Reds with Chance to Go Top


Once again Liverpool head into another top-of-the-table clash, this time the hardest one yet. A familiar foe on many levels - Tottenham, who were memorably beaten in the Champions League final to make it 6, and Jose Mourinho, who has often got the better of us in the past with Chelsea.

Despite injuries, Liverpool have managed to keep pace with the current league leaders, and have had similar streaks. Over the course of the last 12 matches, Liverpool have generally conceded first within the first 30 minutes, and generally score goals in the few minutes preceding half time, and full time. Spurs on the other hand, have shown themselves to be quite capable of scoring goals throughout the match, although the Lily Whites are experts at scoring in the first 15 minutes.

From what we’ve seen in the graphic above, the first 30 minutes are absolutely crucial in determining the outcome of the match. If Liverpool defend well and manage to get a goal, they are well in with a chance of edging what we expect would be a tough encounter. Getting a goal would not be easy, as Spurs are extremely adept in defending, and have what is the best defensive record in the league.

A win for either side would see the victor as the outright leader in the race ahead.

Key Battles


The biggest and most obvious threat is Harry Kane, the key talisman and main man in Mourinho’s plan. Spurs play through Kane and stopping him would be a tough ask for Liverpool’s back line, even with the talents of Alisson Becker and Fabinho.


Even if Liverpool do get the best of the England forward, they will have to deal with one of the most potent attackers in Son Heung Min, and keeping the duo quiet will effectively nullify the Spurs threat.


At the other end, Liverpool come up against the best defence in the league, with two of the front three facing goalscoring troubles of their own. Goals for Roberto Firmino have been far and few this season, and Sadio Mane is facing a dry spell of his own, failing to score in his last 8 matches. This is a worrying trend, that the Reds will be hoping to break and definitively clinch the initiative in the title race.


The midfield battle will be equally crucial in winning the war today as well. The tired Liverpool midfield has been unable to bring its usual energy and seize control of games in recent weeks, but the return of Naby Keita to fitness will surely be a massive boost, and allow Jurgen Klopp to rest one of his stars. Hopefully we will see the midfield turn in a much better performance than in the

Team News


Despite Jose Mourinho’s attempts to downplay Liverpool’s injury concerns, the mind games maestro cannot mask the fact that a Liverpool team missing the talents of Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Thiago Alcantara, Xherdan Shaqiri, Diogo Jota, James Milner, and Kostas Tsimikas is a much weaker team. Even if not all of the above are in the best Reds line-up, their absences have denied the remaining players any opportunities to gain the required match fitness, and this is part of the reason for many a lacklustre performance on the pitch.


Joel Matip went off in the Fulham game with a back problem, and is expected to make way for Nat Phillips in the line-up should he prove to be unfit.


Tottenham obviously come into the game with a nearly full squad, and have had the benefit of rotation to keep their players in fighting fit form.
Only a combination of fan and will power will enable Liverpool to come away with a decisive victory.

Predicted Line-ups


Liverpool:


Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Nat Phillips, Fabinho, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane


Tottenham Hotspur:


Hugo Lloris, Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Sergio Reguilon, Moussa Sissoko, Pierr

 

written By @Joetgw

stats by @jag1e

16/12/2020

 

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The Return of the Kop: Reds Take On Wounded Wolves

The Premier League returns to action this weekend with the greatly anticipated return of fans as the Reds take on the high-flying Wolverhampton Wanderers. There will be 2,000 Kopites in attendance but we all know they will make it sound like 20,000. Wolves have made a start weve all come to expect of them since their promotion to Englands top flight in 2018 sitting 7th in the table having won last time out against struggling Arsenal. However, we all know this came at a cost and we would all wish Raul Jimenez a speedy recovery.

 

Despite this just 2 of their last 5 league games have seen Nunos side walk away with all 3 points. With the Reds looking to get back to winning ways in the league after the draw down at the South Coast last week, Wolves will certainly be no pushover forKlopps men.

 

Liverpool managed to do the double over their opponents last season in their pursuit of the title with a 1-0 victory at Anfield and a 2-1 win at Molineux. In both of these games the Reds had to dig deepand we can almost guarantee that a similar performance we will be required. Nuno appeared to abandon his system of three at the back in recent weeks which has seen Wolves look like more of a threat going forward compared to their somewhat defensive system of three or as we all know it as five at the back.

Liverpool News

Its no secret that Klopp is limited in who he can select to lineup for this fixture with the usual suspects of Van Dijk, Gomez, Chamberlain and Thiago being the notable long-term injuries (although the Ox can take part in the team warm-up Klopp confirmed in his press conference). It is also needless to say that the images released of Van Dijk starting his recovery at the newly-opened Kirkby (AXA) training complex brought a smile as wide as the Mersey to all of our faces.

 

However, on a more positive note Trent Alexander Arnold and Naby Keita both took part in full training on Friday and so they are in contention for a place in the squad come Sunday but the game has come too soon for veteran James Milner. Liverpool will also be without Brazilian No. 1 Alisson Becker, and with the performance of young Kelleher in midweek Klopp has a selection headache over which backup he decides to stick between the posts. In terms of new signing Thiago, a number of reports suggested that he will most likely not play again in 2020 with no sign of him returning to training soon. 

Wolves News

The visitors are without Mexican Raul Jimenez after he picked up that horrific injury in the victory over the Gunners ruling him out for the foreseeable future. This opens the door for summer signing Fabio Silva with the highly rated 18-year old yet to be given a run of games to justify the £35 Million (a club record fee) that Wolves paid for him. Nuno Espirito Santo will be glad to see that Moroccan international Romain Saiss has made a full recovery after testing positive for COVID-19 while away on the most recent international break.

 

The main talking point this week has undoubtedly been the fact that this is Diogo Jotas first game against his former side. Having scored 9 goals already this season, the Portuguese international is already more than halfway to his entire tally of last season where he scored 16 in all competitions. Nuno will know the threat that Jota and the rest of the Liverpool side bring and therefore we could see him revert back to his tried and trusted method of fiveat the back - a system which seemed to cause Liverpool quite a few problems last season. Another major reason why this is a possibility is the fact they are missing their No. 9 and thereby potentially making them less threatening going forward so why throw caution to the wind and play a more attacking setup?

 

In terms of tactics for Liverpool, I think we can expect a similar attacking line-up that we saw away at the Etihad. Should Wolves line-up with five at the back, having that extra attacker in a 4-2-3-1 shape would allow Liverpool to cause Wolves more problems in an attacking sense, and with their main goal threat absent from this game it could be worth a gamble to add more gun powder to the cannon. Also, the fact we are somewhat down to the bare bones in midfield is also another reason to entertain the idea of going with the Fab Four. A few other key decisions that need to be made are, who starts in goal? Do you bring Nat Phillips back in? The latter of which would allow Fabinho to return to his natural habitat in the centre of the park.

Liverpool predicted Line-up

Caoimhin Kelleher, Neco Williams, Joel Matip, Fabinho, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson (c), Georginio Wijnaldum, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah.

 

This is a line-up Im sure we would all love to see given the attacking intent and with the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita, the bench is starting to look stacked again compared to recent weeks.

 

Wolves Predicted Line-up

As stated I can see Nuno reverting back to his five at the back system especially given the cards he has been dealt and the respect he will have for the opposition.

 

Rui Patricio, Nelson Semedo, Conor Coady, Wily Boly, Romain Saiss, Fernando Marcal, Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Pedro Neto, Fabio Silva

 

This would see Wolves in a 5-3-2 formation however Nuno could very easily go 4-5-1 with Adama Traore and Daniel Podence and ask questions of the somewhat makeshift Liverpool back four.

 

This will be a real test for Liverpool however that will come as no shock given the last few seasonsoutings against Wolves. In terms of score predictions, Im going for a 2-1 win to Liverpool with goals coming from Jota and Mane. The return of the fans will definitely provide a much-needed morale boost for the Liverpool players and should see our performance get an added kick.

 

Do you agree with the line-up? Who would you like to see start? YNWA.

 

written by Adam Harvey

06/12/2020

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Injury Break Hangover: Reds Out to Foil Vardy Party

 

It is early doors, but injuries and the continued widespread infection of COVID-19 overshadows what should normally be billed as a top-of-the-table clash between first and (joint) second, as Liverpool take on former Manager Brendan RodgersLeicester City at Anfield in a high stakes battle for Premier League supremacy.

 

Our last meeting with the Foxes in December 2019 produced arguably one of the greatest performances under Jurgen Klopps reign, with the imperious Reds psychologically sealing the  title with a 0-4 trouncing that reverberated across the league, and further extended a one-sided record against Leicester (W11, D3, L2, in 16 games).

 

The last time Leicester won against Liverpool was in February 2017, and to find the last time it happened at Anfield, one would have to go back 20 years to the year 2000. This time round, with the Reds looking hamstrung with injuries, Rodgers knows it is his best chance to set the record straight.

The Journey So Far

 

Despite the Jekyll and Hyde routine the Reds defence have going on in the Champions League and Premier League campaigns respectively (and having the third-worse GA this season), Klopps injury-prone Liverpool have defied the odds to stay within a point off the Premier League summit - having already faced 3 of the traditional Top 6(Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City), and early season high flyers like Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham United.

 

The Foxes themselves have come through tough opposition in the run-up to this fixture and have come away with significant scalps, beating the likes of Arsenal, Wolves, and most significantly a 5-2 dismantling of Manchester City. This represents a significant improvement of Rodgersrecord against the Top 6compared to previous seasons.

 

Both sides have done so with significant injuries sustained from the early wear and tear of a punishing footballing schedule.

Hamstrung Reds

 

A win at Anfield could extend the credentials of Klopps Mentality Monstersas the outright Kings of the Kop, by going 64 home league games unbeaten. Yet all thoughts go towards the question of whether Liverpool have enough first team players to start the game.

 

The latest international (we might as well call it an injury) break has given Jurgen Klopp more headaches with Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson joining the entire Liverpool first choice back line on the treatment table. Mohamed Salah is also likely to miss out after testing positive for COVID-19. The only good news is that the break has provided some recovery time for Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara to possibly make a return to the side.

 

This could probably mean that only Joel Matip remains of the back line, and could pair up with one of Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips, flanked by Kostas Tsimikas on the left and either one of James Milner or Neco Williams at right back.

 

Depending on the availability of Thiago and Fabinho, we could see a new-look midfield; while the attack is likely to feature Diogo Jota alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Vardy Party?

 

Brendan Rodgers and Jamie Vardy will no doubt be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a relatively inexperienced back line, and their approach will no doubt be predictable. Playing at Anfield against a Liverpool high line, the Foxes will look to sit back without the ball for large periods and hit on the counter, and the pace of the evergreen Vardy will be Rodgersprincipal spearhead.

 

Jurgen Klopp will be anticipating this and the key to victory will quite obviously lie in cutting off the supply to the Leicester No. 9. This will not be an easy task however, as the Foxes have been highly clinical this season - scoring from 24 attempts in only 36.

Cause for Optimism

 

We have problems, no doubt, but we have solutions as well. In the pre-match build-up, Jurgen Klopp refused to make any excuses and hailed his team as a proper, proper unit. Rightly so, the gaffer also pointed out that the Mentality Monstershave proven themselves to be great at responding to adversity.

 

Looking back, this team has pulled together and come out of the storm stronger time and time again. After losing out on the Champions League in 2018, they captured Number Six the following season. Losing out on the Premier League season and missing out on a double by the narrowest of margins, the Monstersonce again pulled together, and in the following season put together the most dominant campaign in Premier League history.

 

That same mentality has evidently continued this season.

 

Mohamed Salah may be unavailable, but the Reds can call upon a certain Portuguese forward - who judging by social media is apparently better than Cristiano. Hendo may be out for this game, but Gini Wijnaldums performances make as good a case as any. Finally, throughout all the injuries we have sustained to the back four this season, whoever Jurgen calls upon stands tall and delivers. Not forgetting, we have the best goalkeeper in the world in Alisson - a man the late great Ray Clemence would be proud to call his natural successor.

 

We may be down, but the Reds are certainly not out by any stretch.

Predicted Line-ups

 

Liverpool XI:

Alisson Becker, James Milner, Joel Matip, Nat Phillips, Konstantinos Tsimikas, Curtis Jones, Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

 

Leicester City XI:

Kasper Schmeichel, Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans, Christian Fuchs, Marc Albrighton, Youri Tielemans, Nampalys Mendy, Luke Thomas, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Jamie Vardy

 

 

written by @Joetgw 

22/11/2020

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Liverpools Title Road Leads Through City: Manchester City Vs Liverpool Preview

 

One thing is certain this season: If Liverpool are to retain their Premier League title in the 2020/21 season, the road they must take goes straight through Manchester City.

 

Unquestionably the biggest test of Klopps men will come in the meetings against City,  as beating a side like City, who were centurions two seasons ago, and winners of back-to-back Premier League titles is no easy task.

 

Are City the same side they once were? How is game different from Liverpools 4-0 humbling against the Citizens in their first outing since taking the crown at the end of last season?

 

The Opposition:

 

Lets take a look at City, their main goal this season is to win back the title, and to close the 18-point gap between them and the champions - a big task.

 

Once again City lost a club legend in the summer, with David Silva ending his decade-long stay with the club, moving back home to Spain. Leroy Sane has also returned home to Germany joining newly-crowned European Champions FC Bayern Munich, while Nicholas Otamendi also left the club for SL Benfica.

 

Notable incomings include defensive reinforcements in Centre Backs Nathan Ake from AFC Bournemouth, and Ruben Dias From Benfica, while the young Spanish starlet Ferran Torres made the move to Manchester from Valencia CF.

 

Going into the game, City sit in 10th position on 11 points, 5 behind Jurgens Mighty Reds having played a game less due to their involvement in the delayed latter stages of the Champions League last season.

 

City do seem to have found some defensive solidity, with Diaspartnership with Aymeric Laporte in the centre of defence having only conceded 8 goals this season.

 

Pep Guardiola has some injury concerns surrounding talismanic forward Sergio Aguero, who has been out since 25 October with a hamstring injury. The return of long-term injury Gabriel Jesus, who scored a crucial goal on his return in the Champions League, will come as encouraging news for Guardiola.

 

Last seasons runner-ups have not had the greatest start to the league season - their opening 5 league games have ended in 2 draws, 2 wins and 1 defeat.

  

Stat Attack (Courtesy of @jag1e)

 

Did you know Man City:

have scored 1 goal or more in 23 of their last 25 matches (92%)

have won 5 of their last 6 matches in all competitions (83%)

have gone 8 matches without a loss

in their last 5 Premier League matches, there have been under 2.5 goals scored in 4 of their last 5 matches (80%)

Potential City starting 11:

Ederson, Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias, JoaoCancelo, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez.

The Reds

 

Liverpool, by nothing more than sheer will and fight, go into the game sitting top of the pile. However, the reds have a rather alarming injury list.

 

Virgil Van Dijk is out for the season with an ACL injury, Fabinho who had been deputising at CB since Virgils injury pulled up with a hamstring injury in the Champions League group game win over FC Midtjylland on Group D Match Day 2 and will hopefully make a return after the next international break. Fellow central defender Joel Matip has recently returned from minor injury, but it also appears Klopp has been protecting his only other senior centre back for this game so that he can partner Joe Gomez.

 

Naby Keita and Kostas Tsimikas have resumed full training, but new boy Thiago Alcantara looks set to miss out again, only joining in with light training as he continues his recovery from a nasty tackle in the Derby. Long-term absentee Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains unavailable.

 

Since losing Van Dijk Liverpool have won all 4 games conceding 2 goals in the process as they looked to resume normal service after the freak 7-2 loss at Aston Villa.

 

There are some choices to be made by Jürgen Klopp, the contrasting form of Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota may give him a headache, the usually ever reliable Firmino is for the first time in his Liverpool career experiencing a spell of poor form.

 

Summer signing Jota is all but banging on the door for a start, his last 2 substitute appearances have resulted in 2 game winning goals, earning him a much-deserved start in the mid-week thrashing of Champions League Group D rivals Atalanta. The Portuguese forward hit a sensational hattrick, and represents the first time pressure has been put on Liverpools front three.

 

Midfield options are also tight, with injuries wearing Klopps once-stacked options thin, added on top of the issues in defence make the fact that Liverpool are top in both their Champions League group and the Premier League all the more impressive.

 

Liverpools last 5 results have resulted in 3 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss.

Stat Attack (Courtesy of @jag1e)

 

  Did you know Liverpool:  

have conceded once or more in 11 of their last 12 premier league matches (92%)

have scored 2 goals or more in 15 of their last 18 matches (83%)

have won all their last 5 matches 

haven't lost in 17 of their last 18 matches (94%)

in their last 10 premier league matches, there have been over 2.5 goals scored in 9 times out of 10 (90%)

and their opponents Man City have scored in 11 times out of 12 (92%) in Liverpool's last 12 premier league

Potential Liverpool starting 11:

Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, GeorginioWijnaldum, Naby Keita, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.

Head-2-Head

 

Man City have lost just 1 out of last 5 matches against Liverpool

In Man City's last 17 premier league matches against Liverpool, 14 times out of 17 (82%) the total goals scored was over 2.5

Liverpool haven't lost in 13 of their last of their last 16 matches (81%) against Man City

Summary

This clash of undoubtedly the best two sides in the country is shaping up to be a strange one, City depleted in attack remain a side that can score goals, but with no Aguero in the side they are less of a threat, and with Jesus set to lead the line, this may be what's needed to spur Liverpool on.

 

With Liverpool depleted at the back, Gomez and Matip are particularly good options but have never started a game together in 4 seasons. This probably means that Liverpools best form of defence may be to attack. Citys new-look defence will not have faced an attack like Liverpools yet and It will be a test for them.

 

Although City have been better defensively some of the old frailties remain. The 5-2 home loss to Leicester City highlighted this, City are vulnerable to counter attacks, Leicester City pressured the home side into mistakes as Liverpool have done in the past.

 

Jamie Vardys pace was a constant threat that City did not handle, and with Mane and Salah on the attack Liverpool are more than capable of producing a much greater threat.

 

One game so early on wont decide the title, but a win would galvanise the victor and will knock the confidence of the loser, but at the end of the day a draw away at City isnt a bad result for anyone.

 

Liverpool will be going for a win, which will move them 8 points clear of City, a huge statement to them, and the rest of the Premier League.

 

Score prediction:

Manchester City 1 2 Liverpool

 

Written By @Castiet

08/11/2020

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Back Where We Belong:  5 Key Points vs West Ham

 

Liverpool leap-frogged their neighbours Everton to top the Premier League for the first time this season and equal a club record of 63 games unbeaten at home, after a hard fought 2-1 win over West Ham. Fresh from their valiant effort to score 3 in the last 8 minutes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Hammers proved a tough nut to crack but it was Jurgens mentality monsters who provedtheir worth again.

 

It was the same duo who secured the 3 points against FC Midtjylland that came up with the goods - Mohammed Salah and Diogo Jota helping the Reds overturn Pablo Fornalsearly opener. It marks the second Saturday in a row Liverpool have had to overturn a 1-goal deficit. Not quite the usual Liverpool dominance we have come to know, but with the exception of last season, when have Liverpool ever done it easy?

Shaky Start

 

A costly error from left back Arthur Masuaku spared the blushes from Liverpools sloth-like start to the game. Liverpools youthful right-hand side momentarily switched off, allowing a cross to come into the box which was poorly cleared by the in-form Joe Gomez, resulting in the opening goal. While Gomezs clearance left much to be desired, it was the basics of defending which let the reds down.

 

Limited creativity and toothless attacks made up the story of the first half as David Moyesmen dug their heels in, but Liverpool were handed a lifeline when Masuaku returned the favour, fouling Salah who dusted himself down to score the resulting spot kick.

Super Subs

 

Of the players who were given a chance in midweek, Diogo Jota and Xherdan Shaqiri were the two who came out withtheir heads held high, and in the 71st minute Klopp turned to the pair to unlock the door once again. An exquisite through ball from Shaqiri allowed fellow sub Jota to finish past Fabianski at the near post to take his season total to 4 in all competitions.

 

The ability and importance of Xherdan Shaqiri in recent games is clear to see, having grabbed himself an assist tonight and playing a key role in the first goal against FC Midtjylland. Somewhat starved of game time since his arrival from Stoke, the Liverpool No.23 has still managed to average a goal or assist every 135 minutes for Liverpool which accumulates to a goal or an assist every 1.5 games. Needless to say, he is not shy of the big occasion - be itscoring goals against Everton and Manchester United, orwhipping in that cross to pick out Wijnaldum against Barcelona to level the tie. Considering he was deemed surplus to requirementsin the summer, Shaqiri could well prove to be the creative spark Liverpool need when playing against teams that apply the low block.

Nat Phillips

 

Wow. Where do I begin? That was a performance youexpect from an established Premier League defender; not ayoung defender playing on his full debut. Perhaps not offering the passing range of Fabinho, the flip side of the coin with Phillips is he loves to attack the ball. It seemed that the 23-year old was in his element every time the ball was played long. With 9 clearances, 6 ball recoveries and 3 aerial duels won, Phillips put in a display which warranted Jamie Carraghers pick for Man of the Match. For an inexperienced defender to be thrown in at the deep end, Nat Phillips could well have proved many wrong tonight, including myself.

Man of the Match?

 

Not the plethora of contenders we are used to seeing every week but there were still some standouts. The most obvious being a certain young defender on his full debuthowever, there were impressive performances from Gini Wijnaldum and Diogo Jota. In terms of Gini, has this maneven lost the ball at all? To answer that question, he gave up possession twice tonight and maintained a 97% pass accuracy (highly impressive numbers in a tough performance). Not to mention winning 3/5 aerial duals despite being only 5ft 9in. His close control in tight spaces is something that does not get recognised enough in my opinion and tonight he led the way in the midfield.

 

DioGOAL Jota. He is making quite a habit of scoring at Anfield. Despite only being on the pitch for a little over 20 minutes his impact on the game ultimately made the difference. He resembles a steam train in the way at which he runs and takes the game to the opposition. adding yet another winner to his Liverpool tally to continue his exceptional start in a red shirt. The continued form of the former Wolves man certainly provides Jurgen Klopp with a wonderful selection dilemma.

 

Nat Phillips was Jamie Carraghers man of the match and who am I to argue? A wildcard going into the game with everyone expecting to see Rhys Williams in the starting XI, Klopp showed again that we all need to trust his judgement. The performance of this young man forced the Hammers to substitute striker Sebastian Haller, who was not getting a sniff against the Liverpool back line. A thoroughly deserved man of the match tonight for Phillips and if he kicks on, Liverpools centre half problem might not be as bad as first thought.

Whats Next?

 

A trip to Italy in the Champions League is next up for the Reds against Atalanta before the big trip to the Etihad next Sunday. With Nat Phillips not registered to play in Europe we will most likely see the return of youth academy graduate Rhys Williams. Safe to say my worries about a partner for Joe Gomez are certainly starting to be put to rest. Let me know who your Man of the Match was. Do you agree? Are you still worried about our centre half options?

YNWA

Written by @AdamHarveyLFC99

03/11l2020

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Mentality Monsters Look to Dominate Danish Skirmish


It has been a tough week for Liverpool FC, who are in week two of a congested run of 6 games in 3 weeks. Every ounce of fight has been summoned from Jurgen Klopp’s Red men, who have emerged with 2 crucial wins so far, and will be looking to extend that run in Match Day 2 of their Group D Champions League campaign. This trend of tough games looks to continue over the remaining two weeks, with games against FC Midtjylland, West Ham United, Atalanta, and ending with an away battle at the Etihad against Manchester City.


The visitors are Champions League newcomers FC Midtjylland, defending champions of the Danish Super League. A club founded in 1999, the opposition are certainly not Liverpool’s first Scandinavian opponents, nor do they have the most difficult name to pronounce - that honour goes to Liverpool’s first ever European opponents, Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur of Iceland in the 1964/65 season.

The Opposition


This would be the first ever Champions League away game for Brian Priske’s men - their first home game ended in a 4-0 thrashing by Italian high-flyers Atalanta. After their baptism of fire, Jurgen Klopp is expecting a “tough fight” against a team that plays direct football and has great physicality up front. If that gives you flashbacks of Stoke City or Christian Benteke of the early 2010’s tormenting the Liverpool back line, then you can expect the exact same approach in the game as the Danes attempt to take advantage of the absence of Virgil van Dijk.


The Danish defending champions are a team with strong fight. The biggest testament to this being a 2-3 comeback against title rivals Brondby in the league on Sunday, after going 2-0 down in 51 minutes. The team was albeit a rotated side, with Priske clearly having one eye on the trip to Anfield.


Brian Priske tends to favour a 4-2-3-1 formation which makes use of direct play and a compact midfield that can bolster the defence when dropping deep, and it remains to be seen if Jurgen Klopp will opt to match that formation as he did in the weekend win against Sheffield United, or revert to his favoured 4-3-3.

The Reds


Liverpool have certainly returned to winning ways, starting with Ajax in the Champions League Group D opener, and following up with an equally hard-earned win against a compact Sheffield United - no mean feats given that Ajax immediately showed their class by trouncing their domestic opponents in the league 13-0, and a highly contentious VAR decision given against Liverpool during the weekend momentarily shifted the balance of the game.


Since the untimely injury to our No. 4, key performances by Fabinho, Joe Gomez, and the return of skipper Jordan Henderson have combined to prove that the team has the right personnel to cope without the best centre half in the world.

With Roberto Firmino returning to scoring ways, the front three look their most dangerous this season, while the continued excellence of Portuguese international Diogo Jota gives Jurgen Klopp another “solution” to stubborn defences.
Klopp also recently indicated in the pre-match press conference that the trio of Joel Matip, Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara will be unavailable for the midweek home clash, but has not ruled them out for Saturday’s Premier League game against West Ham United. This would mean that the latter will once again have to wait for his Champions League debut since arriving from defending champions Bayern Munich in the summer.


Virgil van Dijk (knee), Kostas Tsimikas (thigh) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) remain sidelined through injury.

Danger Men


FC Midtjylland


Pione Sisto is probably the most well-known of FC Midtjylland’s attacking options - the Danish forward scored 3 goals since his return to the Danish champions from Celta Vigo in the summer - but it is Anders Dreyer who is my pick of the bunch. The 22-year old Danish attacker has been a key feature this season, hitting the back of the net 5 times in the last 10 games.


Aside from his keen eye for goal, Dreyer is an integral part of the direct attacking play FC Midtjylland are known for, and on his favoured left foot is capable of defence-splitting passes as well as dangerous long shots into the far post.
Having been at Brighton & Hove Albion but never making a first team appearance, FC Midtjylland’s No. 36 will be keen to prove a point against the Danes’ first English opponents in the Champions League.

Liverpool


In order to protect the fitness of his players in this tough run of fixtures, Midtjylland is probably the “easiest game” on paper, and Jurgen Klopp would probably see this as an opportunity to test the depth of his squad. The front three will always be keen to add to their goal tally in all competitions, especially Mo Salah who would make his 50th appearance for Liverpool in the Champions League. But the brilliant form of Diogo Jota could see him feature heavily in this Champions League game.


The winning goal over the weekend brings Jota’s tally to 2 since signing for the Reds, and the former Wolverhampton Wanderers forward will have his sights set on cementing a place in Jurgen Klopp’s first XI.


Goals aside, Diogo certainly passes the eye test, displaying impressive play on and off the ball - pressing to good effect especially in the 2-1 win against the Blades. It remains to see if Jurgen Klopp does opt for a 4-2-3-1 as he did in the weekend, but our No. 18 is almost certain to feature.

Final Thoughts


All pre-match predictions point to a comfortable Liverpool win, but I believe this will be much closer than we expect. Teams tend to play out of their skin against Liverpool, and FC Midtjylland will be no different.


A defining factor would probably in the goalkeeping department. Jesper Hansen is certainly no Emiliano Martinez - having already conceded 12 goals in 13 games this season in all competitions. The 33-year old stopper has had an unwanted record of 26 goals conceded in 7 appearances in the Champions League, stretching back to the 2012/13 season, and will be looking to avoid similar embarrassment against a brilliant attacking Liverpool side.


On that note, the return of Alisson Becker comes at the best possible time for the Reds. The calmness and confidence he brought was immediately palpable over the weekend, allowing Joe Gomez to show up with a man-of-the-match performance.


Rotated side or not, if they show up, the six-time European champions should be too good for the Danes and take all three points at fortress Anfield.

Predicted Line-ups


Liverpool


Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones, Georginio Wijnaldum, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah


FC Midtjylland


Jesper Hansen, Joel Andersson, Erik Sviatchenko, Alexander Scholz, Paulinho, Frank Onyeka, Jens Cajuste, Anders Dreyer, Pione Sisto, Awer Mabil, Sory Kaba

 

Written by @Joetgw

27/10/2020

 

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Much like the midweek victory over Ajax, this wasn’t all plain sailing for Jurgen's men. With the red half of Merseyside still feeling the effects of last week’s derby draw, sadly it was once again the ‘Video Assistant Referee’ or ‘VAR’ which dominated proceedings. Despite this it was the reds who came away victorious with goals from Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota cancelling out Sander Berge’s controversial opener from the spot.

VAR


Do we even know what they are checking for now? It was the stand in centre-half Fabinho who committed the challenge which resulted in the penalty that Jurgen Klopp later described on Match of The Day as “not even a foul”. The confusion over VAR was further cemented when Sports TV presenter Matt Critchley tweeted that “VAR only ruled whether the incident was inside or outside the box, not on whether a foul took place or not”.


We were all probably waiting for the innocuous “lines” to be drawn to see if the foul was inside or outside the box. The so-called “foul” was declared as inside the box but not actually checked if it was a foul. This again leads to the question “What is the point of having VAR?” To add more salt into Liverpool’s recent VAR wounds, a world class goal from Mohammad Salah was (although to be quite honest rightfully) chalked off in the second half. Begs the question if something will go our way this season?


The result leaves the reds second in the table, behind neighbours Everton on goal difference, ending a 2-match winless run in the league. The return of Alisson Becker to the starting XI is a huge boost going forward and a first goal for No. 9 Roberto Firmino since the last home match of the 2019-20 season against Chelsea gives fans another reason to be more optimistic going into the somewhat hectic upcoming fixture schedule.
The impact of new signing Diogo Jota is another reason for Kopites to smile with Jurgen Klopp saying during his post-match interview with Sky Sports that “the future is bright,” he also stated how happy he was with how the Portuguese International has settled in.

Player Ratings


Alisson Becker – 7/10


The Brazilian made his return to the team tonight a few weeks ahead of schedule and had very little to do on the night. The goal itself he could do nothing about, however the No. 1 had one nervy moment where he nearly made a costly error after dallying on the ball.


Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7/10


This could very easily have been an 8 had the Englishman’s exquisite assist which resulted in Mohamed Salah’s “goal” not been ruled out. This was a game where it was clear in the first half the Blades tried to neutralise the threat of the in-form Robbo. This left more room for ‘the scouser in our team’ to get forward, which he honestly could have done more with.

Joe Gomez – 9/10 MOTM


When Joe Gomez was substituted away to Aston Villa, a lot of questions were asked and even more so now that his defensive partner Van Dijk is out for the season. Starting on the left-hand side Joe put in a performance we would normally affiliate with Virgil. He played a number of switches of play from left to right again something we had become accustomed to with van Dijk. With 8 clearances and 2 interceptions and racking up a whopping 94.4% pass completion, this was a performance from Joe to answer his critics and to show he does not need his partner-in-crime to display his qualities.


Fabinho – 6/10


This performance was inevitable at some stage from Fabinho, after all he is a midfielder. This is not to say he performed badly and had it not been for VAR he wouldn’t have been at direct fault for the goal, but his mistake in giving the ball away and lunging into a tackle in order to redeem it is something you can get away with in the middle of the park and not on the edge of your own box.


Andrew Robertson – 7/10


Much like Trent, I believe Sheffield did very well to deal with the threat offered by Robbo. Since Project Restart back in June, Robbo has been one of our top performers. Defensively he was adequate, however we didn’t see the same end product we have been used to seeing in recent weeks. Solid as ever however from the Scotsman.


Jordan Henderson – 8/10


Another captain’s performance tonight from Jordan. He set the tempo for the second half and it was his cross which resulted in Firmino’s rebound effort following Mane’s header. A moment of note was in the later stages of the game he appeared to be down injured but then picked himself up to carry the ball a good 30-40 yards into the Sheffield half. This man always seems to play through the pain barrier and was leading by example once again on the pitch.


Georginio Wijnaldum -7/10


Some would argue that he has not the flamboyance or ‘class’ of Thiago Alcantara, but Gini’s contribution to this side can never be questioned. It was in the last 20 mins of the game that Gini showed his class with excellent close control in the corner, retaining the ball no matter who is around him - something which very much goes under the radar. The work which he puts in off the ball allows the full backs and more importantly the front three to be let loose. An integral part of the side.


Sadio Mane – 7/10


Sadio turns it on whenever we need him to. He arguably should have scored the header himself for Bobby’s goal and his ability to beat anyone in a 1v1 situation was on display for the winning goal when he left his man for dead and picked out Jota in the middle to head home.

 

Roberto Firmino – 7.5/10


Again like Joe Gomez, a lot of questions have been asked about the recent form of Roberto Firmino and it’s amazing what a simple tap-in can do for someone’s confidence. We have started to see a resemblance of the Bobby we all love and adore over the recent seasons. Not quite Bobby at his peak but it was a performance which showed he is turning a corner on his poor recent form.


Diogo Jota – 8/10


The new signing from Wolves has been a breath of fresh air in this Liverpool team. When we consider that Klopp tends to blood new players through slowly to get them used to his system, the fact that Diogo is getting Premier League starts shows the type of player he is. He worked incredibly hard off the ball and took his goal extremely well.


Mohammed Salah – 7.5/10


The Egyptian has looked like a man on a mission this season and should his goal have stood, would have been one of the goals of the season from a technical point of view. The awareness to bring the ball down out of the air and finish on the volley shows why he is a world class forward. If he keeps up these hungry performances, we could be looking at another golden boot and yet another potential PFA Player of the Year award.


Substitutes


James Milner – N/A
Takumi Minamino- N/A


The duo were brought on to see out the game and did not have much involvement in the closing stages.
The Reds are back to winning ways and with title rivals Man City dropping points away to West Ham it was important that 3 points were added to the current total no matter the performance. Let me know who your Man of the Match was?
Do you agree with the ratings? YNWA.

 

written by @AdamHarveyLFC99


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Jimmyjammy
4 months ago

Like this! Agree with player ratings too


Home Comfort At Last and Rhian’s Reds Return

After a string of uncomfortable away trips, Liverpool finally return home to Anfield to face Sheffield United, in what on paper looks like the easiest game of the Premier League campaign so far. The Blades come off the back of a 5-game winless run in the Premier League this season (10 in all competitions, their last win was against Norwich City in July 2020), and sit in 19th place having the worst attack in the Premier League so far (2 goals scored).


The game, of course, isn’t played on paper, and Liverpool generally never does it the easy way. The Reds come into the fixture having the joint-worst defensive record in the league (13 goals conceded), after 5 games played, although 7 of them came in the away defeat at Villa Park.
Sheffield United’s last last win against the Reds at Anfield coming back in April 1994, and Chris Wilder’s men will not be encouraged by Jurgen Klopp’s unbeaten home record that stretches back 61 games all the way to 2017. Liverpool will be hoping to seal a return to winning ways and get their Premier League title defence back on track.

The Opposition


Sheffield United came out of the 2019-20 season with distinction, securing a respectable 9th placed finish. While they continue to be a defensively dogged unit this season, the Blades’ blunt attacking threat has seen them chalk up an unwanted record of 5 winless opening games for the first time since the 2006-07 season, which saw them relegated from the Premier League.
Their Top 10 finish belied a poor goal scoring record (39 goals scored), which Chris Wilder will attempt to remedy with the £23.5m signing of a familiar face to the Reds, Rhian Brewster. The former Liverpool youth starlet is almost certain to start against his ex-teammates, and will be out to prove a point.


The Blades conventionally play a 3-5-2 formation, which especially helps when defending a lead. However the real trouble comes when they fall behind during a game, as evidenced in the disappointing 1-1 draw against 20th placed Fulham at home - United only managed to score from the spot after a Aleksandar Mitrovic error.
Max Lowe appears to be a doubt after being withdrawn with a head injury against Fulham, while midfielder John Fleck is out for 6 weeks with a back problem.

The Reds


Liverpool are currently on a 2-game winless streak in the Premier League, after a controversial Merseyside Derby, but have since returned to winning ways in a gutsy 0-1 midweek win over Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League. The emergence of Fabinho has helped ease the absence of defensive colossus Virgil van Dijk.
The Brazilian, who celebrated his 27th birthday on 23 October (the same as fellow Brazilian great Pele) put in yet another man-of-the-match display which saw the Liverpool defence keep an impressive clean sheet against the Dutch champions - his goal line clearance proving ultimately decisive. Liverpool’s No. 3 will look to once again lead the line and keep the Blades at bay.

In much-needed good news on the injury front, Alisson Becker, Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Joel Matip look much closer to returns from injury, although the former two may not be risked for this fixture. Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Kostas Tsimikas is edging closer to a return, while long-term absentee Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is joined by Virgirl van Dijk on the treatment table.

Danger Men


Liverpool

What else can we say about Sadio Mane? Even while nursing a dead leg, the Senegalese talisman continues to torment defences with frightening consistency. Mane looked an absolute menace in the 60 minutes he played against Ajax - he forced a somewhat bizarre own goal and nearly triggered another, despite being well-matched by the imperious Perr Schuurs for parts of the game. Sadio is also bolstered by the effervescent Andy Robertson, and the duo would be looking to torment George Baldock and Chris Basham.
The Liverpool No.10, along with Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, were withdrawn on the hour mark in midweek and will no doubt be fresh to challenge a stubborn Sheffield United defence. Should the Blades’ defence prove to be too stubborn, Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino coming off the bench are quality options Jurgen Klopp can rely on.

Sheffield United


With the likes of Ollie McBurnie, Lys Mousset, David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp failing to resemble a competent Premier League strike force, Chris Wilder has stated that he would have “no hesitation” handing club-record signing Rhian Brewster his full debut against the Reds.
The Sheffield United No. 24’s talent has rarely ever been in question, even though lacking in top flight football experience. Liverpool fans are only all too familiar with Rhian’s finishing ability, and his 11 goals in 22 appearances for Swansea City last season gives us a hint that the former Chelsea youth academy player is ready for senior football.
While Rhian is often criticised for disappearing in periods of the game, his sharpness in front of goal would mean that the Liverpool defence will have to be switched on to keep him quiet tonight.


With the likes of Ollie McBurnie, Lys Mousset, David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp failing to resemble a competent Premier League strike force, Chris Wilder has stated that he would have “no hesitation” handing club-record signing Rhian Brewster his full debut against the Reds.
The Sheffield United No. 24’s talent has rarely ever been in question, even though lacking in top flight football experience. Liverpool fans are only all too familiar with Rhian’s finishing ability, and his 11 goals in 22 appearances for Swansea City last season gives us a hint that the former Chelsea youth academy player is ready for senior football.
While Rhian is often criticised for disappearing in periods of the game, his sharpness in front of goal would mean that the Liverpool defence will have to be switched on to keep him quiet tonight.

Final Thoughts


The worst Premier League defence faces the worst Premier League attack in what should be a hard-fought match. The Liverpool lads will certainly be keen prove that there is life without Virgil van Dijk, but can take heart from their midweek performance and potential injury returns.
Rumours are circling that Alisson may be returning ahead of time for a start in this fixture, and that would exponentially increase chances of a Liverpool win. However, I believe that Adrian would probably deputise for another game, as to not risk the long-term fitness of the Brazilian No. 1.
The Blades typically fly out of the blocks early in games, so an early goal would set Jurgen Klopp’s men up for a big three points in the title race. It is a shame that the greed of the Premier League will deprive many fans of the opportunity to watch this game, but it is nothing a good old- fashioned win cannot fix.

Expected Line-ups


Liverpool


Adrian, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Fabinho, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

 

Sheffield United


Aaron Ramsdale, Chris Basham, John Egan, Jack Robinson, George Baldock, John Lundstram, Sander Berge, Ben Osborn, Enda Stevens, Oliver McBurnie, Rhian Brewster

 

 

written by @Joetgw

22/10/2020

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Clash of the European Kings

It seems like Liverpool are only doing away days as of late. Recent results, injuries and decisions have also given many a Liverpool fan much woe. This may not have been the wave of positivity we were hoping to ride on, but the still-reigning World Champions are back in the Champions League, and this time away to Ajax Amsterdam in the Group D opening game.
Only the COVID-19 pandemic prevents the fans from enjoying yet another special European night - the first one against Ajax since the 1966-67 season. Interestingly, the last time the two sides met, neither team had yet put their hands on European football’s biggest prize. Now, with 10 European Cups between Liverpool (6) and Ajax (4), they meet as true European royalty.

The Opposition


Ajax currently sit at second place in the Eredivisie table, with only Groningen preventing them from having a perfect start to the first 5 games to the 2020-21 season. The Eredivisie defending champions may not currently have the same pedigree of their 60’s and 70’s vintage, but they come as a team brimming with world class youth talent mixed with experience.
Losing star player Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea has certainly blunted their edge - the Amsterdam side have been accused of being wasteful in the final third this season. The speed of ball movement has not been the same without the Moroccan playmaker as well, but as their most recent opponents Heerenveen found out, on their day they still possess the ability turn into a potent attacking machine.
Despite having had a decent start to the season, Ajax have not exactly been convincing at the back. Even in their 5-1 thrashing of Heerenveen, Erik ten Hag’s men still conceded 9 shots, with 5 on target (the same amount Ajax had on target). Their discipline has also raised some eyebrows this season, with 2 red cards collected in their opening 5 games so far.
With no injury concerns of note, Ajax looks to be going into the game with a full squad.

The Reds


Still reeling off the back of a highly controversial Merseyside Derby, which saw two of our key players out with concerning injuries, Jurgen Klopp’s men come into this opener with the bit between their teeth.
Enough has been spoken on all platforms about Virgil van Dijk and Liverpool’s back line. The Mighty Reds will be looking to show their quality even without missing key players. Responding to questions from journalists looking to push the “team in injury crisis” agenda, Jurgen Klopp, while clearly annoyed at the pre-match press conference, has hinted at an interesting team selection for tonight’s clash, and placed faith in the squad he has built for the season ahead.
Liverpool’s midfield ranks should be bolstered by the return of Naby Keita, who will likely join skipper Jordan Henderson, fresh off a promising return to action, in the heart of midfield.


Virgil and Thiago remain sidelined, and Joel Matip, having freshly returned from injury, will not be able to feature in the heart of defence. The trio join Alisson Becker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as notable absentees.

Danger Men - Ajax Amsterdam


How this Ajax team continues to retain and replace talent is probably one of the biggest testaments to the management of the club. There are many standout players to choose from - Quincy Promes, Antony, Dusan Tadic, David Neres and Mohammed Kudus. But the pick of the bunch is the Serbian Tadic, who is coming off a top performance which saw him score a brace in the last match. The former Southampton playmaker also leads the way for Erik ten Hag’s men in the Champions League, with a direct hand in 13 goals in 18 games.


The Serbian appears to play a free role in this Ajax team, providing a threat all across the front line throughout games. He is supported by late runs from the midfield, by the likes of skilful attackers like Quincy Promes or Mohammed Kudus, all of whom will look to expose the spaces in between Liverpool’s midfield and defence. On the wings, Nicolas Tagliafico provides a significant threat, and has an eye for goal as well.

Danger Men - Liverpool


Despite a mixed start to the season, Liverpool’s attack remains in form and dangerous as ever. Mohamed Salah leads the Reds with 6 goals in all competitions, followed by Sadio Mane (3), whose season has only been interrupted by a COVID-19 positive test. While Roberto Firmino has yet to score for the team this season, he has 2 assists to his name. The Brazilian leads the assist chart for Liverpool so far, only equalled by Andy Robertson and closely followed by Trent Alexander-Arnold (1), in what appears to be a renewal of the latter two’s own private tournament.

Final Thoughts


This is shaping up to be quite an interesting clash. Much has been asked about how it would have turned out in the 2018-19 season had Tottenham not mustered a turnaround against Ajax to set up a final clash with Liverpool, and it looks as though we may have a taste of it tonight.
The lack of speed at which Ajax has moved the ball this season may likely open them to Liverpool’s much-vaunted gegenpressing ability. With or without Thiago Alcantara, this is still the front line and midfield that conquered Europe, the Premier League, and the World. Barring any slip-ups at the back, and without the poor officiating of the Premier League, this could very well turn out to be a European away night to remember.

Predicted Line-ups


Ajax Amsterdam

Andre Onana, Noussair Mazraoui, Perr Schuurs, Daley Blind, Nicolas Tagliafico, Davy Klaassen, Mohammed Kudus, Quincy Promes, David Neres, Dusan Tadic, Antony


Liverpool


Adrian, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Fabinho, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

 

written by @Joetgw

21/10/2020

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TN
5 months ago

Well said lad! Should be a good match to watch. Need to keep moving forward, everything else is part of the game. YNWA!


League Leaders vs Champions: Wounded Reds Look to Set the Record Straight 

Two weeks. Two weeks of football torture known as the international break. To say that the Reds headed into the break in less-than-ideal circumstances would be an understatement. After a drawn out and surprisingly eventful two weeks, the return to Premier League football has never been more welcome.


This time, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds pay a visit across Stanley Park for the 237th Merseyside Derby, which has suddenly taken on a rather nervous tone. Everton, flying high after a perfect start to their league campaign, will believe that they have their best chance to end a humiliating 22-game winless streak against Liverpool, in all competitions. In the Premier League, Everton are currently winless against Liverpool in 19 games (11D, 8L), stretching back to October 2010.

 


The Toffees’ newfound confidence comes from, among other things, bright starts from summer marquee signings James Rodriguez and Allan, who have proven so far that they have the right skills to set the Premier League alight. This has appeared to have had a knock-on effect for chief goal threat Dominic Calvert-Lewin - fresh off a perfect England debut, he will be looking to help the Blues win their first five league games since the 1938-39 season, and become the first player to score in all five matches for Everton since Tommy Lawton in the aforementioned season.

 


Coming off the back of our most humiliating defeat in recent memory, the wounded Reds will roll into Goodison Park with a point to prove, and will no doubt be looking to derail the early season league leaders and renew our assault on the Premier League title. Should the Reds extend the unbeaten streak to 23, it will be a club record against a single opponent in all competitions. The last time a top-flight Merseyside Derby took place with Everton at the top of the table was in September 1989, when Liverpool won 3-1 at Goodison Park, thanks to goals from Ian Rush (2) and John Barnes.

Team News

Everton have been handed a boost as key players Allan, Andre Gomes and Seamus Coleman have returned from injury and are available for selection; while the likes of Mason Holgate, Jarrad Branthwaithe and Jean-Philippe Gbamin remain sidelined with injury. The Toffees will however be assessing the fitness of Yerry Mina, who was rested due to a thigh strain during Columbia’s 2-2 draw with Chile.


Amid the city being plunged into the highest tier of COVID-19 lockdown by the government, the Reds have received some much-needed good news - Thiago Alcantara and Sadio Mane have have seemingly been given the all-clear following negative COVID-19 test results during the international break. Naby Keita has reportedly also tested negative, but will likely undertake another test as he returns to Liverpool following international duty. [since been confirmed, he is unavailable]


The Reds have also been handed a further boost as Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson returned to full training, with the skipper getting some beneficial minutes on duty with the England squad.


The Brazilian Alisson remains sidelined with the injury that kept him out of the 7-2 defeat at Villa Park before the international break, and is expected to be out for at least another 2-4 weeks.

Key Battles

Liverpool’s Triple Threat


The return of Sadio Mane sees the reunion of Liverpool’s world class front three, potentially starting a Merseyside Derby together for the first time as a three-pronged attack, according to the Liverpool Echo. They will look to come up against an Everton defence that despite their perfect start, has still shipped in 5 goals in the first 4 games.


The international break has also given Liverpool No. 9 Roberto Firmino a timely confidence boost ahead of the derby, as he returned to form with 2 goals and 1 assist over the 2 World Cup qualifying wins for Brazil. With our front three seemingly on form, they could ask questions of this Everton defence previously posed of none of their first four opponents.

The Return of the Dynamic Duo


The return of midfield duo Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara could not have come at a more crucial time. This has provided us with two key figures missed in that match at Villa Park. The duo’s passing range and Hendo’s leadership were sorely missed the last time round as our midfield was outplayed and outran by a dynamic Aston Villa midfield trio.


Allan, Andre Gomes, and Abdoulaye Doucoure will be expected to provide similar industry and dynamism in an attempt to replicate a display that saw Liverpool’s midfielders come up with short. Fortunately, the Liverpool midfield looks a different beast with the skipper in the line-up, as evidenced last season when the Reds’ won only 52.3% of matches without him (as compared to 82.4% with him). Should Hendo and Thiago both prove to be fit and firing, the Liverpool midfield should be too good for their opponents.

Trouble at the Back?


While the Everton defence will have its hands full, Liverpool have never faced the expected forward line of James Rodriguez, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison prior to this weekend. James has seemingly taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, with his intelligence and trickery. He however comes up against the “stronger side” of Liverpool’s defence, with Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk likely to be tasked with keeping the Columbian quiet.


The Liverpool defence has somewhat found itself “in crisis” overnight. Questions have been raised about the compatibility of the high defensive line Liverpool employ with the apparently passive approach of Adrian in goal. The lack in confidence of fans in Adrian has seen calls from some quarters for Caoimhin Kelleher and even Marcelo Pitaluga to start ahead of the Spaniard, but that is understood to be unlikely.


The spot alongside Virgil van Dijk in the heart of defence will be a shootout between Joe Gomez, Fabinho and Joel Matip. It remains to be seen whether the defensive high line will still feature, given that Jurgen Klopp and Co. will have had two valuable weeks to run forensics and make much-needed tweaks. The ability of the back four to repel the dangerous Everton trio will likely decide the outcome of the match. 

Expected Line-ups


Everton


Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman, Yerry Mina, Michael Keane, Lucas Digne, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan, Andre Gomes, James Rodriguez, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison


Liverpool


Adrian, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

 

 

written by @Joetgw

16/10/2020

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Luke
5 months ago

Boss! Pumped! Also, when is the next pod?! Loving them!


Clash of High-Flyers: Aston Villa vs Liverpool

 

The Reds are back again, and this time up against Dean Smith’s high-flying Aston Villa side at Villa Park. The match promises to be a clash between two attacking sides who look to defend perfect starts to the Premier League campaign.

Perhaps what is more surprising than Villa’s perfect start to the 2020-21 season is that they are  currently on the longest unbeaten run of any side in the league - 6 games (4W, 2D, 0L) - according to EPL Index. It is worth pointing out that in that unbeaten run, the only “Top 6” opponent the Villains faced was Arsenal, who, coincidentally, prevented Liverpool (5W, 0D, 1L) from equalling that run.

Jurgen Klopp has a perfect record against Aston Villa: 3 wins out of 3, with 10 goals scored and 1 conceded. While records generally mean little, this record in particular, tells us that Jurgen knows how to beat Aston Villa, and he does so convincingly.

 

Both Liverpool and Aston Villa will be looking to break some records of their own in this game.  With a win today, Liverpool will be the first team to win their first 4 games in a top flight opening campaign in three consecutive seasons. Aston Villa are looking to win their first 3 league games in a single campaign since 1962-63, and to keep a clean sheet in each of their opening 3 league games for the first time since 1900-01.

Key Battles to Watch

 

That being said, a key battle area would likely be how the Aston Villa's  back line cope with Liverpool’s World Class front three. However, with Sadio Mané out after testing positive for COVID-19, Liverpool’s in-form summer signing Diogo Jota looks the most likely to get his first full Premier League debut for the Reds. If he does, he will be expected to line-up alongside Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, who will go head-to-head with a defence that has yet to concede in their opening 2 games this season. Liverpool will be buoyed by Diogo Jota’s decent goalscoring record against the Villans - 2 goals in 4 games - and he will will no doubt be looking to add to that tally today.

Clean sheets aside, Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa have both found the back of the net in these opening games - the former boasting a 76% aerial duel win rate, which Dean Smith will no doubt be keen to employ at the other end of the pitch. With Tom Heaton still sidelined by a long-term injury, The Liverpool frontline will also be looking to get one over a familiar enemy in the form of Emilano Martinez, whose heroics kept Liverpool at bay both last season at the Emirates, and in the Community Shield penalty shoot-out this season.

Third time lucky? Liverpool will be hoping to beat Martinez today (Image from GiveMeSport)

 

Clean sheets may say otherwise, but Liverpool’s back line have an equally good reason to be optimistic. The regular back line is finding stability as Joe Gomez’s return from injury has seen him come close to top form, while Alisson has looked every bit his imperious self, since his penalty save at Stamford Bridge. With fears of a COVID-19 scare allayed, Liverpool’s No. 1 looks set to miss our following a training ground injury. 

 

In the midfield engine room, Fabinho will be looking to nullify Jack Grealish and Co., especially after recently proving again his credentials as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. It will be interesting to see the continued evolution of the Naby Keita role, and his relationship with Gini Wijnaldum on the pitch. Both would be expected to keep the ball ticking around the park and break the lines, while coping with the late runs from a dynamic midfield duo of Conor Hourihane and John McGinn.

LIVERPOOL 

Along with Sadio Mané, Thiago Alcantara is also out on quarantine after being tested positive for COVID-19. The pair join Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joël Matip, and Konstantinos Tsimikas, on the sidelines. Jordan Henderson continues his recovery and Klopp is unlikely to take a risk on the skipper’s fitness. Alisson will also miss our, seeing Adrian duo ties between the sticks. 

Aston Villa 

 

For Aston Villa, Jack Grealish seems to have recovered from a dead leg and will be included in the squad. He will be looking to ride on the high of his recent England call-up. Bjorn Engels has just returned from injury and is unlikely to be risked. Orjan Nyland, Wesley and Tom Heaton are out injured.

 

Both Liverpool and Aston Villa rotated heavily over the midweek in the Carabao Cup, although Liverpool still did start Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk. We can expect a rested Villa XI, as none of Dean Smith’s regular starting XI started in the 0-1 loss to Stoke City.

My starting XI's :-

Liverpool : 

Adrian, Andrew Robertson, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah

 

Aston Villa :

Emiliano Martinez, Matt Targett, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, Matthew Cash, Conor Hourihane, Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins, Trézéguet

 

Written by @Joetgw

04/10/2020

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Shane
5 months ago

Good article that! Really good for the first one. Nailed that line up! Up the reds!!!!


Liverpool take on Chelsea today away from home, a fixture that holds so many iconic moments and riveting score lines.

 

Last time we met, we had Frank Lampard taking digs at Klopp before Trent put him in his place by whipping a free kick into the top bins, while Chelsea wonder kid gave us something to worry about before Oxlade-chamberlain killed the game.

 

Today we’ll be sharing some quick stats to ignite your excitement before the red’s second game of their title defending season.

 

Despite finishing fourth, Chelsea conceded the most goals (54) out of the entire top half of the table last season, and Liverpool had the second highest goal scoring tally (85)  in the league. Although Chelsea have attempted to improve their defence with the signing of PSG captain Thiago Silva and Leicester’s young left back Ben Chilwell, both arrivals are unfit to play against the premier league champions. This means we could expect another high scoring game.

 

In all competitions, Chelsea have only failed to score once against us in our last 22 meetings, a 2-0 win at Anfield for the reds in 18/19.

 

In last season’s fixture at the bridge, Liverpool won 2-1, with Trent scoring a glorious free-kick (quite similar to the one he scored against the blues at Anfield in July) and Roberto Firmino scoring also. Both Liverpool goals were scored within the first half-hour while N’Golo Kante pulled one back with twenty minutes to go.

 

Joel Matip received Sky Sports’ man of the match for that game, so it is likely that he could be in the starting line up today in order to defuse Chelsea’s newly bolstered attacking line up.

 

Timo Werner will be a name on many lips this afternoon, after Liverpool fans spent months thinking he was coming to Anfield, FSG apparently gave up on the deal due to financial implications, allowing Chelsea to snap him up. Today we’ll find out just how big of a mistake that might have been.

 

Chelsea have won two of their last five games against ‘top 6’ clubs, drawing one and losing the other two. One of these wins handed Liverpool the title against Manchester City when their 2-1 win at the bridge made it mathematically impossible for the Manchester club to catch up, a game that will go down in Liverpool’s history as the game that handed our club their first premier league title.

 

This result Frank Lampard got against Pep Guardiola’s City side shows that on their day Chelsea are capable of getting the better of some of the best teams in the league, so however you’re feeling about today’s fixture with the London club, expect to see an exciting fixture with lots of action.

 

Written by @DannyLeeYNWA

20/09/2020

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This Saturday we begin the defence of our Premier League title, and as Klopp rightly says, " we are not defending a title, we are going to attack a new one". I, for one, completely agree with this statement, trophies are never won off the back foot, are they? 

We welcome Leeds United to Anfield for the first time since the 2003/04 season when under Peter Reid and Eddie Gray, they were related following 19th place finish, bringing an end to 14 consecutive Top-flight seasons. 

Those of us who remember that Leeds United side will recall the clubs financial crisis, a crisis which was as significant contributor to the instability on the pitch as well as in the boardroom. 
Their financial plight was largely brought about by a transfer policy which saw them recruit heavily and somewhat gamble on their ideology of "Speculate to accumulate". As we know all too well, hindsight is a wonderful thing and taking your time to build a project stands a greater chance of success.

We can now welcome back one of English biggest football clubs, back to the top table. 


Over the years, we have been entertained by this fixture and, it’s fair to say,  Leeds have been a difficult opponent for us, with the likes of Viduka and, who could forget Anthony Yeboah, enjoying success in front of goal. Have a look at the head to head shown below;

Statistics certainly favour Liverpool, especially with home advantage, but the opening game of the season often bears little resemblance to the form each and every side settles into over the course of a season.

The Managers

Not only do these men currently hold the titles for the Premier League and Championship respectively, they share many other similarities.

Both are intense and animated on touchine and it’s very evident both managers have created a bond with their players that has proven to make the difference when chasing honours.


Not only that, both managers have used the disappointments of 2018/19 season to, in Klopps’ case,overhaul Manchester City and in Bielsas’ case, to put the disappointment of the play offs behind his squad and come up as champions. The ability to use adversity to drive you to success is rare and is exactly what makes good managers into great ones.
In recent times Bielsa has publicly credited Klopps’ influence and the impact his approach has had on him personally. High praise indeed, but you can rest assured the competitor in Bielsa will forget this for 90 minutes or so come the weekend. 

Team Tactics

You can expect high energy from both sides, both press well and both counter press well. Bielsa often favours a 4-1-4-1 formation as shown below;

It’s been written before that Bielsa plays with ideologies of the ‘Cruyffian’ school of football - short quick passing, with an intense pressing game and a desire to dominate the opposition.

For the home side we can expect much of the same, tactics wise. Liverpools’ game plan is no surprise. That said,  the conundrum of solving the Anfield puzzle is one the likes of Guradiola, Mourinho and many more cannot solve. The last time Liverpool lost a league game at Anfield was a 2-1 reverse to Crystal Palace on April 23 2017.
The only question for me will be team selection. Who plays Matip or Gomez? Since lockdown Joe Gomez hasn’t always reproduced the form showed pre-lockdown. I suggest the role of partnering Van Dijk isn’t so cut and dried these days. And what of Wijnaldum? I expect Klopp to pick his as Henderson whilst training may not be risked. We will need to guard against that 4-1-4-1 formation and Leeds aggressive full backs.


Earlier in the article, I suggested the opening fixture of the season is no measurement of a side, let me use Leeds to make the point.


Leeds will have set themselves one primary goal and it won’t surprise you that it will be to secure their top flight status, to avoid a return to the second tier of English football and rightly so. So what’s different about Saturday? Well it’s this....
Leeds will not determine their end of season league position in away fixtures at the likes of City, Chelsea and at the weekend at Anfield. These are fixtures were the footballing world expect very little from them. Leeds believe they are back where they belong and why not? This is their big return, this is what they have been working towards since the summer of 2004. This is a chance to enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the venue and play without fear. They have nothing to lose at Anfield.


As Leeds leave the changing room on Saturday the message will be a clear one they will be told to relax and enjoy the stage and the magnitude of the day.


That makes Leeds United very dangerous. We will have to be focused and switched on, we will learn much about Leeds come Saturday.

Written by @StePlunk

10/09/2020

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Dr. Kop
6 months ago

Very good summary of what to watch for on Saturday. Good to see us rival the real United once again.


Community Shield Preview

 

Premier League and World Club Champions Liverpool take on FA Cup winners Arsenal on Saturday 29th August (4:30pm KO) with what could be, potentially, a very counter attacking match. 

 

By now, teams would be playing their 2nd / 3rd game of the season and getting somewhere near to full match fitness, but due to the late conclusion Of last season, our biological football clocks are well out of sync and still trying to adjust. 

 

Arsenal didn’t manage to qualify for the champions League but managed to save their season by beating Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final  only four weeks ago. Arsenal will be familiar with the Wembley pitch and will, you would suspect, give Liverpool a run for their money in the Wembley showdown this Saturday. 

 

The traditional curtain-raiser, which kick-starts the season, and is almost forgotten a week later, is largely considered a friendly by most but still a game of bragging rights and will feature talented stars on the great Wembley turf, likely mixed with a lot of young blood. The season begins on September 12th and what better way to add minutes onto the clocks our players than facing a team that are experienced in the one-off finals. 

 

What’s been said? 

 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “All the things we are doing are there to prepare for the season and prepare for the first game.

 

“The pre-season actually ends in two-and-a-half weeks before the game against Leeds, but we will be as ready as possible for this game.

 

“We should play better [with each game] and then I think we will have a chance; we will play better, so that’s all good.”

 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “I have to look at the players, how they come back from their holidays, how they come back after winning [the FA Cup], I want to see that reaction.

 

“You know, are they going to be a little more relaxed because we’ve done something or are they going to come with ‘Okay, this is nothing that we’ve done. We have to go to the next level, we have to apply ourselves better, we have to improve in a lot of areas and we have to dominate many other aspects of the game that at the moment we cannot control’.

 

“If that is the mindset, then I am very positive that we will be sitting here in a year’s time really happy. But I hope we take that road straight away.

 

“I am very positive about where we are. I don’t know if we are ahead of schedule, obviously if you had told me that we were going to win the cup before we joined then I probably would be happy with that.

 

“What I am very positive and very passionate and encouraged about is what we can do in the future and if we make the right decisions I am super confident that we can bring the club back to the top.”

(TalkSport) 

 

Team Stats

 

Arsenal:

  • in the last 6 matches, Arsenal have won 5 of them (83%)
  • Arsenal have scored 2 or more goals in 5 of their last 6 matches (83%)
  • Arsenal haven’t lost in 22 of their 27 matches (81%)

 

Liverpool

  • In all of Liverpool’s last 5 matches, total goals were over 2.5
  • In the last 7 games, Liverpool and their opponents have both scored in 6 times out of the 7 (86%)
  • Liverpool haven’t lost in 24 out of their last 29 matches (83%)
  • Liverpool have scored at least 2 goals in 4 of their last 5 matches (80%)

 

Head 2 Head

 

  • Arsenal have scored at least once in their last in their last 6 matches against Liverpool
  • Both teams in their previous 15 matches, there have been over 2.5 goals scored in 13 of them (87%)
  • In all of Arsenal’s last 6 matches against Liverpool, both teams have scored at least 1 goal each
  • Liverpool haven’t lost in 10 of their last 11 meetings with Arsenal ( 91%)
  • Liverpool have scored at least 3 goals in 8 of their last 10 matches (80%) against Arsenal

 

Team News

 

Huge worry for Liverpool in their 2-2 pre-season friendly draw against RB Leipzig, Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk received a nasty head injury and a cut above the eye proving our fearless beast is human after all. Virgil should be fit for the clash on Saturday unlike our club captain Jordan Henderson, who still needs time to recover from the knee injury suffered in July’s 3-1 win over Brighton. The game has come to soon and one not worth risking for our captain who has a long season ahead of him. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will also miss our due to a knee problem and Joel Matip too will miss the showdown with a foot injury. Trent Alexander-Arnold will have a late fitness test to see whether he makes it into the first 11 or must take his place on the bench. With the assist maestro currently nursing a slight knee problem, it paves way for Neco Williams ,who has been involved in both of Liverpool’s friendlies so far. 

 

Arsenal have first choice keeper Bernd Leno back and ready to take his position between the sticks and new signing William Saliba could make his debut in central defence. Not such good news for Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers who are all still sidelined, as is Gabriel Martinelli, who Arsenal fans are expecting to make this his break-out season, as he continues his recovery from a Knee injury.

Where to Watch?

When Is Kick Off? Saturday 29 August

What Time Is Kick Off? 16:30 (BST)

Where Is it Played? Wembley Stadium

TV Channel/Live Stream? BT Sport 1/BT Sport Ultimate

Predicted Lineups

 

Arsenal: Leno; Soares, Saliba, Holding, Tierney; Willock, Xhaka, Torreira; Pépé, Nketiah, Aubameyang.

 

Liverpool: Alisson; Williams, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Jones, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mané.

 

Previous Encounters

 

Here's how both sides fared in their previous five fixtures.

 

Arsenal

Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea (1/8)

Arsenal 3-2 Watford (26/7)

Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal (21/7)

Arsenal 2-0 Manchester City (18/7)

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool (15/7)

 

Liverpool

Newcastle 1-3 Liverpool (26/7)

Liverpool 5-3 Chelsea (22/7)

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool (15/7)

Liverpool 1-1 Burnley (11/7)

Brighton 1-3 Liverpool (8/7)

 

 

Prediction

 

With Arteta having three at the back and getting Arsenal to play beautiful counter attacking football once again, as well as picking up some impressive wins against the top teams including Liverpool within a short period, Arsenal will feel they  have a really good chance of victory in the shield, especially if Willian is introduced in the game at some point. Klopp has started his pre-season earlier than his opponents and in that time two key players in Lovren and Lallana have departed.

Watching the two friendlies and the training sessions, Liverpool will seemingly look to continue where they left off last season and I can assure you, there will be some sloppiness due to match fitness, but you never lose the quality a team possesses. Milner needs to step up in place of Hendo and starting with this game, this season will be the season of Naby lad.  

 

At the end of the day, whether both teams will use this game as a friendly or for match fitness, there is a trophy and bragging rights still to play for. 

 

Goals galore, Prediction: 3-2 to Liverpool 

 

Written by @jag1e

28/08/2020

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