Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Anthony Taylor
Date & Time – Saturday, August 24th @ 17:30
Current Odds – Liverpool 9/20, Draw 4/1, Arsenal 19/4
Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield in the evening game this Saturday as the only remaining sides with 100% records in this season’s Premier League go head-to-head.
With 30 goals in the last six meetings between these two at Anfield, it’s likely to be another eventful night under the lights on Merseyside.FORM
Liverpool have struggled through a gruelling opening period to their 2019/20 campaign. Yet, they’ve managed to win their opening two league games as well as bringing home the UEFA Super Cup trophy from Istanbul after beating Chelsea on penalties.
Much like in the early stages of last season, Liverpool are doing enough to win their games, just about.
If they can continue that trend on Saturday evening then Reds fans everywhere will be delighted as the first international break of the season quickly approaches (after the Burnley game).
Unai Emery’s side has started its season in solid fashion. A 1-0 win at Newcastle on the opening weekend was followed up by a 2-1 home win over Burnley last time out.
Arsenal haven’t won a league game at Anfield since 2012 but this side, with Dani Ceballos already looking the part and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang already in-form, will certainly give Jurgen Klopp’s team plenty to think about this Saturday.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Nathaniel Clyne is Liverpool’s only current long-term injury absentee. The right-back suffered an ACL injury over the summer and is not due back until February at the earliest.
Alisson is also missing through injury and it’s still unclear just how long is calf issue is likely to keep him out for.
Naby Keita is unavailable having suffered an injury training for the UEFA Super Cup match in Turkey last week.
Jurgen Klopp will stick with Adrian in goals while Joel Matip will probably keep his place in central defence, alongside Virgil van Dijk.
In midfield, I think Fabinho and Jordan Henderson will return to the starting lineup, with Gini Wijnaldum making up the midfield trio.
It should be full strength for The Reds in attack with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané all fit to start.
Arsenal Team News
Hector Bellerin and Konstantinos Mavropanos are both ruled out while Kieran Tierney is not fit enough yet to make his debut for Arsenal after signing from Celtic.
Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil and Rob Holding are all doubts for The Gunners.
Dani Ceballos will be the main playmaker to watch in the centre for Arsenal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should start as the out-and-out striker in place of Alexandre Lacazette.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1) – Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ceballos, Nelson; AubameyangWHEN THEY LAST MET
Last December, Liverpool beat Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield on a day when Roberto Firmino turned on the afterburners and left The Gunners for dead with a hat-trick. Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah also scored for The Reds as they overturned Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ early strike to hammer Arsenal.PREDICTION
Liverpool 3 – 2 Arsenal
It should be a case of goals galore again on Saturday with both sides in top form and neither defence looking anything resembling rock-solid thus far.
I would back Roberto Firmino to score again to continue his impressive scoring record against Unai Emery’s side (8 goals in 8 games since he arrived at Liverpool).
It was a game that every Liverpool fan knew was going to be a struggle. Not only was it an away match against a solid Southampton side, but with the 120 minutes played in midweek added to that, 3 points was looking a difficult ask. The front three were going to have to work their magic and dig us out of a hole, and, thankfully, they did just that – despite Adrian’s best efforts to throw it all away late on.
It was an unfortunate event for the Spaniard as he’d been very good up to that point. He made a very important point-blank save to deny Yoshida in the first half which gave Mané the opportunity to put the Reds ahead in the dying minutes of the period. Sadly, though, the main takeaway from his performance will be his Loris Karius impression which gifted Danny Ings with a goal against his former club. Had he not made the error, he would have been in with a shout of being the man of the match. Hopefully, it doesn’t dent his confidence and he can continue his good form until Alisson returns.
Van Dijk had a decent afternoon despite the number of chances Southampton managed to create, while Robertson looked like himself for the first time this season, especially in the second half. He defended well and also was on hand to cause the opposition back four problems with his attacking prowess. Wijnaldum was more involved than he has been in the previous two games and, perhaps most pleasing was the performance of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. After he made his first start since April 2018 against Chelsea last Wednesday, he followed that with yet another appearance in the starting eleven this weekend. While he is not quite at his brilliant best as yet, the signs are reappearing, and it is very exciting to see.
This game was all about the attack, though, and how they were going to somehow find a way to snatch us a victory. While it was not one of Mo Salah’s best games – much to the dismay of fantasy football managers across the world – Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino stepped up yet again, just as they did in the Super Cup against Chelsea. Bobby got himself on the scoresheet for the first time this season and should have had another a few minutes before. In the 65th minute, with just the goalkeeper to beat following a pass across goal from Mané, the Brazilian opened his body up and placed his effort just wide of the far post. Fortunately, just five minutes later, he found the bottom left-hand corner with a drive from the edge of the area. It came after some excellent work again from Sadio Mané, as he pressed Southampton deep inside their half before stealing the ball and laying it off to Firmino.
This leads me on to the actual man of the match, which I’m going to give to Mané. Two goals in midweek and now a goal and an assist against Southampton. He has started the season in superb form. The Saints were by far the better team in the first half, but Sadio showed his individual world-class ability by unleashing a powerful strike into the far corner in the 46th minute to send us into the break in front. Liverpool were much improved in the second half and Mané shone even brighter, creating the second goal and going close to bagging himself a second. He is right up there with the best forwards in the world right now and there are no signs of that stopping any time soon. Fingers crossed that he can remain healthy with the lack of pre-season he has been afforded. We now have a full week’s rest before we host Arsenal at Anfield, so hopefully all the big guns – bar Alisson – will be feeling 100% for what will likely be a tough test against the Gunners and their new-look side.
Liverpool equalled a club record 11 consecutive Premier League wins with a 2-1 victory away to Southampton.
Goals from Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino saw the Reds lead 2-0 before Danny Ings punished a massive Adrian blunder late in the second half.
Showing some residual impact from their 120 minute long energy-sapping Super Cup victory over Chelsea midweek, Jurgen Klopp’s men started slowly but eventually hit their straps and clinched a deserved win over their motivated opponents.
From the get-go, The Saints were keen to not show the European Champions too much respect.
This aggressiveness informed their tactics as they gave Liverpool a taste of their strategical medicine by employing an orchestrated high press.
James Ward Prowse personified Southampton’s ambitions early on as his long busting run closed down Adrian and blocked down the Spaniards attempted clearance.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges were hemmed in their own half by the Saints’ press and struggled to release themselves from the almost ceaseless pressure from the hosts.
Both Maya Yoshida and Che Adams should have capitalized on Ralf Hassenhutl’s men’s ascendancy, but they headed good chances straight at and over Adrian’s crossbar.
The Saint Mary’s side would soon live to regret their penalty box toothlessness, however, as Mané expertly gave Liverpool a scantily deserved lead.
Against his former club, the Senegalese star collected the ball from Milner just inside the box and curled a beautiful effort into Angus Gunn’s top corner.
Buoyed by the lead, The Reds started the second period in fine fashion in a manner that contrasted greatly with their first showing.
James Milner’s deflected volley drifted narrowly wide with Gunn looking like he was beaten.
Moments later, Mohamed Salah ought to have scored as his low left-footed strike from inside the box was saved by the increasingly busy Gunn in Saints goal.
Southampton looked powerless to prevent the visitors from taking a hold of the game and Firmino should have taken it away from them after a wonderfully orchestrated passing move.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s pass released Mané down the left flank and the number ten’s accurate cross was steered wide of the right-hand post by the Brazilian when he should have scored.
It didn’t take long, however, for the European Champions to rubber-stamp their second-half dominance.
Firmino, making amends for his earlier miss, collected the ball from Mané — who had pilfered a Saints player near their own box — before driving into the box and expertly firing low past Gunn into the bottom left corner.
With the result now a formality, Liverpool opened up their box of tricks. Andrew Robertson, who was impressive throughout, drew an excellent near-post save from Gunn after being teed up by Mané’s audacious flick.
The Reds looked comfortable throughout the second period but handed the initiative back to the hosts when Adrian was punished for dawdling on the ball.
With options and time aplenty on the ball after a van Dijk back pass, the former West Ham keeper hesitated before passing the ball straight off Danny Ings — the second player to score against his former club — and into his own net.
Ings should have drew Southampton level moments later, but the England international inexplicably fired wide at the back post following Yann Valery’s cross as the Reds descended from ascendancy to anxiety.
The hosts huffed and puffed in the final few minutes, but Liverpool held on for what was, overall, a deserved three points.
Team: Adrian; Alexander Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Oxlade Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Subs used: Henderson for Oxlade Chamberlain, Origi for Salah, Henderson for Milner.
Venue – St Mary’s, Southampton
Referee – Andre Marriner
Date & Time – Saturday, August 17th @ 15:00
Current Odds – Southampton 11/2, Draw 15/4, Liverpool 4/9
Any win will do on Saturday. It’s only the second gameweek of the Premier League season and already it feels like the pressure is on thanks to the style in which Manchester City obliterated West Ham last Saturday.
Liverpool, hopefully buoyed by their UEFA Super Cup success on Wednesday, will need all the energy they can muster on the south coast this Saturday afternoon.FORM
The Saints lost 3-0 at Burnley last weekend. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men looked impressive in the early stages at Turf Moor but Burnley then just stole the game from them.
Southampton will be eager to get off to a winning start on their home ground for the 2019/20 season.
Liverpool beat Norwich City 4-1 last Friday at Anfield to get their Premier League campaign off to a winning start. On Wednesday night, Jurgen Klopp’s side overcame Chelsea in a penalty shootout victory to lift the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul.
The bad news from the Super Cup was that the teams had to play 120 a high-tempo game in 120 minutes of the Turkish heat and humidity. Many Liverpool players were out on their feet by the end of the night.TEAM NEWS
Southampton Team News
Southampton are not missing any players through injury or suspension currently.
Ralph Hasenhuttl went with a 3-5-2 formation at Burnley so we could see the same shape again from The Saints on Saturday.
As always, Nathan Redmond is one to watch as his pace can cause havoc for defences on the counter-attack.
Liverpool Team News
Alisson and Nathaniel Clyne miss the game for Liverpool through injury. Naby Keita is also a major doubt after he had to leave training early ahead of the UEFA Super Cup meeting with Chelsea during the week.
Klopp will have a lot of tired players to consider on Saturday. Joe Gomez could move back into central defence making way for Trent Alexander-Arnold to start at right-back.
In midfield, Fabinho suffered a lot from cramp on Wednesday. He will probably be on the bench for this game. Therefore, Gini Wijnaldum could start in the ‘6’ role with James Milner and Jordan Henderson ahead of him.
Up front, Roberto Firmino should start alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Southampton XI (3-5-2) – Gunn; Bednarek, Vestergaard, Danso; Valery, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Bertrand; Redmond, Adams
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Firmino, ManéWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool won 3-1 at St Mary’s when the sides met in April. Shane Long put the home side in front before goals from Naby Keita, Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson gave The Reds a hard-fought victory in an entertaining game.PREDICTION
Southampton 1 – 2 Liverpool
It’s not going to be an easy afternoon for Liverpool on Saturday. Southampton will be itching to set things straight after suffering a heavy 3-0 defeat at Burnley on the opening weekend of the season. Winning their first home game of 2019/20 would be the ideal quick-fix for Hasenhuttl’s side. However, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are one of the best teams in Europe right now. Liverpool’s tired legs to win, just about.
When Liverpool signed Mohammad Salah for £37 million from AS Roma in 2017, most people didn’t expect him to have scored 72 goals in 106 games. But, under the watchful eye of Jurgen Klopp, his reputation as a fast winger has rapidly developed into becoming one of the most prolific forwards in the Premier League.
Looking back now, and at today’s current market, £37 million is an absolute steal for one of Liverpool’s most potent goal scorers of all time. He reached a record 32 league goals in his debut season at Anfield and assisted a further 11 to Liverpool’s campaign. A further 10 goals in the Champions League showcased just how impressive the Egyptian is in front of goal for the Reds.
Further goal-scoring success last season – with 32 goal contributions in the league – showed that Salah is the perfect fit for Liverpool. Klopp’s ever-developing system at Liverpool means they continue to evolve as a team, and Salah is most certainly at the forefront of that.
In Liverpool’s 4-1 opening day win against Norwich City, it was evident that Salah will be central to Liverpool’s attack again this season. His improving clinical nature in front of goal showed just how much of a focal point he has become in Liverpool’s attack.
Salah’s initial success at Anfield was underpinned by fast counter-attacking football where he was able to utilise his pace. However, since Klopp has begun to favour a more balanced style of play, Salah’s role has changed within the system.
The Egyptian’s role in the attacking line-up has seen him move far more central than in his first season under Klopp. Whilst still coming under the bracket of the right-wing, Salah occupies a position perhaps in between the opposition’s left centre-back and left-back. Such a position allows him to play to his strengths, wrapping his foot around the ball and nestling it in the far corner.
Friday night’s win over Norwich showcased this perfectly with Salah making it 2-0. A more or less identical chance later fell to Salah, but his shot went just wide. As probably his most trademark type of goal, being able to get a shot away from the right-hand-side of the penalty area is crucial to Salah’s goal-scoring figures.
The system that Klopp deploys to enable Salah such room relies primarily on two right-sided players, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
While not primarily known for his attacking attributes, Henderson’s game has improved and his attacking play has allowed him to become more involved higher up the pitch. Against Norwich, the midfielder completed 15/21 attacking third passes. Such involvement in attacking play has been facilitated by the addition of Fabinho; who occupies a more defensive midfield role.
That attacking involvement from Henderson (below) is shown most frequently on the right-hand-side of the pitch. And, whilst his passing accuracy can continue to improve, the fact he is causing problems in the highlighted areas below will create chances.
Against Barcelona last season, for instance, his midfield run and saved shot created the opportunity for Origi to score from close range. Therefore, Henderson’s continued involvement in the attacking third is a subtle progression in this Liverpool side.
Midfield involvement in attack will inevitably lead to more chances created. But it also takes the pressure away from the front three to create chances themselves. Such development enables the Reds to be more balanced and measured in their attack.
This balance and measure, in turn, provides Salah with more clear-cut chances. Only having two shots versus Norwich is not something to be worried about. The fact his conversion rate was at 50% not only shows his quality in front of goal but also the quality of chance he is getting.
In addition to Henderson’s influence, it is important to remember that Liverpool’s full-backs are central to the system. In relation to Salah’s goal involvement, Alexander-Arnold is one of the most important cogs in the wheel.
The young full-back has crafted his trade over the last couple of years through his exquisite delivery both in-play and from set-pieces. Combining that with Alexander-Arnold’s pace and reading of the game makes him the perfect full-back to support Salah.
Against Norwich, Alexander-Arnold completed 6/12 attacking third passes – one of which was a sublime pass for Divock Origi to finish off. The right-back created three chances in that game and will look to improve on his impressive 12 assists from last season.
In turn, that creativity from the England international creates more opportunities for Salah as well as providing another threat to the opposition’s defence. Therefore, between Alexander-Arnold and the right-sided midfielder, whether it be Henderson, Keita or Oxlade-Chamberlain, there is sufficient additional attacking threat to help Salah.
The days of simply relying on the front three to create and score goals is gone. Under this system, which has been developed over the last two years, Klopp has been able to progressively introduce the best quality players to fit the bill.
For Salah, this system means that he is perhaps less involved over the course of 90 minutes. However, his chances of scoring goals increases. Whether it be through creativity down the right flank or more central positioning, Salah’s role in this system means he will continue to score plenty of goals.
Liverpool got their 2019/2020 Premier League campaign off to the ideal start with a 4-1 victory over Norwich City at Anfield on Friday.
Goals from Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Divock Origi, as well as a Grant Hanley own goal sufficed for the efficient, if not always electric hosts.
As happy as the Reds will surely be with their season opening three points, they will wait nervously on the medical news surrounding Alisson. The keeper was replaced by Adrian in the first half after he appeared to injure his calf when taking a goal kick.
After a brilliant, 97 point yielding campaign last season Jurgen Klopp’s European Champions would have been confident of victory against the newly promoted Canaries.
For all the talk of Liverpool’s inactivity in the transfer market, the Reds’ bench was star stubbed as Klopp opted to pick the same team that was defeated on penalties by Manchester City in last Sunday’s Community Shield. Among Liverpool’s replacements included Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Liverpool attacked the Anfield Road end in the first half and they started the game with the intent of a team who were so cruelly pipped to the Premier League title last season.
Origi, looking visibly confident throughout, was the Reds most active attacking outlet early, with the Belgian’s directness troubling Norwich right back Max Aarons.
And it was through the Champions final scorer that Liverpool took the lead after six minutes. Driving at the visitors back-line, Origi’s low, left footed cross was horribly deflected off Grant Hanley and passed Tim Krul.
It wasn’t long before Liverpool doubled their lead with Salah the benefactor of a lengthy, passing move. The goal has it’s genesis in a wonderful, line breaking pass from Joe Gomez. Gomez found Alexander Arnold whose pass was deflected to Salah. The Egyptians pass was similarly ricocheted to Firmino, with the Brazilian making no mistake by acutely sliding the ball to Salah to caress home a finish into the bottom left corner.
Buoyed by their early two goal advantage, the European Champions — with the front three particularly impressive — began to up the tempo in search of a third goal, which arrived in the 27th minute from van Dijk. The Dutchman powerfully headed home Salah’s corner after emerging dominant from a ruck of players in the middle of the box.
The aerial route would prove profitable for Liverpool once again as Origi notched a deserved fourth goal. Alexander Arnold’s beautifully weighted cross bisected the Norwich centre halve’s and the Belgian headed low and past the onrushing Krul into the bottom corner.
Norwich, to their credit, were steadfast in their commitment to attacking and caused Liverpool issues, particularly down the right hand side in the first half, despite going into the half time break four goals in arrears.
Liverpool started the second period sharply and Krul denied the hosts a fifth as he pushed a Jordan Henderson shot onto the bar after an Origi pull back.
The story of the half, however, was Norwich whose attacking intent and creativity crafted a richly deserved consolation with Temu Pukki the benefactor. The Finland international, who scored 29 times last season, slotted calmly past Adrian after collecting Emi Buendia’s through ball.
With the result a formality, Klopp gave a run out to Sadio Mane to allow the Senegal international his first appearance since returning to pre-season training after the African Cup of Nations meant he missed the club’s pre-season.
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Michael Oliver
Date & Time – Friday, August 9th @ 20:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 1/7, Draw 7/1, Norwich City 14/1
The Premier League returns this Friday night as newly-promoted Norwich City visit Anfield to take on the current European champions, Liverpool.
The Canaries won the Championship title to gain promotion last May having scored 93 goals and conceded 57 over their 46 league games. That’s an average of over 3.2 goals per game involving Norwich last season. And that was in the second tier of English football.
It’s safe to say we can expect goals at Anfield on Friday.FORM
Liverpool drew 1-1 with Manchester City in last Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley. City won the penalty shootout 5-4 after The Reds had dominated play in the second half but couldn’t get that second goal to win the game.
However, the most important thing from Sunday was how Jurgen Klopp’s side responded after City had threatened to go in at least two or three goals in front at half-time.
After the break, Liverpool took City apart with the European champions pinning the Premier League title-holders back in their own half for almost the full 45 minutes.
Liverpool’s pre-season results had many worried about how ill-prepared they were for the coming season. Sunday’s Community Shield performance should have eased many of those concerns.
Norwich City Form
Daniel Farke’s side played six summer friendlies – winning three, drawing one and losing two. The victories were against Schalke, Luton Town and Toulouse while they lost to Atalanta of Serie A and Brentford. They drew their first pre-season fixture 2-2 with Arminia Bielefeld.
This is Norwich’s first taste of Premier League football since their relegation in May 2016.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Nathaniel Clyne is Liverpool’s only current long-term injury absentee. The right-back suffered an ACL injury over the summer and is not due back until February at the earliest.
James Milner was not risked in the Community Shield due to a minor muscle injury but the veteran midfielder should be available for selection on Friday.
Sadio Mané only returned to full training this week and it’s completely at Klopp’s discretion if he feels the Senegalese forward is fit enough to play any part against Norwich. Mané has scored on the last three opening days for The Reds, though. Klopp could be tempted to risk him.
Joe Gomez started in defence against City with Joel Matip coming off the bench to score the second-half equaliser. Klopp has a decision to make between those two.
In midfield, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita are my tips to start.
Norwich City Team News
Christoph Zimmerman is out for Norwich. The defender has a knee injury and could be back before the end of August. He’ll miss the first couple of games this season, though.
Timm Klose and Alexander Tettey are on the way back from injury and should be fit for their trip to Anfield.
Daniel Farke played a 4-2-3-1 formation for the most part of last season in the Championship. It will be interesting to see if he applies a similar shape for their Premier League return this weekend.
Sam Byram (West Ham) and Josip Drmic (Borussia Monchengladbach) are two of the more notable signings Farke made over the summer.
Ralf Fahrmann (Schalke) was also signed and the 30-year-old goalkeeper will battle it out with Tim Krul for the number one spot for Norwich.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Norwich City XI (4-2-3-1) – Krul; Aarons, Klose, Godfrey, Lewis; McLean, Vrancic; Buendia, Stiepermann, Hernandez; PukkiWHEN THEY LAST MET
How could we forget the last meeting between the sides? Liverpool won an enthralling match 5-4 at Carrow Road in January 2016.
Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Bobby Firmino were the only three Liverpool starters that day who are still at the club.
Firmino scored twice, Henderson and Milner bagged one each and Adam Lallana came off the bench to get the winner deep into injury-time.
The sides drew 1-1 in their last Anfield meeting, in September 2015. It was one of Brendan Rodgers’ last games as Liverpool manager.
Danny Ings gave The Reds the lead before Norwich’s Russell Martin scored the equaliser.PREDICTION
Liverpool 4 – 0 Norwich City
Much has changed since the sides last met in 2016. Liverpool have evolved into one of the best teams on the continent. Jurgen Klopp’s side will most likely be the only realistic challenger to Manchester City in the Premier League again this season.
While Daniel Farke also has Norwich on an excellent upward curve, the gulf between the sides is great and Liverpool must make that difference count on Friday night. Anything less than a win would be a poor start to The Reds’ season.
Mohamed Salah also looked sharp against City on Sunday – getting into countless goalscoring positions. His finishing will improve as the season progresses again. Starting, hopefully, with a couple on Friday night.
It was the stereotypical game of two halves at Wembley Stadium, as Liverpool came out second best after a penalty shootout, that saw 9 out of 10 penalties hit the back of the net. Unfortunately, Gini Wijnaldum was the unlucky one, and the Reds had to be content with what you could possibly call a moral victory, but I’m sure Jurgen Klopp and the players would’ve rather had the silverware to show for it.
City took the lead after questionable defending offered Raheem Sterling the chance to tap home with his left foot, and despite his shot being close to Alisson Becker, the Liverpool ‘keeper just couldn’t keep it out. The Reds probed and probed, and had chances aplenty before Joel Matip got big to head home a Virgil van Dijk cross and send the contest to penalties.
Here are a few observations from a game that set the tone for the Premier League, which begins at Anfield on Friday night. Did we have a look at the Premier League champions at Wembley today?The right side of Liverpool’s defence is an issue
It has been all through pre-season, and it was a problem again this evening at Wembley. Trent Alexander-Arnold is not doing enough defensively, and he isn’t getting support from his midfield either. The second point is very important because Alexander-Arnold is a huge source of creativity. When Klopp picks a midfield without Naby Keita or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, all the burden of creativity falls on the full-backs.
In that kind of scenario, you cannot expect Alexander-Arnold to be conservative. It’s only prudent to expect that one of Fabinho or Jordan Henderson would cover for him. Luckily, it’s only just pre-season yet, and there’s enough time to iron out what, at this stage, is just a minor flaw.Liverpool need bravery in midfield
Yes, Klopp trusts his workhorses in midfield. Yes, Klopp trusts his front three to conjure magic even if there is little supply from midfield. Yes, Klopp trusts his two full-backs to fill in for the midfield’s creativity. But, when personnel are available to make the midfield stronger, why not take that opportunity to use that personnel?
Really, Keita or Chamberlain have got to start in Liverpool’s midfield. Henderson and Wijnaldum are just far too similar, which is by no means to say either of them is inferior or not good enough. Liverpool need a more progressive player in the centre of the park – one who’s willing to take risks, one who’s willing to drive forward.The ghosts of pre-season laid to rest in 45 minutes
I won’t lie, even the most optimistic Reds fan must have had a little bit of a churning stomach watching our results and performances so far in pre-season. That continued through an insipid, tepid, boring first 45 minutes, where Liverpool didn’t keep the ball well enough, didn’t press well, defended like nothing they have been known to recently.
But whatever it is that Klopp said at half-time, it worked a treat. Liverpool were full of purpose after the break. Mo Salah was getting in superb positions, and most importantly, he was getting support from the others on the pitch.
Klopp got his subs spot on, too, as Keita, Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri all had positive influences on the game, apart from Matip who got the goal that levelled things.A Golden Boot Three-peat for Mo?
Don’t rule it out. Why? I wish I could answer that with one line and drop a mic – “MOHAMED SALAH IS A MACHINE”
Next time we are lauding the effort of Robbo or Bobby, I’d like a little moment for Mo Salah and his ridiculous rate of availability, to go with his ridiculous ability
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) August 4, 2019
Salah was getting in superb positions, troubled Oleksandr Zinchenko with pace and verve and skill all game, just the shooting was missing. That will come – let’s not forget that he’s just played two games in pre-season. What matters now is that he looks sharp, he’s getting in perfect positions, and those are the things he needs to score goals.
Oh, and a prayer to ensure he stays healthy until the end of May 2020.
Venue – Wembley Stadium, London
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Sunday, August 4th @ 15:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 14/5, Draw 11/4, Manchester City 10/11
Liverpool will play Manchester City this Sunday in the traditional curtain-raiser to the English Premier League campaign at Wembley.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will be eager to take at least a draw from the encounter and deny Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City any psychological edge going into what is sure to be another battle for the Premier League title.FORM
Liverpool struggled for large parts of the pre-season, losing three of their seven friendlies. However, the finished their summer schedule off with a 3-1 over Lyon in Geneva on Wednesday evening.
The team has looked out of sync quite a lot in recent games but that will often be the case with players returning late from their summer breaks as was the case for many Liverpool players in recent weeks.
Liverpool’s last competitive fixture was, of course, their famous 2-0 win over Spurs in Madrid when they lifted the European Cup for the sixth time.
Manchester City Form
Pep Guardiola’s side only played four recognised senior fixtures as part of its pre-season preparations. They won three of those four games, drawing 0-0 with Wolves in the other game which was the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy. Wolves went on to lift the summer silverware after a 3-2 win in the ensuing penalty shootout.
City’s last competitive game was their 6-0 trouncing of Watford in the FA Cup final at Wembley back in May.
That win completed City’s domestic treble of the Premier League, the League Cup and the FA Cup, becoming the first time in the history of English football to achieve such a feat.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool will be without Sadio Mané as the Senegalese international is only due back at training on Monday, August 5th. This is because Mané had a hectic summer schedule with Senegal as they went all the way to the AFCON final before finishing as runners-up.
Nathaniel Clyne is Jurgen Klopp’s only real long-term injury concern. The back-up right-back suffered an ACL injury in the Reds’ 3-2 friendly defeat to Borussia Dortmund in July. He won’t be back in full training until February at the earliest.
Klopp will likely start with a full-strength goalkeeper and defence. Midfield, as always, will be tough to predict and, in attack, I think Bobby Firmino will make an appearance as a second-half substitute.
Manchester City Team News
Benjamin Mendy is not expected to return to full fitness until September so he will miss out on Sunday’s fixture.
Aymeric Laporte is also carrying a knock but should be available for selection this weekend.
New signing Rodrigo has settled in quickly after arriving from Atletico Madrid. He should start in the centre for City.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Origi, Wilson
Manchester City XI (4-3-3) – Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Silva D; Silva B, Aguero, SterlingWHEN THEY LAST MET
The sides last met on January 3rd when City won 2-1 at the Etihad. It was the win which ended up being the difference between the teams in the Premier League title race.
Sergio Aguero opened the scoring before a second-half goal from Bobby Firmino levelled things up after an excellent team move from Klopp’s men.
Leroy Sané scored the winner on the night, giving City all three points.PREDICTION
Liverpool 1 – 1 Manchester City
I think Liverpool will do well to avoid defeat on Sunday. An underwhelming summer of friendlies, coupled with the club’s lack of transfer activity means that most of the Reds’ first-team are still only getting up to speed.
I think sheer determination on Liverpool’s part will pull them through with a more-than-respectable 1-1 draw.