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Liverpool Ladies season preview: Reds begin with Merseyside derby

8 hours 8 min ago

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Liverpool Ladies kick-off their 2017/18 Women’s Super League 1 campaign on Friday, with a Merseyside derby on the opening day.


Everton will be competing in WSL1 for the first time since their relegation in 2014. Liverpool won 2-1 against the Blues in the knock-out stages of the FA Cup back in March and they would no doubt settle for a similar result during their first match of the new season.

As well as their neighbours in blue, Liverpool will hope to challenge with the teams at the top of the table following an encouraging Spring Series.

The Reds finished mid-table in the end but produced strong displays which suggested they are capable of competing with WSL 1 high-fliers Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Almost every team in the league have strengthened their squads ahead of the new season and Liverpool are not exempt from that – although the bulk of their activity took place prior to the start of the Spring Series.

Manager Scott Rogers signed England internationals Jess Clarke, Laura Coombs and Casey Stoney, who have all made big impressions during the summer.

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LFC Ladies signings Jess Clarke and Laura Coombs with manager Scott Rodgers (images via Liverpool FC)

However, as well as bringing in some experienced players, Liverpool lost key attacker Shanice van de Sanden who secured a move to Champions League winners Lyon following a hugely impressive European Championships tournament.

The loss of the Netherlands star was seen as a ‘blow’ by captain Gemma Bonner but Liverpool will hope Scotland international Caroline Weir will continue to bag them goals in Van de Sanden’s absence.

“It’s been a long pre-season but the girls have been working really hard for the first game against Everton and we just can’t wait to get going now,” Bonner told This Is Anfield.

“Players have to step up and showcase what they can do and it’s no different to any situation we have been in before,” Bonner continued.

“Losing Shanice (van de Sanden) from any team would be a loss but over the years we have lost players and it also gives the opportunity for younger players to come through.

“Obviously it was a blow to lose her but we have players who have stepped up and hopefully they can show that this season.”

As well as their league aspirations, Liverpool will hope to produce another strong FA Cup run after reaching the semi-finals last season.

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They were knocked out and denied a place in the final at Wembley by league champions Manchester City so the Reds will hope to go one step further this year.

City will expect to battle it out for the title with Chelsea and Arsenal but a good season for Liverpool would see them compete with those three teams and secure a top four finish.

The FA Women’s Super League season kicks-off on the weekend of the 22-24 September. For more information on both leagues and to purchase tickets, visit www.FAWSL.com.

2016/17 League position: 5th
Spring Series position: 4th
Player to watch: Caroline Weir
Young player to watch: Niamh Charles
Predicted finish: 4th


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What is going wrong at Liverpool and how can Jurgen Klopp solve it?

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 22:30
What is going wrong for Liverpool?

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks dejected after missing a chance during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

KARL: It sounds so obvious that it can’t possibly be the entire truth, but it is: not finishing chances, and conceding too easily.

There’s so much that goes on in between those things that Liverpool do very well, and the sheer volume of good, if not great, scoring opportunities they create attests to how well the team plays on a half-to-half basis, but for whatever reason the ball isn’t going in often enough.

Sometimes it can be the speed we play at—players can’t take the extra second to be composed, have to be instinctive attackers rather than more natural strikers taking the final touch, etc.—and sometimes it’s just one of those days.

But you can handle those days if you are solid and reliable the other end of the pitch. Liverpool aren’t, and haven’t been for years.

HENRY: It is a combination of things, but the key is that Liverpool are relatively hopeless in either penalty area.

Although they still score at a fairly rapid rate, so many chances are missed, as the Burnley and Leicester matches have highlighted. They are dominating matches and playing well, but not putting the ball in the net.

Then there’s the defence, which is undoubtedly the key issue. There is a nervousness and lack of quality in it, and the standard of goals being conceded is so poor. On the flip side, we seem to give opponents one chance and they take it.

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The most damning thing is that we appear to be the total opposite of Man United. They don’t look that special during chunks of matches—we often do—but they don’t make mistakes and they take their chances. That’s why they are higher than us in table.

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet look dejected as a score a second goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

BEN: In short, dominating possession, failing to break teams down and being defensively weak.

I’m not too concerned about us going forward as we’re doing most things correctly. We’re having lots of shots and although failure to turn them into goals is a slight concern in the short term, I’m confident in the long term that we’ll be fine.

We can’t expect to batter teams every week. Learning how to grind out results and break down stubborn teams is the ultimate goal (forgive the pun).

However, defensively we’re an embarrassment at the moment.

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Lack of leaders, organisation, strong, well-timed challenges, power in the air and concentration are all missing, which causes us to concede late goals from a few shots.

TAINTLESS: The first team lacks quality in defence and midfield. We have conceded nine goals in the Premier League, more than bottom-placed Palace!

Our centre-back group of Lovren, Klavan, Matip and Gomez is too mediocre. Lovren is error prone, Klavan is not suited to playing a high line, Matip can be good but also has a tendency to complacency and Gomez has talent but little experience at centre-back.

And at right-back we’re rotating between two young players who are learning on the job.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool and Sevilla at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s system will often put more pressure on our defensive players, e.g. dealing with more one-on-ones and counters. But not recruiting players capable of dealing better with such situations has been a failure on our part.

In four transfer windows we have spent only £4 million on centre-backs, and that knowing how poor we were defensively under Rodgers.

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Klopp is a manager who trusts his players, and players love him for it.

But he has placed too much trust in some mediocre players and too much trust in his ability to make some players better than they’re capable of being. He needs to bring back his ruthlessness.

And how can Jurgen Klopp solve it?

 Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match against Sevilla FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

KARL: There are two real options for this (outside of buying personnel, which can’t be done right now): change the approach to task one extra player with a much more defence-oriented role, or change the approach to look at a pure counter-attacking side which only explodes forward after the danger is dealt with.

The latter requires a fundamental shift away from what Klopp has built so far, so is unlikely.

Right now I think (especially away from home) it’s the defensive side which has to be the focus, so either rein in the full-backs’ adventurism and play an extra midfielder who will stay put, or play a diamond to simply nullify counter-attacking opportunities by volume of bodies in the middle.

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The goalscoring will sort itself out because the forwards are exceptional.

They won’t hit 30 each, but they’re all capable, confident and simply in a moment where things aren’t going in when they should. Nothing needs dramatically changing there.

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

HENRY: The obvious answer is that time on the training ground will make a difference, but it’s not as though they aren’t training at the moment!

The attack will sort itself, with Sadio Mane‘s return huge, Philippe Coutinho getting sharper and Mo Salah becoming more ruthless in front of goal, but I have major concerns about the centre of defence.

The same mistakes are being made over and over again, and barring Joel Matip, I just don’t think Klopp has the personnel to make Liverpool that much better at the back.

He has to take a fair amount of criticism for that, after not signing a centre-back in the summer.

He needs to decide on a settled goalkeeper and back four rather than continually changing it, and see how they fare.

Jordan Henderson‘s poor form has not helped at all, and if he can return to the level he was at this time last year, it will make a big difference to the side.

The bottom line is that Klopp is actually doing a lot right, but constant individual mistakes at either end of the pitch are making him look foolish.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

BEN: It’s always a fool’s errand to try and get into the managers mind…but: Klopp seems to think that a squad of 25 players means that they must all play at some point across all competitions.

He wants a squad of players all ready at a moment’s notice to slot into his system.

What this means, however, is that there’s a lack of consistency with team selection that is proving to be catastrophic in the short term and ultimately might not be worth it in the long term.

This is most notable in defence where even the ever-present Matip is having off games.

Our defenders and goalkeeper aren’t playing with each other week in and week out to form a solid unit. I’m not seeing anyone talk on the pitch. We need a gobby leader: a Carragher.

Klopp needs to nail down a starting 11 and stick with it. Regular players, playing together, gaining confidence—and confident players leads to wins and momentum.

 Liverpool's Emre Can looks dejected as his side lose 5-0 during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

TAINTLESS: Ideally we need two new centre-backs (not just one) and a better defensive midfielder (as Can seems likely to leave eventually and Klopp is mostly using him as a box-to-box player).

Transfers can’t happen until January, so the way to improve things in the short term is training, selection, system and tactics.

With selection I would focus on getting Gomez ready to play more often as a partner for Matip.

I believe Can is better in the No. 6 position than Henderson. Neither is perfect, but Can is more incisive in his passing from deep and is calm when pressed as he can manipulate and carry the ball.

Ultimately the biggest difference between top players/teams and good players/teams aren’t just aspects like superior technique or physicality. It is invariably football intelligence.

Making the right decisions in the right moment more often than others. Helping our players make better decisions is how Klopp, Buvac and Co. can solve our problems.

* Many thanks to Karl, Henry, Ben and Taintless for their contributions. You can read more of Taintless Red’s thoughts here.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool rue lack of killer touch: The stats that show Reds’ lack of ruthlessness in front of goal

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 20:10

They have again struggled in his absence since his red card against Manchester City, though he did play 83 minutes against Sevilla before beginning his domestic suspension.

Mane has scored three Premier League goals this season from 10 shots, and his recent absence is a significant factor in Liverpool’s struggles in front of goal.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO

As Mane disappeared from the line-up temporarily, Coutinho re-emerged following his protracted summer transfer saga. Liverpool’s numbers since then have shown the good and the bad of the Brazil playmaker’s game.

Coutinho vs Burnley

His creative influence has been apparent, helping Liverpool pile up 35 shots against Burnley and another 21 against Leicester.

His own share of those shots, though, demonstrates his penchant for low-percentage efforts from long range.

Of 11 Coutinho strikes, mostly from outside the penalty area, only two have been on target – in keeping with a career record in the Premier League that sees only 31 per cent of his shots hitting the target and 7.5 per cent finding the net.

THE ‘FALSE NINE’

Klopp typically sets his team up without a traditional out-and-out frontman, with Roberto Firmino wearing the number nine shirt this season but operating in the continental-style “false nine” position.

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino dances as he celebrates scoring the first equalising goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool and Sevilla at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Firmino has at least scored during the four games in question, in the Champions League clash with Sevilla, though he also missed a penalty in that match and has hit the target with just two of his seven shots.

Liverpool’s one established senior spearhead, Daniel Sturridge, has again been in and out of the team this season and his only appearance in the recent games was against Burnley, where three of his seven shots were on target.

Youngster Dominic Solanke, meanwhile, featured against Burnley and started against Leicester but has failed to hit the target in eight attempts.

‘WHY IS HE SHOOTING?’

Even allowing for the lack of a main striker, Liverpool’s shot distribution looks odd – holding midfielder Emre Can is alongside Coutinho on a team-high 11 attempts in the last four games.

 Liverpool's Emre Can looks dejected as his side lose 5-0 during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Can’s bicycle kick against Watford last season was the Premier League‘s goal of the season but he has only 10 for the club having begun his fourth season at Anfield and has worked the goalkeeper with only three of his 11 shots going back to the City match.

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Mohamed Salah has 10 – with six on target and two goals – but eight of the 87 shots have been shared between full-backs Alberto Moreno, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold with a further three from James Milner, another deep-lying midfielder who played much of last season at left-back.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino named in Brazil squad for October qualifiers

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 18:29

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Liverpool duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have once again been named in Tite’s Brazil squad, ahead of October’s World Cup qualifiers.


The Selecao take on Bolivia (October 5) and Chile (October 11) as they round off their qualifying campaign despite already having booked their place in Russia for 2018.

Tite has led Brazil to 11 wins, four draws and a single loss in the CONMEBOL group so far, and he will be looking for his side to continue their emphatic form.

While Bolivia have nothing left to play for, Chile still need to secure points to ensure their qualification for next summer’s tournament.

This guarantees a competitive clash in Sao Paulo next month, and both Coutinho and Firmino can be expected to feature.

Coutinho has been involved in every Brazil squad since the start of 2016, while his Reds team-mate has now established himself following Tite’s appointment 15 months ago.

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Providing a useful alternative to Man City striker Gabriel Jesus, Firmino can hope for another productive international break, having started in last month’s 1-1 draw with Colombia.

The 25-year-old had been in every Liverpool starting lineup for the campaign until Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss to Leicester City in the League Cup third round, highlighting his importance to Jurgen Klopp.

And after a public flirtation with Barcelona, resulting in three failed bids from the Spanish club, Coutinho is now looking to reintegrate and work his way back to full fitness.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The hope will be that Coutinho and Firmino sit out of the clash with Bolivia, however, with the altitude in La Paz particularly draining.

Given Brazil are already qualified for the World Cup, Tite could shuffle his pack and include the likes of Fred, Diego Ribas and Diego Tardelli instead.

Coutinho and Firmino returned from the September international break on a private jet alongside City duo Jesus and Ederson, and Chelsea winger Willian, ensuring they made it back in good time.

This will likely be the case next month, too, as Klopp prepares his side for a home clash with Man United on October 14.

Before the international break, however, they will be required for upcoming clashes with Leicester (September 23), Spartak Moscow (September 26) and Newcastle United (October 1).

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Anger mismanagement: Liverpool’s repetitive failings and change for changes sake?

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 16:26

Early round League Cup games, are almost like international breaks. It’s football, but not as we know it. There is something vaguely unsettling about these games, no matter the outcome.

CHANGE FOR CHANGE SAKE

That said, eight changes to the starting line-up from Saturday against Burnley is stomach turning.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp argues with the fourth official during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The line-up against Burnley itself had seven changes from the team which had faced Sevilla last week. While there is the concept of rotation, we’ve gone for an extreme revolving door policy of late.

Yes, we have a lot of games to face, but the levels of change which have gone on to the team in the last few games haven’t helped our current situation. In certain parts of the pitch, we now need game-to-game continuity. It’s the only way we can possibly locate some cohesion.

Out of the League Cup, we’ve trimmed a handful of potential midweek fixtures from our ‘to do list’. Ragnar Klavan shouldn’t be anywhere near the pitch now. He wasn’t cataclysmically culpable in this one, but, for better, or worse, we need to play Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren game-in, game-out until January.

It’s our only hope of creating anything close to resembling cohesion in defence. If the individual parts are malfunctioning when being rotated in, and out of the side week-in, week-out, then they will only have a chance of improving if they are offered a degree of stability and continuity.

Unless there is a major injury epidemic, Danny Ward, Jon Flanagan, Marko Grujic, Danny Ings, and possibly Ben Woodburn aren’t going to figure again this side of the January transfer window opening.

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Some of that is for the best, while in other cases, it’s a massive shame. Ward deserves another go at some point, while Woodburn has also lost a source of valuable first team acclimatisation opportunities.

POSITIVES?

Not many. Ward could do nothing to stop either of the goals. He came to collect the ball, when the need arose, and he should be considered a genuine contender for Simon Mignolet’s place in the side.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Danny Ward during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We dominated the first half and had it not been for profligacy, then we perhaps win the game. The removal of Philippe Coutinho changed the complexion of the evening, in what was another questionable substitution by Jurgen Klopp. Either play him or don’t. 45 minutes gained us nothing.

Joe Gomez should leap-frog Klavan as the ‘next in line’ centre back. He may yet offer us a more cost-effective option there in the long-term. While if Klopp is tempted to go with three central defenders, then Gomez must be the choice.

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Andrew Robertson looked the part again.

Ings looked effusive from the bench. Highly unlikely to happen, but maybe it’s worth trying him in the role of ‘impact sub’ in the Premier League.

Dominic Solanke continues to put himself in the right positions. Goals will come.

WORRYING PATTERNS

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks dejected as his side lose 2-0 during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was pretty awful on his full debut. Shocking at set-pieces, and habitually gave possession away. From his shoulders slumped final days at Arsenal, to his second-half introduction on an unforgiving day at Man City, there is cartoon rain cloud following him everywhere. This will take time to shake.

Jordan Henderson continues to shrink. We need leadership, and he isn’t supplying it. I’m a Henderson fan, I backed him from the beginning, and he will rise again, yet we need someone to step up and lead us into the strong winds we currently face.

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These are character building, and character shattering times. He needs to decide which way to go. We are reaching a fork in the road, but there are no obvious candidates to take the role on, should Henderson’s character shatter.

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING TO ACHIEVE?

Collectively, beggars can’t be choosers. By the end of this season, it will be six years since we last won a trophy, yet we also have a bigger picture to look at. Essentially, Liverpool FC would be better off if the League Cup became extinct.

I don’t say that lightly. Some of the very best days I’ve had following Liverpool at home and abroad, have come from the League Cup. The lack of respect clubs show toward it is painful to see. We might be the most successful team in its history, but we might well be better off without the League Cup permanently.

Premier League and Champions League. The first half of our season is now clearly defined. Stay in touch with the leaders domestically, and do enough to ensure we have Champions League football in the spring.

Rest assured, despite the continuing conundrums, despite the omnipresent ponderables, the mist will clear before too long, and when we start to fly again, we will need there to be horizons to chase.

The anger you’re feeling is natural, but it’s also potentially destructive. The deep breath I suggested after the draw with Burnley still applies now.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Why League Cup exit is bad news for these 6 Liverpool players

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 13:00
Lack of playing time & final bows

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Danny Ward during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The best thing going for England’s second-biggest domestic cup, aside from actually winning it, is that it allows youngsters and back-up players an opportunity for playing time.

With the Premier League and Champions League always likely to see Klopp field his key men – arguably the FA Cup as well, to a lesser extent – it is also a competition ideal for ensuring a freshness within the squad.

Tuesday’s defeat suddenly deprives individuals of an opportunity this season, and you have to wonder how much they will feature.

Danny Ward enjoyed a confident night between the sticks, but is Klopp really going to use him at all now, apart from in the FA Cup? It seems very unlikely with Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius around, even though he did impress.

It’s tough on the Welshman, who could have been loaned out in the summer but will now not play again until January.

Marko Grujic is another who has struggled for playing time ever since joining Liverpool, and that looks set to be the case again now.

With Can, Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Philippe Coutinho all stronger options in midfield, and Adam Lallana on the verge of a return, it is hard to see where he can make an impact in the coming months.

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 Liverpool's Marko Grujic in action against Tranmere Rovers during a preseason friendly match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ben Woodburn is one of the most exciting youngsters we have seen at Anfield since Steven Gerrard burst onto the scene, but he is unlikely to get first-team exposure any time soon.

At 17, it is still a risk throwing him into league and European fixtures, which means he will feature predominantly for the Under-23s this season.

And what about Jon Flanagan and Danny Ings? Have they played their final matches for the Reds? They certainly won’t be back in any squad anytime soon.

 Liverpool's Jon Flanagan looks dejected as his side lose 2-0 during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Flanagan looked horrendously off the pace against Leicester, and with all due respect to a very likeable player, the thought of him playing in a more high-profile match is worrying.

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Ings made a very pleasing return to first-team action in the second-half, following horrendous luck with back-to-back cruciate ligament injuries.

He has more chance of playing a part than Flanagan, but Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and Dominic Solanke are all comfortably ahead of him in the pecking order.

Spare a thought for Lazar Markovic, too, who has to go down as one of the most forgotten Liverpool players in recent memory.

He was on the substitutes’ bench on Tuesday, but it is clear he has no future on Merseyside. He, like a number of others, will now be counting down the days to January hoping for a loan move.

The way in which the Leicester defeat has impacted on some players is the biggest downside to exiting the League Cup, and you have to feel some sympathy for them given that they performed well and the more established players were the ones who failed to produce, again.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Continued problems in both boxes raises questions on Klopp’s methods – Media on Leicester 2-0 Liverpool

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 11:42

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks dejected after missing a chance during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On this, the Guardian’s Stuart James wrote:

The Carabao Cup is anything but a priority for Klopp, especially given the demands of the Champions League, but it still felt alarming to see Liverpool, for whom Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first start since joining from Arsenal, inexplicably lose their way in the second half.

ESPN’s Dave Usher labelled the manner of the Reds’ exit “not acceptable”

A side that hasn’t won silverware for five years cannot afford to turn its nose up at any trophy, and going out with a whimper like this is simply not acceptable. The second-half performance was abject.

Writing for Goal.com, Melissa Reddy bemoaned Liverpool’s failings at both ends:

Again, the story centres around a lack of excellence in both boxes, with the Reds boss admitting he was “sick” by the way his side continue to concede goals that can be avoided.

Disagreeing with Klopp’s recent assessment, the Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce believes a lack of defensive quality, rather than concentration, is costing the Reds:

Klopp is adamant it’s about lapses in concentration rather than a lack of quality but the evidence increasingly suggests otherwise.

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[…]

Klopp’s faith in the personnel he opted to stick by this summer simply isn’t being repaid with performances on the field.

However, This Is Anfield’s Karl Matchett found a ray of light in the promising partnership between Andy Robertson and Philippe Coutinho:

Back into the starting lineup, Robertson showcased his big strengths on the ball by delivering cross after cross into dangerous zones, at least one of which really should have resulted in a goal.

Coutinho was constantly wandering infield, linking play and looking to get his usual long-range shots at goal, leaving space for his overlapping left-back to exploit—and that’s exactly what Robertson was happy to do.

After seeing Liverpool fall foul of the same problems once again, reporters were heavily critical of Klopp for failing to spark improvement – with some journalists now questioning the German’s methods.

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 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts after TSG 1899 Hoffenheim's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Play-Off 2nd Leg match between Liverpool and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace wrote:

This was Klopp’s team’s fourth successive game without a victory, and while defeat in the Carabao Cup third round is not the season’s worst outcome for Liverpool it does pose uncomfortable questions about the recruitment and gameplan so early in the season.

The Independent’s Evan Bartlett thought Klopp’s selection of senior players smacked of a man feeling the pressure:

Did Jurgen Klopp really want to win the Carabao Cup? Or was he trying to use Tuesday night’s third-round game to try and play his side into some sort of form after three consecutive drab results?

Either way the German was clearly feeling the heat when he named the likes of Jordan Henderson, Coutinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a relatively strong starting XI.

The BBC’s Alex Bysouth felt the decision to substitute Coutinho changed the game:

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Coutinho, having returned to the Liverpool side for the 1-1 draw with Burnley on Saturday, was by far the best player on the pitch in the first half as he sauntered between the lines to dictate the tempo of the Reds’ attacks.

[…]

But Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp opted to replace Coutinho with Ben Woodburn at the break and, despite some impressive running from the 17-year-old Wales international, Liverpool lost their flow.

ESPN’s Mark Ogden criticised Klopp for failing to improve Liverpool defensively at any time during his tenure:

Klopp may be “sick” of seeing his team concede such goals but as a former defender, when will he do something about it?

[…]

But Liverpool simply cannot defend properly and that is down to Klopp’s tactics, selection and recruitment.

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And Ogden was also critical of Klopp’s recruitment, assessing the German hasn’t made enough signings in the areas most in need:

Quite simply, he has not recruited the commanding centre-half and dominant midfielder that Liverpool have required for years, instead spending on the likes of Salah and Mane: both have been astute buys but arguably not as important as the missing links in the defensive half of the team.

And Ogden later gave clear indication on what he feels Liverpool need:

A defensive leader in the mould of van Dijk would bring organisation and leadership to the back line, just as a more dynamic midfielder than Jordan Henderson would inspire those around him and provide a more solid shield for the defenders.

Pearce believes it’s vital Klopp quickly restores belief before the mini-slump turns into something worse:

The Reds’ post-international break blip is in danger of becoming something much more serious. Klopp has to earn his corn by quickly repairing battered belief and instilling greater organisation.

The media offered mixed views on individual performances, with Robertson and Dominic Solanke earning praise but criticism coming for plenty of others – including Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain.

 Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bartlett felt Robertson showed why he should be first choice at left-back:

Tonight he showed exactly why he deserves an extended run in the team, finding lots of joy going forward and whipping several wonderful deliveries in that his teammates really should have finished off, particularly early on.

The Mirror’s Joe Mewis was among those to see potential in Solanke:

Tonight saw Dominic Solanke make his first-ever start in senior English domestic football and, while he was a willing runner and hard worker, sometimes struggled to impose himself on the Leicester defence.

[…]

There’s no denying his potential though and every minute he gets under his belt will serve Liverpool well in the future.

The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle praised Joe Gomez for proving himself an adequate centre-back option:

In the first half in particular, Gomez was excellent, his strength underlined early on when, after losing out to Islam Slimani, he swiftly outmuscled the Leicester striker to regain possession.

[…]

If there’s one positive to be taken from the evening, it’s that Gomez has now become a centre-back option.

This Is Anfield’s James Nalton was impressed with Danny Ward, and feels the keeper presented a case to be No.1:

Catching crosses, coming out of his area to clear up loose balls and distributing the ball quickly enough to please even the most impatient fan—it was a good performance from a goalkeeper who has an argument to be No. 1 for both club and country.

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, Doyle questioned Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fitness:

Oxlade-Chamberlain, so keen to impress, was guilty of overdoing it with the flicks and tricks, a disappointing display hampered by poor decision-making and, perhaps most alarmingly, the fact he didn’t look anywhere near as in shape as his team-mates.

Usher was unimpressed with Jordan Henderson, criticising the captain’s lack of leadership:

Nowhere near good enough from the captain. Didn’t do anything to drive his team on, was sloppy with some of his passing and was nowhere to be seen for Leicester’s opening goal. When Liverpool needed leadership, he offered none.

And finally, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson thought Jon Flanagan showed he is no longer good enough for Liverpool:

The 24-year-old started at right-back as Klopp rotated his squad, but he was nowhere near good enough in all facets of his play.

On the ball, he looked a long way short of top quality, and his pace and attacking thrust was non-existent.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Jurgen Klopp explains Philippe Coutinho’s half-time substitution

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 11:28

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp defended his decision to substitute Philippe Coutinho but admitted he has been left feeling “sick” by the Reds after their League Cup exit at Leicester.


The Foxes dumped Liverpool out in the third round after Shinji Okazaki and Islam Slimani scored to clinch a 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.

It came after the visitors dominated the first half as Coutinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dominic Solanke missed fine chances.

Coutinho was withdrawn at the break as he builds fitness after an interrupted opening to the season, where Liverpool rejected several bids from Barcelona.

It upset Liverpool’s momentum but Klopp insisted the Brazil international was always down to come off.

“That was the plan before the game. He needs match time but it was not the plan to let him play again 60 or 70 or 80 minutes,” said Klopp.

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“Forty five is the limit. We need to get him fit but we cannot push him through.”

But Klopp insisted he was fed up after Liverpool let Leicester off the hook and hit out at their defending.

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“After the first goal you saw the heads from Leicester went up, that was a bigger difference. The game changes in moments like this, you have the chance to do it by yourself or sometimes you are on the wrong side and that’s how it is.

“But that we concede like this, that makes me really, really sick.

“We are still a good football team, I see it, but unfortunately it doesn’t feel (like that) at the moment because it’s a cup competition.

“We wanted to go into the next round and nobody is interested who plays the better in the first half.”

Liverpool return to the King Power Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday and Klopp said he will forget about Tuesday’s defeat.

“I lost more games in my life and in the morning I am fine but yes, we will come back, and I will be in better shape,” he said.

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Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare added: “I was delighted to get in at half-time and then delighted to see Coutinho had gone off which was one of the main contributions to us.”


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Liverpool loanee Divock Origi nets his first goal for Wolfsburg

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 10:54

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In his third game on loan with Wolfsburg, and his first under a new manager, Divock Origi scored his first Bundesliga goal on Tuesday night.


Origi made his third consecutive start for the Lower Saxony outfit against Werder Bremen, as Martin Schmidt kicked off his reign at the Volkswagen Arena.

The Swiss manager took over from the departing Andries Jonker on Monday, sparking fears of the regime change affecting Origi’s opportunities while on loan.

But the Belgian led the line in Schmidt’s inaugural starting lineup at Wolfsburg, with Paul-Georges Ntep, Daniel Didavi and Yunus Malli supporting in a 4-2-3-1 setup.

With Mario Gomez ruled out with an ankle injury, and Wolfsburg’s reserve options being 20-year-old Landry Dimata and 18-year-old Victor Osimhen, the pressure is on Origi to perform.

And it took the on-loan Reds striker just 28 minutes to put his side ahead against Bremen, racing onto Ntep’s sweeping cross to convert from close range.

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Origi played the full 90 minutes, and will have been disappointed to not find the back of the net again.

Only Malli (five) fired more shots on goal than the 22-year-old (four), and no player found the target more than Origi (three).

Unfortunately, Bremen equalised in the second half through Fin Bartels, with Origi yet to taste victory with his loan club.

 Liverpool's substitute Divock Origi during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Origi joined Wolfsburg in search of a “new challenge,” with a view to returning to the fold for Liverpool in the future.

“I see the chance for me to develop further here,” he said at the beginning of September.

“I like football, so I know the Bundesliga and Wolfsburg. I love this competition and I am really looking forward to playing in the Bundesliga.”

With draws against Bremen and Hannover 96, and a 1-0 loss to VfL Stuttgart, the German top flight has already presented Origi with a series of challenges.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the task of ensuring he remains a key part of Schmidt’s plans, with the former Mainz 05 manager a major proponent of hard work and fast-paced attacks.

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Given his upbringing under Jurgen Klopp, this should be a simple transition for Origi—and, arguably, a better primer for his future at Anfield.

Breaking his Bundesliga duck will be hugely encouraging, too, and Wolfsburg’s No. 14 can now target a continued run of goals as he looks to push his side up the table under Schmidt.


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Ward confident, Oxlade-Chamberlain flops – 3 good, 3 bad from Leicester 2-0 Liverpool

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 09:00
GOOD: Ward a Confident Presence

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Danny Ward during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp named Danny Ward in his starting lineup, with the Welshman given an opportunity to shine ahead of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius.

The 24-year-old was a composed figure whenever he was called in action, which was an undoubted positive to take from the match.

His handling was immaculate, with one tricky catch taken expertly, and there was a confidence about him that looked more convincing than his more experienced goalkeeping superiors.

It is unlikely that Ward will be restored for Saturday’s return to the King Power, but he did his chances no harm whatsoever. He could do nothing about either goal.

BAD: Henderson Off the Pace Again

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It hasn’t been an impressive start to the season from Jordan Henderson, with the captain’s all-round game far from its sharpest.

This was a night when the 27-year-old should have been a notable influence, but instead, the game passed him by in frustrating fashion.

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Too often, his use of the ball was too safe, and even his much-lauded energy was generally lacking.

Henderson seemed to shrink when his team-mates most needed him—not exactly the hallmarks of a skipper—and he should be very disappointed with his efforts.

He may struggle to keep this place this weekend, with Emre Can returning to the fold and Gini Wijnaldum and Philippe Coutinho also likely to start.

GOOD: Robertson Shines Down the Left

 Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Andrew Robertson was given his third start for Liverpool in place of Alberto Moreno, and with the Spaniard in good form, he knew he had to impress.

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Fortunately, he was one of the major plus points against the Foxes, with his first-half performance particularly eye-catching.

The Scotland international was a constant outlet from left-back with his pace and intelligence, and most importantly, his final ball was devastating.

Sadly, his team-mates failed to get on the end of a number of superb crosses, but if he keeps producing such quality, he will register plenty of assists.

In the long run, Robertson looks the best option at left-back, despite Moreno’s improvements of late.

BAD: Flanagan Simply Not Good Enough

 Liverpool's Jon Flanagan looks dejected as his side lose 2-0 during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It feels a long time ago now that Jon Flanagan was excelling during the 2013/14 season, and he was bordering on sad to watch at times against Leicester.

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The 24-year-old started at right-back as Klopp rotated his squad, but he was nowhere near good enough in all facets of his play.

On the ball, he looked a long way short of top quality, and his pace and attacking thrust was non-existent. He didn’t even attempt to reach one pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, which summed it up.

Injuries have clearly taken their toll on Flanagan, and if anyone was unsure about whether he was up to Liverpool’s standard before Tuesday, his 90-minute showing proved he isn’t.

GOOD: Solanke Leads the Line Well

 Liverpool's Dominic Solanke looks dejected after missing a chance during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah given a richly deserved night off, it was up to others to perform in the Reds’ attack.

Dominic Solanke was handed the task of leading the line, and while others around him had very poor evenings, he could come away with his head held high.

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Not everything came off for the promising youngster, with some sloppy touches and poor pieces of decision-making hard to ignore, but there was so much good about him.

He combined a strong physical presence with quick feet and clever movement, and he invariably looked the most likely Liverpool player to find the net.

At 20, there is so much more to come from Solanke—he will be a key option at times this season and beyond.

BAD: Poor First Start For Oxlade-Chamberlain

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool supporters were understandably excited about Oxlade-Chamberlain starting his first game for the Reds, as is the case with any new big-money signing.

Despite the odd good touch and impressive show of pace, though, the former Arsenal man was dreadful on the whole.

Everything that has dogged his career to date was on display, from reckless end product to running down blind alleys, and ex-Reds target Ben Chilwell had the better of him all night.

The 24-year-old has been very vocal about playing regularly, and in a more central role, but he will do well to be first choice any time soon.

It will, of course, take Oxlade-Chamberlain time to adjust to life at Anfield, but this was the player who has proved so unpredictable over the years. Must do better.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Video: Jurgen Klopp post-match press conference – Leicester 2-0 Liverpool

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 00:57

Jurgen Klopp believes his Liverpool side were “unlucky” following their 2-0 loss to Leicester City in the League Cup third round on Tuesday night.

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The Reds fell to second-half goals from Shinji Okazaki and Islam Slimani at the King Power Stadium, to crash out of the League Cup at the first time of asking.

It was a hugely frustrating night for the travelling supporters, who witnessed a near carbon copy of the performance served up in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Burnley.

Speaking after the game, Klopp rued his side’s missed chances once again, with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Philippe Coutinho and Dominic Solanke all going close in the first half.

And the German described Okazaki’s goal as a “game-changing moment,” and was particularly critical of his side’s defending in the buildup.

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“That we conceded like this, that makes me really, really sick,” he lamented.

“Defending set-pieces is the thing. It’s not the first ball, obviously we’d always had problems with this, now it’s the second or third [ball] even.”

Klopp also confirmed that Coutinho’s withdrawal was pre-planned, saying: “He needs match time, but it was not for a second the plan to let him play again 90 minutes, or 60, 70 or 80.”

The Reds will have another chance to rewrite their miserable form when they return to the King Power on Saturday.

Taking on Leicester for the second time in five days, this time in the Premier League, Klopp’s side can only hope to avoid a five-game run without a victory.


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Leicester 2-0 Liverpool: Player Ratings

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 00:12

Made a good save later on which kept the scoreline down to just the two-goal deficit.

He blends the good parts of Mignolet and Karius in one Welsh goalkeeping package, and even kicks the ball straight out of play once in a while.

 Liverpool's Jon Flanagan looks dejected as his side lose 2-0 during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jon Flanagan – 3

During the first half he didn’t have to do anything, and in the second half he still did nothing anyway.

Struggled when defending one-on-one against Demarai Gray, and his linkup with his own team-mates was worse as the game went on.

Judging by this performance, and seeing as the club are now out of the League Cup, he might not get another game this season.

Joe Gomez – 6.5

Played well having come inside from right-back to centre-back, and despite the odd lapse he still looked better than Liverpool’s other options in this area.

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Strong, and quick enough to recover if caught slightly out of position.

Good passing with both feet, and not afraid to play balls through traffic into midfield.

Ragnar Klavan – 6

Kept his place in the side from the Burnley game and put in a good performance, although wasn’t tested too much by the Leicester attack.

Did some good clearing up, looked comfortable alongside a quicker partner and was able to step out and deal with things.

Tried to block the shot for the first goal, but the centre-backs had been hung out to dry by a midfield who didn’t respond once the initial corner was cleared.

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 Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Andrew Robertson – 7 (Man of the Match)

Put several dangerous balls into the box during an excellent first half, but his team-mates couldn’t convert the chances he presented them with.

Worked well with Philippe Coutinho, now the Brazilian was finally passing him the ball, having avoided doing so in the previous game.

Was unfortunate to see the ball deflect into the net off his last-ditch challenge.

Jordan Henderson – 4

His short passing was tidier and up to the level you’d expect from a player in his position; especially one who was given so much space.

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However, his positioning in both defence and attack was poor and he looked to be getting in the way of his team-mates more than getting in the way of the opposition.

Telling that he played the full 90 in a reserve side, perhaps indicating that Klopp doesn’t want him for his best 11 at the weekend.

Georginio Wijnaldum – 5.5

Regularly involved but, this being an away game, he didn’t fancy scoring or doing anything really productive with the ball.

If he plays in the upcoming Premier League game against the same opposition, at the same stadium, it might feel like a home game, so he could finally break the hoodoo.

Like the others he didn’t protect his defence when called upon.

Marko Grujic – 5

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Replaces Lucas Leiva in so much as he likes a mistimed, rash challenge regardless of where he is on the pitch.

Won more aerial duels than any other player on the pitch with eight.

Looked neat and tidy with his short passing but his through balls were rusty and lacked accuracy.

Needs to be more disciplined in defence with both his tackling and positioning.

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 5

Heavily involved. Sloppy. Had a problem with his socks which seemed to baffle Jurgen Klopp.

Let off a powerful shot with his left foot but it was straight at the Leicester ‘keeper.

Tried in all aspects of the game: dribbling, shooting, passing, but the only ones he succeeded in were work rate and application.

If he gets the other things right he could be a good player for Klopp, but he wasn’t on Tuesday night.

Dominic Solanke – 7

A good presence up front, constantly available to bounce passes off and made some valiant attempts to hold the ball up in traffic.

Was generally lively, and saw an early shot dragged across goal. Came close to scoring from a Robertson cross but couldn’t quite get enough on the ball.

Promising signs from the youngster—it’s just a shame he doesn’t now have the League Cup to get his games.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Philipe Coutinho – 6

Sent a free-kick over the bar and generally cut a frustrated figure as the things he tried didn’t quite come off.

Did create a few chances, though, and even when not at the top of his game he still stands out above most others on the pitch.

Klopp decided to take him off at half-time, with the general consensus being that he was just getting a bit of match sharpness ahead of the upcoming league game.

Substitutes

 Liverpool's Danny Ings during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ben Woodburn (on for Coutinho, 45′) – 6.5

Had a shot which bent just around the top corner. Looked like one of the players most likely to make something happen despite being the youngest in the side.

Danny Ings (on for Wijnaldum, 72′) – 6

Good movement, some willing running, and not as off the pace as you’d expect from someone who has been out for as long as he has.

Subs not used: Karius, Moreno Alexander-Arnold, Milner, Markovic

Manager

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp looks dejected as his side lose 2-0 during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp – 4

Made changes with the upcoming league game in mind and in the first half they seemed to have worked, but his side couldn’t turn their domination into goals, despite the best efforts of Solanke and Robertson.

Took Coutinho off at half-time and the game changed.

The team lacked control in midfield without the Brazilian, and even though his replacement, Woodburn, looked dangerous in the final third, he lacked support from elsewhere.

Gets marked down from five to four for not bringing Lazar Markovic on.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Jurgen Klopp “sick of conceding goals like this” after defeat to Leicester

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 00:05

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Jurgen Klopp was clearly despondent following Liverpool’s defeat to Leicester in the League Cup third round, conceding two more soft goals.


The 2-0 defeat was inflicted courtesy of two second half goals, making it four games without a win during a miserable fortnight for Klopp’s side.

Liverpool had dominated the first half and created numerous good chances, but again couldn’t convert those and the second half saw the Foxes return the better team.

The first goal was scored by substitute Shinji Okazaki just after the hour, with Islam Slimani adding a second – but both were poor goals to concede and Klopp was clearly not happy with the defending.

“It’s actually easy to explain,” Klopp told Sky Sports in his post-match interview. “We played really good football in the first half, we should have decided the game early. We had big chances.

“[But] football is a 90-minute game. It’s a second ball after a corner, and a throw-in again – I’m sick of goals like this to be honest, it’s unbelievable.

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“You need to stay concentrated to the end, they scored too easy. The first goal, we don’t push up together, I can’t say it 1 time, 1,000 times or whatever, it’s not nice to concede these goals and today it’s again because of this.”

Klopp has been reluctant to criticise his defenders this season, and has claimed numerous times that there were no other players to sign who were better than his current centre-backs, but even he know cannot hide his discontent in public.

Klopp made eight changes to the starting XI and the first half offered plenty of positives, but ultimately the same issues proved Liverpool’s undoing, with chances not taken at one end and chances being gifted too easily at the other.

Liverpool return to Leicester on Saturday in the Premier League, before trips to Moscow and Newcastle before the international break in October.


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Missed chances, Klopp’s rotation & Oxlade-Chamberlain – 5 talking points from Leicester 2-0 Liverpool

Wed, 20/09/2017 - 00:00

The Japanese forward scored the first and Islam Slimani found the top corner 12 minutes later to send the Foxes through and end the Reds’ hopes of an early season cup run.

Here are the biggest talking points of a thoroughly disappointing night.

Judging Danny Ward

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Danny Ward during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s tough to make a valid call on a goalkeeper who comes in for a first 90 minutes of the season…and promptly sees his side utterly dominate, yet lose.

The dominance is great for the team, of course, but was Ward good, indifferent or irrelevant? And, when the defeat occurs, what blame lays with the man between the sticks?

For the goals, this time it can be said in confidence: none at all.

The Welsh stopper made a few good claims from high balls in the first half, but could do nothing about Okazaki’s opening goal, bobbled and deflected in from close range.

Then there was the second: a top-corner drive from Islam Slimani who had previously done nothing all night; no ‘keeper in the world would have saved that effort.

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A fingertip stop soon afterward was a positive, but the big frustration will be that Ward is unlikely to see much more game time with the exit from the competition now.

There’s no real way he can claim to have done enough to challenge Simon Mignolet—the Reds were mostly untroubled all night—but his competence and dominance should certainly add weight to arguments he’s at least on par with Loris Karius.

Unfamiliar Faces

 Liverpool's Danny Ings during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lazar Markovic remained on the bench, but Danny Ings made a long-awaited comeback from injury to play a cameo role in the second half.

The striker came on just after the Reds fell behind and only really had one brief glimpse of goal, but it’s always promising to see a return from a long lay-off and his presence will at least boost Klopp’s options going forward.

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Elsewhere, Jon Flanagan endured an extremely difficult night, given a thorough run-around by Demarai Gray, while Marko Grujic‘s performance could be described as mixed.

The midfielder was neat enough in possession when the Reds were on top, but didn’t impose himself on the game and was lost after the break.

Two bad fouls, a yellow card and some wayward shooting pretty much summed up the Reds’ second 45.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Tough Start

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks dejected after missing a chance during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A first start in a Liverpool shirt did not go the way Oxlade-Chamberlain would have hoped.

The former Arsenal man had the beating of his man more than once, and was heavily involved in build-up play as the Reds dominated the first half…but very little actually came off for him.

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One or two crosses went astray, his short passing wasn’t always quite on-point and after the break his game deteriorated with rapidity.

It can partly be levelled, perhaps, at not having played with the team much and on being a little lacking in sharpness, but more would have been expected.

An unfortunate truth is that the most cutting edge shown in his 90 minutes was by the physio who had to see to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s socks in the first half.

The Coutinho-Robertson link

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The first 45 minutes saw the Reds create a string of chances down the left side and it was largely down to the combination play between Coutinho and Andy Robertson.

Back into the starting lineup, Robertson showcased his big strengths on the ball by delivering cross after cross into dangerous zones, at least one of which really should have resulted in a goal.

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Coutinho was constantly wandering infield, linking play and looking to get his usual long-range shots at goal, leaving space for his overlapping left-back to exploit—and that’s exactly what Robertson was happy to do.

The Scottish defender was one of the highlights of the night in terms of individual performances, while Liverpool’s dominance went noticeably downhill after Coutinho’s half-time withdrawal.

Important Difference Between Shooting & Finishing

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks dejected after missing a chance during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

87-3.

That isn’t a scoreline as such, but it tells the story of Liverpool lately.

Over the last four matches, the Reds have had approaching a full century of shots, scoring only three times, and failing to win any of those games.

Away and with 10 men to Man City, of course, there’s a viable explanation. But the following three fixtures have seen Liverpool spurn chance after chance, gifting up too-easy chances at the opposite end.

And winning none of the quartet of matches.

There weren’t a huge volume of clear chances at the KP on the night, but all the long-range testers, the set-piece attempts, the crosses which weren’t touched home from close range and the turns inside the box which were blocked at close quarters, only led to continuing feelings of frustration for supporters.

Klopp has to find the answers in his squad at both ends of the pitch, and needs to do it fast.

Categories: LFC NEWS

“This tale is rather old”, “Out of luck recently” – Fans react to Leicester City 2-0 Liverpool

Tue, 19/09/2017 - 23:52

Here’s how supporters reacted to the defeat on social media and our forums.

Fans were excited to see how certain fringe players would perform, with Klopp making eight changes from the draw with Burnley…

I'm very excited to see how Grujic does tonight

— LFC Fans Corner (@LFCFansCorner) September 19, 2017

Any half decent performance tonight from Gomez could see him stay at CB until January

— John O'Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) September 19, 2017

Markovic has risen from the dead. The beautiful Serbian prince has returned.

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— Green Scouser (@Green_Scouser) September 19, 2017

Coutinho was heavily involved in the opening exchanges…

Coutinho is back snapping ankles.

— Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90) September 19, 2017

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“Cou back on song guys.”

General Sefton on the forums.

Coutinho already well on his way to hitting the usual 4-5 shots per game. Sighters so far.

— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) September 19, 2017

Robertson’s excellent crossing was earning plenty of praise…

Andy 'Corridor Of Uncertainty' Robbo

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— Andy Heaton (@Andrew_Heaton) September 19, 2017

Robertson's superb crossing from the left absolutely begging for a finish. #LEILIV

— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) September 19, 2017

We've found our new Fab Aurelio. Wand of a left boot.

— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) September 19, 2017

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Andy Robertson's left foot is illegal in 136 countries.

— Philip Blundell (@PhilBlundell) September 19, 2017

Liverpool completely bossed the first half, but supporters were concerned about a lack of ruthlessness…

Would love to see the XG for that

— Tom McMahon (@TomMc_Sports) September 19, 2017

Haven't seen such a one sided 0:0 for a long time. Work rate is sky high, pressing is ruthless… Finishing not so ruthless.. #LEILIV

— Chris Williams (@Chris78Williams) September 19, 2017

Never have I been more convinced that we're going to get beat 1-0.

— Philip Blundell (@PhilBlundell) September 19, 2017

Good half. Dominated possession, some nice stuff played, great service by Robertson. Just 3 or 4 of them need a little more composure.

— Ste Davies (@StevenD1977) September 19, 2017

I must've uttered the words "LFC need to make this dominance count" about 10,000 times in my life.

On roughly 9,500 occasions, they didn't.

— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) September 19, 2017

“We just need to slam one in here. Too much foreplay and no finish”

theres always tomorrow on the forums.

Okazaki fired the hosts ahead, leading to plenty of negativity from supporters…

pic.twitter.com/hHlCdn3AQp

— Gareth Roberts (@robbohuyton) September 19, 2017

Bloody certainty. You don't punish teams when you're on top, this is what happens.

— Ian Salmon (@IanRSalmon) September 19, 2017

High balls & set-pieces undone again.

— Taintless Red (@TaintlessRed) September 19, 2017

This is the frustration for most fans. Not the results but the same sloppy mistakes over and over and over and over and over and over again.

— Floyd Nundy (@TheFNundy) September 19, 2017

Clear the corner

Leave a man in playing everyone onside

Deflection resulting in a goal

Standard

— Andy Heaton (@Andrew_Heaton) September 19, 2017

So predictable

— Goody (@PG115) September 19, 2017

Slimani only added to the misery…

The efficiency of other teams' attacks versus LFC is mind boggling. They attack, they score

— John O'Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) September 19, 2017

Out of luck recently ?

— Dinesh Kumar (@DHardayal) September 19, 2017

So, one cup down for Klopp to win. He needs a pot more than ever. #LFC

— Graeme Kelly (@GraemeKelly1) September 19, 2017

#lfc pic.twitter.com/h4tu4pjgxU

— Beav (@__Beav) September 19, 2017

Once the final whistle came, social media was not a happy place…

More annoyed that players like Ward, Woodburn, Solanke etc have lost their opportunity to play this season

— Coutinho? (@bubbIxs) September 19, 2017

I believe that's 9goals conceded from the last 12 shots on target faced

— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) September 19, 2017

Really poor 2nd half, Okazaki goal feels like every goal we concede. Surely Klopp should have kept Coutinho on for longer

— Dinesh Kumar (@DHardayal) September 19, 2017

First goal – 2nd phase of a set piece.
Second goal – no protection in midfield.
It's Liverpool defence bingo tonight.

— Jonathan Northcroft (@JNorthcroft) September 19, 2017

“I remember when we used to win things…you kids would of loved it.”

Foldy on the forums.

The only positive from this terrible run of form is Klopp might spend in the January window

— Kauser Soze (@NinaKauser) September 19, 2017

Sometimes I'm 100% sure I could have played better and showed more determination. Certain players out there just don't do enough!

— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) September 19, 2017

Results like are becoming depressingly unsurprising. Routinely disappointing. #LFC

— Brian Irvine (@btirvine) September 19, 2017

Categories: LFC NEWS

Leicester 2-0 Liverpool: Spineless Reds crash out of League Cup at 1st opportunity

Tue, 19/09/2017 - 23:37

The visitors were heavily rotated but still strong, taking on a Leicester side without a win in their last three games, but the Reds were ultimately made to pay for their profligacy.

 Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Klopp makes eight changes for League Cup clash in East Midlands
  • Reds dominate first half but fail to make breakthrough
  • Woodburn replaces Coutinho for first appearance of season
  • Substitute Okazaki puts Leicester 1-0 ahead on 65 minutes
  • Ings makes first senior outing since October in second half
  • Slimani nets stunning effort to send Reds crashing out

The Reds started the stronger of the two sides, and Oxlade-Chamberlain almost marked a dream first start when Andrew Robertson pulled the ball back for him on five minutes, but Ben Chilwell made an excellent block.

Robertson’s deliveries continued to pose the biggest threat, with both Solanke and Coutinho somehow failing to convert from within the six-yard box following crosses from the Scot.

On the opposite flank, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took longer to settle into the game, but saw a cross of his own blocked with the impressive Solanke charging in.

Liverpool had an excellent chance to make their dominance count when Coutinho was brought down on the edge of the box on 40 minutes, but the Brazilian curled his free-kick high and wide.

The Foxes had few openings in the opening 45 minutes, with the Reds enjoying 76 percent of the possession, but it remained 0-0 at half-time.

 Liverpool's Dominic Solanke looks dejected after missing a chance during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp made a change to his setup at the break, with Ben Woodburn coming on for his first appearance of the season to replace Coutinho as the No. 10 works his way back to full fitness.

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The first 20 minutes of the half went without event, but with Shinji Okazaki replacing the injured Leonardo Ulloa for the Foxes, the Japanese striker soon made his mark.

With Vicente Iborra heading the ball down following a Leicester set-piece, Okazaki was on hand to drive home and put the pressure on Liverpool to find an equaliser.

Roared on by the travelling Kop, the Reds continued to push on, with Klopp introducing Danny Ings for his first senior outing for 11 months, taking Georginio Wijnaldum‘s place to provide more thrust.

It was futile, however, as Islam Slimani benefited from some more awful defending from Klopp’s side to drive forward and fire a sensational effort beyond Ward to seal the victory.

TIA Man of the Match: Andrew Robertson

Referee: Stuart Attwell

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Next match: Leicester City (A) – Premier League – September 23

Categories: LFC NEWS

Dayot Upamecano linked with Liverpool, third Jurgen Klopp transfer target from RB Leipzig

Tue, 19/09/2017 - 11:49

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The Reds have previously been linked to the young French defender, and reports have again emerged suggesting he interests the Anfield club.


Liverpool’s defensive woes haven’t been a secret over the last few seasons, and the sheer volume of players the club is linked with who feature across the back four only amplifies that fact.

The latest name in the frame is RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, a powerful defender who can feature both centrally in the back line and as a holding midfielder.

6 – Dayot Upamecano has lost the possession only 6 times, less than any other starting player, & has not conceded a single foul. Impressive. pic.twitter.com/SpZ3IKQOCR

— OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 13, 2017

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Bild report (via Mirror) that Jurgen Klopp‘s side have been tracking Upamecano since he switched RB Salzburg for Leipzig in January—though in truth rumours over Anfield interest started out before that move.

There was early speculation that Liverpool thought highly of the then-17-year-old, but that any move would have been difficult as the natural step-up from the Austrian league would be the intra-RB transfer to Leipzig and the Bundesliga.

Upamecano has been a resilient and consistent performer at his new club, almost exclusively at centre-back, while he featured in front of the back four for Salzburg in the early part of 2016/17—arguably another position the Reds need to look at reinforcements for.

Bild further report that RBL are to offer an improved contract to the teenager, with a €100 million release clause.

RB Leipzig is not new territory for Liverpool’s scouting department.

 David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

Naby Keita is already set to join next summer after the Reds agreed an early deal on his 2018 release clause, while centre-forward Timo Werner has been an oft-mentioned option who Klopp rates highly.

Emil Forsberg was also once thought to be a target for Liverpool, a rumour which has since gone quiet, while to continue the links, RB Leipzig’s goalkeeper is former Reds backup stopper Peter Gulacsi.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Reds kick off League Cup campaign to begin busy away run – Leicester vs. Liverpool Preview

Tue, 19/09/2017 - 09:00

Trips to Leicester have not been kind to Liverpool recently, with the Foxes winning the last two meetings, and another defeat would only crank up the pressure further on Klopp and his players.

This is the least important competition for Liverpool this season, but any chance of winning a trophy should be seized.

Klopp will make changes to his side, in order to keep certain individuals fresh, and if his fringe players are not switched on, another long night at the King Power could await.

This is the first of two clashes at Leicester in the space of five days—back-to-back victories would really calm the current mood at Anfield.

Last Meeting: Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool

Team News

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Danny Ward during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Play-Off 1st Leg match against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp made seven alterations on Saturday, and more of the same is expected on Tuesday night.

This is a good opportunity to give key men a rest and allow squad players the chance to shine, and it will be a decent gauge of just how much depth there is now.

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Most notably, this will see goalkeeper Danny Ward start between the sticks, as Klopp alternates between the Welshman, Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius.

Elsewhere, Joel Matip, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have played every game so far in 2017/18, so it makes sense for the trio to be given the night off.

That could allow Joe Gomez to be used in his preferred centre-back role, while Marko Grujic and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will make their first starts for the club.

Klopp also suggested that Dominic Solanke will come in, and James Milner will hope to feature again, too.

Sadio Mane is still suspended after his sending off at Man City, while Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana are still out injured and Dejan Lovren is a doubt.

Foxes boss Craig Shakespeare is also likely to switch things up somewhat, with Jamie Vardy one of those who won’t play, following injury at Huddersfield Town at the weekend.

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Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs and Matty James are also unavailable.

Last 5 at Leicester (All Competitions)

 Leicester City's Danny Drinkwater celebrates scoring second goal during the FA Premier League match against Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by Gavin Trafford/Propaganda)

Leicester 3-1 Liverpool – February 27, 2017 (Vardy x2, Drinkwater; Coutinho)
Leicester 2-0 Liverpool – February 2, 2016 (Vardy x2)
Leicester 1-3 Liverpool – December 2, 2014 (Mignolet OG; Lallana, Gerrard, Henderson)
Leicester 0-0 Liverpool – March 28, 2004
Leicester 1-4 Liverpool – October 20, 2001 (Wise; Fowler x3, Hyypia)

King Power Stadium

 A general view of the King Power Stadium before the Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at Filbert Way. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Capacity: 32,312

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Away fans’ pubs: The Counting House in Freemen’s Common has a nice mix of both home and away fans, and is on the way to the ground. The same applies to the Soaring Eagle Spur Steak and Grill, which is located over the road from the stadium itself.

Form

 Liverpoolís Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal and making the score 1-1 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield. (Pic by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

Leicester – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 1-1 vs. Huddersfield
Lost 2-1 vs. Chelsea
Lost 2-0 vs. Man United
Won 4-1 vs. Sheffield United
Won 2-0 vs. Brighton

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 1-1 vs. Burnley
Drew 2-2 vs. Sevilla
Lost 5-0 vs. Man City
Won 4-0 vs. Arsenal
Won 4-2 vs. Hoffenheim

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Did You Know?

Robbie Fowler celebrates after scoring for Liverpool against Derby County, during their FA Premiership football match at Pride Park, Derby. 1999. Rui Vieira/PA Archive/PA Images)

Robbie Fowler’s final goal of his first spell at Liverpool came at Leicester’s former ground Filbert Street on October 20, 2001. The legendary Red scored a hat-trick that day.

Klopp’s View

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Klopp spoke positively about Grujic and Oxlade-Chamberlain, on the eve of them both starting for the Reds:

Marko Grujic made a big step in his development, but nobody could see it so far. It’s really good to give him the opportunity.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Alex to go in. Since he joined it’s been pretty difficult to train on different things because it’s game after game after game.

“He also had a wonderful impact when he came on in the last game [against Burnley].”

TV & Live Blog Info

 A television camera blocks the view of the goal during the FA Cup 6th Round Quarter-Final match between Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The match is live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7:30pm (BST), with kickoff at 7:45pm.

Our matchday live blog will be in full flow from 7pm, with Ben Twelves in charge of talking you through what we hope is a memorable Liverpool win.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Jurgen Klopp confident Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can fulfil potential at Liverpool

Tue, 19/09/2017 - 00:30

“Probably when Alex was 18 or 19 people thought he could be ‘the man’, like people have thought a lot of times pretty early.

“Then you immediately put a rucksack [of pressure] on their back, it makes development [harder].

“Hide them as long as makes sense, send them out as soon as possible, that’s the plan.

“Now he’s in the perfect age and still able to make big steps, and how I thought he played in the last game [was] like a Liverpool player.

“Highest intensity, all good, was involved, was not fixed in a position, flexible, half left, half right, in the box, stuff like this.

“So I already saw a lot things, and at the end he didn’t hit a goal so probably a lot of people will say that’s a proper Liverpool player!

“But I’m really happy to have him here, and I hope he is also happy to be here.”

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool and Sevilla at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking a year ago, Arsene Wenger addressed Oxlade-Chamberlain’s slow progress at the Emirates Stadium, proffering that “maybe he doesn’t completely believe in himself as to how good he can be.”

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While Klopp suggested he was not in a position to agree or disagree with Wenger at this stage, the 50-year-old said it made “complete sense” for the midfielder to leave Arsenal.

“I think it would be strange if I were to say something about a player after two-and-a-half weeks when Arsene Wenger worked together with him for six or seven years,” Klopp added.

“But a new start is very often, kind of, a relief.

“You are in a situation with your old club—I don’t say for Alex especially, but in general it’s like this—you’re in a specific position and you accept it on some point.

“It’s difficult to make the next step, that’s how it is. I thought it made complete sense for Alex to change club, and especially to come here.

“So far, I can see that he’s settled in perfectly. He knew at least all of the England players, and a few others.

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“And he’s a really nice lad, so it’s easy for him to settle into a team.

“He takes the situation like it is, he knows he played all the games for Arsenal from the beginning.

“And now he’s coming here and sitting on the bench, it looks like ‘oh, it was not the best decision’.

“But it’s about a long-term thing, and we can already use him, that’s good, but we also want to prepare him. That’s all, it’s all good from this side in the moment.”

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match against Sevilla FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Oxlade-Chamberlain is set for his first start of the season on Tuesday night, when Liverpool take on Leicester City in the League Cup third round.

Klopp has been easing the 24-year-old into action as he adjusts to the demands of his system, and the trip to the King Power Stadium provides him with a vital opportunity.

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It is another small step, after three cameos appearances so far, but it will be another hugely beneficial one as Oxlade-Chamberlain looks to make his name with Liverpool.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Harry Wilson inspires Liverpool U23s to convincing victory at West Ham

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 22:59

— Jake Joe (@AcademyLFC) September 18, 2017

Wilson’s shot made its way into the far corner from the right-hand side of the penalty area, although there were question marks about the goalkeeping. It was a happy return to the side for the 20-year-old, following an achilles injury.

The goalscorer nearly doubled the lead shortly after, firing over from close-range, but he had his second almost immediately.

It was a superb finish after a delightful first touch, and his quality left you wondering why he hasn’t been afforded more first-team opportunities by Jurgen Klopp.

West Ham should have been back in it with 24 minutes on the clock, after a reckless challenge by Conor Masterson earned the hosts a penalty. Kamil Grabara made the stop to deny Toni Martinez, though.

@harrywilson_ scores again, 2-0! What a ball from @RhianBrewster9 ! #lfc pic.twitter.com/9WsQCWrRHR

— Jake Joe (@AcademyLFC) September 18, 2017

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Matty Virtue and Corey Whelan both had good chances to make it 3-0 before the break, and Liverpool were in complete control when the half-time whistle blew.

Brewster hit the side-netting after the restart, as the Reds continued their dominance, and Wilson was denied his hat-trick after a top save by Trott.

The second-half well less eventful in general, though, with West Ham doing very little to worry Liverpool’s defence.

Brewster’s strike was comfortably stopped by Trott midway through the second-half, and the busy goalkeeper then kept out Herbie Kane’s looping header.

Grabara saves a pen!! brilliant. #lfc Still 2-0 to the reds. pic.twitter.com/NqzLL4KgKR

— Jake Joe (@AcademyLFC) September 18, 2017

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Wilson again had a wonderful opportunity to score his third of the night, but his strike was tame with his weaker right foot.

It was an extremely convincing performance by Critchley’s youngsters, who remain top of the table. Next up is

Liverpool: Grabara, Whelan, Masterson, Phillips, Johnston (Juanma 72′), Virtue, Kane, Brannagan (Dhanda 69′), Ejaria, Wilson, Brewster (Adekanye 83′).

Subs: Kelleher, Jones.

Categories: LFC NEWS

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