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Updated: 2 hours 11 min ago

Who is Caoimhin Kelleher? And will he make PL debut?

Wed, 12/02/2020 - 12:26

Before we start, let's get the pronunciation out of the way. It's 'Kwee-Veen'. Caoimhin is the Irish equivalent to the English name Kevin.

What else do we need to know about the latest Liverpool European debutant Caoimhin Kelleher? And will he stay in the team while Alisson is injured?

On Saturday, the 22-year-old conceded seven as Liverpool's U23s were battered by Man City, but Kelleher kept a clean sheet as Liverpool beat Ajax 1-0 on Tuesday evening, with Brazilian Alisson out for up to two weeks with a hamstring injury.

The unintended goalkeeper - who is Kelleher? Caoimhin Kelleher Rep of Ireland Image: Kelleher is yet to be capped by Republic of Ireland's senior team, but has 10 caps at U21 level

Kelleher, the younger brother of Wrexham defender Fiacre Kelleher, a former Celtic academy defender, was making only his fifth start for the club. Kelleher's previous four appearances were in domestic cup competitions, with the last of those coming in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury Town last season.

From Cork, Ireland, Kelleher moved to Liverpool in 2015 at the age of 17 from Irish side Ringmahon Rangers despite interest from Aston Villa and Blackburn two years earlier.

Kelleher actually started out as a striker, but played in goal when the Ringmahon U15 side were short of a goalkeeper, and he hasn't looked back. There were just three years between Kelleher playing his first ever game in goal and signing for Liverpool.

Surprisingly, he is yet to move out on loan from Liverpool, though they did have interest from the Championship in January and in the summer. Instead, Liverpool chose to send Poland U21 international Kamil Grabara on loan to Danish side AGF Aarhus.

Kelleher has played 10 times for the Republic of Ireland's U21 side, and was first named in the senior squad in November 2018, but is yet to get his first cap.

Kelleher's former coach at Ringmahon, Eddie Harrington, explained in 2018 to the Cork Echo that nothing fazes the goalkeeper, and that having been a striker himself, he could get into the mind of opponents.

"Nothing fazes him," said Harrington of Kelleher, who would score "20 or 30 goals a season" up front. "He won't let mistakes get to him.

"He used to say it to us that he could read a striker going through because he was so good at scoring goals himself that he nearly knew where they were going to put it as such. His feet were excellent."

Why did he play instead of Adrian? Adrian Image: Adrian was left on the bench by Klopp as he wanted Kelleher for 'footballing' reasons

Klopp's decision to hand a Champions League debut to Kelleher ahead of established number two Adrian raised eyebrows, but the goalkeeper was solid throughout.

Explaining his decision to pick Kelleher, Klopp said it was down to Kelleher's natural ability on the ball.

Kelleher's passing accuracy was 71 per cent on Tuesday night, compared to Adrian's average of 65 per cent for his three Premier League and Champions League appearances this season.

Jurgen Klopp congratulates Caoimhin Kelleher after Liverpool's 1-0 win over Ajax at Anfield 0:32 Former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Friedel believes Jurgen Klopp will stick with goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher over Adrian until Alisson returns from injury, after the 22-year-old impressed on his Champions League debut.

"I really think Adrian has done a fantastic job for us, he kept a lot of clean sheets, played everywhere," Klopp said. "But now we needed the natural football playing ability of Caoimhin Kelleher.

"We needed that for the pressing of Ajax, we needed his chips from him into the half-spaces and these kind of things.

I really think Adrian has done a fantastic job for us, he kept a lot of clean sheets, played everywhere. But now we needed the natural football playing ability of Caoimhin Kelleher. Jurgen Klopp

"He is a good shot-stopper as well. We made that decision but you never know how they are going to cope. I am really happy with how calm he was and how good he was.

"In the end, it is about keeping the ball out the net and he did that twice and he did that in an exceptional manner. He will either sleep really well tonight or not at all."

Will he play in the Premier League? Adrian Image: Adrian has made several high-profile mistakes over the past year for Liverpool

Next up for Liverpool is Wolves at Anfield at 7.15pm on Sunday evening, and Kelleher is favourite to keep his place in the side in a game where Liverpool are likely to have more of the ball.

It's clear the fans want Kelleher between the sticks on Saturday, too. Adrian's high-profile mistakes in the absence of Alisson earlier this season and the 2019/20 campaign means confidence in the Spaniard is low.

But Klopp may go off what he and his goalkeeping coach John Achterberg see in training; Klopp has made a joint-high 24 starting XI changes in the Premier League this season, and solid performances in the Champions League have not always been met with a starting place at the weekend.

Adrian celebrates Liverpool's Premier League triumph with Alisson and the club's goalkeeping department Image: Kelleher pictured with his goalkeeping staff and team-mates when Liverpool won the Premier League

Nat Phillips started Liverpool's win over West Ham in late October just days after Rhys Williams slotted in comfortably when Fabinho was injured against Midtjylland, so even with a lengthy injury list, Klopp's starting XI is anyone's guess.

But there is seemingly no ill-feeling from Adrian, with Kelleher revealing on Tuesday night he was firmly supported by both of his goalkeeper team-mates.

"I didn't see Ali yesterday (Monday) because I think he was gone, but I got a text before the game just to tell me good luck," he said.

"Adrian was a really great support. He told me, 'I'm with you 100 per cent and supporting you no matter what'. To get that from him was really kind of him."

Kelleher: Team-mates make it easy for me Fabinho fist bumps Caoimhin Kelleher prior to Liverpool's Champions League game versus Ajax Image: Kelleher explained how his defensive team-mates made Tuesday's Champions League debut easy for him

As well as looking assured on the pitch, Kelleher seemed confident in front of the camera as he praised his team-mates for making the passing options "easy" for him on the ball.

Speaking to BT Sport, he said: "It was amazing for me to make my debut in the Champions League, and obviously the most important thing was to get the win and quality.

"It's quite easy for me to be honest, because the players in front of me, when I get the ball they make easy options for me, so they make my decision so much easier.

"We're not here just to take part, we want to push every day and try to play as many games as we can.

"My phone has been hopping since I got in! A big thanks to all the support and messages I've been getting."

Liverpool fixtures

Sat Dec 5: Wolves (h)

Wed Dec 9: Midtjylland (a)

Sun Dec 13: Fulham (a) - live on Sky Sports

Wed Dec 16: Tottenham (h)

Sat Dec 19: Crystal Palace (a)

Sun Dec 27: West Brom (h) - live on Sky Sports

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Onana error gifts Liverpool last 16 spot

Tue, 12/01/2020 - 21:55

Liverpool guaranteed their place in the last 16 of the Champions League after Andre Onana's error handed Curtis Jones the winning goal in an edgy 1-0 victory.

Alisson was a surprising omission from Liverpool's starting XI as Jurgen Klopp revealed he will be out for up to two weeks with a hamstring injury. Caoimhin Kelleher - making his Champions League debut - started in goal ahead of Adrian.

But it was the man at the other end who made a rookie-like error when the usually reliable Onana allowed a Neco Williams cross to loop over his head and be tapped home by Curtis Jones (58) - a goal very much made in the Liverpool academy.

Jones' finish came at a time when the visitors were pummelling the Liverpool goal, with David Neres striking a post just 60 seconds before the eventual winning goal.

The result guarantees Klopp's side top spot in Group D meaning their final game against FC Midtjylland will be a dead-rubber - a welcome boost for Klopp and his team's busy schedule.

Player ratings

Liverpool: Kelleher (7), Neco Williams (7), Matip (7), Fabinho (7), Robertson (6), Henderson (6), Jones (7), Wijnaldum (7), Salah (5), Jota (6), Mane (5).

Subs: Firmino (6)

Ajax: Onana (4), Mazraoui (6), Schuurs (7), Blind (7), Tagliafico (6), Gravenberch (7), Álvarez (7), Klaassen (6), Neres (6), Tadic (6), Antony (7)

Subs: Labyad (6), Traore (6), Huntelaar (6), Martinez (6)

Man of the match: Curtis Jones

How Onana's oh-no moment helped Liverpool...

Surprisingly given their prestigious European histories, this was just the second meeting between these heavyweights in over 50 years with a Nicolas Tagliafico own-goal separating the two in the corresponding fixture in Amsterdam.

Ajax will have taken confidence from that tight encounter and came to Anfield full of bravery in possession as they tried to play out from the back at every opportunity. Liverpool pressed intelligently early on and Jones rattled the post on five minutes after being set up by Diogo Jota from 22 yards.

Team news

Caoimhin Kelleher was given a surprise start in goal with Alisson out. Klopp made five changes in total from the weekend with Joel Matip returning at centre-back to partner Fabinho whilst in attack Sadio Mane plays in a front three with Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah.

Klopp was looking towards the heavens minutes later when Andy Robertson required treatment on an ankle problem but he managed to run the injury off. The bright early transitions from Liverpool eased off as the half wore on with Ajax dominating possession.

Noussair Mazraoui tested Kelleher from 25 yards and the goalkeeper responded with a flying save that was perfect for the family album.

Ajax, full of enthusiasm but lacking a little composure in the final third, maintained their tempo after the break but former Everton man Davy Klaassen wasted a fine opening following a super Dusan Tadic cross.

Liverpool were sinking deeper as the pressure grew. Antony cut in off the right wing and tested Kelleher with a low effort which he was equal to but only pushed the ball out to Neres, who smashed an effort against the outside of the post from a tight angle.

Just as Liverpool looked like wilting under the pressure, Onana let them off the hook with a moment of comical goalkeeping. Williams sent a cross in from deep that Onana felt was heading out for a goal kick but Jones was alive to the situation and somehow managed to reverse a clever finish from near the by-line into the unguarded net.

The goal seemed to settle Liverpool down as they managed the final stages in professional fashion.

Onana redeemed himself slightly when tipping substitute Roberto Firmino's shot onto a post but the damage had already been done and Kelleher made sure his debut would be one to remember when making a point-blank save from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Man of the match: Curtis Jones  Curtis Jones (r) celebrates with Neco Williams Image: Star man: Curtis Jones (r) celebrates with Neco Williams

Move over Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Liverpool's attacking impetus came from Jones. He was the one who was making things happen from his midfield role. Ajax were given a taste of his adventure in the final third in the first five minutes as he fired two efforts on goal, the second of which came flashing back off the woodwork. His energy, intelligence, and quality were on full show for the winning goal when his gamble paid off after the horrendous lapse by Onana.

"What a game he played, he's a really good player," said Klopp.

The youngster is certainly taking his chance.

What the manager saidMerse: A difficult night for Liverpool

Sky Sports' Paul Merson, speaking on Soccer Special:

"It was a massive mistake by the goalie but fair play to Jones - he gambled and it was a really tidy finish. They've played a good Ajax team, Liverpool. They've got quite a few injuries, they've played a lot of games, and they won. We expect them to put on a show all the time but this was a difficult game.

"And that's what I like about Liverpool: when they don't play well they still win football matches. They were efficient and [Kelleher] should be very pleased. He was absolutely outstanding in everything he did. Has he made himself second choice? I would say so. He was very confident. He can put his head to the pillow tonight and think: I did well."

What's next?

Liverpool are back in Premier League action on Sunday evening at Anfield against Wolves before heading to play Danish Superliga champions FC Midtjylland in their final Champions League group game.

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Alisson ruled out for up to two weeks

Tue, 12/01/2020 - 19:21

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson will be out for up to two weeks with a hamstring injury, Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.

Alisson missed Liverpool's Champions League tie against Ajax on Tuesday, with Caoimhin Kelleher starting in goal ahead of Adrian.

"It is not Covid," Klopp told BT Sport in his pre-match interview, when asked why Alisson was not in the Liverpool side.

"That is something we have to mention when it is not the case, and it is not the case. He told us after the game [against Brighton] he felt his hamstring in the 60th or 70th minute.

"A little one but enough for today and probably for another week, we will have to wait and see. I have never heard of a hamstring that is only four or five days so it will be 10 to 14 days, I think."

Jordan Henderson's late goal was disallowed for offside upon VAR review 1:30 Thiago Alcantara's recovery from a knee injury sustained in the Merseyside derby in October will take a few more weeks, says Jurgen Klopp

Alisson's injury adds to Klopp's long list of absentees as they continue to try to challenge both in Europe and the Premier League.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri remain unavailable, along with James Milner, who suffered a hamstring injury against Brighton on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara remain long-term injuries.

Klopp's praise for Kelleher Jurgen Klopp congratulates Caoimhin Kelleher after Liverpool's 1-0 win over Ajax at Anfield Image: Jurgen Klopp congratulates Caoimhin Kelleher after Liverpool's 1-0 win over Ajax at Anfield

Despite Liverpool's injury problems, Klopp fielded a strong side against Ajax as they booked their spot in the last 16 with a 1-0 victory.

Klopp's decision to hand a Champions League debut to 22-year-old goalkeeper Kelleher ahead of established number two Adrian raised eyebrows but the goalkeeper was solid throughout and kept a clean sheet.

Kelleher was making only his fifth start for the club, the previous four being in domestic cup competitions with the last of those coming in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury Town last season.

Explaining his decision to pick Kelleher, Klopp said: "I really think Adrian has done a fantastic job for us, he kept a lot of clean sheets, played everywhere.

"But now we needed the natural football playing ability of Caoimhin Kelleher.

"He is a good shot-stopper as well. We made that decision but you never know how they are going to cope. I am really happy with how calm he was and how good he was.

"In the end it is about keeping the ball out the net and he did that twice and he did that in an exceptional manner. He will either sleep really well tonight or not at all."

Klopp hopeful on Robertson, Henderson Andy Robertson suffered an injury scare against Ajax Image: Andy Robertson suffered an injury scare against Ajax

The match threw up more injury worries, with respective ankle and back problems for Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson, and Klopp is keeping his fingers crossed for good news.

"Both played through so I would say we have now two days more than we had last week so I think (they are OK)," he said.

"Things like this show up the next day a little different but in the moment I am positive about it. That is a problem for the next few days but not tonight."

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Liverpool vs Ajax preview: Matip returns

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 20:30

Team news and stats ahead of Liverpool vs Ajax in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday (kick-off 8pm).

Team news

Liverpool defender Joel Matip returns to the squad after being rested for Saturday's draw at Brighton.

Manager Jurgen Klopp had hoped midfielder Naby Keita might be back from a hamstring injury but he did not train with the squad on Monday evening.

Midfielder James Milner (hamstring) is the latest player to be added to an injury list which includes Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thiago Alcantara (all knee), Trent Alexander-Arnold (calf) and Xherdan Shaqiri (muscle).

Jordan Henderson's late goal was disallowed for offside upon VAR review 1:30 Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara's recovery from a knee injury sustained in the Merseyside derby in October will take a few more weeks, says Jurgen Klopp

Ajax are set to be without Daley Blind after the former Manchester United defender sustained a hamstring injury against Midtjylland last week.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Kudus is a long-term absentee for the Dutch side after requiring surgery on the knee injury he picked up against Liverpool on matchday one.

Who needs what?

Liverpool will go through to the last 16 if they avoid defeat. The Reds will be confirmed as group winners if they beat Ajax and Atalanta do not beat Midtjylland.

How to follow

Follow Liverpool vs Ajax with our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports' digital platforms and on Gillette Soccer Special, live on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm.

David Luiz sported a bloodied head bandage during the game against Wolves 1:02 Klopp says it makes sense to introduce concussion substitutes in football Opta stats
  • This will be the fourth meeting between Liverpool and Ajax in European competition, with the previous three ending in an Ajax win, a draw and a Liverpool win.
  • Ajax have only played away at Liverpool in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League once previously, with the two sides playing out a 2-2 draw in the second leg of a Last 16 tie in 1966-67 (Ajax won 7-3 on aggregate).
  • Since losing their first ever game against a Dutch team in European competition (1-5 v Ajax in December 1966), Liverpool have gone unbeaten in 14 subsequent games against teams from the Netherlands (W9 D5).
  • Ajax haven't lost any of their last five away games against English sides in the UEFA Champions League (W1 D4), with the most recent such trip being an entertaining 4-4 draw against Chelsea in November 2019.
  • Liverpool's defeat against Atalanta ended a run of eight consecutive games without defeat in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (W7 D1), while the Reds have only once previously lost consecutive group stage games in the competition under Jürgen Klopp (in November 2018).
  • Ajax are unbeaten in their last 11 away games in the UEFA Champions League (W7 D4); their longest run away from home in the competition since between September 1994 and March 1997 (14 games - W10 D4).
  • Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is one of only four players to have scored 20+ goals in the UEFA Champions League (21), along with Robert Lewandowski (31), Cristiano Ronaldo (26) and Lionel Messi (24).
  • Ajax's Dusan Tadic has created the joint-most chances following ball carries in the UEFA Champions League this season (6 - level with Jadon Sancho and Kinglsey Coman), while no player has made more carries resulting in assists (2 - level with Juan Cuadrado and Joshua Kimmich).
Pitch to Post Weekend Review podcast

Download the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Podcast on Apple | Spotify

Having been left in the cold, how exactly has Jose Mourinho transformed Tanguy Ndombele into one of Tottenham's most key players?

Jasper Taylor is joined by Ben Ransom and Gerard Brand in the latest Pitch to Post Review show to discuss just that (07:55), as well as Eric Dier's form as he ditches the 'versatility' tag. Spurs are top, but what happens if opponents out-Jose Jose? (13:48)

We also discuss Man Utd's dramatic 3-2 win over Southampton thanks to super sub Edinson Cavani (22:16), and ask: where would Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side be if they played the entire season away from home? Answer: probably better off.

In the Regional Review, Alan Myers joins us to talk all things Everton in their season of two halves so far (36:04), and in the Treatment Table we round up the latest injury news, and join Jurgen Klopp in getting stuck into the five-sub debate (47:18).

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FA Cup third round draw recap

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 16:26

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Liverpool 1-0 Ajax commentary

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 14:40

FTFull Time AETAfter Extra Time LIVEThis is a live match. ETExtra Time HTHalf Time

Liverpool vs Ajax. UEFA Champions League Group D.

8:00pm, Tuesday 1st December 2020.

Anfield.

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Klopp: Thiago return still 'a few weeks' away

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 13:35

Thiago Alcantara remains a few weeks away from a return to action following the knee injury he sustained in the Merseyside derby in October, says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Thiago has not played since he was caught by a red-card challenge from Everton forward Richarlison in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park - a game which also saw Virgil van Dijk sustain anterior cruciate ligament damage.

Liverpool initially confirmed the close-season signing from Bayern Munich had avoided a serious injury but the severity of the collision continues to sideline the Spain international ahead of the busy December schedule.

"On that day when he got injured in that bad challenge in the Everton game, there was another bad injury and after the scan there was good news and really bad news," Klopp said.

"[With Thiago] nothing was broken or ruptured but it was still a massive impact on the knee.

"The impact on the leg was that big that it's still not okay. It is not massive, and he trains from time to time, not at the moment because we have to realise we have to go through further steps.

"I can't say exactly when he will be fine, but it will take a few weeks."

BRIGHTON 1-1 LIVERPOOL 3:12 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton's draw against Liverpool in the Premier League

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will, however, be available for the home Champions League tie against Ajax on Tuesday as the Reds target a win which will qualify them for the knockout stages.

Klopp also confirmed Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri remain unavailable for the visit of the Dutch champions, along with James Milner, who suffered a hamstring injury against Brighton on Saturday.

Klopp also gave an update on the early stages of Van Dijk's rehabilitation, with it unclear how long the Netherlands defender will be out for after his collision with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Virgil van Dijk injury 3 Image: Virgil van Dijk required surgery on a knee injury earlier this season

Club sources were reluctant to rule out a return to action this season in the immediate aftermath of the player's injury prognosis.

"Considering the circumstances, he is doing really well but the knee doesn't look good," Klopp said.

"It doesn't look how a knee should but looks good for a knee considering the surgery he had and the time since he had the surgery."

Klopp: I don't have the players to prioritise matches Jurgen Klopp
Image: Klopp lost James Milner to injury at the weekend

The meeting with Ajax is the first of eight matches Liverpool will play in December and Klopp insists he does not have the personnel to look ahead amid the condensed fixture schedule.

"I don't have enough players for prioritising," Klopp said.

"It is not about the competition; it is about the game we play. We played two days ago and the fittest players for that game were on the pitch and that will be the case again for this game because we don't have enough players to make these kinds of decisions.

"I never made this kind of decision [regarding] the Premier League and the Champions League because all competitions are very important for us."

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What Jurgen Klopp said after Liverpool setback

Sat, 11/28/2020 - 15:29

Des Kelly: "A painful setback. We're talking about VAR again. Was it right? Was it correct?"

Jurgen Klopp: "I didn't see but our analysts said yeah it was really close with Mo. I think it was the foot, but we are used to it with armpits and club badges so if we are told then obviously it is offside. The other one with Sadio was clear I heard, so yeah. The penalty, it is how it is, I think the decisions were right, yes."

DK: "You thought the decisions were right, well Jordan Henderson just said some of the Brighton players agreed that it wasn't a penalty…"

JK: "Yeah, but the ref, look… that is how it is. If I said now it was not, 'but ask…', the ref whistled...today I say it was not a penalty but you are not happy with that answer. What do you want to hear? Give the answers yourself."

DK: "I was just telling you what your players said…"

JK: "Yeah, the players were close but I said it was a penalty because the referee whistled it after watching it."

DK: "So you agree with that decision. In terms of the performance today...?"

JK: "Very good, very good. I could not be more proud of the boys what they put out here today. What we said before the game, what a possession team Brighton is, I could see the boys played like how they had to play. The first half an hour we struggled a little bit with the last line with their balls in behind because we didn't drop in the right moment. We got that sorted in the first half already. Second half we had no problems with that any more but we had problems with energy and we had to sit back a bit deeper and that's how the situation happened. But the situation around the goals we scored were brilliant. Even if they were disallowed, the situations were brilliant. Mo's goal was a brilliant goal, Sadio's header was outstanding. Some other situations, the goal we scored was really cool so it was all good. But it is just tough times, that is how it is."

DK: "You warned us about Connolly before the game, you said he would cause some problems. He was getting in behind through the lines…"

JK: "Only two opportunities to defend that, you have to avoid the pass or you have to drop in the right moment because he is running through the gaps so it is quite difficult. We spoke before the game, the last line is not settled together but that is normal so sometimes you have to learn in the game. The boys did that, that was really good. Nat Phillips played an exceptional game honestly, so that is all good. In football you always need a little bit of luck to win a tough away game but today we didn't have luck so we had a draw."

DK: "Jota's scoring run keeps going, he's slotted in so brilliantly..."

JK: "It was just a good goal. I thought the front three played really, really good together. That worked out really good."

DK: "Mo Salah didn't look too happy to be coming off early, I assume you are planning ahead for that. What's the information with James Milner?"

JK: "On a day when Mo Salah is smiling when he leaves the pitch then I know something is really wrong. So I get it 100 per cent. The problem is that he had Covid, was out for 10-12 days, played 60 minutes, three days later plays again so we just have to be careful, he doesn't like that I know it, but that's it."

DK: "James Milner, hamstring is it?"

JK: "Yeah, congratulations."

DK: "What, me personally?"

JK: "Oh no, but you work for them. Yeah. Hamstring. Surprise. And they had injuries as well. Because it's a tough time. But ask [Sheffield United manager] Chris Wilder how we can avoid that."

DK: "Maybe you're firing at the wrong target."

JK: "Sorry?"

DK: "Maybe you are firing at the wrong target. We are broadcasters, we work within the Premier League rules, and the Premier League makes the rules, that's the Premier League clubs. So shouldn't you be talking to… Premier League clubs, shouldn't you be talking to chief executives…"

BRIGHTON 1-1 LIVERPOOL 3:12 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton's draw against Liverpool in the Premier League

JK: "I don't know how often I have to say it, you picked the 12.30 kick-off. You. Not you personally but you did it, didn't you? Us on 12.30. So between now and December and the New Year, there's one more Wednesday and then [inaudible] days later."

DK: "But when you say, you picked the 12.30, Premier League clubs chose that slot. There's a reason that slot is there, it's because it's valuable to the Premier League."

JK: "I've said it now a couple of times these are difficult moments, these are difficult times…"

DK: "I know they're difficult times. The stadium is empty, of course it's difficult times, and the broadcasters have supported the game."

JK: "Yeah, but if we play at 3pm or 5.30pm, it's exactly the same, it's Saturday."

DK: "But that has different ramifications. You should be going to… your chief executive should be with the other chief executives having that discussion. If you come down here and just have a go at the broadcasters, it doesn't go anywhere, it's not going to change anything."

JK: "I'm not having a go at the broadcasters, I just say how it is."

DK: "You said it was criminal."

JK: "After Wednesday, Saturday 12.30 is really, really dangerous for the players."

DK: "You also said the broadcasters don't care, and that's the problem. It isn't the problem - the problem is…"

JK: "Why did you pick us against Crystal Palace, if you care?"

DK: "I didn't pick it but every pick is agreed by the Premier League, every executive around that table."

JK: "Because it's such a special season you obviously rely on things we agreed in another time."

DK: "No, no, no…"

JK: "Yes, you did."

DK: "No, look. If it was all about player welfare, why did the Premier League clubs block the five substitutes?"

JK: "Oh because… that's very interesting now. When we had the talk between the managers, a week ago, I think, it was 55 if not 60 [per cent] for five subs. Since then nothing happened. Because you need at least 14 votes, but Chris Wilder or whoever says constantly that I'm selfish. I think all the things he said show he's selfish but it's now not too important. And I was in a similar situation as he was when I was at Mainz and it was all about staying in the league. But they [Sheffield United] have now three subs and one point, if I'm right. So there's no advantage or disadvantage."

"So if you can't do five subs in a game like this… it's not for tactical reasons… for example, today, five subs, I take off Robbo [Andy Robertson]. 100 per cent. And bring Kostas Tsimikas on, to save Robbo. Not to make our game better or whatever, just to save him. That's the situation. It's not about we changed tactics and the system and stuff like this, and bring on five players at one time and all these kind of things. It's not like this, it's just to save the players. Yes of course I save my players but it's about all… it's not only my players that have a problem. Here you will see, from now on until December you will see it and we will see what happens."

DK: "We agree with you and I can understand what you're saying but you're actually going about it in a strange way. You're attacking the broadcaster instead of getting the support you need in the Premier League meeting."

JK: "So what I want to say is, I only go for broadcasters with a Wednesday and 12.30. Only seven managers have a similar problem, and they all agree. Jose says now I should stop doing it and actually I wanted to stop doing it because it doesn't help. The problem is we have a contract, signed a contract, yes our CEOs, whatever, the shareholders did that, that's true. And it's not a problem. In all seasons it's a problem but in this season it's a bigger problem. It's a bigger problem. Because of no pre-season, because of the intensity and all of this kind of stuff, because of the shorter season, and when we have that slot I say it's not OK. Have a look how many - now, I'm not selfish but I speak about Liverpool - until, when this year's over, in that part of the season we had this slot three times. I spoke a lot about it but we had three. Look who else had it three times - nobody. So of course it's a problem for me, it's a problem for me to pick a team. That's my problem."

DK: "The problem is you can't change it, you have to change it via the boardroom that we're talking about. Look, we could probably go on forever. Thanks Jurgen."

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Klopp: Milner has a hamstring problem

Sat, 11/28/2020 - 15:15

James Milner suffered a hamstring problem during Liverpool's draw at Brighton on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.

It means the versatile 34-year-old could be set for a long spell on the sidelines after starting his third game in six days, joining a lengthy and growing injury list for the Premier League champions.

Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Thiago Alcantara and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (all knee), Trent Alexander-Arnold (calf), Naby Keita (hamstring) and Xherdan Shaqiri (muscle) are all currently ruled out, and Klopp confirmed Thiago and Oxlade-Chamberlain are unlikely to be back for games against Ajax and Wolves this week.

Meanwhile, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has only just returned after a thigh injury sustained on international duty with England, coming off the bench in the 1-1 draw at the Amex.

Mohamed Salah was back in the side for the second successive game after recovering from a positive coronavirus test, while Sadio Mane played less than 30 minutes of normal time after coming on from the bench.

Last-gasp VAR penalty denies Liverpool win BRIGHTON 1-1 LIVERPOOL 3:12 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton's draw against Liverpool

Pascal Gross' controversial injury-time penalty, awarded after a VAR intervention, gave Brighton a 1-1 draw against champions Liverpool.

With the game at 1-0 heading into stoppage time, Andrew Robertson was adjudged to have kicked the foot of Danny Welbeck in the box, and after going over to the pitchside monitor, Stuart Attwell awarded the spot-kick, despatched down the middle by Gross.

Brighton had already missed a first-half penalty - Neal Maupay struck a penalty wide after Neco Williams had brought down Aaron Connolly (20) - before Diogo Jota looked to have given Liverpool the victory, dancing past two challenges before finding the bottom corner (60), his eighth strike in eight Liverpool games.

The result means Liverpool return to the top of the Premier League for 24 hours at least, one point ahead of Tottenham and three ahead of Chelsea as they face off on Super Sunday. Brighton sit 16th with 10 points from 10 games.

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Last-gasp VAR penalty denies Liverpool win

Sat, 11/28/2020 - 14:30

Pascal Gross' controversial injury-time penalty, awarded after a VAR intervention, gave Brighton a 1-1 draw against champions Liverpool.

With the game at 1-0 heading into stoppage time, Andrew Robertson was adjudged to have kicked the foot of Danny Welbeck in the box, and after going over to the pitchside monitor, referee Stuart Attwell awarded the spot-kick, despatched down the middle by Gross.

Brighton had already missed a first-half penalty - Neal Maupay struck a penalty wide after Neco Williams had brought down Aaron Connolly (20) - before Diogo Jota looked to have given Liverpool the victory, dancing past two challenges before finding the bottom corner (60), his eighth strike in eight Liverpool games.

The result means Liverpool return to the top of the Premier League for 24 hours at least, one point ahead of Tottenham and three ahead of Chelsea who face off on Super Sunday. Brighton sit 16th with 10 points from 10 games.

Player ratings

Brighton: Ryan (6), Veltman (5), White (6), Dunk 6), Webster (6), Gross (6), Bissouma (6), March (6), Connolly (6), Welbeck (6), Maupay (5)

Subs: Trossard (6), Lallana (NA), Jahanbakhsh (5)

Liverpool: Alisson (6), Neco Williams (5), Fabinho (5), Phillips (6), Robertson (6), Milner (6), Wijnaldum (6), Minamino (5), Jota (7), Salah (6), Firmino (6)

Subs: Henderson (7), Mane (5), Jones (NA)

Man of the match: Diogo Jota

How Brighton grabbed point in eventful clash

Liverpool started with energy, but Brighton's game plan soon came into action as a simple long ball over the box caught out the Reds' high defensive line. Maupay's through ball found Connolly through on goal, but despite having time to compose himself, he poked wide of Alisson's left-hand post.

Jurgen Klopp's unfamiliar starting XI included right-back Williams, starting his first Premier League game of the season, and the youngster was at fault as Brighton were then awarded a spot-kick.

Initially losing out in a duel with Yves Bissouma, Williams was then drawn into fouling Connolly on the left of the box, with Attwell pointing to the spot. His blushes were spared, however, as Maupay struck wide from 12 yards, and to make things worse, was then subbed off with a hamstring injury.

Neal Maupay misses his first-half penalty Image: Neal Maupay misses his first-half penalty

Liverpool showed how they can punish teams in an instant as Roberto Firmino's wonderful touch and volleyed ball over the top for Mohamed Salah found the Egyptian through on goal, and he did the rest by pushing the ball past the onrushing Mat Ryan. However, VAR found that Salah's foot was inches ahead of Brighton defender Ben White's.

Jordan Henderson was introduced for Williams in the second half as Liverpool started to click, and they got their opener 15 minutes after the restart. Robertson found space on the left to fizz a ball square into Salah, who touched it off for Jota, and the forward brilliantly skipped two challenges on the edge, waiting for his opportunity to stick the ball in the bottom left corner.

Diogo Jota celebrates his goal with Liverpool team-mates Image: Diogo Jota celebrates his goal with Liverpool team-mates

For all the talk of clubs wanting a return of five substitutions, two early second-half changes were met with frustration - Brighton's Connolly and Liverpool's Salah looked irate at coming off - but subsequent injuries to Adam Lallana and then James Milner went some way to strengthening calls.

Brighton began to commit and nearly levelled as Solly March's dangerous cross was nearly turned into his own net by Robertson, but after Sadio Mane's headed goal was ruled out by VAR for offside, Robertson was in the spotlight in stoppage time as Brighton got their goal.

  Pascal Gross' late penalty earned Brighton a point against Liverpool Image: Pascal Gross' late penalty earned Brighton a point against Liverpool

A seemingly innocuous kick from the Scot on Welbeck in the penalty area initially went unnoticed, but as VAR intervened, Attwell reversed his decision at the pitchside monitor, much to the annoyance of Robertson and Klopp.

Team news

It was intriguing Liverpool line-up as Sadio Mane dropped to the bench, Mohamed Salah returned into the front three, while centre-back Joel Matip was out.

It was four changes from the 3-0 win over Leicester as Neco Williams came in at right-back with James Milner moved into midfield. Nat Phillips came in at centre-back alongside Fabinho, and in midfield Takumi Minamino played instead of the injured Naby Keita.

It was changes for Brighton as Joel Veltman replaced the suspended Tariq Lamptey, while Aaron Connolly came in for former Liverpool man Adam Lallana, who only made the bench.

It was another debatable decision, bringing the 'clear and obvious error' rule into question again, but Gross succeeded where Maupay had failed, smashing down the middle for 1-1.

What the managers said

Brighton boss Graham Potter: "It wasn't the most stonewall penalty I've seen, I will say, but sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't. It's a beautiful part of football and we'll always be debating referee and linesman decisions, and you need the margins to go your way in the Premier League.

Andrew Robertson berates the officials after he gave away a last-gasp penalty 0:32 Graham Potter conceded Brighton's second penalty 'wasn't the most stonewall' but praised his players' performance level against Liverpool

"They clearly went our way today, but I thought our performance level was really good, and we deserved something from the game in terms of how we played."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "My analyst told me Mo was offside, very close, small margin, his toe or whatever. Mane was offside with his upper body, I didn't see it, but sounds like it. So both close.

"Second penalty is a penalty because the ref whistled it. There was contact, and if the ref thinks it's enough, we cannot change it in that situation."

Jurgen Klopp
1:46 Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reiterated his calls for five substitutions to be allowed in the Premier League and says it is important for player welfare, not tactical changes

On five subs debate: "If it was about me, I wouldn't have mentioned it, but it's about players. It would be good for the players. Brighton lose today two players with muscle injuries, and they play once a week. For Sheffield United as well by the way, we will see. I can explain it one last time, in this period we are in, five subs is not for tactical changes.

"If ever one coach has the luck to change it for tactical changes, that will be the exception. It's just today, we made an early sub at half-time, and then a second sub, and then we thought if we are brave to make a third sub, if you are not brave you wait to make the third sub.

"If we would have had five subs, then Andy Robertson I would have taken off, we had Kostas on the bench. It's not the solution, but it's a little help. Whatever Chris Wilder says, I don't speak only about Liverpool. He speaks only about Sheffield United, that's true and he admitted that, but I speak about football players."

Opta stats
  • Liverpool have gone unbeaten in each of their last 12 matches against Brighton in all competitions (W10 D2), with today's draw ending a nine-match winning run against the Seagulls.
  • Liverpool conceded two penalties in a single Premier League game for the first time since February 2018 versus Tottenham Hotspur.
  • Diogo Jota has scored nine goals in his 14 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool, scoring eight goals in his last eight games for the Reds.
  • Neal Maupay became the first player to start a Premier League game, miss a penalty, and be subbed off before half-time since Dennis Bergkamp against Derby in April 1998.
What's next?

Liverpool now host Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday evening at 8pm, before hosting Wolves at 7.15pm on Sunday night in the Premier League.

Brighton host Southampton on Monday Night Football at 8pm on December 7, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

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What are PL clubs' plans for fan return

Fri, 11/27/2020 - 16:28

Liverpool will restrict their ticket allocation for the Premier League visit of Wolves on December 6 to supporters from within the city's region.

The Premier League champions are one of 10 Premier League sides in tier two areas, where up to 2,000 people are allowed at outdoor sports venues after lockdown in England ends on December 2.

The other 10 clubs are all in tier three, where no fans are allowed.

The Kop will be closed for next month's home game against Wolves, with all fans to be housed in Anfield's Main Stand.

The club say a minimum of 75 per cent of the 2,000 tickets available for the fixture will be used for general admission, with the remaining tickets going allocated to hospitality supporters, players and to meet contractual obligations.

The plans need final approval by the Council's Ground Safety Advisory Group next week, with Premier League clubs also due to vote on a favourable return of fans on December 3.

Where fans will return to Premier League grounds

The five Premier League matches that will be allowed to host 2,000 fans on the weekend of December 5 and 6 are:

Liverpool v Wolves

Tottenham v Arsenal

Chelsea v Leeds

West Ham v Man United

Brighton v Southampton

Supporters must abide by a new supporter code of conduct and complete a health declaration questionnaire before purchasing a ticket, if successful in the ballot.

Fans are also encouraged to take a coronavirus test ahead of the game against Wolves, with a nearby mass testing centre to remain open on match days.

Tottenham to host 2,000 fans for north London derby

Meanwhile, Tottenham have also confirmed plans for 2,000 fans to attend the north London derby against Arsenal next month.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Image: The north London derby is set to be the first match at Tottenham's stadium to host fans since March

The match on December 6, live on Sky Sports, will be the first to be played in front of spectators at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Norwich on March 4.

The club said they will run a ballot of season ticket holders and executive members in order to allocate the tickets.

Spurs fans will have to confirm they are not travelling to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium from a restricted area.

4:04 Sky Sports News chief reporter Bryan Swanson explains how the tier system will work with regards to the return of fans to football stadiums

The club will also introduce timed entry to avoid congestion at the turnstiles as part of their coronavirus protocols for fans to observe at matches.

Arsenal will become the first Premier League team to welcome fans back into their stadium when they host Rapid Vienna in the Europa League next Thursday.

The first Premier League fixture to welcome fans could be West Ham's home fixture against Manchester United at the London Stadium on 5 December, before Chelsea take on Leeds later that day.

 0:29 Manchester will be in tier three under the new restrictions but there may be fans present for United's trip to West Ham next week and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has welcomed the news. West Ham manager David Moyes 0:37 West Ham manager David Moyes says the limited return of fans to football stadiums is 'great news', and is looking forward to more being able to attend soon. Travel between tiers explained Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 1:25 Sky Sports' Paul Gilmour reports the latest updates regarding the Government's tier system in relation to fans travelling to sporting events.

Fans of tier two clubs living in tier three areas should not attend matches. Football matches are not deemed to be 'essential reasons' for travel from tier three.

Those living in tier two can travel to a game in a tier one area, although there are currently no Premier League clubs in a tier one zone.

What have other clubs revealed?

Brighton - 2000 tickets will be made available to Brighton season-ticket holders and 1901 Club members for their Premier League fixture against Southampton on December 7.

Priority windows for the ballot will be published at approximately 5pm on Friday.

Everton - Ticket ballot will only be open to season ticket and hospitality members.

Eligible fans will be contacted shortly with details of the process for the next game at Goodison Park against Chelsea on December 12.

Fulham - Club will be distributing tickets via a ballot to last season's ticket holders only.

Their first eligible game will be against Liverpool at home on December 13.

West Ham - 2000 spectators will be able to attend as the Hammers face Manchester United on December 5 at 5:30pm, live on Sky Sports.

Season Ticket Holders and Club London Members can enter a ballot. Fans will be told by email whether they have been successful by Thursday December 3.

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Liverpool's Midtjylland CL fixture back in Denmark

Fri, 11/27/2020 - 11:00

Liverpool's final Champions League group stage match against Midtjylland on December 9 will take place in Denmark as planned after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions by the UK government.

Borussia Dortmund had said they would host the fixture because of the UK government's requirement for those returning from Denmark to quarantine for 14 days.

But Midtjylland released a statement on Friday confirming that the UK government had agreed to provide elite athletes with an exemption, meaning the game will go ahead at the MCH Arena.

"The English authorities last night eased the travel restrictions aimed at Denmark... so we can confirm that the match will be played at the MCH Arena as planned," Midtjylland said.

Liverpool will play at the MCH Arena in Herning Image: Liverpool will play at the MCH Arena in Herning

"We remain aware of the situation and are in constant dialogue with the relevant parties."

Liverpool, who defeated Midtjylland 2-0 at Anfield last month, can qualify for the last 16 with a win over Ajax next week, having lost to Atalanta 2-0 on Wednesday night.

Klopp: No excuses for deserved defeat

Klopp said he had no regrets over the selection gamble which backfired in the defeat to Atalanta, despite the Reds' hopes of progressing early to the last 16 being dealt a blow in a "deserved defeat".

Liverpool made five changes from Sunday's victory over Leicester, including altering three of the back four, and paid for it with a lack of cohesion and rhythm which allowed last season's quarter-finalists to become the first team to win at Anfield in 90 minutes since Chelsea in September 2018.

Klopp said: "We made five changes, it was very important we did that, and in the end it didn't work out and that is part of the deal. I would do it again.

"[We had] no real rhythm, first half was not a good game at all, they were not good as well. We spoke about it but second half it didn't look like it [would change] and that is why we changed early.

"A second before we could change (Klopp was in the process of making a quadruple substitution) they scored the first goal, in a space which we knew they tried to use and we couldn't defend in that moment.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refused to get carried away by the setback Image: Klopp refused to get carried away by the setback of losing to Atalanta

"We had better football moments but not good enough. If you don't have a shot on target that is never a good sign."

Liverpool lost a competitive home match by a margin of more than one goal for the first time in 137 matches at Anfield under Klopp, with this their heaviest such defeat since August 2015 in the Premier League against West Ham under Brendan Rodgers, a 3-0 defeat.

Victory over Ajax next week would still guarantee safe passage and with December's schedule, Klopp will want to avoid the nightmare scenario of having something to play for with the final game against Midtjylland.

"If I would think like this then it would be great. It is tricky, sounds easy to beat Ajax but with all the challenges we face in this country on top of the normal challenges we face already," he added.

Klopp Image: Klopp says his focus is on Brighton rather than Ajax

"My concern isn't that I think about Ajax; we go in a few hours to play Brighton. When this game is over we start to think about Ajax."

Even the return of Mohamed Salah could not lift the side out of their torpor as second-half goals from Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens ensured there would be little room for Klopp to rest players in their final two matches.

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini, whose side were beaten 5-0 in the reverse fixture three weeks ago, hailed the win as the club's most prestigious.

"Obviously this is something which will be written in the pages of history," he said.

"They haven't lost a Premier League game in 64 matches. This is perhaps our biggest-ever victory in our history, certainly our most prestigious.

"We were more solid in defence this time around because the defence was better protected with more players in midfield. This is the solution we opted for as we thought it was appropriate for this game."

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What tier is your team in?

Thu, 11/26/2020 - 15:00

The government has announced its updated tier system for England which will apply when lockdown ends on December 2. Which tier does your club fall into and will you be able to go and watch them?

Premier League clubs in Liverpool and London will be able to welcome some supporters back into their stadiums after the government announced which tiers different areas of the country will be in after the end of the second lockdown.

However, a number of other clubs in the division, including Manchester City, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Leeds, Leicester and Wolves will be unable to welcome fans back into stadiums after the announcement.

Up to a maximum of 2,000 supporters will be allowed back into stadiums in Tier 2 regions, as long as clubs continue to follow strict COVID-19 safety measures, but games being played in stadiums in Tier 3 regions will continue to be behind closed doors, with no fans allowed.

But what does the announcement mean for your club? Our list below shows which tier has been applied to which region throughout England.

Premier League

Arsenal - Tier 2

Aston Villa - Tier 3

Brighton - Tier 2

Burnley - Tier 3

Chelsea - Tier 2

Crystal Palace - Tier 2

Everton - Tier 2

Fulham - Tier 2

Leeds United - Tier 3

Leicester City - Tier 3

Liverpool - Tier 2

Manchester City - Tier 3

Manchester United - Tier 3

Newcastle - Tier 3

Sheffield United - Tier 3

Southampton - Tier 2

Tottenham - Tier 2

West Brom - Tier 3

West Ham United - Tier 2

Wolves - Tier 3

Championship

Barnsley - Tier 3

Birmingham City - Tier 3

Blackburn Rovers - Tier 3

Bournemouth - Tier 2

Brentford - Tier 2

Bristol City - Tier 3

Cardiff City - spectators are not permitted at any sporting events in Wales

Coventry City - Tier 3

Derby County - Tier 3

Huddersfield Town - Tier 3

Luton Town - Tier 2

Middlesbrough - Tier 3

Millwall - Tier 2

Norwich City - Tier 2

Nottingham Forest - Tier 3

Preston North End - Tier 3

Queens Park Rangers - Tier 2

Reading - Tier 2

Rotherham United - Tier 3

Sheffield Wednesday - Tier 3

Stoke City -Tier 3

Swansea City - spectators are not permitted at any sporting events in Wales

Watford - Tier 2

Wycombe Wanderers - Tier 2

League One

Accrington Stanley -Tier 3

AFC Wimbledon - Tier 2

Blackpool - Tier 3

Bristol Rovers - Tier 3

Burton Albion - Tier 3

Charlton - Tier 2

Crewe Alexandra - Tier 2

Doncaster Rovers - Tier 3

Fleetwood Town - Tier 3

Gillingham - Tier 3

Hull City - Tier 3

Ipswich Town - Tier 2

Lincoln City - Tier 3

MK Dons - Tier 2

Northampton Town - Tier 2

Oxford United - Tier 2

Peterborough United - Tier 2

Portsmouth - Tier 2

Plymouth Argyle - Tier 2

Rochdale - Tier 3

Shrewsbury Town - Tier 2

Sunderland - Tier 3

Swindon Town - Tier 2

Wigan Athletic - Tier 3

League Two

Barrow - Tier 2

Bolton Wanderers - Tier 3

Bradford - Tier 3

Cambridge United - Tier 2

Carlisle United - Tier 2

Cheltenham Town - Tier 2

Colchester United - Tier 2

Crawley Town - Tier 2

Exeter City - Tier 2

Forest Green Rovers - Tier 2

Grimsby Town - Tier 3

Harrogate Town - Tier 3

Leyton Orient - Tier 2

Mansfield Town - Tier 3

Morecambe - Tier 3

Newport County - spectators are not permitted at any sporting events in Wales

Oldham Athletic - Tier 3

Port Vale - Tier 3

Salford City - Tier 3

Scunthorpe United - Tier 3

Southend United - Tier 2

Stevenage - Tier 2

Tranmere Rovers - Tier 2

Walsall - Tier 3

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Liverpool, London can welcome back fans, but not Manchester

Thu, 11/26/2020 - 14:10

Premier League clubs in Liverpool and London will be able to welcome some supporters back into their stadiums after the Government announced which tiers different areas of the country will be in after the end of the second lockdown.

A long list of Premier League clubs, including Manchester City, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Leicester will be unable to have fans back in person, however.

Supporters of Burnley, Leeds, Sheffield United, West Brom and Wolves will also have to wait longer before any of them can cheer their teams on inside their grounds.

London has been named as a Tier 2 area, which places it in the 'High' risk category. That means Arsenal will become the first English top-flight club to welcome back fans when they host Rapid Vienna in a Europa League group-stage clash on Thursday, December 3, and they have said tickets will be available to fans on a "first come, first served priority sale" to certain members who registered for the ballot in September.

West Ham's match against Manchester United on December 5, live on Sky Sports, is set to be the first Premier League game with fans in attendance.

Three more of next week's Premier League fixtures - Spurs vs Arsenal, Chelsea vs Leeds and Brighton vs Southampton - will also have a strictly limited number of fans in attendance.

Greater Manchester is among the areas that will remain in Tier 3 - classified as 'Very High' risk and the only tier which does not allow any fans to attend matches - when the new regulations come into effect on December 2.

Ten Premier League clubs are located in tier 2 areas Image: Ten Premier League clubs are located in Tier 2 areas Premier League tier 3 Image: Premier League teams in Tier 3 areas still cannot have fans inside their stadiums

Merseyside has dropped down to Tier 2, though, meaning reigning champions Liverpool and Everton can welcome back 2,000 supporters into their stadiums, as long as they continue to follow strict Covid-19 safety measures.

That would see supporters inside Anfield for the first time since March when Liverpool face Wolves at home in the Premier League on December 5.

Twickenham Stadium Image: A limited number of supporters will also be allowed inside Twickenham to see England compete in the Autumn Nations Cup on December 6

There also will be 2,000 allowed into Twickenham for England's Autumn Nations Cup game against an as-yet-unknown opponent on December 6.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the details in a statement to the Commons on Thursday, with a further review of the tier ratings to be made on December 16, although the new proposals will go before MPs on December 1.

0:45 Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher is delighted Liverpool will be able to welcome back fans under the new Government tiers, but has sympathy for those that will miss out

Responding to the news, Manchester United said in a statement: "Manchester United notes the Government decision to keep Trafford in the Tier 3 category of Covid-19 restrictions. This means games at Old Trafford will continue to take place behind closed doors until further notice.

"Our plans for safely welcoming back fans to Old Trafford are well advanced and we look forward to doing so as soon as we are given the go ahead. We will continue to work with local authorities on finalising our plans so that we can move quickly when our area comes out of Tier 3.

"Some of our forthcoming away games in Tier 2 areas may take place with a limited number of fans in attendance. However, under current guidelines, away fans will not be permitted to attend.

"We thank our fans for their continued patience and will keep them informed of further developments."

Everton also confirmed they are already beginning their preparations for the safe return of fans to Goodison Park for the game against Chelsea next month.

"Everton is progressing discussions with local and national authorities in preparation for the phased return of supporters to Goodison Park after the UK Government confirmed Liverpool City Region will enter Tier 2 local restrictions following the end of the national lockdown on December 2," the club said in a statement on their website.

"The club is undertaking a series of discussions with the Premier League and both local and national authorities to ensure the necessary safety measures and guidelines are in place for the return of fans. The first Goodison Park fixture fans will be able to attend will be the visit of Chelsea on December 12."

Arsenal to become first PL team to welcome back fans  during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Watford FC at Emirates Stadium on September 29, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. Image: Arsenal fans will return to the Emirates on December 3

Arsenal will become the first Premier League team to welcome fans back into their stadium, and said via a statement: "We're delighted to confirm that we will be safely welcoming 2,000 supporters to our Europa League home match against Rapid Vienna on Thursday, December 3.

"It's been almost nine long months since we had fans in attendance at Emirates Stadium and our matches have simply not been the same without you.

"While we appreciate that reduced capacity matches will be far from being 'back to normal', we can't wait to welcome our fans back home for what will be a historic moment for the club.

"This follows the UK Government announcement that Emirates Stadium is located in a Tier 2 area under the latest Covid-19 guidelines."

RFU donates Twickenham tickets to NHS

The Rugby Football Union is to donate 400 tickets to NHS workers as Twickenham prepares for the return of fans when England play their final match of the Autumn Nations Cup.

London's Tier 2 status means a crowd of 2,000 is permitted when Eddie Jones' men contest what is expected to be the showpiece event of the tournament - most likely against France - on Sunday week.

Of those attending, half will have purchased their tickets as Twickenham hosts spectators for the first time since March 7 when Wales were beaten 33-30 in the Six Nations.

 The Corner flag with the message Thank you NHS during the Vanarama National League Play Off Final match between Harrogate Town and Notts County at Wembley Stadium on August 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Image: The RFU has donated 400 tickets to the NHS for the fans' return to Twickenham

"We are delighted to be able to welcome 2,000 fans to Twickenham for the final Quilter International as part of the Autumn Nations Cup on December 6," RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said.

"This is an opportunity for us to operate a socially-distanced event as a small step forward in our plans for the return of fans to stadia.

"Twenty per cent of the seats for the game will be gifted to local NHS workers. The remaining will be for the players' families, local rugby clubs, sponsors and around 1,000 seats will be on sale with prices starting from £75."

England face Wales in Llanelli on Saturday and appear certain to finish on top of Group A of the Autumn Nations Cup with France having a similarly dominant grip on Group B.

EFL working to get all clubs' fans back

The EFL released a statement saying it welcomed the return of fans to some stadiums from December 2 onwards, but will continue to work with the Government to ensure all clubs can safely welcome back fans in larger numbers.

EFL Logo Image: The EFL said it will continue to work with the Government to get fans back 'in larger numbers'

The statement read: "Having campaigned for the return of supporters for many months, the EFL is looking forward to the reopening of some EFL club stadiums next week and, following today's announcements, the picture is becoming clearer.

"Currently, a total of 34 EFL clubs have been placed in tier two, which has an immediate potential impact on six matches next week, and the EFL is working with those clubs to support discussions with local safety advisory groups to ensure EFL stadiums can safely welcome back fans from Wednesday, December 2 onwards.

"The league has worked closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority in developing the appropriate safety guidance to this point, and we await the final guidance to be implemented by clubs in consultation with their local authorities.

"Whilst the return of supporters, even in a limited capacity, is a positive and important step, we will monitor progress in the coming weeks and continue to work with the Government to ensure all clubs are able to welcome back fans, in larger numbers, as soon as it is can safely be achieved."

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Brighton vs Liverpool preview: Henderson back?

Thu, 11/26/2020 - 11:33

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Brighton vs Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday (kick-off 12.30pm).

Team news

Brighton will be without the suspended Tariq Lamptey for Saturday's Premier League clash with Liverpool at the Amex Stadium following the defender's red card at Aston Villa last weekend.

Ex-Reds midfielder Adam Lallana is being assessed, Solly March is expected to be available despite a slight ankle issue and the fit-again Leandro Trossard could make his return to the matchday squad.

Davy Propper and Alexis Mac Allister have both been missing due to illness. Propper is ready to return, but it is thought the game will come too soon for Mac Allister.

Tariq Lamptey Image: Tariq Lamptey has starred for Brighton this term but is banned

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could return after a thigh injury sustained on international duty.

The midfielder partially trained on Thursday for the first time and has a chance of being included.

Jurgen Klopp will still be without midfielders Naby Keita (hamstring), Thiago Alcantara (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (muscle), defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold (calf), Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez (both knee) but should restore his first-choice line-up after resting five players for the Champions League defeat to Atalanta.

How to follow preview image 2:13 A preview of matchweek 10 from the Premier League as Manchester United travel to Southampton aiming to make history and Chelsea host Tottenham in a London derby

Follow Brighton vs Liverpool in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

Jones Knows prediction

Were Liverpool really Evens to beat Leicester at home? Or did I dream that? Usually, a price like that comes with a too good to be true tag. But no, we all doubled our money.

That performance rubberstamped Jurgen Klopp's team as the most likely winners of the Premier League. Even at 11/8 with Sky Bet the argument can be made to back them when analysing the performance metrics. They lead the way for total shots inside the box (105), expected goals (20.44) and big chances created (23) - all strong barometers of a dominant team. Plus, they have shipped only three goals since Virgil van Dijk's season was ended - only Chelsea and Manchester United have conceded fewer in that period. Klopp is skillfully plugging that gap.

If there was a market for Brighton to get their tummies tickled by pundits for a spirited defeat in this one, I would be a backer of 'yes'. Despite some strong performances, they have not won any of their last eight home matches at the Amex, including against Burnley and West Brom. With the influential Tariq Lamptey suspended too, I just cannot foresee how Brighton will be good enough in both boxes to seriously trouble Liverpool.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-3 (10/1 with Sky Bet)

Opta stats
  • Brighton have never won a top-flight home game against Liverpool (D3 L4), losing all three in the Premier League by an aggregate score of 2-9. Indeed, the Seagulls' only home victory over Liverpool in league competition came in the second tier in January 1961 (3-1).
  • Liverpool have won each of their last nine meetings with Brighton in all competitions, netting 27 goals in the process and conceding just seven.
  • Following their 2-1 win at Aston Villa last time out, Brighton are looking to pick up back-to-back league wins for the first time since November 2019. However, each of the Seagulls' last four Premier League wins have been away from home, winning none of their last eight at the Amex Stadium.
  • Brighton have never won in 14 previous attempts against reigning top-flight champions (D2 L12), losing all six such games in the Premier League by an aggregate score of 2-21. Both points they've picked up in these matches have been against Liverpool (2-2 in February 1981, 2-2 in March 1983).
  • Liverpool are winless in their last three Premier League away games (D2 L1), last going four without a win on the road between January-March 2017 (5 games).
  • Only Chelsea (22) have scored more Premier League goals than Liverpool (21) this season, with the Reds the only side to score in every game so far this term.
  • Liverpool's Premier League games have seen a league-high 23 goals in the first half so far this season, with the Reds scoring a league-high 12 and conceding a league-high 11 goals before half-time.
  • Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in eight goals in his six Premier League appearances against Brighton, scoring five and assisting three.
  • Danny Welbeck netted his first Premier League goal for Brighton against Aston Villa last time out; he's not scored in consecutive league appearances since January 2016 (vs Leicester and Man Utd for Arsenal).
  • Liverpool's Diogo Jota scored twice on his last Premier League visit to Brighton, in a 2-2 draw for Wolves last season. However, all four of the Portuguese's league goals for the Reds so far have come at Anfield.
Pitch to Post Preview: Are Chelsea and Spurs title contenders? Plus Man Utd 'leader' Bruno Fernandes, Arsenal's creativity problems, and more!

This week on the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast, Peter Smith is joined by Michael Bridge and Charlotte Marsh to look ahead to a blockbuster London derby between title hopefuls Chelsea and Tottenham. James Cooper explains how Bruno Fernandes has become Man Utd's leader, and we analyse Arsenal's creativity problems.

Plus, Tim Thornton has the latest from Leeds and Sheffield United - including the story of how the Blades almost signed Diego Maradona! Charlotte then makes her bold Pitch for what she thinks will happen in this weekend's Premier League action…

Listen to the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox

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Liverpool suffer rude awakening in Atalanta loss

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 21:59

Liverpool still require one more win to reach the Champions League last 16 after they were beaten 2-0 by Atalanta at Anfield.

The Serie A club were mature and methodical as they avenged the 5-0 defeat in the reverse fixture earlier this month, and were good value for their victory as Liverpool registered no shots on target during the entire match.

Josip Ilicic broke the deadlock from Papu Gomez's cross on the hour-mark before Robin Gosens doubled their lead (64) as Liverpool suffered an off night.

The result means the Premier League champions remain top of Group D on nine points but Ajax joined Atalanta behind them on seven points each after their 3-1 win over Midtjylland, which eliminated the Danes.

Liverpool remain in control of their own destiny in Group D Image: Liverpool remain in control of their own destiny in Group D  Image: Josip Ilicic broke the deadlock from Papu Gomez's cross on the hour-mark Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (6), Neco Williams (6), Matip (6), Rhys Williams (5), Tsimikas (5), Milner (6), Jones (5), Wijnaldum (5), Salah (5), Origi (4), Mane (6).

Subs: Fabinho (6), Firmino (6), Minamino (n/a), Jota (6), Robertson (6).

Atalanta: Gollini (6), Toloi (7), Romero (8), Djimsiti (7), Hateboer (7), de Roon (7), Freuler (7), Pessina (7), Gosens (8), Gomez (9), Ilicic (7).

Subs: Mojica (6) Miranchuk (n/a), Zapata (6).

Man of the match: Papu Gomez.

Mature Atalanta punish passive Reds

Nothing that happened on the pitch at Anfield would eclipse the news which broke hours before this contest, with Diego Maradona's passing rightly set to dominate the media in the coming days, and a minute's silence was held before kick-off to honour the Argentina legend.

Liverpool knew that victory would assure their place in the last 16 when the competition returns in February, but it took them 44 minutes to produce their first shot. James Milner played a free-kick short to Kostas Tsimikas, and after Rafael Toloi failed to properly clear, Mohamed Salah's right-foot effort failed to trouble Pierluigi Gollini.

Atalanta were by far the more threatening as Gian Piero Gasperini watched his side play the more enterprising football, orchestrated by the evergreen Gomez.

Team news

Mohamed Salah returned to Liverpool's starting line-up after his recent positive Covid-19 test as manager Jurgen Klopp made five changes for the Champions League visit of Atalanta. Klopp named a second-string defence with only Joel Matip remaining from Sunday's win over Leicester as Neco Williams, Rhys Williams and Kostas Tsimikas all came in to start.

James Milner moved from right-back to midfield with Salah and Divock Origi coming in up front. Atalanta made six changes from their 5-0 defeat to the Reds three weeks ago, strengthened by the inclusion of the likes of Robin Gosens and Marten De Roon.

The Argentine was once defended by Maradona for a foul on Lucas Biglia during a Serie A clash which placed the-then AC Milan midfielder's presence at the 2018 World Cup in jeopardy, and his sharp turn of pace and low centre of gravity lit up a drab opening 45 minutes.

Atalanta carved out the best chance as Cristian Romero found the overlapping run of Robin Gosens but his snapshot was palmed away at his near post by Alisson. There was one other noteworthy incident when Ilicic fell theatrically under a challenge from Tsimikas but referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande was unmoved.

 Image: Robin Gosens doubled Atalanta's lead as Liverpool suffered an off night

Having won their first three games without conceding a goal, Liverpool knew they had done the hard work already - but Jurgen Klopp was unimpressed, seeking to inject some much-needed urgency into his troops at the break.

The Liverpool manager sent out Diogo Jota, Andrew Robertson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino to warm up within minutes of the restart having seen little improvement, but worse was to come as Atalanta duly took the lead.

Inevitably, Gomez was involved as his sublime cross from the left was stabbed home from close range by Ilicic, underneath the body of Alisson.

2 - Liverpool lost a competitive home match by a margin of more than one goal for the first time in 137 matches at Anfield under Jürgen Klopp, with this their heaviest such defeat since August 2015 in the Premier League against West Ham under Brendan Rodgers (0-3). Anomaly. pic.twitter.com/78YKokJE9A

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 25, 2020

Four substitutes and four minutes later, Liverpool were 2-0 down. Another cross from Gomez was this time headed back across goal by Hateboer and Gosens was unmarked to volley in from seven yards out.

This was unfamiliar territory for the six-time European champions. Indeed, it was the first time Liverpool had been two goals behind in a Champions League game at Anfield since October 2014, against Real Madrid.

The hosts were playing the price for their passive display, with news of Ajax's lead over Midtjylland putting the squeeze on their advantage at the summit - but there would be no historic comeback this time.

Duvan Zapata blazed a late chance of a third over but having dismantled Atalanta in Bergamo three weeks ago, this was a rude awakening for Liverpool ahead of the visit of Ajax next week.

What the manager said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refused to get carried away by the setback Image: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refused to get carried away by the setback

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told BT Sport: "It was not a good game. From both teams, didn't create a lot, until they scored the goals.

"A deserved defeat in a difficult game. The ref didn't whistle a lot and that makes it even more difficult, for both sides. It was unbelievably intense and you need some breaks.

"When the first half is gone, you usually settle but for some players who didn't play for a while it was very intense for them. We didn't find a way in the game.

"Easier to talk about a good game. We had moments but not real chances. It could happen to other teams. Thumbs up, no injuries and we go again."

Analysis: Fringe players fail to take opportunity Rhys Williams and Andrew Robertson look shell-shocked at the final whistle Image: Rhys Williams and Andrew Robertson look shell-shocked at the final whistle

Former Liverpool striker Neil Mellor told Sky Sports:

"The priority was the weekend against Brighton because of how strong a position Liverpool already find themselves in. Ultimately, it's about getting through the group. Liverpool ideally would like to win the group, but there's two games still to go - one at home to Ajax while they'd be expected to win the final game if it does go down to it against Midtjylland.

"Klopp made the five changes tonight, and it was flat, it was disjointed. The lads who came in didn't take their opportunity. It's a reminder that Atalanta are a decent side and they responded to the defeat a few weeks ago. They didn't give Liverpool the space they did in that first game and got their rewards."

Man of the match - Papu Gomez Papu Gomez inspired his side to a memorable victory against Liverpool Image: Papu Gomez inspired his side to a memorable victory against Liverpool

Salah was back after a couple of negative Covid tests, but he was overshadowed by the brilliant Gomez. No player produced more passes in the opposition's half than the 32-year-old (44), who enjoyed his evening back on Merseyside, providing an assist as well as playing a role in the build-up to the second.

It was three years ago this week that he laid on two assists during Atalanta's 5-1 thrashing of Everton in the Europa League, and on the night when Maradona's career has been celebrated, it only seemed fitting that his countryman in a No 10 shirt would leave such an impression on the pitch.

Shot-shy Liverpool - Opta stats Neco Williams lands on his back during a disappointing night for the hosts Image: Neco Williams lands on his back during a disappointing night for the hosts
  • Liverpool lost a competitive home match by a margin of more than one goal for the first time in 137 matches at Anfield under Jürgen Klopp, with this their heaviest such defeat since August 2015 in the Premier League against West Ham under Brendan Rodgers (0-3).
  • Atalanta have won each of their last four away games in the UEFA Champions League, scoring 13 goals in the process and keeping a clean sheet in three of those four wins.
  • Each of the last three sides to win their first ever away game against Liverpool in all competitions have been Italian clubs (Fiorentina in December 2009, Udinese in October 2012, Atalanta today). Indeed, Atalanta are the first side to win their first ever such visit to Anfield by more than one goal since Spartak Moscow in November 1992 (also 2-0).
  • For the first time since Opta began recording shot data in the Champions League in 2003-04, Liverpool failed to attempt a single shot on target in a home game in the competition.
What's next?

Liverpool travel to face Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday in the Premier League; kick-off 12.30pm. They return to Champions League action when they host Ajax on Tuesday, December 1; kick-off 8pm.

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Bielsa, Klopp shortlisted for FIFA men's coach of the year

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 14:10

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp have been named on the five-man shortlist for FIFA men's coach of the year.

World football's governing body has released the shortlist for its seven individual awards to be presented at The Best FIFA Football Awards on December 17.

Bielsa was an eye-catching inclusion on the five-strong shortlist for Best FIFA Men's Coach, with the Championship-winning manager named alongside Hansi Flick, Julen Lopetegui, Zinedine Zidane and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Future England manager Sarina Wiegman has been shortlisted for the women's coach award along with Emma Hayes, who has three of her Chelsea players shortlisted for women's player of the year.

Sarina Wiegman has signed a four-year deal and will take charge after the postponed Tokyo Olympics next summer Image: Sarina Wiegman has signed a four-year deal with England Women and will take charge after the postponed Tokyo Olympics next summer

Ji So-yun, Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder are joined on the shortlist by Manchester City's England international Lucy Bronze and Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema.

Manchester City's Ellie Roebuck and Ann-Katrin Berger of Chelsea are nominated for The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper, while Alisson Becker is the only Premier League stopper to be shortlisted for the men's equivalent.

Jose Mourinho 0:54 Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho says he doesn't give much credit to the FIFA Best awards following their nominations announcement

There are four Liverpool players in the running for The Best FIFA Men's Player award, with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk joined by summer signing Thiago Alcantara.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is also shortlisted along with Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Sergio Ramos.

Heung-Min Son has won the Premier League goal of the season award 1:00 Heung-Min Son's strike against Burnley has been nominated for the Puskas Award for 2020's best goal

The Puskas Award for 2020's best goal includes Tottenham forward Heung-Min's Son superb solo strike against Burnley last December.

Jordan Flores' outrageous volley for Dundalk against Shamrock Rovers in the League of Ireland is also shortlisted, along with Sophie Ingle's effort for Chelsea against Arsenal and a fine goal for Manchester City's Caroline Weir against Manchester United.

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PL crowd limits questioned | Klopp: 'I don't understand it'

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 14:00

Jurgen Klopp has questioned the logic behind potential 2,000 limits on crowds at Premier League games, as fans wait to find out which tier their clubs will be in on Thursday.

Premier League clubs are expected to welcome back supporters where possible when the Prime Minister reveals the new tiered system to replace the national lockdown - even though it may end up costing them in the short term.

Liverpool manager Klopp welcomed the "good news" but said he did not think the plan had been "thought through".

"I don't understand why you can put 2,000 people in a stadium with 60,000 [capacity], and 2,000 people in a stadium when 9,000 people would fit in," Klopp said. "I don't understand it."

How many fans will be allowed in?
  • Premier League stadiums in Tier 1 will be able to host up to 4,000 fans
  • In Tier 2, the cap is set at 2,000 fans
  • Stadiums in Tier 3 will have to continue holding fixtures behind closed doors

Thursday's Government announcement on which regions face the toughest restrictions from December 2 is set to open up disparity on which clubs can and cannot immediately reopen their turnstiles.

Gary Neville questioned whether football will become an "unfair competition".

So some clubs will have fans backing them in home fixtures and others will have empty stadiums with no fans! Unfair competition or not??

— Gary Neville (@GNev2) November 23, 2020

The Premier League has said its "ambition remains to work with Government to increase attendance to more substantial levels" and having some home fans inside stadia is better than no supporters.

"I don't think it's unfair, it's just the situation," Klopp said. "It's the world at the moment and we cannot change these kinds of things."

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard raised his hopes a "level playing field remains", but believes fans returning in some capacity is a "positive" step.

"If it feels safe and we can start somewhere I think that's the most important thing," he said.

For Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho, the return of fans is beneficial from an emotional perspective, rather than an economical one.

 Jose Mourinho, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on July 19, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Adam Davy/Pool via Getty Images) 1:02 Jose Mourinho: Fans' return will bring happiness

"Looking at the economical perspective it is not good news for any club, but for the passion of the fans, to be able to open the door to some of them, for the happiness of every player, not just those playing at home," he said.

"The best of all is that it is probably the start of it and progressively we can go [towards a] situation closer to what we wanted."

'Man Utd ready to welcome 23,000 fans' Old Trafford 1:06 Manchester United have prepared to be able to host 23,000 fans when restrictions are lifted, according to United We Stand editor Andy Mitten

Manchester United are ready to welcome back 23,000 socially-distanced fans (one third of the capacity) to Old Trafford, according to United We Stand editor Andy Mitten.

United have been the second most affected Premier League team since playing behind closed doors, with their win rate at Old Trafford down 20 per cent. Only Burnley have a worse drop off (22 per cent).

Home form since lockdown

"I'm seeing figures like 4,000, it's far from ideal but it would make a huge difference," Mitten said.

"I don't think the fans would accept the type of performances against Arsenal and Chelsea at Old Trafford. They would be roaring the team forward.

"The club have been ready to go as soon as they get the green light."

Brighton CEO hopeful of 'safe' fan increase 0:46 Brighton chief executive Paul Barber hopes the government will increase the permitted number of fans returning to stadia sooner rather than later.

Brighton & Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber welcomed the news that fans could return to grounds but says the numbers of people attending matches needs to go up as soon as it is safe to do so.

"We have been preparing for fans to return to 25 per cent of our capacity," he told Sky Sports. "Which would be around 7-8,000 supporters rather than the 2,000 or 4,000 we might get in the short term.

"At those sort of levels, it is more viable for us so the aim is to scale up to those sort of levels as quickly and as safely as we can.

"If we can do that it returns football to a much more viable position than we have been in for some time. We need to prove to Government that we can do it safely and expand those numbers sooner rather than later."

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Liverpool vs Atalanta preview: Salah set to return

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 17:40

Team news and stats ahead of Liverpool vs Atalanta in the Champions League group stage on Wednesday; kick-off 8pm.

Team news

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been passed fit to face Atalanta in the Champions League after returning a negative coronavirus test.

The Egypt international was ruled out of Sunday's win over Leicester after two positive Covid-19 results during the international break but has now been cleared to return and has trained for the last couple of days.

JAMIE VARDY 4:59 Jamie Carragher analyses Liverpool's defending without the injured Virgil Van Dijk and looks at why Jurgen Klopp's side are still playing a high defensive line

Forward Roberto Firmino did not train on Tuesday evening but it is understood there is no problem with the Brazil international, while Jordan Henderson (thigh), Thiago Alcantara (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (muscle) and Naby Keita (hamstring) were all absent.

Atalanta will be without trio Mattia Caldara, Fabio Depaoli and Mario Pasalic for the trip to Anfield. However, a host of injured players return at the weekend with Robin Gosens, Marten de Roon, Jose Luis Palomino and Pierluigi Gollini all included in the travelling squad.

How to follow

Follow Liverpool vs Atalanta with our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports' digital platforms and on Gillette Soccer Special, live on Sky Sport News and Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm.

Pitch to Post Podcast: Your review of the weekend

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Jasper Taylor is joined by Dharmesh Sheth and Gerard Brand to discuss all the weekend's action in the Premier League, as Tottenham moved to the top of the table with a statement victory over Man City. Is the season set up perfectly for him?

We'll also look at where Man City are struggling, and dissect Liverpool's brilliant 3-0 victory over Leicester: was this their best performance of 2020?

We're joined by James Cooper in the Regional Review to discuss all things Manchester United - will they make moves in the transfer window, and just what has happened to Anthony Martial?

Plus, in the Treatment Table, we take sides in the club vs country row, and Dharmesh has a solution for the five-subs argument.

Opta stats preview image 3:07 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leicester in the Premier League
  • Liverpool won 5-0 in the reverse fixture against Atalanta, while they last won multiple games against Italian sides in a European campaign in 2007-08 - two wins against Inter Milan in the Last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
  • Two of Atalanta's three heaviest defeats in European competition have been at the hands of English opponents - 1-5 v Manchester City last season and 0-5 v Liverpool in their most recent game.
  • Liverpool are looking to record four consecutive victories in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since March 2009.
  • Atalanta have won each of their last three away games in the UEFA Champions League, scoring at least three goals in each. However, the last time they failed to win away from home in the competition was on their most recent trip to England (1-5 v Man City last season).
  • Liverpool haven't conceded a goal in their last three UEFA Champions League games - their longest streak of clean sheets in the competition since April 2018 (a run of four).
  • Atalanta failed to score in their most recent outing in the UEFA Champions League (0-5 v Liverpool), ending a run of 10 games in which they scored in each, at an average of 2.3 per game. They've never previously failed to score in back-to-back games in the competition.
  • Diogo Jota has scored four goals in three UEFA Champions League games for Liverpool, and would be the fastest player to five goals in the competition for the Reds if he finds the net in this game (fourth appearance).
  • Duvan Zapata has been directly involved in five goals in five group stage games for Atalanta in the UEFA Champions League (four goals and one assist), with three of those goals coming in three appearances this season.
  • Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has netted in each of his last two UEFA Champions League appearances, and would equal his longest scoring streak in the competition if he finds the net in this game (three consecutive appearances scored in during April 2018).
  • Josip Ilicic has scored a third of Atalanta's away goals in the UEFA Champions League (4/12), while he is the only player to have scored more than once away from home for the club in the competition.

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Klopp: Salah available for visit of Atalanta

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 14:40

Jurgen Klopp has indicated he could recall Mohamed Salah for Wednesday night’s Champions League visit of Atalanta.

Klopp confirmed on Tuesday his Liverpool forward Salah took part in training as normal on Monday after returning another negative test for coronavirus.

Salah was ruled out of Sunday's 3-0 win over Leicester after testing positive for the virus while away on international duty with Egypt earlier this month, but had returned a negative test prior to the game. Salah rejoined the group on Monday after a period in self-isolation, having initially tested positive on November 13.

"Mo trained and looked really good and he gave a negative test like the rest. He is available [for selection] and we will have to see what we can do with that," Klopp said.

Klopp, however, said he does not yet know how soon the likes of Jordan Henderson (thigh), Thiago Alcantara (knee) and Xherdan Shaqiri (muscle) will be back.

He said: "All the rest - no news. We will see. I don't want to speak too much about it because I have no idea who Atalanta can bring - so why should we give any information?"

Klopp: Top team Atalanta play a special way

Liverpool hammered Atalanta 5-0 in Bergamo on their last outing in the competition and can seal their place in the last 16 with two group games to spare, if they beat the Serie A side on Wednesday.

Klopp added: "Atalanta is a threat even without a point to prove. The last game against them was a very special night. We played exceptionally well and did pretty much everything right, so many things came together.

Diogo Jota scores for Liverpool against Atalanta in the Champions League Image: Diogo Jota was on target in Liverpool's 5-0 win over Atalanta

"But that has nothing to do with tomorrow night. They are a top team who play a special way. I expect problems, always like this, and we must find the solutions.

"They work really hard and their man-marking system is tough to play against, so we will see who we can line up with."

Klopp: Firmino the 'complete footballer'

Klopp also compared his team to an orchestra during his news conference and said versatile forward Roberto Firmino always hits the right notes even if he is not scoring.

Roberto Firmino celebrates making it 3-0 Image: Roberto Firmino celebrates rounding off the scoring in Liverpool's 3-0 win over Leicester

Firmino had scored only twice in 23 Premier League matches before heading one in during Sunday's 3-0 victory over Leicester City and Klopp said he was happy with the Brazilian's output.

"Scoring was always important for Bobby but he's a complete footballer," Klopp said.

"Football is like an orchestra and if you have different people for instruments, some are louder, but all are important for the rhythm. Bobby can play without (goals) as well.

"We always celebrate goals but this one (against Leicester) was really emotional. The players read the newspapers and they saw some criticism (of Firmino)."

Klopp: Imminent return of fans is good news

Klopp also welcomed the imminent return of fans to football grounds - albeit in a reduced capacity - but still had questions about the logic being applied to the numbers involved.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that stadiums in tier 1 areas of England will be able to welcome up to 4,000 fans when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

Grounds in tier 2 areas be allowed to hold up to 2,000 people, but those in tier 3 areas will remain closed to the public.

"The problem is, I just struggle to put faith in any kind of announcements," Klopp said.

"I don't understand why it is only 2,000 people in a 60,000 stadium. But I am not surprised. It's good news, good sign. I'll take it 100 per cent."

Carra: How Liverpool are defending without Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk's season-ending injury alone was supposed to throw the title race wide open, but the Premier League champions have conceded just three goals in all competitions since losing the Netherlands international.

Carra on who can challenge Liverpool 3:39 Jamie Carragher felt that Liverpool's 3-0 win over Leicester marks an important stage of season and thinks Manchester City are still their main title challengers.

With key defensive figures Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander Arnold also out injured for the visit of a Leicester City side spearheaded by the prolific Jamie Vardy, the Reds embarked on the sternest test of their defensive reserves

"When Liverpool went out [against Leicester], people said they would completely change," Carragher explained. "They would drop of 10 or 15 yards. I watch a lot of Liverpool's games and I didn't quite see it.

"I've analysed how they played against Vardy and no one can tell me Liverpool dropped off 10 or 15 yards without Van Dijk. They were still playing a high line, but the difference is the body position the likes of Fabinho adopted.

"Yes, we can talk about him being a midfield player in there, but he's been outstanding. What he did was play a high line but be ready to run back when the ball went over his head. He ran back and dealt with it [balls over the top of Vardy]."

German defender Robin Gosens was a key part of Atalanta's run to the Champions League quarter-finals this year Image: Atalanta defender Robin Gosens says it is a 'shame' he will not get to face-off against Trent Alexander-Arnold Gosens gutted not to face TAA challenge

Atalanta defender Robin Gosens' attacking role from defence has been likened to that of Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold's at Liverpool, but injury to the England international means there will be no head-to-head test.

"It is a shame he is not playing tomorrow because as a player I always want to test myself against the very best in the world," said Gosens.

"It is a real shame Alexander-Arnold will not be playing tomorrow. There is no doubt he is one of the strongest wide players in the world."

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini believes his side have learned lessons from the 5-0 hammering they took from Jurgen Klopp's side in Bergamo three weeks ago.

However, he knows they will have to cut out the mistakes if they are to stand a chance.

"Compared to that evening we need to be better, commit fewer errors, particularly those ones which led to the first couple of goals as those goals led to a big defeat," Gasperini said.

"We are all well aware how good a team Liverpool are but we have to have belief in ourselves. We won't be gifting them quite so many opportunities as we gifted to them in the first game.

"Tomorrow that is what we need to get right more than anything else."

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Categories: LFC NEWS

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