LFC NEWS

Jürgen Klopp on Virgil van Dijk's rehabilitation latest

LiverpoolFC TV - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 13:30
Virgil van Dijk is making encouraging progress in his recovery from a knee injury but still has 'a long way to go' in his rehabilitation, explained Jürgen Klopp.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Vote: Who was Liverpool's men's Player of the Month in December?

LiverpoolFC.TV - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 09:00

It's time to choose your Standard Chartered men's Player of the Month for December.

Jürgen Klopp’s side collected 12 points from their six Premier League games to end 2020 with a three-point lead at the top of the table.

Liverpool also secured their place in the Champions League last 16 as they concluded the group phase by beating AFC Ajax at Anfield and drawing at FC Midtjylland.

Who was the team’s star performer across the month?

Cast your vote below and the winner will be revealed on Liverpoolfc.com soon.

App users should tap here to load the voting tool.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Vote: Who was Liverpool's men's Player of the Month in December?

LiverpoolFC TV - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 09:00
It's time to choose your Standard Chartered men's Player of the Month for December.
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Liverpool FC’s top 8 moments of 2020

ThisIsAnfield.com - Fri, 01/01/2021 - 07:00

The year 2020 has been nothing short of unprecedented for more reasons than one, and for Liverpool it signalled the end of a long wait. But which other moments stood out?

Like any New Year, there is the hope of what’s to come and dreams waiting to be fulfilled but plainly put, 2020 was a year like no other.

From being within touching distance of the title to a global pandemic seeing football and the rest of the world come to a grinding halt, it has been a time to truly value what is important.

Within that time, however, Liverpool were still able to create a form of escapism and provided the greatest joy as the club was finally able to utter the words: champions of England.

While we all know where that one sits in the top moments of 2020 for Liverpool, there have still been a number of others which we look back on fondly as we welcome the turn of another year.

So here’s our top eight Liverpool moments of 2020.

8. The FA Cup run

 Liverpool's Neco Williams (C) celebrates after an own-goal by Shrewsbury Town during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds’ two early FA Cup games were ones to remember, primarily for the players of the future who shone brightly.

The first was that game against Everton, where the visitors named a strong XI to Liverpool’s mish-mash of youngsters and those on the fringes.

It finally looked like the ideal chance for the Blues to end their barren run at Anfield, only for a Curtis Jones special on the edge of the area – the first of his Liverpool career.

The next game was just as fondly remembered as the youngest side in the club’s history – with an average age of 19 years and 102 days – toppled Shrewsbury in front of a packed Anfield in a dominant display beyond their tender years.

Neil Critchley took the helm as Jurgen Klopp and Co. enjoyed a winter break and five players made their debut on the night, and it’s one they will never forget.

7. Rising stars take to the fore

Liverpool's Curtis Jones (no.17) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with Neco Williams during the UEFA Champions League Group D match at Anfield, Liverpool.

While Klopp’s senior contingent more than impressed, the club’s up-and-coming talent more than held their own in a year which saw them relied upon more than ever.

Jones, Caoimhin Kelleher, Neco Williams, Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and Harvey Elliott all rose to prominence and have seen their role within the first team grow in importance due to both injury and the need to provide an effective rotation option.

There’s been no shortage of feel-good stories where they concern and it is only the start of their careers.

Leighton Clarkson, Jake Cain and Billy Koumetio have also been handed debuts and are the ones next in line to keep an eye on.

6. Football’s return from lockdown

 Liverpool and Crystal Palace players kneel down in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace 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)

It was a far cry from what came before, with no crowds, masks, strict protocols and distancing measures and players without sharp, clean haircuts.

But football was back. After three months of uncertainty, the Premier League was deemed safe to return in June and while it felt like an extended pre-season, you couldn’t deny the lifeline it provided to many.

We truly don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone.

5. That win over Man United

 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)

“And now you’re gonna believe us…”

How was this in January? It is a game which will be cemented in the story of Liverpool’s title-winning campaign, one where the belief that the title was returning to Anfield poured out of all four stands.

From Virgil van Dijk‘s opener to Alisson launching that pinpoint pass to set Mo Salah on his way and the celebration which ensued, it instantly brings a smile to your face.

4. Fortress Anfield

 Thursday June 25, 2020. Liverpool's remarkable, record-breaking season has seen their first top-flight title in 30 years. PA looks at some the reasons behind their success. (Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.)

Another year and another one without a defeat in the league at Anfield. Simply incredible.

For the third successive calendar year, the Reds have avoided defeat on their own soil in the top flight, the first time in club history that such a feat has been achieved.

The Reds played a total of 17 league games at home in 2020, nine in the 2019/20 season and eight in the current campaign.

A total of 15 were won and just two were drawn, with an aggregate score of 46-14. And while not a moment per se, it is an astonishing record to celebrate – one which coincides with 67 games unbeaten and counting.

3. Liverpool finally land Thiago

Liverpool's Alcantara Thiago during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. (Michael Regan/PA Wire/PA Images)

“How are we?”

Pretty darn good, to be honest. It’s still a very pinch-me moment when you are reminded that this man is a Liverpool player.

It was played out in the media long before it became official and the fanfare did not disappoint – it has still yet to waver having been starved of seeing him on the pitch due to a knee injury.

In the 135 minutes he has played, Thiago has proven he is everything the Reds needed and more, and that Liverpool were able to clinch a world-class player shows how far the club has come in recent years.

Anfield is, at last, the destination rather than the stepping stone.

2. Fans return to Anfield

 Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was a long 271-day wait to see 2,000 fans filter through the gates at Anfield against Wolves at the start of December.

The visit of Atletico Madrid back in March was the last time Anfield was a packed house and while against Wolves it was still well below capacity, it proved an emotional return.

Football without fans is nothing and the real-time reaction and a return to a degree of normality was a sight to behold. You never know how much you miss it until it is taken away.

If you want a first-hand perspective on what it was like, look no further than Jeff Goulding’s reflection on being a part of history.

1. Liverpool are Premier League champions

 Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson lifts the Premier League trophy 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. Liverpool won 5-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The dream was finally realised, at long last.

A new generation saw Liverpool Football Club crowned as the champions of England after what was a relentless and ruthless 2019/20 season.

The suspension of football caused some trepidation but the result was never beyond doubt and while it could not be celebrated as anyone would have predicted or wanted, the moment was still one to cherish.

A total of 99 points – a club record – and 18 clear of the next best ensured there was no questioning the credentials of Klopp’s side.

A time to celebrate will come and, who knows, by that time we may have another Premier League title in the trophy cabinet.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

The best of This Is Anfield in 2020: Champions, greatest moments and more

ThisIsAnfield.com - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 19:00

It has been an unprecedented year for Liverpool and the world, and This Is Anfield has been there every step of the way – from the Reds being crowned champions to football’s return. This is our very best of 2020.

The year 2020 is one which will not be forgotten in a hurry for more reasons than one.

For Liverpool, it signalled the end of a 30-year wait as the Premier League trophy became the latest to be given the Jordan Henderson shuffle treatment.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side steamrolled the opposition on the way to the title to see the dreams of the Liverpool faithful finally come to fruition, although we are still patiently waiting for the time we can celebrate together.

Our writers have not just been singing the praises of this incredible team but also those who came before them and laid the foundations for the club we see today through unique and thoughtful features and interviews.

From brilliant series charting where Liverpool Football Club started to challenging quizzes and fan stories, there has been something for everyone on This Is Anfield. This is our very best from 2020.

Champions

 Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson lifts the FA Premier League trophy 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. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds may have had to wait longer than they bargained for to finally lift a league title, but the moment was more than anyone could have hoped for despite the absence of fans.

Klopp’s side amassed a remarkable 99 points and finished 18 ahead of the next best in Man City in 2019/20 to leave no uncertainty as to who the dominant force in England is.

And This Is Anfield documented every moment of the journey from on the whistle match reports, talking points, player ratings and in-depth analysis post-match on all issues big and small.

Our talented writers were also on hand to deliver emotional tributes to the team and the journey undertaken to finally reach the holy grail, from Jeff Goulding’s ‘generational torch‘, Alex Malone’s heartfelt letter to Jurgen and Chris McLoughlin’s look at the key to how Liverpool became champions of England for the 19th time.

Here’s hoping this time next year we already have No. 20 in the bag!

Quizzes

Who doesn’t love challenging their memory and knowledge with a quiz? We’ve been busy creating ones to test you on all things present and past and there truly is something for everyone:

You can find plenty more here!

The Men Who Made Liverpool

Liverpool goalkeeper Elisha Scott, playing for Northern Ireland, 1933

A truly unique and brilliant in-depth look at the figures who paved the way to make Liverpool FC into the behemoth it is today comes from the talented Jeff Goulding.

The exclusive series shines a light on the lesser-heralded names from the club’s longest-serving manager Tom Watson, to the forgotten legacy of David Ashworth and Liverpool’s first captain Andrew Hannah.

There are currently 10 in ‘The Men Who Made Liverpool‘ series, so what are you waiting for?

The Voice of Anfield & Breakfast with Rush

 Peter Robinson / EMPICS Sport)

The year also provided exclusive chats with Reds of the past, long-standing figures and those who commentate live on the action.

George Sephton, the Voice of Anfield, spoke of his incredible 50 years, and counting, of being a key part of a Liverpool matchday, while Arlo White provided a brilliant glimpse at what it was like to call the moment Henderson lifted the trophy.

Ian Rush compared the Reds of the ’80s with those of present-day in a virtual breakfast, while director James Erskine provided an insight into the making of the documentary ‘The End of the Storm‘.

And don’t worry, there will be plenty more to come!

Greatest Moments

 LIverpool vs Norwich, 1994 (PA Images)

With a long and rich history, Liverpool Football Club are not short of great moments that will stand the test of time.

From the club’s formation in 1892 to 2020, the club have collected 48 major honours along the way and have been home to an endless list of talented players and managers.

And This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan delved into the club’s history books and reflected on 43 events which stand out above all others, which you can find here, or via our interactive timeline here.

Breaking it Down

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With Liverpool an ever-evolving club, there has also been plenty of time dedicated to breaking down games and looking ahead.

This Is Anfield’s Matt Ladson and Chris Williams and commentator and TV presenter Keith Costigan have engaged in some interesting debates on our YouTube channel, which you can watch here along with our other videos.

Doing it for the kids

It wouldn’t be right to not provide endless entertainment suitable for kids, where we were eager to create educational quizzes and interactive tools to learn about the history of LFC.

There is something for all age groups with everything Liverpool-centered, from spelling, maths, geography and more!

You can colour at home with these brilliant Reds superheroes or learn the story of Liverpool FC in photos or with some A-Zs of the club.

And if the kids are up for a quiz, there’s plenty to choose from:

Long Distance Liverpool Love

A new series in 2020, ‘Long Distance Liverpool Love‘ shines a light on devoted fans who grew up as a Red away from Merseyside.

We celebrate the different rituals and how despite the distance, one’s love and appreciation for the club can be no different to those who are lucky enough to be within touching distance of Anfield.

Reds from Australia, Argentina, India and South Africa have all featured so far, with more in the works.

Appreciating…

Liverpool captain Graeme Souness celebrates winning the European Cup, 1984 (PA Images)

At times it is important to take a step back and reflect, appreciate those who came before and that is what our own Jack Lusby achieved in our ‘Appreciating‘ series.

It aims to herald Reds who are the most under-appreciated in our history, with the likes of Rob Jones, Jamie Redknapp and Steve McManaman featuring.

Sometimes it is only when their playing days have long gone that you realise the true impact of a player and they are each certainly worth your time.

Liverpool FC in Photos

Sometimes, pictures speak louder than words and we trawled through the archives, where we found some of the best-hidden gems from Liverpool’s time at Melwood and a catalogue of incredible images from the early 20th century:

Fascinating Features

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier proudly holds the UEFA Cup (PA Images)

We’ve also had the pleasure of our long list of talented writers penning thoughtful features which turn back time or reflect on our current fortunes.

From Steven Scragg honouring the late great Gerard Houllier, to Karl Matchett reflecting on a decade of FSG at Liverpool.

Samuel Cox and Scragg both took a different look at how the 30-year wait for a league title finally came to a close, while Matt Ladson had the privilege of talking to Emile Heskey about the club’s incredible treble cup-winning campaign.

We’ve been spoilt with choices, from Jeff Goulding providing an insight into what it was like to return to the Kop to Alex Malone’s breakdown of the Reds’ relentless champion machine.

There has been no shortage of incredible writing and we look forward to providing you with more entertainment, information and thoughtful pieces in 2021 and beyond.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

The big 2020 Liverpool FC quiz

ThisIsAnfield.com - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 18:00

It’s been a year to savour for the Reds as the long wait for a league title was brought to an end, but how well do you remember everything Liverpool in 2020?

It is time to bid farewell to one year and ring in another, with Liverpool waving off 2020 – a year that has thrown up more than its fair share of joy, tears and triumph.

It was, of course, a calendar year which saw the Premier League title arrive at Anfield, new signings secured and long-serving players depart, all while football took a backseat during a global pandemic.

A lot transpired, and here we test your knowledge of Liverpool FC in 2020.

25 questions on LFC in 2020, how well will you do? Want more quizzes? Try these!

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Liverpool complete deals for two academy defenders before Brexit cutoff

ThisIsAnfield.com - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 17:35

Liverpool have completed the signings of centre-back Stefan Bajcetic and left-back Calum Scanlon to join their academy ranks, hours before the new Brexit rules come in.

From January 1, when the UK officially leaves the EU, clubs in England will no longer be able to sign players under the age of 18 from overseas.

There will also be a limit on the number of foreign signings under 21, while work permit regulations will apply to all signings regardless of age – though the majority of top-flight additions would still qualify.

That left Liverpool chasing a deal with Celta Vigo for 16-year-old centre-back Bajcetic until the final hours of the pre-Brexit window, following the arrivals of youngsters Melkamu Frauendorf, Mateusz Musialowski, Marcelo Pitaluga and Fabian Mrozek in the summer.

The Athletic‘s Caoimhe O’Neill reports that Bajcetic has arrived for a fee of £224,000, with elite academy talent ID manager Matt Newberry and Spanish scout Kiko Espinar key to finalising the move.

Academy director Alex Inglethorpe and his assistant Nick Marshall, along with under-23s manager Barry Lewtas, are also credited with a role in Bajcetic’s decision to opt for Liverpool over Man United.

 Liverpool's Under-23 coach Barry Lewtas during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Chelsea FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Meanwhile, 15-year-old English left-back Scanlon has also joined the youth ranks, after the Reds agreed a fee of under £500,000 with Birmingham.

It remains to be seen which age group the pair link up with when they report to Kirkby next month, though Bajcetic’s arrival could see him join the likes of Jarell Quansah, Terence Miles and Lee Jonas in the centre-back ranks at under-18 level.

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s U18s can call upon James Norris and Luke Chambers as regular left-backs, and it may be more likely that Scanlon initially joins Jonathan Robinson’s under-16s instead.

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2020 review: How a remarkable year unfolded for the Reds

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 15:00

As 2020 draws to a close, take a look back at how the remarkable year unfolded for Liverpool FC in our recap video.

The year began with the Reds chasing down a first league title for three decades as Jürgen Klopp’s side produced an incredible run of form to surge clear at the top.

But the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented challenges it has posed across the world throughout 2020 included the requirement for football to pause in March.

When the Premier League returned in June, Liverpool quickly achieved their mission and sealed the championship, sparking an outpouring of joy and relief among players, staff and fans.

They lifted the trophy on a night of long-awaited celebration at Anfield in July, though one that was sadly unable to include supporters inside the stadium.

The Reds’ defence of the title – supplemented by the summer additions of Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas – began swiftly as 2020-21 got under way just weeks later.

And Klopp’s men, who were able to share the experience with fans for three Anfield fixtures in December, end 2020 as they started it: sitting at the summit of the Premier League.

See the story of the year for Liverpool in the montage below.

App users should tap here to watch the video.

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2020 review: How a remarkable year unfolded for the Reds

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 15:00
As 2020 draws to a close, take a look back at how the remarkable year unfolded for Liverpool FC in our recap video.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Which defenders could Liverpool buy in January?

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 12:09

Joel Matip's latest injury may force Liverpool into the transfer market in January - we run the rule over the Reds' reported centre-back targets in the winter window.

Matip, 29, faces three weeks on the sidelines after damaging his groin in Sunday's 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion, the most recent in a series of setbacks the Cameroon central defender has suffered this campaign.

The Premier League champions were reportedly monitoring a number of possible central defenders following Dejan Lovren's departure for Zenit St Petersburg last summer, before deciding they were happy with the options they had.

Liverpool's Joel Matip went off injured with a groin problem  against West Brom 0:41 Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock says his old club will have to buy defensive cover in January after another injury to Joel Matip

Despite losing both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to potentially season-ending knee injuries earlier this season, though, Liverpool were still not believed to have any plans to enter the market in January.

Fabinho has deputised seamlessly for the duo, while neither Rhys Williams, 19, nor Nat Phillips, 23, have looked out of their depth when asked to cover for the injured Matip.

Captain Jordan Henderson also filled in at centre back when Matip's back gave out halfway through Liverpool's 1-1 draw at Fulham in December.

But, even with their budget restricted due to the impacts of Covid-19, the club's stance may now change and manager Jurgen Klopp could bring in defensive reinforcements in January, something Jamie Carragher recently advocated.

"I don't necessarily mean bring in a centre back for £70m-£80m, like a Van Dijk signing," said the Sky Sports pundit.

"And not necessarily someone to go straight in the team - just someone there so Liverpool don't end up with two young lads at some stage if Fabinho was to go down injured.

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

"Because at this moment, Liverpool Football Club have one senior centre back who's available this season and he's injury prone. So they have to, have to do something in January."

So, who could the Liverpool manager move for? We look at how the club's reported targets have performed this season, what their attributes are, and whether a deal may be possible for any of them in January...

Monday 4th January 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD Ben White (Brighton)  Ben White of Brighton and Hove Albion runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion at Selhurst Park on October 18, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Age: 23
Contract situation: 2024

Liverpool were one of a number of Premier League clubs to monitor White's progress during his loan spell with Leeds United last season when the Poole-born defender played an integral role in Marcelo Bielsa's side gaining promotion to the Premier League.

However, that interest has since cooled and with White having also signed a new four-deal at Brighton in September, prising the player away from the Amex in January could prove costly.

Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig) Dayot Upamecano

Age: 22
Contract situation: 2023

Upamecano is currently one of Europe's most in-demand central defenders after an impressive season last time out with Leipzig, who he helped progress to the Champions League semi-finals.

The France international was rewarded for those displays with a contract extension last July, although the new deal contains a reported £40m buyout clause which only comes into effect next summer.

And that may cloud the issue as far as Liverpool's interest in January is concerned, as could the the defender's relative loss of form this campaign and the fact the two sides meet each other in the Champions League in the spring.

Meanwhile, despite Upamecano reportedly being Liverpool's first choice, the defender's relative loss of form this campaign, coupled with the cost of signing the player in January, may also scupper any plans the club had to bring him to Anfield this season.

However, given Upamecano is reportedly Liverpool's first choice, Carragher believes Klopp should move for him in January.

"There is a young man everyone was talking about at Leipzig, Dayot Upamecano, there is talk of him," said the former Liverpool defender.

"If he is the one they wanted, then bring it forward. Pay extra money and do it on January 1st."

Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan) Milan Skriniar

Age: 25
Contract situation: 2023

The Slovakia international was reportedly interesting Tottenham last summer, only for the north London club to be scared off by Inter's £54m valuation of the defender.

And while the experienced centre back has recently fallen down the pecking order under Antonio Conte, a similar valuation would also prove too prohibitive for Liverpool, who have nonetheless reportedly been monitoring the player.

Ozan Kabak (Schalke 04) Ozan Kabak

Age: 20
Contract situation: 2024

Liverpool were reportedly all set to make a move for Kabak last summer, before the effects of Covid impacted their transfer budget.

Klopp prefers to shop in his homeland, where he has contacts, including former Schalke boss David Wagner, who he no doubt would have spoken to about the Turkey international before he left the club in September.

Schalke were originally understood to want £40m for the central defender - pictured above when playing for previous club Galatasaray - but that figure has since dropped to £30m, of which Liverpool could pay £20m in January, with the rest in instalments.

And there are even reports the Reds could use back-up striker Divock Origi in part exchange for the player, who Klopp is believed to rate highly, although his relative lack of top-level experience may count against him.

Perr Schuurs (Ajax) Perr Schuurs

Age: 21
Contract situation: 2022

The Netherlands international - who actually had a trial with Liverpool two years ago - caught Klopp's eye when Ajax faced the Reds in the Champions League group phase earlier this season.

That led to reports claiming Liverpool were interested in Schuurs, who replaced Matthijs de Ligt in Ajax's defence when he joined Juventus in the summer of 2019, stories the youngster was quick to reject though.

"I hear and read it [Liverpool rumours] too," he told SBS6, as quoted by Voetbal Primeur. "It's my first season as a basic player at Ajax. I want to play here for a few more seasons and win prizes. I'm not really working on that yet."

However, with the Eredivisie champions understood to want £27m for the player, Liverpool Sporting Director Michael Edwards may feel that is a valuation he can work with in January.

2020/21 stats for Europe's top-five leagues (*none available for Eredivisie) Kabak (per 90) Skriniar (per 90) Upamecano (per 90) White (per 90) Games played 8 10 12 15 Games Started 8 9 12 15 Minutes 705 824 971 1312 Goals 0 1 1 0 Assists 0 0 0 0 Passes 409 (52) 632 (69) 969 (90) 759 (52) Tackles 7 (0.9) 15 (1.6) 15 (1.4) 28 (1.9) Interceptions 8 (1) 11 (1.2) 12 (1.1) 25 (1.7) Clearances 26 (3.3) 24 (2.6) 28 (2.6) 22 (1.5) Aeirals won 33 (4.2) 7 (0.8) 17 (1.6) 25 (1.7) Aeirals 43 (5.5) 18 (2) 28 (2.6) 45 (3.1) Headed Clearances 14 (1.8) 15 (1.6) 10 (0.9) 10 (0.7) Touches 525 (67) 740 (81) 1086 (101) 928 (64) Dribbled past by opp. 3 (0.4) 3 (0.3) 3 (0.3) 15 (1) Errors leading to goals 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)

Of course, if Liverpool are not in a financial position to spend big in January, then the club could always look at a possible loan move for a defender, or start negotiating with foreign-based players whose contracts expire this summer.

David Alaba (Bayern Munich) Bayern defender David Alaba is out of contract at the end of the season and has attracted interest from a number of Europe's top clubs including Liverpool and Manchester City

Age: 28
Contract situation: 2021

The versatile defender looks set to leave Bayern on a free at the end of the season after rejecting the club's latest offer of a new deal, with Liverpool reportedly holding a "strong interest" in the player.

The Reds can either wait until his current deal at the Allianz Arena expires this summer and sign him for nothing, or if they are desperate for defensive reinforcements this season, they could try to land him in a cut-price deal in January.

'If a January deal makes sense, Liverpool have the means to pursue it'

Analysis by Sky Sports News' Merseyside Correspondent Vinny O'Connor:

Liverpool's stance again is that they will not be signing anyone in the January transfer market.

The caveat to that is it's similar to their stance in the past, most recently last summer, before they then signed Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota.

It sounds like stating the obvious, but while they are saying they have no intention to sign players this January, if a deal presented itself that made sense then they have the means to pursue it.

As for the summer, and the links with Upamecano, the process of identifying IF Liverpool will even consider doing anything then is underway now.

As I've mentioned before, the response to links with the likes of White and Kabak was no interest.

Messi, Ozil, Wijnaldum: Whose contracts are running out? Contracts expired feature

Premier League clubs will be on high alert over the next six months and more with some top names seeing their contract run out in the summer of 2021.

These players are free to talk to clubs from foreign leagues from January 1, as their current clubs weigh up whether to offer a new deal, sell for a reduced fee in January, or allow to leave on a free in the summer.

The pool of out-of-contract players is more high profile than ever, with club legends in Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero up for grabs if they do not sign a new deal.

When does the January transfer window open?

The January transfer window will opener on Saturday 2 January 2021 and close on Monday 1 February; Follow all the latest in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms as well as Sky Sports News.

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January transfer window: Each PL club assessed

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 10:00

The winter transfer window opens on January 2 but who needs what and who is most likely to do business in a notoriously tricky market? We assess every Premier League club.

Arsenal's creativity search

Arsenal's priority is a creative attacking midfielder - though they face a challenge to lure one in this window.

The Gunners have been linked with a move for Real Madrid's Isco on loan for the remainder of the season.

But there is also a focus on departures, with Sokratis and Sead Kolasinac two players likely to be allowed to leave. Sky Sports News has also previously reported that William Saliba, who has yet to appear for the first team, may also depart on loan.

And what next for Mesut Ozil? He remains out of favour but has continued to be adamant he will see out the remainder of his contract.

preview image 3:02 Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp discuss whether Mikel Arteta needs to bring Mesut Ozil back into the Arsenal starting line-up Aston Villa keen to strengthen defence

A left-back and a left-footed centre-back are on Villa's wishlist.

The club spent big in the summer, Ollie Watkins the biggest deal of their £85m outlay, and with Dean Smith's side riding high in the table, doing January business is not a priority.

But this is the transfer window and should a bargain from the foreign market arise, Smith may have some wriggle room to bolster his ranks further.

Brighton to resist sales Tariq Lamptey Image: Big money would be needed to lure Tariq Lamptey away

Midfielder Jakub Moder will arrive in January after Brighton, having signed the Poland international from Lech Poznan in the last window and then loaned him back, decided to activate a recall clause.

Striker Percy Tau, whose season-long loan deal at Vincent Kompany's Anderlecht includes a recall clause, could also return.

Tau, a South Africa international, has been unable so far to play for Graham Potter's side as he does not have a work permit but Brighton are hopeful, under the new points system drawn up in the wake of Brexit, of securing a Governing Body Endorsement for the player to feature in the Premier League.

The UK is set to leave the EU on December 31 following a 11-month transition period 1:18 Sky Sports News' Paul Gilmour explains how a post-Brexit points-based transfer system that has been agreed by the FA, Premier League, and EFL will work

Potter has repeatedly said he wants more goal threat from his current midfielders and attackers and Florin Andone and Jose Izquierdo may come back into his plans for the latter part of the season when they should be fit.

Moder's arrival may mean loan exits for the likes of Jayson Molumby and Max Sanders. Left-back Bernardo has also fallen down the pecking order at the Amex and could leave this window.

Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, dropped by Potter, may want to look for a new challenge, while Christian Walton may go out on loan again.

But while Yves Bissouma and Tariq Lamptey have admirers in the Premier League, Brighton have a good record of keeping their best players in January, and with the club looking to maintain their Premier League status, serious money would have to be offered for either to move.

Takeover key for Burnley

Sean Dyche's hopes of doing January business rest on American investment firm ALK Capital, who completed their takeover late on Wednesday evening.

Dyche, who spent less than £1m in the last window, has so far played down the likelihood of funds and while supporters should not expect a drastic change in transfer policy, budgets could soon change significantly.

A quick right winger is on the wishlist and a centre-back would be required if James Tarkowski were to depart.

Numerous clubs, including West Ham and Leicester, have tried and failed to entice Tarkowski from Turf Moor. What appears to be imminent new investment should help keep any further admirers at bay.

Exits likelier at Chelsea Frank Lampard and Kepa Arrizabalaga Image: Could Frank Lampard sanction Kepa Arrizabalaga's departure?

Frank Lampard splashed more than £225m in the last window so Blues fans are unlikely to see transfer fireworks this month.

Chelsea's recent stutter, however, could see Roman Abramovich sanction some dealings that could fund further investment in Lampard's squad while also lowering the wage bill.

Marcos Alonso is one player who could be on the move - possibly to La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Inter Milan and Juventus have expressed an interest in Emerson, although Lampard may be unwilling to let him go after a string of strong performances in cup competitions.

Olivier Giroud has continued to prove his value but may feel he needs more game-time with the European Championships looming, while Bayern Munich remain admirers of Callum Hudson-Odoi.

But more likely to move are Antonio Rudiger and the world's most expensive goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Palace focus on Zaha again Wilfried Zaha Image: Wilfried Zaha's future is back in the spotlight

Like so many windows before, the biggest question for Crystal Palace is: will Wilfried Zaha stay or go?

Zaha has been linked with moves to several of Europe's top clubs but the most likely switch would be to PSG, where Mauricio Pochettino is set to take the reins.

If PSG fail, AC Milan could try to get a deal done.

A busy summer in Palace terms means supporters should expect more outs than ins at Selhurst Park. Last week Roy Hodgson said: "We've not sat down and seriously thought, 'What do we need?' That's because we have a good squad and a big squad. You don't want to keep piling players on top of players."

The club's focus is likely to be on extending the terms of several players out of contract in the summer.

Everton keen on midfield reinforcements Arsenal and Everton have been linked with Real Madrid's Isco                      Image: Arsenal and Everton have been linked with Real Madrid's Isco

Any potential incomings at Goodison Park are likely to depend on two or three players heading out of the club.

Everton will continue to listen to offers for the likes of Yannick Bolasie, Cenk Tosun, Jonjoe Kenny and Mo Besic but the Toffees remain able to surprise with their levels of investment.

While full-back is no longer a priority given how Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey have filled in, Carlo Ancelotti would like to strengthen his midfield with Allan currently out and Fabian Delph suffering another injury-interrupted season. Another attacking option with the ability to play through the middle and out wide on the right is also on the wishlist.

Isco and Sami Khedira could potentially fill those positions.

Fulham after a striker

Fulham made 11 new signings in the summer and with form and results improving at Craven Cottage, Scott Parker is unlikely to disrupt his squad too much.

But with Aleksandar Mitrovic having netted just twice all season, a striker remains the Fulham boss' priority.

The Cottagers are also keen to offload some squad players.

Leeds may make midfield move

Leeds landed the majority of their targets last time out and are unlikely to make similar investments in the January market.

But injuries, particularly in central midfield where Marcelo Bielsa's options are limited, remain a concern. With Pablo Hernandez and Jamie Shackleton still sidelined, Bielsa could be forced to join the January sales.

Should Leicester add at the back?

Having just spent £100m on a new training ground, and with a host of injured players returning, the official line is that Leicester are not looking to add to their ranks.

When asked if he was expecting any January business, manager Brendan Rodgers said: "I don't believe so. If there's something we think can really help us and improve us then the club will always look at it. But I don't think there will be anyone coming in for the sake of it."

But given the Foxes' reliance this term on Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans, boosting their defensive options would seem prudent.

Will Liverpool bolster defence? 3:43 Jamie Carragher claims Liverpool's need for a new centre-back in the January transfer window was obvious in the 1-1 draw with West Brom in the Premier League as Joel Matip was injured again

Jamie Carragher has urged Jurgen Klopp once again to buy a defender in the January window after Joel Matip suffered another injury against West Brom to compound the Reds' defensive woes.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees, Rhys Williams, Nathanial Phillips and Sepp van den Berg are the only recognised central defenders Klopp currently has available for selection.

Liverpool are saying they won't be signing anyone in this window - but they said as much in the summer and went on to sign Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota.

Experienced cover at centre-half would certainly make sense - Klopp told Sky Sports recently the club's meticulous approach to the market would still change to suit circumstance.

Speaking after this week's draw with West Brom saw Joel Matip injured again, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said: "That is why it is paramount Liverpool sign someone in January. I said that as soon as Virgil van Dijk had his injury. Fabinho has looked like a top-class centre-back, but Matip is just too injury prone. Liverpool need someone there to make sure that they don't end up with two young lads playing there for five or six weeks if, say, Fabinho went down injured. They have to do something in January."

The Reds are also believed to be looking to strengthen in central midfield if Gini Wijnaldum leaves, though links with Ozan Kabak at Schalke have been dismissed.

What about outgoings? As it stands, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri look unlikely to be sold.

Can Man City make Messi progress? Lionel Messi Image: Lionel Messi is free to talk with other clubs in January

Partizan Belgrade winger Filip Stevanovic will join in January but City have little history of big January deals - Aymeric Laporte was the last first-team arrival three years ago and Pep Guardiola has said that the "economic situation around the world" means they will not be signing a new striker this month.

That, however, is the position that has caused Guardiola the most problems this season with Sergio Aguero only fit enough to start two Premier League matches, and Gabriel Jesus having also struggled with injury.

Aguero's absence has been keenly felt and his replacement is the marquee signing the club are planning for in upcoming windows.

Sergio Aguero is substituted in the second half 0:55 Pep Guardiola has denied that he'll be on the search for a new striker in January and says the rest of the team must help out with goals

But could this be the month City could finally get a deal agreed to sign a world-class player they have coveted for a long time?

Lionel Messi wanted to move to Manchester in the summer and was only denied when he felt he had no choice but to back down when Barcelona threatened him with an acrimonious court battle over his future.

That legal hurdle disappears on January 1, when clubs outside of Spain can officially open talks about a summer move when Messi's contract expires. City have the contacts and the clout to make a move to the Etihad a very attractive proposition, although they would inevitably face competition from big-spending PSG.

By the same token, foreign clubs can open talks with Eric Garcia, who has turned down the offer to extend his City contract beyond the end of the season and is expected to switch to La Liga.

Barcelona made a number of bids for the central defender last Deadline Day in the summer and though they did not meet City's valuation of around £20m, Garcia's heart remains set on a return to his boyhood club.

Man Utd's focus on summer

Teenage Atalanta winger Amad Diallo has been granted a passport ahead of his pending £37.2m transfer and progress is being made on obtaining a Governing Body Endorsement. The Ivorian's arrival will secure the right-wing berth that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been looking to fill.

But Manchester United are prioritising the summer window when it comes to further incomings - including a new centre-back and potentially a right-back, plus a defensive midfielder were Paul Pogba to leave.

Odion Ighalo's time at the club will come to an end on January 31 but, as Solskjaer has hinted, attempts will be made to extend the deal of another striker in Edinson Cavani.

Other live issues are the futures of Brandon Williams, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Sergio Romero.

Williams, who has attracted interest from Southampton, may be able to leave on loan to get games, while United would be keen to get Rojo, Jones and Romero off their books.

Jesse Lingard is another player linked with an Old Trafford exit but neither the player nor club are actively seeking a move and Lingard could well be offered another year.

Newcastle looking at loans Nelson Semedo and Jamal Lewis battle for possession Image: Steve Bruce would like competition for Jamal Lewis

Expect Newcastle to use some of their loan quota in the winter transfer window.

Steve Bruce secured permanent signings in the last window in the shape of Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, Jeff Hendrick and Jamal Lewis but Bruce is unlikely to splash out on any further permanent transfer fees unless a bargain crops up.

He is after a dynamic midfielder who can get around the pitch - the sort of player he feels is currently lacking. A left wing-back to compete with Lewis and centre-back cover following his squad's coronavirus issues is also sought.

Sheffield United after midfield spark

The Blades are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table but manager Chris Wilder expects only loan signings this window.

Wilder has the option to borrow two further players - one from the domestic market and one from abroad - and is still looking for a left centre-back to help fill the void left by Jack O'Connell's injury at the start of the season.

The Blades boss, who is hoping to do business early and confirmed after defeat to Burnley he had "given his recommendations to the board," is also seeking an attacking midfielder to help the supply to his goal-shy forwards.

John Lundstram has yet to sign a new contract and will be allowed to leave if a suitable offer is received.

Southampton keen on Man Utd man

Southampton's primary focus is to keep hold of Danny Ings after their promising start, with Ralph Hasenhuttl saying he hopes the striker will sign a new contract with the club.

But Saints are also be looking to strengthen in defence, with their sights set on Manchester United's Brandon Williams. They missed out on Williams in the summer but Bayer Leverkusen have been freshly linked.

Tottenham want two - but will Dele leave? Dele Alli Image: Could Dele Alli finally be on his way out of Tottenham?

Jose Mouinho still wants a centre-back and a defensive midfielder - but whether he gets his wish in the January sales remains to be seen.

The focus appears more on outgoings and the club will listen to offers for Danny Rose, who is out of contract in the summer, and Paulo Gazzaniga.

But Dele Alli is the one to watch.

Tottenham want him to stay and fight for his place but Mourinho remains unconvinced and Alli needs football. Spurs are likely to resist a loan but nothing is off the cards yet.

Keep an eye on PSG. The French club tried and failed to sign Alli in the summer but Mauricio Pochettino's impending arrival could mean a Paris reunion.

Allardyce has extended Baggies list Sam Allardyce, Manager of West Bromwich Albion reacts during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa at The Hawthorns on December 20, 2020 in West Bromwich, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby - Pool/Getty Images) 0:45 Sam Allardyce admits he faces a difficult task to keep West Brom in the Premier League and believes their transfer activity in January could be crucial

Sam Allardyce has his survival blueprint but will he have any new players to work with?

"There's some money, some opportunities, but there is a massive loss of revenue because of Covid to cope with," he said. "We'll try and improve the team if we can find a player."

Budgets are tight after the club spent more than it planned to in the summer, but the Baggies board is keen to support Allardyce where they can.

The new boss wants to strengthen the team's spine, with a centre-back, midfielder and striker on a lengthy wish list. While incomings are expected, finances are unlikely to stretch to all of Allardyce's targets.

West Ham after attacking support David Moyes kept faith with Sebastien Haller and was rewarded as the striker fired in the winner at Bramall Lane Image: David Moyes is keen on an attacking reinforcement

West Ham have signed Danish centre-back Frederik Alves from Silkeborg, a young prospect who will link up with his new team-mates on January 2, but David Moyes has played down expectations of any big business.

"As far as January goes, we don't have any big intentions of making signings, but the owners have said they would help if we need it," the West Ham manager said. "Obviously that'll be to do with injuries or anything else that crops up. If we need it, we'll try and go and get it, but talking about January, it's not always a great market."

Antonio's recurring hamstring problems and Sebastian Haller's lack of goals mean the Hammers will try to add a striker.

Moyes may also want to strengthen his options at left-back after Arthur Masuaku's knee surgery.

But purse strings are set to remain tight at the London Stadium, with no big money signings expected over the next month.

Wolves seeking back-up striker

A back-up striker has been on Wolves' wishlist for the last couple of windows but it has become their top priority after Raul Jimenez's injury. Fabio Silva has only scored once since joining for £35m in the summer and the club is reluctant to put too much pressure on the teenager but finding an experienced No. 9 who may be pushed to the bench is one of the most difficult positions for recruitment teams to fill.

Wolves were close to signing Nelson Oliveira this time last year and after only managing two league goals for AEK Athens this season he may be available at a decent price.

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Liverpool Stumble To Newcastle Draw Newcastle United vs Liverpool Preview - Klopp's men looking to bounce back with win against ...

Anfield Index.com - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 09:11

Liverpool remain top of the Premier League table, despite a 0-0 draw with Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

A combination of bad finishing from the visitors — an aspect of the game where Mohamed Salah was particularly guilty — and the saves of Karl Darlow kept the hosts in the contest as the Reds failed to prize open their low block defence on enough occasions.

Newcastle had opportunities themselves and Fabinho saved Nat Phillips blushes when he diverted a goal-bound shot from Callum Wilson over the bar after Phillips was burnt for pace by the Magpies strike near the halfway line. Alisson, too, was called into action in the second half when he had to save a Ciaran Clark header from a corner.

The return and cameo of Thiago was one of the only bright spots for Jurgen Klopp as the Spaniard came on with fifteen minutes remaining and resuscitated the Reds’ attacking play with incisive passing and vision that was sorely lacking before his substitution.

Jurgen Klopp picked a conservative midfield from the outset with the returning James Milner — who, to his credit, was the best of the starting trio — partnering Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones in the engine room.

It was the Geordies who began the game in 15th place who had the best opportunity in the opening 20 minutes, despite Liverpool having all of the ball and territory. A lumped ball into the channel was misjudged by Phillips and Wilson ran in behind. Sizing him up at the edge of the box, the former Bournemouth striker waltzed past the 23-year-0ld and bore down on goal. Wilson let fly only for Fabinho to block his shot — which appeared destined for goal — behind for a corner.

To their credit, although they could hardly have been worse, Liverpool improved thereafter and should have been 2-0 up going into the interval. First, Salah — in perhaps his worst showing for the club — missed a one versus one with Darlow after Henderson’s clipped pass found him isolated in the box. The keeper got the faintest of touches, but the Egyptian ought to have scored.

Then, nearer the half time whistle, Roberto Firmino tamely headed a Sadio Mane cross into the grasp of Darlow with the save being more comfortable than it should have been. Relieved the Magpies went into the break with the 0-0 they were playing for.

The opening period of the second half was played out in a similar manner and Klopp opted to replace the ineffectual Jones with Georginio Wijnaldum in order to add some thrust to his midfield. It wasn’t until the introduction of Thiago with 15 minutes remaining, though, til Liverpool really got their attacking act together.

The Spaniard clipped a beautiful ball into the path of Trent Alexander Arnold and the right-back fired across the face of goal where the ball ricocheted off Darlow and then Mane. Had the bobble bounced an inch or two to the other direction Liverpool would have scored.

Firmino spurned another headed chance when he headed wide a Robertson corner after Darlow was taken out of the equation. Another set-piece chance arrived, but the hosts keeper was again equal to a Fabinho header and the bounce didn’t go the way of Liverpool.

Salah wasted another one versus one opportunity and Wijnaldum maddingly undercooked a cross to Mane when Alexander Arnold had sent the Dutchman through on goal. Better execution of a simple pass would have surely resulted in a goal; but that was the story of the Reds’ night.

Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Jones, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Replacements: Wijnaldum for Jones, Shaqiri for Salah, Thiago for Milner.

Subs not used: Phillips, Adrian, N.Williams, R.Williams, T.Minamino, A.Oxlade Chamberlain, D.Origi.

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Nat Phillips on Newcastle frustration and Premier League learning

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 09:10

Liverpool departed St. James' Park frustrated but with determination to take the positives into their next game, according to Nathaniel Phillips.

The Premier League leaders were held to a draw for the second match in succession on Wednesday night, this time a goalless stalemate against Newcastle United in which the hosts’ goalkeeper, Karl Darlow, made numerous saves to keep the Reds at bay.

[embedded content]

Jürgen Klopp cited those squandered chances as the one element missing from his team’s reaction to the previous setback at home to West Bromwich Albion – and Phillips immediately looked forward to the opportunity to put that right at Southampton on Monday.

“Really frustrating,” the centre-back, who started alongside Fabinho in defence, told Liverpoolfc.com. “We felt we created enough [chances] in the game to take three points and get the win.

“But, unfortunately, we just couldn’t convert our chances. It can be like that sometimes in football and we’ve just got to pick ourselves up and go on to the next game.”

He added: “We created a lot more [chances] tonight, which is one positive, but we need to finish off our chances and hopefully we can do that in the next game.”

Liverpool end 2020 with a three-point advantage at the top of the division as they aim to defend the Premier League trophy they lifted in July.

But Phillips underlined the necessity to rediscover the habit of getting wins over the line no matter how matches unfold or opponents set up.

Asked about the test of breaking down well-drilled defences not being easy, he said: “It’s not but we’ve got the quality to be able to do so and we’ve shown that in the past.

“It can go both ways really because when teams do sit off us then we dominate the game and we gather momentum. Sometimes it can work against teams [playing] against us, but in an ideal world we need to find a way to win the game and finish our chances.”

The 23-year-old made his first appearance since late November as he replaced Joel Matip, who is expected to be sidelined for three weeks due to an adductor issue.

On a personal level, Phillips could take pride in a first clean sheet on his third Premier League outing of the campaign.

“That’s what I want to be doing: get out on the pitch and playing games,” he said.

“It was a tough game for myself, very physical, they didn’t make it easy for me up there. But there’s plenty for me to work on, I’ll look back on the game and see what areas I need to improve on. But a clean sheet isn’t too bad.

“It’s definitely challenged me [at this level]. I wouldn’t say I’ve felt out of my depth. The more games I’ve played, the more I’m getting used to it, but each game provides a different challenge.

“With each game I’ve just got to try to gather experiences from them and work on the things I need to get better at, learn from each game and hopefully get the momentum.”

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Nat Phillips on Newcastle frustration and Premier League learning

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 09:10
Liverpool departed St. James' Park frustrated but with determination to take the positives into their next game, according to Nathaniel Phillips.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Missing “killer touch” costs but Reds the “glorious constant” of 2020 – Media on Newcastle 0-0 Liverpool

ThisIsAnfield.com - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 09:08

The media blamed Liverpool’s 0-0 draw at Newcastle on poor finishing and felt this showed the Reds aren’t the same force this season, offering hope to title chasers.

An unforgettable year on the pitch for Jurgen Klopp‘s men ended on a frustrating note with a goalless stalemate at St James’ Park.

It was again a case of Liverpool’s final-third play letting them down, as some remarkably wasteful finishing saw the Reds carelessly drop more points.

Liverpool desperately need to find their shooting boots for the upcoming Southampton trip, but before attention turns to that game, here’s how the media assessed the draw.

Members of the media reflected on a disappointing end to a memorable year for the Reds on the pitch…

 Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (R) looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Independent‘s Melissa Reddy thought it was a flat game overall, with both sets of players crippled by fatigue from the relentless schedule in this unique campaign:

“The last game of 2020 followed the jaded nature of the annum, with the players and the play itself largely looking spent.”

In a somewhat over-the-top assessment, the Telegraph‘s Luke Edwards suggested the Reds were fortunate to take a point after being “outplayed” during the first 45 minutes:

“Worryingly, as strongly as they finished this draw, Liverpool were actually outplayed for a prolonged period in the first half by an out of form Newcastle.

[…]

“This could have been an even more costly night for Liverpool.”

BBC Sport’s Josef Rindl bemoaned another missed opportunity for Klopp’s side and put the blame on poor finishing from the front three:

“A draw away to Newcastle feels like an opportunity missed.

[…]

“And although the Reds’ injury list, particularly in defence, is well-reported – it was their attacking trio of Mane, Salah and Firmino who looked out of sorts in the North East. All three regularly found themselves in good positions but failed to find the breakthrough. Liverpool had 11 shots in total, but only four were on target.”

Summing up the disappointing result, Connor Dunn of the Liverpool Echo wrote that even Klopp’s heroic side eventually succumbed to the utterly miserable year of 2020:

“That result follows a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool almost summing up life outside of football with their final two disappointing results of a year in which they have been pretty much the only glorious constant.”

Reporters were critical of Liverpool’s finishing and felt the game showed the Reds are not the same force…

 Liverpool’s Sadio Mané sees his shot saved by Newcastle United's goalkeeper Karl Darlow and cleared by Newcastle United's Fabian Schär during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Among those to comment on this was ESPN’s Mark Ogden, who explained that wasteful finishing is the “key difference” to the Reds’ dropoff this season:

“The first goalless stalemate between these two clubs since 1974 highlighted the key difference between the Liverpool of today and the one which sprinted clear of the chasing pack in the first half last season.

“A year ago, Liverpool racked up the points by finding the killer touch in tight games and winning when the margins were narrow.

[…]

“That [wasteful finishing] is becoming a recurring problem and explains why Liverpool go into 2021 locked in a title race rather coasting at the top, as they were a year ago.”

The Mirror‘s Sam Meade felt Newcastle’s surprisingly bold approach showed that teams are less fearless about Klopp’s team this season, citing Virgil van Dijk‘s absence as key:

“Were Virgil van Dijk still a rock at the back then the perception may be completely different. It is interesting though how Newcastle felt as if they could have a go against the champions.

[…]

“Despite their lack of possession though Newcastle certainly pressed forward when the opportunity came on Wednesday evening. There is no doubt a sense of ‘get at Liverpool while Virgil is missing’ but it is something Klopp is having to deal with.”

Ogden also noted how the ability to edge the tight games is evading Liverpool this season, and is therefore giving the rest a chance to compete in a title race:

“A central factor in Liverpool’s title success last season was their ability to find a crucial winner in tight games like this one. They won 14 league games by a one-goal margin on the way to the title, but this time around, they have done so just four times.

[…]

“A year ago, they blew the rest away because they were so good at killing teams off, but now, their failure to do that is keeping the title race alive.”

Meanwhile, Karl Matchett, writing for the Independent, thought the game reflected the current contrasting form of the full-backs – with Andy Robertson impressing but Trent Alexander-Arnold struggling again:

“Robertson is an elite performer and showed his real qualities in both halves at times, while American wide man Yedlin was the catalyst for Newcastle’s early openings and helped keep them a threat on the counter.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s best form continues to elude him, however, and the right-back’s delivery was below-par on this occasion again.”

 Liverpool’s Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Following that, Matchett praised Fabinho for another good performance and labelled the Brazilian Liverpool’s “most important player” in the current situation:

“Without Joel Matip now as well as their regular defensive duo, Fabinho’s importance to Liverpool continues to be enormously elevated. He was the best defender on the pitch on this occasion once more, despite not actually being one by normal considerations.

[…]

“The Reds may go into the transfer market in January to boost their ranks, but until then Fabinho is arguably the most important player in the squad.”

Journalists debated what is not quite clicking for Liverpool and the biggest problems facing Klopp’s side…

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

Edwards thinks fatigue from this non-stop season, pressure of the title race and poor finishing are all contributing factors to Liverpool’s dropoff:

“Maybe it is down to exhaustion, the threat of a resurgent Manchester United breathing down their necks or simply their inability to take their chances, but Liverpool are definitely having a wobble in the defence of their Premier League title.”

The Liverpool Echo‘s Ian Doyle saw a real concern in how Liverpool looked like a team “lacking in a little belief”:

“But the general level of performance, while better than the dismal second-half showing in Sunday’s home draw with West Bromwich Albion, again offered some concern for a Reds side who appeared jaded and, dare it be said, lacking in a little belief towards the final whistle.”

Ogden feels the Reds have become too reliant on Robertson and Alexander-Arnold for creativity, and says that more is needed from the midfield in this regard:

“The lack of creativity in midfield is one factor. Collectively, Liverpool’s array of midfielders have amassed just three goalscoring assists all season.

“The goals are still being made by the full-backs, with seven coming from deliveries by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, but opponents have learned how to smother Liverpool in the centre of the pitch.”

Neil Jones, of Goal, thinks Liverpool’s away form is now the biggest problem and will need improving if the Reds are to retain the title:

“In fact, they have won just twice away from home in the league all season. Fans have become accustomed to seeing them grind out victories when below their best, but things have changed this season. Their form on their travels is becoming something of a concern.

[…]

“Liverpool, though, will head home with regrets. If they want to retain their title, they will need to improve on the road in 2021, that’s for sure.”

And Edwards reckons that if anything costs Liverpool’s the title this season, it will be the surprising struggles against bottom clubs:

Jurgen Klopp will cling on to the positives, as any manager does in a stodgy, sticky spell, but there are problems and his side have dropped eight points against teams in the bottom six of the table this season. It is a failing that may well cost them their title in this strange, unpredictable campaign.”

The media felt the result offered more encouragement to the challengers but believe better will come from the Reds in 2021…

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

Jones was one of the reporters who thinks title hopefuls will be growing in belief by the game, seeing Liverpool’s recent struggles:

“They remain top of the Premier League, three points clear of Manchester United. Their great rivals, though, boast a game in hand, and will, like others, fancy their chances of mounting a challenge in the New Year.

“They will certainly take encouragement from what they have seen from Liverpool of late.”

However, Reddy insisted the Reds will take great confidence from their position going into the new year, considering all the difficulties faced this season:

“Liverpool have now failed to win more league games this season than in the whole of the last campaign, but will enter 2021 with confidence given their position at the summit despite their extensive injury list, which has included over half their starters for lengthy periods.”

Moreover, Jones does expect performances and results to improve as several important players continue to return from injuries:

“Klopp will be encouraged by the fact that players are returning. Thiago, Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri all featured here for the first time in weeks, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was among the substitutes once more.”

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

And finally, Dunn believes the return of Thiago will be transformational, bringing much better form to push the Reds towards a second successive title in 2021:

“The introduction of a world-class midfielder, who changed the game in just the 15 minutes he was afforded with his passing range, timing and vision, brings about a sense that things are going to improve even further at Liverpool due to the talented players coming back into the squad.

“And, given the Reds are sitting at the top of the table, the fact things are set to improve should be a beacon of hope heading into the New Year that back-to-back titles are still well and truly on despite some testing results so far this term.”

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Newcastle 0-0 Liverpool: Player Ratings – What the media and statistics say

ThisIsAnfield.com - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 07:02

It was another game where too many Liverpool players fell flat on Wednesday, as the Reds drew 0-0 away to Newcastle and dropped further points in the title race.

The hope was that the Premier League champions would bounce back from the 1-1 draw at home to West Brom at the weekend, but they fluffed their lines again at St James’ Park.

Liverpool huffed and puffed for a winner, with Mohamed Salah missing two glaring opportunities, but it never felt like it was going to happen.

Too often, the pace of the visitors’ play was slow and predictable, and Newcastle defended doggedly to earn a point in the end.

It is far from the ideal end of 2020 for Liverpool, but they are still three points clear at the top of the table.

Here we compare our player ratings with those from the Liverpool Echo, Sky Sports, BBC Sport, FotMob and the TIA readers.

As has so often been the case this season, Andy Robertson (6.8) was a standout figure for Liverpool and he earned the highest average rating.

It may not have been a vintage performance from the Scot, but he still gave his all and provided a threat down the left-hand side.

James Nalton handed Robertson TIA’s Man of the Match award, lauding “a number of crosses and passes into dangerous areas.”

In second place was Alisson (6.6), which considering how untested he was for large parts of the game, sums up Liverpool’s display.

The Echo‘s Ian Doyle praised the Brazilian’s “solid handling from a number of Newcastle shots,” also picking out a “good stop” to deny Ciaran Clark.

 Liverpool’s Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fabinho (6.2) also made it into the top-three, as he again largely impressed at centre-back alongside the struggling Nat Phillips (5.4).

The 27-year-old enjoyed a 95 percent pass completion rate, according to FotMob, and also won six of his nine duels on the night.

It was Salah (4.8) who took home the dreaded wooden spoon, as the Egyptian not only missed two huge chances but offered little in his all-round game.

Nalton bemoaned the fact that Liverpool’s No. 11 was “unable to make the difference,” while Doyle said it was “not his night.”

The Reds have a tricky assignment up next, with Southampton hosting them on Monday night.

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Klopp 'not overly frustrated'; Matip out for three weeks

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Wed, 12/30/2020 - 23:55

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insisted he was not "overly frustrated" after seeing his Premier League champions held to a goalless draw at Newcastle.

The Magpies had goalkeeper Karl Darlow to thank for their point as two slipped from the Reds' grasp on a night when they created chances, but could not take any of them.

Klopp said: "Oh no, I'm not happy about the result, but I'm not overly frustrated. It's football, and if you don't use your chances then it's difficult to win a game.

"But you can have a draw with a bad performance or a draw with a good performance, and tonight was a draw with a good performance. We just didn't use the chances, and that's why I am OK with the game."

Jurgen Klopp was left frustrated after coming up against a resolute Newcastle Image: Jurgen Klopp was left frustrated after coming up against a resolute Newcastle

Three days after being pegged back by lowly West Brom to draw at Anfield, Liverpool found Newcastle, and in particular Darlow, in equally stubborn mood as he produced two stunning saves to repel Roberto Firmino headers.

However, it was Mohamed Salah who perhaps should have won it for the visitors, uncharacteristically missing the target either side of half-time with only the 'keeper to beat.

Klopp said: "If you keep creating, you will score. I know we will score again, that's how it is. It's not a problem in the moment.

Mohamed Salah reacts to a missed chance as Liverpool are frustrated Image: Mohamed Salah reacts to a missed chance as Liverpool are frustrated

"We needed to show a reaction from the second half against West Brom because we lost the plot a little bit there, it looked in that second half like we were 1-0 down and not 1-0 up.

"Tonight was a very good reaction to that, without getting the result. Everybody knows if we win 1-0 then everybody is over the moon, and we should have won the game at least 1-0. But we didn't, and we have to accept that."

Liverpool would have gone five points clear of second-placed Manchester United with victory on Tyneside, but headed back to Merseyside knowing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men will be level if they beat Aston Villa on New Year's Day.

They will also be without any of their senior centre-backs after Klopp confirmed Joel Matip will be out for three weeks with an adductor strain sustained in the draw against West Brom.

Joel Matip returns to the Liverpool squad for the visit of Ajax Image: Joel Matip will be out for three weeks with an adductor strain

The champions are already missing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez with long-term issues.

"The normal stuff with these kind of injuries, [he will be out for] around three weeks," Klopp said.

Bruce: I couldn't be more pleased Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has seen his squad ravaged by coronavirus 1:03 Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce was delighted to claim a draw against Liverpool and believes his side’s hard work is starting to pay off

For Magpies boss Steve Bruce it was not just the result which was a source of comfort, but the way in which it was garnered courtesy of a performance which was in stark contrast to some of those which have irked the club's supporters recently.

Bruce said: "Of course we need our goalkeeper to play well and we have to have a little bit of luck along the way, but the effort and the endeavour and the commitment they showed just shows you that it can get you a result.

"I couldn't be more pleased. There were signs against Manchester City, which I was pleased about, and to go back-to-back against Manchester City and Liverpool in the manner we've done, I couldn't be any more pleased with what we've done tonight."

preview image 3:06 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Newcastle's draw against Liverpool

Darlow's heroics came as Martin Dubravka returned to the squad after long-term injury, but his wait looks likely to continue.

Bruce said: "I'm in a fortunate position. I've got two excellent goalkeepers, one who's just got back fit who was our player of the year last year.

"Karl has waited patiently for his chance because of the form of Dubravka, but at the moment, he's the number one because of the performances he's putting in."

What's next? Sunday 3rd January 2:00pm Kick off 2:15pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD Monday 4th January 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

Newcastle are back in Premier League action on Sunday as they host Leicester live on Sky Sports; kick-off 2.15pm. Liverpool travel to face Southampton a day later on January 4, also live on Sky Sports; kick-off is at 8pm.

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James Milner: We performed better but just couldn't get the ball over the line

LiverpoolFC.TV - Wed, 12/30/2020 - 23:27

James Milner rued the opportunities Liverpool missed as they were held to a goalless draw away at Newcastle United on Wednesday night.

The Reds took a point from their final fixture of 2020 after squandering chances in front of goal and being denied multiple times by stopper Karl Darlow at St. James' Park.

Regardless, the reigning champions will end the year top of the Premier League and three points clear of second-placed Manchester United. 

Read on for Liverpoolfc.com's post-match interview with Milner... 

Couldn’t quite get it over the line tonight, but finishing the year top of the league and a lot of games to come, a… https://t.co/9UkPaZaLN4

— JamesMilner (James Milner) 30th Dec 23:06

Is that a rare night where you just weren't clinical enough?

I think that's pretty spot on really. I think the performance was pretty good, bouncing back from the second half in the last game, which wasn't particularly good, and then putting in a pretty good performance tonight. We created enough chances, [were] solid at the back, any balls that popped out we were winning. But a mixture of good goalkeeping, defending, a bit of bad luck and maybe not taking our chances well enough was the difference.

If you were looking for areas of improvement from Sunday night – the fact you did create more opportunities here... 

For sure, I think it was a big improvement. We've come up against two very stubborn teams, given everything to get the points. So at least we performed better, unfortunately it wasn't good enough for the three points but we've got to keep pushing and if we play like that [then] more often than not we'll get the three points.

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From a midfielder's perspective, can you give us a sense how difficult it is to pick your way through when you're up against a five and a four and then just Callum Wilson on his own?

It's important that you just keep it moving, keep patient and make sure you have movement up front. It's easy to sometimes get frustrated and try difficult balls or too straight balls over the top and they get cut out. But then the important thing as well is that you've always got to be ready to react when you've got someone like him up front who's quick and is a good, quick player. Teams want to break out on you and you have to make sure you're disciplined and playing with good shape to break them down but you're not committing too many men forward and your protection is good when it breaks down. It's about getting that balance and I thought we did that tonight but we just couldn't get the ball over the line.

It was also key that you don't lose the game either, and Alisson comes up with a massive save towards the end…

We restricted them most of the game but Ali is top-class – everybody knows that. Especially on a night like tonight, it's going to be pretty cold for him I can imagine, standing at the back with not too much to do and then having to pull a save out like that towards the end. So that shows how good he is and what a big player he is for us.

Given how many problems you've faced as a group from the start of the season, is it still a positive that you can go into 2021 top of the table?

I think it's a positive but it seems to be at this moment in time that nobody wants to take it by the scruff of the neck. We've dropped points, everyone seems to be dropping points. United have had a good run and they're probably the only team who are putting a run together. It's important that we need to kick on now and try to get a few three-pointers. But the world is in a very strange place at the moment and it's the same in football. Everybody's lives are upside down, it's tough mentally for everybody and it's the same in football. Hopefully we can get out of this the other side and it's the same with football – we just need to keep plugging away. It is different, it's different times and that time where you maybe need the crowd to give you that lift and get it over the line. That might've happened on another day. But it's where we are and we need to keep working hard.

As you can see, we've given absolutely everything. The boys are doing well. The amount of minutes some of the lads have played, it's nice to see a few of the boys getting back – obviously Thiago getting on today and showing his quality. We'll stick together, we'll keep plugging away and we just need to get that final piece of the puzzle right. Like I say, I thought it was a good performance tonight, we just needed that final bit to get the goals. If we keep playing like that, hopefully we can go on a run and put some more points on the board. 

When you talk about it being so different for everyone this season, is it something that's stopping any team getting that sequence of results or do you still feel there is that potential to go on the sort of run you did last season?

I think it is, but everything is different. The protocols at the training ground are different, travelling to games is different, travelling on the day. Everything is completely different but it's the same in all walks of life at this moment in time. So that's something we have to adapt to. Whether that is stopping teams putting on a good run and being fully comfortable, I don't know. But that's where we are and we have to deal with it the best we can and push on. I think where we are in the league we would have liked to have got more points on the board. There's points we've dropped this season where we feel we could have done better but to still be in the mix going into the New Year is good, especially with the problems we have. But we are a quality squad of players who have been together a long time and we are used to winning. We are disappointed not to get the three points but we want to get back on the winning track as soon as possible.

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