LFC NEWS

Liverpool FC mourns passing of Alisson Becker’s father

LiverpoolFC.TV - Thu, 02/25/2021 - 14:59

Liverpool FC is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Alisson Becker’s father, Jose, in Brazil on Wednesday.

The thoughts of everybody at the club are with Alisson and the Becker family at this incredibly sad and difficult time.

The club requests that the media respects the privacy of Alisson and his family during this time.

You’ll Never Walk Alone, @Alissonbecker ❤️ https://t.co/58Uf4bcKAB

— LFC (Liverpool FC) 25th Feb 13:35

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool FC mourns passing of Alisson Becker’s father

LiverpoolFC TV - Thu, 02/25/2021 - 14:59
Liverpool FC is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Alisson Becker’s father, Jose, in Brazil on Wednesday.
Categories: LFC NEWS

PSG emerge as latest club hoping to tempt Gini Wijnaldum away on a free

ThisIsAnfield.com - Thu, 02/25/2021 - 13:00

Gini Wijnaldum is expected to leave Liverpool on the expiry of his contract this summer, but Barcelona may not be the only club vying for the Dutchman’s signature.

In the absence of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Virgil van dijk, Wijnaldum is set to wear the captain’s armband for the Reds in this upcoming run of fixtures.

This comes despite the Dutchman entering the final six months of his deal earlier this year, and with no breakthrough on the horizon when it comes to an extension.

At this stage, it seems highly likely Wijnaldum will join the likes of Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic from recent years in leaving Anfield on a free.

Barcelona are widely considered his most probable next destination, but now French publication Le Parisien claim the 30-year-old’s availability will “strongly interest” Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG are presented as new suitors for outgoing Bayern Munich utility man David Alaba, but it is also mentioned in Frederic Gouaillard’s report that Wijnaldum is on a list of free agents the Ligue 1 club will consider.

This may come as no surprise given PSG have utilised the free agent market to bring in Rafinha, Ander Herrera, Gianluigi Buffon, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Lassana Diarra, Dani Alves and Hatem Ben Arfa over the past five years.

Furthermore, the presence of Mauricio Pochettino as manager points to a feasible interest in Wijnaldum, with the Argentine having held talks with the midfielder over a possible move from Newcastle to Tottenham in 2016.

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson hands the captain's armband to Georginio Wijnaldum (R) as he walks off injured during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 238th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. Everton won 2-0, the club’s first win at Anfield since 1999. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wijnaldum opted to join Liverpool after a similar conversation with Jurgen Klopp, but five years on he could link up with Pochettino in Paris.

Given his contract situation, and the issues separating him and his current club, it would make sense for Wijnaldum to head to PSG.

It is claimed he is looking for a wage befitting his status as one of the most important players within Klopp’s squad – having been earning the same, relatively low salary of £75,000 a week for the entire time he has been at Anfield – but also the stability of a lengthy deal.

But given his age, it is a difficult demand for Liverpool to agree to, as despite his remarkably consistent record of fitness, handing a player over the age of 30 a long-term contract – with a wage increase – is always a gamble.

PSG are more likely to provide the package Wijnaldum arguably deserves, and could present fierce competition for Barcelona if he does depart Merseyside this summer.

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Liverpool U23s forward becomes the latest to suffer season-ending injury

ThisIsAnfield.com - Thu, 02/25/2021 - 12:26

Liverpool have suffered another season-ending injury this week, with under-23s forward Jack Bearne undergoing surgery following ankle ligament damage in training.

This campaign has seen the Reds endure rotten luck in terms of fitness, with the demands of the fixture list taking their toll on the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.

Van Dijk is hoping to make his comeback before the end of the season, but as the Dutchman returns to light training outside at Kirkby, doubts swirl over the availability of Jordan Henderson between now and the end of May.

Though less damaging, it is a similar situation elsewhere at the training ground, with Barry Lewtas’ U23s dealt a blow with injury to Bearne.

Bearne has been a regular for the young Reds this season, starting 11 games and coming off the bench for another two, scoring three goals and laying on a further three assists.

But the 19-year-old, signed from Notts County in 2017, has had surgery on an ankle ligament injury suffered in training last week, which rules him out for the rest of the season.

“Today I have had ankle surgery to repair my ligament that I damaged last week while training, meaning that I will be out of action for the rest of the season,” Bearne wrote on Instagram.

“This is the second surgery I’ve had on this particular ankle which is very frustrating.

“But it only drives me on to come back stronger than ever, and to give my rehab everything to try and get back to my best!”

 Liverpool's Tom Hill celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Under-18 FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at the Liverpool Academy. Liverpool lost 2-4. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is not the first season-ending blow in the academy, either, with Tom Hill sidelined for the long term with a knee injury sustained back in September.

Paul Glatzel and Abdi Sharif have both spent much of the season on the treatment table, too, returning in a 3-1 friendly win over Salford City earlier this week.

Marcelo Pitaluga and Leighton Clarkson both suffered injuries during the U23s’ most recent competitive outing – a 3-2 win at Chelsea – while the likes of Joe Hardy, Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Billy Koumetio have also spent time out.

In the under-18s, James Balagizi, Melkamu Frauendorf, James Norris and Harvey Blair have all struggled for fitness at points, with this unique campaign have a big impact.

Bearne will be given the support of Liverpool’s top-class medical staff, and can use the likes of Glatzel and Sharif as examples of the commitment required during his lengthy layoff.

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Sadio Mane says winning the Champions League is Liverpool’s “main, main target”

ThisIsAnfield.com - Thu, 02/25/2021 - 11:57

Sadio Mane has accepted that Liverpool’s title defence is “over,” with the forward describing winning the Champions League as the “main, main target” from now.

The Reds are now sitting five positions and 19 points below Premier League leaders Man City, and with only 39 points left to play for it is highly unlikely they will retain their title.

That has been acknowledged by Jurgen Klopp and his squad, who are on a run of four consecutive defeats in the league, and head to bottom-placed Sheffield United on Sunday in desperate need of a victory.

A glimmer of hope remains in the Champions League, however, with a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig in the first leg of their last-16 clash putting Liverpool in a strong position to advance to the quarter-finals.

And Mane believes the “main, main, main target” is now winning the European Cup for the seventh time, along with finishing in the Premier League‘s top four.

“Our target from the beginning was Champions League, Premier League and the cups,” he told ESPN Brasil.

“Now, I can say it’s over for the Premier League, because the [gap] is too much.

“In our heads it’s always never give up – and we won’t give up – but Manchester is a great team and they’re flying, and for sure, being in the top four, right now, is our main target.

“But the Champions League is our main, main, main target – to win it, not be second.

“It won’t be easy, because we’re going to face the best teams in Europe, but we’re here to beat the best in the world.

“So we’ll do everything possible to go for it and to win the Champions League.”

 Sadio Mané of Liverpool and Perr Schuurs of Ajax during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Liverpool will be desperate to book their place in next season’s Champions League by any means necessary as, despite the prestige of their recent success under Klopp, it is imperative to strengthening the squad moving forward.

The most traditional route is to finish in the top four at domestic level, but given the competition in the Premier League – with Man United, Leicester, West Ham, Chelsea and Everton also in the running – winning the Champions League could be seen as ‘safer’.

If they are able to put Leipzig behind them in the last 16, the Reds would then be pitted against only two other sides on their way to the final – one in the quarter-finals, one in the semi-finals.

As Mane admits, however, these will be among “the best teams in Europe,” but the No. 10 is clearly relishing the challenge to prove himself against the top clubs again.

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Alisson's father drowns in Brazil aged 57

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Thu, 02/25/2021 - 08:03

The father of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson has died after drowning in a lake near his holiday home in southern Brazil on Wednesday, according to local police.

Jose Becker, 57, had been swimming at a dam on his property when the accident happened on Wednesday afternoon, Doroteo Machado Filho, a police inspector in the town of Lavras do Sul, told Reuters. No foul play was suspected.

Brazilian club Internacional, who both Alisson and his brother Muriel played for, tweeted their condolences.

"It is with great sadness that we received the news of Jose Agostinho Becker's death, the father of our ex-goalkeepers Alisson and Muriel," the club said.

Alisson began his career at Internacional before joining Roma in 2016. He moved to Liverpool, where he has established himself as one of the world's best keepers, two years later.

The 28-year-old has been a regular for Liverpool since joining the club, helping them to win the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup and European Super Cup in that time.

He has also won 44 caps for Brazil and was named FIFA Best Men's Goalkeeper in 2019.

Alisson's brother, Muriel, also began his career at Internacional. The 34-year-old joined Portuguese club Belenenses in 2017 but returned to Brazil with Fluminense two years later.

He has three caps for Brazil's U20 side.

Fluminense said on Twitter: "Fluminense Football Club deeply regret the passing of Jose Agostinho Becker, father of goalkeepers Muriel and Alisson. We wish all strength to his friends and family."

The death of Jose Becker comes just weeks after Jurgen Klopp's mother, Elisabeth, passed away.

The Liverpool manager was unable to attend her funeral due to a German ban on travellers from England.

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FSG and Liverpool FC’s biggest challenge

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 19:00

Liverpool’s season has been about how to best handle curveball after curveball, but it has also shed light on the vital transformation which needs to take place in the summer.

‘Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose the faith’ – Steve Jobs

Right now, pretty much everyone with a connection to Liverpool FC is entitled to feel they’ve been hit in the head with a brick, and it gets harder with each bad result to keep the faith. But if you are going to listen to a few words of wisdom, Steve Jobs is somebody who never lost sight of his vision and what he wanted to achieve. He was never afraid to fail and always learnt from it when he did.

This season at Liverpool has been a nightmare from the start, with no fans impacting our intensity, injuries completely killing the balance and chemistry in the team, and every 50-50 decision going against us. So, there are reasons – not excuses – but cold, hard factual reasons why Liverpool are in a rut right now. They don’t need lots of analysis as they are clear for everyone to see.

But, to ignore what is happening or write it off just as bad luck is actually a missed opportunity. What this season has exposed is that Liverpool have become a well-oiled machine under Klopp, with the system being as important as any one player.

But that system is broken right now and we don’t have an alternative way of playing when we lose key attributes – such as pace at centre back. We keep on trying to play the same way, but we are trying to do it with a patched-up engine and it just isn’t working.

When things aren’t going well it is really tempting to point the finger of blame – and mistakes have been made at Liverpool this season. The failure to recruit a new centre back earlier in January has had a huge impact on results and that sits with FSG. Whatever the reason, and yes there are big financial constraints with COVID, it was a risk that has backfired and could potentially have bigger consequences if there is no Champions League football at Anfield next season.

Rebuilding the team

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson and team-mates before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The really easy answer to Liverpool’s current problems are once the players and fans are back life will return to normal, and we will start being great again. There is of course every chance that might happen, but there are some real challenges coming up on the horizon that will need to be addressed as soon as this summer.

One of the biggest concerns this season is how blunt Liverpool’s attack has looked. Once again there are contributing factors such as a lack of pace at centre back exposing the high line, notably not allowing the full-backs the same freedom they have been used to.

Our pressing has fallen off a cliff with Henderson and Fabinho sized holes in midfield. Thiago was brought in to help unpick the lock of a low block but has had to play across a patched-up midfield in roles that just don’t suit him. And our front three have looked off the pace as a collective – with only Mo Salah playing to his level consistently.

Some of these problems can and will be fixed when players come back. Some are bigger issues. The biggest issue to solve is that there are far too many starting players too close to 30, including the front three. Love or loathe the FSG model for Liverpool, but if we keep Salah or Sadio Mane beyond this summer the resale value for those players will plummet. There is a big decision this summer on how we start to replace and refresh our attacking options. And it may well have to result in one of the trident moving on.

 Liverpool’s Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With the emergence of Diogo Jota, it will likely see a more reduced role for Roberto Firmino next season, although I think talk of his demise is a little hasty. Firmino has always been a streaky player and he has suffered as much as anybody from the lack of intensity in our play. He is still a genius on his day, but Jota offers more of a goal threat at this moment.

In addition to refreshing our attack, it is likely we will need to replace Gini Wijnaldum in the summer and make a big decision about Naby Keita. At 26, he is at the perfect age, but his injury record is a real worry. He should be a nailed-on starter next season and if he can’t be then we need a similar type of player that can be relied upon.

The other immediate issue to solve is fleshing out the squad. This season has proven that although we have some decent squad players in one-off games like Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, they have not been able to step up consistently enough. The squad needs to be deeper so that Klopp has real game-changing options from the bench.

 

How are we going to afford it?

 Liverpool's Director of Football Michael Edwards during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The polarisation of opinion on FSG has become a bit of a nonsensical sideshow at Liverpool. It has become so black and white – love or hate – whereas like most things in football and life the answer lies in shades of grey.

They have been good owners, who have made plenty of mistakes but have done what they said they were going to do. They’ve always said no deficit spending so it is pointless beating them up for not doing that, but they’ve also overseen some incredible moments – including hiring Klopp – so it is hard to argue the model can’t work.

One of the reasons the club is well run is that the wage bill is heavily incentivised. So, when we are doing well that is reflected in the wage bill which last year was one of the highest in Europe at £300 million, but if we do not do well that’ll flex downwards. It is designed to flex up or down in line with income and success, which means the club isn’t stuck with a huge fixed-wage bill if we spend a season out of the Champions League, for example (not saying that will happen).

Another factor to consider is that most deals in today’s market are spread over the course of a players’ contract. So the upfront fee doesn’t usually need to be paid all at once, as seen with Jota. This once again becomes a factor if we do have a drop in income but expect to recover that in future seasons like Champions League money.

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

It is also looking likely fans will be back at Anfield from the start of next season and that will go a long way to plugging the black hole of matchday revenue. That certainty will allow all clubs, including Liverpool, to budget for that income which they’ve not been able to do since COVID hit.

And last but not least, Michael Edwards has proven time and again that he is excellent at player trading. You can call it ‘sell to buy’, or you can call it smart player trading. With some of the issues around COVID hopefully becoming less of an influence in the next window, Edwards will hopefully be able to move on the surplus players and reinvest that in the right players. He has a lot of work to do in the summer, but his track record should give everyone confidence he will get it right.

In the worst-case scenario without European football next season, there is no reason to expect that the ‘model’ will just fall down this summer. Players still want to play for Klopp and for Liverpool, and if they swerve the club as they will go a season without Champions League action I highly doubt they’d have been the right fit anyway.

 

The biggest challenge

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The hardest thing once you find success is sustaining it. FSG will know all about this having seen pockets of success at the Boston Red Sox, but struggling to make it sustainable against the financial might of the Yankees.

But the expectations at Liverpool are on a completely different level (no disrespect to Red Sox fans), and ‘the model’ needs to keep on evolving to keep Liverpool competing.

The reason that next season poses the biggest challenge so far for FSG, Edwards and Klopp is that they have set the bar so high. The time has come to reinvent and rebuild, and it comes against a backdrop of reduced income and a difficult season. But this is a leadership team that have worked brilliantly well together thus far and come up with solutions to every single problem thrown at them. There is no reason to believe they can’t do the same again.

Klopp has to evolve the style of play and come up with some new ideas to counter the low block that has caused so many problems this season. That won’t just be fixed by players coming back.

Edwards needs to play a blinder on player trading, and may well need to make a huge trade moving out one of our front three and bringing in a younger option. FSG need to make sure the resources are available, and if we do miss out on dining at the top table of European football, accept some more risk than they’ve been comfortable with before.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks to his team at half-time during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 238th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But all of these challenges can be overcome. The infrastructure at the club with a redeveloped Anfield and the new training facility at Kirby are solid foundations. With a fully fit squad, we still have the spine of a Premier League and Champions League-winning team.

It might feel like we are being hit in the head with a brick at the moment, but there are plenty of reasons to keep the faith.

And just to be 100 percent clear, the worst possible case scenario is losing out on the Champions League, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen or simply accepted. But sometimes you need to cut through the noise and then you can see it doesn’t have to be Armageddon if you have a rogue bad season, which can happen to any club.

Let’s be honest, surely we won’t ever have another season like this one?

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Reds ‘keep close eye’ on Dybala & bad news on Henderson injury – Liverpool FC Roundup

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 17:57

Liverpool are linked today with another pair from Italy – both familiar names from the rumour mill over the past season or two – while there are steps forward, and back, on the injury front.

Reds ready to move if Juve sell Dybala

Paulo Dybala seems to be in the headlines in the weeks approaching every transfer window, as he fails to command an absolutely guaranteed spot in the Juventus line-up.

It’s no different this year, as he has only just a year and a bit left on his contract and discussions are still ongoing as to whether he’ll renew or not.

Goal.com say Liverpool are one of five clubs “keeping a close eye” on his progress both with regards to the contract situation and his fitness, after suffering with injuries this season.

The big Spanish two, Spurs and Man United are also said to be in the running.

Hendo facing extended time out

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson walks off injured during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 238th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jordan Henderson is the latest player going down with an injury from the Reds, which is pretty predictable given he’s been playing centre-back.

That’s just what happens this season, right?

The latest reports from the Athletic say Hendo is facing between four and six weeks on the sidelines…in a best-case scenario.

But there is a possibility it could be a lot longer, which would see him miss at least seven matches, including a Champions League quarter-final tie if we finish off the job against Leipzig.

Fabinho should be back to boost the centre of defence from the weekend onwards, but we’ve lacked Henderson’s drive in midfield too, so it’s still a real setback.

Truths and lies

 Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by Propaganda)

Lots more medical department talk and an eye on the future.

Quickfire LFC news

 Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between RB Leipzig and Liverpool FC at the Puskás Aréna. (Pic by Propaganda)

  • Liverpool fans do still expect us to finish in the top four…just about (TIA)
  • Speaking of Mane, our summer target Jeremy Doku has been compared to the No. 10 by his manager, not for style of play but for focusing on the need to improve (SW)
  • And Klopp sees Udinese’s Rodrigo De Paul as key to rebuilding the team this summer (SportMediaset)
Around the Prem

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana (L) and West Ham United's Declan Rice during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Spurs and Borussia Dortmund are the pair keen to sign Dean Henderson off United this summer. Guess that’s the knock-on of the De Gea-Donnarumma swap from the other day, hey (Sky)
  • Everton are in the running to sign Max Aarons. Nice try, but if Bayern still want him, that’s where he’s going (FR)
  • West Ham want £100m or more for Declan Rice and while he’s a very nice player, we’re not quite sure he warrants being the sixth all-time most expensive player in history (TS)
  • And West Ham have cryptically acknowledged they are over-achieving and intend to consolidate mid-table next season, by saying they want to sign Jesse Lingard permanently (Eurosport)
Stupid comment of the day

Granit Xhaka! The Arsenal man speaks on fans abusing him on social media:

“I wish I could meet these people, sit with them, eye-to-eye and ask ‘why are you writing these things?’

“This is not acceptable. So you have to open our eyes and to look after this a lot, because I think you kill the football like this if the people start to speak about a player or their families or things like this.”

Fully agreed that social media abuse is unacceptable. But not quite as sure that Xhaka, a man who has effectively assaulted opposition players on the pitch and has berated the fans for, erm, supporting the team, is the man to be laying down the law on what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Video of the day

How do outsiders see the Reds’ chances of the top four? Opinion is split…

[embedded content]

Worth watching tonight

Atalanta vs Real Madrid. An all-out-attack side against one without several of their main attackers. 8pm, Champions League, BT Sport.

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Training photos: LFC Women prepare for London Bees clash

LiverpoolFC TV - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 15:58
Liverpool FC Women continued preparing for their return to FA Women's Championship action with a Wednesday training session.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Training photos: LFC Women prepare for London Bees clash

LiverpoolFC.TV - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 15:58

Liverpool FC Women continued preparing for their return to FA Women's Championship action with a Wednesday training session.

The Reds are set to take on London Bees at Prenton Park this weekend - and our photographer was at the Solar Campus to capture their midweek workout...

Photos by John Powell

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Jota back in training, VVD steps up rehab

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 15:17

Diogo Jota returned to full training on Wednesday as Liverpool prepared for Sunday's trip to Sheffield United, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

Portugal international Jota scored eight goals in his last 11 matches for Liverpool before a knee injury in their Champions League dead rubber against Midtjylland in early December sidelined him for almost three months.

After making tentative steps with individual outdoor training, Jota - who has scored a total of nine in 17 since arriving from Wolves in September - rejoined his team-mates at the club's Kirky training base.

 Getty images Image: Diogo Jota at Liverpool's Kirky training centre with Curtis Jones and Mohamed Salah

There was also positive news regarding Virgil van Dijk, who was pictured training outside with the ball as part of his individual recovery programme.

Van Dijk suffered serious anterior cruciate ligament damage against back in October 2020 and had spent the majority of his recovery following surgery in Dubai.

Getty images Image: Virgil van Dijk continued his recovery from his anterior cruciate ligament injury Sunday 28th February 7:00pm Kick off 7:15pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

Liverpool are also still awaiting the results of a scan to determine the severity of the injury sustained by Jordan Henderson during the Merseyside derby defeat on Saturday.

Jordan Henderson went off injured during the first half of Liverpool's match with Everton (PA image) 0:34 Jurgen Klopp says Jordan Henderson's injury 'doesn't look good' and that his medical staff are not feeling positive as the Liverpool captain faces a scan.

The Liverpool captain was forced from the field in the 29th minute with an apparent groin injury.

Jurgen Klopp said on Sunday: "It's the groin/adductor region and nobody in the medical department was positive about it.

"It doesn't look good, but we have to wait, of course, for the scan tomorrow, hopefully."

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Fans still expect Liverpool to finish in the top four – just

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 15:01

Liverpool’s poor run of form has created uncertainty over their chances of finishing in the top four this season, but the majority of Reds remain optimistic.

From the top of the table at Christmas to sitting 19 points adrift of leaders Man City merely two months later, Liverpool have seen their hopes for the season change dramatically.

The title is no longer on the cards and instead, sights are set on clinching an all-important top-four spot – which Jurgen Klopp‘s side currently sit five points away from.

With 13 games remaining, there is no time to waste and a change in fortunes is required post-haste after accumulating just seven points in the last nine league games.

The top half of the table is heavily congested and there will be little room for further slip-ups, where at least eight wins could be required to get over the line.

 Liverpool players line-up during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 238th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The importance of finishing in the top four is not lost on any at Liverpool and while further injury blows threaten to derail the final few months, there is still plenty of hope in the air.

And to gauge the feeling among the fanbase, This Is Anfield took to Facebook and Twitter to see if supporters still expected the Reds to finish in the top four.

On Facebook, 63 percent of the 31,300 fans who voted still expect Klopp’s men to end the season with a Champions League spot through the top-flight.

While not currently anywhere near their relentless best, this side have proven anything is possible and that ensure optimism remains for some.

For Padraig Rogers, it is a case of we’ve seen worse achieve the feat, writing:
“We have gotten top four with lesser squads in the past. It’s possible but difficult.”

It’s just a case of when Liverpool will “click” for Dave Wood, and the hope it is sooner rather than later: “I know there will be a point where it’ll click, the question is when.

“This side is unbelievably good, but they’re tired, struggling to find the fire that we’ve had for years and without key personnel in key positions.”

Meanwhile, Rob Hunt assessed the challenge ahead after what has already been a tumultuous six months:

“I think the odds are against us. Not too worried about West Ham, Everton, or Spurs. Leicester look solid and are nine points clear of us…It’s easy to point fingers with hindsight, but it’s been the perfect storm since the pre-season (or lack of).”

On the other side of the coin, Shaun McGarry was honest in saying no to a top spot and that even the other route of winning the Champions League is not realistic, writing:
“Pains me to say but no I don’t think we will finish in the top four.

“The only way we will qualify for champions league next season is if we win it this season which atm I can’t see.”

On Twitter, the results were not as divided but 55.7 percent of the 14,320 fans maintained the same majority, with the Reds finishing in the top four.

It was a case of an ember of hope remaining for @Ged_147, which is flickering in the face of a string of defeats: “It looks less likely with each defeat but there is still hope, we can’t give up.

“Next season starts here, if we can finish strongly it sets us up to start well next season.”

For @hetpet1212, the return of Diogo Jota is just what the doctor ordered and his presence could hold the key: “Honestly think with Jota back will make a massive difference to our attacking qualities.

“Having that fourth man in attack will change our pretty dry tactics and also change our game plan as well. Think he can be the catalyst to turn our season around.”

And there was a look to the bigger picture for @burley_damon both in terms of football as a business and from a well-being point of view, writing: “Financially we need it. But mentally and physically I hope if we don’t finish top four we miss Europe altogether.”

 Liverpool's Diogo Jota (C) celebrates after scoring the first goal with team-mates during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Atalanta BC and Liverpool FC at the Stadio di Bergamo. (Pic by Simone Arveda/Propaganda)

It’s certainly welcome to see hope remains, after all this Liverpool team have given few reasons to doubt them in recent years.

A lot has conspired against them in 2020/21 and it’s by no means an easy task to wrestle back momentum and hit the target, but only time will tell if they can do just that.

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Photos: Jota returns to team training while Van Dijk works outside

LiverpoolFC.TV - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 14:37

Diogo Jota returned to full training as Liverpool geared up for their meeting with Sheffield United on Wednesday.

Portugal forward Jota, who has not played since December due to a knee injury, was back among his teammates ahead of Sunday's visit to Bramall Lane, while Virgil van Dijk's rehabilitation programme continued with an individual outdoor session.

Check out 75 photos of the Reds' midweek workouts below.

Photos by Andrew Powell - @andyphotolfc

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Photos: Jota returns to team training while Van Dijk works outside

LiverpoolFC TV - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 14:37
Diogo Jota returned to full training as Liverpool geared up for their meeting with Sheffield United on Wednesday.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Case study: 'LFC Connect is life-enhancing'

LiverpoolFC.TV - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 13:38

Avid Red, Colette, is a people-person.

At 91-years old, she enjoys nothing more than sitting down and having a good chat. Speaking to friends, old and new, listening to the stories they have to tell and learning about their lives. 

Whoever you are, or wherever you’re from, retired nurse Colette is always interested in hearing your tale.

So, when lockdown hit back in March 2020, Colette found that her opportunities to meet new people and enjoy an interesting conversation became severely limited. 

Registered blind, she lives in extra care sheltered accommodation in the Croxteth area. 

But with visitors now unable to pop in, residents unable to meet and socialise, and her family unable to travel to her due to government restrictions, Colette found herself feeling isolated. 

Those conversations became limited to her family only able to make daily phone calls - a challenge in itself knowing what to say each day, from both sides.

Once an avid reader and lover of interesting historical and factual programmes, her failing eyesight meant she could no longer enjoy a good book or sit down to enjoy watching a TV programme.

“How can you really pass the day when you have to stay inside, and your limited vision means you can’t read a book or watch TV?,“ asks her daughter Ann. 

Lockdown started to take its toll on Colette, as it surely has with many other isolated people.

Her family became so concerned at her lack of physical contact that her granddaughter Carly had an inspired idea. She hired a cherry-picker so she, and her mum, could be hoisted into the air to peer through Colette’s first-floor window to say hello, have a chat and actually see her for the first time in many weeks. Colette unfortunately couldn’t see her surprise outdoor visitors, but she knew they were there and was very glad to talk to them.

Recognising that Colette missed having someone new to connect with and speak to, the Citizens Advice Bureau referred her to the LFC Connect service, a social isolation initiative aimed at contacting older and vulnerable neighbours in the north Liverpool and Kirkby communities to chat on the phone and have a virtual cuppa with them. 

Since being introduced to the programme, her daughter Ann says the phone calls have been a wonderful tonic for her mum and have lifted her spirits considerably.

“With everything happening at the moment, life can be so very difficult for those who are elderly and vulnerable. It’s hard to imagine just how challenging it is for these people, and then for my mum, it is compounded by the added difficulties of being without sight. The feelings of isolation and missing company must be enormous,” she says. 

Ann didn’t initially know her mum was receiving the phone calls from the LFC Connect service. It was only when she received a special hamper over the festive period, as part of the Operation Christmas Magic campaign, that it became clear the club had been in contact.

“The hamper she received at Christmas was simply marvellous. I was a little surprised when she told me it had come from Liverpool FC, but I think it’s fantastic and such a wonderfully kind gesture. 

“Then she told me that she had been receiving phone calls from LFC. At first, I was a little concerned but the club confirmed that they had indeed been calling mum on a regular basis as part of their Connect service, to check in on her and make sure she was getting those interesting chats she longed for so much! 

“I think the service that LFC is offering is so incredibly important and valuable, it really goes a long way to helping those who are vulnerable and feeling isolated so they can stay connected and don’t feel alone. What a wonderful way for LFC to support the community.

“My mum grew up with her father, my grandfather, being a huge Reds fan and a loyal season-ticket holder, I know that he would be incredibly proud and delighted to know what the club is doing for her and that she’s being supported by the team he loved so much.” 

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Case study: 'LFC Connect is life-enhancing'

LiverpoolFC TV - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 13:38
Avid Red, Colette, is a people-person.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Nonsense German report claims Klopp is ’68%’ likely to leave Liverpool next year

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 11:41

Liverpool in a rough patch equals Jurgen Klopp‘s departure for some media outlets, but it’s simply nonsense and a drive for clicks during a rare low point.

From “Jurgen Klopp ‘could QUIT Liverpool'” to “Jurgen Klopp to leave Liverpool odds slashed,” it’s been a constant talking point during a time when the Reds are a shadow of their former selves.

The numbers do speak for themselves: two league wins in 2021, zero goals from open play at Anfield in the last five and seven points from the last 27 available.

It’s far from pretty and at another club, it could certainly see the chopping block come into play but not for Klopp and not for Liverpool despite the rumours to the contrary.

And we’ve not been short of those and the boss himself recently shot them down with a proclamation that he was not leaving or in need of a break.

But the latest one to attempt to predict the future path of Klopp comes from German outlet Bild, who have bizarrely assigned percentage likelihoods to four possible options.

The majority share sees a “68 percent probability” that Klopp will leave Liverpool in the summer of 2022, two years before the end of his current deal, to take a break before taking over as Germany’s national manager.

 Tuesday February 16, 2021.

Meanwhile, a ’30 percent’ chance exists for the boss to fulfil his contract at Anfield if “things are right” in regards to shared ambitions.

And there’s only a one percent probability for Klopp to either leave the club or for Liverpool to give him his marching orders, while the effect of the coronavirus is also considered as an exit-clause for this summer.

Simply put, it’s all very un-Klopp like. Not to mention a probability scale to predict any future move is straight-up bizarre.

A shot at the German top spot may certainly be on his radar but Liverpool’s dip in a season comparable to no other, where injuries have come at every turn and fans are locked out will not make for a rash departure.

The Reds have experienced incredible success in the last few years and while present-day is clouded by tumultuous results, Klopp has always been committed to fulfilling his contract until 2024.

“For me personally this is a statement of intent,” he said upon penning his deal back in 2020.

Things can and do change but to assign a “68 percent” probability that he would bid farewell next summer is a stretch, especially when the basis for how the number was created is not clear.

How’s that saying go, 68 percent of all statistics are made up?

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Liverpool lose new coach from academy setup to the Championship

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 10:30

Liverpool have seen under-23s assistant coach Gary O’Neil leave the club to take up a role with Bournemouth‘s first team, just six months on from his appointment.

O’Neil joined the new-look U23s set up at the start of the season, serving as Barry Lewtas’ assistant – who himself had been promoted from the under-18s over the summer.

The 37-year-old had a long playing career which saw him ply his trade with the likes of Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Norwich over a period of 19 years.

O’Neil’s wealth of experience would prove invaluable in his work with the club’s rising stars, offering a new-look bridge between the academy and the first-team.

But he has now swapped youth football for the Championship’s Bournemouth where he is to take up a coaching position under new manager Jonathan Woodgate, who recently worked at Liverpool himself as a scout.

The pair were teammates at Boro back in 2007/08 and will now team up in their bid to see the Cherries move back into the Premier League – an experience O’Neil has previous with after playing in four promotion-winning sides throughout his career.

 Liverpool's assistant coach Gary O'Neil during the pre-match warm-up before the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Southampton FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. The game ended in a goalless draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After the move was made public, Woodgate spoke of the high recommendation forwarded on by Liverpool and the drive that has and will continue to see O’Neil become a success story.

“I’ve known Gary for a number of years, having played with him at Middlesbrough,” Woodgate said. “He comes highly recommended from Liverpool and has a great knowledge of the game and an appetite to never stop learning.

“Gary is going to bring something different to the coaching staff. He’s a new voice to the players, someone who has no connection to Bournemouth and I believe that an outside pair of eyes are important for us.”

The job now will now be to find Lewtas another second in command, which could certainly come from within.

In the meantime, the U23s will continue their push to move up the Premier League 2 table, where they currently sit in eighth place and 11 points behind leaders Man City, with a game in hand.

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Reds up for Team of the Year at 2021 Laureus World Sports Awards

LiverpoolFC TV - Wed, 02/24/2021 - 10:30
Liverpool FC have been nominated for the Team of the Year prize at the 2021 Laureus World Sports Awards.
Categories: LFC NEWS

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