LFC NEWS

Titles, Thiago & normality – Liverpool fans’ top 2020 moments and New Year hopes

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 18:30

It was a year which will forever be etched into Liverpool’s history books, but 2020 provided more than its fair share of challenges and Reds are hoping for some normality to return in 2021.

With another year behind us and a new one now upon us, a period of reflection is always welcomed for both the past and the future.

For Liverpool 2020 was a year which saw a long-awaited league title return to Anfield, seeing the dreams of millions around the world come true.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side created moments and memories to cherish for a lifetime and now their task is to do it all over again in a year which many hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel return in the form of normality.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Scott Groom (@ScottCGroom), Tommy Lister (@TLister77), Keifer MacDonald (@KeiferMacd) and Samuel Cox (@samueljessecox) to discuss the top moments of 2020 and the hopes for 2021.

My standout 2020 moment…

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson (C) celebrates with the Premier League trophy as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Dejan Lovren, goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SCOTT: Where else do you start with this one other than the moment when we finally got to see the Reds lift the Premier League trophy?

There were points where we didn’t think it’d happen due to the pandemic, so when it finally did, wow was it special.

As was that win for Chelsea over Man City that handed us the title though. I’ve never been so invested in a game that Liverpool wasn’t involved in! That was really quite something, it’s still just a shame that we all didn’t get to celebrate it with each other as we’d hoped, but hopefully, our time will come.

I think the second-best moment has to be welcoming fans back to Anfield recently. It was so special and the lads put in a performance to match too, beating Wolves 4-0. We’ve missed those fist pumps from Jurgen more than we could ever realise, haven’t we?

TOMMY: The year of 2020 and the misery it brought is already a cliche, but at least Liverpool brought us some much-needed positivity.

It goes without saying the number one highlight has to be finally clinching the Premier League title that was so desperately sought after. The close run in 2008/09, the Gerrard slip and the heartache of that Vincent Kompany one in a million screamer, so at last, it felt like redemption.

Sharing tears with my brother after that Chelsea vs. Manchester City game and then weeks later watching Jordan Henderson hold those red ribbons aloft really was the crowning moment of 2020.

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’m sure you’ve heard enough about the title though, so what else were we gifted with this year?

For me, the absolute highlight was the January game against Manchester United. The day the title was signed, sealed and delivered. Dominating our arch-rivals, that Van Dijk menacing glare towards the away fans, the iconic Salah goal and Alisson celebration, the chants of “now you’re gonna believe us.” It had the lot.

Iconic moments and games aside, there’s no buzz as a fan quite like discovering a new signing is on its way. It’s a shame we’ve yet to see much of him but the Thiago transfer saga was one of the best yet.

Linked for months, watching every compilation of him that I could find, and being in awe of his every touch as he was instrumental to Bayern being crowned European Champions, when it was announced Thiago was joining, it was definitely one of my favourite moments this year.

KEIFER: 2020 was a pretty eventful year wasn’t it? Not just in terms of being a Liverpool fan, but in terms of just living. Lockdowns, tiers and substantial meals dominated the large part of the calendar year.

In terms of Liverpool, it was an extremely enjoyable year, the title hoodoo was finally broken and even though we weren’t there to see the lift itself, there was still some special matches we’ll have to treasure.

The Manchester United game at Anfield stands out as one of the best of few we had to pick from in 2020, for me personally, there with my brother, as Salah sealed it, the Kop was euphoric. I’ve never heard so many people sing ‘we’re going to win the league’, normally you get a glare for singing it or even a clip around the ear from the elders, who’ll tell you ‘nothing is won yet’.

 Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Staying away from the popular choice that will be the league title, I think the addition of Thiago has to be up there for me in terms of moments in 2020. It sounds crazy, but for me, it reinstated the statues Liverpool had regained.

To have the power to lure Thiago from Bayern Munich, who had only just won the Champions League, for him to be so desperate to join Liverpool, it made me feel like a kid. Although we haven’t seen loads of him yet, from what we have seen it’s going to be a lot of fun watching him over the next few years.

SAMUEL: Some people say 30 years isn’t that long, but it’s been a lifetime for me so far! It was brilliant to finally see the red lift the trophy and the wait it also felt so deserved after the nearly flawless two years this Liverpool team had put together. Having not witnessed the teams of the 1980s in person, the real reward is in many ways just watching this inspirational football team – with all their skill, heart and desire – every week.

The game against Manchester United back in January is one that has also stuck in my mind. It was a key step in the title race that also had something extra special and atmospheric about it: there was Anfield at its wild, raucous best, draped overly by fabulously red skies, as the two red titans of Northern England battled it out.

It was also just a bloody brilliant football game. Van Dijk’s early headed goal set the scene and Liverpool created chance after chance, but just could not score – even having two goals disallowed – and it felt like Manchester United might just nick a goal as they put us under pressure late.

Then at the death, in stoppage time, Salah chases down an Alisson clearance, runs half the pitch holding off James to score past De Gea in front of the Kop. The celebration was iconic. It was both a great game against an old rival, but it also felt like the title had been solidified and it capped the big power shift which had been occurring, from Manchester to Merseyside.

 Darren Staples/Sportimage via PA Images

JOANNA: Like the lads have already touched on, there can only be one true standout moment and that’s winning the league. Despite not unfolding how many of us had envisioned, the moment was a very special one.

I didn’t think we had a chance to win it when Chelsea played Man City and was ill-prepared for the emotional rollercoaster and I can’t wait for the chance to celebrate again when possible.

Signing Thiago and seeing fans return, the 2,000 of them, into a handful of stadiums completes my top three – two contrasting emotions.

It’s still hard to believe that Thiago is a Liverpool player, what a coup he was and while his time on the field has been limited to date he just oozes quality. Imagine what it’ll be like when he plays in a team with Van Dijk, Gomez and Fabinho back in midfield. Damn.

We’ve been very lucky to have Liverpool in 2020, still creating a much-needed form of escapism and making dreams come true along the way.

My hopes for 2021 are…

 Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Andy Robertson after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SCOTT: With the way things are going, it goes above all else in saying that I hope just hope everyone, both inside and outside of Liverpool Football Club, enjoys a healthy year. That doesn’t just stop at Covid related matters, but on the injury treatment table, too.

We’ve seen Klopp’s squad decimated by injury since the new season began, and it shows no signs of letting up. But even then, the boys have kept on marching on, and hopes of a title defence remain very strong.

I’d hope for us to be able to bring home at least one more trophy either domestically or in Europe. That’s the level we’re at now and we need to be consistently bringing home silverware. I’m also hoping to see more of Thiago Alcantara, a Gini Wijnaldum contract extension signed and a new centre back arrive in January. Too much to ask?

Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game in front of returning fans during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. (Jon Super/PA Wire/PA Images)

TOMMY: Looking ahead, I’m incredibly optimistic for Liverpool’s 2021 aspirations. With Thiago entering the fray, and hopefully even a new face or two in the January window, Liverpool can really strengthen their grip on the top spot.

I completely expect us to win No. 20 and I have every confidence that we can go all the way and recreate Champions League history in Istanbul too. The treble may be slightly too ambitious with Klopp’s distaste for the FA Cup, but who cares if you win the big two, eh?

Most importantly though, the safety of everyone is the priority. Hopefully, the vaccine can be distributed to as many people as possible and we can see the numbers on the Kop take an upwards trend.

KEIFER: Normality. I think I speak for everyone up and down the country, not just football fans. It’s been such a sad year for so many. I just hope that we can start to see fans in the grounds sooner rather than later, over the last six weeks it’s been great seeing fans in small numbers back in certain areas, but we all know it’s not the same.

Hopefully, 2021 provides a step in the right direction in all forms of life and that it won’t be too long before we are gathered back inside Anfield watching the reds fight their way to title number 20.

 Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SAMUEL: Mine is for Liverpool to complete the back-to-back titles they already look ready to win, despite all the injury issues, and for fans to return in full once the health crisis is dealt with so that iconic moments and passionate, crazy games, like that Manchester United match, can happen again. A full Kop again in 2021.

JOANNA: It’s hard to look past seeing fans returning to stadiums across the country up to capacity. It’s certainly something I took for granted and that would certainly mean normal service has resumed. Football is not the same without fans.

On the pitch, there’d be nothing better than securing back-to-back league titles and this side is certainly capable of doing so – despite the injuries, which reminds me that it will be another important summer in regards to the transfer window.

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Frank de Boer expects Virgil van Dijk to be fit for Netherlands’ Euro opener

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 15:05

Netherlands manager Frank de Boer is hopeful that Virgil van Dijk will be fit and available for the Netherlands’ Euro 2021 opener against the Ukraine on June 13.

Van Dijk is currently sidelined with no timeframe for his recovery, but is making strong progress in his rehabilitation work at Dubai’s NAS Sports Complex.

The Dutchman has been seen kicking a ball and building up his resistance training, and was joined by his legendary compatriot Clarence Seedorf for a session earlier this week.

Jurgen Klopp has been eager to downplay expectations on a possible return for Van Dijk, most recently telling reporters that “it’s very good, but still a long way to go.”

It remains to be seen whether Van Dijk will play again for Liverpool this season, but De Boer believes, after a FaceTime conversation with his captain, that the centre-back will be fit in time for the Euros.

“He is busy with so much energy,” the Netherlands manager told De Telegraaf, as translated by Sport Witness.

“If you see what he’s doing…in my time you were only allowed to kick in the swimming pool [at this point in his recovery].

“If Virgil doesn’t get a kickback and things go a little faster than expected, he should be able to make it to the European Championship opening match on June 13 against Ukraine.

“He is very important for our team, on and off the field.”

 Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk walks off injured during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. 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 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is no surprise that De Boer is taking an optimistic view, given Van Dijk’s importance to the Netherlands, and he has less cause for caution in discussing the 29-year-old’s comeback.

Klopp will remain reserved whenever asked about the fitness of his No. 4, as it would be remiss to raise hopes of any involvement this season when it is still indeterminate.

The Liverpool manager would likely be hoping for Van Dijk to miss the Euros, however – particularly if he is not back before the end of the domestic season – as overuse at the tournament could have major ramifications.

But perhaps De Boer’s positive words are, in fact, an indicator that Van Dijk is making better progress than initially hoped with his recovery.

Much remains in the air, as De Boer noted that a “kickback” could occur at any time, but it is at least a hopeful update on the return of a player who is crucial for both club and country.

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Liverpool recall young centre-back after playing just four times on loan

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 13:31

Liverpool have confirmed the recall of 19-year-old centre-back Morgan Boyes from his loan spell with Fleetwood Town, with the youngster having played just four times.

Boyes made a surprise switch to Highbury in August, having signed a new contract with the Reds at the start of 2020.

As a 19-year-old centre-back, it was a bold decision from Joey Barton to bring Boyes into his squad for the League One campaign, and ultimately it did not pay off.

Part of the matchday squad for the first four league games of the season, the Wales under-21 international started against both Wimbledon and Rochdale, along with a League Cup loss to Everton, before fading into obscurity.

His only appearance after October 3 came in a penalty shootout victory over Blackpool in the EFL Trophy last month, after which Barton grouped him among his “younger players,” describing the game as a chance for them to “match up against League One senior players.”

That is far from the situation Liverpool would have hoped for when Boyes headed out, and this has been reflected in the decision to recall the academy stalwart as soon as the January transfer window opened.

The club confirmed Boyes’ return on Saturday, with the teenager now likely to rejoin Barry Lewtas’ under-23s at least on a short-term basis, potentially with a view to leaving on loan again.

 Liverpool’s Morgan Boyes during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final between Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC at Villa Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

It is unlikely that his recall is linked to the injury problems facing the Liverpool first team at centre-back, with Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and possibly Billy Koumetio ahead of him in the pecking order.

Boyes’ recall shows the proactivity within the club to address a lack of opportunities for their young players, and it serves as the first major decision since Davie Woodfine’s promotion to director of loan management.

This time last year, Liam Millar was brought back midway through a season-long loan at Kilmarnock, while Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria, Allan Rodrigues and Taiwo Awoniyi all had their deals terminated during 2018/19.

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Morgan Boyes returns from loan spell at Fleetwood Town

LiverpoolFC TV - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 12:59
Liverpool FC can confirm it has reached an agreement with Fleetwood Town for the recall of Morgan Boyes from his loan spell.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Morgan Boyes returns from loan spell at Fleetwood Town

LiverpoolFC.TV - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 12:59

Liverpool FC can confirm it has reached an agreement with Fleetwood Town for the recall of Morgan Boyes from his loan spell.

The 19-year-old defender originally joined the League One side on a temporary basis in August.

The Wales U21 international has made two first-team appearances for the Reds and will now return to training at Kirkby.

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'We're looking to kick on in 2021' - Andy Robertson

LiverpoolFC TV - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 12:30
Andy Robertson is hoping Liverpool can put together a run of positive results in order to build on the strong platform they entered 2021 with.
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'We're looking to kick on in 2021' - Andy Robertson

LiverpoolFC.TV - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 12:30

Andy Robertson is hoping Liverpool can put together a run of positive results in order to build on the strong platform they entered 2021 with.

The reigning champions ended 2020 on top of the Premier League with more than a third of the season played. 

But following back-to-back draws, Robertson is even more determined to claim a set of three points in the hope of sparking a sequence of victories. 

The left-back told Premier League Productions: "Obviously we're still top – of course we would have liked to be top by a couple more points than we have. 

"The last couple of games have been frustrating for different reasons but we're entering the New Year top of the league and looking to kick on now. 

"Hopefully we can put a run of wins together that can cement our place at the top. But we know it's not going to be easy. I think this season has shown that from every team. 

"We need to be at our best to win games of football this season."

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In their search to return to winning ways, Liverpool travel to St Mary's on Monday night to face Southampton.

Former Red Danny Ings leads the scoring for Ralph Hasenhuttl's side in 2020-21 so far, but Robertson detailed the all-round threat posed by the Saints. 

"I've watched Southampton probably since the 9-0 defeat against Leicester," the No.26 continued. "They really kicked on after that point. 

"I think a lot of people were concerned at that point but that was then maybe the shake-up that they needed. Since then they've been one of the best teams in the league. 

"A really good manager and you can highlight Ingsy's importance, his goals and goal contributions – of course he's their No.9, their main striker – but they have so many good players. 

"The midfield – Ward-Prowse, Armstrong – are so good and the defence has got a lot more solid and they're keeping a lot more clean sheets. They're a really tough team to play against, a really tough opponent. 

"Like probably every other game, we need to be at our best to get anything from this game and hopefully we can. Hopefully we can get a positive result."

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Southampton v Liverpool: TV channels and live coverage details

LiverpoolFC.TV - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 10:00

Liverpool's first game of 2021 sees them face Southampton away from home in the Premier League on Monday night.

The 8pm GMT kick-off at St Mary's will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK.

Extended highlights will be available to watch on LFCTV GO from midnight.

Make sure you don’t miss a kick of the action this season by using the code 2021GOFREE to start a free one-month trial of LFCTV GO now – this can be cancelled at any time.

Our Match Centre will begin on Monday morning on Liverpoolfc.com and the official LFC app, bringing you all the build-up to the game, minute-by-minute updates, audio commentary, interactive features and much more.

For global broadcast listings, click here.

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Southampton v Liverpool: TV channels and live coverage details

LiverpoolFC TV - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 10:00
Liverpool's first game of 2021 sees them face Southampton away from home in the Premier League on Monday night.
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What to expect from Liverpool FC in the January transfer window

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 09:00

The January transfer window is now open and Liverpool could well do business in the month ahead – so what can we expect in terms of ins, outs and loans at Anfield?

As of January 2, clubs across England are able to sign, sell and loan players again, with registration open in the Premier League until the deadline at 11pm on February 1.

While winter is not usually a period that Jurgen Klopp and Michael Edwards aim to do major business in, the strange and demanding circumstances of the current campaign could see a change in approach.

Meanwhile, there could be at least one first-team player to depart, and there are likely to be more loan deals agreed for the Reds’ young talents in need of senior exposure.

Here’s what to expect from Liverpool in the January transfer window.

Incomings

 Liverpool's Joel Matip goes off with an injury, replaced by substitute Rhys Williams, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Bromwich Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The obvious area that requires attention this month is at centre-back, with Liverpool desperately short of options throughout the first half of the campaign.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez likely to miss the rest of the season, and Joel Matip barely able to start consecutive games without picking up injury, the onus has been on Fabinho to lead the defence.

Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have proven capable deputies, but a stand-in midfielder and two inexperienced partners is not the setup expected of Premier League champions.

While all outlets are suggesting it will be a quiet window for the Reds with no incomings planned, under the surface it is likely that Edwards and his recruitment are working fervently.

Lille’s Sven Botman (20), Schalke’s Ozan Kabak (20) and Torino’s Gleison Bremer (23) are among the centre-backs linked, and all would fit the profile of a young option who could step in and perform while not demanding a first-choice role when Van Dijk is fit.

Sven Botman, Netherlands (MAURICE VAN STEEN/ANP Sport/PA Images)

RB Leipzig duo Dayot Upamecano (22) and Ibrahima Konate (21) have also been touted as targets, but the Champions League last 16 draw, pitting the two clubs against each other, likely rules the pair out as mid-season arrivals.

There could even be a surprise candidate to emerge, with Liverpool proving their ability to identify hidden gems in the past.

Outgoings

 Liverpool's Divock Origi during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In terms of outgoings, the most high-profile player with question marks over his future is Divock Origi, with the Belgian having played just seven minutes in the Premier League so far this season and only starting four times in all competitions.

The Athletic report that Liverpool would entertain offers for their No. 27, and while they “aren’t actively looking to sell,” a price tag of £20 million is suggested.

Wolves were credited with an interest but that is believed to have cooled, while Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Royal Antwerp, Club Brugge and Schalke are among the clubs also linked.

Schalke are the most interesting option, with Sky Germany claiming that Origi could be used as part of a swap deal that would see Kabak head the other way.

 Liverpool's Tony Gallacher during the Premier League Cup Group F match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and AFC Sunderland Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Elsehwere, academy full-back Tony Gallacher faces an uncertain future after his half-season loan with MLS side Toronto FC expired in December.

Toronto confirmed at the end of November that Gallacher’s deal would run out, removing the Scot from their roster for the 2021 campaign, which left him to return to Merseyside.

Both he and fellow full-back Yasser Larouci could leave Liverpool on a permanent basis this month, though it remains to be seen if any concrete interest develops in the coming weeks.

Loans

 Liverpool's Sepp Van Den Berg looks dejected as his side lose 3-2 to Tranmere Rovers during the EFL Trophy Northern Group D match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After Gallacher’s deal expired, Liverpool currently have 11 players out on loan, with only six of those starting regularly.

Loan pathways manager Julian Ward has recently been promoted to assistant sporting director, which has seen David Woodfine take his place in the new role of director of loan management.

Woodfine’s biggest priority in the winter window will be finding temporary clubs for Sepp van den Berg and Liam Millar, with the under-23s pair expected to head out in pursuit of first-team football.

There may also be the prospect of Leighton Clarkson leaving on loan if Liverpool exit the FA Cup at the third-round stage, with Aston Villa the opponents on January 8.

Clarkson started in the Champions League draw with Midtjylland in December, and along with Jake Cain has trained with the senior squad on a full-time basis this season, so finding the right club for his development would be imperative.

Vitezslav Jaros and Liam Coyle could feasibly move on loan too – the latter, now 21, has been training with the U23s this season but as of yet has not featured.

 Liverpool's unused player goalkeeper Loris Karius walks to the bench with security officer before the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Beyond the outgoings, there is also the possibility that Loris Karius returns to Merseyside prematurely, with it mooted in Germany that Union Berlin may terminate his deal.

If so, Karius would likely head out again, but having only played once for Union this season – a 3-2 loss to Paderborn in the DFB-Pokal – his list of suitors may be shorter this time around.

Finally, it was speculated that Liverpool could recall Harvey Elliott from his impressive loan spell with Blackburn, on the back of his excellent form and the injury to Diogo Jota, but that is highly unlikely at this stage.

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Henderson: I was in a very dark place over Fulham link

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 09:00

Jordan Henderson admits he was in "a very dark place" when Liverpool considered selling him to Fulham a little more than a year after he joined the club.

The Liverpool captain, who went on to lead the side to their first league title in 30 years last summer, signed from Sunderland in June 2011 for £20m.

However, 14 months after he made the switch, Liverpool contemplated selling him to Fulham in a swap deal with Clint Dempsey.

Speaking to The Guardian ahead of the Reds' trip to Southampton on Monday, live on Sky Sports, Henderson admits it was a particularly hard time but the experience made him a stronger person in the long run.

Monday 4th January 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

"That was a difficult moment I remember very clearly," he said. "We were preparing for a (Europa League qualifying) game against Hearts at Anfield. We met as normal in the hotel and I got a knock on my door saying the manager wanted to speak to us. To be fair to Brendan Rodgers, it was really just a conversation. It was an opportunity (to leave for Fulham) I didn't want and I didn't like. I still felt I had an awful lot to give.

"But I was in a very dark place at that time. It made us a lot stronger and a lot wiser later on and, without that, you never know what could have happened.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Liverpool v Arsenal - Anfield
Jordan Henderson, Liverpool. 3 March 2012 Image: Henderson moved to Liverpool from Sunderland shortly before his 21st birthday

"So I really cherish them moments because you need setbacks, you need adversity. You get back up, and it makes you stronger because you want to prove people wrong. Ever since that day I had something in me.

"I needed to prove to the manager I would get in his team eventually. I'd do absolutely everything to be in his team, this football club, and I'd prove them wrong. In the end, I did."

How to follow

Southampton vs Liverpool will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 7pm on Monday; kick-off at 8pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Free highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

Watch the Premier League live on Sky Sports

At least 146 Premier League games will be shown live on Sky Sports in the 2020/21 season. The Premier League has further increased the number of televised games this season from 200 to 231, with over half of the extra fixtures set to be shown live on Sky Sports.

Overall, Sky Sports will be showing at least 146 Premier League matches live throughout the 2020/21 season, continuing to bring you all the latest twists, turns and shocks at the home of the Premier League. There will also be two additional midweek programmes - one will be played across the weeks commencing January 11 and 18 and the second will be in the week commencing May 10. All of these games will be broadcast live.

You can also follow the action with our dedicated live blogs on the Sky Sports website and app, and watch free match highlights from every game shortly after full-time on our digital platforms and YouTube channel.

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'We need to be aware of Danny Ings and prepared for everything'

LiverpoolFC TV - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 09:00
Liverpool know the importance of stifling Danny Ings but will prepare themselves for everything Southampton can throw at them on Monday night.
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How are Liverpool’s 11 loanees performing halfway into 2020/21?

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sat, 01/02/2021 - 07:00

Liverpool currently have 11 players out on loan, with youth and experience having mixed fortunes so far at clubs as near as Blackburn and as far as Berlin.

The Reds typically utilise the loan market for any of three reasons: to allow a talented young player to gain first-team experience, to provide a fringe player a chance to revive his career and, less frequently, to secure work permits.

With 12 players out on loan in the first half of the season, Liverpool sought the benefits of all three – though the majority fall into the middle bracket of players needing a move to boost their fortunes.

Tony Gallacher has already seen his deal with Toronto FC expire due to the end of the MLS season, which leaves 11 others still away from the club.

Here’s how they are performing at the midway stage of 2020/21, starting with Harvey Elliott.

Harvey Elliott (Blackburn)

Harvey Elliott

Elliott is, without a doubt, the success story among Liverpool’s loanees this season, having hit the ground running at Blackburn and rarely making a misstep.

The 17-year-old immediately commanded a key role in Tony Mowbray’s starting lineup, typically operating from the right but also on the left, as the most advanced midfielder and even, during one game, up front.

Scoring and assisting regularly, Elliott has been described by his team-mate at Rovers, Stewart Downing, as a “frightening talent” and “almost the go-to man” which, given his age, is a big responsibility.

Perhaps the highlight of his loan so far was a superb solo goal against Norwich, but the range of passing and work rate on show in every game may impress Liverpool more as they monitor Elliott’s progress at Ewood Park.

What comes next? Keep it up and Elliott will return as a first-team option next season.

Harry Wilson & Sheyi Ojo (Cardiff)

 Cardiff City's Harry Wilson during the Football League Championship match between Stoke City FC and Cardiff City FC at the Bet365 Stadium. Cardiff City won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Cardiff secured something of a coup as they sealed loans for Ojo and then Wilson in the summer, with the pair able to build on the chemistry built over years together at Kirkby as regular starters under Neil Harris.

Like Elliott, they are both scoring and assisting on a frequent basis, with only striker Keiffer Moore influencing the scoresheet more regularly, and their ability to interchange within a fluid four-man attack is hugely valuable.

Consistency has been an issue in south Wales, however, and while this is applicable to Cardiff as a whole, it is seemingly the case, too, with the Reds’ loanees.

Nevertheless, Wilson remains one of the Championship’s most creative players, while Ojo is finally complementing his unpredictable attacking ability with the requisite application off the ball.

What comes next? Both are likely to be sold in the summer, and their work together at Cardiff could boost interest.

Marko Grujic (Porto)

 Liverpool's substitute Marko Grujic during a preseason friendly match between FC Red Bull Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by Propaganda)

There was a clamour for Grujic to stay at Liverpool in the final days of the extended transfer window, following two impressive displays in the League Cup and in the knowledge that this was a campaign like no other.

But a move to Porto was deemed a positive one for the Serbian – particularly as it presented the chance to deal Man City a blow in their Champions League group.

Perhaps unsurprisingly as a last-minute loan signing, Grujic has remained a bit-part player, coming off the bench more often than he starts and, particularly recently, being afforded few minutes when he is introduced.

The midfield pairing of Sergio Oliveira and Mateus Uribe will be difficult to break up, but that will be Grujic’s goal in 2021.

What comes next? Hopefully Grujic’s minutes pick up, as Liverpool will likely be looking to cash in.

Taiwo Awoniyi & Loris Karius (Union Berlin)

 18.12.2020 Football, Soccer 1. Bundesliga, Season 2020/2021 Union Berlin - BVB Borussia Dortmund 2: 1 Union Taiwo Awoniyi, jubilation, goaljubel, gesture, gesture, after the 1: 0, | usage worldwide

Two Liverpool players in Berlin, it has been a season of diverging fortunes for Awoniyi and Karius so far.

For Awoniyi, a move to Union has served as an opportunity to build on his promising end to the Bundesliga campaign with Mainz last time out – and in an injury crisis the Nigerian has stepped up, with four goals and an assist in six starts before the end of 2020.

This included a goal in a 2-1 win over Dortmund, while only the reflexes of Manuel Neuer kept him from finding the back of the net against Bayern Munich, and though there is fine-tuning required, he may be convincing onlookers that he would be worth a permanent deal.

Karius, meanwhile, has been limited to one disappointing outing in a 3-2 loss to Paderborn in the DFB-Pokal, amid speculation over a possible termination of his deal this month.

What comes next? For Awoniyi, hopefully a chance to finally settle at a permanent home; for Karius, more uncertainty awaits.

Ben Woodburn (Blackpool)

 Liverpool's captain Ben Woodburn during the EFL Trophy Northern Group D match between Wigan Athletic and Liverpool FC Under-21's at the DW Stadium. Wigan Athletic won 6-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite rumours of a switch to Sparta Rotterdam in the Eredivisie, Woodburn instead made the step down to League One, for a reunion with Neil Critchley at Blackpool.

Things started well for Woodburn, despite a run of poor results, before a positive test for COVID-19 derailed his momentum, and the 21-year-old has found it difficult to break into the side since.

Another test of his mettle, then, as 2021 brings a challenge for Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer to break into the side and prove he can perform week in, week out.

In doing so, he may secure his route out of the fringes on Merseyside and finally onto a meaningful career at senior level.

What comes next? A permanent move to the Football League to revive his fortunes.

Kamil Grabara (AGF Aarhus)

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Kamil Grabara during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group C match between S.S.C. Napoli and Liverpool FC at Stadio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

PAOK and Hamburg were both credited with an interest in Grabara in the summer, which would have served as a positive step for the Polish goalkeeper – a chance to play in the Europa League, or a promotion-chasing side in Germany.

Instead, the 21-year-old ultimately returned to AGF, where he had spent a productive half-season in 2019 before heading to Huddersfield for an ill-fated campaign last time out.

Grabara has been first choice in Denmark, so the move is not without its merits, but his form has been patchy – with a number of costly errors – and it is hardly a platform for him to convince coaches for either club or country.

What comes next? Likely sold, but interest may be low after a backwards step.

Adam Lewis (Amiens)

 Liverpool's Adam Lewis takes a throw-in during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I had other options in England, but I wanted a challenge,” Lewis explained on deciding to join Ligue 1 side Amiens in August. “I wanted to come abroad and have that different culture, living away from home, which is hard.”

This season may be a formative one for Lewis the man, as he mentions, denied the comforts of Merseyside and his family, but on the back of a long-term injury and turning 21 in November, the left-back also needed to play football.

Amiens has not offered much of that, with an initial run of starts eventually seeing him lose his place and, after another injury, he missed the last seven games of 2020.

It is a situation similar to Ojo at Stade de Reims two seasons ago, which may be worrying to a player previously considered next in line for a role as Andy Robertson‘s deputy.

What comes next? France was an admirable gamble, but a Football League loan may benefit Lewis in the summer.

Morgan Boyes (Fleetwood)

 Fleetwood Town's Morgan Boyes during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Fleetwood Town FC and Everton FC at Highbury Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another young talent barely given a chance by his loan club, Boyes only featured four times under Joey Barton in the first half of the season – the only game in which he avoided defeat was a penalty shootout victory over Blackpool in the EFL Trophy.

The Wales youth international has lost his place entirely at this point – considered a young player with potential, rather than a genuine first-team option – and it may even be that he returns to Liverpool this month.

Boyes is a talented centre-back who has already shown he can mix it with senior players, but Fleetwood seems not to be the right club for him.

What comes next? Like Lewis, another loan in the lower leagues.

Anderson Arroyo (Salamanca)

KAA Gent's new player Anderson Arroyo Cordoba pictured in action during a training session of Belgian soccer team KAA Gent, during the 2018-2019 Jupiler Pro League season, Friday 07 September 2018, in Gent. BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

An enigma at Liverpool, Arroyo is in his third season with the Reds and many supporters may not even be aware of the Colombian full-back.

In the early months of the campaign, Arroyo’s move to Salamanca – in the Spanish second tier – seemed doomed to the same fate as his previous spells with KAA Gent and Mlada Boleslav: a spare part, largely unused.

But the final three games of 2020 brought a ray of hope for the 21-year-old, as he started in three consecutive games – strangely, deployed in three very different roles as right-back, left winger and centre-forward.

There remain question marks over his form among Salamanca supporters, but a regular role with the Spanish club may result in a UK work permit when he returns to Liverpool.

What comes next? If he qualifies for a work permit, perhaps a season at Kirkby; more likely another loan.

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Southampton vs Liverpool on Sky: Hasenhuttl back in dugout

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 23:50

Team news and stats ahead of Southampton vs Liverpool in the Premier League on Monday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8pm.

Team news

Southampton are set to have boss Ralph Hasenhuttl back in the dugout for Monday's Premier League clash with Liverpool at St Mary's.

The Saints on Thursday announced that Hasenhuttl had been cleared to end his period of self-isolation, which followed his wife receiving a positive result to a Covid-19 test and meant he was not in attendance for the 0-0 draw with West Ham on Tuesday.

Defender Jannik Vestergaard and winger Nathan Redmond both sat that game out due to injury.

preview image 1:59 A look at some of the key stats surrounding matchweek 17's Premier League fixtures

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp looks set to freshen things up after a performance lacking sharpness at Newcastle.

Thiago Alcantara made his long-awaited comeback in the 0-0 draw after more than two months out with a knee injury and could be in line for only his second start of the season with Georginio Wijnaldum set to return to the line-up after being rested.

Fellow midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri also returned in that game and could get a longer run out, while centre-back Nat Phillips looks set to keep his place with Joel Matip out for three weeks with a groin problem.

How to follow Monday 4th January 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

Southampton vs Liverpool will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 7pm on Monday; kick-off at 8pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Free highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

Watch the Premier League live on Sky Sports preview image 3:06 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Newcastle's draw against Liverpool in the Premier League

At least 146 Premier League games will be shown live on Sky Sports in the 2020/21 season. The Premier League has further increased the number of televised games this season from 200 to 231, with over half of the extra fixtures set to be shown live on Sky Sports.

Overall, Sky Sports will be showing at least 146 Premier League matches live throughout the 2020/21 season, continuing to bring you all the latest twists, turns and shocks at the home of the Premier League. There will also be two additional midweek programmes - one will be played across the weeks commencing January 11 and 18 and the second will be in the week commencing May 10. All of these games will be broadcast live.

You can also follow the action with our dedicated live blogs on the Sky Sports website and app, and watch free match highlights from every game shortly after full-time on our digital platforms and YouTube channel.

Opta stats Southampton vs West Ham highlights
2:26 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Southampton’s draw with West Ham in the Premier League
  • Southampton have lost each of their last six Premier League meetings with Liverpool, scoring just twice and conceding 17 goals in these games.
  • Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League meetings with Southampton (W6 D2), keeping a clean sheet in six of those matches.
  • Southampton have won 10 league games against reigning Premier League champions, beating all six different teams to win the trophy when defending their crown (Man Utd, Blackburn, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Leicester). They could become the first team to beat all seven Premier League champions in the season following a title win.
  • Southampton won their first league game of 2020, beating Spurs 1-0 at St Mary's. Saints haven't won their opening league game in consecutive calendar years since 2002 and 2003 (which included a 1-0 victory over Spurs).
  • Liverpool have won their first league game in just one of the last eight calendar years when kicking off the new year away from home (D4 L3), with that victory coming at Burnley in 2018.
  • The reigning top-flight champion has lost their first league game in just two of the last 32 calendar years (W18 D11), with Man Utd losing 0-3 at Newcastle in 2012, and 1-2 at home to Spurs in 2014.
  • Southampton have won just one of their last 15 Premier League games played on a Monday (D7 L7), though that victory was in their last such match at Brighton earlier this month.
  • Southampton have played out back-to-back goalless draws in the Premier League for the first time since October 2018 under Mark Hughes - they have never registered three consecutive goalless draws in their league history.
  • Since Ralph Hasenhüttl took charge of Southampton in December 2018, Danny Ings has been directly involved in 38 goals in the Premier League (31 goals and seven assists); 16 more than the player with the next most at the club in this period (22 - James Ward-Prowse).
  • Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has scored seven goals in his six Premier League games against Southampton, only scoring more against Bournemouth (8) and Watford (8) in the competition.

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Centre-backs and leftfield signings – Debating Liverpool’s January transfer window plans

ThisIsAnfield.com - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 19:00

The January transfer window is upon us and Liverpool may have one or two areas to address, so what should be a priority over the next month in terms of ins and outs?

The transfer window opens on January 2 and, though it is becoming a rarity, the Reds head into the month widely seen as being in need of reinforcement.

Sporting director Michael Edwards and his recruitment staff will have been working quietly over the past months as they weigh up possible mid-season additions – though, as ever, Liverpool’s preference would be to complete deals in the summer.

Needs must, however, so this January could be an interesting one at Anfield, with the prospect of at least one player brought in and question marks over the future of others already at the club.

So what could and should we see from the Reds before the deadline on February 1?

Giving their views on the Reds’ priorities in the January window are This Is Anfield’s Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_), James Nalton (@JDNalton), Matt Ladson (@mattladson) and Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett).

Do we need to sign a centre-back in January? And if so who?

 Liverpool’s Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0 to win the group and progress to the Round of 16. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

JACK: Definitely. Pushing ahead with Fabinho, Williams, Phillips and an unreliable Matip would be admirable in terms of faith in youth but potentially very costly.

Matip’s constant issues have proven the need for succession planning – the decision to give him a new five-year deal last October remains out of character, in my opinion – and the situation dictates that this may need to be sooner rather than later.

Of those linked, Dayot Upamecano would be the best fit, but that’s now unlikely in January given we play Leipzig in the Champions League, so perhaps Ozan Kabak, at 20 and not demanding a first-choice role, would be suitable.

JAMES: For sure. As admirable as some of Phillips and Williams’ performances have been since stepping in, more quality depth is required in the position.

Especially when the senior player stepping in to cover long-term injuries, Matip, regularly picks up niggling injuries of his own.

Would it be too cheeky for Liverpool to go to Leicester for Wesley Fofana already?

If so, Sven Botman and David Carmo are the other two players who seem to be attracting plenty of Premier League interest.

Both are left-footed, which none of the current centre-backs are, so this would add another dimension.

Sven Botman, Netherlands (MAURICE VAN STEEN/ANP Sport/PA Images)

MATT: The first part of this question is rhetorical, surely, but the second part is very difficult.

Arguably we need two centre backs, not necessarily both in January but in the short-term future. It’s hard to see Gomez and Van Dijk both returning as the same players and being injury-free for the next few years.

And with Matip so unreliable it skews the strength of our squad. I’d like to see two centre backs signed within the next two transfer windows, joining Van Dijk and Gomez as our four options. Those two being a youngster and a more experienced player.

The ‘dream’ one would be David Alaba but I can’t see that happening even in the summer unfortunately.

Like Jack says, Upamecano would tick some boxes but again seems highly unlikely.

Botman, of Lille, would likely be a good fit as the young signing at 20. The question there would be how quickly he can adapt to be an option for this season.

If we were to sign a player in the first week of January, they’d be available for over half of this season. It’s surely imperative.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta BC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

KARL: Yes, now we do. I’m still of a mind that Liverpool will only keep to the same plan they always had and merely accelerate it: in other words, if we had already intended to buy someone in the summer, we bring forward that plan.

If it costs more, that’s now a reasonable price to pay because our needs and what it will be ‘worth’ to us have both increased.

As for who, I am in the Botman camp, but Carmo of Braga is another one to seriously consider if the idea is to look at landing a younger player who can feature now, but be a challenger or squad player to improve once everybody is fit.

I don’t see the Reds signing two, or a high-cost senior player.

Should we be actively looking to move any players on?

 Liverpool's Divock Origi during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: It’s a tough one, because on face value the injury problems we’ve already suffered would suggest moving any players on would be to our detriment.

But if Divock Origi could bring in decent money, or be used as part of the Kabak deal as rumoured, it would make sense – he’s barely played this season and beyond the usual starters we’ve got Taki, Ox, Shaq and even Jones who are all able to play in attack.

Otherwise, a lot depends on the result against Villa in the FA Cup – if we’re out, loans should be sought for the likes of Leighton Clarkson, Jake Cain and Sepp van den Berg.

JAMES: The club should look to sell Origi if there is interest, as most of the other attackers can play the No. 9 role in Liverpool’s system more effectively.

This might also open up more game time for Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino, who both seem underused for some reason.

MATT: Please just let Origi go. Put us all out of our misery.

KARL: Origi, Larouci, Van den Berg and if there are takers and he wants game time, Adrian. The likelihood of us needing to play a third goalkeeper is low and one of the other youngsters can fill the bench spot.

Nobody else!

Are there any other positions we should strengthen?

 Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Georginio Wijnaldum (R) after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: Possibly midfield if Gini does decide to leave at the end of the season, but I’d assume that is more of a long-term plan that could see a successor (maybe Alaba?) brought in over the summer.

I’d feel more comfortable sticking with the same midfield options – and trusting the likes of Clarkson and Cain if required – for the rest of the season than I would be with the reduced ranks at centre-back.

JAMES: Midfield. It’s great that Fabinho has slotted in so impressively at centre-back, and at a time when defenders who can fit competently into the middle of a back four using Liverpool’s tactics will be hard to come by it’s a huge bonus that he has settled so well in the position.

But this means another defensive midfielder in his mould is needed, as he is the only one at the club and there are apparently no youth players of his ilk ready to step up.

Good luck finding a player with the combination of size, technique and intelligence of Fabinho, though. Wilfred Ndidi is probably the closest, seeing as the club refused to ever sign Steven Nzonzi…

Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester City (Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport)

Maybe Leicester should be Liverpool’s new Southampton in terms of regularly buying players from one team, so may as well sign James Justin too.

MATT: I’d take Erling Haaland…!

KARL: Other than a versatile defensive performer, such as someone who can cover both sides at full-back, I don’t think additional signings are needed and wouldn’t expect us to be adding numbers for the sake of it.

Finally, any leftfield suggestions for targets?

 Olympique Lyonnais' Memphis Depay during a training session at Goodison Park ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E match against Everton. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: I’m not sure if this even counts as leftfield but since Barca appear to be pulling out of a move for Memphis Depay, why not swoop in?

He only turns 27 in February, he’s scored 62 and assisted 47 in 155 games for Lyon, he’s a leader who is as comfortable on the left as he is up front and, into the final months of his contract, is claimed to be available for just £4.5 million in January.

Sure, he was a Manc, but given how he was treated at Old Trafford that barely counts in my eyes. Origi out, Depay in?

JAMES: William Saliba at Arsenal. A talented defender they apparently don’t want to use.

 Arsenal's William Saliba during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Arsenal FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at Meadow Park. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A centre-back who always pops up when using data to look for players similar to Van Dijk is Duje Caleta-Car of Marseille.

New work permit rules have opened up the South American market, and though it looks like Man United have already stolen a march on one of the most talented young players in that region, Moises Caicedo, the club should have scouts looking for players who now qualify for a work permit where they wouldn’t have before.

Flamengo midfielder Gerson might be worth a look, as might versatile midfielder/right-back Gabriel Menino of Palmeiras. Both would get work permits.

Also, look at cutting losses on the injury-prone Naby Keita and replace him with someone like Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa from Fulham…

Another leftfield option, which I’m not 100 percent sure on myself, would be to sign a right-back, maybe Tariq Lamptey (or Justin), and shift Trent Alexander-Arnold into midfield.

MATT: I’m on board with the Depay shout from Jack, for sure. Seems a very ‘moneyball’ signing and we need the depth this season.

Also, next season isn’t all of a sudden going to be easy, the effects of this season will continue and injuries will be just as apparent. Get the depth sorted now.

Origi out and Depay in for the same money. Make it happen.

 Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa looks dejected as his side lose 2-0 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

KARL: I beat the Memphis drum all summer long, so I’ll happily jump on board once more!

Timing and finances make this window nothing but guesswork usually, so for a completely out-there (and probably longer-term) target, I’d like Liverpool to be watching Ezri Konsa with interest.

He has been one of the league’s best and most consistent defenders in 2020 and has many of the traits which suit our style of play. I’m happy to wait until summer to sign Nkunku, Konate and half a dozen other Leipzig players…

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Klopp: Van Dijk making progress but long way to go

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 14:33

Jurgen Klopp says Virgil van Dijk is making progress in his recovery from a knee injury but admits the Liverpool defender still has a "long way to go" in his rehabilitation.

The Netherlands international underwent surgery after sustaining ligament damage in the Merseyside derby in October but posted an update on social media earlier this week showing him stepping up his recovery with a session on an exercise bike.

Klopp, who is also without defenders Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, is happy to see Van Dijk making progress but admitted the nature of the 29-year-old's injury means he still has work to do in his recovery.

Virgil van Dijk is making progress in his recovery from a knee injury Image: Virgil van Dijk is making progress in his recovery from a knee injury

"Good, very good. I have no problem with talking about Virgil van Dijk. It's very good but still a long way to go, that's this kind of injury," Klopp said.

"I'm happy when I see these videos, to be honest, because it just shows that he makes good progress. But it will still take a lot of time, that's how it is. I would like to say something else but these are the facts, unfortunately."

However, Klopp was able to welcome Thiago Alcantara back from injury in the goalless draw with Newcastle in midweek.

The Spain international made his long-awaited comeback as a 73rd-minute substitute and showed a variety of passing which immediately added a different dimension to the game, although he ultimately failed to help make the breakthrough.

Thiago was signed in September with the view to him being the key to unlocking tight games against defensively-minded teams but Covid-19 and then a knee injury in October's Merseyside derby restricted him to just a match and a half before Christmas.

The 29-year-old will be in Monday's squad for the trip to Southampton and could be in line for only his second start for the club, and Klopp is keen to see him continue to build on his fitness.

Thiago Alcantara returned from injury in the goalless draw with Newcastle Image: Thiago Alcantara returned from injury in the goalless draw with Newcastle

"We signed Thiago because we thought he is a good player, so you can imagine we would like to have him in the team, that's clear," said Klopp of the midfielder, who has already made 184 passes in 152 minutes of football.

"Yes, it's good, Thiago is a super player. From the 20 minutes he played, 12 were brilliant and then he felt the intensity, which is normal.

"He [had] trained only twice around the team so there is still some physical work to do, still some rhythm to get."

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Watch Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match press conference – Southampton vs. Liverpool

ThisIsAnfield.com - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 14:05

Midfielder Thiago Alcantara offers Liverpool renewed hope for 2021 as the world-class creative game-changer which Jurgen Klopp’s side have looked like they needed recently.

[embedded content]

In their last two matches the Reds have scored just once in draws against strugglers West Brom and Newcastle, although the result at St James’ Park owed just as much to a lack of clinical finishing.

However, they have drawn a total of six matches and have scored no more than twice in each of the three victories they won by just a single goal.

Among those results are, of course, the hammerings of Crystal Palace (7-0), Wolves (4-0) and Leicester (3-0) but the pattern in the first half of the season has shown struggles in breaking down less expansive opponents.

Thiago was signed in September with the view to him being the key to unlocking tight games against defensively-minded teams but Covid-19 and then a knee injury in October’s Merseyside derby restricted him to just a match and a half before Christmas.

The Spain international made his long-awaited comeback as a 73rd-minute substitute against Newcastle and showed a variety of passing which immediately added a different dimension of the game, although he ultimately failed to help make the breakthrough.

But if Liverpool can keep the 29-year-old fit for the remainder of the campaign they will expect to improve on their return in games against bottom-six sides like West Brom, Newcastle and Fulham who have all successfully frustrated Klopp’s side.

 Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We signed Thiago because we thought he is a good player, so you can imagine we would like to have him in the team, that’s clear,” said Klopp of the midfielder, who has already made 184 passes in 152 minutes of football.

“Yes, it’s good, Thiago is a super player. From the 20 minutes he played, 12 were brilliant and then he felt the intensity, which is normal.

“He (had) trained only twice around the team so there is still some physical work to do, still some rhythm to get.”

Thiago will be in Monday’s squad for the trip to Southampton and could be in line for only his second start for the club.

Klopp was also able to bring back Xherdan Shaqiri back in the Newcastle game for his first appearance since early November and that gives him another attacking option – in the continued absence of another September signing Diogo Jota – with his established front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane showing signs of weariness against the Magpies.

“The best news is that the boys are back, and as far as I know in the moment, nobody got injured (against Newcastle) which is very important,” said Klopp.

“Probably, we can go with the same squad to Southampton.”

 Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp with Virgil van Dijk after the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp continues to be without key players, however, particularly at centre-back where Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez are out for the long-term with Joel Matip sidelined by a groin problem for three weeks.

Van Dijk posted a video on social media of him working out with compatriot and former Holland international Clarence Seedorf in Dubai as he continues his recovery from a serious knee injury.

Klopp is not getting his hopes up though.

“Progress? Good, very good but still a long way to go. It is this type of injury,” he said.

“I can be happy when I see these videos because it shows we make good progress but it will still take a lot of time.

“I would like to say something else but these are the facts.”

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Jurgen Klopp hopeful Premier League can continue despite spike in COVID-19 cases

ThisIsAnfield.com - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 13:30

Jurgen Klopp admits he is “not a specialist,” but he believes the Premier League bubble is safer than most and is hopeful the season will not require a ‘circuit-breaker’.

The Premier League has seen two fixtures postponed in the last week, with Everton vs. Man City and Tottenham vs. Fulham called off following a spike in COVID-19 cases at City and Fulham.

This follows a rise in positive tests across the UK, with lockdown measures becoming stricter on New Year’s Eve as many areas entered either Tier 3 or Tier 4.

Liverpool is now in Tier 3, which ensures there will be no supporters at Anfield for the upcoming clash with Man United on January 17, as previously expected.

There have been suggestions that the Premier League would benefit from a two-week break, to allow cases to settle, with West Brom manager Sam Allardyce in favour and United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opposed.

From the league’s perspective, the focus is on persevering with the fixture list, with a Premier League statement explaining on Wednesday that the board has “full confidence in its COVID-19 protocols.”

Klopp subscribes to this belief, with the Reds manager telling reporters: “I think really we can carry on.”

“I’m not a specialist, we all know that. We all try to do our best to keep the competition going, and I think it works well,” he said.

 Liverpool's Rhys Williams on the pitch before the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta BC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We knew before that in the winter there would probably be a second wave or something, and on top of that, for us as a society, Christmas is a challenge when it’s about self-isolation and stuff like this.

“So I’m not surprised that the numbers go up – and that happens in football as well, if the numbers go slightly up, I think it’s understandable – but we still try everything to keep the boys as safe as possible.

“I think the competition can go on, and I think it’s important as well, because people want to watch it.

“And we are, in this case, not part of the society. We usually live isolated, go to the training ground and stuff like this, so I think really we can carry on.

“But I’m not a specialist and I respect all the decisions made in the next few weeks.”

Liverpool have already seen a number of COVID-19 cases throughout the first-team squad this season, with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Thiago, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita and Kostas Tsimikas among those reported to have tested positive.

There have been no cases to emerge since Salah’s positive while in Egypt in mid-November, with Liverpool following strict protocols in training, at games and at home.

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Klopp: We have to keep playing despite Covid

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 13:30

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Premier League clubs must try to keep playing despite a rise in coronavirus cases.

Three top-flight matches have so far been postponed due to positive Covid tests, with Fulham's trip to Tottenham on Wednesday night the most recent game called off.

Aston Villa's match with Newcastle earlier in December and Man City's trip to Everton on Monday will also be played at a later date, and the rise in new positive tests has led to West Brom boss Sam Allardyce to call for a temporary suspension of the fixture schedule.

Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League - Selhurst Park
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ahead of the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. 19 December 2020. PA images. Image: Klopp says he will not look back on the year 2020 with any great fondness

A record number of 18 positives were recorded in the final round of Premier League testing of 2020 but the league is currently ruling out a 'circuit break' - and Klopp, whose Liverpool side are top of the league, feels that is the correct course of action.

"I am no doctor but I think we should try our best to keep the competition going, I think it works well," he said.

"We knew before that there would be a second wave in the winter and on top of that we had the challenge of Christmas, where it was more difficult for people to self-isolate, so it's understandable that the numbers are up.

"Then of course the numbers will go up in football too but we are still doing everything to keep the boys as safe as possible. I think the competition can go on and I think it's important for it to as well because people want to watch it and we are isolated unlike the rest of society.

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"I think we can go on but I respect the specialists and I respect any decisions that are made in the next few weeks.

Klopp says he will not look back on the year 2020 with any great fondness despite Liverpool ending their 30-year wait for a top-level league title during it.

"What happened in 2020 was a new experience for all of us - we had to deal with it and we are still dealing with it," he said. "2020 had one highlight, becoming champions, and all of the rest were big, big challenges.

"We will face a few more challenges in life and I'm happy 2020 is over. Apart from becoming champions it is not a year I will think a lot about in the future."

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