LFC NEWS

Six Reds in running for UEFA.com Team of the Year

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 15:04
Six Liverpool players have been shortlisted for the UEFA.com team of 2018 – and fans can vote for them to be included in it now.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Van Dijk on Napoli clash, Gomez contract and topping the Premier League

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 15:02

Virgil van Dijk is confident that Liverpool can do what is necessary to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Reds go into Tuesday’s final Group C fixture knowing they must beat Napoli either 1-0 or by two clear goals to be certain of advancing from the pool.

A big European night is in store at Anfield, then, and - while acknowledging that their tricky situation is an issue of their own making, Van Dijk believes Jürgen Klopp’s team have what it takes to qualify.

During Monday’s pre-match press conference, the No.4 was also quizzed on topics including Joe Gomez’s new contract, which was signed earlier in the day, and the Reds’ position at the top of the Premier League.

Read on for a summary of what Van Dijk had to say…

[embedded content]

On Gomez’s new deal…

First of all, [it’s] well deserved. I knew it already a couple of weeks ago but he is a great player, he’s been showing it for us, and he’s been showing it for England as well, and he can only get better and I am delighted he has signed a new deal.

On whether he had huge weeks like this in mind when joining the club…

For sure. You want to play at the highest level. Obviously you don’t want to be in the situation we could be in tomorrow where we could maybe get knocked out, but it is how it is and we are looking forward to it. We want to show them and show everyone in the world that we belong in the Champions League. We should be confident as well with the situation we are in now. We are doing very well in the league and we need to show it in the Champions League as well, and hopefully we can keep doing that after tomorrow.

On whether strong form in the Premier League goes hand in hand with the Champions League…

I think it’s going to be a very tough game. Like I said, we should be confident, we should be ready for tomorrow. We should be believing in ourselves that we can do it, we can progress. I am definitely confident in my team and the players, but we still need to show it.

On whether he is surprised that it has come to a situation where Liverpool must win their final group game to progress…

Well it’s our own fault that we are in this position, but we have a way to get out of this and we need to do it tomorrow. That’s the only way and that’s how it is.

Liverpool's CL permuations explained>>

On the difficulties the Reds faced during defeat in Belgrade on matchday four…

Obviously it was a tough game. It was a bad night for all of us, for all those who support Liverpool and for us as well. We were poor, we were obviously not like we had hoped for. It was a tough game but that’s how it is.

On whether being top of the Premier League will change the team’s approach domestically...

No, I don’t think so. I think it’s a totally different game tomorrow, it’s a different situation. It’s basically like a final for us - obviously we need to win and hopefully don’t concede and if we do, we need to win by a lot of goals, so that’s it. Obviously we should have confidence in our situation in the Premier League, but that’s the only thing, I think.

On whether the players acknowledged the fact they had gone top of the table after Saturday’s win at Bournemouth…

We didn’t speak about it too much together. Obviously you get messages, you see all these things on the internet and stuff so that’s the only thing. But we know that the season is very long – it could change next week, or in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully it doesn’t change, but you never know.

On how he feels physically, having started every Liverpool game bar one so far this season…

I feel amazing. If there’s a game you are going to be ready anyway, and in the profession that we do you need to do everything possible to get yourself ready and that’s what I’m doing. I play and then after the game it’s all about recovery: making sure you eat the right things and rest. It’s difficult but at the end of the day when you are out there on the pitch, you forget about these things.

On the danger of taking a gung-ho approach from the first whistle, given Napoli’s threat on the counter-attack…

It’s going to be a difficult game. That’s how they play but we need to play our game, we need to be ready to do what we’ve been doing almost the whole season. We have plenty of quality to score and we have plenty of quality to defend as well, but at the end of the day it’s all about showing it on the pitch. It is all about showing it on the pitch.

Klopp: We've got a chance - and we'll do everything to use it>>

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Van Dijk on Napoli clash, Gomez contract and topping the Premier League

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 15:02
Virgil van Dijk is confident that Liverpool can do what is necessary to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Video: Glatzel treble sinks the Saints

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 15:00
Highlights of Liverpool U18s' 3-0 win over Southampton on Saturday are now available to watch on LFCTV GO.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v Napoli - Huge Night at Anfield for Klopp's RedmenAnfield nights Liverpool won't want to...

Anfield Index.com - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 14:47
The Details

 Champions League

Venue – Anfield, Liverpool

Referee – Damir Skomina (SVN)

Date & Time – Tuesday, November 11th 2018 @ 20:00 BST

Current Odds – Liverpool 4/7, Draw 7/2, Napoli 15/4

Form

Liverpool Form

Liverpool’s 4-0 win at Bournemouth gave The Reds their best ever start to a league season in the club’s 126-year history. That is nothing short of phenomenal. To top it all off, Chelsea then beat Manchester City 2-0 to ensure Jurgen Klopp’s charges remained on the top of the Premier League table after the weekend.

In Europe, things haven’t been quite so rosy with Liverpool losing all three of their away games in the group. A win by at least two goals will put Liverpool through to the group stages or else a 1-0 win will also be sufficient for Klopp’s men.

Since The Reds’ defeat to PSG at the end of November, they won their following three league games – Everton (H), Burnley (A), Bournemouth (A).

There is a little bit of a swagger coming back into Liverpool’s game and with the crowd behind them on Tuesday night it would be very hard to bet against them doing what is necessary.

Napoli Form

Napoli have been playing steadily well lately. In Serie A, they are currently second behind Juventus with a gap of eight points already between the teams after 15 games.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are top of the Champions League group but if they lose by two against Liverpool and PSG win their game with FK Crvena zvezda then the Italian’s will finish third and be out of this season’s competition and headed for the Europa League.

Team News

Liverpool Team News

Joe Gomez is unavailable after sustaining a lower-leg fracture in last week’s win at Burnley. Dominic Solanke, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne are all doubtful for Tuesday night, too.

It’s hard to know which formation Jurgen Klopp will deploy for this game but I’m hoping it’s the 4-2-3-1 setup with Fabinho in as one of the ‘2’ at the base of the midfield.

I expect Joel Matip to keep his place alongside Virgil van Dijk in Gomez’s absence.

Napoli Team News

Napoli’s only real injury concerns at the moment are Vlad Chiriches and Simone Verdi who are both unavailable for this trip to Anfield.

Carlo Ancelotti has also changed Napoli’s old tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation and now sets his team out in a 4-4-2 shape.

Predicted XIs

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson(c), Fabinho; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mané; Salah

Napoli XI (4-4-2) – Ospina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Rui; Callejon, Allan, Hamsik(c), Ruiz; Milik, Insigne

When they last met

Napoli won the reverse fixture 1-0 in Naples thanks to a late Lorenzo Insigne goal in the second round of games in this group.

The Italian side has only played once before at Anfield, in a Europa League group fixture in 2010. A late Steven Gerrard hat-trick ensured a 3-1 win for The Reds after they had been one behind for the bulk of the game after Ezequiel Lavezzi’s first-half opener.

Prediction

Liverpool 3 – 1 Napoli

Tuesday’s match could well be this generation’s ‘Olympiakos’ night. I think Liverpool will do enough to get over the line and out of the group. There will be goals and drama along the way – lots of drama! Buckle in for another big Anfield night.

** Please note – “xGA” on the Form Stats Tables symbolises “expected goals against”

All xG stats courtesy of Understat.com and/or FiveThirtyEight.com

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Klopp: We've got a chance - and we'll do everything to use it

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 14:36
‘We have a chance and we will give everything to try and use it,’ was the message from Jürgen Klopp as Liverpool prepare for their must-win Champions League encounter with Napoli at Anfield.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Jurgen Klopp provides positive injury update on Sadio Mane & more ahead of Napoli tie

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 14:17

Liverpool should have a near-full squad to choose from for the crunch clash against Napoli on Tuesday night, with Sadio Mane in contention to start.


The Reds will, of course, be without Joe Gomez for the Champions League tie, who has suffered a leg fracture and is out until the new year.

But aside from the defender’s absence, there will be a strong squad to choose from for Klopp with three players nearing full fitness after recent woes.

Mane made his return as a second-half substitute against Bournemouth, coming on to play on the right side for the Reds as they went top of the Premier League table.

He had previously missed the win at Burnley after suffering a foot injury against Everton, but Klopp told LiverpoolFC.com that the No. 10 had suffered no adverse reaction to his weekend cameo.

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane kneels to pray as he celebrates scoring the fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Sadio can deal with the pain obviously – it looked like that in Bournemouth, so that’s cool. It’s good enough that we can consider him at least.

“We have two sessions still to come – we’ll train tomorrow morning as well. That’s very important. We have the meeting to do. In the squad there is nothing really serious after the game, that’s good.”

Elsewhere, Adam Lallana should be fine to be part of the squad, despite suffering a bad cut to the head at the weekend.

The midfielder came on at the same time as Mane at Dean Court, but a clash of heads saw him spend part of the latter stages of the game on the sidelines.

He has, however, been training since the match, leaving Klopp assured he’s ready to play a part if needed.

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Lallana is likely to be sub at best, Klopp could be able to call upon a necessary defensive reinforcement in the shape of Dejan Lovren.

Joel Matip has impressed in the past couple of games alongside Virgil van Dijk, so is likely to start at centre-back against Napoli, but with Gomez now sidelined the Reds were looking worryingly thin on the ground at the back.

Given the track record of both Matip and Lovren over the past season or two in terms of their fitness, it’s a real boost to have the Croatian available again—though it’s still touch-and-go whether he makes Tuesday’s game.

“We will see how Dejan is doing,” Klopp continued.

“Yesterday he was out on the pitch and looked quite well. Can he be part of training today or not? We will see that. Squad-wise, [there is] no bad news at least.”

Klopp has often called upon a late defensive sub this season to help shore up the defence, and given what’s at stake at Anfield, it’s feasible we could again see the boss turn to a centre-back off the bench to help close out a vital victory.

Liverpool need either a 1-0 win or a two-goal winning margin to seal passage to the last 16.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Klopp's LFC injury update: Lovren, Lallana and Mane

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 13:34

Sadio Mane is available to return to Liverpool's starting line-up for Tuesday's Champions League tie with Napoli, while Dejan Lovren will be assessed before the game.

A foot injury sustained during the Merseyside derby caused Mane to miss last week’s trip to Burnley, before he came off the bench during the second half of Saturday’s 4-0 win over Bournemouth.

And Jürgen Klopp has confirmed that the forward can be ready to play from the start in the crunch meeting with Carlo Ancelotti’s side at Anfield.

The boss told Liverpoolfc.com: “Sadio can deal with the pain obviously – it looked like that in Bournemouth, so that’s cool. It’s good enough that we can consider him at least.

“We have two sessions still to come – we’ll train tomorrow morning as well. That’s very important. We have the meeting to do. In the squad there is nothing really serious after the game, that’s good.”

Lovren, who has been sidelined for the Reds’ last three matches, is due to train with the team later on Monday and will be assessed before a decision is made on his involvement on Tuesday.

“We will see how Dejan is doing,” added Klopp. “Yesterday he was out on the pitch and looked quite well. Can he be part of training today or not? We will see that. Squad-wise, [there is] no bad news at least.”

The manager also explained that Adam Lallana has felt no ill-effects from the head injury he suffered at Vitality Stadium: “He looked fine. Nobody told me differently. He was running yesterday.”

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Klopp's LFC injury update: Lovren, Lallana and Mane

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 13:34
Sadio Mane is available to return to Liverpool's starting line-up for Tuesday's Champions League tie with Napoli, while Dejan Lovren will be assessed before the game.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool’s best-ever start has been fuelled by a remarkable evolution under Jurgen Klopp

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 12:30

The significance of Liverpool’s best start to a season in the club’s 126-year history cannot be overlooked, and Jurgen Klopp deserves most of the praise.


Think about this: in 126 years, we have never started a season this well.

Sixteen played, 13 won, three drawn—and the draws coming against the teams currently second, fourth and fifth.

Once again we have the league’s No. 1 player for goals and assists combined in the form of the majestic Mo Salah (15, level with Eden Hazard).

Only two players in Premier League history have reached 40 league goals quicker. Less publicised, is that Mo also leads the league in most shots overall (57) as well as most shots on target this season (27).

But this incredible start to the season is about much more than Salah’s goals.

It’s often said that ‘goals win you games’. That’s true of course, but they only win you games if you score more of them than the opposition does. So there needs to be an addendum to that statement; goals may win you games, but a solid defence wins you titles.

We have conceded an astonishingly low six goals in 16 games (no team has ever conceded fewer over that number of games to start a season) and in none of those games have we conceded more than once.

Jurgen Klopp, pre match, purple (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Since Rafa Benitez left the club we have routinely conceded an average of greater-than-one goal per game each and every season. History has shown that you are unlikely to win titles if you leak goals at this frequency.

This season, our goals-conceded-per-games ratio is currently an incredible 0.38.

City won the league last season conceding 0.71 goals per game. The Premier League champions for the previous three seasons before that conceded 0.87, 0.95 and 0.84 goals per game.

In our ‘almost season’ of 2013/14 we conceded 1.3 goals per game. City conceded fewer than one per game that season and in the end that’s why we finished behind them. Currently, they are conceding at a phenomenally low rate of 0.56 and yet that is just under 50 percent more per game vs. our extraordinary 0.38.

It has been many, many years since we could declare that Liverpool have, categorically, the best defence in the top division. So far this season, not only has no team conceded fewer (six), and no team has as many clean sheets either (10).

At the other end of the pitch, last season we were (rightly) being hailed for our mesmerising attacking play. Yet after 16 games last season, (when we still had Coutinho as part of the ‘Fab Four’) we had scored exactly the same number of goals as this (34), yet were already 16 points behind City—even though we’d lost only twice.

Today, we stand one point ahead of them.

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez celebrate after the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The reason was clear and once again it goes back to the defence; we had conceded 20 goals in those 16 games…14 more than we have this season.

We were also five points behind second-placed Man United at this stage of the season; now we are 16 points ahead of them.

So, after 16 games, we have seen an incredible 17-point positive swing vs. (then) first-placed City, and a massive 21-point swing vs. second-placed United. City are down four points on last season; we are up 12.

Evolution

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade). (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The easy explanation for this defensive solidity is too often lazily explained by pundits as simply “they spent a fortune on Van Dijk and Alisson.” Well, if it was that easy, Pogba and Fred would be dominating Premier League midfields, wouldn’t they?

No, this has been an astute, calculated, quite brilliant amassing of the essential jigsaw pieces over the course of three years since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival at Anfield.

The pundits are correct when they say that “Liverpool have an identity, a specific style.” Yes, we do…but it has taken the best part of three years getting the right parts in place, to create a team that is now performing at a level much greater than the sum of those parts.

Going back to Klopp’s first game in charge, the back five consisted of Mignolet, Moreno, Skrtel, Sakho and Clyne. The five-man midfield was Can, Lucas, Coutinho, Milner and Lallana. The lone striker was Origi.

On the bench were Bogdan, Toure, Randall, Allen, Ibe, Teixeira and Sinclair.

I think it is fair and accurate to say that, other than maybe Coutinho, the evergreen Milner and possibly Lallana, who still makes the squad albeit in a reduced role, every single one of the other 15 players in the squad that day have been upgraded.

Not one of these other players has, or would, get anywhere near today’s squad on a regular basis. For all his recent derby heroics, that also includes Origi.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s focus has been on team dynamics and technical ability. It is so evident now watching us play, just how technically gifted these players are. In every position there is a player with a mix of close control, vision, passing range, ability to make the right decision at the right time, focus and determination.

Mistakes are becoming far less frequent and moments of excellence are increasing. I would go as far to suggest that this is the most technically gifted squad we have ever had.

Of course, to create a great team you need great technically gifted players. But many teams have great players who don’t constitute a great team.

Without the right coach with a strategic plan, a blueprint for success and incredible man management, you too could spend half a billion quid and be 16 points behind the league leaders after 16 games.

Klopp’s astute, studied and disciplined approach to team-building has been an astonishing masterplan of how to take what was a very average team, analyse the needs, develop a plan and build towards excellence.

Unlike other supposed ‘elite’ managers, he hasn’t bought based on reputation, status or media hype.

 Liverpool's manager J¸rgen Klopp embraces Andy Robertson after the 4-0 victory over AFC Bournemouth during the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at the Vitality Stadium. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For example, how many managers could turn a relegated left-back in to Europe’s finest? Or have an Arsenal bit-part player producing the most exciting football of his career? Or turn a “selfish, lazy, luxury player” from relegated Stoke into a major creative force for the unbeaten league leaders?

While the £130 million spent on Alisson and Van Dijk is touted as the reason Klopp has been able to shore up the defence, rarely is it mentioned that the other three first-choice defenders have cost a total of around £15 million.

Even rarer, is to hear that he has constructed this entire squad with a net spend of around £115 million; around £40 million per season.

That is not just great player and financial management, it is astounding player and financial management.

For those crying, complaining or excusing their own ineptitude by touting Klopp’ ‘big spending’ as the reason for his current success, let’s just remind ourselves of net spend across the ‘big’ clubs since he arrived at Anfield:

Net Spend Since Klopp’s Arrival, October 2015

 Cameron/Sportimage via PA Images

Interesting isn’t it? Of course, money is a factor. If you don’t have it, you simply can’t compete.

But if you do have it, it’s how wisely you spend it that is the ultimate measure; and Klopp’s record in the transfer market—both inbound and outbound—has been phenomenal.

What helps enormously is that he has a very clear picture of the player he wants for each position. What makes it quite the conundrum is that there is a scarcity of players who fit the Klopp mould.

It’s why he waited so patiently for Keita and Van Dijk. He had to sacrifice the immediate term for the benefit of the long term. It’s also why players often touted by the press as ‘ideal’ for Liverpool are overlooked by Klopp, while others deemed unsuitable (Shaqiri, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Robertson) have proven fantastically astute buys.

The XI that played at Bournemouth at the weekend further highlights the point. Salah, Alisson, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Shaqiri and Keita have all been introduced to the club in the last season-and-a-half.

 Liverpool's Andy Robertson celebrates scoring the third goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at the Vitality Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Robertson and Salah were signed in June and July 2017 respectively. The six others all arrived this calendar year. Wijnaldum, Matip and Mane arrived in 2016.

That’s eight of the 11 starters and one sub who played on Saturday who were Klopp buys. I doubt that anywhere else in Europe was there a team constructed with nine players of this level of excellence, brought in by one manager over such a short period of time in the role.

Klopp’s evolution of the squad basically took place in three phases, or stages for want of a better word. Here are my thoughts on how he went about it.

Stage 1 – The Attack

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the third goal with team-mates Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st leg match between FC Porto and Liverpool FC on Valentine's Day at the Estádio do Dragão. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He built, unusually, from the front, eventually constructing a front three that is now the envy of Europe. He quickly realised that of the players he inherited, Firmino was the real deal and, unlike the clearly unsuitable Benteke and Balotelli, was to play a key part in his plans.

It took some time, having to persevere with the aforementioned duo, the injured Sturridge, the hit-and-miss Origi and the erratic Jordan Ibe.

But in June 2016, in came Mane for £30 million and two-thirds of Klopp’s forwards wish-list, suitably aided by the mercurial Coutinho, was now in place.

One year later, in came Salah, quickly followed by Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Stage 1 of Klopp’s vision would be proven to be in place.

Last season, that magnificent forward trio plundered more than 90 goals between them.

This season, to date, our apparently ‘misfiring’ front three has ‘only’ scored 20 goals between them in 16 games (and they have not played in anywhere near all the games). Last season, after 16 games, they had 22.

I’ll take our misfiring trio over anyone else’s in Europe.

 

Stage 2 – The Defence

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk after the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

As brilliant as we were going forward last season, the decade old Achilles heel of defending continued to plague us. By our 16th game last season, we had conceded 20 times—mirroring previous season’s average goals conceded of 1.25 per game.

In games in October, the defence consisted of Mignolet, Trent, Matip, Klavan and Moreno.

In November, it was Mignolet, Gomez, Matip, Lovren and Moreno.

By the 16th game in December it consisted of Mignolet, Gomez, Lovren, Klavan and Robertson.

Klopp was seemingly forever in search of a magic formula with the players he had but nothing really worked.

By the end of the season, Robertson had proven himself to be the calibre of player Klopp believed him to be when he bought him. Trent and Gomez were battling it out for ownership of right-back; Mignolet’s consistently inconsistent performances had earned him a permanent place on the bench.

Karius and Robertson had cemented first choice and the world-record Van Dijk had plugged an enormous gap. It was taking shape but not yet there. Karius had never really convinced anybody he was the answer.

Sadly, for him and for all of us, he proved it once and for all on the biggest stage and Klopp had seen enough.

The magic formula for the back five may well have been accelerated by Karius’ final game for the club.

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk wearing a rainbow coloured captain's armband during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC at Anfield, the 232nd Merseyside Derby. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Alisson was swiftly brought in for a then world-record fee, Van Dijk and Robertson were permanent fixtures, and the now ‘good enough so you’re old enough’ development of Trent and Gomez saw each of them take their respective roles in the back line. We’ve never looked back.

Just like with the forward line, which in Klopp’s first game was Origi as a lone striker with Ibe and Jerome Sinclair as the only forward options on the bench, Klopp had revolutionised a defence that had conceded more goals than West Brom and Southampton in his first season into the most effective, watertight defence in England today.

Goals Conceded in Klopp’s First Four Seasons

(* 2015/16 games only with Klopp as manager.)

Stage 3 – The Midfield

 Liverpool's manager J¸rgen Klopp prepares to bring on substitute Naby Keita during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by Jon Super/Propaganda)

The later focus on the midfield wasn’t because Klopp prioritised it behind the other two. It was simply a matter of circumstance.

He was not to know that two essential players, Coutinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain, would a) leave and b) sustain a long-term injury. Leipzig’s insistence on holding on to Keita added more delay to the midfield rebuild.

In retrospect, getting to the Champions League final with what by then was a bare-bones midfield was an amazing achievement, but it didn’t disguise the overall need. Klopp knew that quality midfield reinforcements remained the next major priority.

In came Keita, Fabinho and Shaqiri. These were not players of promise or future prospects, these were genuine stars; but they also fit Klopp’s blueprint to a T. These were the exact players, with the exact skill sets, that he needed.

Klopp’s evolution of the squad to meet his blueprint was now closer than ever. For too many seasons, and something that had become even more apparent since the retirement of Steven Gerrard, we had lacked midfield creativity, guile, power and goals.

Coutinho’s exit and the Ox’s injury only exacerbated the issue. As always, Klopp recognised, acted and fixed what was a genuine need if Liverpool were to get back to elite status.

 Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For a man with the big smile and even bigger heart, nobody is more ruthless when it comes to the transfer market.

Of course, just as it did with Robertson, it has taken some time for each of these players to a) learn their role to the manager’s expectations and b) understand the physical demands of the Premier League. Recent performances suggest their education and acclimatisation is going rather well.

Shaqiri is the creative lynchpin between the midfield and the forwards we have lacked since Coutinho’s exit and Ox’s injury.

Keita offers bite, energy, power and a goal threat (he’ll score soon, trust me.)

Fabinho can guard the back four one minute, and drive through the centre of the pitch the next. All three are hard-wired to always look for the forward pass first, are technically superb and don’t mind mixing it with the cloggers on an ‘as needed’ basis.

To be honest, we’ve been too bloody nice for far too long, and having a few Souness/Case/McMahon types in the centre of midfield will do us no harm at all.

The result of Klopp’s player revolution is quite possibly the most balanced squad I have seen since at least the 1980s and quite possibly longer.

 Liverpool's Divock Origi (R) celebrates with team-mates Virgil van Dijk (C) and Joe Gomez (L) after his winning goal deep into injury time during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC at Anfield, the 232nd Merseyside Derby. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Here are a few relevant facts to ponder:

– The Liverpool teams who conquered England and Europe in the ’70s and ’80s never started a top-flight season this well.

– All of our legendary defences including the likes of Clemence, Lawrence, Lawler, Smith, Yeats, Strong, Hughes, Thompson, Lindsey, Neal, Kennedy, Lawrensen, Hansen, Nicol, Gillespie and Jones (apologies for those other greats not listed) could not keep 16 successive teams to only six goals.

Alisson is unbeaten in his first 16 league games. No Liverpool debutant has ever gone 16 games unbeaten before.

– Sir Roger, Keegan, Rush, Fowler, Torres, Owen, Sir Kenny and Suarez have each been eclipsed by the exquisite Salah for top-flight goals scored in one season (Rushy also got 32 in one campaign but it was a 42-game season) as well as the fastest to 40 goals. He took 25 games fewer than Fowler and Owen to achieve 40 Premier League goals and 26 fewer than Suarez!

Among Europe’s Elite

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino (9) celebrates with his teammates after scoring his goal during the Uefa Champions League Group Stage football match n.3 LIVERPOOL - CRVENA ZVEZDA on 24/10/2018 at the Anfield Road in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Matteo Bottanelli/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)

So just how good is this start? Well, the best in 116 years is not bad for starters, but let’s compare it to the rest of Europe’s top leagues:

As you can see, measured against the very best in the continents top-flight leagues, no one can match our defensive record. If we were playing in LaLiga, we might possibly have the league sewn up by now.

In the other leagues where the first-placed team is unbeaten, they are seven, eight and 13 points clear of the pack. Other than City, we’re at least six points clear of anyone else.

It goes to show just how incredible this start has been. It is generally accepted that the Premier League is more competitive than the others in Europe, yet our record thus far is on par with the elite clubs in their respective leagues…and Real Madrid and Bayern Munich don’t even make this list.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC at Anfield, the 232nd Merseyside Derby. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

It’s been a remarkable evolution by a remarkable manager, and there’s nothing to suggest that his masterplan, his drive for excellence, is anywhere near complete yet.

Of course, we have to put trophies in the cabinet to turn this remarkable renaissance into a genuine success story, but that’s for another day and another article.

For now, let’s just celebrate what has transpired over the first three years of Jurgen Klopp, and what is our best ever start to a season.

Happy Christmas to all Reds everywhere!

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What do Reds, Spurs need to qualify?

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 12:08
By Richard Morgan

Football journalist - @Richiereds1976

Last Updated: 10/12/18 12:14pm

Liverpool and Spurs have work to do to reach the Champions League last 16 Liverpool and Spurs have work to do to reach the Champions League last 16 Liverpool and Spurs have work to do to reach the Champions League last 16

The Champions League returns this week with the final fixtures of the group stage, but what do Liverpool and Tottenham need to progress to the knockout phase?

Manchester City and Manchester United secured their places in the last 16 with a game to spare but Jurgen Klopp's and Mauricio Pochettino's sides still have work to do on the final matchday if they want to be in the hat for the draw on December 17.

Champions League last-16 draw - what you need to know

Here's the overall picture, as well as what Liverpool and Tottenham must do to keep their Champions League hopes alive...

As it stands overall

Through to round of 16: Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona*, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United, Porto*, Real Madrid*, Roma, Schalke

*confirmed group winners

Can still reach round of 16: Inter, Liverpool, Lyon, Napoli, PSG, Shakhtar Donetsk, Tottenham

Will move to Europa League round of 32: Benfica, Club Brugge, Valencia

Can still finish third: CSKA Moscow, Red Star Belgrade, Galatasaray, Hoffenheim, Lokomotiv Moscow, Viktoria Plzen

Will finish fourth: AEK Athens, Monaco, PSV Eindhoven, Young Boys

What Tottenham need Christian Eriksen struck late against Inter to keep Tottenham alive in the competition Christian Eriksen struck late against Inter to keep Tottenham alive in the competition Christian Eriksen struck late against Inter to keep Tottenham alive in the competition
  • Barcelona are through as Group B winners but both Tottenham and Inter Milan can still join them in the last 16. Dutch club PSV Eindhoven are sure to finish bottom.

  • Spurs are currently second on head-to-head away goals, so will progress if they win in the Nou Camp or match, points-wise, Inter's result at home to PSV.

  • Inter will finish second if they pick up more points than Spurs.

Group B P W D L F A GD Pts Barcelona 5 4 1 0 13 4 9 13 Spurs 5 2 1 2 8 9 -1 7 Inter 5 2 1 2 5 6 -1 7 PSV 5 0 1 4 5 12 -7 1 What Liverpool need Liverpool's Champions League hopes remain in the balance after a 2-1 defeat at PSG Liverpool's Champions League hopes remain in the balance after a 2-1 defeat at PSG Liverpool's Champions League hopes remain in the balance after a 2-1 defeat at PSG
  • The most complicated of possible outcomes means current Group C leaders Napoli, second-placed Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool, in third, can still all qualify. Red Star Belgrade are bottom of the table, but could yet make it through to the last 32 of the Europa League.

  • Liverpool host Napoli and must win to have any chance of going through - victory by more than one goal will ensure qualification.

  • Should PSG beat Red Star away, Klopp's men will need a 1-0 triumph or victory by two goals or more to finish second behind the French side, but other win margins will not be enough.

  • If the game in Belgrade is a draw, Liverpool will advance with any win as it would leave them, PSG and Napoli all on nine points - with the English club finishing first on the three-way head-to-head.

  • Red Star will take third place if they win and Liverpool lose.

Group C P W D L F A GD Pts Napoli 5 2 3 0 7 4 3 9 PSG 5 2 2 1 13 8 5 8 Liverpool 5 2 0 3 8 7 1 6 Red Star 5 1 1 3 4 13 -9 4 Other ones to watch

Atletico Madrid will secure top spot in Group A if they beat Club Brugge or Borussia Dortmund fail to win at Thierry Henry's Monaco. Should the Germans win and the Spaniards lose in Belgium, then Dortmund would progress as group winners by virtue of their superior head-to-head goal difference.

Bayern Munich can secure first place in Group E with a draw away to Ajax, who can themselves finish top with victory in Amsterdam.

Manchester City will seal top spot in Group F with a draw at home to Hoffenheim - or if Lyon do not win away at Shakhtar. Lyon can take first place in the group with victory and if City lose, as they hold a better head-to-head record over the Premier League champions.

Juventus currently top Group H - two points ahead of Manchester United - and will make sure of first place if they beat Young Boys in Switzerland.

Follow the Champions League action with our liveblogs on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app.

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Gomez: I'll be back stronger

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 11:22

Last Updated: 10/12/18 11:29am

Joe Gomez says he has recovered before and will do so again Joe Gomez says he has recovered before and will do so again Joe Gomez says he has recovered before and will do so again

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has vowed to come back stronger than ever after his latest injury setback.

Gomez was ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering a lower leg fracture during last Wednesday's Premier League game at Burnley, but says he'll draw on past experiences on the road to recovery.

"Obviously I am devastated with the timing of it. You never want to get injured," Gomez told the club's website.

Gomez was injured in the Premier League game at Burnley Gomez was injured in the Premier League game at Burnley Gomez was injured in the Premier League game at Burnley

"I've been here a few years and I am still young, but it's something I'm used to and I am capable of dealing with setbacks like this. I've done it before and I'll do it again.

"You never want to be injured, as a player you always want to play. It will be tough for me sitting out for a while, but I will do everything I can to get back better and stronger."

Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk have been a formidable duo this season Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk have been a formidable duo this season Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk have been a formidable duo this season

The 21-year old has had several serious injuries since joining Liverpool in 2015, including cruciate ligament, ankle and Achilles problems, but has been a fixture in Jurgen Klopp's side this season, forming an impressive centre-back pairing alongside Virgil van Dijk.

Gomez committed his future to Liverpool on Monday, signing a new long-term deal which keeps him at the club until 2024.

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Joe Gomez interview in full: 'I'd love to stay here for the rest of my career'

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:59

Moments after putting pen to paper on a new long-term deal with the club, Joe Gomez sat down with Liverpoolfc.com at Melwood to explain why the decision to commit his future to the Reds wasn't one that required much thought.

The 21-year-old - who is likely to be out of action until the New Year after sustaining a lower-leg fracture against Burnley last week - inked the fresh terms at the club's training ground, much to the delight of supporters - and indeed, Jürgen Klopp.

Gomez, too, was equally as thrilled to have signed the contract as he outlined why he's relishing every second of being a Liverpool player and what the backing of the club's fans - including their new song for the No.12 - means to him.

Read on for a full transcript of the interview, or click play on the embedded video below to watch. Need a subscription? Sign up here.

Joe, congratulations on signing a new long-term contract with the club. What does it mean to you?

Thank you. It means the world to me. I’ve been at the club a few years now and had the pleasure to play for Liverpool and experience what that means. I am delighted to get the chance to extend my contract here. I love the club, I love playing and learning here, and I am happy for that to continue.

What makes Liverpool the right club for you?

Everything about it; the whole support of the club, the passion, the ambition we have and the history as well. It is a massive club, I think everyone knows that, and you get a real sense of that when you’re here around the building, the people and in the city. It is a place I’ve loved and, in a way, I’ve grown into a man here. I came here when I was 18 and I have learned so much. Through the highs and lows, I have loved every minute here. It’s somewhere I want to be, hopefully for the rest of my career – I would love to be at this club the whole time.

How do you look back on your time here so far?

There have been a lot of highs and lows. It’s my fourth season now and every one has been different. Obviously I would like to have had a few less setbacks along the way, but it has all been part of my journey – one that I have loved and embraced. I have learned so much. There have been good times on the pitch as well. Hopefully that can continue. I am learning under a great manager and great coaching staff and have all the tools around me to keep progressing and learning. I am looking forward to it.

What makes you believe the club is heading in an upward trajectory, and towards silverware?

It’s self-explanatory, really. I had a long time left [on his previous contract], but I am so eager to be here for the long-term. All the signs show where the club is heading, where our team is heading. We got so close last year in the European competition and in the league this year, we’ve shown such good character in the start to the season so far. [It's] our best start ever as a club, so that shows if there is ever a time to have belief in the club and where we’re going, it is now.

Is this the kind of club players from outside look in at and want to be a part of?

Yeah, 100 per cent. We’re all grateful to be part of a place like this, especially at a time like this. I don’t think any of us take it for granted. I definitely don’t and that’s why when the opportunity to stay even longer came up, I was very eager. It’s a great place to be, everyone knows it and feels it within the club – all the players know it and long may it continue.

Do you get a sense the team are on the verge of something?

Yes, definitely. I think we were so close last year – one game separated us from that – but the journey showed the progression we’ve had. Domestically this year, it’s something we’re aiming for as well – to win the Premier League. I think we have all the tools; the squad is so strong, we have so much strength in depth, that it is definitely feasible. We’ve shown that with our start. We go on the pitch and believe we can beat anybody. I think every team in world football fears playing us, especially coming to Anfield, so I think that shows the stature of the club.

You picked up an injury last week – how will you deal with this setback?

Obviously I am devastated with the timing of it. You never want to get injured. I’ve been here a few years and I am still young, but it’s something I’m used to and I am capable of dealing with setbacks like this. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. You never want to be injured, as a player you always want to play. It will be tough for me sitting out for a while, but I will do everything I can to get back better and stronger.

You’ve been unlucky with injuries during your time here, but does that equip you better for such setbacks?

I’ve had longer ones and similar ones in terms of the timescales, so I know the different phases and things like that, what it will take mentally to overcome it because I’ve been there. It is difficult, but I am ready for it and more motivated than ever to come back stronger and get through it.

What is your coping strategy?

Family helps a lot. I think just staying focused on the task and doing all I can – if it’s not on my leg, then focusing on other areas I can improve, watching games, watching analysis and keeping my mind occupied and on it so it’s not like I’ve been away for a while and mentally I’m still prepared. I’ve done it before, I’ve done longer, so I know how to deal with it and mentally I’ve been through this sort of struggle before and it’s not easy. I know it won’t be, but I will be able to deal with it.

So you’re someone who will watch the games and stay around it?

In the past I’ve been through that phase where, when I had a longer one, I just wanted to seclude myself and be away from it. With this one, it is short-term and I want to stay prepared and ready so when I come back, mentally I haven’t been away. That is what I will do my best to do – to learn as well, keep learning. That’s what I always want to do and I can do it off the pitch by watching clips and so on, so it’s something I’ll definitely try and do.

It’s a busy run of games to miss, but you’ll be around Melwood around the other lads?

Yes, definitely. The boys are always so supportive when any of us get injured, so I’ll definitely be around supporting the boys at games and everything. It is disappointing for me, the timing of the injury in a busy period and that I can’t be available to help the team, but it’s something I have just got to get over and be ready for the new year.

In terms of the reaction you’ve had, what have you made of the response on social media?

It means the world. Honestly. You have that initial shock, but the support I’ve had sort of numbs it a bit. It means so much, genuinely, that the fans are that supportive. All their well-wishes are something I appreciate massively. It’s a bit overwhelming the support and something I am grateful for. A club like this, it just shows in times like this, it is a real family and they are really supportive and caring. It’s massive for me personally and has been a big plus in the last few days.

What kind of messages did you receive after the injury?

Ingsy messaged me before I even knew about the scan. After the game, straight away he messaged me and I told him I would let him know – obviously at that point I didn’t know. Ingsy is one that I have been through a lot with. He is someone that is fondly thought of and for me personally, I have been through a lot with him, So, Ingsy and all the boys, all the lads who played the game – I had to shoot off early [from the stadium] but they all messaged me on the way back. It just shows the support within the club and the real family feel the place has.

On a lighter note, have you heard your song yet?

Yeah! When I was on the stretcher [at Burnley], I was obviously not in the best of places but I heard it and honestly, it gave me butterflies – in a moment like that, it helped numb the pain a little bit to hear the fans were that supportive. It is a dream to have a song about me by the fans. It means a lot to me.

Is the message to the fans then when you’re back you want to hear it again?

It would be nice, but I will leave that up to them! I will just focus on just getting ready and hopefully I can be back and do my best for the team soon.

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Joe Gomez interview in full: 'I'd love to stay here for the rest of my career'

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:59
Moments after putting pen to paper on a new long-term deal with the club, Joe Gomez sat down with Liverpoolfc.com at Melwood to explain why the decision to commit his future to the Reds wasn't one that required much thought.
Categories: LFC NEWS

“One of our most important signings”, “Still only 21” – Liverpool fans react to Joe Gomez’s new deal

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:40

Joe Gomez has signed a new six-year deal at Liverpool and supporters have unsurprisingly been left delighted with the news.


Gomez penned a new-and-improved contract on Monday, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2024.

The 21-year-old is currently nursing a broken leg that will keep him out until next year, but it is still a significant piece of business.

Gomez had arguably been Liverpool’s best player this season prior to his injury and his reputation across Europe was continuing to soar.

There are few more exciting young centre-backs in the world, so nailing him down to a long-term deal at Anfield can only be a positive.

Here’s a look at the best reactions from Liverpool supporters on social media.

Joe Gomez, who has been immense this season, has signed a new five-year deal with #LFC. He has continuously proved not just his class and quality at Anfield, but his character too. Excellent for the club to secure a supreme young defensive talent for the long term.

— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) December 10, 2018

? Amazing news that Joe Gomez has signed a new six-year deal. Already one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, and still only 21.

Crucial that he's committed to 2024, two years after Klopp is set to leave, unlike Salah, Mane and Firmino (all 2023). pic.twitter.com/SBvQdKVYNM

— Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) December 10, 2018

Fantastic stuff. Already one of the best defenders in the league and still only 21 years of age. https://t.co/wfb8GtINlM

— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) December 10, 2018

That Gomez news is a perfect pick-me-up on a Monday morning.

A genuinely outstanding prospect – someone who can go on to be a Reds great if he avoids serious injury.

— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) December 10, 2018

“Cracking start to the week. Who’s next?”

Jon Elliott on Facebook.

When Santa Klopp surprises you with the news of a new contract for Joe Gomez this Christmas. #LFC pic.twitter.com/25DF3ZQRRg

— James Nicholson (@_11JN) December 10, 2018

This will be one of our most important signings over the next few years. Going right to the top. https://t.co/xk9obuJZWi

— Green Scouser (@Green_Scouser) December 10, 2018

Second time in a week Joe Gomez has me in tears pic.twitter.com/K5Qf4vOpYr

— Shane (@IsMiseShane) December 10, 2018

I know nothing is guaranteed, but these two being our CB pairing for the next five years, fills me with so much optimism? pic.twitter.com/3DRxaAr6Os

— Kop-Ace (@KopAce74) December 10, 2018

“Well deserved. Happy for us and for him.”

Aline Charpilloz on Facebook.

Much better “breaking” news than the last lot about Joe Gomez. pic.twitter.com/mAEFLiDitc

— Jim Boardman (@JimBoardman) December 10, 2018

Great news about Gomez, we’ve got a team high on quality and that are still improving and the majority are now signed up for multiple years. The futures bright.

— Ste Davies (@StevenD1977) December 10, 2018

Reckon Joe Gomez can be as good as Rio Ferdinand. https://t.co/W21Zl6mmhZ

— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) December 10, 2018

Robertson will pen a new deal soon and Liverpool will have everyone they want to be here long term on lengthy deals

— John O'Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) December 10, 2018

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Photos: Joe Gomez pens new LFC deal at Melwood

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:27

Our photographer was present as Joe Gomez signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool at Melwood.

The defender, who spoke exclusively to Liverpoolfc.com immediately after putting pen to paper, committed his future to the Reds on Monday.

Take a look at the best images of Gomez's memorable moment below...

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Photos: Joe Gomez pens new LFC deal at Melwood

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:27
Our photographer was present as Joe Gomez signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool at Melwood.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Jürgen Klopp: Joe Gomez’s potential is unlimited

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:14

Jürgen Klopp has backed Joe Gomez to tap into his unlimited potential at Liverpool after the defender signed a new long-term contract with the club.

The England international further prolonged a stay at Anfield that began in the summer of 2015 when he penned a fresh deal at Melwood on Monday morning.

The news comes just days after Gomez suffered an injury setback that has enforced a temporary pause to a stellar season in which he has thrived, predominantly at centre-back.

And Klopp expects his No.12 to not only resume that high performance level upon his return in the New Year, but continue to improve throughout his time with Liverpool.

“It’s really nice news that makes a lot of sense to everyone involved,” the manager told Liverpoolfc.com.

“Joe’s development and progression has been outstanding in the past couple of seasons and I only see his trajectory heading in an upward direction.

“He is so keen to learn and so keen to improve that I think his potential has no limit. Already this season we have seen him mature on the pitch and the credit for that goes 100 per cent to Joe himself for the attitude he has.

“His versatility is something that makes him even more valuable. He can play centre-half in almost any system you can think of, plus both full-back positions. It is no exaggeration to say he is one of England’s best defenders already, but when you keep in mind he is still very young the room for further improvement and development is just so exciting.

“Off the pitch, I think I recently described him as ‘the nicest boy on the planet’ – and I mean it. He is so humble, so grounded, that it is a pleasure for me, my staff and the other players to work with him every day at Melwood.

“I think Liverpool is the perfect home for him now. We benefit from each other – player and club. We are the perfect environment for him to achieve his full potential and he makes our team and squad stronger. I love how much he looks to learn from every person in our dressing room. He soaks up the experience, while at the same time finding his own path.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him take his career to the next level. Of course at the moment he has this injury, but he has already made a big contribution to this season and I have zero doubt when he returns he’ll not skip a beat from the high level he was at.”

Watch our exclusive interview with Gomez after he signed his new deal below...

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Jürgen Klopp: Joe Gomez’s potential is unlimited

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:14
Jürgen Klopp has backed Joe Gomez to tap into his unlimited potential at Liverpool after the defender signed a new long-term contract with the club.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Joe Gomez: The story so far...

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:05

Joe Gomez today signed a new-long term deal with Liverpool Football Club - and to mark the occasion, we've put together some of his best moments from his time with the club so far for you to enjoy.

The popular 21-year-old put pen to paper on the fresh terms at Melwood on Monday morning, commiting his future to the Reds.

Gomez arrived at Anfield from Charlton Athletic in 2015 and has since established himself one of world football's brightest young defenders.

Cast an eye back over his LFC story so far - both on and off the pitch - in our video below.

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