Leicester vs Liverpool preview: Ricardo faces eight-week lay-off

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 15:43

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Leicester vs Liverpool in the Premier League on Tuesday; kick-off 8pm.

Team news

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

Injury-hit Leicester will check on Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi ahead of Tuesday's Premier League visit of Liverpool after neither were risked at Manchester City on Boxing Day due to hamstring issues.

Ryan Bertrand (knee) became the latest addition to a lengthy Foxes absence list when he was injured in the warm-up at the Etihad Stadium, joining other recent casualties Ricardo Pereira (leg), Patson Daka and Caglar Soyuncu (both hamstring).

The game comes too soon for Harvey Barnes, while Jonny Evans, Danny Ward, James Justin and Wesley Fofana also remain on the sidelines.

Leicester provisional squad: Schmeichel, Jakupovic, Stolarczyk, Albrighton, Amartey, Vestergaard, Thomas, Dewsbury-Hall, Tielemans, Choudhury, Maddison, Ndidi, Castagne, Perez, Iheanacho, Lookman, Vardy, Soumare, Nelson, McAteer, Daley-Campbell.

Defender Virgil van Dijk and midfield trio Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Curtis Jones are in contention for Liverpool after returning to training.

Van Dijk, Fabinho and Jones were back among the ranks on Christmas Eve and Thiago returned on Boxing Day, with the quartet having to isolate after positive Covid-19 tests.

Andy Robertson remains suspended while Divock Origi is once again likely to miss out because of a knee injury.

Liverpool provisional squad: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson, Henderson, Thiago, Fabinho, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Firmino, Jota, Kelleher, Pitaluga, Williams, Gomez, Tsimikas, Milner, Keita, Minamino, Mane.

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A look at some of the stats surrounding matchweek 20's Premier League fixtures.

Follow Leicester vs Liverpool in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after full-time.

Jones Knows predicts...

I was made to look very 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, I haven't learnt my lesson as I'm 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 an obvious and Liverpool are Liverpool but a team showcasing their 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 and drawn with Brentford and Brighton and were 3-0 down to this Leicester side just last week during their Carabao Cup clash, albeit with a severely weakened team out.

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.

I'd 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. And, 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.


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

Last time out...

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City's win over Leicester

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham's match with Liverpool Opta stats

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Brendan Rodgers criticised the officiating during Leicester’s 6-3 defeat to Man City and was particularly disappointed with the decision to award the first penalty after it was referred to VAR.
  • Leicester won their last league game against Liverpool 3-1 in February, last winning consecutive such matches against the Reds in April 1999.
  • Despite losing this exact fixture last season, Liverpool have won three of their last four away league games against Leicester, more than they had in their previous nine such visits (W2 D3 L4).
  • Following their 3-3 draw in the EFL Cup earlier this month, Leicester have scored three goals in both of their last two meetings with Liverpool in all competitions. The last team to score 3+ goals in three consecutive games against the Reds were Arsenal in the 2006-07 campaign.
  • Leicester have lost their final league game in just two of the last 10 calendar years (W5 D3), with those defeats coming against Liverpool in 2017 and Cardiff City in 2018.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp have once again called on the introduction of five substitutes in the Premier League to help players returning from Covid and injury.
  • Liverpool haven't lost their final league game in any of the last seven calendar years (W6 D1), last doing so in a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in 2013.
  • Leicester have won their last two Premier League home games, scoring eight goals in the process (4-2 vs Watford, 4-0 vs Newcastle). The Foxes haven't won three in a row at home in the competition since a run of seven between August and December 2019.
  • Having lost two of their first four Premier League away games in 2021 (W2) - including a 3-1 loss at Leicester in February) - Liverpool have lost just one of their last 16 on the road in the competition (W12 D3).
  • Leicester have conceded 63 goals in 39 Premier League games in 2021 - only in 2001 (66) and 2017 (64) have they shipped more in a single calendar year in the competition.
  • Liverpool's Diogo Jota has scored four goals in his last four Premier League games against Leicester, including netting a hat-trick for Wolves in January 2019.
  • Divock Origi has scored five goals in his last six away games for Liverpool in all competitions, more than he had in his previous 40 on the road for the Reds (4).

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Leicester City v Liverpool: Team news

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 15:30

Liverpool are set to welcome four players back from COVID-19 absences at Leicester City on Tuesday night.

Thiago Alcantara, who was ruled out of the Reds' last two outings, returned to team training on Sunday, while Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk - who have missed the previous three games - are available again.

And in further positive news, Jürgen Klopp reported no fresh fitness or COVID-related issues during his pre-match press conference on Monday afternoon.

“Yeah, the boys who had to isolate, or had COVID, are back,” the boss stated.

“That means Fab, Virgil, Curtis and Thiago. Thiago was the latest, he came back and trained yesterday for the first time with the team. 

“We have one young player who is now isolating and two staff. It’s really tricky, every morning when you come in it’s a little bit like a lottery. You hope it’s all fine and then one case… that’s the situation, but apart from that we are fine.”

Andy Robertson is suspended for the trip to King Power Stadium, while Divock Origi has not played since scoring the winner to defeat AC Milan at San Siro three weeks ago.

Nathaniel Phillips (fractured cheekbone) and Harvey Elliott (ankle) are out, while Adrian has been sidelined for much of December with a calf injury.

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Leicester, meanwhile, are set to be without a host of senior players for the match.

Patson Daka, Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu have joined the Foxes’ list of absentees, while Ryan Bertrand is a doubt after sustaining a twisted knee during the warm-up prior to their Boxing Day defeat at Manchester City.

Harvey Barnes, Jonny Evans and Danny Ward are also unavailable, with Wesley Fofana and James Justin recovering from long-term injuries.

However, Brendan Rodgers is hopeful that Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy will be ready after both were unused substitutes at Etihad Stadium.

The Leicester manager said: “Wilf has played a lot of football for us so he hasn’t had a chance to rest. To put him into [the City] game would have been really tough. Hopefully they’ll be fine for Tuesday’s game.”

Last match

Manchester City 6-3 Leicester (December 26): Schmeichel, Albrighton, Amartey, Vestergaard, Thomas, Perez, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall, Lookman, Maddison, Iheanacho.

Liverpool 3-3 Leicester (December 22): Kelleher, Bradley, Koumetio, Gomez, Tsimikas, Morton, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Williams, Firmino, Minamino.

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Leicester City v Liverpool: Team news

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 15:30
Liverpool are set to welcome four players back from COVID-19 absences at Leicester City on Tuesday night.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Klopp: Players at the edge but clubs won't allow more subs

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 14:24

Jurgen Klopp says players are "at the edge" due to the demands of the fixture schedule and absences caused by Covid, but believes Premier League clubs will continue to block the use of five substitutes.

A number of clubs across the Premier League have recorded Covid cases among their first-team players and staff in recent weeks, with the positive tests coming amid the traditionally busy festive period.

This has led to an increased workload for those that are fit to play, as well as players returning from Covid and injuries being asked to make their comebacks faster than usual.

Various managers - including Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea head coach - have called for clubs to once again be permitted to make five changes per match to help ease the pressure on their squads.

But some - such as Sean Dyche, the Burnley manager - believe allowing five subs disproportionately benefits bigger clubs, such as Liverpool.

With 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs needing to vote in favour to push through any changes, Klopp is not confident it will happen.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has once again called into question the busy festive fixture schedule and says that players need help

"We have to put the competition aside and don't say that Man City has better subs than Burnley or whatever," said the Liverpool boss. "Yes that's probably true. But the problem is the intensity for a top-class footballer in England is definitely at the edge.

"You need 14 votes to change - there is something wrong. As an example, I'm not sure how many Burnley players play international football. When our players have three games, they have no game.

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"We are talking about an issue that some clubs and some players definitely have but it is decided by other teams. Because we make a competition of it, they say no. That's a real problem because it's the right decision, especially in this moment.

"You bring players back after Covid or after an injury, and because of the games we have to play they have to play immediately. Then they are out again because you cannot get them off after 60 minutes because you have to change other things.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says that dealing with positive Covid cases is like a lottery as you do not know who will be available each day

"This wonderful game is so wonderful because usually the players on the pitch are in good shape, are well-trained, have recovered and go for it. That's why we love the game.

"The best league in the world, and the most intense league in the world, is the only league with still three subs. That's not right. We should change it. [But] I don't see a real chance to change it to be honest."

Klopp: Leicester will be 'tricky' despite their woes

Liverpool return to action on Tuesday night for the first time in six days following the postponement of their Boxing Day fixture at home to Leeds due to Covid cases among the visitors.

Klopp's side take on Leicester - also their opponents in their most recent game - and he is expecting a tough fixture, regardless of the Foxes' recent struggles.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City's win over Leicester in the Premier League

Leicester's Boxing Day fixture at Manchester City saw them trail 4-0 at half-time before a second-half comeback saw them reduce the deficit to 4-3.

However, City pulled away to record a 6-3 victory to leave Leicester 10th in the table and with just one win in their last six games.

"Obviously Leicester are not in a perfect situation," admitted Klopp. "They have injuries and probably still Covid cases.

"We played them only a few days ago and they were pretty strong in that game. Yesterday when we went out for training it was 4-0, and then all of a sudden somebody told me it was 4-3. Wow. They were obviously close.

"They are just a good team, and the work that Brendan (Rodgers) is doing there is exceptional. It will be tricky for us of course but we will try."

Liverpool will be boosted by the return of Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk, Thiago Alcantara and Curtis Jones, who have all missed time due to Covid.

However, Klopp revealed further positive cases in the Liverpool camp, saying: "We have one young player who is now isolating and two staff.

"It's really tricky - every morning you come in and it's pretty much like a lottery."

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“It’s a real problem” – Jurgen Klopp’s passionate plea for 5 subs rule in full

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 14:00

Jurgen Klopp has issued a passionate plea for clubs outside of the Premier League‘s top six to accept the need for a return to the five substitute rule this season.

Through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs in the English top flight were permitted to make five substitutes per game to relieve the pressure on squads in a shorter season.

But though games are being postponed every round of fixtures throughout the winter due to players and staff testing positive, the Premier League has resisted a return for the rule.

While the 20 clubs held a meeting last week to discuss how to combat the ongoing threat of absences during the busiest stage of the campaign, no real resolution was made.

And speaking ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Leicester on Tuesday, Klopp outlined exactly why he feels the five substitute rule must return.

Here is everything the Reds manager said on the subject…

Why it’s important…

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson shakes hands with manager Jürgen Klopp as he is substituted during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“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.

“A top-class player in England plays 38 Premier League games, [then] cup games, two cup competitions, so even when we don’t go to the final, let’s just put on another five. It’s 43.

“Then they have international games, because pretty much all of them play for their national teams – eight, nine, 10 games a year. So you can count that.

 Liverpool substitutes during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 2 game between FC Porto and Liverpool FC at the Estádio do Dragão. Liverpool won 5-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Plus Champions League games, the further you go, the more games it is. So you come pretty quickly in an area with more than 50 games.

“My first season here, I think the [Europa League] final was the 64th game.

“So yes, now, we have squads and can swap, but there are some key players who only come out when they are injured pretty much, so that’s how it is.”

Why other clubs voted against it…

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) shakes hands with Burnley's manager Sean Dyche after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“But now the decision about it is made – we realised again in the manager’s meeting it was like that – by 14 clubs.

“I think you need 14 votes to change it, and there’s something wrong.

“As an example, Burnley, I’m not sure how many of their players play international football. When our players have three games, they have no game.

“They’re playing 38 Premier League games, cup games another three, four, so that makes it 42.

“So we talk about an issue which some clubs and some players definitely have, but it’s decided by other teams.

“And because we make kind of a competition of it, it’s like ‘no, they are better than us!’.

 Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“That’s a real problem, I have to say.

“It’s the right decision, especially in this moment, because you bring players back, after Covid infection or after injury, and because of the games you have to play they have to play immediately.

“Then they go out again, because you cannot get them off after 60 minutes because you have to change others. That’s a real problem.”

Why he doesn’t expect it to be brought in…

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 239th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“So this wonderful game is so wonderful because usually the players on the pitch are in good shape, are well-trained, have recovered well and go for it.

“That’s why we love the game.

“But now the situation is clear, if we don’t do that it’s much more difficult.

“The best league in the world, and the most intense league in the world, is the only league in Europe – and maybe the world, I don’t know – still with three subs. And that’s not right.

“We came through until now, but I still think we have to talk about it, we should change it.

 Liverpool's substitute Tyler Morton (L) makes his League debut replacing Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“But it’s for the Premier League, which as Thomas [Tuchel] said he would like to make this decision by himself, but he can’t, because you need a vote and this vote is other clubs which have other problems, different problems, say ‘no, we don’t want to have five subs’.

“So I don’t see a real chance to change it, to be honest.”

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Jurgen Klopp welcomes good news for Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 13:44

Jurgen Klopp has welcomed the ‘good news’ that Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita will be available for Liverpool’s trip to Chelsea before jetting off to the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Reds will lose the trio for at least two-and-a-half weeks in January due to their involvement in the tournament, with the maximum period away five weeks should any make it to the final.

With the tournament kicking off on January 9, there were fears Salah, Mane and Keita would all be forced to miss the trip to Chelsea on January 2 due to the need to link up with their national team.

But an agreement with the Confederation of African Football has made it so that players do not need to be released until after the fulfilment of their games up to January 3.

“The news is obviously good, we’re really thankful for that,” Klopp said of the agreement.

“I think it’s right, we needed help and we got help. All the clubs got the help, so it’s good that the boys can play this game.

 Liverpool's Stdio Mané celebrates after scoring the third goal with team-mate Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“After that, they still have to go.”

The tournament in Cameroon runs until February 6 and it means a possible five games could be missed dependent on how far Egypt, Senegal and Guinea progress respectively.

Leicester‘s league visit to Anfield on February 10 could also be under a cloud when you factor in Covid, injury or possible quarantine rules, with restrictions continually subject to change.

For now though, Liverpool will be buoyed by the fact that the trio can play a part against both Leicester and Chelsea over the coming week.

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Jurgen Klopp welcomes back quartet but Liverpool record 3 more Covid cases

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 13:12

Jurgen Klopp confirmed an unnamed young player and two staff members are now isolating due to Covid, but his senior quartet are back in the mix.

Liverpool have welcomed Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Thiago back into the fold following their respective seven-day isolation with Covid.

All aside from Thiago made their return on Christmas Eve with the Spaniard reporting back at Kirkby on Sunday after two consecutive negative tests, boosting Klopp’s options for the trip.

The Reds have not played since December 22 as their Boxing Day meeting with Leeds was postponed due to a combination of Covid cases and injuries leaving the Whites without enough players.

And ahead of meeting Leicester for the second game in a row, Klopp offered an update on his squad and while he is welcoming back four senior faces, Covid has struck elsewhere.

“The boys who had to isolate are back, means Fab, Virgil, Curtis and Thiago,” Klopp told reporters on Monday.

Thiago was the latest and trained with the team [yesterday].

Thiago and Fabinho training, Kirkby (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“One young player and two staff [members] are now isolating,” the manager added. “But apart from that we are fine.

“Our two staff guys had absolutely no symptoms, it can hit everyone. It makes it really tricky… Once you have a positive test you are out.

“It is especially though yes but we just deal with it and try to get through it.

“We don’t know which variant the boys have got, omicron or delta, but it looks like if you are vaccinated and boosted you don’t have symptoms which is obviously good news in difficult times.”

Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho are the most likely to make their return to the XI at Leicester having returned to training on Christmas Eve, while Thiago could be named on the bench after only coming out of isolation on Boxing Day.

Curtis Jones, meanwhile, will be expected to need more time as Covid and an eye injury has kept him sidelined since October 30.

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'Tyler Morton has been brilliant, he has learned so much'

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 09:00

Jordan Henderson believes Tyler Morton is benefiting from soaking up everything he can from the senior players around him.

Academy graduate Morton has made seven appearances in the Liverpool midfield so far this season, including starts in the Champions League at San Siro and each of the past two games, against Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.

Henderson has been impressed by the manner in which the 19-year-old has taken those opportunities in his stride and praised Morton for his openness to taking on board advice from others in the squad.

“Tyler has been brilliant over the last few months, I really think he has improved,” the Reds captain told Liverpoolfc.com during a chat last week.

“He has obviously learned and listened to a lot of the lads around him in training and being around the lads, in the dressing room and in training, it will certainly help him. And I think that has helped him going into games, I think he has looked comfortable and he hasn’t looked fazed at all and he has done really well.

“So hopefully he can just carry on doing that. He is a great lad as well, he has worked extremely hard and I’m sure he’ll have a big future ahead of him.”

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'Tyler Morton has been brilliant, he has learned so much'

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/27/2021 - 09:00
Jordan Henderson believes Tyler Morton is benefiting from soaking up everything he can from the senior players around him.
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The players racking up most minutes after 10 games in 32 days – and 6 in 19 still ahead

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 18:26

As usual, the winter fixture list has been massively demanding on Liverpool with matches across three competitions – and it won’t get easier across the new year run.

Jurgen Klopp has been forced not just to juggle form and tactical considerations in his team, but also a spate of midfield injuries and the now-omnipresent threat of absence through Covid.

Since the last international break Liverpool have played 10 matches, with those taking place across just 32 days up to and including the League Cup penalty shoot-out win over Leicester.

Eight were won, followed by the draw with Spurs – then our spot-kick success last time out.

Our Boxing Day encounter with Leeds was called off, but the matches still come thick and fast from now into 2022, with the Reds playing six more matches in just 19 days including an FA Cup third round and the two legs of the League Cup semis.

It all means game time and the load on players is more important than at any stage of the season so far – particularly if we want to keep our silverware ambitions alive in the Premier League and beyond.

The clocking of minutes on the pitch for every player in the squad since the November international break may give clues where Klopp will look next for his forthcoming line-ups, and who might soon be in need of a break.

The players below are listed in order of chronological appearance since the win over Arsenal, starting with the line-up from that team. As such, it presents an element of context: Roberto Firmino (138 mins) only recently returned from injury, while our most recent outing was the only one of the 10 that Alisson (810) played no part in.

Enforced rotation has undoubtedly played a part here, with Virgil van Dijk (450 mins) a notable omission in the group to have played more than 50% of available minutes.

While it was an annoyance to be without him, it should mean our No4 is primed for a run of games if required, with the likes of Leicester, Chelsea and Arsenal all ahead.

Next to him, Kostas Tsimikas (330) has also not played too much – so the left side of defence should be fresh, given Andy Robertson‘s (555) suspension.

More concern comes in attack, where Sadio Mane (752) and Mohamed Salah (746) have played more than any other outfield players, but given both only have two more fixtures they’re available for before they leave for AFCON duty, it’s likely that Klopp will continue to eke every ounce out of them possible for now.

 Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (L)] and Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Midfield changes have been commonplace over the last month, with the FabinhoThiago pairing initially looking superb, alongside a rotated third, before both tested positive for Covid and subsequently came out of the team.

The upshot of it is that no central option has played more than 60% of minutes over the last month or so, which could prove beneficial in the long run considering we came through the run undefeated.

As for those who could be set for a revitalising run in the team, look no further than Oxlade-Chamberlain (514) and Bobby Firmino.

They have both had spells this term where they have impressed significantly, and both have the attacking skills to make a real difference when Salah, Mane and Keita head to Cameroon early in the new year.

Diogo Jota (584) keeping form and fitness is a must, of course, while either one of Takumi Minamino (298) or the mysteriously absent Divock Origi (121) may get the chance to boost their season time on the pitch by a serious amount.

Klopp has largely performed wonders with his juggling acts so far, but there are even more challenges ahead in this next part of the season.

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Liverpool’s 8 best Boxing Day wins

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 16:42

Liverpool were hoping to play today but instead it’s an enforced extended rest – but over the years we’ve created plenty of Boxing Day memories for the fans.

A depleted Leeds might have escaped the in-form and free-scoring Reds for now, but we hardly have to turn the calendar back too far to recall some fantastic post-Christmas days out for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

He’s far from the only boss to preside over some fantastic and memorable wins on 26 December, though.

We’ve searched the record books and rewound the clock and picked out eight of the best Boxing Day wins from yesteryear.

8. 1989: Table-topping Reds beat Owls late on

Liverpool's John Barnes (left) celebrates the winning goal with Ian Rush (right) 1989 FA Cup final, Wembley (PA Images)

If the game can’t be a classic, a win is the only requirement. Of course, when it’s courtesy of a late strike to seal a memorable occasion for those there, it’s even better.

Our first game went that exact way, with Jan Molby and Dalian Atkinson each scoring within minutes of kick-off in either half as the Reds hosted Sheffield Wednesday in ’89.

Step forward the ever-reliable in front of goal Ian Rush to win it in the closing stages for Kenny Dalglish’s team.

7. 2008: Reds go top as Keane serves reminder

 Liverpool's Robbie Keane celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Bolton Wanderers during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool had been one of the most consistent sides in Europe over the past few years by the time the 08/09 season rolled around, but summer transfers hadn’t all been successful this time around.

Robbie Keane did his best to put a stop to the criticism here with a two-goal haul to see off Bolton, with Albert Riera netting the other.

It took the Irish forward to five for the season, but he’d soon be back off to former club Spurs. Rafa was in the stands for this game after an operation, so maybe he missed who scored!

6. 2004: Riise at the double as Reds hint at what’s to come

 Liverpool's John Arne Riise is tackled by Bolton Wanderers' Ivan Campo during the Premiership match at the Reebok Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A more flattering scoreline this time as the Reds ran riot against West Brom, hitting five and even missing a penalty through Milan Baros.

John Arne Riise was the star of the show, striking twice and almost netting a hat-trick, with Steven Gerrard, Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Luis Garcia all on the scoresheet too.

This was our first notable win since the madness of Olympiacos earlier in the month – a very happy Christmas for Reds overall, before the euphoria went into overdrive at the end of the season.

5. 2005: Rafa’s Reds just love a clean sheet

 Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the equalising goal from the penalty spot during the Premiership match against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One year later and the Reds were at it again. The performance was more controlled, the scoreline rather more low-key, but the team was utterly relentless.

A 2-0 win over Newcastle meant an eighth clean sheet and victory on the spin, with Gerrard once more setting us away before Lee Bowyer was sent-off for good measure.

This victor was a nice boost after returning from the Club World Cup final as very much undeserved runners-up.

4. 1963: No missing out on most lunatic Boxing Day in history

Roger Hunt, Liverpool, 1970 (Picture by S&G S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport)

No Boxing Day compilation is complete without referring to the infamous afternoon of 1963, when 10 top-flight games contributed a whopping haul of 66 goals. Fulham won 10-1, Man United had six put past them, Spurs were involved in a 4-4 draw and West Ham lost 8-2 at home to Blackburn – and the Reds played their part in the goalfest, too.

There were seven goals for the punters as we hammered Stoke City, Roger Hunt plundering no fewer than four of them with the Reds en route to the title.

Ian St John and Alf Arrowsmith also found the net to send the Anfield faithful home happy.

3. 2017: Bobby with the sauce and Ox brings the chips

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scores the fifth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sometimes teams turn up to face the Reds and are just utterly, woefully outclassed. That’s especially true in the Klopp era and was the fate to befall Swansea as Roberto Firmino and Co tore them apart four years ago.

Bobby netted twice, including a trademark no-look finish, while Phil Coutinho scored early and Trent Alexander-Arnold battered in his first Anfield goal with a strike off the bar.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wrapped up the win with a gorgeous dinked finish over a defender and the ‘keeper as the full-throttle Reds showed what their attack would become capable of on a more regular basis in the future.

2. 1979: Reds go clear at the top by beating rivals

Alan Hansen, Liverpool, 1980 (Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport)

What’s a better late Christmas present than three points at Anfield? Three points at Anfield to beat Manchester United and go top of the table ahead of them, of course. Well, technically it was still only two for a win in ’79, but the rest still applies.

Alan Hansen scored early on to put the Reds ahead, before David Johnson scored in front of the Kop with five minutes left, his 12th of the campaign, to seal the points and top spot for Bob Paisley’s team.

51,000 very happy fans went home that day convinced the Reds were going to win the league…which they did indeed do – by just two points ahead of these same rivals.


1. 2019: Trent trounces Leicester with Reds on top of the world

 Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Our best performance and result on Boxing Day, though, might just be the relatively recent thrashing of a former boss…and our next opponents.

Just two years ago we returned from the Club World Cup as officially the greatest club in the planet, with little recovery time and up against what the media was then terming the greatest title challenger to ourselves and Man City…and we absolutely wiped the floor with them.

Trent was irrepressible, claiming a pair of assists and netting a scorcher himself in a thumping, statement-sounding 4-0 victory.

We missed a host of other chances too but the warning had well and truly been served: Liverpool were just months away from winning the league and being Champions of Everything.

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Liverpool receive big boost with trio available vs Chelsea

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 13:56

Liverpool have been handed a massive Christmas bonus with reports that their Africa Cup of Nations trio can stay to play against Chelsea on 2 January.

With the squads for the tournament confirmed this week and each of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita called up for their respective squads, Jurgen Klopp will be without the influential troika for part of next month.

However, FIFA rules over international call-ups meant they might have had to depart as soon as Monday, 27 December – ensuring they would miss games at Leicester and Chelsea as well as the fixtures thereafter.

Now it seems set to be confirmed that the next two matches will still see our No 8, 10 and 11 available for selection though, with AP News’ Rob Harris reporting an agreement has been reached for their departures to be delayed.

FIFA deputy secretary general Mattias Grafstrom confirmed a “commitment of solidarity” to clubs with the decision, having come under pressure to do so from the World Leagues Forum.

“CAF has decided that for those players who have official club matches between the 27 December 2021 and 3 January 2022, the participating member associations in question are to be directed that these players may remain with their clubs to participate in these matches and be released after the last match during this period,” Grafstrom said in a statement.

 Liverpool's Naby Keita during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 3 game between Club Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The tournament in Cameroon runs until 6 February, meaning five matches are potentially to be missed if any of the Reds players go the distance.

The next game they would be available for if they miss that group of fixtures is Leicester (home) on 10 February – though there is the possibility for that game to be missed too if late arrivals, Covid or fitness issues play a part.

Those latter two possibilities are simply an ongoing part of football these days though, so for Klopp and his coaches it’s all about the short term and the next game or two right now.

With that in mind, it’s a huge boost to have the league’s top scorer, his attacking sidekick and a back-in-form Keita available for the upcoming pair of critical league games.

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The “special” Brazilian talent stepping up as Liverpool’s latest “No.3”

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 12:41

Liverpool have had a fairly heavy rotation of young players and unfamiliar faces on the bench recently, with injuries, Covid and a busy fixture list all playing a part.

While Kaide Gordon, Tyler Morton and Owen Beck have now all featured for the first team as well as being subs of late, one notable name who is yet to play for Jurgen Klopp‘s side is Marcelo Pitaluga.

The goalkeeper is a fairly recent addition at Kirkby, joining late last year and just turning 19 years old before Christmas – but he has been heavily involved in first-team preparations this month.

In mid-December he made the bench in the Premier League for the first time, during the win over Newcastle, while he was sub again against Leicester in the League Cup quarter-final.

It makes three bench duty days for the campaign for Pitaluga, who the boss confirmed had been promoted to third-choice, at least for the time being, meaning there’s no current plan for him to head out for senior action.

“If you give a very talented boy on loan, then pretty much always something happens,” Klopp said recently.

“Now Adrian is injured at the moment, so Marcelo is now No. 3. A very young boy, but that’s all fine.”

With our first-choice goalkeeper being Brazilian and our newest coaching staff addition – Claudio Taffarel – being an absolute icon of the same nation, there’s plenty of inspiration for Pitaluga to look up to as he aims to progress.

Alisson is one who has been impressed by his growth, having initially trained with him at Fluminense during 2020.

“Yeah, Marcelo is really talented,” Alisson told the club website.

 Liverpool's goalkeepers Harvey Davies (L) and Marcelo Pitaluga during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 6 game between AC Milan and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I saw him a few times back in Brazil, but I could know more about him here as a goalie and as a person as well.

“He is a really special boy, he is really excited about having the opportunity to play for Liverpool. Now he has settled in and is doing really well in training. He is a boy who trains really hard and is really dedicated for what he is doing. And someone who likes to learn as well.

“So it is really good to work together with him, not only for being Brazilian but for being a really good talent and such a good person.”

The lengths the Reds went to in gathering information on the youngster were revealed at the time he joined and, interestingly, included the opinion of incoming sporting director Julian Ward – at the time he was loan pathways manager and was overseeing Allan’s progress at the same Brazilian club.

It all highlights the joined-up thinking at Anfield as the Reds look to keep a succession plan in place, with elite-level goalkeepers promoted from within to eventually replace Alisson Becker just one part of the strategy.

Whether that turns out to be Pitaluga, Caoimhin Kelleher, Harvey Davies or any one of the other youngsters on the books remains to be seen, but the boy from Niteroi looks well-placed right now to get his chance in future and continue impressing those watching most closely.

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Kostas ‘lerns’ Scouse, Fowler’s singalong & Milner’s classic Christmas gift

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 10:44

Liverpool’s squad took to social media on Christmas day to wish fans and followers a happy time of year, with their pictures being a brilliant mix of the family and the funny!

While it’s usually all about training and preparing for a match the next day for Premier League players, there’s always a bit of time for celebrations and get-togethers too.

Especially for those with little ones or still living near enough to home!

It was great then to see the festive spirit in full force among the Reds, many of whom sent well-wishes to each other…or took the chance to have a sneaky dig in the comments!

Kicking things off was the king of Twitter himself, with a perfectly boring gift the highlight of James Milner‘s day!

Four new coasters and some anti-wrinkle eye cream…Christmases don’t come much better. Happy Christmas everyone ?#santaknowsmesowell#heavyshloersession pic.twitter.com/P4CJ1pmSvQ

— James Milner (@JamesMilner) December 25, 2021

Not a current player, but Robbie Fowler getting his singing voice in tune couldn’t be left out – not sure he’ll be on MTV any time soon though!

It's Christmas time….. Happy Christmas to you and all your families? pic.twitter.com/vqLpFqkNvf

— Robbie Fowler (@Robbie9Fowler) December 25, 2021

Plenty of the current squad joined their families and loved ones on the big day – we hope they all had a great time of course, even if they didn’t get to eat as many Christmas puddings/mince pies/26 different boxes of miniature chocolates as we did.

? #MerryChristmas pic.twitter.com/Yx9tYbcQ2a

— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas ??? @_fabinhotavares pic.twitter.com/4KmnNSBA01

— Rebeca Tavares (@reebecatavares) December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas Everyone. Stay safe!??? pic.twitter.com/AskCsD2sGs

— Curtis Jones (@curtisjr_10) December 25, 2021

Maybe the best present of the day went to our Greek Scouser Kostas Tsimikas, who has clearly been handed one of the all-time greatest books in history: Lern Yerself Scouse!

For the uninitiated, this has been around for decades and is an invaluable addition to any bookshelf.

Big Virg is among those to already be back in action with the squad after a recent bout of Covid and judging by his video on Instagram, the best present he got this year was a negative test and getting to put his boots back on!

One or two of these at the King Power wouldn’t go amiss…

Hendo and Diogo were among those to get all festive with the decorations and dressing up – which Red had the most dodgy Christmas jumper this year, do we reckon?!

And finally, the award for the best message definitely goes to our No8, who got himself a personalised mash-up of his signature sign-off and lovely Spanish seasonal greeting: FELIZ NABY LAD!

This magic team have given us plenty of memories across 2021 and there are hopefully lots more to come in the year ahead.

There’s one more game left before the new year though, so let’s have the squad healthy and happy and smashing six past Leicester in a couple of days!

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Gerrard tests positive for Covid as Pep urges fans to wear masks at matches

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 09:35

Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard will miss the club’s next two Premier League games after testing positive for Covid-19.

Gerrard will not be in the dugout for the Boxing Day clash at home to Chelsea or Tuesday’s trip to Leeds.

The club said in a statement: “Aston Villa can confirm head coach Steven Gerrard will be unable to attend our next two Premier League matches with Chelsea and Leeds United as he will be isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.”

Villa’s home game with Burnley last weekend was postponed due to an increased number of positive coronavirus tests among the squad.

The match against Chelsea at Villa Park is one of six Premier League games still currently scheduled to go ahead on Boxing Day.

Meanwhile, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged supporters to wear masks in stadiums to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Under recently-introduced Government Plan B regulations, fans now need to show proof of double vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to attend games.

There has been speculation, however, that the authorities could go further and force games back behind closed doors – as they were during Project Restart and for most of last season – amid surging case numbers in England.

Guardiola, who lost his mother to the virus last year, does not want to see that happen again but does think people could be doing more.

 Liverpool and Manchester City players stand for a minute's silence for Remembrance Sunday before the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by Propaganda)

Asked about the prospect of games being played without fans again, Guardiola said: “I wouldn’t love it.

“You can’t imagine how different it is playing with people than without people. It doesn’t compare.

“In the end we played behind closed doors so the economy of world football would survive, for the broadcasters. Thanks to that, we kept getting our salaries and could play football for the people.

“Hopefully it won’t happen again, but cases are raised all around the world. These people go to the stadiums, and can contaminate.

“There are people in the stadiums who don’t use masks, and that surprises me the most. You walk in the street, you go to the big malls, to places to buy presents for the family and no one uses masks.

“Vaccinations, booster jabs, the people (can) decide – but a part of that has to be social distancing and masks. It’s the best way to protect ourselves, our families and the rest of the people.

“Like this, the restaurants could still be open, and football could go on. I’m not a scientist or a doctor but I trust the doctors and scientists because they know more than I know.

“I want to trust the people who know and they say this is the safest way – take a vaccine. People don’t die when they take a vaccine.

“Wearing a mask is so important, like social distancing and hand sanitisers, so let’s try to do it. Otherwise, it may (come back) again and again and again.”

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'So far really good' - Alisson Becker assesses Liverpool's season

LiverpoolFC.TV - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 08:50

Alisson Becker is both pleased by Liverpool's performances so far in 2021-22 and aware that further improvements are possible for the team.

The Reds sit second in the Premier League table with the campaign nearing its halfway point, and will also be competing across three other fronts in the New Year.

A penalty shootout victory over Leicester City earlier this week sent Jürgen Klopp’s men into a Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal, they host Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup in a fortnight, and will take on Internazionale in the Champions League last 16.

“So far really good. I believe we are doing a great job here, all the team good performances,” Alisson told Liverpoolfc.com earlier this week, when asked for his verdict on the season to date.

“This period of the season is a really intense period and it’s really a mentality game. It’s really tough, physically speaking, but I believe that we are doing really well with these situations, having the results that we need. But we still have a lot of things to improve, to keep improving through the season but I’m happy about what we did so far.”

Manchester City currently set the pace at the Premier League summit, with second-placed Liverpool trailed by a Chelsea side they will face away from home next Sunday.

Before then, the Reds tackle Leicester once more, this time with a night trip to King Power Stadium on Tuesday.

Alisson admitted this phase of the season can have an important bearing on how the battle for supremacy in the top flight unfolds in the months ahead.

“Yeah, it’s a really intense moment now and everybody knows how important this moment is for the rest of the season,” said the Brazil international.

“Can you keep consistency? Can you keep winning these short games that we have, in terms of intervals between each other?

“So it’s really important for us if you look at the table, but we cannot change our focus, we just need to be focused on the next challenge, playing game by game. This is what we’ll do and think on the next challenge.”

With Alisson rested and Adrian sidelined by a calf injury, Marcelo Pitaluga was named on the Liverpool bench for the third time for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie with Leicester.

The 19-year-old has trained alongside Alisson and the senior goalkeeping contingent since joining the club from Fluminense last October, and the No.1 is encouraged by the progress of his younger compatriot.

“Yeah, Marcelo is really talented,” said Alisson. “I saw him a few times back in Brazil, but I could know more about him here as a goalie and as a person as well.

“He is a really special boy, he is really excited about having the opportunity to play for Liverpool. Now he has settled in and is doing really well in training. He is a boy who trains really hard and is really dedicated for what he is doing. And someone who likes to learn as well.

“So it is really good to work together with him, not only for being Brazilian but for being a really good talent and such a good person.”

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'So far really good' - Alisson Becker assesses Liverpool's season

LiverpoolFC TV - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 08:50
Alisson Becker is both pleased by Liverpool's performances so far in 2021-22 and aware that further improvements are possible for the team.
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Salah, Mane and Firmino all have 18 months left on their Liverpool contracts. So who stays and who goes?

the Athletic - Sun, 12/26/2021 - 05:14
Mohamed Salah is normally reluctant when it comes to the array of commercial and media appearance requests he receives. If he can swerve it, he usually does.

But when staff at Liverpool asked him whether he would be willing to take part in the official former players’ association Christmas lunch at Anfield, he viewed it as an honour.

Once he knew that he would be talking to legends of the club, as well as 370 supporters who had bought tickets for the plush event in the Carlsberg Dugout hospitality suite, he was fully on board.

The ongoing menace of COVID-19 meant attending in person wasn’t possible, but Salah sat on a stool alongside manager Jurgen Klopp at the AXA Training Centre following a recovery session the day after the recent home victory over Newcastle United. The pair were on the big screen for an entertaining 45-minute Q&A session. No media were present.

Kop icons Ian Callaghan, Ian Rush and Phil Thompson were on stage at the same time. Salah listened intently as Callaghan, Liverpool’s record appearance holder on 857, told a story about he used to catch the bus to Anfield on match days in the 1960s.

Rush spoke glowingly about how Salah had already earned legendary status with his heroics for the club over the past four-and-a-half years. The Egyptian thanked the highest goalscorer in Liverpool’s history for his kind words and said he was envious of Rush’s remarkable tally of 346 goals in all competitions. “I hope to get as close as possible,” he smiled.

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