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Virgil van Dijk watch - How Liverpool transfer target fared against the Reds

icLiverpool.co.uk - 1 hour 23 min ago

Virgil van Dijk run out at Anfield – but playing against Liverpool, rather than for them.

Still at Southampton after the club's efforts to bring him to Merseyside fell woefully short, the Saints threatened to report the Reds to the Premier League for their alleged conduct.

This game represented the first time the Dutchman faced off against Jurgen Klopp's side since the summer.

But how did he do?

His side lost 3-0 with a Mo Salah double followed up by Philippe Coutinho's strike, but what does that tell us about Van Dijk?

Here is an account of his afternoon at Anfield.

Southampton's Virgil van Dijk ahead of the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 18, 2017. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

4 minsLiverpool fire the ball forward towards Roberto Firmino, a tactic used often, but van Dijk wins the first battle of the afternoon. The Dutchman nips in front of Firmino to win the ball; moments later, he deals with pressure from Mo Salah.

12 mins – Evidently designated as the ball-player of the Saints' back four, pings a diagonal towards Dusan Tadic.exhibiting why his distribution is so highly rated.

18 mins – Liverpool begin to probe but Southampton, and van Dijk, stand firm. Philippe Coutinho's cute through ball is nodded away intelligently by the centre-back.

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21 mins – A mix up in the Saints defence sees Sadio Mane nearly profit, but they survive. Liverpool are beginning to ask questions.

27 mins – Shows his pace along the ground, beating Firmino in a foot race down the right-hand side.

31 mins – Liverpool take the lead and it stems from van Dijk. Sort of. It is he who heads away the corner, but Tadic loses the ball high up the pitch, with Firmino pressuring him. Moments later, Mo Salah opens the scoring with a superb curling effort.

Van Dijk failed to impress Van Dijk failed to impress (Image: Colin Lane)

41 mins – Southampton fall two behind – and van Dijk should be disappointed with his efforts. He does well to nip in front of Firmino to cut out Dejan Lovren's pass, but is then caught too high up as Liverpool press. He does not return to his position, instead following Firmino's run, and that allows Salah to collect Philippe Coutinho's fine through ball and prod home. Not the sort of defending befitting of a player of his stature.

43 mins – On the receiving end of a crunching tackle from – who else? - Dejan Lovren. The Croatian goes into the book for his challenge.

64 mins – Another corner cleared, this one from Coutinho, with a decisive header away.

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90 mins – As Liverpool press for a fourth, van Dijk stands firm. Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain finds himself free down the right, but his cut-back is cut out by the defender – a vital touch with Firmino lurking.

Post-match – Van Dijk is deep in conversation with compatriot Gini Wijnaldum, but there's no confirmation he was asking about the price of housing in Southport.

Read More Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

Verdict – A strange performance to assess. There is no doubt he is a domineering centre-back, one who likes to communicate with his team-mates. The manner in which he pointed and spoke and organised did not go unnoticed. His aerial prowess was also impressive, putting his head on a number of Liverpool set-pieces.

But Liverpool's second goal can be laid at his feet, too. He was out of position, gravitating to the ball and leaving space in behind for Salah to run into.

Ninety minutes leaves no sort of real impression, but supporters leaving Anfield might do so with mixed emotions over a January wrangle for his signature. That Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan enjoyed a strong showing only adds to that feeling.

Yet the class of van Dijk is evident. Quick, strong, vocal and good in the air, he is a player who will clearly improve what Klopp has at his disposal.

Just how much that would cost, and how much Liverpool want that to happen, remains to be seen.

Rating: 6

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Trent Alexander-Arnold delivered his best Liverpool performance yet against Southampton - Jurgen Klopp

icLiverpool.co.uk - 1 hour 23 min ago

Jurgen Klopp praised Trent Alexander-Arnold after a fine display from the young full-back against Southampton.

The 19-year-old from West Derby was part of a back line which produced a clean sheet and his manager said he has produced "his best defensive performance".

Alexander-Arnold was certainly steady at the back and showed his attacking prowess with a lovely ball to put Roberto Firmino in on goal in the second half.

Much of the talk all week has been about Joe Gomez - after his man of the match display for England against Brazil, but Klopp said he didn't have to be reminded about the qualities of his other young English full-back.

(Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool boss Klopp said: "I didn't need today is a reminder but probably all the rest did.

"This will happen over the next few weeks. Usually I don't think too much about the next game, in this case I have to think about the next 13 games!"

"Not that I've already planned them but we need to try to. We cannot play one line-up and play them until they are all injured.

(Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

"We need to mix it up, even if we win games like today. Joe had two games in the last week, it's not a problem, he could have played today.

"But for Tuesday (Sevilla game) I don't think it would have been a good idea to bring him again and we have Trent.

"He is another type of defender. When he started he was a proper winger and sometimes a defender.

Read More Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

"Now he's a proper defender and sometimes a winger. It makes much more sense in his position.

"He was really good today. It was probably his best performance over 90 minutes in defending. What he can do offensively everybody already knows."

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Virgil van Dijk watch - How Liverpool transfer target fared against the Reds

LiverpoolEcho.co.uk - 1 hour 23 min ago

 Dutchman was Klopp's primary defensive target back in the summer - here's how he coped on his Anfield audition

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Trent Alexander-Arnold delivered his best Liverpool performance yet against Southampton - Jurgen Klopp

LiverpoolEcho.co.uk - 1 hour 23 min ago

 The 19-year-old from West Derby was part of a back line which produced a clean sheet against the Saints on Saturday

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WATCH: Sensational Salah's double

Sky Sports - 6 hours 23 min ago
Mohamed Salah moved to the top of the Premier League's goalscoring charts after a sensational double for Liverpool against Southampton.
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Match of the Day: West Brom shouldn't fire Tony Pulis - Alan Shearer

BBC Sport - 6 hours 24 min ago
[unable to retrieve full-text content]<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes"?> Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer explains why he would hold back on sacking West Brom manager Tony Pulis after their 4-0 defeat at home to Chelsea.
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'Best football in Premier League history' - pundits praise Man City

BBC Sport - 8 hours 16 min ago
De Bruyne's majestic goal - similar to his strike at Chelsea in September - was the Belgian's third of the league season.

"They are playing some of the best football ever played in the history of the Premier League. I think we're looking at another invincible team this season."

BBC pundit Garth Crooks was just one of those who lavished praise on Manchester City this weekend after they brushed aside Leicester 2-0 to give them a 16th consecutive win and the joint-best start to a Premier League season.

Afterwards, Leicester boss Claude Puel called City "the best team in Europe".

Pep Guardiola's team have 34 points from their 12 games, matching their achievement at the start of the 2011-12 title-winning season under Roberto Mancini.

Martin Keown, a member of the Arsenal 'Invincibles' squad who went through the entire 2003-04 league season unbeaten, believes this City side could match the Gunners' feat.

"I am happy to be part of that exclusive club that has gone a full season unbeaten. I hope they [City] don't do it, but it is looking like they will," the retired defender told Football Focus.

"I don't see who is going to stop them. If they get complacent, maybe. But I think Guardiola is all over that one. He is picking up on mistakes in training. He will stop at nothing. He is a serial winner."

'A series of players who are artists' Manchester City will go all season unbeaten - Martin Keown

Keown is not only impressed by City's ability to win games but the manner in which they are going about their victories.

"City are a series of players who are artists," he said on Final Score. "They paint beautiful football for us each and every week, and in every game [Gabriel] Jesus or [Sergio] Aguero are on the end of it.

"You know the genius of Ronnie O'Sullivan in snooker, where he can choose which hand to play with? Kevin de Bruyne is like that with his feet."

Crooks, Keown's fellow Final Score pundit, was even more effusive about City's style of play, adding his own belief that Guardiola's side are set for an historic season.

"It is some of the best football ever played in the history of the Premier League," he said.

"Think about it as the sort of thing you'll play in five-a-side, except this is being executed at the top level. I've never quite seen anything like it.

"I think we're looking at another invincible team this season. They have the ability to go all the way unbeaten.

"They have so much depth in the squad, they can cover in any position and I've not seen a team like this in a very long time."

'Man City are getting more and more dangerous' Leicester 0-2 Man City: Foxes beaten by best team in Europe - Claude Puel

On Saturday, Jesus gave them the lead from close range just before half-time from David Silva's pass, after the Spaniard was sent through by Raheem Sterling's disguised through ball.

After the break, Harry Maguire struck the post for Leicester via Fabian Delph's deflection but De Bruyne's thumping finish from Leroy Sane's cut-back 22 seconds later put the game beyond the home side.

"City are getting more and more dangerous as they go forward. They are a joy to watch this season," said former Tottenham boss David Pleat on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.

"They have more talented, technical players and there's no disputing that. To go unbeaten this far in the season is quite remarkable from this group."

What will happen if they continue at their current rate?

City's current points-per-game average of 2.83 is 0.33 better than Chelsea's (2.50) in 2004-05 when they won the League with 95 points.

In 2015, Chelsea had 32 points after 12 games, a tally beaten by the current league leaders.

If Man City continue to win points at an average of 2.83 per game, they are on track for 108 points.

Most points in a Premier League seasonTeamSeasonPointsGoalsManchester City (projected)2017-18108126Chelsea2004-059572Chelsea2016-179385Manchester United1993-949280Manchester United1999-009197Chelsea2005-069172Arsenal2003-049073

The 100-point barrier has never been crossed before in the English top division.

If they continue to score goals at their current rate of 3.33 per game they will net 126 goals this campaign, 53 more than Arsenal's 'Invincibles' side of 2003-04.

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Paul Pogba: Man Utd midfielder is different class, says manager Jose Mourinho

BBC Sport - 8 hours 44 min ago
Mourinho pleased with dominant United reaction

Paul Pogba was labelled "different class" by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho after returning from injury with a goal and an assist.

Pogba set up Anthony Martial for the equaliser and scored the third goal as United came from behind to beat Newcastle 4-1 at Old Trafford.

The France midfielder had missed the past 12 league and cup games with a hamstring injury.

"It was a great performance from him," said Mourinho.

United had failed to win three of their previous seven league games without Pogba as he recovered from injury.

However, the 24-year-old produced a man-of-the-match performance as United set a club record of 38 games unbeaten at Old Trafford to beat Newcastle and stay in touch with leaders Manchester City.

"Paul Pogba is different class - Paul and Nemanja Matic grew up together at the start of the season and are the engine of the team," added Mourinho, who replaced Pogba after 70 minutes with Marouane Fellaini.

"It was in Paul's hands, how many minutes to play until he began to feel fatigued. It was a great performance from him."

Manchester United's Premier League record with Paul Pogba starting (left) and without the midfielder (right) since the start of the 2016-17 season

On a positive day for United, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic also marked his return to action with a 14-minute appearance as a substitute.

Ibrahimovic, 36, was making his first appearance since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury on 20 April.

"To see him back is a great emotion," added Mourinho. "His was such a dramatic injury.

"You recover some players and you lose others, some teams are luckier.

"We have had to go through difficult matches without important players. Let us see if we can go through the Christmas period with all the players available at our disposal.

"The more players we have, the better for me."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The return of a lion - 5 reasons why Zlatan was missed!
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Фаны «Фейеноорда» провели акцию в честь вратаря, потерявшего сына из-за лейкемии

Чемпионат.ру - 8 hours 54 min ago
Фанаты «Фейеноорда» провели акцию в поддержку вратаря Брэдли Джонса на домашнем матче 12-го тура чемпионата Нидерландов с «ВВВ-Венло». Встреча завершилась со счетом 1:1....
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Liverpool Under-23s deliver convincing win over Everton to go five points clear in Premier League 2

icLiverpool.co.uk - 8 hours 54 min ago

Liverpool Under-23s delivered a convincing 4-0 mini-derby victory over champions Everton in a display full of cutting edge football and clinical finishing in front of a big Saturday night crowd at Prenton Park.

First half goals from Herbie Kane and Corey Whelan, and two magnificent second half efforts from Rhian Brewster and substitute Yan Dhanda saw the Reds take the local bragging rights in no uncertain terms.

The top-of-the-table Premier League 2 clash featured two strong line-ups with plenty of first team experience as you'd expect for a Merseyside derby.

Liverpool had Danny Ings leading the line and Jon Flanagan at right back with Ovie Ejaria anchoring midfield.

Franny Jeffers' Blues included the impressive Beni Baningime, a standout in midfield in the first half, along with Mo Besic and summer Croatian signing Nikola Vlasic on the left.

It was Harry Wilson with the first big chance of the game, the Welshman slipped in on seven minutes but unable to beat Louis Gray in the Everton goal.

Premier League Two leaders Liverpool U23s in action against Everton U23s in the so-called 'Mini Derby' at Prenton Park. Photo by James Maloney

The Everton keeper was in the action again after a quarter of an hour when he somehow survived a blatant penalty shout.

Gray called for the ball and Blues captain Morgan Feeney left it to him. Kane was too fast and got there first, only to be tripped by Gray's despairing dive.

A certain spot-kick but referee David Richardson somehow waved play on.

Everton almost rubbed salt into the wounds by taking the lead but Whelan produced a captain's block to deny Josh Bowler as he cut in off the right before Nikola Vlasic blasted the rebound well over.

Whelan, fresh from U21 duty with the Republic of Ireland, almost turned provider within a minute, his perfect pass spiltting the Blues defence and finding Wilson in his stride but he dragged his finish wide of the post.

Ings beat a couple of men before curling wide but Liverpool got themselves in front just after the half hour mark.

A poor clearance from keeper Gray fell to Herbie Kane 30 yards out. He freed Wilson on the right and his delightful cutback found Kane perfectly in stride inside the box and he hammered it powerfully into the net with 33 minutes gone.

Three minutes later and the lead was doubled in the simplest of fashions.

Wilson's curling corner saw Whelan rise above a defender at the back post to head home.

He almost added a second before the break, this time heading wide from another corner.

Ovie Ejaria stretched his legs to great effect just before the break but should have played Harry Wilson in a second sooner and the chance was gone.

Liverpool U23s player Rhian Brewster in action against Everton U23s in the so-called 'Mini Derby' at Prenton Park. Photo by James Maloney

Liverpool stretched their lead within five minutes of the restart and what a goal it was.

Left-back Juanma released Herbie Kane down the line and his superb cross was met by a magnificently controlled volley by Brewster to give Gray no chance.

Everton almost hit straight back, half-time substitute Fraser Hornby somehow heading Harry Charsley's cross wide.

But it was Liverpool offering most of the threat.

Everton were having to throw bodies in the way of goalbound shots while Ovie Ejaria danced through before going down for what looked a half decent penalty shout.

Wilson put a cutback into the side netting when a goal looked more likely and it was no surprise when a fourth arrived.

Ejaria carried the ball well from the edge of his own box before feeding substitute Yan Dhanda.

Liverpool U23s captain Corey Whelan celebrates adding a second against Everton U23s in the so-called 'Mini Derby' at Prenton Park. Photo by James Maloney

He just raced past a defender on a solo run and fired an unstoppable shot low across Gray and into the far corner with 10 minutes left.

The game was long over but it put a wonderful gloss on a deserved victory.

The young Reds go five points clear at the top of Premier League 2 once again.

Liverpool: Kamil Grabara, Jon Flanagan, Juanma (George Johnston, 87), Corey Whelan, Lloyd Jones, Ovie Ejaria, Matty Virtue, Herbie Kane, Harry Wilson (bobby Adekanye, 81), Rhian Brewster (Yan Dhanda, 65), Danny Ings

Everton: Louis Gray, Harry Charsley, Luke Garbutt (Lewis Gibson, 82), Beni Baningime, Morgan Feeney (c), Matthew Foulds, Josh Bowler (Fraser Hornby, 46), Mo Besic, David Henin, Liam Walsh, Nikola Vlasic

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Liverpool Under-23s deliver convincing win over Everton to go five points clear in Premier League 2

LiverpoolEcho.co.uk - 8 hours 54 min ago
&#xa; Andy Kelly was at Prenton Park to watch a dominant display from Neil Critchley's league leaders on Saturday evening&#xa;
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Manchester United 4-1 Newcastle United: Jose Mourinho pleased by 'dominant' response

BBC Sport - Sat, 18/11/2017 - 23:39

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is pleased with his side's "dominant" reaction after they fought back from a goal behind to beat Newcastle 4-1.

MATCH REPORT: Manchester United 4-1 Newcastle United

Watch all of Saturday's Premier League goals on Match of the Day, 22:30 BST on BBC One and the BBC Sport website & app.

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Liverpool 3-0 Southampton: Salah dominates

ESPN.com - Sat, 18/11/2017 - 23:33
Southampton had no answer for Mohamed Salah, whose two first-half goals set the tone for a dominating performance by Liverpool.
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A 70-yard screamer and Coleman's Christmas lights - stories from the EFL

BBC Sport - Sat, 18/11/2017 - 22:54
Successor as Wales manager must be passionate Welshman, says Chris Coleman

The Championship returned from its last international break of 2017 and certainly added to the frivolity of Leagues One and Two.

There are stories of a manager-in-waiting engaging in festive joy, an English club record that nobody wanted and a horrible miss that will do the rounds on social media for weeks to come.

BBC Sport brings you five things you may have missed from Saturday's EFL action.

Stadium of (Christmas) Lights

It is that time of year when reality TV stars, talent show contestants and local celebrities are called upon to switch on Christmas lights in towns and cities across the UK.

Such bookings are in the diary months in advance and Chris Coleman was not going to let his impending appointment at Sunderland get in the way of a prior engagement.

Coleman quit as Wales boss on Friday but was not on Wearside for their draw with Millwall (more on that result to come...)

The former Fulham and Coventry manager was instead instead in the Welsh city of Newport for the switching on of the Christmas lights - which seemed appropriate, as his new office will be the Stadium of Light, after all...

When asked if he would be managing the Black Cats at Aston Villa on Tuesday, he replied: "That's the idea. I've got an early flight tomorrow [Sunday] and then I'm straight into it.

"It's a big game on Tuesday at Villa Park."

Wearsiders' woes plumb new depths

Coleman will inherit a record-breaking side, but for all the wrong reasons.

Sunderland became the first team in English football history to fail to win in 20 successive home games in all competitions, drawing 2-2 against Millwall.

They relied on Adam Matthews' wayward cross to salvage a draw, but they remain bottom of the Championship and without a win at the Stadium of Light since beating Watford in the Premier League in December 2016.

Speaking to BBC Radio Newcastle after the match, caretaker-boss Robbie Stockdale said: "The fans crave success and they deserve it, so whoever is lucky enough to get the job and gets this place rocking again will have a fantastic club on their hands."

Sunderland have three opportunities in December to avoid going through the whole of 2017 without a home victory - maybe black cats are unlucky after all.

Maupay's miss Try as you might, I'm afraid we can still see you Neal...

In this social media age, there is no hiding place for footballers - everything they do is hyper-analysed and can be shared by thousands across the world.

Brentford striker Neal Maupay is probably wishing we could rewind to a time before the internet existed after his "miss of the season" contender against Cardiff.

After Sean Morrison had given the ball away on the edge of his own box, Ollie Watkins squared the ball for the Frenchman, who had the whole goal to aim for and bags of time - but managed to skew wide from seven yards.

His boss Dean Smith was supportive of his striker, saying: "Neal knows he should have scored and 999 times out of 1,000, he does. He's had one of those moments you don't want to see on a football pitch."

The Bees were trailing 1-0 at the time and went on to lose by a further goal. scored by Danny Ward, who has played a part in nine goals against Brentford in nine games against the Bees.

Glee for the Lees as Luton net seven again

You have two sons playing for the same team and there is a derby game in the calendar - what do you do? If you are Rob Lee, you go to Twickenham to watch England play rugby instead.

As a former England, Charlton and Newcastle midfielder he might have known better, and he missed a stellar display from his two sons as their Luton side put seven past Cambridge.

That is not even half of the story, as Olly Lee scored from inside his own half - and, according to Luton,