LFC NEWS

Jürgen Klopp's verdict on Leicester 1-0 Liverpool

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 22:57
Jürgen Klopp rued a night when Liverpool were ‘just not really ourselves’ in losing 1-0 against Leicester City on Tuesday.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Jürgen Klopp's verdict on Leicester 1-0 Liverpool

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 22:57

Jürgen Klopp rued a night when Liverpool were ‘just not really ourselves’ in losing 1-0 against Leicester City on Tuesday.

The Reds suffered only their second defeat of the season in all competitions as Ademola Lookman’s 59th-minute strike separated the sides after a first-half Mohamed Salah penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel and the Egyptian’s rebound hit the crossbar.

Klopp’s men remain in second place in the table but now trail Premier League leaders Manchester City by six points at the halfway point of the campaign.

The manager provided his verdict on the game at King Power Stadium during a post-match press conference. Read a transcript below.

On how he reflects on the game…

We were just not really ourselves tonight. So, we started OK, I can’t say differently, like what I said to all your colleagues outside. I think we started OK. I didn’t like 100 per cent the intensity even in the beginning, but sometimes you have starts like this. But then we lost rhythm and never found it really back. At least we had moments where we could have played much better. They played a diamond tonight, at least for a while first half and there is no system in the world which is perfect, that means you can use these kinds of things. And especially in the diamond, if you fix the last line you can play left and right and shoot left and right of the six, that makes it really tricky. That’s quite a challenge for protection because they had Maddison on 10 and Iheanacho and Vardy up front, so it doesn’t feel comfortable but you can play that.

For these situations, you cannot and should not take always the obvious thing – when you have the ball free and you can cross and players are in the box, these kinds of things. We forced it a little bit too early, we crossed too early the balls in the first half instead of passing the extra pass. If you do that, all of a sudden the situation looks completely different. We tried to change that at half-time but for some reason it didn’t click tonight really. They scored the goal, it was clear we were under pressure, a great atmosphere. We were pushing then but didn’t use the chances, missed three headers, all these kinds of things. In the end, what I told everybody who was responsible for the Leicester performance tonight: well deserved. The story is actually nice – one of the guys who was constantly talking about we should not play the 26th and 28th plays only on the 28th and is losing against the team who plays on the 26th and 28th. Funny story, I know. So I really think in a really strange game from our side, they deserved the three points.

On the fact Manchester City could be 12 points ahead before Liverpool play again…

Yeah, Chelsea and us play against each other so we cannot both have the points obviously. I know, sorry for that. But it was not our plan tonight to give City the chance to run away or whatever. But if we play like tonight we don’t have to think about catching up with City. But if we play our football in games we have to see how often, how many points we can get and we will see what that means. How I said, I don’t have a proper explanation for tonight but finding this explanation is my main concern and not in this moment the gap with Manchester City.

On Salah’s penalty miss…

There’s not a little bit of blame or whatever. He scores usually from these situations but tonight he didn’t. It was a little bit like the whole game was. Mo is part of the team and usually he is better in this situation like the team is usually better in a football game. Tonight we weren’t and that’s why we lost.

On seeing the run of scoring in 34 consecutive games come to an end…

We needed obviously some effort not to score tonight; we had quite a few chances and we were close. It would have made the game better actually, but if I would sit here – and I know it’s easy to say – and we had won it 2-1, which was obviously possible, I wouldn’t have liked the game anyway. You can say these things like the dirty games are very important and that’s all true, but tonight I didn’t like a lot in our football game, to be honest. That’s not cool, that’s not why we do it, so we have to do better and we have a few days to talk it through, think it through, improve and go again.

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Jurgen Klopp concedes “too many performances below normal level”

ThisIsAnfield.com - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 22:44

Jurgen Klopp offered an honest assessment of Liverpool’s performance in the defeat at Leicester, with “too many performances below normal level” to achieve the desired result.

The Reds were off the pace at the King Power and while clear cut chances went begging, it was a lethargic display that was in contrast to the six-day break that was afforded to Liverpool.

Leicester capitalised and the consensus was that they were deserving of their win in the eyes of both Klopp and Virgil van Dijk, with Liverpool simply “not good enough.”

And the manager was blunt in his view that too many of his players were below the standard expected of them, lapses that cannot be afforded in a tight title race.

“There were too many performances below normal level. My job is to figure these kind of things out before the game. Who is in shape and all these kind of things,” Klopp told the BBC.

“So often these boys gave me the opportunity to say ‘wow, what a game!’ – tonight it’s ‘wow!’ but in completely the other way.

 Leicester City's Ademola Lookman celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It didn’t look good. It didn’t look like us, and that’s obviously the one thing we have to think about and change immediately.”

With Chelsea up next, that is the only option for a Liverpool side who must learn from their mistakes on Tuesday night, with Klopp saying the “first thing is not to do it ever again like this.”

“It was well deserved [for Leicester],” Klopp told Amazon Prime. “It was a very strange game. We were just not good enough.

“We still had enough chances. What we did with the balls was just not right. We played a really bad game, so it was well deserved.

[embedded content]

“Our decision-making [was poor], maybe a little bit of luck [was missing]. That’s how it is. We should have had more of those moments. We had enough to get the win, but if you lose you need more of them.

“It’s a big gap [to City]. In this moment it is not my problem. If we play our normal football, Liverpool football, we have the chance to win more football games.

“A defeat is a defeat. We have to learn and we will. The first thing is not to do it ever again like this. We lost our rhythm and weren’t calm enough to get it back. That’s our fault.”

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Klopp: If we play like that we won't catch Man City

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 22:09

Jurgen Klopp "didn't like" the way Liverpool played in their 1-0 defeat to Leicester and said they won't catch Man City if they continue to play in the same manner.

Ademola Lookman came off the bench to consign Liverpool to the shock defeat after Mohamed Salah had a penalty saved.

It was a miserable night for Klopp's side as they failed to close the six-point gap to Premier League leaders City and their wastefulness was to blame. City play twice before Liverpool's next Premier League fixture on Sunday, January 2 against Chelsea, which could mean Klopp's men will be 12 points behind the pacesetters if City stretch their winning run.

"Chelsea and us play against each other so we cannot both get the points," he said.

"Sorry for that but it was not our plan tonight to give City the chance to run away or whatever.

"But if we play like tonight, we don't have to think about catching up with City. But if we play our normal football, we can win normal football games.

"We have to see how many points we can get and we will see what that means.

"I don't have a proper explanation for tonight but to find this explanation is my main concern and not, in this moment, the gap to City.

"I know it is easy to say but if we had won the game 2-1 I would not have liked the game anyway. Tonight, I did not like a lot in our football game. That is not cool.

"We have to do better, improve and go again."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester’s win against Liverpool in the Premier League.

"We were just not really ourselves tonight," he added.

"I think we started OK. I didn't like 100 per cent the intensity even at the beginning but sometimes we have starts like this.

"We forced it a little bit too early, we crossed it a bit too early instead of taking the extra pass. We tried to change that at half-time but for some reason it did not click tonight.

"We were pushing but did not use the chances, missed free headers, all these things. In the end, I thought they deserved it.

"It is a nice story that a guy who is complaining about playing on the 26th and 28th only plays on the 28th and loses to a guy who had to play on the 26th and 28th."

 Image: Joel Matip reacts to missing a late chance Rodgers: It was a heroic effort

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Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to his Leicester team as they beat Liverpool just 48 hours since playing Man City.

Victory breathed fresh life into Leicester's season as they rose to ninth and five points off the top six after a difficult December which had seen them win just one of their previous six games and drop out of the Europa League and the Carabao Cup.

They still needed Kasper Schmeichel at his best and the goalkeeper - who kept just his second clean sheet since the opening day - ensured they stayed in the game in the first half to earn revenge for their Carabao Cup defeat last week and eased the pain of conceding six goals in the defeat to Manchester City on Boxing Day.

"The players put in a heroic effort when you think of the recovery time against a team with so much power and athleticism," boss Brendan Rodgers said.

"You don't keep a clean sheet against Liverpool if everyone isn't working. But it was the context of it after playing against Manchester City.

"We played a diamond for an hour to keep the threat in the side and then switched to 4-3-3 and showed resilience. [Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's] energy is remarkable and we needed that in the team. Him and Hamza [Choudhury] had to put in so much work.

"I just thought, you know, let's go back to basics [with our set-piece defending]. An old school structure. Let's defend properly. We did that tonight. The centre-halves were amazing but they all played their part. Collectively, we did really well."

What's next?

Leicester are back in action at the King Power Stadium on New Year's Day - this Saturday for those losing track of the days - when they host bottom club Norwich City.

Liverpool's next game is the following day when they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on title rivals Chelsea in what will be a huge Super Sunday game live on Sky Sports.

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Leicester shock Liverpool as Salah misses penalty

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 22:00

Ademola Lookman came off the bench to consign Liverpool to a shock 1-0 defeat at Leicester after Mohamed Salah had a penalty saved.

It was a miserable night for Jurgen Klopp's side as they failed to close the six-point gap to Premier League leaders Manchester City and their wastefulness was to blame.

Salah's first-half penalty was saved by the brilliant Kasper Schmeichel but he did not test the goalkeeper from the rebound and nor did Sadio Mane when through after the break.

Player ratings

Leicester Schmeichel (9), Castagne (8), Amartey (9), Ndidi (7), Thomas (8), Choudhury (7), Soumare (8), Maddison (7), Dewsbury-Hall (9), Iheanacho (6), Vardy (7)

Subs: Lookman (8), Tielemans (6), Albrighton (7)

Liverpool Alisson (5), Alexander-Arnold (6), Van Dijk (6), Matip (5), Tsimikas (5), Henderson (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Fabinho (6), Jota (6), Salah (5), Mane (6)

Subs: Keita (6), Milner (6), Firmino (6)

Man of the match: Kasper Schmeichel

Lookman punished Liverpool with a fine goal just before the hour mark and Brendan Rodgers' depleted side held on for a memorable win that moves them back up to ninth.

How Leicester upset the odds

There was a high tempo from the outset with Liverpool pushing and Leicester's obvious counter-attacking threat more than enough to encourage the home support.

But the electric atmosphere looked set to be taken down a notch when Wilfred Ndidi, playing at centre-back, caught Salah inside the box and the Egyptian stood over the penalty.

Schmeichel was up to the challenge though, saving Salah's tame penalty before the Premier League's top scorer somehow contrived to head against the bar from the rebound.

Salah had scored 15 consecutive Premier League penalties before this miss - a record only bettered by Matt Le Tissier - but this one was too safe in terms of height and direction.

Kasper Schmeichel saves a penalty from Mohamed Salah Image: Kasper Schmeichel saves a first-half penalty from Mohamed Salah

The home supporters cheered as loudly as if they had scored themselves but Liverpool continued to push, Schmeichel called into action again to keep out Jordan Henderson.

By the midway point of the first half, it felt like Leicester were at their absolute limit in trying to repel the constant Liverpool attacks with Diogo Jota looking a particular menace.

Salah seemed certain to have made amends for his failure from the spot but Schmeichel proved his nemesis once more - hooking the ball away, a better stop than the penalty.

It was a heroic effort from the Leicester skipper and proved a turning point in the game as James Maddison finally managed to get on the ball and make things happen for his team.

Some neat play from a throw-in helped set up Jamie Vardy for a chance on the angle before Ndidi's tackle on Salah - roared on by the crowd - sparked another opening soon after.

It broke up the prolonged pressure from Liverpool, getting Leicester to the interval with their clean sheet intact and with the supporters still hoping for an unlikely victory.

Team news

Brendan Rodgers rung the changes from the defeat at Manchester City just two days ago, making five. In came Timothy Castagne, Wilfred Ndidi, Hamza Choudhury, Boubakary Soumare and Jamie Vardy. Ndidi was deployed at centre-back, while another midfield regular Youri Tielemans dropped to the bench.

Jurgen Klopp also made five changes from the game with Tottenham as he welcomed back both Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho from their spells away in isolation. Konstantinos Tsimikas replaced the suspended Andy Robertson whilst Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were selected in midfield.

Ten minutes into the second half, those hopes looked set to be dashed when Jota put Mane through one-on-one but the Liverpool forward inexplicably missed the target.

It proved costly when Lookman came off the bench, promptly exchanged passes with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, and beat Alisson at his near post. The home crowd erupted.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (centre) battles with Leicester City's Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (left) and James Maddison Image: Leicester City's Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall got the better of Mohamed Salah on the night

Liverpool were rattled but soon redoubled their efforts as Leicester inevitably began to drop a little deeper and looked to protect their lead. Maddison went off with an injury.

But while Klopp threw more attacking players on, Leicester held firm with Liverpool struggling to build up any momentum as the clock continued to tick down.

In the final moments, they did ask questions, Jota and Joel Matip both headed wide, with Alisson even going up for a late corner, but Leicester held on for the points.

It was some revenge for their Carabao Cup elimination last week and a welcome boost after conceding six to Manchester City. Those contrasting results leave Liverpool six points back from City, who can extend that gap to nine points when they face Brentford on Wednesday.

What the managers said…

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers: "The players put in a heroic effort when you think of the recovery time against a team with so much power and athleticism. You don't keep a clean sheet against Liverpool if everyone isn't working. But it was the context of it after playing against Manchester City.

"We played a diamond for an hour to keep the threat in the side and then switched to 4-3-3 and showed resilience. [Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's] energy is remarkable and we needed that in the team. Him and Hamza [Choudhury] had to put in so much work.

"I just thought, you know, let's go back to basics [with our set-piece defending]. An old school structure. Let's defend properly. We did that tonight. The centre-halves were amazing but they all played their part. Collectively, we did really well."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "We were just not really ourselves tonight. I think we started OK. I didn't like 100 per cent the intensity even at the beginning.

"We forced it a little bit too early, we crossed it a bit too early instead of taking the extra pass. For some reason it did not click tonight. We were pushing but did not use the chances, missed free headers, all these things. In the end, I thought they deserved it.

"I know it is easy to say but if we had won the game 2-1 I would not have liked the game anyway. Tonight, I did not like a lot in our football game. That is not cool. We have to do better, improve and go again."

Analysis: Liverpool pay price for wastefulness

Liverpool supporters will forgive Mohamed Salah for his error from the penalty spot given his astonishing record for the club but it will be a source of regret that it should prove such a costly miss. It was a night of them for Jurgen Klopp's side when slips are not an option.

Manchester City have won their last nine Premier League games so Liverpool need to be perfect. Instead, as well as Salah's shock failure from 12 yards, there was the sight of Sadio Mane, put clean through by Diogo Jota, directing his effort over the top of the bar.

Mane, now 29, has failed to find the net in his last nine appearances for Liverpool in all competitions. It is the sort of form that could prove the difference between winning the title and falling just short when the quality of the team's rivals is so high.

Liverpool can sometimes seem like such a finely-tuned machine that any cog out of place means they do not function quite as they should. Kostas Tsimikas was perhaps the obvious example at Leicester. He threatened. Some would say he played well.

But he was the man with the space, the player with the room to punish Leicester, who started with a narrow midfield. He got forward, of course he did. But the crosses were not quite in the right spot. The decision-making in possession rarely exactly what was required.

In short, Andrew Robertson, serving a suspension following his red card against Tottenham, was missed. The margins were fine and Klopp is entitled to feel that Liverpool did enough to win. But the little things went against them - and the consequences could be big come May.

Opta stats
  • Liverpool failed to score for the first time in 29 Premier League games, and for the first time since a 1-0 home loss to Fulham in March.
  • Liverpool ended 2021 in the same way they started it, failing to score in an away match. The Reds had netted in each of their last 28 on the road in all competitions between these two games.
  • Ademola Lookman has scored in consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in his career, with the attacker netting against Manchester City and Liverpool.
  • Since the start of 2020, Kasper Schmeichel has saved more penalties in the Premier League than any other goalkeeper, with tonight's stop his third in this period.
  • Mohamed Salah missed only his second ever penalty in the Premier League. He had scored each of his previous 15 attempts from the spot before tonight.
What's next?

Leicester are back in action at the King Power Stadium on New Year's Day - this Saturday for those losing track of the days - when they host bottom club Norwich City.

Liverpool's next game is the following day when they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on title rivals Chelsea in what will be a huge Super Sunday game live on Sky Sports.

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Match report: Liverpool suffer second defeat of season at Leicester City

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 22:00
Liverpool suffered a second defeat of the season as they were beaten 1-0 by Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Match report: Liverpool suffer second defeat of season at Leicester City

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 22:00

Liverpool suffered a second defeat of the season as they were beaten 1-0 by Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Mohamed Salah was denied from the penalty spot on 16 minutes when his strike was saved by Kasper Schmeichel and the rebound header cannoned against the crossbar.

The Foxes’ goalkeeper then thwarted the Reds on several more occasions before Ademola Lookman came off the bench to drill the home team into the lead just before the hour.

Despite heavy pressure, the Reds were unable to find an equaliser as Leicester held on to condemn the visitors to only a second loss of 2021-22.

Team news…

Liverpool were able to welcome Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho back into the starting line-up, while Curtis Jones was on the bench, after their recent positive COVID-19 tests ruled them out of the last three fixtures.

Thiago Alcantara and Takumi Minamino were absent from the squad, however, due to minor muscle soreness.

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Salah, Jota.

Subs: Kelleher, Konate, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Jones, Beck, Williams.

The action…

Just six days on from the lively Carabao Cup meeting at Anfield, the opening exchanges at King Power Stadium started equally as energetic.

Liverpool had been afforded longer to prepare given their Boxing Day fixture with Leeds United had been postponed – and it was the visitors who mustered the first threat on four minutes when Salah’s header back across the box from Kostas Tsimikas’ delivery found Diogo Jota. The forward controlled before striking goalwards, but the ball was blocked by Daniel Amartey.

Leicester then offered a threat when Boubakary Soumare scooped over the before from James Maddison’s layoff before Jordan Henderson crashed a volley off target at the other end.

Then, on 14 minutes, the away team were awarded a penalty after Salah was tripped inside the area by Wilfred Ndidi. The Egyptian assumed responsibility but saw his effort saved by Schmeichel and his follow-up header hit the crossbar before the hosts cleared.

The Foxes’ goalkeeper was called into action again when he needed to block a glance from the head of Henderson following a ball into the area from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Schmeichel also thwarted Jota at close range just prior to the half-hour mark; however, the No.20 was subsequently flagged offside.

Then, with 32 played, the home team’s stopper got a touch to a swivel-and-blast from Salah after the ball had broken to him inside the six-yard box.

Leicester would next fashion their best opportunity so far when Jamie Vardy and Timothy Castagne exchanged passes inside the area, though the former’s poke goalwards was blocked by Joel Matip.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was next required to clear from in front of the line from a Maddison ball across the face of goal, but a Henderson snap-volley up the other end of the pitch just evaded the frame of the goal by a foot.

And in one minute of added time, Jota swiped wide from a loose ball inside the area as the sides went in level at the break.

Liverpool set about inspecting their hosts’ defence once again immediately after the restart – though Tsimikas needed to make a vital intervention to prevent Vardy reaching Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s delivery into the box.

On 55 minutes, the visitors spurned another opportunity when Sadio Mane scooped over from Jota’s through ball when facing Schmeichel.

Naby Keita was introduced from the bench in the aftermath, replacing Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Leicester also made changes – and it was one of their substitutes who opened the scoring within three minutes of entering the action, with Lookman charging into the area, side-stepping a Matip challenge and drilling beyond Alisson Becker at the near post.

As the Reds pushed in search of equaliser in the game’s final stages, Salah sliced over from an Alexander-Arnold free-kick and Jota glanced wide following a Tsimikas corner.

Van Dijk was then denied by Schmeichel’s boot at his near post as he fired goalwards at another set-piece before Mane nodded down and wide soon after as Leicester held firm.

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Team news: Confirmed Liverpool line-up v Leicester

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 18:59
Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho return to Liverpool's starting line-up for this evening's clash at Leicester City.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Team news: Confirmed Liverpool line-up v Leicester

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 18:59

Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho return to Liverpool's starting line-up for this evening's clash at Leicester City.

The pair are named in the XI after missing the Reds’ last three outings due to returning positive COVID-19 tests, while Curtis Jones is back on the bench.

Thiago Alcantara and Takumi Minamino miss out on the squad due to minor muscle soreness.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Salah, Jota.

Subs: Kelleher, Konate, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Jones, Beck, Williams.

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Match Centre: Follow Leicester v Liverpool live

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 13:00
Follow live and interactive coverage of Liverpool's Premier League clash with Leicester City in our Match Centre.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Carra and Neville agree on 4 Liverpool players in Team of the Season so far

ThisIsAnfield.com - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 11:00

Sky Sports duo Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher both agreed on four Liverpool players in their respective Team of the Season so far, but there was conjecture over the fifth Red.

The season is at its halfway point for some having not been disrupted by postponements and with the year coming to a close, Carragher and Neville took stock of 2021/22 so far.

For Liverpool, the campaign has been one full of plenty of highs and new records as a team and as individuals, with Mohamed Salah leading the way in that regard.

And with only Man City sitting above the Reds in the table, their impressive start to the season was reflected in both Neville and Carragher’s Team of the Season so far as revealed on Sky SportsMonday Night Football.

The pair agreed on four Liverpool players for their XI, with Salah, Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk all present in the respective teams.

Chelsea‘s Antonio Rudiger, Man City‘s Joao Cancelo and Phil Foden and West Ham‘s Declan Rice also made the cut as mutually agreed upon selections.

It meant that the Reds dominated both XIs as Neville chose Alisson in goal to take his Liverpool representatives to five, one more than City in that particular lineup.

And it was Liverpool’s No. 1 who was the subject of conjecture as Carragher instead selected Arsenal‘s Aaron Ramsdale, while Neville conceded Andy Robertson was “unlucky” not to feature.

City’s Bernado Silva also attracted debate as Carragher questioned “How the hell have you not put Bernardo Silva in your team?” before Neville replied with, “I just haven’t put him in.”

Crucially, they were both in agreement that Salah has been the best player after 15 goals in the league and 22 across all competitions in 18 and 24 games respectively.

It is just two opinions but that Liverpool are heavily represented showcases just how bright the start to the season has been for Jurgen Klopp‘s men as they look to get back to lifting silverware.

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Can you name all 10 Liverpool and Leicester double agents in Premier League era?

ThisIsAnfield.com - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 10:00

Liverpool and Leicester have battled it out since the late 1890s and there have been more than a fair share to represent both clubs in that time.

But the question is, do you know all those to have done so in the Premier League era?

As the two teams prepare to meet once more, it’s time to see if you can name all 10 players to don both the colours of Liverpool and Leicester since 1992.

There are just a couple of guidelines for the players who qualified:

  • Had to have made a senior appearance for Liverpool in the Premier League era
  • And have been registered as a Leicester player in the same era

We’ve given you a few hints but you’ll need to have a good think for some of these names. Good luck!

You have 3 minutes…GO! Want more quizzes? Try these!

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Liverpool’s team defence the bedrock for title consistency – Jurgen Klopp

ThisIsAnfield.com - Tue, 12/28/2021 - 09:10

Jurgen Klopp has seen an improvement in Liverpool’s backline recently and highlighted defensive resolve as a critical component as they look to catch Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Liverpool sit six points behind City in the title picture, albeit having played one game fewer after the visit of Leeds on Boxing Day was postponed, with the two frontrunners poised for another pulsating race to the finish line.

The teams have traded blows in the last few years, with City pipping Liverpool by a solitary point in the 2018-19 season before the Reds ended a 30-year wait for a top-flight title in the following campaign.

City, though, are now favourites to claim back-to-back league titles and Klopp is well aware that they will be given few chances to reel in a side he once again referred to as “the best” in the world.

But he believes possessing an impregnable defence will be key over the forthcoming months for a Liverpool side that have conceded only 15 times in 18 games.

“The consistency the boys show is incredible but that’s the only chance you have in a league with probably the best team in the world, it is really tricky to be ahead of them,” Klopp said.

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and team-mates line-up for a minute's applause in memory of former player Ray Kennedy before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“So far at least we are not completely out of reach, it’s not at the absolute no chance anymore but of course, you know City will not drop a lot of points so you better not drop points yourself.

“Do we have to do better? No. First of all, what we have to do on the absolute top level is defending, that’s what gives you the chance for consistency.

“On top of that, I really think we improved a lot football-wise, we played some really good stuff, we are more difficult to defend against than maybe we were in the past. We are taking some good steps.

“Will that be enough? I have no idea but without at least being as consistent as we have been, we have no chance and if we really want to go for the big one we will have to be even more consistent. We will give it a try.”

[embedded content]

Klopp – speaking to preview Tuesday night’s visit to Leicester, where Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Curtis Jones are available again – thinks keeping the nucleus of the side together has helped them prosper both domestically and abroad.

“I hope I don’t eat my words but we are more stable than we were in the past but we have to stay like this, that’s the minimum,” Klopp added.

“We have to play flexible football, direct football, creative football, we have to defend rock-solid and to force things as well in games like in the last minute or second or other moments.

“The things we don’t do right we have to learn from and that’s what this group always did. It gives some reason for being optimistic but opponents are incredibly strong and even when they are not flying, they win the games.”

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Fit-again Virgil van Dijk is “back to his best for sure”, insists Jurgen Klopp

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 22:30

Jurgen Klopp has reflected on the four-year anniversary of Liverpool’s £75 million deal to sign Virgil van Dijk, and claimed he is “back to his best” after a long injury.

It is now four years since the Reds announced the signing of Van Dijk from Southampton, in what was a world-record transfer for a defender and a club-record deal.

While the all-time record has now been broken, the Dutchman remains Liverpool’s most-expensive signing in history, and he has more than repaid that outlay with his performances.

The world’s best centre-back, Van Dijk has helped push Klopp’s side to Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup success; a transformative signing alongside the likes of Mo Salah, Alisson and Fabinho.

Looking back to that day in 2017, Klopp has discussed the contribution his No. 4 has made to Liverpool’s success.

“Virgil’s arrival obviously was a big day in our common history, and it’s a good example of a winter transfer, how it works,” he told reporters.

“I think a winter transfer works when you either wanted to sign the player the summer before or the summer after anyway.

“That was the situation. We wanted Virgil in the summer already, for some reasons we couldn’t do the transfer, but then in the winter we tried again and could get it through.

“It was a very important day, it changed a lot for us, because in combination with Joel, with Dejan, with Joey, we all of a sudden could defend in a different way.

“We could make the pitch small for the opponent, which was pretty helpful. That’s why we are really happy.”

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (C) celebrates with team-mate Sadio Mané (R) after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Such is Van Dijk’s importance, then, that the manner in which he was struck down in the Merseyside derby 14 months ago came as a massive blow to Liverpool.

But after a lengthy layoff, Klopp believes his centre-back is “back to his best.”

“Really good, really good. Long may it continue,” the manager said, when asked about Van Dijk’s recovery and return to form.

“It’s like it is, obviously the rehab worked really well, so he came back in really good shape.

“He needed some rhythm, but very importantly got that rhythm. He’s now back to his best for sure.

“What helps us a lot and what helps him a lot is we have options around, so we don’t have to push him through in moments when his body gives a sign that he needs to step aside for a moment.

“That’s very helpful and that’s why the situation is very good.”

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Jürgen Klopp on four years of Virgil van Dijk, his comeback and title ambitions

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 22:30

‘It was an important day and it changed a lot for us,’ is how Jürgen Klopp today described Liverpool’s signing of Virgil van Dijk four years ago - and he hailed the defender as being back to his best.

The Reds announced on December 27, 2017 a deal had been reached with Southampton for the services of the Netherlands captain, with the transfer finalised on New Year’s Day.

Van Dijk has gone on to make 149 appearances for the club and collected winners’ medals in the Premier League, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

A serious knee injury ruled the 30-year-old out for the majority of last season, but he returned to fitness ahead of the start of the current campaign – and Klopp feels he’s now operating at his peak once more.

Liverpool Football Club can confirm they have reached an agreement with Southampton for the transfer of Virgil van… https://t.co/lQA74EcNru

— LFC (Liverpool FC) 27th Dec 17:59

Asked for an assessment of Van Dijk’s return and his four years with Liverpool, the boss said: “Really good, really good. Long may it continue.

“The rehab worked really well so he came back in a really good shape, needed some rhythm and it was very important he got that rhythm. [He] is now back to his best for sure and what helps us a lot and what helps him a lot is that we have options around, that we don’t have to push him through in moments when his body is giving a sign that it needs to step aside for a moment, that’s very helpful and that’s why the situation is very good.

“Virgil’s arrival was obviously a big day in our common history and is a good example for a winter transfer how it works. I think a winter transfer works when you wanted to sign the player either the summer before or the summer after anyway. That was the situation, we wanted Virg in the summer already, for some reasons we couldn’t do the transfer, but then in the winter we tried again and could get it through.

“It was a very important day and changed a lot for us because in combination then with Joel, Dejan and Joey, we all of a sudden could defend in a different way, could make the pitch smaller for the opponent. That was pretty helpful and that’s why we are really happy.

“It was four years ago today? Cheers to that, then!”

Klopp also tackled questions from reporters regarding the current situation in the Premier League table during the second part of his pre-Leicester City media duties on Monday.

Liverpool trail Manchester City by six points in the standings, though the Reds have a game in hand on Pep Guardiola’s side.

Read on for the rest of what Klopp had to say…

On whether he feels Liverpool can catch City…

I think it is possible, that’s what I think what we should think because that’s why we are here, but it is difficult, it’s absolutely difficult. Imagine the consistency of City but the consistency of my boys as well in the last few years. City became champion three years ago, one point ahead of us or 11 millimetres and stuff like this. We were chasing through the whole year incredibly well. The year before, we went to the Champions League final but we lost it, so the consistency the boys show is absolutely incredible but that’s the only chance you have. In a league with probably the best team in the world, it is really tricky to be ahead of them but so far we are not completely out of reach, it’s not that we have absolutely no chance anymore, but of course you know that City will not drop a lot of points so you better not drop points yourself. What do we have to do better? First and foremost, what we have to do on the absolute top level is defending. It’s how you have to do it, it’s what gives you the chance for consistency. On top of that, I really think we improved a lot football-wise, we play some really good stuff, we are more difficult to defend than maybe we were in the past. We did some good steps. Will there be enough? I have no idea, but without being at least as consistent as we have been we have no chance and if we really want to go for the big one, we have to be even more consistent. We will see if that is possible or not, but we will give it a try.

On whether Liverpool are a better team now than the one that won the title in 2019-20…

I’m not sure it’s better because these seasons are really difficult to top. What you have to do in football is you have to find new ways and extra ways, you have to use the things you are good in and build on that. I think because the team stayed together for a longer time now, even when we lost Gini last year, the majority of the team stayed together, it helps us in developing these things. That’s why when you have a core group who have played together for a while then you can put in younger players as well, like we in the beginning of the season with Harvey, who was absolutely outstanding and massively impressive in that period. When you bring in Curtis, then that he performs is because we are that stable and, of course, his talent.

Tyler is now coming in and these kind of things and it’s possible because the rest around works well and we are there. I hope I don’t eat my words but we are more stable than we were in the past, but have to stay like this at least – that’s the minimum. We have to, we have to play flexible football, direct football, creative football, we have to defend rock solid and to force things as well in games, in the last minute, in the last second, in other moments. We had already periods in the season when we were 2-0 up and the opponent came back; it’s not that you learn it three years ago and you never will miss it again, but we had the situation this year, we learned from it and that’s what we have to do. The things we don’t do right we have to learn from and that’s what this group always, always did and it gives some reason for being optimistic. Again, the opponents are incredibly strong and even when they are not flying they win the games occasionally and that’s the situation.

On whether having lifted the Premier League trophy last time behind closed doors provides added motivation…

It is but it doesn’t mean it will be like this. Most unlucky because of City? I don’t see it like this. City and us, we pushed each other on crazy heights, to be honest. Like I said, imagine if we would have won the Champions League final the year before we won it, imagine if we would have won the Premier League the year before we won it then it would be absolutely crazy what this group of players achieved, but we didn’t win that Champions League final and we didn’t win the league. You can say it’s a point but for me it was rather 11 millimetres in the game, I think it was City against Burnley and us against City as well where it was really close, so there is nothing you can do better or whatever, it is just in these moments we were unlucky, but that’s the situation. When I think about the team in this period, there is no difference between becoming champions and coming second in that season because the performance over such a long, long time was absolutely outrageous, crazy. It is pretty much not possible, but the boys did it and didn’t stop after that. We are motivated on the highest level but it is not so much because we won the league and couldn’t celebrate it. In 10 years, 15 years, when we look back we won the league and it is now not about the party around it and stuff like this. We had a party after the Champions League final and, yes, we would like to have another party if we win something, but obviously life taught us differently. We have to appreciate the moments when we have the people around and not think too much about the moments when we don’t have them around. Just take it like it is, win what you can and carry on.

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Jürgen Klopp on four years of Virgil van Dijk, his comeback and title ambitions

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 22:30
‘It was an important day and it changed a lot for us,’ is how Jürgen Klopp today described Liverpool’s signing of Virgil van Dijk four years ago - and he hailed the defender as being back to his best.
Categories: LFC NEWS

PL Predictions: Leicester to beat Liverpool

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 20:00

Our betting guru Jones Knows wants to back Leicester at a huge price to beat Liverpool and sees wins for Spurs, Crystal Palace and West Ham.

Crystal Palace vs Norwich, Tuesday 3pm - Watch free highlights of this game after full time

Norwich are hapless. Off the pitch, their sensible business structure and ability to produce talent deserves huge respect but there is no denying they have got their decision making horribly wrong back up at the top table. Dean Smith has not stumbled across his best formation or starting XI, their best player Teemu Pukki is starved of service and confidence must be at rock bottom, scoring just once in their last six games - and that came against 10-man Newcastle.

Backing teams to beat them to nil seems an obvious yet profitable strategy - so let's roll that dice again at 13/8 with Sky Bet.

Wilfried Zaha react to being sent off against Spurs Image: Wilfried Zaha reacts to being sent off against Spurs

Without the suspended Wilfried Zaha, my eyes have been drawn to the Palace corners market. His direct dribbles down the left are a catalyst for how Palace win their corners, without him their average drops immensely. In the past 12 months, Zaha has been missing for seven games and in those matches Palace have averaged just 2.7 corners per 90 minutes. That's a sharp decline on their overall average of four per 90 minutes with him in the side. Patrick Vieira's side rank low for corners anyway - the fifth lowest in the league, possibly due to their defensive focused full-backs.

I'm happy to back them at 11/10 with Sky Bet to win five corners or less.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0

BETTING ANGLE: Back Palace to win five or less corners (11/10 with Sky Bet)

Southampton vs Tottenham, Tuesday 3pm - Watch free highlights of this game after full time

Antonio Conte has got Tottenham motoring. Their direction of travel is towards the top four. Conte has done what Conte does, making teams fitter, better organised and putting his most talented players at the forefront of direct, dangerous attacks.

Since he took the job, no team have a better defensive record in the Premier League than Spurs. They are working at an average of 0.5 goals conceded per 90 minutes. It's going to take something special from Saints to find a way through and although they scored three times at West Ham, I am yet to be convinced about their ability to create quality chances from open play. A Tottenham win to nil is fancied at 11/4 with Sky Bet.

The man to get that winning goal just might be Lucas Moura, who is revelling playing with freedom in a swashbuckling attack with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son. The Brazilian is being encouraged to play in more central areas - as seen by his goal and missed chance from just outside the six-yard box in the win over Crystal Palace where he had five shots on goal. The markets have yet to adjust to his new, more dangerous, position, so the 11/10 for him to have a shot on target against Saints is a price worth taking.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1

BETTING ANGLE: Lucas Moura to have a shot on target (11/10 with Sky Bet)

Lucas Moura Image: Lucas Moura can hit the target for Tottenham at 11/10 Watford vs West Ham, Tuesday 3pm - Watch free highlights of this game after full time

I have made it an absolute artform out of getting West Ham wrong over the last 12 months. Boxing Day was another example. Southampton were clinical with their finishing and took advantage of a horrendous first-half performance from the Hammers that left David Moyes as fuming as he has been since taking the job.

He said: "I could have changed four or five at half-time it was a difficult choice. The reaction has to come not in the dressing room but on the pitch and hopefully, they will put that right."

West Ham have been consistent for such a long period of time, I would be quite confident of Moyes getting the required reaction at Vicarage Road, especially if, as expected, Michail Antonio plays from the start. His introduction at half-time sparked them into life vs Saints. At 11/10 with Sky Bet, the Hammers are worth following.

A key area of the game will be set pieces. West Ham should be able to put Watford under significant pressure. Only two more teams have conceded more headed goals than Claudio Ranieri's side (6) while West Ham, along with Liverpool and Manchester City, have scored the most goals (7) from corners this season. In what could be a low-scoring affair where Moyes will be demanding a clean sheet, the 9/2 on a header being the method of the first goal is worth backing.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1

BETTING ANGLE: First goal to be a header (9/2 with Sky Bet)

Leicester vs Liverpool, Tuesday 8pm - Watch free highlights of this game after full time

I was made to look stupid by Leeds two weeks ago when tipping them up to beat Manchester City at 25/1 based on the price being too generous to ignore. Well, that 7-0 thrashing has not made me learn my lesson as I am taking a swing at Leicester here.

The 13/2 with Sky Bet is staring at me, begging to be backed on the basis that Brendan Rodgers has his attack playing some very dangerous football. Yes, their defensive issues are obvious and Liverpool are Liverpool but a team showcasing the sort of attacking numbers with the added pull of home advantage should have more of a chance of winning a Premier League game than just 13.33 per cent, no matter the opposition.

Remember, Liverpool have lost to West Ham this season, have drawn with Brentford and Brighton and were 3-1 down to this Leicester side just last week during their Carabao Cup clash, albeit with a severely weakened team out.

Meanwhile, since they lost to Chelsea in November, Leicester are averaging three goals per game, scoring 15 times in their last five fixtures. This is a higher ratio than Liverpool's 2.5 goals per 90 minutes in their six games over the same period. With James Maddison in the form of his life, their attacking performance at Manchester City where they scored three with the backdrop of a non-penalty expected goals total of 2.54 was worthy of high praise. It was the first time Pep Guardiola's side had conceded an xG against figure greater than 2.5 in 55 Premier League matches - with Leicester also being the last team to do so when creating 2.95 in their 5-2 win last season.

PA - James Maddison
Image: James Maddison can help Leicester to a shock win over Liverpool

I would have Leicester's win chances closer to 22 per cent here, which would equate to them being a 7/2 shot, so the edge is too good to pass up. Due to Leicester's inability to keep clean sheets - just two in the last 25 matches across all competitions - bumping the 13/2 up to 10/1 by adding both teams to score makes plenty of sense.

SCORE PREDICTION: 3-2

BETTING ANGLE: Leicester to win and both teams to score (10/1 with Sky Bet)

Chelsea vs Brighton, Wednesday 7.30pm - Watch free highlights of this game after full time

I am very pro-Brighton in this one.

The market is far too skewed towards Chelsea, who can be left alone at 4/11 with Sky Bet. This should be a very tactical affair with both teams vying to control the game through possession and expert organisation at the back where chances are hard to come by for the opposition. That is seen through both teams' defensive processes over the past 12 months in the Premier League. If you run the numbers since Thomas Tuchel was appointed in January, Chelsea (0.8) and Brighton (1.02) sit second and third respectively in the expected goals against per 90-minute charts with only Manchester City (0.7) faring better.

It's that defensive structure shown from Brighton that is providing the platform for them to consistently trouble the top-ranked teams in the Premier League. The 2-2 draw with Liverpool at Anfield from earlier this season being a perfect example. The big caveat with Brighton is they are a very untrustworthy team in front of goal which does make the outright away win hard to fancy in this one despite 8/1 with Sky Bet being available.

However, in their last 23 games against teams that finished in the top nine of the Premier League last season, Brighton have only lost three games by more than one goal. Included in that run was a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge last season where Graham Potter's team had more shots and corners than their top-four chasing hosts. That means I am more than happy to back Brighton with a +2 handicap goal start, meaning we will win if Brighton win, draw or lose by one goal.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-0

BETTING ANGLE: Brighton +2 handicap (4/6 with Sky Bet)

Brentford vs Manchester City, Wednesday 8.15pm - Watch free highlights of this game after full time

Some of Manchester City's football in the first half of their win over Leicester was an ominous sign for their title rivals. They cantered into a four-goal lead without even needing to move out of second gear. Brentford are working at an average of conceding two goals per game over the last nine games so it will be a huge surprise if City fall under that average in this one.

As with most Manchester City matches at the moment, the opportunity to unearth some value from the betting markets is a tough ask. Even our go-to Joao Cancelo shots angle is now trading at a much shorter price. That has led me to the cards market in search of a betting opportunity and the price of 15/4 with Sky Bet for Brentford wing-back Sergi Canos to be carded does look backable. Likely to be tasked with keeping a lid on Raheem Sterling or Jack Grealish, the Spaniard is aggressive with his challenges and has only just returned from a suspension having collected five bookings already this season.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-3

BETTING ANGLE: Sergi Canos to be carded (15/4 with Sky Bet)

Thursday's games to follow...

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Covid postponements: The impact on every Premier League club

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 19:15
ARSENAL

Number of games postponed by Covid: 1; Number of games played in December: 7

Arsenal were hit harder by Covid at the start of the season than they have been - so far at least - this winter. While Arsenal had a number of players missing at Norwich on Boxing Day, only one would be considered a first-team player. By comparison, they were without a clutch of regulars on the first day of the season when a barely-recognisable team were beaten at Brentford.

Arsenal may even have welcomed Wolves' request for their trip to the Emirates on Tuesday to be called off given it spared Mikel Arteta's troops returning to action 43 hours after their victory at Norwich had ended. Instead, the Gunners now have a week off before facing Manchester City on New Year's Day.

ASTON VILLA

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 5

Steven Gerrard was absent for the defeat by Chelsea on Boxing Day after testing positive for Covid, and would have also been out of their trip to Leeds on December 28, which was postponed on Boxing Day due to a Covid outbreak in the Leeds side. That game fell with far more notice than Villa's home clash with Burnley, scheduled for December 18, which was postponed just over two hours before kick-off.

Villa are due to return to action at Brentford on January 2, live on Sky Sports, but no Carabao Cup or European commitments mean catching up on the two games missed should not be too tricky, although Gerrard admitted on December 22: "It's very unpredictable and hard to cope."

BRENTFORD

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 5

Bees boss Thomas Frank was vocal about the need to "break the chain" on the Covid crisis by introducing a circuit-break, speaking before the trip to Southampton on December 18 was postponed due to an outbreak in his squad. Brentford had also seen their home clash with Man Utd on December 14 postponed due to a number of cases in the United squad. But Frank's side have played twice since then - in the Carabao Cup against Chelsea on December 22 and the Premier League at Brighton on Boxing Day - and have a game against Manchester City on December 29.

Just before Christmas, Frank changed and said it was "right" for the league to continue, as long as there was transparency over cases, and even admitted their own circuit-break from the two postponed games "helped massively".

BRIGHTON

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 4

Brighton's two games postponed could have easily been three. Manager Graham Potter revealed Albion were unsuccessful in their request for the December 15 clash with Wolves - a 1-0 loss - to be rearranged following a Covid-19 and injury crisis at the club. Brighton's scheduled meeting with Tottenham on December 12 was postponed due to a Covid outbreak at the north London club, as was the trip to Man Utd on December 18 due to the Old Trafford side having only seven first-team players available.

Potter, like many Premier League managers, wants transparency, saying last week: "It would be better if it was more transparent but at the same time you're talking about medical information so I don't know how transparent that can be." They are due to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on December 29, then Everton away on January 2.

BURNLEY

Number of games postponed by Covid: 3; Number of games played in December: 3

Burnley last played on December 12, since when Watford, Aston Villa and Everton have all successfully applied for their scheduled games against the Clarets to be postponed. As a result, Burnley are still yet to celebrate scoring a Premier League goal this month and have a fixture pile-up to come - with November's game against Spurs losing out to bad weather, the Clarets have so far played 15 league games this term, three fewer than the likes of Chelsea and Man City.

CHELSEA

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Thomas Tuchel was unhappy the Premier League did not postpone Chelsea's match against Wolves due to the Covid outbreak in his squad

Number of games postponed by Covid: 0; Number of games played in December: 8

Thomas Tuchel spoke out angrily about his side's fixture list following Chelsea's win at Aston Villa on Boxing Day, describing their itinerary as "unfair" and "not right". Despite a number of Covid absentees through the month, Chelsea have not had a game called off - the league rejected their request for their match at Wolves to be postponed - and Tuesday's encounter with Brighton will be their 10th in a month. "They [the Premier League] made us play and so we play," complained Tuchel. "This cannot be the right way."

CRYSTAL PALACE

Number of games postponed by Covid: 1; Number of games played in December: 5

Prior to their return on Boxing Day, Palace's last game had been their home draw with Southampton on December 15. Palace's request for their game at Tottenham to be postponed was rejected by the Premier League and there was surprise when Palace's starting line-up then featured just one change from the side that had faced the Saints.

EVERTON

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 4

Everton initially had a request to postpone the Boxing Day clash at Burnley rejected, but further Covid positives added to a long list of injuries, prompting the Premier League to act. As well as having two games postponed - their clash at Leicester on December 19 also fell - Everton had to field a weakened side away at Chelsea on December 16, their last game played. But that depleted Everton side - Ellis Simms made his debut, while both Jonjoe Kenny and goalscorer Jarrad Branthwaite made their first Premier League starts of the season - earned a brilliant 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. Their next game is against Newcastle on December 30 is at home.

LEEDS

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 4

Leeds' game with Aston Villa on Tuesday December 28 was postponed due to Covid-19 cases and injuries in the Leeds squad, adding to Leeds' trip to Liverpool on Boxing Day, which was also postponed. Managing director Angus Kinnear says Leeds United's players and backroom staff are "99 per cent" fully vaccinated against Covid, but Leeds are another side with a lengthy injury list to add to Covid absentees.

They were without 10 first-team players for the visit of Arsenal on December 18, meaning Cody Drameh (20), Joe Gelhardt (19), Sam Greenwood (19) and Liam McCarron (20) all appeared. The club's training ground was also shut over the Christmas period, but they are due to play Burnley at home on January 2.

LEICESTER

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 6

Brendan Rodgers' side have already had a packed December due to Europa League and Carabao Cup ties, but games against Spurs at home on December 16 and Everton away on December 19 also fell due to positive Covid cases in the Foxes squad. Leicester's form has not been great - it is just one win in six in all competitions, and the 6-3 reverse at Man City on Boxing Day prompted Rodgers to call this the period the "most challenging" of his managerial career, with injuries to defenders Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu, Ricardo Pereira, James Justin and Wesley Fofana adding to the woe.

"There's no doubt this is a huge challenge," said Rodgers. "We're not getting the violins out. You see what we're missing. The players aren't available. Offensively we're really good but if you're missing the players [we are] it's a real challenge."

LIVERPOOL

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has once again called into question playing football on Boxing Day and December 28 and says players need help when it comes to the fixture schedule

Number of games postponed by Covid: 1; Number of games played in December: 7

Jurgen Klopp has been outspoken regarding the workload on players during the busy festive schedule, pointing out that the issues with Covid have only further intensified the problem.

Klopp's side achieved a relatively comfortable victory over Newcastle on December 16 without Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho, who along with Curtis Jones, tested positive for Covid on the morning of the game. However, their defence was exposed without their two central figures in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham on December 19. After that fixture, Klopp, who also could not select Thiago Alcantara due to Covid, said it had "become impossible for the Premier League to continue with its current fixture list".

The subsequent postponement of Liverpool's Boxing Day match with Leeds due to coronavirus issues within the Leeds squad gives those players additional time to get back up to speed before the trip to Leicester on December 28.

MANCHESTER CITY

Number of games postponed by Covid: 0; Number of games played in December: 7

Pep Guardiola has stayed out of the conversation regarding postponing games and potentially the league itself with the City boss encouraging his players and the public to adhere to all the health advice. His squad have seemingly dodged a mass breakout of the virus within their walls as Guardiola has steered City through a busy period showing relentless form that has taken them to the top of the Premier League following nine wins on the bounce, scoring 30 goals in the process. Guardiola did have to cancel his media duties ahead of the Newcastle game on Sunday December 19 after returning an inconclusive coronavirus test, but a subsequent test provided a negative result.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 5

Remarkably, Manchester United's game against Newcastle was their first in 16 days - they had previously last played on December 11 in a 1-0 win at Norwich. Four players were reported to have tested positive after that game and, in addition to the pair of postponements that followed, United also had to close their Carrington training ground.

But after their prolonged break, the United squad now faces a frenetic week with the Newcastle trip followed by games against Burnley and Wolves on Thursday and Monday. "It feels like a new season is starting for Manchester United," noted Gary Neville on Monday Night Football.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Number of games postponed by Covid: 0; Number of games played in December: 5

Eddie Howe described his squad as being "hit and stretched" by Covid and injuries ahead of the meeting with Manchester United for which Howe only named six outfield substitutes. The game was Newcastle's first in over a week, but also the first in what will be a gruelling week: Everton on Thursday and Wolves on Sunday now follow.

But Newcastle's relatively busy schedule in December has also distorted the picture at the bottom of the table - the Man Utd game was Newcastle's 19th of the season whereas Burnley, the team closest to Newcastle in the league table, signed off for Christmas having played just 15.

NORWICH

Number of games postponed by Covid: 1; Number of games played in December: 5

A combination of Covid, illness and injuries led to Norwich's game at West Ham being postponed a week before Christmas, but Dean Smith's side have nevertheless been busy - playing five games between November 30, when they drew at Newcastle, and Boxing Day, before reappearing two days' later at Palace.

SOUTHAMPTON

Number of games postponed by Covid: 1; Number of games played in December: 6

Ralph Hasenhuttl's squad could be considered to have benefited from a recent enforced break after their scheduled match at Brentford on December 18 was postponed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 cases in the opposition camp. The Saints have managed to keep the virus at bay within their dressing room with Hasenhuttl revealing that his players are now changing in their cars and taking packed lunches to training in order to limit any transmission of Covid.

TOTTENHAM

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 6

Spurs were the first side to successfully request a Covid-related Premier League postponement when they had their game at Brighton on December 12 called off before their scheduled game at Leicester four days' later followed suit. With bad weather also putting pay to November's game at Burnley, Spurs' game at Southampton on December 28 was their first away match in the Premier League in 51 days.

Spurs now have three league fixtures to shoehorn into their schedule in the new year alongside a double-header Carabao Cup semi-final. They will not, however, have to worry about Europa Conference League complications - after Covid absences also resulted in their game against Rennes being called off, Spurs were eliminated from the competition.

WATFORD

Number of games postponed by Covid: 3; Number of games played in December: 4

Watford finally returned to action on December 28 against West Ham - 18 days after their last Premier League outing.

In the intervening period, three scheduled Watford games were postponed, with their match at Burnley on December 15 called off two hours just before kick-off. "The decision was taken following guidance from medical advisers due to an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak within Watford's squad," said the Premier League. "As a result, the club has an insufficient number of first-team players available to fulfil the match."

WOLVES

Number of games postponed by Covid: 2; Number of games played in December: 5

Wolves played their fifth game of December on the 19th of the month but that goalless draw at home to Chelsea proved to be their final action of 2021. The Boxing Day game against Watford at Molineux was postponed because of the visitors before a Covid-19 outbreak among Bruno Lage's squad saw the trip to Arsenal on December 28 also called off. Six confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the Wolves squad put paid to that fixture.

Nobody can accuse the club of not doing all that it can to limit the impact of the virus. "Everyone in our building is fully vaccinated, which is the right thing to do," said Lage earlier this month.

Which Premier League games have been called off?

Brighton vs Tottenham - Sunday December 12, Premier League

Brentford vs Man Utd - Tuesday December 14, Premier League

Burnley vs Watford - Wednesday December 15, Premier League

Leicester vs Tottenham - Thursday December 16, Premier League

Man Utd vs Brighton - Saturday December 18, Premier League

Southampton vs Brentford - Saturday December 18, Premier League

Watford vs Crystal Palace - Saturday December 18, Premier League

West Ham vs Norwich - Saturday December 18, Premier League

Aston Villa vs Burnley - Saturday December 18, Premier League

Everton vs Leicester - Sunday December 19, Premier League

Liverpool vs Leeds - Sunday December 26, Premier League

Wolves vs Watford - Sunday December 26, Premier League

Burnley vs Everton - Sunday December 26, Premier League

Leeds vs Aston Villa - Tuesday December 28, Premier League

Arsenal vs Wolves - Tuesday December 28, Premier League

When could postponed fixtures be played?

There currently appear to be 15 midweek slots where postponed games could be played in the new year - however, these often clash with Champions League and Europa League knockout rounds, as well as FA Cup and Carabao Cup ties.

There are some options. Could the Premier League's two-week winter break at the end of January and start of February be scrapped? Or will teams be asked to play beyond the scheduled final weekend of the season, May 22?

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10 key things to know ahead of Leicester vs. Liverpool

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 18:00

Liverpool make the trip to a depleted Leicester side on Tuesday evening with only a win acceptable, in order to keep in touch with Man City.

The Reds beat the Foxes in the League Cup in stunning fashion last week, prevailing on penalties after a frenetic 3-3 draw at Anfield.

Next up for Jurgen Klopp‘s side is an away league clash with Leicester on Tuesday, as Brendan Rodgers’ side look for revenge.

Here are 10 things to know ahead of the game.

1. Leicester continue their struggles

 Leicester City's manager Brendan Rodgers during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Leicester have just missed out on Champions League football in the past two seasons, but they are struggling this time around.

Former Liverpool manager Rodgers is having a tough time juggling injuries, European football and defensive woes, with their 6-3 loss at Man City on Boxing Day summing up their issues.

The Foxes are 10th in the table and already 13 points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, albeit with two games in hand.

Liverpool must be ruthless at the King Power, making the most of both their superiority and the fact they have had a longer rest since their last game.

2. Maddison a man in form

 Leicester City's James Maddison celebrates after scoring his side's second penalty of the shoot-out during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties after a 3-3 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A number of Leicester players have failed to find top gear in 2021/22, but one of their bright sparks has been James Maddison.

After a noticeable dropoff last year, the Englishman has been back to his best of late, producing a superb performance against City despite the end result.

Maddison has scored six goals and registered five assists in his last eight appearances, including a stunner in front of the Kop last week.

He is the man to be wary of on Tuesday evening.

3. Who’s available for Leicester?

 Leicester City's Youri Tielemans during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Everton FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Leicester have been hit hard by Covid in recent weeks, with a host of important players ruled out of action at different times.

Those problems are easing, however, and the likes of Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy could start after being left out of the starting lineup away to City.

The injury list is brutal, though, with Ricardo Pereira out for a lengthy period after being on the receiving end of a late tackle by Tyler Morton in the League Cup clash.

James Justin, Caglar Soyuncu, Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans, Ryan Bertrand, Harvey Barnes and Patson Daka are all still out, too.

Possible Leicester XI: Schmeichel; Daley-Campbell, Amartey, Vestergaard, Castagne; Ndidi, Tielemans, Soumare; Perez, Iheanacho, Vardy

4. Who’s out for Liverpool?

 Liverpool's Harvey Elliott during the pre-match warm-up before a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have no new fresh injury concerns, with Nat Phillips (cheekbone) and Harvey Elliott (ankle) sidelined until the New Year.

Divock Origi is also likely to miss out, as the Belgian continues to recover from a knee problem.

However, the Reds are boosted by the return of Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Thiago and Curtis Jones, having completed their isolation period.

Klopp has confirmed that “one young player and two staff [members] are now isolating”, though, as the virus continues to cause issues.

Andy Robertson is serving the second of his three-match ban, following his red card at Tottenham.

5. Predicted Liverpool starting lineup

Legs should be well-rested after the Boxing Day clash with Leeds was postponed, so Liverpool will be as close to full strength as possible.

Assuming Klopp feels Van Dijk and Fabinho are match fit, the influential pair will return to the side, with Joel Matip expected to partner the former in defence.

Kostas Tsimikas will come in for Robertson, while Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are pushing for starts after excellent showings against Leicester in the League Cup.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota are all available and expected to make up the front three, but fit-again Roberto Firmino is also an option.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Mane, Jota

6. Klopp calls for five subs

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Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Monday, Klopp said it is time for all Premier League clubs to realise that five substitutions is for the best:

“We have to put competition aside and don’t say ‘OK, City has better subs than Southampton, we have better subs than Burnley‘ or whatever.

“Yes, that’s probably true – whatever that means exactly, because it’s still Premier League and they can still cause us problems.

“But if you talk about the quality, without playing, just the transfer market and all these kinds of things, then that’s the case.

“The problem is, obviously, this intensity. For a top-class footballer in England, it’s definitely on the edge.”

As always, there’s no selfishness from the Liverpool manager – he genuinely cares about the welfare of all players.

7. Hit-and-miss record at Leicester

 Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) celebrates scoring the fourth goal with team-mates captain Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool haven’t had things their own way at the King Power in recent years, with results often difficult to predict.

A 3-1 defeat there back in February came during a shocking period for Klopp’s men – a time when key defenders were injured, stadiums were empty and nothing was going their way.

The Reds won 4-0 at the Foxes in the title-winning season, however, in what may always go down as the defining performance of that campaign.

It was a near-perfect display in what looked like a potential banana skin, showing that nobody could touch Liverpool that year.

In total, Liverpool have won three of their last five at the King Power, losing twice.

8. Did you know?

 Peter Byrne, Alamy)

Tsimikas is set to start on Tuesday and one eye-catching statistic concerning the Greek bodes well going into the game.

The left-back has started four Premier League matches this season – not only have Liverpool won every one, but they also haven’t conceded a single goal.

It started with the 3-0 victory at Norwich in August – Tsimikas registered an assist the day – before the 2-0 triumph at home to Burnley the following weekend.

Crystal Palace were dispatched of 3-0 at Anfield with the 25-year-old in the team, while Arsenal were beaten 4-0 on Merseyside last month.

9. Oliver in charge

 referee Michael Oliver sends his assistant off the field for a replacement battery delaying the start of the second half during the opening FA Premier League match of the season between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Michael Oliver will take charge of Tuesday’s meeting, with the 36-year-old generally considered the best in England.

He has only refereed one Liverpool match so far this season – the aforementioned 4-0 win at home to Arsenal, in which he showed yellow cards to Fabinho and Mane.

Meanwhile, Stuart Attwell is on VAR duty at the King Power.

10. A rare Amazon Prime offering

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Tuesday’s action will be live on Amazon Prime, with kickoff at 8pm (GMT).

That hopefully means those not fortunate enough to be at the game will be treated to the commentating brilliance of Ally McCoist.

Alternately, our TIA matchday live blog is available from 7.15pm, with Henry Jackson keeping you company throughout the evening.

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In-demand starlet on trial & Klopp pleads 5 subs case again – Liverpool FC Roundup

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 17:06

Liverpool should be well-rested and prepared for their final match of 2021, when they head to Leicester City on Tuesday. Ahead of that, press conference and Covid news.

Canadian prodigy has Anfield trial

One of the names you’re likely to read about over the coming weeks and months is Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, with the Canadian teenager set for a move to Europe.

He’s being courted by sides all over the continent, including in the Premier League and Bundesliga in particular, with Liverpool seemingly keen to persuade him to move to Merseyside.

Marshall-Rutty has been on trial with the Reds and met Mohamed Salah as the club launch something of a charm offensive, but he’s likely to spend time with a variety of other teams before making his choice.

Likened to Alphonso Davies in style, he’d be aiming to fare better than compatriot Liam Millar if he does join the Reds, with the winger making just one senior appearance before leaving.

Klopp meets the press amid mounting fixture annoyance

Latest Liverpool FC news

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Latest Premier League chat

 Wolverhampton Wanderers' Rúben Neves walks off after being substituted during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Tweet of the day and match of the night

Just realised that there’s actually a GIF of Salah laughing at 5-0. ? pic.twitter.com/T38G4PM6yb

— Samuel (@SamueILFC) December 26, 2021

Tonight is Newcastle vs. Man United, Howe vs. Rangnick, Dubravka vs. De Gea, the richest team on the planet vs. the biggest waste of money…oh wait no, Wan-Bissaka is injured.

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