Three senior Liverpool players had Nations League involvement on Friday night, with two of them captaining their respective countries.
The complete mix-up of season preparations and lack of time for all the games being squashed in means we’re facing a totally ludicrous situation this weekend.
Liverpool have a pre-season game at home to Blackpool, but with only half the squad, as the rest are on international duty a week before the league season starts.
On Friday night three Reds took to the pitch for senior internationals, while there was also U21 involvement to keep an eye on.
The usual Liverpool Dutch duo were in action and played the full 90 minutes in victory.
Van Dijk kept Krzysztof Piatek, briefly a team-mate of Marko Grujic at the end of last season, largely quiet and then did the same to Arkadiusz Milik after a striker substitution for the Poles.
Wijnaldum was, for once, not much involved in goalscoring chances for his national team, with Spurs’ Steven Bergwijn tapping in the winner from close range.
Andy Robertson was another who wore the armband, skippering Scotland in their match against Israel.
That ended in a 1-1 draw, with Robertson playing left wing-back in a 3-4-3 system and being the team’s main outlet.
With Arsenal‘s Kieran Tierney playing inside him as the left-sided centre-back of three, it also seemed to solve Scotland’s dilemma about how to fit arguably their top two players into the same team, but there remained a lack of cutting edge about the Scots.
In somewhat related news, the other left-back Liverpool bid for this summer, played the full 90 minutes for Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw with Romania—and now looks set for a move costing slightly more than Tsimikas did, with Newcastle having a £13.5m bid accepted.
The Reds bid £10m for him, before signing Tsimikas for £11.75m.
At U21 level, a further two Reds were involved.
Rhian Brewster came on as sub for England U21s in a 6-0 rout of Kosovo, but only played the final 18 minutes or so, replacing four-goal Eddie Nketiah.
This was Brewster’s seventh appearance at U21 level, but he has yet to find the net.
Morgan Boyes played the full 90 minutes in defence for Wales U21, as they lost to Bosnia Herzegovina 1-0. Ben Woodburn was originally in the squad, but was promoted to the seniors.
Similarly, Kamil Grabara is usually Poland U21’s No. 1 but he was given the night off for an easy 6-0 win over Estonia.
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Visit our Match Centre for live build-up, updates and reaction from Liverpool's pre-season friendly with Blackpool.
Liverpool’s new Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas is reportedly returning to Merseyside from international duty early after a positive test for coronavirus.
The £11.75 million signing from Olympiacos hasn’t yet featured in an official game for the Reds and his debut looks set to be delayed further.
He didn’t feature in the game on Thursday through illness and, according to SporTime, he then tested positive for coronavirus.
No other member of the Greece squad returned a positive test and Tsimikas was thus omitted from the travelling party for their second game, which is against Kosovo on Sunday.
The report says Tsimikas will return to England and Liverpool on Saturday, though the logistics of how he will travel in isolation are not mentioned.
Liverpool are playing Blackpool on Saturday, though as a European on international duty he wouldn’t have been playing in any case—and given the time frame before the Premier League season starts, he won’t feature against Leeds United either.
Premier League protocols dictate that players must return a negative test within five days of the match taking place, but they must also self-isolate for seven days after a positive test is returned.
It doesn’t make for the best of starts to life as a Red for Tsimikas, though as always the club take a longer-term approach to player development and this won’t hamper his involvement over the coming months, assuming he recovers well.
Liverpool have thus far not confirmed the case of Tsimikas, though it’s possible they will not announce anything at all, as seemed to be the case when one travelling member reportedly tested positive in the pre-season camp in Austria.
Liverpool will begin the 2020-21 Premier League season in one week's time by renewing acquaintances with Leeds United.
The respective champions of English football’s first and second tiers last term face off on the opening day of the new season in their first top-flight showdown since the 2003-04 campaign.
As the September 12 kick-off edges ever closer, we’ll be taking a look at various topics and subplots to watch out for – and we start with the Reds’ first opponents.
Led by Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds ended their 16-year exile from the Premier League in emphatic fashion last season.
The Yorkshire club finished 10 points clear of West Bromwich Albion at the summit having won 28 of their 46 Championship games, and boasted the meanest defence in the division – conceding 35 goals.
Their return to the top flight gets under way at Anfield, where the reigning Premier League champions will be waiting to begin their title defence – or ‘attack’, according to Jürgen Klopp – in a 5.30pm BST meeting next Saturday.
It’ll be Leeds’ first league visit to L4 since October 25, 2003, when goals from Michael Owen, Danny Murphy and Florent Sinama-Pongolle secured a 3-1 win for Gerard Houllier’s Reds.
The visitors’ starting line-up that Saturday lunchtime included one James Milner, then aged just 17.
Now double that in years, the Liverpool No.7 will put boyhood allegiances to one side on what will certainly be a special personal occasion as he embarks on a sixth campaign with the Reds.
The sides later drew 2-2 at Elland Road in that 2003-04 campaign and have since met twice in the League Cup – Liverpool winning 1-0 away in September 2009 and 2-0 at home, under Klopp, in November 2016.
The latter game saw Ben Woodburn set a new record as the club’s youngest ever goalscorer – aged 17 years, one month and 14 days – with his 81st-minute strike at the Kop end.
Did you know?
It was a mixed evening of results for Liverpool's international players on Friday night.
There was joy for Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum as they played the full game as the Netherlands edged out Poland 1-0 in their opening UEFA Nations League Group clash.
There was frustration for Scotland captain Andy Robertson who also went the distance as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Israel at Hampden Park.
Rhian Brewster came on as a 73rd minute substitute as England U21s recorded a 6-0 away win in Kosovo.
Liverpool might not be signing dozens of players, but we’ve still got a busy summer ahead by the looks of the transfer columns on Friday.Karius heads list of 10 to depart this summer
Liverpool will be having something of a clear-out when it comes to the fringe players and the young hopefuls who haven’t quite made the grade.
The Reds have assessed that there’s little to be gained by loans again for certain players, with Goal reporting that 10 individuals are seeking departures this summer.
The boss doesn’t usually go all-in and demand that the board make new transfers, and we don’t expect that will change this summer.
But there’s a certain calibre of player who can add to the team and the squad and Thiago Alcantara certainly fits that bill.
Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones reports that, on this occasion, “the manager is very keen to make his voice heard”: he wants Thiago.
The Bayern man can leave, so we need to find the right deal.
Half the squad are away on international duty; here’s a round-up of how they’ve fared:Quickfire LFC news
Aurelio Di Laurentiis has spent most of this summer calling other club owners vultures and other less-savoury names because they want lower-priced deals. Then he also says he regrets not selling Koulibaly and other Napoli players at the height of their 100m-plus transfer value.
This man very much likes the sound of his own voice.Tweet of the day
Even Ali couldn’t save that one!
That first strike ??
Mo looking ????? ? pic.twitter.com/y3BC3cNjSN
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 4, 2020What we’re reading
Is Oli McBurnie a gift Scotland are overlooking or an overhyped frustration? BBC Sport delve into the matter.
And, of course, everything Lionel Messi has said as he hammers the Barcelona president while saying he’ll remain another year, on Goal.Worth watching tonight
Italy v Bosnia-Herzegovina or Netherlands v Poland. Nations League, 7:45, the various Sky Sports channels.
Two former Liverpool players have taken up new roles at the LFC Academy in Kirkby.
Michael Thomas will need no introduction to Reds fans, having played 124 games for the club and scored nine goals, including a spectacular effort in the 1992 FA Cup final.
Thomas will be taking on a mentoring role – similar to that of former Reds Rob Jones and Steve McManaman - focused on the youth development phase from U13s to U16s.
Former Liverpool schoolboy and current professional player Neil Danns has also joined the club in a coaching capacity.
Danns will be working in and around the U13s and U14s.
With over 500 professional games plus 17 international games (and nine goals) representing Guyana, he brings a wealth of playing experience across all levels.
His club career included notable stints at the likes of Crystal Place, Colchester, Birmingham, Bolton, Bury and most recently with Tranmere Rovers on Merseyside until the end of last season.
Liam Millar and Abdi Sharif were on the mark as Liverpool U23s beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 in their latest pre-season outing on Friday afternoon.
Barry Lewtas' side continued their impressive form as they came back from a goal down to claim victory at the Kirkby Academy.
Forest took a first-half lead courtesy of a penalty and only a stunning stop from Vitezslav Jaros prevented it becoming 2-0.
However, with Paul Glatzel on for the second period, the young Reds turned the game around.
The forward looked sharp, he held the ball up brilliantly for his teammates and was unfortunate not to find the net himself.
Indeed, Glatzel played a key role in the equaliser on the hour mark when he set up Liam Millar who cut inside from the left and finished superbly.
Glatzel could consider himself unlucky when he fired an audacious effort that beat the Forest goalkeeper but came back off the bar soon after.
Nevertheless, Sharif, playing his first 45 minutes of the pre-season, found the winner on 72 when he cut inside from the right and saw his effort deceive the goalkeeper and find the far corner of the net.
Work was ongoing at Melwood on Thursday as Liverpool continued to gear up for the start of the 2020-21 season.
Those not on international duty with their respective countries were put through their paces by Jürgen Klopp and his team at the club's training facility, including Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip.
The Reds contest a pre-season friendly with Blackpool on Saturday in a game you can watch live and exclusively on LFCTV and LFCTV GO.
See how preparations are shaping up ahead of then in the latest edition of Inside Training above.
App users should tap here to watch the video.
Watch this video, and all of our exclusive pre-season content, on LFCTV GO.
Use code 2021GOFREE to start a one-month free trial of LFCTV GO now - this can be cancelled at any time.
Saturday, September 5, 2020 – 3pm (BST)
The Reds’ preparations for the new campaign culminate this weekend, with the visit of a Blackpool side who, nine years after their last meeting, find themselves in League One.
Building on clashes with Stuttgart, Salzburg and Arsenal, this is the final friendly of pre-season for the champions of England, and it could be a useful runaround.
Still played behind closed doors at Anfield, this tie will give Klopp the chance to work on a number of changes to his side, while coaxing form out of those set to keep their key roles in 2020/21.
So what can we expect as Liverpool gear up for their final pre-season friendly? Here’s all you need to know.Team News
The international break has been relatively kind to the Reds, despite 11 first-team players being absent.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are all on duty, depriving Klopp of his first-choice back four, while Gini Wijnaldum, Kostas Tsimikas, Neco Williams, Harry Wilson, Marko Grujic, Rhian Brewster and Caoimhin Kelleher are also out.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the only player out with an injury.
Manager: Neil Critchley
Key Player: Sullay Kaikai
Ex-Reds: Matty Virtue, Jordan Williams
Last Season: 13th in League One
A decade on from their impressive but ill-fated season in the Premier League, Blackpool are in League One and facing a major overhaul.
Critchley took over in March, vacating his role with Liverpool, but with the season curtailed soon after, he was able to start afresh this summer, and this has brought 10 signings so far.
They include ex-Liverpool midfielder Jordan Williams, who arrived on a free after a spell with Rochdale, but the Tangerines saw Jay Spearing leave among nine to depart on the expiry of their contracts.
Last season’s top scorer, Armand Gnanduillet, also left, along with former Aston Villa striker Nathan Delfouneso.
Blackpool’s season has already begun, and Critchley’s side suffered defeat in the first round of the League Cup on August 29, holding Stoke to a 0-0 draw only to lose 5-4 on penalties.Pre-Season So Far
Won 3-0 vs. Stuttgart
Drew 2-2 vs. Salzburg
Drew 1-1 vs. Arsenal (lost 5-4 on pens)
Won 4-0 vs. Southport
Won 2-1 vs. Port Vale
Won 2-1 vs. Barrow
Drew 3-3 vs. Everton
Lost 3-1 vs. Blackburn
Liverpool lost both of their meetings with Blackpool last time they were in the top flight together in 2010/11, with 2-1 defeats at Anfield and Bloomfield Road.
Charlie Adam was the Tangerines’ opening goalscorer in the Anfield clash, with the result leaving the Reds in 18th on October 3.
Roy Hodgson was not long for the job, and January’s trip to Blackpool saw Kenny Dalglish’s side suffer the same fate as before, only by this point Liverpool were up to 13th, four places behind the Tangerines.
The Reds went on to sign Adam seven months later, with the midfielder arriving in a £6.75 million deal only to head off to Stoke after a year on Merseyside.TV & Liveblog Info
Liverpool vs. Blackpool will be shown live on LFCTV, with coverage starting at 2.30pm (BST) ahead of the 3pm kickoff.
Henry Jackson is on liveblog duty for This Is Anfield, and will be keeping you up to date on the final friendly of pre-season from 2.30pm.
Liverpool take on Blackpool in their final friendly of pre-season at Anfield on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp forced to field a decidedly top-heavy lineup due to absences.
The Reds announced that the conclusion to their preparations for 2020/21 will come against Neil Critchley‘s Tangerines, a week after technically starting the campaign in the Community Shield.
Coming up against League One opposition may not be the most functional warmup for a clash with Leeds on September, particularly after clashes with Stuttgart, Salzburg and Arsenal already, but it will be a chance for many to pick up sharpness.
Unfortunately, however, Klopp is without a host of players due to the current international break, with 11 first-team options away on duty, including the entirety of his first-choice defence.
This makes selecting a lineup for this friendly rather difficult, but it does give the manager a chance to experiment with a new system and cast a gaze over a number of squad options.
Here’s how Liverpool could line up against Blackpool.Who will miss out and who is back?
Given the proximity to their Premier League opener, it is highly likely Liverpool go as strong as possible from the start on Saturday.
If Henderson is deemed fit to start, that could see him join Fabinho and Keita in a familiar unit in the middle of the park, while Salah, Mane and Firmino can all take their places in attack.
More difficult, though, is the defence, as beyond Alisson there are no first-choice options available.
Like the captain, if Matip is ready he will likely be named in the starting lineup, and his experience could be useful alongside the current fourth choice, Billy Koumetio.
There is a chance, however, that Klopp opts for the 4-2-3-1 formation that caught the eye in the second half of the Community Shield, and this is more likely if Henderson is not fit to start.
Similarly, if Matip is only ready for a place on the bench, Phillips could come into the defence to partner Koumetio, with Hoever and Milner at full-back ahead of Alisson.
Minamino would start on the left, with Mane on the right and Firmino in the No. 10 role behind Salah, whose pace and predatory instinct makes him a devastating striker in this system:
Given the lack of experience in defence, going hell for leather in attack may be the best option for this friendly, allowing Klopp’s side to finetune their patterns of play in the 4-2-3-1.
On the other hand, the manager may prefer more protection for his untested back line, especially as Koumetio is shaping up to be his new pet project at centre-back.
As a friendly, too, Klopp is expected to send on the likes of Van den Berg, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott at some stage, while a clutch of youngsters, perhaps Leighton Clarkson, Jake Cain and Paul Glatzel among them, may also be involved.
For a last-minute game against a side in League One, the narrative leading into this tie is particularly interesting, and however Liverpool line up, Saturday’s clash could be a hugely exciting one.
Last Updated: 04/09/20 12:16pmVirgil van Dijk, Kevin De Bruyne and Jordan Henderson are among the nominees
Premier League winners Liverpool have had four players nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, with Trent Alexander-Arnold also included on the shortlist in the young player category.
Reds full-back Alexander-Arnold appears alongside Anfield team-mates Virgil van Dijk - last year's recipient - Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane in the six-strong list of nominees for the main men's prize.
They are joined on the shortlist by Manchester City duo Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.Watch Liverpool v Blackpool live on LFCTV
See Liverpool back in action exclusively live on LFCTV. Find out more hereTrent Alexander-Arnold has also been nominated for the young player award
The Liverpool quartet have been rewarded for the roles they played in the club's first title success in 30 years, finishing 18 points clear of second-placed City.
England international Alexander-Arnold, 21, and Van Dijk played in all 38 league games, while Henderson captained the side impressively and Mane scored 22 goals in all competitions.
De Bruyne enhanced his reputation with a series of stunning individual displays for City, while England star Sterling scored 35 goals for club and country.
Alexander-Arnold is joined on the Young Player of the Year list - nominees had to be 21 or under on July 1, 2019 - by Manchester United pair Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham and club-mate Mason Mount, and Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka.Beth England, holder Vivianne Miedema and Sophie Ingle are nominated
Chelsea players dominate the candidates for the Women's Player of the Year category with Beth England, Sophie Ingle, Guro Reiten and Ji So-Yun all included.
Holder Vivianne Miedema and her Arsenal team-mate Kim Little complete the list.
The Blues narrowly won the Women's Super League title ahead of Manchester City on a points-per-game basis when last season was called to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Striker England scored 21 goals in all competitions playing ahead of midfielders Ingle, Reiten and Ji as the Blues claimed the title and the Continental League Cup.Erin Cuthbert is in contention for Young Player of the Year
Team-mate Erin Cuthbert finds herself surrounded by Manchester-based players in the Young Player of the Year category, alongside City's Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly, Ellie Roebuck and Georgia Stanway and United's Lauren James.
The winners will be announced on Tuesday.
Men's PFA Players' Player of the Year nominees
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Women's PFA Players' Player of the Year nominees
Beth England (Chelsea)
Sophie Ingle (Chelsea)
Kim Little (Arsenal)
Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)
Guro Reiten (Chelsea)
Ji So-Yun (Chelsea)
Men's PFA Young Player of the Year nominees
Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Women's PFA Young Player of the Year nominees
Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea)
Lauren Hemp (Manchester City)
Lauren James (Manchester United)
Chloe Kelly (Manchester City formerly Everton)
Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
Georgia Stanway (Manchester City)Sky Sports Fantasy Football is back!
Another year, another £50,000 jackpot on the line. Sky Sports Fantasy Football makes its return for the 2020/21 season.
Four Liverpool players have been shortlisted for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award for 2019-20.
Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all in contention for the prize having been voted for by their fellow professionals after helping the Reds to the Premier League title.
The quartet are joined on the shortlist by Manchester City duo Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne.
Alexander-Arnold is also in the running for the PFA Young Player of the Year accolade, facing competition from Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka.
The winners will be revealed next Tuesday, September 8, from 7pm BST via a broadcast on the PFA’s social media channels.
Van Dijk is the current holder of the trophy having won it last year for his performances in 2018-19.
Other Reds to have clinched the prize in recent times include Mohamed Salah, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez.