proved to be nothing more than a consolation.

Here are five key statistics from the match, as Liverpool sit top of the Premier League table.

Reds Equal Record Winning Run

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (C) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (L) and Mohamed Salah (R) during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds have become winning machines under Jurgen Klopp, finding that rare ability to grind out victories even when they’re not playing well.

Saturday’s triumph on the south coast was Liverpool’s 11th in a row in the Premier League, equalling their best-ever run of consecutive wins in the competition.

That is also held by Brendan Rodgers’ class of 2013/14, who rattled off 11 victories on the bounce prior to the heartbreaking defeat to Chelsea in April 2014.

Three points at home to Arsenal next Saturday would equal the club’s best winning run overall, set by Sir Kenny Dalglish’s Reds in 1990.

This Liverpool team have now won 32 out of 40 league games since the beginning of last season—it’s quite extraordinary.

300 Up for Klopp

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp takes waves to the supporters as he celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp is doing a stunning job as manager.

One new statistic sums up why he deserves to be the focal point of so much praise this weekend.

Saturday’s win means the German has now recorded 300 points in the league as Liverpool boss in 146 games—no manager in Reds history achieved that feat in faster time.

Dalglish (150) is Klopp’s closest challenger, followed by Rafa Benitez (159), Bob Paisley (161), Bill Shankly (166) and Gerard Houllier (169).

Remember when people were mocking him for having a worse record than Rodgers?

Magic Mane

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mane has enjoyed an exceptional week, scoring twice in the UEFA Super Cup win over Chelsea, before bagging a stunner against former club Saints.

Is there a better left-sided player in Europe on current form?

Saturday’s strike means Mane has become the latest player to score in his first Premier League start of the season four times.

Mark Viduka is the last to have done that, between 2002/03 and 2005/06, showing what an impressive effort it is by the Senegalese.

It’s now 16 goals in his last 18 Premier League starts for Mane.

Selfless Front Three

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (C) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (L) and Mohamed Salah (R) during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s world-class front three of Mane, Firmino and Mohamed Salah may be lauded for their goals, but their assist tallies are also outstanding.

That was proven yet again on Saturday afternoon, as Mane set up Firmino for the Reds’ second goal, having won the ball back in a dangerous area.

Liverpool’s regular front three have now all each assisted and scored one goal this season.

Three combos among them too:
Firmino to Salah, Norwich
Firmino to Mané, Chelsea
Mané to Firmino, Southampton

— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) August 17, 2019

It means Liverpool’s brilliant trio have now all registered at least a goal and an assist apiece this season.

They will continue to share the workload as the season progresses, showing why they are club football’s most devastating attacking unit.

Defensive Struggles Remain

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo reacts during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have may won both league games and the Super Cup so far this season, but they haven’t been at their best defensively.

Once again on Saturday, they seemed too easy to get through, with analyst and writer Andrew Beasley highlighting that Southampton had three clear-cut chances in the game.

Last season, only Barcelona and Chelsea managed more than two in a match, further exposing Liverpool’s current malaise at the back.

They have also only kept one clean sheet in their last five league outings—they need to go up a gear in that area, with a week on the training ground surely helping in that respect.

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