Liverpool are now just days from starting the defence of their Premier League crown and the rumours seem to be lacking imagination – or is is just us feeling that way?!Financial analysis details Reds’ inactivity
The Reds haven’t gone big this summer with transfers, not yet, at least.
We’re expected to spend only what we bring in via sales, but other clubs are throwing cash around like no tomorrow.
Football finance expert Swiss Ramble has detailed a long explanation of why the Reds aren’t in a spending frenzy while at the top.
You can check out our breakdown of the reasonings here, but the highlights include revenue mainly being spent on huge wages and bonuses, player amortisation an important factor and why sales are a big factor in bringing new players into the club.Gini, Thiago…Mendes?!
Let’s get the “old news” duo out the way first.
They do not, however, say what that step is. Agreeing terms? Having a bid accepted? Even making a bid? It’s made to feel an inevitability at this stage, but with Wijnaldum away on international duty and absolutely nothing seeming to be progressing on Barca’s outgoings yet, it’s hard to envisage any steps at all having been taken.
As for Thiago, the Reds are “hottest favourites” still, according to Bild, who have run an article entitled “Why is Thiago lying?” after he told the press he hasn’t asked to leave.
Again: he’s been away with Spain. Maybe in a day or two things will kick into gear…but we’re doubtful it will be quick, if at all.
Finally, the Reds are ludicrously linked with Nuno Mendes by O Jogo.
In case he has understandably slipped your memory banks, he’s the €45m-rated 18-year-old who plays for Sporting CP and is wanted by Arsenal also.
Oh, and he’s a left-back. You know, the position we’ve actually signed someone in this summer.Teenage kicks
Liverpool have some extremely exciting young players coming through and three of them have impressed of late.Quickfire LFC news
Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood, the pride of Manchester! Booted out of the England squad for smuggling girls into their hotel room, they’ve “broken Covid guidelines” and essentially would have put the rest of the squad at risk had they not been caught out.
And then the rest of the squad would have gone back to their own clubs, all over the country, potentially furthering the spread.
And on and on it goes.Tweet of the day
90 seconds, nine goals – go on then!
Warming up for the new season ?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 7, 2020What we’re reading
A tactical breakdown of how teams need to play to “beat” Liverpool…from games where they “beat” us on expected goals, because obviously there aren’t actually enough games we’ve genuinely lost. Still, interesting reading, on the Athletic.
And a look at the Irish national team’s set-up and how they’re trying to change their style, in the Telegraph.Worth watching tonight
Got to be Netherlands vs Italy in the Nations League. 7:45pm on Sky Sports Premier League.
Brewster is due for talks with Jurgen Klopp over his future when he returns from duty with the England under-21s this week, after featuring in three of the Reds’ four pre-season games.
His last kick was the decisive, missed penalty in the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal, leaving a bitter taste in his mouth as Klopp looked to keep his head up.
With three goals in Liverpool’s clashes with Stuttgart and Salzburg, along with 11 in 22 games on loan at Swansea last season, Brewster has made a strong case for a first-team role at Anfield this season.
But the Telegraph now claim that the Reds could either allow him to leave on loan or even on a permanent basis, in a deal worth “more than £20 million.”
The report, from Mike McGrath, notes Villa, Palace and Sheffield United as interested parties, with the trio previously named alongside Newcastle, Burnley, Brighton, Fulham, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford and Swansea as hoping to sign the striker.
McGrath claims these sides “believe he will now be allowed to leave Liverpool before the transfer deadline,” either for a “loan fee or a permanent deal.”
He strangely describes Brewster as having been “almost like a new signing” since recovering from a long-term ankle injury last March, despite the 19-year-old having made just four appearances for the first team so far.
It is hugely questionable whether Liverpool would part ways with Brewster on a permanent deal, and particularly for such a relatively low fee at £20 million.
Brewster signed a five-year contract with the club in 2018, and therefore, with three years left on his deal, it would be almost negligent to allow him to leave under those terms.
Klopp is unlikely to permit this, either, as though he has hinted that Brewster could benefit from another loan spell, preferably in the Premier League, there has been no indication he is happy to part ways with his No. 24.
No decision is expected to be made until later in the transfer window, particularly as Liverpool have a League Cup third-round clash with either Bradford or Lincoln to come on September 23.
A late flurry of goals saw Liverpool U23s wrap up their pre-season programme with a 4-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Monday afternoon.
Barry Lewtas’ side scored four times in the final 16 minutes of the friendly in Kirkby in their final warm-up game before kicking off the 2020-21 campaign with a mini-derby against Everton this Sunday.
The young Reds had been frustrated during a goalless first half at the Academy, with Paul Glatzel, Liam Millar, Luis Longstaff and Jake Cain either off target or denied by the goalkeeper from the best of their chances.
But their efforts eventually yielded significant rewards in the closing stages and it was Glatzel who broke the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 74th minute.
Fidel O’Rourke was felled inside the Huddersfield area and his fellow forward stepped up to coolly send the ‘keeper the wrong way and put the home team ahead.
It was the catalyst for a surge of goals, with Liverpool’s lead doubled on 80.
Cain’s cute pass from the edge of the box invited Tom Clayton to overlap along the left-hand side and his delivery was slotted in by Elijah Dixon-Bonner.
The same scorer soon increased the advantage to three. Leighton Clarkson’s defence-splitting pass freed Longstaff on goal and though he and Dixon-Bonner were thwarted by the goalkeeper, the latter finally put the ball in.
And Lewtas’ charges added a fourth with 86 on the clock, Cain again involved in the build-up as his cross from the left allowed Longstaff to strike and seal another encouraging display.
Bridge-Wilkinson has taken the role after Barry Lewtas stepped up the take charge of the under-23s, with the former Port Vale, Bradford and Carlisle midfielder promoted from the under-16s.
So far, it has been an impressive start for the new coach, with pre-season bringing four victories from four, with 5-0 routs of Crewe and Huddersfield, and 4-1 wins over Leicester and Man United.
United serve as the first competitive opposition for a new-look U18s side, too, with the Premier League confirming the full fixture list for 2020/21 on Monday afternoon.
Liverpool head to United on Saturday, September 12, giving their first-year scholars an early chance to impress.
Melkamu Frauendorf and Mateusz Musialowski are both new signings, and have already caught the eye with goals over the summer, as they make a strong first impression at Kirkby.
Tom Hill looks set to captain the young Reds into the new season, and he could be joined by the likes of Layton Stewart, Tyler Morton, Jakub Ojrzynski, James Balagizi and Conor Bradley in a talented young side.
The U18s will host last season’s champions Man City on Saturday, September 26, while their first Merseyside derby is an away trip on Saturday, October 24 and the season ends at home to Derby on Saturday, May 1.Liverpool U18s Fixtures, 2020/21
Saturday 7 – Wolves (A)
Saturday 21 – Leeds (H)
Saturday 28 – Burnley (H)
Saturday 12 – Middlesbrough (A)
Saturday 19 – Derby (A)
Saturday 13 – Newcastle (A)
Saturday 20 – Wolves (H)
Saturday 1 – Derby (H)
League fixtures for Liverpool's U18s and U23s in 2020-21 have now been confirmed.
Both Academy sides have new coaches at the helm this season, with Marc Bridge-Wilkinson taking the U18s after Barry Lewtas stepped up to lead the U23s.
The U18s will compete in the U18 Premier League North, while the U23s are again in Premier League 2 - with the campaigns to kick off this coming weekend.
See full league fixture lists for the two teams below. These remain subject to change.
Sunday 13 - Everton (H)
Friday 18 - Derby County (A)
Friday 25 - Manchester United (A)
Saturday 17 - Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
Saturday 24 - Chelsea (H)
Friday 30 - Arsenal (A)
Friday 6 - West Ham United (A)
Saturday 21 - Southampton (H)
Saturday 28 - Manchester City (H)
Saturday 12 - Blackburn Rovers (H)
Friday 18 - Tottenham Hotspur (H)
Monday 11 - Leicester City (A)
Monday 18 - Everton (A)
Saturday 23 - Derby County (H)
Saturday 30 - Manchester United (H)
Friday 12 - Brighton & Hove Albion (H)
Friday 19 - Chelsea (A)
Friday 26 - Arsenal (H)
Saturday 13 - West Ham United (H)
Sunday 21 - Southampton (A)
Friday 9 - Manchester City (A)
Friday 16 - Blackburn Rovers (A)
Friday 23 - Tottenham Hotspur (A)
Sunday 2 - Leicester City (H)
Saturday 12 - Manchester United (A)
Saturday 19 - Stoke City (H)
Saturday 26 - Manchester City (H)
Saturday 3 - Blackburn Rovers (A)
Saturday 17 - Sunderland (H)
Saturday 24 - Everton (A)
Saturday 31 - Newcastle United (H)
Saturday 7 - Wolverhampton Wanderers (A)
Saturday 21 - Leeds United (H)
Saturday 28 - Burnley (H)
Saturday 12 - Middlesbrough (A)
Saturday 19 - Derby County (A)
Saturday 16 - Manchester United (H)
Saturday 23 - Stoke City (A)
Saturday 30 - Manchester City (A)
Saturday 13 - Blackburn Rovers (H)
Saturday 20 - Sunderland (A)
Saturday 27 - Everton (H)
Saturday 13 - Newcastle United (A)
Saturday 20 - Wolverhampton Wanderers (H)
Saturday 10 - Leeds United (A)
Saturday 17 - Burnley (A)
Saturday 24 - Middlesbrough (H)
Saturday 1 - Derby County (H)
The 2020-21 Premier League season will begin this weekend, with reigning champions Liverpool set to host Leeds United at Anfield on Saturday evening.
Top-flight matches will continue to be played behind closed doors until at least October 1, with restrictions and safety protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the first home fixture of the new campaign, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on behind-closed-doors football at Anfield.
Click here to view the information, which includes details on the measures and procedures in place for matchday, how fans can follow the action from home, and more.
Liverpool forward Sheyi Ojo has joined Cardiff City on a season-long loan deal, subject to international clearance.
The 23-year-old will spend the duration of 2020-21 with the Championship side, who kick off their league campaign at home to Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday, after the move was finalised on Monday.
Ojo switched to Anfield from MK Dons in 2011 and has made 13 appearances for the first team, scoring one goal, since being handed a debut by Jurgen Klopp in an FA Cup tie against Exeter City in January 2016.
He has had several loan moves away from the club to continue his development, most recently at Steven Gerrard’s Rangers last season, where he played 36 games.
Jurgen Klopp has praised Billy Koumetio as a “big talent,” reassuring the 17-year-old after his error led to a goal in Liverpool’s 7-2 pre-season win over Blackpool.
Koumetio made his first-ever start for the Reds’ first team on Saturday, partnering Joel Matip at the heart of defence in the final friendly of the summer.
He came up against CJ Hamilton and Jerry Yates, who both boast significantly more senior experience with 325 appearances in the Football League combined, and it showed in the early stages.
A pass from Mohamed Salah put Koumetio under pressure, and not moving out of defence quickly enough he found himself in a 50-50 challenge with Hamilton, who won the ball and raced clear through to fire an opener past Alisson.
It was an inevitable moment, but one that the young Frenchman will be disappointed with, coming just 15 minutes into his first start.
Speaking to LFCTV after the game, Klopp reassured Koumetio, explaining how a makeshift defence, with little organisation when it comes to keeping the line, forced a situation which he was, admittedly, too relaxed in.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked if it will be a learning experience.
“We had some problems in the first half, and this is a pressed ball against a very experienced player, [Hamilton] was stronger in that moment.
“But Billy played super balls, super passes.
“Our last line played [for the] first time together, it’s completely fine, we were just not high enough.
“There were many situations where I thought ‘it must be offside’, and it wasn’t offside. For one reason at least, it was not offside because we were not really in line.
“So all these things, little things to learn, but 17 years old, wow, the whole life in front of him which is really nice.
“Big talent, and how I said, he had a few really, really good situations, but this pressed ball was not so nice.”
Some of the onus, therefore, could fall on Matip, as a 29-year-old veteran at the back, but unfortunately, Liverpool’s No. 32 has never been the most vocal, and he was making his first appearance since June.
Koumetio recovered well, and as Klopp attests was particularly impressive on the ball, with his passing from both his left and right feet giving the Reds a useful outlet.
It could be that this error will help Koumetio improve in the years to come, serving as a reminder of the intensity of senior football, as even clubs in League One will punish mistakes among the back line.
Klopp clearly has a lot of faith in his new centre-back, and it appears he is dedicated to ensuring he makes progress into the first team following the departure of Dejan Lovren.
Harvey Elliott took a humble approach when setting out his goals for the new season, after a “dream come true” with his first goal at Anfield against Blackpool on Saturday.
The 17-year-old turned in arguably his best performance for the Reds yet when he came off the bench to score one and assist another in the 7-2 thrashing of Blackpool.
It took Elliott just eight minutes to find the back of the net, coming after some bright work involving James Milner and Divock Origi, and while it came in a friendly, the delight in his celebration was palpable.
As a lifelong Liverpool supporter, it was a big moment for Elliott, and speaking to LFCTV after the game, the winger savoured a “dream come true.”
“It was great to score for my boyhood club,” he reflected.
“It’s been a dream ever since I was a little boy. It’s a dream a come true.
“I just need to keep going and keep putting in the performances like we did in the second half, hopefully many more opportunities will come.”
The way in which Elliott switched so quickly from relishing his moment to concentrating on the next step is an encouraging sign, as he is aware there is a long way to go yet.
That may be informing his targets for the new campaign, with Elliott simply looking to learn and take his chances when they are given to him.
“My main goal is to get in the team, get a few appearances here and there,” he said.
“Obviously, as you can see from today, it’s a very hard team to get into, there’s a lot of world-class players here.
“But even just the experiences around, obviously not being involved but to train with these guys every day, to be in and around the coaching staff every day, it’s just a dream come true.
“So any opportunity I get, I’m very grateful for, and hopefully I can just prove to the gaffer that I can live up to the standards really.”
Elliott also paid tribute to Neil Critchley, who is now Blackpool manager but played a big role in his progress in his first months at Liverpool.
And he praised the work of the staff still around him at Liverpool, insisting they have ensured the squad are in the “best possible position” to retain the Premier League title.
“The way people have gone about this pre-season, all the staff at LFC have made it the best possible pre-season for us,” he said.
“They gave us every opportunity possible, for example sorting out the Austria trip last-minute.
“And I think the way they’ve handled the sessions and what we do in between sessions, they’ve put us in the best possible position to go and hopefully win the title again.”
Liverpool Football Club has welcomed Cadbury to the Reds family as its first official global chocolate partner.
The three-year deal will see the world’s leading chocolate brand apply its ‘Glass and a Half in Everyone’ generosity ethos to its work with the club, with Cadbury giving back to LFC fans and the local community.
To launch the partnership, Cadbury has gifted 50,000 limited edition champions Dairy Milk bars to a wide selection of Reds supporters, thanking them for their continued support during the extraordinary 2019-20 Premier League season.
Embracing its focus on ‘generosity’, Cadbury will also be supporting LFC Foundation’s Virtual Employability Programme – raising money to assist with the continued operation of the initiative through the sale of limited edition LFC champions Dairy Milk bars.
Launched in May 2020, LFC Foundation’s employability support service was created in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and aims to help people across the Liverpool City Region who have been made redundant or are at risk due to the impact of the pandemic.
Made possible through the kindness and generosity of volunteers, the programme provides participants with constructive CV and cover letter support, mock interview practice, and exclusive job role insight, in order to enhance their employment prospects during this time of uncertainty. Staff from across the Cadbury business will join LFC employees and fan volunteers in providing support to future VEP cohorts.
Reds legend John Barnes recently called in to surprise a lifelong Liverpool fan who generously gives up his time to volunteer with the VEP. As a thank you for his commitment to the programme, John presented Ian with a special Cadbury hamper, including his very own LFC champions Dairy Milk bar.
The limited edition LFC champions bars will be available for fans to buy in official club stores, with all proceeds going to LFC Foundation in support of the Virtual Employability Programme. Fans can purchase their own champions bar here.
Matt Scammell, commercial director at Liverpool FC, said: “LFC and Cadbury are both passionate about the importance of community, so this is a great opportunity to build on those common values and help those whose employment has been impacted by the pandemic into new roles.
“Cadbury has a long history of generosity and we’re excited to be partnering with them, celebrating traditions and culture whilst uniting people in a new way.”
Samantha Greenwood, global brand director at Cadbury, added: “We are very proud to be working with Liverpool FC in this way. It is a brand that truly embodies the Cadbury mentality of working together to help others. The Virtual Employability Programme will make a huge difference to the people of Liverpool whose jobs and prospects have been impacted by the pandemic. By supporting this, we hope we can do our part to help the economic recovery of the area and the UK as a whole.”
Neco Williams has been hailed for his “first-class” attitude after scoring a last-minute winner for Wales in only his second appearance for Ryan Giggs’ senior side.
The 19-year-old enjoyed a week to remember, first making his debut for Wales in their 1-0 win over Finland on Thursday, and then coming off the bench to secure the same result over Bulgaria on Sunday.
Williams’ header came in the 94th minute, capping a productive start to the UEFA Nations League for Giggs’ side, and he was mobbed by his team-mates in celebration.
Chief among those was Gareth Bale, whose influence on Williams can be invaluable, similar to the world-class talents he works alongside at Liverpool.
In his post-match interview with BBC Sport, the right-back explained how this will help him become a “top player,” mapping out his route to establishing himself as a long-term option for club and country.
He also noted that, having been employed further forward by Wales, he is eager to impress wherever he is needed on the pitch.
“To learn off the best players in the world for club and country is something that a young lad like me has always dreamt of,” he said.
“Growing up as a kid, I’ve always been an attacking player. I’ve played on the wing, I’ve even played in the 10 role.
“For me as a player I’ve always looked to the forward players. To be honest, wherever I play I’m grateful and I’ll always put a shift in.
“I’ll keep improving as a player and keep showing the dedication, I’ll stay humble and if all that comes together I’ll be a top player.”
This is the right mentality for Williams to have at this stage in his career, as though he has now played twice for Wales along with his 12 outings and five-year contract for Liverpool, there is still a long way to go.
He is not yet first choice for either club or country, and faces a challenge if he is hoping to leapfrog Trent Alexander-Arnold in the pecking order at Anfield.
But Giggs, who gave a big show of faith in Williams to include him for these clashes, believes the youngster has the attitude to succeed.
“Neco’s attitude is first-class, when you have a professional who wants to improve then you’ve got a chance,” the Wales manager explained.
“He’s shown the quality and confidence and desire all throughout the week, these players inspire you.
“He’s had a fantastic week. He’s just made his debut three days ago and then scored the winning goal.
“He’s been brilliant all week, not only in the games but in training as well. He’s brought a good energy and lots of quality.”
Williams is certainly saying all the right things, and he is pairing that with improving performances on the pitch too, and if he continues this rise he can be a standout player for Liverpool and Wales alike.
Liverpool are Premier League champions. Keep reminding of yourself of the truth of that, if matters take an unexpected downward turn early on in 2020/21.
The Reds had to fight tremendously hard to become the top club of the country again, finally. It took 30 years for it to happen, so there’s no point assuming it’ll just happen again, or that it must, even if we’re extremely good.
What happened since 1990 taught Reds one truth; what happened in 18/19 should have taught us another.
Jurgen Klopp‘s team needed to be damn-near perfect just to be in title contention, never mind to win it—but thanks to his experiences at Borussia Dortmund, he didn’t panic, despair or dramatically change course when the Reds fell short.
Also thanks to his time in the Bundesliga, the boss knows what it takes to retain the title, and why it can be even harder to do so than originally becoming champions.
“In football, the result is an impostor. You can do things really, really well but not win. There’s something greater than the result, more lasting – a legacy.”
—Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona and Spain, 2011
“You come at the king, you best not miss.”
—Omar Little, The WireBundesliga champions
You might remember the details from when we hired him.
Dortmund had waited eight years since their last title, nowhere near as long as the Reds, but long enough considering they had fallen from first to 13th in little more than half a decade.
That first title-winning campaign, BVB lost their opening match. The recovery was swift, with 14 wins out of the next 15, and only a further four defeats came throughout the rest of the season.
Jurgen the hero, Jurgen the great.
With that trophy, the following season presented it’s own new set of challenges: Dortmund were the team to beat, Dortmund had new expectations to live up to.
2011/12 was, ultimately, even better: BVB were domestic double winners, top of the table and DFB-Pokal champions, the latter for the first time in 23 years.
But it didn’t start that way, as Liverpool fans would do well to bear in mind.
It started, in fact, with just two wins from the opening six league matches, and none of those were against Bayern Munich.Focus and comeback
It’s an inescapable fact of humanity: when you’re at the top, everybody else aims for you.
Run a huge, successful company? Someone who wants that right for themselves will inevitably try to oust you.
Have a chance of winning an election to lead a country? Someone will undoubtedly try to smear you, belittle you, point out your flaws to beat you.
And, in the sporting arena, if your name has been inscribed on silverware most recently, everyone wants to beat you.
Liverpool are used to opponents raising their game against them. All serial winners have to suffer the same hardship…and rise above it.
As Dortmund did, in 2011/12.
An average of one point per game after 17 per cent of the season has been played doesn’t seem like a recipe for success, but when the coaching staff are as good as Klopp and his team, a plan and a route back to the top is always on hand.
Total number of matches lost in the final 28 games of the season? Zero.
Result against last year’s runner-up? Win. Results against biggest rival Bayern? Win, win. In the fierce Revierderby with Schalke? Win, win.
Relentless mindset, relentless belief, relentless results. We’ve seen it for the last two years at Anfield, and even a poor run should now not be enough to shake the foundations which have been laid.Liverpool, 2020
So, the Reds.
Everyone will be up for it at Anfield, it’s a great stadium. Everyone wants to beat the champions, to prove we’re beatable and remind themselves of what they’re capable of.
Everyone always raises it for the Reds: big rivals, out-of-form players, average ‘keepers having a worldie. It happens.
So if all those aspects combine—plus, you know, no pre-season, no fans, no big investment—to give the Reds a tough start to the campaign, it’s worth not panicking. It’s worth not immediately demanding heads roll, from whichever tier of the club hierarchy you tend to focus on.
In isolation, a single result – or even a few of them – simply do not matter. What last longest, what has the biggest impact, is the overarching quality, approach and mentality the team has.
Klopp’s title seasons showed that, particularly the second. But so too did his last campaign with BVB, where they went from the relegation zone after an absurd first half-season, to the fringes of Europe when they reverted to type after Christmas.
We want another title. That’s why we exist. But it’s never easy, never supposed to be. In the modern Premier League era, Liverpool need to be nearly perfect to win.
And we’re capable of that near-perfection, we’ve proved it for two years—whether the start of 2020/21 suggests so or otherwise.
We’re Liverpool, we’re champions, we were recently champions of everything. We’ll second-leg-against-Barcelona the entire bloody league to retain the title, if that’s what it ultimately takes.
Rachel Furness was on the mark as Liverpool FC Women were held to a 1-1 draw by Durham in their opening FA Women's Championship fixture of 2020-21 at Prenton Park on Sunday.
The No.27 kept her composure to give Vicky Jepson's side the lead but a late goal three minutes from time ensured the visitors earned a share of the spoils.
Take a look at the best of the action in pictures below...
Photos by John Powell