Adrian and Nathaniel Phillips start for Liverpool in this evening’s Premier League clash with Sheffield United.
With Alisson Becker absent on compassionate grounds, Adrian begins in goal at Bramall Lane.
Phillips, meanwhile, is the only other change the Reds make from last weekend’s Merseyside derby as he replaces the injured Jordan Henderson.
James Milner is back on the bench after returning to fitness as well as Academy goalkeepers Jakub Ojrzynski and Liam Hughes.
Diogo Jota doesn’t make the matchday squad due to illness.
Liverpool: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Jones, Thiago, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Subs: Ojrzynski, Hughes, Milner, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Origi, R. Williams, N. Williams.
Liverpool FC Women claimed an impressive first win of 2021 by beating London Bees 3-0 in their FA Women's Championship meeting on Sunday.
Becky Jane punctuated the Reds’ attacking beginning to the clash at Prenton Park with a back-post finish that was the difference between the sides in the first half.
The visitors went close on several occasions in the second period, hitting the woodwork too, but late efforts from Ceri Holland and substitute Amy Rodgers gave the hosts victory.
Liverpool started with intent, moving the ball forward at every opportunity and Jane – deployed in an advanced position on the right flank – was at the heart of their early progress.
The game was only three minutes old when she tucked a pass in behind for Kirsty Linnett to run through. The forward had options as she bore down on goal and chose to square into the box, where the Bees cut the ball out.
Next time around, in the ninth minute, the Reds made sure.
On this occasion they fashioned the chance via the left wing, Linnett slipping a pass into the run of Ashley Hodson, who drove to the touchline and delivered into the middle for Jane to force in a low strike.
The visitors went close to hitting back immediately, though Sophie Quirk’s low effort from 20 yards out was dragged wide of the left post.
Liverpool nevertheless remained in the ascendancy and a clever spin by Linnett at the edge of the area allowed her to feed a pass into the run of Rhiannon Roberts. But the latter’s shot was too close to the goalkeeper.
Bees stopper Sarah Quantrill was later forced into more arduous work, reacting to tip over Missy Bo Kearns’ rising drive from Jane’s lay-up.
Meikayla Moore glanced a header wide from the resulting corner and the sides headed into the half-time break with the score still 1-0.
It was a different story when play restarted for the second half as the Bees created a series of chances to restore parity.
First, a ball ran for Lauren Pickett inside the box and Rachael Laws had to leap from her line to vitally block her finish at close range.
Two minutes later a corner kick from the left found Amelia Hazard at the back post and her header down towards goal was stopped by Laws.
LFC Women interim manager Amber Whiteley made a triple change a little after the hour mark, introducing Rachel Furness, Melissa Lawley and Rodgers to aid the search for a second goal.
It was the away side who again threatened next, though.
A neat passing move saw the ball eventually spread out to Quirk high on the left flank and her cross-shot looped down onto the crossbar before bouncing away.
Furness sent a stooping header off target from a corner as the Reds responded – and they then secured the points with two goals in the space of six minutes.
On 74, Liverpool built out from the back and Furness’ flick-on in the middle of the park unlocked space for Holland to exchange passes with Lawley, step forward and cushion a strike beyond Quantrill.
Rodgers swiftly added her name to the scoresheet, too, accurately sweeping home from the edge of the box to confirm an encouraging result for Whiteley’s charges.
LFC Women: Laws, Roberts, Moore, Fahey, Hinds, Jane (Lawley, 62), Bailey (Brough, 87), Holland, Kearns (Rodgers, 62), Hodson, Linnett (Furness, 62).
Unused substitutes: Heeps, Robe, Thestrup, Parry.
Watch extended highlights of Liverpool U23s' 4-0 win over Arsenal in Premier League 2 on LFCTV GO now.
The young Reds were in clinical mood at the Academy on Saturday and clinched three points with two goals in either half.
Pinpoint finishes from Layton Stewart and Ben Woodburn sandwiched a Jake Cain double either side of the interval.
See the best of the action in Kirkby in the highlights package above.
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Sheffield United forward David McGoldrick recognises that the Liverpool side who he considers the “best team” he’s ever played against have seen their jigsaw unfold due to injury.
Jurgen Klopp has overseen a dramatic rise and transformation at Liverpool since his arrival more than five years ago, turning nearly men into a relentless force.
Consistency was at the heart of the Reds’ success in the Premier League last season, as was an unwavering relentlessness that McGoldrick even likened to a team of “robots.”
But the side that travels to meet Sheffield United today is a much-changed one from the side who broke countless records as they rampaged to the title.
A long list of injuries has been at the heart of Liverpool’s woes and the Blades’ striker was quick to acknowledge the domino effect that the absence of key players can have on performances and results.
“It sums it up [the craziness of the league with Liverpool’s recent results]. It’s crazy, you would never have thought that playing against them last year and how strong they were,” McGoldrick told Sheffield United’s club website.
“I think they were the best team I’ve ever played against, I thought they were unbelievable.
“It was like robots at times and then a few injuries and this is what happens.
“Injuries are key, we’re missing key players and they’re missing key players and when that happens, a piece of the jigsaw unfolds and things like this happen.”
Chris Wilder’s side are no strangers to a long injury list themselves, with his first-choice back three unavailable tonight in addition to potentially being unable to name a full complement of players on the bench.
McGoldrick’s assessment is an honest one and while he may fancy his chances against a makeshift Liverpool backline this time around, he knows the Reds still pose a threat in attack – and his eyes are on Sadio Mane.
“I just remember playing against [Mane] last year and he was a robot. He was working hard, skipping by people, he was strong,” he added.
“He was just a joy, not to play against because I couldn’t get near him, to see.
“Obviously, Salah’s goal record speaks for itself and if you wanted the goals you’d go for him [as a strike partner], but as an all-round player Mane really stands out for me.”
Referee Lee Mason has been replaced as fourth official for Sunday's match between Sheffield United and Liverpool due to injury.
Mason will be replaced at Bramall Lane by John Brooks, with Jonathan Moss refereeing Sunday night's game, live on Sky Sports.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has confirmed to Sky Sports News that Mason picked up an injury while officiating Saturday's game between West Brom and Brighton, during which Mason was involved in controversially disallowing a Brighton goal.Sunday 28th February 7:00pm Kick off 7:15pm
In the incident, Brighton defender Lewis Dunk curled in a quick free-kick from the edge of the penalty area. Referee Mason blew his whistle - before quickly blowing again - but in between, Dunk had taken a quick free-kick and scored while Sam Johnstone was still lining up his wall.
Mason appeared to rule the goal out straight away but after Brighton's players surrounded him to complain, the referee eventually gave the goal - only to finally reverse his decision after a chaotic few minutes and pull the game back for the visitors to retake their initial free-kick.2:49 Lewis Dunk described the controversial moment Lee Mason disallowed a free-kick that Brighton had scored despite blowing his whistle as 'embarrassing and horrendous'.
After the game, Dunk described Mason's decision as "embarrassing and horrendous" and claimed the referee lost control of the game.Dermot: Mason lost focus
Dermot Gallagher on Sky Sports News:0:54 Mason 'lost focus' during his decision to initially award Brighton a goal against West Brom before later disallowing it, says former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher.
"I've been in situations in games where I've lost focus for a little while. I think that's the key thing: Lee has lost focus here.
"He's tried to regain it, he's realised, but he's lost a little bit of concentration, and he's not quite in that zone for making accurate decisions.
"He should never have had the free-kick taken in the first place, but having done that, he's then got to follow the process through. He's quickly realised, and quite rightly blown a second time to stop that, to control it, but the ball has entered the net.3:15 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from West Brom’s win over Brighton in the Premier League
"It's at that point the VAR has told him that the ball has not entered the net before the whistle, so therefore the goal doesn't stand.
"The fact he's gone across to the bench has given him that thinking time, created that time for him to get his thoughts and himself together, so that when he goes back, he's in a better frame of mind to restart that situation."Stelling: This is a shambles
Dunk's disallowed goal was slammed as a "shameful, disgraceful piece of nonsense" by Jeff Stelling.
The Soccer Saturday host was in disbelief as Paul Merson described events at The Hawthorns.
"This is a shambles. Lee Mason, what have you done?" Stelling questioned, as the Soccer Saturday team watched on.
"VAR has given no goal and now he is going to look at the screen. This is a total, utter, shameful, disgraceful, piece of nonsense!
"This is the dream team of Lee Mason and Simon Hooper, who is the VAR at the moment. You could not make this up."
Merson added: "I've never seen anything like this. He's completely out of control."
The Egyptian has been one of the main topics of discussion regarding potential departures at Anfield in the near future, with his own comments only adding fuel to the fire.
Salah had praised “top clubs” Real Madrid and Barcelona in an interview with the Spanish press late last year, teams who remain linked with the 28-year-old.
And with a journalist recently throwing a wild claim out that Salah is not happy at Liverpool, his importance to the team was looked to once more in England.
Salah himself has not shown any signs of restlessness, in fact, the opposite with a recent promise to fans and Klopp praised his winger and the hope for a long stay on Merseyside.
“He’s very important, it’s a bit awkward when I have to praise my own players, which I like to do, to be honest, but I think in Mo’s case the numbers speak for themselves,” Klopp told reporters.
“But Mo is not only a goalscorer. He has developed football-wise as well, he is a very, very important player for us.
“And hopefully he will be that for a long, long time, of course.”
The 28-year-old is contracted at Anfield until 2023 which leaves Liverpool in the driving seat regarding his immediate future, but few signs internally suggest it is a concern.
While the season has been tough-going, Salah has been a shining light with 24 goals and four assists in 35 appearances – a tally that has seen him nestle into joint-13th in the club’s all-time goalscorers list.
He sits level with Ian St John having taken his total to 118 goals in 187 appearances, an incredible return that has played a key role in the Reds’ recent success.
Salah is one who sits in the underappreciated category outside the club’s walls, and sometimes even within them, but as the boss noted, his numbers really do speak for themselves.
Andy Robertson is in no doubt that “not one” team in world football would be able to navigate Liverpool’s injury pile-up which has led to 18 different centre-back partnerships to date.
The Reds have been dealt blow after blow this season as injury has besieged the squad and taken with it all three senior centre-backs they started the season with.
It has led to the likes of Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Billy Koumetio and most recently Ozan Kabak to slot in and form part of Liverpool’s 18 different centre-back combinations to date.
And the instability in addition to blooding inexperienced players into the system has put a lot of pressure on Robertson’s shoulders with roles and responsibilities continually changing.
“If you tell any team in world football that they’re going to have 18 different partnerships in a season at centre-back, no team in the world deals with that, not one,” Robertson told Sky Sports.
“Usually we have, for instance, Virg who’s very vocal, we have Joey Gomez that leads by example, and Joel who leads by example. We’ve had Fabinho, Hendo.
“But now we’ve got Nat Phillips, who obviously wasn’t here last season, he was out on loan. We’ve got (Ozan) Kabak who’s a young lad who’s just come in. We’ve got Ben Davies, who’s been signed from a Championship club and needs to take time and big Rhys (Williams), of course.
“All of them are relatively inexperienced and it’s trying to help them, but also trying to help the team by focusing on yourself.”
“It’s been tough for me personally but it’s part and parcel of it.
“I’m probably the leader at the back, I’m probably the most vocal at the back now and it’s just trying to make sure that we do as well as we can and we try to keep as many clean sheets as we can because that’s the only way we’re going to win games.”
No one could have expected the turns this season would take for Liverpool off the back of their title success, but the Scot is not wrong in his view that the absence of so many key figures could be easily overcome by any team in the world.
The knock-on effect has been just as profound throughout the entire squad, not just in defence, and it would be foolish to overlook when passing judgement on the Reds this season.
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Jake Cain took his goal tally for the season up to seven, as the Liverpool under-23s midfielder struck twice in a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Arsenal on Saturday.Liverpool U23s 4-0 Arsenal U23s
Premier League 2, Kirkby
February 27, 2021
Goals: Stewart 14′, Cain 45′ 47′, Woodburn 68′
Up against an Arsenal side including Reiss Nelson, Barry Lewtas’ U23s took to the field with three changes from their 3-2 win over Chelsea last time out, with Marcelo Pitaluga, Leighton Clarkson and Luis Longstaff all missing out.
Liam Hughes came in for his debut between the sticks, while Tom Clayton returned to the No. 6 role and Elijah Dixon-Bonner joining him in midfield as Ben Woodburn shifted into attack.
The first half was hallmarked by the relentless pressing work of Lewtas’ youngsters, who capitalised twice on Arsenal errors to go 2-0 up before the break.
First, Layton Stewart added to his maiden U23s goal against Chelsea as he latched onto a sloppy pass following great pressure from Woodburn, opening his body up and finishing well inside the box.
And after holding firm as Arsenal looked to trouble the assured Hughes, a big header from Morgan Boyes led to a poor touch at the back which Cain picked up before – having shifted well into space on his left – firing into the top corner.
HT: Liverpool U23s 2-0 Arsenal U23s
Having struck on the cusp of half-time, Cain then scored again within two minutes of the restart, picking up the ball from Woodburn’s pass and firing past Tom Smith after more excellent off-ball work from Stewart.
Conor Bradley was required to make an impressive last-ditch challenge to deny Nelson a one-on-one with Hughes, and the young Reds then went up the other end to cap the victory as Cain fed Woodburn for his first goal since returning from Blackpool.
A resounding lead gave Lewtas the opportunity to first reintroduce Paul Glatzel, who took the place of an outstanding Stewart, and then Abdi Sharif, who replaced Cain late on following a long period out with injury.
Having at one point gone six games without a win, losing four, the U23s have now taken back-to-back victories for the first time since the start of November.
The return of senior players such as Boyes and Woodburn, plus the cutting edge of Cain and Stewart, has give Lewtas’ side the stability they require – and no doubt Jurgen Klopp and his staff will be impressed watching on.
Liverpool U23s: Hughes; Bradley, Boyes, Koumetio, Beck; Clayton, Dixon-Bonner (Hardy 88′), Morton; Cain (Sharif 88′), Woodburn, Stewart (Glatzel 78′)
Subs not used: Davies, Savage
Next match: Derby (H) – Premier League 2 – Sunday, March 7, 1pm (GMT)
Liverpool U23s completed an excellent Academy double on Saturday by beating Arsenal 4-0 in Premier League 2.
Having seen their U18s teammates defeat Everton with a last-minute goal earlier in the day, the elder group surged to an impressive result of their own in the afternoon.
Layton Stewart’s typically composed 14th-minute finish began the scoring against the Gunners and Jake Cain’s accurate strike on the cusp of half-time doubled the young Reds’ lead.
Cain was at it again when play restarted for the second half, clipping his second goal into the bottom corner from Ben Woodburn’s assist two minutes in.
Woodburn soon added his name to the scoresheet – with a calm, clinical effort in keeping with the theme – to wrap up a fine performance by the home team.
Liverpool’s intention to press the Arsenal backline at every opportunity was evident from the outset, with Barry Lewtas and his staff urging the players to pen their opposition in.
And, after Elijah Dixon-Bonner had dragged a low shot wide from a clearance, the tactic worked to perfection to create an opening goal.
Woodburn closed down Gunners full-back Ryan Alebiosu on the touchline and forced him into a hurried pass into his own area that went straight to the lurking Stewart, who opened up his body and stroked a cool finish around the goalkeeper.
The strike added even more authority to a confident start by Lewtas’ charges, their movement and short passing consistently creating space.
One such play saw Stewart place the ball in the Arsenal net a second time in the 23rd minute, only for the offside flag to halt his celebrations.
Tyler Morton’s lofted pass into the area unlocked the defence to find Dixon-Bonner’s run and his touch past the ‘keeper was tucked in by Stewart – though to no avail.
The visitors’ threat increased as the half wore on, however, and they struck the woodwork on 34 minutes.
Catalin Cirjan found a pocket of space in the area to collect a cross from the left wing and his drive at goal deflected off the last-ditch challenge of Cain and thudded off the right post.
Instead, the hosts netted again before the interval.
Cain scooped up a headed clearance around 30 yards from goal, jinked into the box with the ball and then guided a rising effort into the top right corner for 2-0.
Within two minutes of the second half beginning, Cain notched his second and Liverpool’s third.
Woodburn was its architect, gliding into space in the left channel and nudging a pass into his teammate, whose scuffed low shot had enough to evade the grasp of Tom Smith and reach the far corner.
Once again, Arsenal grew into the game as time elapsed and the Reds required a crucial saving tackle from Conor Bradley to deny them a goal on the hour.
Reiss Nelson had got in behind to meet a clip over the top and sprint towards goal but, just as he was about to strike, Bradley got a foot in to hook the ball away.
And Liverpool repeated their trick of following up a missed Arsenal chance by netting at the other end.
Cain turned provider on this occasion after more intense pressing in opposition territory paid dividends, picking out Woodburn in the left channel for an assured finish back across goal.
Lewtas introduced the returning Paul Glatzel from the bench for the final stages to add another positive to an outstanding day for the U23s and the Academy as a whole.
Liverpool U23s: Hughes, Bradley, Beck, Boyes, Koumetio, Clayton, Dixon-Bonner (Sharif, 88), Morton, Stewart (Glatzel, 78), Cain (Hardy, 88), Woodburn.
Unused substitutes: Savage, Davies.
Sadio Mane is in line to make his 150th Premier League appearance for Liverpool on Sunday night.
The forward will reach the milestone if he features against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Mane’s first 149 top-flight games for the Reds saw him score 70 goals and register 23 assists.
For more pre-match facts and figures from LFC statistician Ged Rea, read on…
Liverpool and Sheffield United have met nine times in the Premier League, with the Reds winning five and drawing two of those fixtures
Victory in this clash would see Liverpool record five consecutive league wins over the Blades for the first time
Each of the Reds’ last eight goals versus Sheffield United have been scored by different players, with only Robbie Fowler (three goals) having scored more than once against the Yorkshire club in the Premier League era
Mohamed Salah has netted in three away games in a row, scoring four times during that sequence
Andy Robertson has started each of Liverpool’s last 29 Premier League matches and is the only Reds player to start every top-flight game this season
Georginio Wijnaldum has featured in the last 47 Premier League games, while Roberto Firmino has not missed a top-flight fixture since May 2019 (an uninterrupted run of 63 matches)