Anfield Index.com

Subscribe to Anfield Index.com feed Anfield Index.com
Articles about Liverpool FC and its' players
Updated: 5 hours 9 min ago

Liverpool v Manchester United Preview - Red rivals clash at AnfieldKey Stats as Salah seals European...

5 hours 8 min ago
The Details

Venue – Anfield, Liverpool

Referee – Martin Atkinson

Date & Time – Sunday, December 16th @ 16:00

Current Odds – Liverpool 4/7, Draw 3/1, Manchester United 5/1

Form Liverpool Form

Since that 2-1 defeat to PSG in France, The Reds have gone on to win their next four games, qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League and going top of the Premier League table in the process. Things don’t get much better as a Liverpool supporter. If you’re not enjoying the ride, you need to reassess what you think it means to be a football fan.

Hopefully, this particular rollercoaster remains on an upward curve this weekend as Manchester City will more than likely have picked up all three points against Everton on Saturday. There is very little margin for error in this title race. Let’s not have one of those ‘errors’ be dropped points against our biggest rivals.

Manchester United Form

United’s form has been up and down in recent weeks. An impressive 4-1 win over Fulham was their best result, and performance, in recent weeks but things just never really seem to improve under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils stumbled to a 1-0 win over Young Boys in the Champions League, came from two down to draw 2-2 at struggling Southampton, and lost to Valencia during the week.

Team News Liverpool Team News

Liverpool have run into something of an injury crisis among their defenders over the last couple of weeks. Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are both out until January while Nathaniel Clyne is also unavailable for Sunday’s game.

Trent Alexander-Arnold faces a late fitness test but will hopefully make the starting eleven. Jurgen Klopp is left with little choice regarding his back four so Dejan Lovren should start beside Virgil van Dijk with Andy Robertson at left-back and, hopefully, Alexander-Arnold on the opposite flank.

Klopp went for the solid midfield against Napoli on Tuesday and I think it will be the same trio again in the centre while up front it’s business as usual for Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mané.

Manchester United Team News

Luke Shaw, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Lindelof are all out for United. They also have some concerns over the fitness of Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Scott McTominay, Matteo Darmian, Diego Dalot and Anthony Martial.

There will be a lot of late fitness tests carried out this week for United as Mourinho will be hoping that Chris Smalling, in particular, will be able to take his place in the back four.

Liverpool need to be wary of Marcus Rashford who enjoyed one of his best games for United when he scored both goals in their 2-1 win over Liverpool last season at Old Trafford. It will be interesting to see how Alexander-Arnold deals with Rashford on Sunday.

Juan Mata is also a threat and seems to really perform to his best against Liverpool.

Predicted XIs

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson(c), Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané

Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1) – De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Jones, Young(c); Herrera, Matic; Mata, Lingard, Rashford; Lukaku

When they last met

The last two fixtures between these two sides at Anfield have finished 0-0. Klopp did oversee a 2-0 home win for The Reds against United in the Europa League in 2016 but Liverpool have not beaten United in a Premier League game since March 2014. That was a 3-0 win at Old Trafford.

Prediction

Liverpool 1 – 1 Manchester United

Yes, I’m unfortunately swayed towards a draw in Sunday’s game. Never have I wanted to get a prediction wrong so much in my life. We’ve been stalled, and worse, by Mourinho’s ‘park the bus’ tactics before and, on Sunday, United’s boss will be far more motivated by the fear of losing than by any desire to actually go for the three points at Anfield.

Liverpool do possess some players who can unlock a low-block defence such as United’s and Xherdan Shaqiri could play a big part, whether starting or not. However, my gut is telling me a draw is to be expected.

** Please note – “xGA” in the Form Stats tables symbolises “expected goals against” **

**All xG stats courtesy of Understat.com and FiveThirtyEight.com

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Key Stats as Salah seals European progression for LiverpoolLiverpool soar above Napoli to continue...

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:27

You’ve got me on key stats for this one folk, I apologise. I’m not smart, handsome or nuanced as Tom but I’ll do my best to leave you interested.

I checked with Gags over whether I could do statistics on the percentage of Alisson’s hair follicles that are perfectly placed (99.87%) or how many times I felt my arse cheeks clench during the game (28), but he told me he’d prefer stuff that relates to the football a little more, so there you go.

Salah sensational, should Liverpool have had more?

Let’s start with the xG and go from there. Caley is my preferred system, and he’s got it scored as Liverpool 3.4 – 0.9 Napoli. I didn’t expect it to be that high, but looking back at some of those chances (ahem Sadio Mane) the Reds missed in the second-half, it makes sense.

Mane indeed was at fault for much of the poor finishing, missing three big chances. Some suggest that he prefers to score the harder ones, so perhaps it didn’t suit him that all of his shots came in the form of big chances!

Salah was very often the man providing, one a night where his goal-scoring talents were matched by his creativity. With five key passes, Salah created two big chances and will feel aggrieved that he didn’t get an assist to pair with his 57th goal for Liverpool. 57, that’s quite jaw-dropping when you consider he’s less than a season and a half into his Liverpool career. Those still considering him a one season wonder will be disappointed to hear that he’s either scored or created a big chance every 82 minutes this season. Cheers to Simon Brundish for that one!

The Reds were in the attacking ascendency for much of the game as they first needed to score themselves before having the luxury of pinging the ball around on the counter as Napoli chased the game.

14 shots inside the box to Napoli’s six, it was 5-2 to the Reds on big chances created. Liverpool outran Napoli, created more than them and had more of the ball. Klopp’s side deserved to win this game, thankfully it was done in a manner that secured qualification.

Alisson pays back that price-tag some more

Of course, one of Napoli’s two big chances came in the depths of stoppage time, Milik escaping Dejan Lovren in the area to fire upon goal, Liverpool’s big Brazilian ‘keeper throwing himself out of his goal to block the shot and keep his clean sheet intact.

Five clean sheets in Alisson’s last seven. He’s been excellent throughout his time at Liverpool so far, but that last few games have seen him turn things up a level just when he’s needed to. Vital contributions against Everton, Bournemouth and Napoli leading to a resounding reception from the Kop come full-time, with the Brazilian hoping to add to a surprising record of just two group stage clean sheets come to the knockouts.

In terms of the defence as a whole, Liverpool have now kept as many clean sheets (12) in all competitions as they did in the whole of the 2013-14 season. It’s December. Testament to just how good the defence is now, or just how good Luis Suarez was a few years ago?

A banter stat to finish off…

James Milner’s assist to Salah made it 10 in Europe since the start of last season. That’s two more than Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luka Modric combined.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

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

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

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Anfield nights Liverpool won't want to repeat against NapoliKey Stats As The Salah Show Sees Off...

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 14:35

The stage is set for another famous Anfield night on Tuesday, with Liverpool’s Champions League knockout round qualification on the line as they play host to Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli.

After some terrible away performances, losing three out of three on the road, Jurgen Klopp’s men are in quite a precarious position heading into the group’s final fixtures.

With PSG likely to secure qualification by defeating Red Star Belgrade, Liverpool must get their noses ahead of Napoli in the group table with either a 1-0 victory or a win by at least two clear goals.

Against such quality opposition, it won’t be easy, but the Reds have masses of history when it comes to rallying themselves to deliver at home on a European night.

The win over Olympiakos, defeating Chelsea in 2005, last season’s gazumping of Manchester City and more, there’s a plethora of goals, moments and wins to choose from when wanting to raise a fond smile of days gone by.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always to the way fans want. Let’s have a look back to a few examples where it didn’t.

Liverpool (0) 0-2 (3) Benfica, 8 March 2006

Less than 12 months on from completing one of the biggest upsets in European Cup history to wrestle old big ears away from AC Milan in Istanbul, the Reds were unceremoniously dumped out in the last 16 by Benfica.

Having got through a group containing Real Betis, Anderlecht and Chelsea, Rafa Benitez’s men found themselves paired with Benfica, a challenge that many thought would be navigated fairly easily.

However, after losing 1-0 in Portugal to a 84th minute Luisao goal, a tougher task than expected faced Liverpool come the return leg on Merseyside.

With Peter Crouch and Fernando Morientes utilised in a two-man strikeforce, first-half chances aplenty came and went before Simao unleashed a rocket to beat Pepe Reina after 36 minutes.

The aerial dominance of Liverpool’s frontmen continued to help the hosts create chances, but the visitors held on determinedly and found themselves two goals to the good in added time when Fabrizio Miccoli romped home an overhead kick.

Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea, 8 April 2009

With the wounds still fresh from Chelsea finally getting one over the Reds in Europe by virtue of a Champions League semi-final win the previous season, Anfield expected a Liverpool side challenging for the title to swing the bragging rights back in their favour as the two met in the 2008/09 quarter-finals.

Heavily considered to be European specialists at this point in Benitez’s reign, a Liverpool side containing the likes of Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres were well liked to overcome Guus Hiddink’s Blues.

It looked like it’d go that way as Fernando Torres struck after just six minutes, side-footing past Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal.

However, that merely invigorated Chelsea, who put together a magical attacking display to come away from Anfield as 3-1 victors thanks to a Branislav Ivanovic brace combined with Didier Drogba’s second-half goal.

It looked like mission impossible for the Reds to come back in the second leg and it proved so, drawing 4-4 in an exhilarating affair that saw Liverpool go 2-0 up early on. Unfortunately, the damage had been done at Anfield.

Liverpool 1-1 Basel, 9 December 2014

The freshest of the recent Anfield European wounds, Liverpool’s much-hyped return to the Champions League under Brendan Rodgers went down like a lead balloon as they crashed out of the competition in the group stage.

Despite being out-classed by Real Madrid twice, drawing away to Ludogorets and being defeated in Switzerland, other results left Rodgers’ men left with the task of beating Basel in the return fixture to quality. Simple enough, you’d have assumed.

Wrong.

A Liverpool team lacking in defensive cohesion and attacking flair were 1-0 down after just 25 minutes. Rodgers was hugely criticised for leaving the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic on the bench, Raheem Sterling the only player in the side containing any sort of pace.

Markovic did, of course, come off the bench and look bright, only to be ridiculously sent off for an outstretched hand hitting Behrang Safari.

Steven Gerrard’s 81st-minute free-kick got the home side level and set up a grandstand finish, only for Basel to keep their nerve and keep Liverpool out – Jordan Henderson’s curling effort dropping just wide of the post in injury time.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Bournemouth v Liverpool Preview - Can Reds pick Cherries off on Saturday?Observations as late push...

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 14:04
The Details

Venue – Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth

Referee – Lee Mason

Date & Time – Saturday, December 8th @ 12:30

Current Odds – Bournemouth 15/4, Draw 3/1, Liverpool 4/6

Form Bournemouth Form

Bournemouth beat Huddersfield Town 2-1 on Tuesday night to end a run of four consecutive defeats. They had made a fantastic start to the season before that and are still in a very respectable 7th position, ahead of Manchester United on goal difference.

Bournemouth did face Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City as part of that four-game losing streak so their form isn’t as bad as it may first appear.

Liverpool Form

Jurgen Klopp’s men fought their way to a priceless 3-1 win at Burnley on Wednesday after initially going behind in the second half.

This team has now made the best start to a league campaign in the club’s 126-year history. Liverpool have 39 points from a possible 45 so far and are trailing Manchester City by two points at the top of the table.

Team News Bournemouth Team News

Bournemouth are only missing two players through injury at the moment. Dan Gosling and Adam Smith are currently out of action with Smith not due back from injury until February.

I think Eddie Howe could well be brave with his Bournemouth lineup and set his side out in a 4-4-2 formation with Joshua King and Callum Wilson up front.

Ryan Fraser will be one to watch for The Reds as the in-form Scottish international has four goals and seven assists in the Premier League already this season.

Liverpool Team News

Klopp made seven changes to Liverpool’s starting eleven for their win at Burnley during the week. I expect another big rejig to the lineup on Saturday.

Joe Gomez picked up a bad ankle injury at Burnley and could be out for a few weeks. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out until May at least while Nathaniel Clyne and Dominic Solanke are also both unavailable for selection due to injury.

Dejan Lovren is expected to be available as he should have recovered from his current illness. Sadio Mané (cut foot) and Andy Robertson (dead leg) are facing late fitness tests before travelling to Bournemouth.

I expect (and hope) Klopp goes for the 4-2-3-1 formation with Lovren coming in to replace Joel Matip at centre-half with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Robertson returning to their fullback positions.

Fabinho should partner Gini Wijnaldum at the base of the midfield after both were rested for the win at Burnley. Xherdan Shaqiri could start his third game in a week as part of the attacking line of three supporting Mohamed Salah.

Predicted XIs

Bournemouth XI (4-4-2) Begovic; Francis(c), S. Cook, Aké, Daniels; Brooks, L. Cook, Lerma, Fraser; King, Wilson

Liverpool XI (4-2-3-1) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk(c), Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mané; Salah

When they last met

Liverpool’s last trip to Bournemouth ended in a 4-0 win for The Reds back in mid-December 2017. Goals from Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino sealed the deal for Klopp’s men that day.

The season before that, Bournemouth won this fixture 4-3 thanks to a late goal from Nathan Ake.

Prediction

Bournemouth 1 – 3 Liverpool

There is normally plenty of goals in these games between Bournemouth and Liverpool. In their last five meetings, there have been no less than three goals in all of those games with an average of just over four goals per game. I think The Reds will get another win, even though they are going to have to be very wary of The Cherries’ attacking threat.

The comeback victory over Burnley on Wednesday night has just reinforced Liverpool’s belief and they seem to be going from strength to strength in the league. I expect the good form to continue with a 3-1 win at the Vitality Stadium.

** Please note – “xGA” in the Form Stats tables symbolises “expected goals against” **

**All xG stats courtesy of Understat.com and FiveThirtyEight.com

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Observations as late push secures the points for LiverpoolGomez Injured as Reds Bounce...

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 13:59

Liverpool travelled to Burnley in search of a win to stay on the tailcoats of City, who had won a day earlier. The fixture, which Liverpool won last year thanks to a Klavan D’Or, needed a repetition. Liverpool delivered the goods late on to stay in pursuit.

The key observations from the game

Testing the depth

This was the fixture many predicted that Klopp would tinker his line up with. While some of the changes were forced due to injuries, there were few eye-raising changes in attack. Liverpool lined up with none of the famed front three, with Origi rewarded with a start alongside Sturridge. The team all-around had a newish (albeit disjointed) look, and it showed as Liverpool struggled with fluency and caused no threat to Burnley though Liverpool dominated possession.

The changes were understandable looking at the fixtures ahead and the importance of the Champions League game next week.

Keita – The Bright light in a dull attack

Keita got one of his rare starts, and he definitely made it count with an excellent performance. His feints and dribbles got him out of tight situations many a time. He was buzzing all over the midfield and his link-up play with Sturridge looked promising. He was unlucky to not score on more than one occasion, denied by fine saves. Hopefully, this is the performance which settles him down and rewards him with more game time.

Defence – Consistency in repetition

One of the topics which has often been mentioned is how Liverpool do not seem fluent in attack. This has been compensated by the defensive solidity, ably led by Virgil Van Dijk. Liverpool were organised, especially in their big threat moments on set-pieces. The defence consistently held a high line and worked in harmony to often trap the attackers in offside positions. This has happened so many times this season that it has become habitual, hence it is so easy to not recognise how much the defence has improved in a year. Credit should go to Klopp.

Klopp brings on the cavalry to seal the points

Liverpool conceded a rare goal to trail, but parity was soon restored thanks to a great finish from Hames Milner. Klopp then brought on the big guns in Salah and Firmino and Liverpool were instantly rewarded as Firmino scored with his first touch to take Liverpool into a lead.

What you don’t want as an opposition is to chase the game against Liverpool, and Salah combined with Sturridge and Shaqiri made Burnley pay with a late goal. This was always the plan, but it is always good to see the execution work as much of the game is always viewed in hindsight. This allows the players to remain fresh for the next fixtures, especially if Mane is available in near future.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Burnley v Liverpool Preview - Can Klopp's men keep the pressure on City?Origasm at Anfield as the...

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 13:34
The Details

Venue – Turf Moor, Burnley

Referee – Stuart Attwell

Date & Time – Wednesday, December 5th @ 19:45

Current Odds – Burnley 12/1, Draw 5/1, Liverpool 2/7

Form Burnley Form

Burnley are currently the team displaying the worst form in the Premier League. In the last five games, Burnley have conceded 12 goals and only scored three of their own.

They have lost five of their last six games and are without a win since their 2-1 victory at Cardiff City at the end of September.

Liverpool Form

Lately, it’s very hard to know what kind of performance Liverpool are going to put on but they have somehow kept the Premier League title race alive, despite not brushing any teams aside like they did last season.

Three away defeats in the Champions League group have been the most disappointing results so far. Thankfully, Jurgen Klopp’s team have kept racking up the wins, domestically.

On Sunday, it was the unlikely hero, Divock Origi, who bagged the bragging rights for the red half of Merseyside after Liverpool and Everton had played out a somewhat entertaining derby at Anfield.

Team News Burnley Team News

Sean Dyche is still without Nick Pope, Jonathan Walters and Stephen Ward while Robbie Brady is not expected to be fit after his recent ankle injury.

Burnley will most likely line out in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Chris Wood leading the line at the lone striker.

Liverpool Team News

Jordan Henderson is available for selection again after being suspended for last weekend’s Merseyside derby at Anfield due to his red card in the win at Watford.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is continuing his recovery and hopes to get some game-time before the end of the season.

Dominic Solanke (groin strain) and Adam Lallana are also expected to miss out.

Sadio Mané suffered a cut to his foot in the win over Everton while Andy Robertson got a dead leg in the same game. Both players will face late fitness tests ahead of the Burnley game.

Klopp will probably revert to a 4-3-3 shape for this game and Dejan Lovren could get a starting place to counteract the physical threat Burnley will pose.

Predicted XIs

Burnley XI (4-4-1-1) – Hart; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee(c), Taylor; Lennon, Defour, Cork, Gudmundsson; Hendrick; Wood

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson(c), Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané

When they last met

Liverpool beat Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor on New Year’s Day of 2018. Sadio Mané opened the scoring for the away side after an hour of play but Johann Gudmundsson equalised for The Clarets with just three minutes remaining. However, in the 94th minute, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain floated a high free-kick into the Burnley area. Dejan Lovren won his header and knocked the ball to the far post where our cult hero, Ragnar Klavan, put it over the line for a dramatic winner.

Prediction

Burnley 0 – 2 Liverpool

Burnley are really struggling this season and with just 9 points from their opening 14 league games, they are a far cry from the defensively-solid team that Dyche led to a 7th-place finish last season.

The pressure will be on Klopp’s men again, especially if Manchester City have already taken all three points from their trip to Watford on Tuesday night. Liverpool should have far too much for this Burnley team, though. If they can cope with the physical side of Burnley’s game then Liverpool will make the gulf in class count over the 90 minutes.

** Please note – “xGA” in the Form Stats tables symbolises “expected goals against” **

**All xG stats courtesy of Understat.com and FiveThirtyEight.com

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v Everton Preview - Derby-day disappointment, but for who?Paris 2-1 Liverpool: Reds...

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 12:55
The Details

Venue – Anfield, Liverpool

Referee – Chris Kavanagh

Date & Time – Sunday, December 2nd @ 16:15

Current Odds – Liverpool 4/11, Draw 4/1, Everton 8/1

Form Liverpool Form

Liverpool have been battling along on the home front while three consecutive away defeats in the Champions League has left their progression beyond the group stages in that competition in doubt ahead of their last game with Napoli next month.

The Reds are still just two points behind the seemingly-unstoppable machine that is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City’s side. Points cannot be dropped on Sunday and hopefully, we see a performance more akin to that which beat Watford last weekend rather than the leaden-footed midfield display served up to us in Paris on Wednesday night.

Everton Form

Everton’s form has taken a notable upturn in recent months after some initial teething issues earlier in the season. Players such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and newly-capped Brazilian international, Richarlison, have really been catching the headlines with some top-class performances for The Toffees.

Marco Silva has never lost in head-to-head games against Jurgen Klopp so Everton will probably arrive at Anfield with a certain amount of confidence on Sunday, and rightly so.

Team News Liverpool Team News

Liverpool’s long-term absentee, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, is the only first-teamer who is currently out of action. ‘The Ox’ is hoping to be back on the pitch at some stage in April or May.

Divock Origi, Adam Lallana and Dominic Solanke are all unavailable for Sunday’s game but none would have expected a starting place in Klopp’s eleven at this stage.

I’m hoping Klopp lines Liverpool out in the 4-2-3-1 shape and gives Fabinho a run at the base of midfield with Gini Wijnaldum. This would give a starting place to Xherdan Shaqiri, alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané, just behind Mohamed Salah who would be our out-and-out striker.

Everton Team News

Everton’s only injury concern is Jonjoe Kenny who has been out with a knock since October and won’t be available for selection on Sunday.

Silva has had a very settled first eleven for most of the season and the only change of note has come in recent weeks with Colombian international, Yerry Mina, taking over at centre-back instead of Kurt Zouma who is on loan from Chelsea.

Everton will set up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation and I think Silva will keep Mina in the starting eleven at Zouma’s expense.

The Reds need to watch Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson who have been linking well in recent months and turning in noteworthy individual performances from week-to-week.

Predicted XIs

Liverpool XI (4-2-3-1) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk(c), Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mané; Salah

Everton XI (4-2-3-1) – Pickford; Coleman(c), Keane, Mina, Digne; Gueye, Gomes; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Richarlison

When they last met

The sides drew 0-0 in their last meeting, last April, at Goodison Park. Their last encounter at Anfield was in January’s 2-1 FA Cup win which included a fantastic late winning goal from Virgil van Dijk on his debut.

They drew 1-1 at Anfield in the league last season. Salah had given The Reds the lead but a Wayne Rooney penalty after 77 minutes made sure Everton went home with an undeserved point that day.

Prediction

Liverpool 2 – 1 Everton

Sunday is going to be tough. It will be a great atmosphere and I’m hoping The Reds are up for it but Everton have shown at Stamford Bridge that they are not going to be overawed by the occasion. That said, Liverpool should still possess enough strength all over the pitch to take all three points. It will be tight but Liverpool should get all three points.

** Please note – “xGA” in the Form Stats tables symbolises “expected goals against” **

**All xG stats courtesy of Understat.com and FiveThirtyEight.com

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Paris 2-1 Liverpool: Reds out-gunned by Tuchel's starsDejan Lovren, sprouts and the art of...

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 12:36

Despite the 2-1 scoreline, Liverpool weren’t remotely close to staging a dramatic fightback in Paris as they left themselves with huge work to do in the Champions League.

With goals from Juan Bernat and Neymar condemning the Reds to Matchday 5 defeat, Jurgen Klopp’s men now must beat Napoli 1-0 or by two clear goals to advance into the last 16. That is of course, unless Red Star shock PSG in Serbia.

James Milner’s penalty just short of half-time gave the away side hope but it was a rare highlight in a disappointing evening, Liverpool not managing a shot of note in the second-half.

Flat three, flat performance

Fans had cried out all week for Klopp to shake-up the midfield that had seen Liverpool lose in Serbia, but he resisted the temptation and stuck with Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner. Dejan Lovren came back in at centre-back, Joe Gomez’s move to right-back expected to offer more defensive resilience.

It didn’t.

From the early stages PSG were the better side, swept along by a frenzied atmosphere. Attack after attack reigned down on Alisson and his defence, the Brazilian doing well to push Angel di Maria’s swerving effort away from danger.

PSG broke the deadlock after just 13 minutes, through an unlikely source in Bernat. The Reds midfield were cut apart, a trend seen throughout the evening, as the hosts mounted an attack down the left. Virgil van Dijk had diverted a cross away into the direction of Lovren and Gomez, neither reacting quickly enough as Bernat stole in, shooting through the legs of Gomez and past a stranded Alisson.

If that was meant to spur Liverpool into life, it didn’t have the desired effect. Wijnaldum picked up a lazy yellow whilst Milner put himself firmly onto the disciplinary tightrope with a number of sloppy fouls, PSG not afraid to get amongst it themselves as Marco Veratti – back for this clash after missing the Anfield game – saw himself lucky to stay on the pitch after snapping into Gomez.

Alisson remained busy as he palmed Neymar’s cross away from the path of Cavani, those two causing him further problems minutes later as PSG doubled their lead.

Smart work from Kylian Mbappe and Neymar left Gomez and Lovren firmly in their rear-view mirror down the left, Mbappe playing in Cavani who saw his effort expertly saved by Alisson only for Neymar to pop up with the rebound.

Milner’s penalty the only high point

Similarly to the Champions League final, Sadio Mane looked more likely than anyone to drag Liverpool back into the match and won a penalty just before half-time.

Winning the ball back midway into the PSG half, Mane drove past his man before being chopped down by a rash di Maria. Milner sent Buffon the wrong way, leaving Liverpool with a one goal deficit to pull back.

In truth, it looked like they were pulling back a five goal deficit.

The Reds offered next to nothing going forward in the second half, an endless list of poor on-ball decisions joined by some clever gamesmanship from PSG to slow the game down and see a fluster of yellow cards come out.

Naby Keita came on and livened things up a little, alas there was nothing he could seemingly do to rescue the situation.

Alisson continued to shine, pushing a Marquinhos header aside after Liverpool had fallen asleep from a corner, before beating Neymar’s free-kick wide in the dying minutes.

Liverpool’s best attempt at rallying themselves into equalising came when Salah won a free-kick in the 89th minute, only for a sloppy van Dijk foul letting PSG off the hook when substitute Xherdan Shaqiri’s delivery came in.

2-1 it ended, although PSG deserved more. A huge win for the French champions who can wrap up qualification with a win in Serbia, whilst Liverpool have masses of work to do in two weeks time.

Anfield awaits, but so does the Europa League.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Dejan Lovren, sprouts and the art of debateParis Saint Germain v Liverpool Preview - Reds go in...

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 12:03

“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” – Douglas Adams.

“Never be so cliché as to start a piece of writing with a quote.” – My father.

Sorry, Dad.

The definition of a ‘good’ football player varies based on what level you want them playing at. Dejan Lovren would be a phenomenal player for a team in the National League, Conference or whatever we’re calling it in 2018.

For me, a ‘good’ player for Liverpool is one that is comfortable starting week-in-week-out in a top-four side, potentially a title-winning one.

If Liverpool had 11 players of Dejan Lovren’s quality starting every week, they’d be nowhere near Manchester City.

If the Reds had four defenders as good at defending as Mo Salah is at attacking, four midfielders as good as Alisson is at goalkeeping and so on, they’d have mustered more points than the incredible 33 Klopp’s men currently sit on.

This isn’t a piece intended to rip Dejan Lovren’s ability to shreds. There are YouTube compilations for that. In addition, it’s often hard not to like a bloke that clearly loves Liverpool, has been through plenty of hardship in his life and on top of all that is Mohamed Salah’s coffee buddy!

Yet, it’s okay not to rate him.

Potentially discounting Jordan Henderson, the 29-year-old is a source of more supporter debate than any other Liverpool squad member. However, so many of the arguments used to praise Lovren lack foundation.

Rate, don’t hate – but make a valid point!

Let’s start with the worst of them all. I want to get it out of the way before I’m forced to bang my head against a wall and lose any mental capacity to finish this piece.

‘He played in a Champions League and World Cup final, he must be good!’ says Joe Bloggs, 25, sitting at home adoring his posters of Stefan Savic, Dante, a 32-year-old Fernando Torres, Marcos Rojo, Martin Demichelis and Ryan Bertrand.

If you connect the dots skills aren’t up to scratch, they’re a handful of players to have started Champions League or World Cup finals in recent years. As much as being on a winning pub quiz team doesn’t necessarily make you one of the best quizzers in the pub, competing in the world’s finest football matches doesn’t qualify you as one of the world’s finest footballers.

It’s not as if Lovren was ousting top talents to secure his place in these fixtures. Ragnar Klavan was Liverpool’s centre-back sub in the Kiev. Vedran Corluka sat ready to take Lovren’s place in Russia.

I won’t lie to you reader, I’m not a fan of sprouts. Who is, really? But if you offered me sprouts or a steaming pile of faeces for my tea, I’d take the sprouts every day. It doesn’t mean I have to praise them.

All of the above doesn’t make Lovren a bad centre-back, but it certainly doesn’t justify an argument for him being a good one.

What is a good argument for Dejan?

It’s better to say that he was a crucial part in getting to these finals, which some do. Starting with Croatia, they failed to keep a clean sheet in the knockout rounds and conceded four in the final. Lovren was okay throughout, but it wasn’t unbelievable defending that helped the Croats see off the mighty *checks notes*, Denmark, Russia and England.

Arguing that Lovren was important for Liverpool in their Champions League run is a stronger argument, as he had his finest game for the club during the 3-0 win over Manchester City at Anfield. I gave him a 9/10 in my player ratings!

He almost kicked on from that at home to Roma in the semi’s but dropped a clanger to let Dzeko score before being poor in the second-leg as Liverpool turned a 5-0 lead into a 7-6 aggregate win. I’ll give him the one good block at 0-0 away at Porto before the attack won the game for us, and he was alright in the final amidst some chaos behind and ahead of him – a cracking header to set up Mane’s equaliser. He didn’t mark Cristiano Ronaldo out of the game though, as much as people like to believe it.

Regardless of what you think of Lovren though, Jurgen Klopp rates him! There’s another one that tempts extraction of one’s eyeballs. Fair enough, Klopp thinks more of Dejan Lovren than me. Probably than most of us. However, he likely thinks more of Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno and Jordan Henderson than many of you readers do.

This idea of Klopp being ‘ruthless’ with poor performances is bizarre. He’s routinely heralded for showing patience with players, looking to nurture them. Mignolet and Karius were given chance after chance before Alisson was bought. Put back in the team unexpectedly, Alberto Moreno was arguably out-performing all left-backs in the league before injury saw Andy Robertson step up and take his place last year. Jordan Henderson and James Milner get regular minutes despite a £100 million summer spending to rejuvenate the midfield.

Although the manager not selling a player doesn’t offer a nailed on sign that he’s god’s gift to defending, it’s obvious that Klopp, despite signing three senior centre-back’s during his time at Liverpool, rates Lovren to some extent. Not enough for him to displace Gomez though, and why would he?

Liverpool have improved immeasurably at the back since Gomez began partnering Virgil van Dijk. And you can tell they have because people don’t use arguments like ‘Gomez is part of a team that’s second in the Premier League’.

You can use arguments such as Gomez’s arrival in the team ahead of Lovren coinciding with Liverpool’s best defensive start in league history, with five goals conceded in 13 games, and a defensive xG that matches.

It’s possible to argue Lovren’s case this season, with three clean sheets and routine wins in four league starts. A rational argument, something that can’t be disputed and could be suggested points towards Lovren being part of a collective of talented individual Liverpool defenders.

Despite that, in terms of expected goals, he’s played in defence during Liverpool’s poorest defensive performances against the relegation strugglers.

The Reds conceded 0.64 xG to Cardiff, 0.66 to Huddersfield and 0.65 to Watford with Lovren starting, according to Understat. The only Premier League teams that have created better goal scoring opportunities against Liverpool with Gomez at centre-back are Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester and Tottenham.

It’s not been at all bad defensively with Lovren in the team, but it has got slightly less good. He was solid (again) against Manchester City, in fairness. That’s another valid point in his case, as is the fact he’s been returning from injury and hasn’t had a chance to string a run of games together like Gomez has.

Such arguments don’t convince me that he should be Liverpool’s starting centre-back, or that he’s a particularly good player, but they do hold some weight when debating the Croatian’s quality. That’s not the case for some of those aforementioned points.

It’s okay to think Dejan Lovren is up to scratch, to want him to start. The same goes for Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Alberto Moreno or literally any footballer that isn’t knocking in seven own goals per game.

However, let’s be grown ups and use points of debate that couldn’t be deconstructed by my eight-year-old cousin on the playground before he scores his daily hat-trick, which he assures me is routine.

Come and tell me about Liverpool’s improved defensive performances in the team with Lovren, his gradual reduction in individual errors over the past few years, his impressive aerial statistics. If you can defend a point better than Martin Skrtel can defend a one-on-one against Anthony Martial, it makes the whole experience of social media so much more rewarding.

Then, just then, Liverpool Twitter may start debating as friends, not foes.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Paris Saint Germain v Liverpool Preview - Reds go in search of first win in ParisWatford v Liverpool...

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 11:45
The Details

 Champions League

Venue – Parc des Princes, Paris

Referee – Szymon Marciniak (POL)

Date & Time – Wednesday, November 28th 2018 @ 20:00 BST

Current Odds –  PSG 23/20, Draw 3/1, Liverpool 11/5

Form

PSG Form

Paris Saint Germain have been getting their results lately with solid performances. The highlight of their recent spell was the 4-0 win at the home of Thierry Henry’s hapless Monaco side earlier this month.

Thomas Tuchel knows his side will almost certainly be out if they lose to Liverpool. However, having only conceded two goals in their last five games, PSG will certainly pose a tough ask of Jurgen Klopp’s man.

Liverpool Form

Liverpool lost their two away games in this group so far. They went down 1-0 to a late Lorenzo Insigne goal in Naples and, more recently, put in a turgid performance to lose 2-0 to FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) in Serbia.

Since that defeat, Liverpool have beaten Fulham and Watford in the Premier League with last weekend’s win at Vicarage Road achieved through a particularly impressive patient and professional performance.

Team News

PSG Team News

Last week, it was announced that both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had picked up slight knocks. Luckily for PSG, it looks like both players will make it back into the starting eleven for Wednesday night’s game after missing out on their 1-0 win at home to Toulouse on Saturday.

Stanley Nsoki is also carrying an injury but should be available for selection for PSG.

Tuchel has been lining PSG out in a 3-4-3 shape, recently. It is unclear whether he will revert to the 4-3-3 formation he used in the game at Anfield in September.

Liverpool Team News

Liverpool have two injury worries within their Champions League squad. Adam Lallana and Joe Gomez are both doubtful for this game.

In Gomez’s absence, Dejan Lovren should partner Virgil van Dijk in central defence with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson tasked with keeping Neymar and Mbappe quiet on the flanks.

I’m hoping Klopp chooses the 4-2-3-1 shape and puts Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum in at the base of Liverpool’s midfield.

If Liverpool do lineup in the 4-2-3-1 formation then it will be Mohamed Salah as the out-and-out striker with Xherdan Shaqiri, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané behind him.

Predicted XIs

PSG XI (3-4-3) – Buffon; Marquinhos, Silva(c), Kimpembe; Meunier, Verratti, Rabiot, Bernat; Mbappe, Cavani, Neymar

Liverpool XI (4-2-3-1) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk(c), Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mané; Salah

When they last met

Liverpool beat PSG in a pulsating encounter at Anfield back in September when Firmino came off the bench to score a late winner.

The Reds have played PSG once before at Parc des Princes. It was in 1997 when PSG won 3-0 in the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final first leg. Liverpool won the second leg 2-0 at Anfield but went out 3-2 on aggregate.

Prediction

PSG 2 – 2 Liverpool

It should be another high-tempo game with plenty of chances at both ends. I think a score draw is on the cards with so much attacking talent on display for both sides.

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

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

Thefootballfaithful.com Below Article

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Watford v Liverpool Preview - Key Battles To Look Out ForWatford v Liverpool Preview - Any win will...

Fri, 11/23/2018 - 10:42

The international break is over, and it’s now time for Liverpool to head into the busiest and most crucial spell of the season. It begins with a trip to Vicarage Road to face Watford, who have been one of the surprise packages of the league this season.

For once, the Reds didn’t have too many injury scares from the international break, with only Jordan Henderson returning early thanks to a scare. But Klopp should have a clean bill of health apart from the long-term absentees, although the game in Paris on Wednesday is sure to influence his selection on Saturday night.

Here are some key battles to look forward to – which could decide the final outcome of the game.

CRAIG CATHCART v MOHAMED SALAH

After an inconsistent start to the season, Salah had gotten back into the groove in the last few games before the international break. The Egyptian is firmly settled in a more central role now, which has allowed Xherdan Shaqiri to slot in on the right side.

Salah’s pace is obviously a threat to any defender he comes up against, but beyond that, it’s the intelligence and precision of his movement coupled with the speed that makes him such a difficult player to handle for any defender.

Cathcart himself has had a fabulous start to the season for the Hornets, locking down a spot at the heart of their defence. His task on Sunday will not be easy, given that dealing with players like Salah doesn’t exactly fall under big strengths of his.

Cathcart is a big man who is sound in the air and can bully attackers in physical duels. But he’s not exactly blessed in terms of speed of foot, and that could be his single biggest undoing against Salah.

For the Egyptian, it’ll be important that he uses the half-spaces between Cathcart and Jose Holebas, and also drop into the midfield from time to time, to create doubt in the minds of the Watford defenders.

ABDOULAYE DOUCOURE v GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM

Another international break, another happy time for Wijnaldum with the resurgent Netherlands. But he will come back to Liverpool to play a different role in this Liverpool side.

While Ronald Koeman uses him as the most attacking member of a midfield trident, he’s a lot more entrusted with the defensive duties by Jurgen Klopp. His chief job on Saturday will be to contain the box-to-box capabilities of Watford’s best midfielder.

Doucoure has once again gone from strength to strength, even if he hasn’t had the end-product statistics reading like last season. He makes Javi Gracia’s side tick, with his ability to control the game from the middle of the park.

Wijnaldum’s job won’t just be as the destroyer of what Doucoure tries to do, but also as the link between the defence and the attack. Against a Watford side who will not go gung-ho, and will have a sound defensive shape at all times, Klopp will also need his midfielders to provide attacking thrust.

Wijnaldum has the ability to do that. It’s just that sometimes, it’d be nice if he turned up consistently in away games.

ROBERTO PEREYRA v TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Alexander-Arnold is another one for whom the international break brought great joy, as he scored his first goal for England, in the friendly against the USA. He’s not had the happiest time of it off late in a Reds’ shirt though, with a spell that can be best described as inconsistent.

It is now an open secret that he does have a little bit of a problem dealing with inside-forwards, who cut in from the flank, and Pereyra this season has been among the best in the business in the whole league.

It is going to be a difficult test for Trent, but one that he has got more than enough ability to overcome. The best way for Klopp to set up for this one to be to call attack the best form of defence, and ask Alexander-Arnold to get forward at every opportunity to support the attack.

That would also involve trusting Joe Gomez to deal with situations in case of a quick counter-attack, and that is something that he’s shown he’s adept at.

Pereyra recently scored a wonder solo goal against Huddersfield, and in general, has put in a high level of performances, so his confidence will be high. So it’ll be important for Alexander-Arnold to be brave, to trust those around him and do what he does best.

Thefootballfaithful.com Below Article

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS

Watford v Liverpool Preview - Any win will doObservations as Liverpool mark best ever tally from...

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 10:39
The Details

Venue – Vicarage Road, Watford

Referee – Jonathan Moss

Date & Time – Saturday, November 24th @ 15:00

Current Odds – Watford 11/2, Draw 16/5, Liverpool 1/2

Form Watford Form

Javi Gracia and his Watford team have enjoyed a good start to this season with 6 wins from their first 12 league games. They are currently 7th in the table, ahead of Manchester United on goal difference.

Watford have also been enjoying an attacking style of football this season with impressive xG rates in many games. Roberto Pereyra has had a very good start and the former Juventus player is playing the best football of his career, to date.

Liverpool Form

Liverpool’s form has been something of an enigma, lately. On one hand, Jurgen Klopp’s men have made the best-ever start to a Premier League campaign of any Liverpool team. On the other, at Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena zvezda) we witnessed possibly their worst-ever performance since the German manager took over at Anfield more than three years ago.

The Reds got back to winning ways against Fulham just before the international break but will need to be at a better level to win at Watford this weekend. They are currently two points behind Manchester City at the top of the league.

Team News Watford Team News

Daryl Janmaat, Sebastian Prodl and Tom Cleverley are all unavailable due to injury while Will Hughes’ calf strain has also made him a major doubt for Saturday’s game.

Gracia has been lining his side up in a 4-2-2-2 shape, for the most part, this season and it should be the same setup again on Saturday.

Gerard Delofeu will most likely drop back to take up Hughes’ role in midfield.

I expect Andre Gray and Troy Deeney to return to the starting lineup as well.

Liverpool Team News

Thankfully, Liverpool have no reported extra injury concerns after this latest international break.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continues his recovery and is hoping to get some game-time before the end of the season.

Jordan Henderson still has a tight hamstring and faces a late fitness test to see if he will be up for selection. He won’t make the starting eleven, anyway.

I think The Reds will have a full-strength attack with a midfield trio of Gini Wijnaldum at the base while a rested James Milner and in-form Xherdan Shaqiri could take the other two places.

Wijnaldum and Shaqiri, in particular, enjoyed impressive turnouts for their national teams over the last few days so Klopp will be looking for them to carry that form into this weekend.

Predicted XIs

Watford XI (4-2-2-2) – Foster; Femenia, Mariappa(c), Cathcart, Holebas; Doucoure, Chalobah; Delofeu, Pereyra; Gray, Deeney

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner(c), Shaqiri; Salah, Firmino, Mané

When they last met

Liverpool have won 4 of the last 5 meetings between the two sides. Watford’s last victory over Liverpool was the 3-0 drubbing in December 2015, two months into Klopp’s Anfield career.

Liverpool won 5-0 at Anfield last season – Mohamed Salah scored 4 and Bobby Firmino got the other. At Vicarage Road, it was a 3-3 on the first weekend of the 2017/18 season.

Prediction

Watford 1 – 2 Liverpool

Liverpool to win – just about. Salah to get at least one of the goals. I do expect Watford to score as they’ve been playing well this season but Liverpool should have enough to get the three points.

** Please note – “xGA” in the Form Stats tables symbolises “expected goals against” **

**All xG stats courtesy of Understat.com

Thefootballfaithful.com Below Article

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Categories: LFC NEWS