Harry Wilson’s stunning goal against Lyon was a timely reminder of his rare talent, and the addition of his unique skills to the Liverpool squad could be a ‘Moneyball’ play.
The existence and inner workings of the Reds’ director of research Ian Graham and his data analysis and modelling team were given a fascinating expose in the New York Times in May.
Such analysis should not have been surprising given Fenway Sports Group had previously, and famously, embraced ‘Moneyball’ style analytics in baseball with the Boston Red Sox, achieving phenomenal results.
While I cannot claim to have either the skills or resources of Graham’s team, there is one clear statistical area where Wilson stands out and it is a comparative weakness of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Many Liverpool fans have bemoaned the lack of transfer action, but with only limited squad roles, the only clear holes which need filling Klopp’s team have been looking to do so with youth.
And Wilson offers statistically rare abilities which would be pricey on the open market.
Playing for Frank Lampard’s Derby side last season Wilson scored 15 goals and contributed three assists in 40 Championship appearances.
This record enabled the young Welshman to be the 10th-highest goalscorer in the second tier, averaging a goal every 216 minutes and shooting with an accuracy of 53 percent.
If we include the play-off games and cup competitions, his record becomes 18 goals and five assists from 49 games across all competitions.
This is an excellent return from a player who operates in wide midfield or an attacking midfield role, but does not in and of itself appear enough to merit inclusion in a European Cup-winning Liverpool squad.
Goals are gold dust for a midfielder or wide attacker at the elite level, but it is the type of goals Wilson scores which make him an anomaly.
Of the 15 goals he scored in the Championship, seven were from outside the box and of those three were from free-kicks.
As a point of comparison, Liverpool’s entire team scored five goals from outside the box last season in the Premier League.
In fact, Wilson scored more goals from outside the box last season than 10 entire Premier League teams managed across 38 games.
Exceptional work, but Wilson’s free-kick statistics rank even higher on the scale of rare brilliance.
Three goals from free-kicks sounds like decent output until, once again, it is put into a Premier League context.
Liverpool’s season total: one.
Such statistics highlight Wilson’s long-range shooting ability, whether from open play or over a dead ball, as being in the top echelon.
However, can Wilson replicate his success at the Premier League level where the players and goalkeepers reach a higher calibre?
Well the current evidence suggests Wilson’s shooting ability does translate to the higher level, as he scored two goals from free-kicks against Premier League teams in cup competitions last season.
However, the one Liverpool fans will remember most fondly was the stellar top-corner screamer at Man United, in which the ‘five times’ celebration was brazenly waved in front of the shocked faces of Old Trafford.
If we include these, Wilson’s goal statistics from distance reach nine total goals from outside of the box, five of which were free-kicks, across all competitions.
Speaking after his brilliant strike against Lyon, Klopp revealed a conversation he had with the 22-year-old on translating this ability to the top tier—noting the difference in balls used.
“We spoke the day before yesterday about the ball, because obviously in the Championship they play with a different ball,” he told LFCTV.
“I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but obviously now he’s got used to this ball as well!”
The other statistic which definitively headlines Wilson’s year at Derby is that he was the joint-second most-fouled player in the Championship, averaging 2.7 fouls against per game.
This shows although diminutive in stature, Harry is a clever player who protects the ball exceptionally well, while his ability to win free-kicks synchronises nicely with his aptitude for scoring from them.
Given that Liverpool were ranked 14th in goals from outside the box, yet finished with 98 points, the value of those goals could be questioned.
If Liverpool are to close the gap, goals from distance offer a clear area for improvement.
The long-range goal’s value is that it can bail out the team on a day it has not created clear-cut chances, or alternatively, failed to convert them.
Additionally, they heighten the team’s unpredictability.
Few will forget City were on their way to a 0-0 draw against Leicester in the penultimate game of last season, looking bereft of inspiration and ideas, when Vincent Kompany scored the goal of his life from range to win the game and, ultimately, the Premier League.
Liverpool have lacked a long-range shooting specialist since Philippe Coutinho packed his bags for Barcelona.
The numbers suggest Harry Wilson can be that man.
Liverpool FC has issued a ticket update for the Premier League fixture against Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday August 17.
An extremely limited number of tickets remain and subject to availability, will be available online to season ticket holders and Members based on attendance at Premier League away fixtures during 2018-19.
Attendance at two games: from 11am on Friday August 2.
Supporters can purchase one ticket per person up to a maximum of four tickets per transaction.
Tickets are subject to availability and are allocated on a first come, first served basis. We cannot guarantee that tickets will be available to all who apply.
For further information before travelling, click here.
Following last night's victory over Lyon in Geneva, it was back to the training pitch for the Liverpool squad on Thursday morning at their Evian base.
Just hours after recording the 3-1 win, the players were in action once more as they were put through their paces by Jürgen Klopp and his backroom team.
The players were divided into groups depending on the minutes accumulated against Lyon during the hour-and-a-half workout.
Browse a gallery from the session below.
Photos by Andrew Powell
The Reds will be televised in 10 of their first 12 scheduled games of the season, with Sky Sports adding two further fixtures to their calendar on Thursday.
First, the trip to Old Trafford to take on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United will now take place on Saturday, October 19, kicking off at 5.30pm (BST).
However this remains subject to change depending on the draw for the Champions League group stage; if another move is required, the game will be switched to Sunday, October 20 at 4.30pm.
Then, Spurs’ visit to Anfield—the two sides’ first meeting since the Champions League final in Madrid in June—has been rescheduled for Sunday, October 27 at 4.30pm (GMT).
Liverpool’s first game of the month, though, is unchanged, with Leicester arriving on Merseyside for a 3pm kickoff on Saturday, October 5.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side will play the second group game in their defence of the European Cup on October 1/2, while the third clash comes on October 22/23.
The fourth round of the League Cup, if the Reds were to progress, falls on the week commencing October 28.Liverpool Fixtures for October
* All times UK.
Last Updated: 01/08/19 1:19pm
Sky Sports has confirmed its latest selection of live Premier League games, with a showdown between old rivals Manchester United and Liverpool added to the October schedule.
Jurgen Klopp's side will travel to Old Trafford on Saturday, October 19 (5.30pm) and the Reds will face another of last season's top six in front of the Sky cameras at the end of the month (Sunday, October 27) when Tottenham head to Anfield looking to avenge their Champions League final defeat.
Sky Sports' latest picks also include champions Manchester City's trip to Crystal Palace, Manchester United's date with Newcastle and a Monday Night Football clash between Sheffield United and Arsenal at Bramall Lane.0:40 Get excited for the 2019/20 season with Sky Sports where you can watch all the best action from the Premier League, EFL, SPFL and more! Get excited for the 2019/20 season with Sky Sports where you can watch all the best action from the Premier League, EFL, SPFL and more! Big opening weekend on Sky
Liverpool will lift the curtain on the new Premier League season at home to Norwich, live on Friday Night Football.Liverpool vs Norwich
August 9, 2019, 7:00pm
Daniel Farke's Championship winners visit Anfield on August 9 in the first of four top-flight matches live on Sky Sports Premier League on the opening weekend, with Tottenham facing another promoted side, Aston Villa, on Saturday, August 10 (5.30pm).
In the first Super Sunday of the new term on August 11, Newcastle host Arsenal (2pm) before Chelsea play Manchester United at Old Trafford (4.30pm).Ten more Premier League fixtures will be shown live on Sky Sports in October Confirmed Premier League games live on Sky
Fri Aug 9: Liverpool vs Norwich (8pm)
Sat Aug 10: Tottenham vs Aston Villa (5.30pm)
Sun Aug 11: Newcastle vs Arsenal (2pm)
Sun Aug 11: Man Utd vs Chelsea (4.30pm)
Sat Aug 17: Man City v Spurs (5.30pm)
Sun Aug 18: Sheffield Utd v Crystal Palace (2pm)
Sun Aug 18: Chelsea v Leicester (4.30pm)
Mon Aug 19: Wolves v Man Utd (8pm)
Fri Aug 23: Aston Villa v Everton (8pm)
Sat Aug 24: Liverpool v Arsenal (5.30pm)
Sun Aug 25: Bournemouth v Man City (2pm)
Sun Aug 25: Spurs v Newcastle (4.30pm)
Sat Aug 31: Burnley v Liverpool (5.30pm)
Sun Sep 1: Everton v Wolves (2pm)
Sun Sep 1: Arsenal v Spurs (4.30pm)
Sat Sep 14: Norwich v Man City (5.30pm)
Sun Sep 15: Bournemouth v Everton (2pm)
Sun Sep 15: Watford v Arsenal (4.30pm)
Mon Sep 16: Aston Villa v West Ham (8pm)
Fri Sep 20: Southampton v Bournemouth (8pm)
Sat Sep 21: Newcastle v Brighton (5.30pm)
Sun Sep 22: West Ham v Man Utd (2pm)
Sun Sep 22: Chelsea v Liverpool (4.30pm)
Sat Sep 28: Leicester v Newcastle (5.30pm)
Sun Sep 29: Everton v Man City (4.30pm)
Mon Sep 30: Man Utd v Arsenal (8pm)
Sat Oct 5: West Ham vs Crystal Palace (5.30pm)
Sun Oct 6: Southampton vs Chelsea (2pm)
Sun Oct 6: Newcastle vs Man Utd (4.30pm)
Sat Oct 19: Man Utd vs Liverpool (5.30pm)
Sun Oct 20: Crystal Palace vs Man City (4.30pm)
Mon Oct 21: Sheff Utd vs Arsenal (8pm)
Fri Oct 25: Southampton vs Leicester (8pm)
Sat Oct 26: Burnley vs Chelsea (5.30pm)
Sun Oct 27: Newcastle vs Wolves (2pm)
Sun Oct 27: Liverpool vs Tottenham (4.30pm)Champions Manchester City have an early televised clash against Tottenham, with trips to Bournemouth, Norwich and Crystal Palace also live on Sky Follow the Premier League with Sky Sports
From the 2019/20 season in the UK and Ireland, Sky Sports customers will be able to enjoy:
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Two of Liverpool's Premier League fixtures in October have been rescheduled.
The Reds’ trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United will now kick off at 5.30pm BST on Saturday October 19, with Sky Sports to show the game live.
This match is subject to change to 4.30pm on Sunday October 20, depending on Champions League group stage scheduling.
Liverpool’s meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield will now kick off at 4.30pm GMT on Sunday October 27 and will also be shown live on Sky Sports.
Click here to view an updated fixture list.
Liverpool's motivation for Sunday's Community Shield is about continuing a winning mentality not getting one over Manchester City, insists Jordan Henderson.
Last season’s Premier League title rivals – who were separated by a single point in May – open the new campaign with a meeting at Wembley this weekend.
The game represents the Reds’ first participation in the showpiece for 13 years and it’s the duty to collect silverware for the club, rather than trying to gain an early advantage over City, that is energising Henderson.
Watch: Jürgen Klopp's Community Shield press conference
“I don’t think I’ll ever tire of playing at Wembley,” said the England international in an interview for the official match programme.
“I’ve been lucky to play here a few times with Liverpool and of course England. The feeling of coming here and it being special never gets old. It’s a big game and a big occasion.
“It’s a first for me – playing in a Community Shield – but I know it’s a competition Liverpool have always taken seriously, so that brings a responsibility for whoever gets picked to do everything we can to win.
“I’m not bothered about an advantage, we just want to win – full stop. The opponent is only relevant because in order to win it, we have to beat them. Sure, it’s the same for City. It’s the next game for us and therefore the next one we can win – that’s our attitude.
“We’ve huge respect for City and what they achieved last season and we also respect they’ll be a big force again this season – but [this match] isn’t about anything other than doing our best to win for our supporters.”
Two months have now passed since Henderson lifted Liverpool’s sixth European Cup in Madrid, meaning celebration and reflection has given way to renewed determination.
Quite simply, explains the skipper, the Reds want to taste victory as often as possible.
Asked about his ambitions for 2019-20, the midfielder replied: “Keep winning.
“I’m not going to state anything specific because I don’t think it helps. But as I’ve already said, our aim is – and has to be – to go into every game, in every competition with the mindset of winning.”
Ki-Jana Hoever is being lined up for a first-team role at Liverpool this season, after signing a new long-term deal with the club during this week’s training camp.
Hoever put pen to paper on his first professional contract on Wednesday, seven months on from his 17th birthday and a dream debut against Wolves in the FA Cup.
The Dutchman is the club’s third-youngest player, and after winning the U17 Euros with the Netherlands in May has gone from strength to strength in pre-season.
Given 45 minutes to impress in his final outing of pre-season, Hoever certainly caught the eye, and it was his excellent cross which Joachim Andersen diverted into his own net to make it 2-1 on the night.
Maddock claims that the manager “wants to feed him into first-team structure with opportunities as backup all across [the] defensive line.”
At just 17, he is one of the youngest players to play for Liverpool in pre-season, but he certainly didn’t expose his lack of experience, and looks to have bulked up during his short summer break.
His long-term role could come at centre-back, and there may be opportunities for him at the heart of the defence if another injury crisis strikes, as with last season.
Speaking on signing his new deal, Hoever said he would “need to be realistic” as he will “will probably play more games for the under-23s” than the first team.
But given his youth, he has plenty of time to develop, and will be given the platform to do so by Klopp both at Melwood and in outings for the senior squad.
Hoever added that he hoped this new deal would not be “the last few years I play here,” and Maddock has now confirmed that he has been tied down until 2022.
This is the maximum length for a first professional deal under FIFA regulations, and will bring Hoever beyond his 20th birthday.
It is likely, of course, that if he continues to progress he will be rewarded with another contract long before then.
Liverpool's official charity, LFC Foundation, has joined forces with Merseyside Police and Sefton Council to continue delivering its Premier League Kicks programme to young people in Sefton.
Football coaching events have been taking place at the Glovers Lane centre in Sefton every Friday, and a total of 18 sessions are run every week by LFC Foundation across high-need areas in Merseyside.
These sessions in Sefton will now continue into next season, restarting in September, thanks to support from Merseyside Police and Sefton Council.
Matt Parish, director of LFC Foundation, said: "We are delighted to be delivering our Premier League Kicks programme in Sefton in collaboration with Merseyside Police and Sefton Council.
"Their support means that we can continue to provide free sessions that help to inspire young people using the power of football in some of the most high-need areas.
"Our Kicks programme is a huge success and has been running across the Liverpool City Region for over 10 years. Last season [2018-19] we engaged with over 1,600 young children and young people at the 15 sessions we run weekly."
Merseyside's police commissioner, Jane Kennedy, said: "The Premier League Kicks programme is a wonderful initiative which keeps our young people active and engaged. It's just what they need and they love having the opportunity to work with the LFC Foundation.
"I am proud of the effort that Merseyside Police continues to make to work alongside organisations like the LFC Foundation and Sefton Council for the benefit of our young people and I thank all those involved for the time and energy they are investing in a brighter future for the next generation."
Merseyside Police community policing sergeant, Ray Mavrakakis, said: "It's great to see the success of the LFC Foundation's programme of free sessions in Sefton, which will now continue into next season.
"This is all part of a co-ordinated national and local approach to tackling issues of serious and organised crime.
"Our local officers work closely with partners and the communities to help those who might be drawn into gangs, preventing them becoming involved in a life of crime and offering them different pathways and a more hopeful future."
Cllr Ian Maher, leader of Sefton Council, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for our sporty youngsters in South Sefton.
"Our ongoing partnership work with Merseyside Police and the LFC Foundation works incredibly well and I am delighted to see that this wonderful programme has returned to Sefton once again."
You can find more information on LFC Foundation and Premier League Kicks here.
Local families attended the launch of a new cookery course run by the Trussell Trust and Red Neighbours on Tuesday.
Red Neighbours has teamed up with the national charity, which aims to end hunger and poverty in the UK, to deliver a series of cookery classes for local families in Anfield.
The 'Eat Well, Spend Less' campaign shows families how to prepare nutritious meals on a budget and provides the skills and ideas to replicate healthy recipes together at home.
The Trussell Trust facilitates a network of foodbanks across the country. At every Liverpool home game, North Liverpool Foodbank has a van at Anfield where both home and away fans are invited to make donations of food and household items.
Vicky Ponsonby, North Liverpool Foodbank coordinator, said: "The classes are a great way to get the family together to have fun and learn new skills.
"We want to engage the local community, children as well as caregivers, and help them to start creating healthy meals from scratch.
"We aim to show them that it is possible to freshly prepare meals on a budget and hopefully they'll go home and have some fun recreating the recipes."
Football journalist - @Richiereds1976Reds won the Champions League and were runners-up in the Premier League last season
Last Updated: 01/08/19 12:42pmLiverpool produced one of their greatest-ever campaigns last season, but can the Reds repeat that this time around?
Liverpool produced one of the greatest campaigns in the club's illustrious history last season, winning the Champions League and coming within touching distance of a first-ever Premier League title - but can Jurgen Klopp's side repeat that this time around?
Klopp, in his third full campaign in charge at Anfield, guided Liverpool to a second-place finish on the back of a record-breaking 97-point haul.Liverpool vs Norwich
August 9, 2019, 7:00pm
However, despite losing just once all season long - at the Etihad in January - the Reds still finished a point behind eventual champions Manchester City in their quest for a first top-flight title since 1990.Did you know?
Last season, Liverpool became the first team in top-flight history to win as many as 30 games and 97 points in a campaign and not win the title. Additionally, no side has ever previously lost just one game in a top-flight season and not won the title
That pain was somewhat diluted, though, by the side's subsequent victory over Tottenham in the Champions League final as Liverpool were crowned kings of Europe for a sixth time.Liverpool celebrate last season's Champions League win
So, can the Reds repeat - or even better - what has already gone down as one of their best campaigns?
Or is it more likely Liverpool will suffer an almost inevitable hangover this season?Does Klopp have cause for concern?
Liverpool's pre-season performances have left a lot to be desired. Does manager Jurgen Klopp need to be worried?Reasons why the Reds will challenge'If that's not a new signing, then I don't know…' The returning Oxlade-Chamberlain will be like a new Liverpool signing
Some critics have suggested that having brought in only Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg this summer, Liverpool have failed to build on their achievements last season.
However, Klopp will now be able to call upon the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joe Gomez, Rhian Brewster and Adam Lallana, who all missed large chunks of last season through injury.
So much so that that quartet will act as new signings for the German.
"Oxlade-Chamberlain… come on. Fit… if that's not a new signing, then I don't know. To buy him, after the impression we got when he played for us, what do we think the price would be to buy that level of player?0:24 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is desperate to make up for lost time as he targets a return to regular first-team action with Liverpool this season Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is desperate to make up for lost time as he targets a return to regular first-team action with Liverpool this season
"Brewster, Gomez, Lallana, it's all clear. We have these players, now we have to use them.
"If they are playing, then good. If not, then they have to push the others. That's how it should be. That's how good squads work, and that's what we believe in."
Meanwhile, young midfield duo Harry Wilson, who has impressed in preseason, and Ryan Kent - who both spent the previous campaign on loan at Derby and Rangers respectively - should also provide further competition for places this season.Klopp's greater striking options 1:00 Origi and Brewster both netted in Liverpool's pre-season win over Tranmere. Watch all of Liverpool’s pre-season games live in the UK and Ireland on LFCTV (Sky channel – 425). Go to www.sky.com/lfctv for more details about how to join Origi and Brewster both netted in Liverpool's pre-season win over Tranmere. Watch all of Liverpool’s pre-season games live in the UK and Ireland on LFCTV (Sky channel – 425). Go to www.sky.com/lfctv for more details about how to join
Much of Liverpool's success last season was built around the prolific front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
However, one (albeit minor) criticism of Klopp's side was that with that trio - who barely missed a game all season - featuring in the majority of Liverpool's matches, there was no Plan B in attack.
This campaign, though, Klopp will also be able to call upon the now fit Brewster and Divock Origi, who ended speculation about his future by signing a new long-term deal in July.
The versatile Origi, in particular, offers Klopp a different option up front with his pace and physique, being more of a traditional target man than any of the other three forwards.
And with three goals to his name during preseason, to go with his strike that killed off Spurs in June's Champions League final, expect the Belgian - who made just 11 league appearances last season - to feature more prominently this coming campaign.
Meanwhile, the Reds boss has also promised to make greater use of Brewster's raw potential this season.Five potential breakout Premier League stars in 2019/20
Ahead of the new Premier League season, we pick out five rising stars who could be set for breakout campaigns...
"Brewster is a top striker, he is a top talent and I have told him already that he has an important role this year, but how important depends on him," said Klopp.
"He has to play different positions as well - the centre, wing is possible I think, we will see how we line up, but there will be opportunities for him. I am sure."'Greedy for more silverware' 1:01 Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says the squad have learned from last season's title race against Manchester City and are desperate to win more trophies Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says the squad have learned from last season's title race against Manchester City and are desperate to win more trophies
Having lost only one of their 38 league encounters last season - the joint-second fewest in Premier League history - coming through numerous stern encounters and tests of character along the way, Liverpool will surely be better for the experience this time around.
In fact, Virgil van Dijk even recently spoke of how the incredible journey Liverpool's players went on last season will only stand them in good stead this time around.
"I think we should all learn a lot from it and take a lot of positive points from it on how to deal with the pressure," said the defender in an exclusive Sky Sports interview.
Not only that, but according to Van Dijk, winning Europe's premier club competition last season will also give the players an added motivation as they look to try and repeat the previous campaign's heroics.Nobody should be worried about us and that we don't stay greedy. There are many reasons for staying greedy
"There is hunger to get more silverware with this group of players full of talent and quality," he said. "And also to celebrate afterwards, it gives you such a boost afterwards to experience that more times together."
And Klopp agrees with the Dutchman: "It's like this - you get now a bit of a feeling how it is and you want to have it all the time.
"Nobody should be worried about us and that we don't stay greedy. There are many reasons for staying greedy."New boys better acclimatised Last summer's new boys, like Fabinho and Keita (right), should kick on this season
It is fair to say that the players Liverpool signed from abroad last season - Naby Keita, Fabinho and Alisson Becker- all took varying degrees of time to settle in at Anfield.
Keita was hamstrung by injury problems during the campaign, Fabinho was held back from regular first-team action until he became adjusted to Klopp's unique tactical demands, while Alisson had to become acclimatised to life as a goalkeeper in the Premier League.
All three, though, will be better for those experiences this season, with Liverpool sure to benefit as a result.
Not only that, but all the players - whether that be Xherdan Shaqiri, who only joined the club last summer, or captain Jordan Henderson, who has worked with Klopp since 2015 - will now have a better understanding of what the manager wants from them with his Gegenpressing system.
And again, as a consequence, Liverpool will be a better team this season.Reasons why the Reds will not challengeChristmas fixture pile-up
Part of the price of last season's success is an inevitable increase in workload for Liverpool's players this campaign.
So that means on top of their usual commitments at home and abroad, the Reds also face Man City in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday, before a trip to Istanbul to take on Chelsea in the European Super Cup on August 14, as well as the FIFA World Club Championship in December.Our December period is a madness, basically
Virgil van Dijk
And it is that latter competition in particular that may prove most challenging in Liverpool's efforts to repeat last season's sustained title charge, with Klopp's side set to play an energy-sapping 10 games in just 29 days over Christmas after their schedule in Qatar was recently confirmed.
"There are so many games. Our December period is a madness, basically," was Van Dijk's assessment of the club's busy Christmas schedule.Liverpool's festive fixtures Dec 4 Everton (h) Dec 7 Bournemouth (a) Dec 10 or 11 Final Champions League group game Dec 14 Watford (h) Dec 18 and 21 Fifa Club World Cup Dec 26 Leicester City (a) Dec 28 Wolves (h) Jan 1 Sheffield United (h) * The Carabao Cup quarter-finals are scheduled for week commencing Dec 16 After the Lord Mayor's Show Syndrome Rodgers' Liverpool struggled the season after they almost won the 2013/14 title
Liverpool will desperately be hoping history does not repeat itself this season, as the club has always followed finishing runners-up in the league with an underwhelming campaign the next season.
The most recent example of 'After the Lord Mayor's Show Syndrome' came in 2014-15 when, having once again gone within a whisker of winning the title the previous campaign, Brendan Rodgers's team flattered to deceive the next season when finishing down in sixth.
And the same also happened in 1991-92 (6th), 2002-03 (5th) and 2009-10 (7th), so Klopp will be anxious his players avoid a repeat scenario this time around.Can front three be kept out of the treatment room? Can Mane (left), Salah and Firmino (right) stay injury free this season?
Last season, for the second campaign in a row, the front three of Liverpool were in devastating form up front, spearheading the club's challenge on two fronts.
Between them, Salah (27), Mane (26) and Firmino (16) scored 69 goals in all competitions, while they also contributed a further 25 assists to the team cause.
However, Klopp was fortunate in many ways that his attacking trident barely missed a game through injury all season, a remarkable achievement really given their hectic schedule.
The chances of that key trio being injury fee again this season, especially given their expected extra workload, must be minimal though.
And if Klopp were to lose any of his first-choice forwards for an extended period, could the Reds really cope?Do Reds have strength in depth to challenge on multiple fronts? 0:33 Jurgen Klopp says he does not expect much transfer activity at the club, as Rhian Brewster and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain return from injury Jurgen Klopp says he does not expect much transfer activity at the club, as Rhian Brewster and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain return from injury
Despite Klopp's claim that new signings are not imperative, you do wonder if Liverpool have the strength in depth to repeat their record-breaking league campaign this season.
Yes, as previously mentioned, the likes of the returning Oxlade-Chamberlain will feel like new players.
However, there is a danger that Liverpool have stood still this summer and failed to build on last season's successes by not adding players to the squad, especially with them facing so many more fixtures this campaign.
City won the title after amassing an incredible 98 points and yet still broke their transfer record to sign Rodri from Atletico Madrid, while all Liverpool's other rivals have also strengthened.Man City's record signing Rodri (credit: Manchester City)
As a result, and as Klopp recently alluded to, it would be a major surprise if this season was just another two-horse title race, with Liverpool sure to face greater challenges from the likes of Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea.
"It became a two-horse race last year, but unfortunately there are too many good clubs in this competition," said the Reds boss.Soccer Saturday Super 6 is Back
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Liverpool’s final pre-season friendly of the summer ended in victory as they came from behind to beat French side Lyon 3-1 in Geneva.
Pre-Season Friendly (7), Stade de Geneve
July 31, 2019
Goals: Firmino 17′, Andersen OG 21′, Wilson 53′; Memphis pen 4′The Fitness of Five
Liverpool finally have a (nearly) full-strength side to pick from, with just Sadio Mane remaining absent.
The game against Lyon gave Jurgen Klopp the chance to field five seniors for the first time: Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita after injury and Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah after extended breaks.
Aside from the brilliant sight of seeing each of them in the beautiful red once more, it was largely positive from each in terms of movement and on-the-ball work, despite less than a week’s training.
A quick roundup of each:
Firmino: Good movement, his trademark hard work, some nice link play and very good first touches…and a quite brilliant goal. A low, drilled shot on the turn to equalise and Bobby looked very sharp.
Salah: Eager to get shots away whenever possible and dribbled infield with regularity. Speed and agility was there; close control somewhat less so. Missed out on a couple of one-on-ones but smiling and fit.
Shaqiri: Out of his usual position in an offensive midfield role, so it was mostly a case of running, off-the-ball movement and a few nice passes from deep.
Keita: Was lacking a certain first touch but was energetic. Some nice fouls to show his aggression. Big season ahead for our No. 8, but will likely have to bide his time to start with.
Alisson: Showed admirable intent to prove he’s just another part of the defensive group by following their pre-season lead: a mistake inside two minutes to gift a goal. Thereafter, clean with footwork and handling alike.Full-Back Auditions
The question of full-back cover is still to be answered and this game was, effectively, an audition to assess the readiness of two youngsters.
As such, the best sight of the first half might have been Ki-Jana Hoever getting forward to good effect.
Even before the Reds’ second goal which he had such a big hand in, he had overlapped Salah a couple of times, looking to get early crosses in.
Just after the 20-minute mark he again found space down that flank and delivered a fine ball into a dangerous area—and a mis-hit attempted clearance ended up in the back of the net.
It stands as an assist for Hoever; precisely what’s required from the full-backs.
One clever pass between three defenders found Salah for a shooting chance and his pace and intelligence on the ball were very much in evidence.
This was, all things considered, a very good display against what might be termed a good quality team, the sort the Reds will face on a regular basis.
Yasser Larouci made a welcome return to fitness after essentially being booted back across the Atlantic.
His driving runs weren’t quite as effective, but the trust immediately placed in him again by the boss was significant.Wilson and Gomez Stake Their Claims
The central defender would have remained first choice, no doubt, if not for injury last year—but he’s doing his best to show he deserves consideration as soon as an opening arises.
Definitely one of the best in the league at centre-back and definitely not one of the best at right-back, so that’s his future sorted, please and thank you.
As for Wilson, he swapped over to the left side and it was intriguing to see him try to offer his usual best traits while not cutting infield on his favoured foot.
His movement was good and pace was on show, but it was the quick, simple passing which made him effective.
One or two good darts forward gave him chances in the first half, then he found space centrally once or twice to launch his trademark rockets from range. And almost took the net off with one.
Maybe Liverpool’s best goal of pre-season was the very last one scored?Teenage Kicks
In case you hadn’t noticed, this team has a lot of talented youngsters pushing for involvement.
Even with several jettisoned after the US tour, the Reds were able to field a veritable platoon of those who are too young to drive in the UK and drink alcohol in the States.
They all impressed and played their part to one extent or another and all should take confidence from being involved at this point, just a few days before the season starts.
Loan moves, unimpressive performances, lacking fitness or mentality—any of these circumstances would have seen them left aside to develop further before attempting the step-up once more.
But these players can head into 2019/20 firm in the knowledge that they are in Klopp’s thoughts and will get the chance to shine if they continue to progress, improve and force the manager’s hand when the opportunity to play comes along.Real Action Around the Corner
A clutch of players with another hour or so on the pitch, a return to action for several key first-teamers and a win, with good tempo and several chances, to wrap up pre-season with.
If there were any slightly panicking fans worried at the performance levels, this one should assuage most fears.
Now it’s onto the real action, the games which matter, the fixtures where conclusions will be drawn the other way around: results are everything and poor performances can be excused, if the points (or trophies) roll in.
It’s Man City, Wembley and the Community Shield next up; a trophy to be won and a marker to be laid down.
Of course, if it doesn’t go to plan, it’s still only a pre-season friendly…
A trip to Geneva saw Liverpool a secure a 3-1 win over Lyon to end a four-game run without a victory, on a night when the whole squad was handed game time.
The Reds made the journey to Switzerland from their training base in Evian, France to partake in their seventh and final pre-season friendly of the summer.
The occasion marked the return of five senior figures to the starting XI as Alisson, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita were all included and handed at least 30 minutes of action.
An uncharacteristic fumble and subsequent foul allowed Memphis Depay to convert from the spot in what was a wobbly opening 15 minutes for Liverpool.
The Reds soon found their feet, however, and went on to dominate proceedings—paving the way for Firmino to quickly return to his goalscoring ways.
It was a superb turn and finish from a tight angle which saw him level the scores after some brilliant buildup play from Keita and Shaqiri.
A bout of sustained pressure ensured Lyon were now the team on the back foot and the Reds were rewarded for their efforts as Ki-Jana Hoever‘s delivery into the box saw the French side concede an own goal.
The 17-year-old impressed once more in the right-back position after displaying an incredible level of maturity and confidence in his 45-minute outing which helped ensure Liverpool took a 2-1 lead into the break.
Klopp would go on to make a host of changes to his team throughout the second half which would see no player feature for the full 90 minutes.
And Bobby Duncan impressed during his short 15-minute cameo to start the second half, linking up well with Yasser Larouci—on his return to the team after sustaining an injury from a horror tackle in America—before setting up Harry Wilson to seal the game.
The Wales international dispatched a thunderous 25-yard strike into the net, much to his and his team-mates’ delight.
A host of senior faces would then descend onto the field with just under half an hour remaining as a complete change to the XI was ordered.
But it was the Reds’ newest signing Harvey Elliott who caught the eye, with another brief performance full of intent and confidence having been unafraid to throw himself into the contest or unleash an effort on goal.
It proved to be a much-improved performance from Liverpool, individually and as a team, as they showed a level of cohesion which was lacking throughout much of the summer.
Klopp and his team then made their way around the stadium after the final whistle to show their gratitude to the fans who made the journey to Geneva in the final friendly of the summer.
Jürgen Klopp was left satisfied by Liverpool ‘taking a step in the right direction’ in beating Lyon 3-1 in their final pre-season friendly on Wednesday.
The Reds put in an impressive display at Stade de Geneve that ensured they got back to winning ways ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield meeting with Manchester City at Wembley.
An unerring finish by the returning Roberto Firmino and a long-range screamer from Harry Wilson sandwiched Joachim Andersen’s own goal as Klopp’s team stormed back after conceding an early Memphis Depay penalty.
Read on for a summary of the boss’ post-match press conference...
On his feeling of satisfaction after the game…
I said it and it’s clear: we will become fresher and fresher and things will happen for us again, but you have to go through this intense period and we are not through. Today was a good sign, finishing the pre-season on a high is obviously important for all of us. Lyon is a really, really good team and we didn’t let that happen really today with the speed they have up front with Depay, Traore and Dembele, especially in the first half. That’s just good. We conceded an interesting goal with the penalty, that’s how it is [and] you can see in these situations that all the boys need to adapt to it again. It was only three weeks but now Ali is two days in training like Mo, like Bobby, like Naby and like Shaq, so that means they need just a bit of time but you see the natural quality of them as well and that helps us of course. All round it was a much better performance, but again, I said that will happen. Now we have three more days to prepare for the City game and then we will see what we can do there.
On whether he was surprised at how ready the returning players looked…
No, not really. I think Mo is naturally fit and he can sprint all day, which helps us of course. It opens up the pitch, you can play much more football – not always between the lines, if you from time to time chip the ball in behind the line then Mo makes these offers which is very important for us. Bobby in between the lines and in the box, present, really important. Harry did a really good job in the first half and scored a wonderful goal, a Harry Wilson special, that was really cool. There were a lot of good performances. The last 30 minutes the boys looked really solid, looked kind of tuned – you saw that they’d played together already a couple of times and how they fit really well in that formation, so that was good as well. So today I am of course happy but I know we must play much better to have a chance against City. But how I said, it was today a step in the right direction and I am happy about that.
On whether Alisson, Firmino and Salah are fit enough to start at Wembley on Sunday…
I don’t know yet in the moment, so that’s how it is. We have to see. I don’t say 100 per cent not, there’s a chance that they will play, yes. They will be involved whenever, from the start, maybe we cannot make these changes like today after half an hour or whatever, that’s maybe not possible in that game so we have to see. We have to see how they react tomorrow, now training is not the highest intensity anymore, now training is about the detail [and] we really need to prepare the game. Man City is different to all other games that you play – you have to play a pre-season game against Man City to prepare for Man City and we didn’t do that! We need to adapt to that but all good. Today was from a physical point of view very, very important for all the lads and from a psychological point of view of course as well. We are all human beings and losing football games we never get used to, so I’m really happy that we could change that today.
On Wilson’s future…
We are in constant conversations, that’s clear. We have to do the right thing for us and for the boy. There is nothing to talk about in public about it, so we will see what happens in the next eight or nine days until the window closes. He is obviously a really good player and I was really happy with him in the whole pre-season; he came back from Derby in a completely different [shape]. That’s a good example of how a loan can really work out – it was for Derby really good and for Harry as well. For us as well, which is good. I am happy for him that he could show that tonight again. He played not in his best position, he played left wing and did it really well. We tried to set it up a little bit so it is more comfortable for him with positioning and stuff like that. When he scored the goal, it was just Harry. Brilliant.
On his assessment of Lyon…
It was a good game. Apart from the goal we conceded, which was a nice attack on their left side with Depay and the left-back [Marcal]. We were not ready for that, but we had a pretty mixed line-up, especially the last line. Apart from that, I think we played really calm. It helped a lot how Adam Lallana played in that position; it is difficult to play in that central position when you have such a good footballer who wants each ball. It’s not too cool when you lose a ball there, to be honest, but all the rest was brilliant. Shaq did well and Naby Keita enjoyed the game as well, so that was really cool. With Mo it helped us a lot and with Bobby. Lyon are in the middle of the pre-season as well so they can for sure play better – and they will play better. It is a really strong side. When I saw the line-up and their physicality, then when we were walking out I thought ‘different weight class’! They are really in a good shape, they have an interesting team I have to say. I think everything will be fine for Lyon; I am not sure what Paris [Saint-Germain] are doing in the moment, that’s probably as difficult as it is for us with Man City! But apart from that, Lyon have a really good team and I like them.
On Adam Lallana’s pre-season form and position…
He played 60 minutes and we all know he had these few injuries, which step by step we have to get rid of it, it needs to disappear out of your mind. 60 minutes is a good thing after he could train – I think he had 96 or 97 per cent of all sessions he could do during the pre-season, which is exceptional and really good. Then he could play a lot of games – I think two he was not involved but only for precaution and nothing else. Today he looked really fresh, so for him the pre-season was very successful. On the position, it depends to the opponent and to the alternative and what you have. In a friendly you can accept you can lose a ball there, but in a proper match I am not sure. He is a very smart footballer – a very, very smart footballer. He likes it [the position] but it is not his only position now, we don’t say he is a No.6 or nothing.