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Milner: 'Superman' Van Dijk needs looking after

Sun, 09/19/2021 - 22:45

James Milner says it is imperative Liverpool rotate Virgil van Dijk following his return from a long injury lay-off despite being regarded by team-mates as 'Superman'.

The Netherlands captain, 30, was rested for the midweek Champions League victory over AC Milan but returned to play his fifth full 90 minutes in the Premier League this season in the 3-0 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Van Dijk required ACL knee surgery after a clash with Jordan Pickford during a 2-2 draw with Everton on 17 October last year.

"We all think Virg is Superman and he is, 99 times out of 100," said Milner.

"But the injury that he has come back from - and to look as good as he has done since he has come back - you know, he's not 21.

"To do what he has done since he's been back is incredible. It shows what a good player he is, what a mentality he has.

Van Dijk Image: Liverpool have conceded one goal in their opening five Premier League games with Virgil van Dijk back in the team

"But he needs looking after as well, no matter how angry he gets at being left out of the team. He is going to need looking after and that is rotation."

Van Dijk started the first four league games of the campaign alongside Joel Matip but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp opted to name summer signing Ibrahima Konate as his centre-back partner against Palace.

Tuesday 21st September 7:00pm Kick off 7:45pm Sky Sports Football HD Sky Sports Football HD

In place of the rested Van Dijk last week, England international Joe Gomez made a long-awaited return after 10 months out through a knee injury of his own.

Liverpool vice-captain Milner added: "You look at the centre-halves in the club - they are all incredible. You see them in training, they are unbelievable.

"I think it (rotation) is obviously important. The positions we got into last year, we were unlucky with injuries and players having to play out of position. I think it is to help with things like that."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League

Liverpool, who have conceded just once so far in the league, travel to Norwich in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports.

The Reds finished third in the Premier League last season, 17 points behind champions Manchester City, after a strong finish ensured Champions League qualification.

Two years on from their league title, Milner believes they have even more in their squad than when they broke their 30-year title drought.

"I think that is the mentality you need. You can't dwell, whether you have a good performance or a bad performance. You need to move on to the next one," the 35-year-old added.

"You can't be too happy after a good one, you can't be too down after a bad one.

"If you have a couple of bad results and iffy performances, that is when it gets harder, but you look at this squad and it is more experienced than when we won the title.

"We had the pain of last year but it ended up being a really good year, with what we managed to achieve in the circumstances and coming with that late run (to qualify for the Champions League).

"But those experiences and feelings, as a group, we have been through them all together and that can only be a good thing."

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Ton-up for Mane as Liverpool beat Palace to go top

Sat, 09/18/2021 - 17:00

Sadio Mane scored his 100th Liverpool goal in a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace which sent Jurgen Klopp's side three points clear at the Premier League summit.

Mane pounced on the rebound from Mohamed Salah's header from a corner to reach his century for the club (43), while also becoming the first player in Premier League history to score in nine consecutive games against a single opposition.

"I am really happy for him he could reach it, a massive achievement in the glorious history of this club that only 18 players scored 100 goals," Klopp said after full-time.

Both sides had come close to opening the scoring before Mane's opener in a topsy-turvy opening at Anfield. Alisson turned Wilfried Zaha's goalbound effort onto the post with less than two minutes gone, while Diogo Jota blazed over horrendously from four yards shortly before Mane's goal.

Salah struck from another corner after losing Jairo Riedewald 12 minutes from time, and a stunning Naby Keita volley, from yet another, sealed victory late on (89).

Jurgen Klopp summed up Liverpool's tricky afternoon after full-time by labelling the performance "one of the most hard-fought 3-0s" he had ever seen, with the result at Anfield telling far from the full story.

Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (7), Milner (6), Van Dijk (7), Konate (6), Tsimikas (7), Thiago (7), Henderson (7), Fabinho (7), Jota (5), Salah (8), Mane (7).

Subs: Keita (7), Jones (7), Origi (n/a).

Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Ward (7), Guehi (7), Andersen (7), Mitchell (7), Gallagher (7), Kouyate (6), McArthur (6), Ayew (4), Benteke (5), Zaha (6).

Subs: Edouard (6), Riedewald (5), Olise (n/a).

Man of the match: Mo Salah

Late mistakes cost plucky Palace at Liverpool

Liverpool have found Crystal Palace tricky customers in the past - before their most recent four straight home wins at Anfield - and must have wondered if a return to form was on the cards as Alisson turned Zaha's lob onto the post inside the opening two minutes.

Palace's tempo was soon matched by a Liverpool side that had scored 12 goals in their previous five matches this season, with Jota shooting over from a tight angle.

He would wish that was his worst miss of the half, because, as the hosts took control towards the end of the opening period, the forward blazed well over from four yards out when left with the goal at his mercy after Vicente Guaita palmed Thiago's header straight at him.

Mohamed Salah celebrates with Ibrahima Konate after scoring Liverpool's second goal Image: Mo Salah continued his scoring run after netting his 100th Premier League goal last weekend

There was probably no one happier than Jota when Mane made amends two minutes before half-time to score his 100th Liverpool goal, making no mistake from a similar distance to bury the rebound from Salah's header.

The hosts finally got a hold on Palace for a period after half-time, until the introduction of Edouard produced a spark in the visitors' performance for the second weekend in a row.

He took only 20 seconds to open his account against Tottenham last Saturday, and seven minutes into his cameo this time he should have levelled. Martin Kelly's cross found him in between James Milner and Ibrahima Konate, and, with the goal gaping, his heavy touch allowed Alisson time to steal in and clear.

Liverpool had no finishing problems of their own as Riedewald allowed Salah a clear run from another corner to powerfully fire beyond Guaita from six yards.

There was still time for a hat-trick of goals from corners, as Keita fired in the pick of the bunch with a spectacular 20-yard volley from a Guaita punch in the final minute of normal time.

What the managers said...

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "We were not flying, we had to put out a proper performance. Our fans helped us, and I really liked it. When you look back at the end of the season, you look back at some games which were really fun, and others which were really important - this is one of those.

"The Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday intensity is hard. These are the games you have to win, when you are not brilliant - good, but not brilliant - you have to win. The set pieces were outstanding today."

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Jurgen Klopp heaped praise on Sadio Mane after he scored his 100th Liverpool goal in their win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, while the manager lauded the potential of Ibrahima Konate after he made his debut in the game

Crystal Palace head coach Patrick Vieira: "I can't say that I'm pleased when you concede three goals from set-pieces, there's a frustration. At times we defended really well, and when you come to Anfield you can't allow yourself to concede three times from set-pieces.

"Our plan was to stay in the game, and conceding the goal before half-time wasn't good for us, but we came back in the second half, we tried, and unfortunately couldn't score."

Man of the match - Mo Salah

Not content with reaching his Premier League century last weekend, Salah was determined to add to his tally and made their opener with a fine move from which Mane scored on the rebound.

His movement was also enough to escape the clutches of Riedewald for Liverpool's second in the closing stages to net a 101st goal in the league.

Analysis: Mixed bag on debut for Ibrahima Konate

Sky Sports' Ron Walker:

"Ibrahima Konate's debut bought intrigue following his big-money move from RB Leipzig in the summer, coupled with the Reds' personnel woes in defence last season.

"For much of the game, this was the same player who had impressed so much at Leipzig, showing good awareness to hold off Christian Benteke and bail out Virgil Van Dijk following a rare slip early on.

"He needed saving himself after a heavy touch allowed Wilfried Zaha in down the right after half-time and was partly at fault to allow Odsonne Edouard his chance from Martin Kelly's cross.

"But with some bright moments and a clean sheet on his debut, there were plenty of positive signs from Liverpool's newest defensive recruit, and he will get plenty more chances to impress in a red shirt before long."

Opta facts: Bogey team run goes on
  • Liverpool have won each of their last nine Premier League games against Crystal Palace - only against Bolton have they had a longer winning run in the competition (10 between 2007-2011).
  • Following their 30 shots against Leeds, and 25 against Crystal Palace today, Liverpool have registered 25+ shots in consecutive league games for the first time since May 2017.
  • Since the start of last season, Liverpool have scored more goals from corners than any other side in the Premier League (16, including all three strikes today).
  • Sadio Mané became the 18th different player to score 100 goals in all competitions for Liverpool, with the Senegalese netting more of these against Crystal Palace than any other side (10).
  • Liverpool's Sadio Mané became the first player in Premier League history to score in nine consecutive appearances against a specific opponent.
  • Since his debut for Liverpool, Mohamed Salah has racked up 134 goal involvements in the Premier League (99 goals, 35 assists), at least 24 more than any other player.
What's next?

Liverpool travel to Norwich in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night, live on Sky Sports Football from 7.30pm; Kick-off at 7.45pm. Their next Premier League match is another away game at Brentford next Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm; Kick-off at 5.30pm.

Crystal Palace, already eliminated from the Carabao Cup, have a nine-day rest until they appear on Monday Night Football against Brighton on Monday, September 27 on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm; Kick-off at 8pm.

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Liverpool vs Crystal Palace preview: Firmino out but rested pair return

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 15:16

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Liverpool vs Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.

Team news

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino's hamstring injury keeps him out of the visit of Crystal Palace. The Brazil international is not due back in training until next week at the earliest.

Defender Virgil Van Dijk and forward Sadio Mane are set to return to the side after being rested for the midweek Champions League win over AC Milan.

Crystal Palace will be without Jeffrey Schlupp for the trip to Anfield, although he is expected to re-join the squad on Monday.

Eberechi Eze remains on the long-term injury list however, but is expected to return to training outside in the near future. Nathan Ferguson also remains sidelined and is also unlikely to return imminently to the squad.

How to follow

Follow Liverpool vs Crystal Palace in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel at 5.15pm.

Last time out...

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds in the Premier League

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace's win over Tottenham in the Premier League Jones Knows prediction - PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

The quality within the ranks of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City is making them impossible to oppose when facing any other team in this Premier League. As Gary Neville pondered on Monday Night Football, this might be the best English domestic league we have ever seen in terms of quality.

If Liverpool take their chances in this one, then Palace will not stand a chance - a very similar defeat looks on the cards to the one they suffered at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend.

Interestingly, Sadio Mane has scored in each of his last eight appearances against Palace.

Only Robin van Persie (against Stoke) has scored in eight consecutive Premier League games against the same opponent, so Mane is set to create history if finding the net. Of course, these runs do eventually hit the buffers, but I am happy to invest in his chances. Despite his wayward finishing from his 10 shots against Leeds last weekend, he leads the way for expected goals in the Premier League this season with chances falling his way equating to a figure of 3.47 with an actual return of two goals. He can bring those two figures closer together by scoring first at 7/2 with Sky Bet at Anfield.

SCORE PREDICTION: 3-0

BETTING ANGLE: Sadio Mane to score first (7/2 with Sky Bet)

Opta stats
  • Liverpool have won their last eight Premier League games against Crystal Palace, scoring 24 goals and conceding just five.
  • After winning three consecutive Premier League away games against Liverpool between 2014-15 and 2016-17, Crystal Palace have lost each of their last four visits to Anfield in the competition.
  • Liverpool are on the longest current league unbeaten run in the top four tiers of English football, going 14 league games without defeat since a 1-0 home loss against Fulham in March (W11 D3).
  • Crystal Palace earned their first Premier League win of the season against Tottenham last time out. So far under Patrick Vieira this term, the average starting place of the Eagles' opponents in the Premier League has been 3rd, with Liverpool also starting the day of this match in third position in the table.
  • Liverpool have had more shots than any other Premier League side this season (100). Their 30 attempts against Leeds last time out brought up their 100, making them just the second side since 2003-04 to have 100+ shots in their first four games of a season, after Chelsea in 2009-10 (109).
  • Liverpool's Sadio Mané has scored in each of his last eight Premier League appearances against Crystal Palace - no player has ever scored in nine consecutive games against a single opponent in the competition.

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Klopp 'not involved' in Salah contract talks

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 09:38

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is focused on Mohamed Salah's form on the pitch and not his contract negotiations.

The club have agreed a raft of new deals with senior players this year but Salah, who has just under two years left on his contract, is one whose longer-term future is yet to be tied down.

Negotiations have not affected his performances, with the Egypt international scoring in four of his five appearances this season.

"There's nothing really to say, especially from me as I am not involved," said Klopp.

"The only thing I'm really interested in is how Mo looks, how sharp and committed he is at the moment, and that's absolutely spot on.

"He looks really good. There is nothing else to say."

GRAPHIC

Forward Roberto Firmino will again be absent for Saturday's visit of Crystal Palace with a hamstring injury.

"He is not ready," said Klopp. "Bobby won't start training with the team until some time next week. Then we will have to wait and see."

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has backed Sadio Mane to get back to his best after his missed chances against Leeds as the forward goes for his 100th goal for the club against Crystal Palace this weekend

Klopp rotated his side for the Champions League win against Milan, with Virgil van Dijk, Thiago and Sadio Mane dropping to the bench, and the Liverpool boss will make further changes when they face Palace - their third game in seven days.

"Three games a week is normal but Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday is a tough one," said Klopp. "It's the shortest you can get in a normal week.

"We came through (against Milan) and the boys did really well. We will have to make changes again, that's clear."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds in the Premier League

Mane netted his 99th Liverpool goal in last Sunday's Premier League win at Leeds, scoring in injury-time after squandering a plethora of earlier chances, and Klopp would love to see him reach his century against Palace at Anfield.

"Sadio looks really good and sharp," said Klopp. "We talk about this when a striker misses some chances but the amount of chances he had, that's actually the important stuff.

"He is in a good moment, both physically and mentally. It would be really nice [to get to 100 goals on Saturday].

"Sadio is an exceptional player, he has to perform exceptionally. That's how it is, that's the standard we expect from him and usually he delivers."

Garcia: 'Different' Salah will only get better

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Former Liverpool winger Luis Garcia says it's very important that they convince Mohamed Salah to commit his long-term future to the club

Mohamed Salah is a "different" prospect for opponents this season and will only get better and better, says former Liverpool winger Luis Garcia.

Forward Salah, 29, is into his fifth campaign as a Liverpool player and scored his fourth goal of the new season in the comeback 3-2 win against AC Milan in the Champions League at Anfield on Wednesday

The Egypt international has adopted his tactical understanding which could see him deliver more goals than before, according to Garcia.

Tuesday 21st September 7:00pm Kick off 7:45pm Sky Sports Football HD Sky Sports Football HD Salah has a slightly more defined spread of activity this season, compared with previous campaigns Image: Salah has a more defined spread of activity this season, compared with previous campaigns

"He is becoming more and more important. He knows where he has to be. I think we can see a different Salah at the moment. You don't see him making those 50-yard runs, beating players and putting it in the top corner.

"Now it is moving more around the box; he knows his combinations so he is ready. That is why is numbers are getting better and better.

"His strengths are used next to the box and the six-yard box. Every single time the ball is around there you know that he is so dangerous. I think the numbers could be even higher this season."

Watch free match highlights of Liverpool's Premier League game with Crystal Palace in the Sky Sports app from 5.15pm on Saturday

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PL predictions: Leeds to turn heat up on Bruce

Thu, 09/16/2021 - 21:00

Our betting guru Jones Knows was in red-hot form with his predictions last weekend - what has caught his eye this time around?

Last weekend's winners (+34.5 profit to level stakes):
  • Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea all to win to nil acca at 22/1
  • Chelsea to win to nil at 10/11
  • Manchester City to win to nil at 15/8
  • Wolves to win more corners than Watford at 5/6
  • Leandro Trossard to score first at 15/2
  • Matip 1+ shots & Wolves to win corner race double at 5/2
  • First goal to be a header in Everton vs Burnley 9/2
Newcastle vs Leeds, Friday 8pm, live on Sky Sports

There has been plenty of talk surrounding 'home advantage' this season with fans back at grounds. Well, this one could be a case of 'home disadvantage' for Newcastle. Leeds - without a win this season - will be circling this fixture in their diary as the one to get their season up and running in front of a home crowd that are on the turn. Just one point taken from Newcastle's first four games has come with a dollop of positives from Steve Bruce, but the tidal wave of negativity from the fanbase is building to a crescendo. It could boil over at St James' Park.

Bruce can point to some fluent attacking play in the defeats to West Ham and Manchester United but the numbers paint a worrying picture. They have lost the 'expected goals battle' in all four of their fixtures, posting a total of 4.29 xG for and a whopping 10.53 xG against. Also, Newcastle have conceded the most Premier League goals since Project Restart (June 2020), shipping 91 in 51 games. A set of numbers that screams relegation battle.

Leeds have not exactly been setting the world alight either but Marcelo Bielsa's style will always make them a threat against leaky defences - as shown by their seven goals scored against Newcastle in the two fixtures last season. A Leeds win is fancied at anything bigger than evens and their shots line of more than 16 is worth a tickle as Bielsa notoriously demands his teams to keep on attacking whatever the match scenario.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-3

BETTING ANGLE: Leeds to have 16 or more shots at goal (6/4 with Sky Bet)

Friday 17th September 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League Sky Sports Premier League Wolves vs Brentford, Saturday 12.30pm

Wolves remain a team I want to keep on my side. They turned impressive performances into points last weekend at Watford, playing with plenty of control and confidence in the second half to thoroughly deserve maximum points against a team set for a season of struggle. The task for them this weekend will be a similar one with Brentford likely to remain playing with their no-thrills style where clean sheets are their ploy to a season of survival.

Only Manchester City have a better expected goals against record than Brentford this season with Thomas Frank's team restricting Arsenal, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Brighton to just an expected goals against figure equating to 2.66. It is an impressive feat and makes me fancy their chances of getting out of Molineux with another clean sheet.

For a bet, though, my eyes are drawn to the chances of Joao Moutinho picking up a card at 9/2 with Sky Bet. He has escaped one so far this season, but has made nine fouls, two of which were sliding challenges that were on the borderline of a yellow. The 35-year-old is being tasked with covering lots of ground in a midfield two with Ruben Neves - a task he has accomplished very well thus far. However, it does leave him exposed during transitions from the opposition and his card-count should rocket in the coming weeks if playing in the same role.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-0

BETTING ANGLE: Joao Moutinho to be carded (9/2 with Sky Bet)

Burnley vs Arsenal, Saturday 3pm - PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

If Mikel Arteta can create a solid spine to what Arsenal are trying to do, then a top-six finish is still within their grasp despite a flaky start. The signs are there to get me on board with that prediction - which is a 9/4 shot with Sky Bet.

Gabriel Magalhaes adds plenty of steel and no-nonsense defending to compliment Ben White's footballing ability and Thomas Partey will become an automatic starter when able to stay clear of injury. There is a talented team lurking, I'm sure of it. And I'm happy to side with them for this one in what should be a tight game.

That spine will be significantly tested at Turf Moor, though. Sean Dyche does not seem overly concerned about Burnley's winless start to the campaign and for 60 minutes at Everton on Monday night where they were the better team you can see why. It is all about channelling that level for an entire 90 minutes and avoiding getting punished for mistakes made in key areas of the pitch.

Kieran Tierney will be seeing plenty of the ball down Arsenal's left, as he always does. Arteta makes it pretty obvious regarding their ploy of getting him on the overload down that side and it is difficult to stop. He put in 15 crosses in the defeat at Brentford and six in the win at Norwich, officially creating nine chances for his team-mates. One of those is going to be taken soon in a game like this one where Arsenal are expected to dominate territory.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-2

BETTING ANGLE: Kieran Tierney to register an assist (4/1 with Sky Bet)

Kieran Tierney joined Arsenal from Celtic in the summer of 2019 Liverpool vs Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm - PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

The quality within the ranks of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City is making them impossible to oppose when facing any other team in this Premier League. As Gary Neville pondered on Monday Night Football, this might be the best English domestic league we have ever seen in terms of quality.

If Liverpool take their chances in this one, then Palace will not stand a chance - a very similar defeat looks on the cards to the one they suffered at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend.

Interestingly, Sadio Mane has scored in each of his last eight appearances against Palace.

Sadio Mane celebrates after doubling Liverpool's lead at Anfield

Only Robin van Persie (against Stoke) has scored in eight consecutive Premier League games against the same opponent, so Mane is set to create history if finding the net. Of course, these runs do eventually hit the buffers, but I am happy to invest in his chances. Despite his wayward finishing from his 10 shots against Leeds last weekend, he leads the way for expected goals in the Premier League this season with chances falling his way equating to a figure of 3.47 with an actual return of two goals. He can bring those two figures closer together by scoring first at 7/2 with Sky Bet at Anfield.

SCORE PREDICTION: 3-0

BETTING ANGLE: Sadio Mane to score first (7/2 with Sky Bet)

Manchester City vs Southampton, Saturday 3pm - PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

If it looks like a home win, quacks like a home win, then it is probably a home win. You do not need me to tell you that. And odds of 1/9 with Sky Bet certainly back that theory up.

Instead of fumbling around trying to sniff out some betting value in the outright match prices, my eyes are firmly focused on Manchester City players in the various goalscorer markets. A price that jumps out to me is the 25/1 with Sky Bet about Ferran Torres scoring with a header, something he has already done this season in the win over Arsenal. Pep Guardiola has started the Spaniard in all six matches across all competitions this season - clearly he likes the way he leads the line.

Although ripe for improvement in that position, Torres does have the instincts to get in where it hurts and should be thriving in that central role with the amount of quality ammunition coming in from wide areas. This is especially relevant for this encounter as Southampton are notoriously sloppy at defending direct ball into their box. Since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over in 2018, Saints have allowed 84 headed shots on target - the third highest of any Premier League team with 22 of those headers finding the net.

SCORE PREDICTION: 4-0

BETTING ANGLE: Ferran Torres to score a header (25/1 with Sky Bet)

Norwich vs Watford, Saturday 3pm - PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

On what we have seen, I would be surprised if these two are not in the bottom three come the final day of the season.

However, relegating teams in September is not a smart move. And a win for either of these two at Carrow Road could ignite a spark in results.

Norwich are not a team I can trust fully to turn promising performances into results. But I am happy to back them here at 23/20 with Sky Bet, mostly down to Watford's tameness in attack. Since breezing past Aston Villa on the opening day, they have only created a total expected goals tally of 1.5 with their attacking patterns very lacklustre when falling behind in matches.

Those that like playing the cards market may want to check out what Sky Bet has to offer in that regard for this one. With both teams playing for the win and tension in the air, I am expecting a full-blooded battle with a potential for a card-frenzy. This fixture in the Sky Bet Championship last season was card-crazy with 11 being shown across the two fixtures. It should be spicy.

Watford, despite not carrying much dangerous attacking threat in the final third, are a team that plays with a physical edge and do draw fouls from the opposition, especially through Ismaila Sarr. Opposition teams have averaged 2.75 cards per 90 minutes vs Watford this season. That bodes well for the chances of Norwich midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou getting the attention of the referee and picking up a card at 7/2 with Sky Bet. The fiery Frenchman was cautioned in the defeat to Leicester.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0

BETTING ANGLE: Pierre Lees-Melou to be carded (7/2 with Sky Bet)

Aston Villa vs Everton, Saturday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports Saturday 18th September 5:00pm Kick off 5:30pm Sky Sports Main Event Sky Sports Main Event

Villa got plenty of tongues wagging with their performance at Chelsea. Yes, getting done 3-0 is not exactly a reason for cheer but the performance on show, with Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings starting in attack, looked promising. They created an expected goal figure of 1.73 at Stamford Bridge and posted 18 shots on Edouard Mendy's goal. Since Thomas Tuchel took charge, no opposition team has amassed a higher expected goal figure in a Chelsea home game.

The question is, can they be trusted to back up that performance in a completely different match scenario? Never trust one much-improved run in isolation, a wise horse racing punter told me. That may ring true here. I have my doubts on Villa with some snoozy and lackadaisical early-season showings, defined by me as the Grealish hangover, still lingering in my thoughts. I am happy to take them on with Everton in town and then start to respect them as a force in the future if backing the Chelsea performance up.

Everton will be happy to allow Villa the ball and that will suit Rafa Benitez's boys down to the ground. Not many teams go to Brighton and play with such control and fizz on the counter-attack. They got a result there playing that way and this could be a similar outcome.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-2

BETTING ANGLE: Everton draw no bet (11/10 with Sky Bet)

West Ham vs Manchester United, Sunday 2pm, live on Sky Sports

Should the sixth-best team in the Premier League be 100/30 with Sky Bet to beat the fourth-best with the added pull of home advantage? I would suggest that price is too big to ignore.

Manchester United remain an overrated team by the markets. Cristiano Ronaldo, of course, makes them stronger in the final third but as a team they are being rated very closely to Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. The team aspect of their play and strategy from the man at the helm falls very short when compared to those three aforementioned teams. It is basically a formula of relying on quality individuals to make match-changing interventions at key times.

West Ham vs Man Utd

All fine and dandy against most teams in this Premier League but playing that way does leave you vulnerable to fit, well-coached teams that play above the sum of their parts. Wolves absolutely played United off the park ticking all those criteria - all that was missing was the ability to score from creating an expected goals figure of 2.33. My money was down on Wolves that day. And, I am in the mood for recouping some now United are up against another excellent opponent with the counter-attacking style and finishing ability to hurt them.

The Hammers have scored in 18 of their last 20 home matches and even though Michail Antonio is suspended, their defensive organisation and skill on the counter-attack is capable of creating big chances against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-1

BETTING ANGLE: West Ham to beat Manchester United (100/30 with Sky Bet)

Brighton vs Leicester, Sunday 2pm

Two good footballing teams likely to cancel one another out here. The draw is a serious runner at 11/5 with Sky Bet.

The scorching pace of Jamie Vardy remains Leicester's main weapon of attack and he will be licking his lips at the prospect of latching onto Shane Duffy at the heart of the Brighton back three. Duffy is one of the best around at winning 50-50 balls in the air but get the ball down the side of him and he is a weakness in this Brighton side. When faced with pace he has already been cautioned twice this season for wild lunges on opposition players. I can foresee a situation of Vardy testing his ability in one-on-one situations with a last-man infringement a possible outcome. The 66/1 for a red card to be shown Duffy's way is worth a tickle.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1

BETTING ANGLE: Shane Duffy to be sent-off (66/1 with Sky Bet)

Tottenham vs Chelsea, Sunday 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports Sunday 19th September 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm Sky Sports Premier League Sky Sports Premier League

Why would you fix it if it is not broken? That is my theory regarding Chelsea and the chances of them winning without conceding at 15/8 with Sky Bet. The same price as we got last week when they did the business to nil over Aston Villa.

Thomas Tuchel is a bit of a master at mastering the away day. Since he took over, Chelsea have lost just one of their 15 away games in all competitions - the only defeat being a 2-1 reverse at Aston Villa on the final day of last season, where they could be excused for having an eye on the Champions League final. Chelsea have also won four of the last five Premier League meetings with Spurs, keeping a clean sheet in four of those clashes.

Tottenham's display at Palace did not come as too much of a shock to me. Nuno's style is always going to make them a tough watch early on in games against so-called inferior opposition. His plan to turn the game into a 20-minute one was working until the sending-off. They will win plenty of games by one goal this season on the road. Not this one though. It is all about Chelsea to grind this one out, showcasing their excellent defensive prowess.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1

BETTING ANGLE: Chelsea to win to nil (15/8 with Sky Bet)

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Garcia: 'Different' Salah will only get better

Thu, 09/16/2021 - 17:34

Mohamed Salah is a "different" prospect for opponents this season and will only get better and better, says former Liverpool winger Luis Garcia.

Forward Salah, 29, is into his fifth campaign as a Liverpool player and scored his fourth goal of the new season in the comeback 3-2 win against AC Milan in the Champions League at Anfield on Wednesday

The Egypt international has adopted his tactical understanding which could see him deliver more goals than before, according to Garcia.

Salah has a slightly more defined spread of activity this season, compared with previous campaigns Image: Salah has a more defined spread of activity this season, working further towards the opposition box from the right flank

"He is becoming more and more important. He knows where he has to be. I think we can see a different Salah at the moment. You don't see him making those 50-yard runs, beating players and putting it in the top corner.

"Now it is moving more around the box; he knows his combinations so he is ready. That is why is numbers are getting better and better.

"His strengths are used next to the box and the six-yard box. Every single time the ball is around there you know that he is so dangerous. I think the numbers could be even higher this season."

Salah's best goalscoring return remains the 44 goals he recorded across all competitions he recorded in the 2017-18 season - his first at the club.

GRAPHIC

Talks are underway over a new deal for Salah, who has two seasons remaining on his current contract.

Salah has won both the Champions League and Premier League at Liverpool, with Garcia hopeful both parties can reach an agreement over a new deal.

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Jamie Carragher discusses Salah's importance to Liverpool and just why the Egyptian winger deserves a new contract with The Reds

Garcia, part of the Liverpool side that memorably won the 2005 Champions League, added: "When you try to keep the important players on your side, to extend the culture with them, you know you are going to have a strong team because we cannot forget this team has won the Champions League and Premier League.

"Most of (the players) are here. It is the same team."

Tuesday 21st September 7:00pm Kick off 7:45pm Sky Sports Football HD Sky Sports Football HD

Garcia believes Liverpool are "ready" challenge for honours both domestically and in Europe this season if Jurgen Klopp is able to make the most of his squad through rotation.

"The most important is to do a good rotation (of players). Jurgen knows very well how to do that. How to keep all 100% of them focused on the game," said the Spaniard, who was speaking at the launch of a sustainability partnership between SC Johnson and Liverpool, promoting the environment, health and opportunities for communities around the world.

"The talent is there, and once again these are the players who won trophies in the previous years so why challenge again for every trophy."

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Klopp on no Origi offer: 'People don't watch football enough!'

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 23:21

Jurgen Klopp admitted he was surprised at the lack of interest in Liverpool striker Divock Origi in the summer, saying: "Obviously people don’t watch football enough!"

Belgian forward Origi started for the first time since January and brilliantly set up Mohamed Salah's equaliser in Liverpool's 3-2 win over AC Milan in Champions League Group B opener.

Klopp heaped praise on 26-year-old, who started only six times for Liverpool last season, and said the club were braced for a "proper offer" for Origi in the summer.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says their 3-2 win against AC Milan was but was a good game to win with every point valuable in the Champions League group stages

Klopp told BT Sport: "[Divock] played a beautiful game. People forget how good he is, it's difficult to get into this team.

"In the summer transfer window we all thought there would be a proper offer for him, but obviously people don't watch football enough.

"He's a sensational striker and he did really well today."

Klopp added in his post-match press conference: "He's a great guy. He'll be seen as a legend when he leaves. He could have left in the summer but football is a crazy place and people forgot how good he is. We have to decide the positions. He did nothing wrong.

Mohamed Salah scores Liverpool's second goal against AC Milan Image: Mohamed Salah scores Liverpool's second goal against AC Milan

"It's difficult to get in this team sometimes, but I am really happy for him tonight."

GRAPHIC

Liverpool came from behind in a classic opening-night clash at Anfield to beat the Italian side, and with Atletico Madrid drawing 0-0 with Porto in the other Group B game, Klopp's side are on the front foot in a tricky group.

"Come on, that's our pick from pot four! Come on, that's AC Milan, in a really good moment. It's a tough group and will stay a tough group, which is why it's so important to win this game. It didn't decide anything, but gave us at least an OK start.

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates after scoring against AC Milan Image: Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates after scoring against AC Milan

"Spectacular, a European night at Anfield, I love it.

"We started incredibly well, played a super-intense game but football-wise as well really good.

"We didn't give them anything until we got punished in the last few minutes before half-time. We got a bit carried away by our own football, we didn't keep it simple offensively and not organised defensively any more.

"It wasn't nice but it didn't feel like we could not come back in the second half. We had to change immediately to get back to how we started and then we scored wonderful goals. Both were incredible and won the game and I think it was deserved."

Liverpool's remaining Champions League fixtures

September 28: Porto (A) - kick-off 8pm

October 19: Atletico Madrid (A) - kick-off 8pm

November 3: Atletico Madrid (H) - kick-off 8pm

November 24: Porto (H) - kick-off 8pm

December 7: AC Milan (A) - kick-off 8pm

What's next?

Liverpool host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm, while Milan are at Juventus on Sunday evening at 7.45pm in Serie A. Milan's next Champions League group game is at home to Atletico Madrid on September 28 at 8pm.

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Liverpool fight back to beat Milan in thrilling opener

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 21:30

Jordan Henderson's superb finish gave Liverpool a 3-2 victory from behind over AC Milan in a thrilling opening-night clash in Champions League Group B.

Liverpool burst out of the traps and were 1-0 up early on through Fikayo Tomori's own goal from a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross (9), before Mo Salah saw his penalty saved by Mike Maignan (14), his first miss in 17 for Liverpool.

But Milan produced two goals out of thin air as Ante Rebic's tidy finish (42) and then former Man City man Brahim Diaz's tap home (44) from two similarly blistering breaks stunned Anfield going into half-time.

Salah made up for his penalty miss with a leveller just after the break (48), poking home Divock Origi's clever chip over the defence, and Jordan Henderson completed Liverpool's own comeback with an exquisite half-volley from 20 yards (69) from a cleared corner.

The result, paired with Atletico's 0-0 draw against Porto, puts Liverpool on the front foot in a tricky Group B, with Porto next up away from home on September 28. Jurgen Klopp's side are unbeaten in all competitions this season, and unbeaten in 14 overall.

Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Gomez (7), Matip (6), Robertson (8), Fabinho (7), Keita (6), Henderson (8), Salah (7), Origi (7), Jota (6).

Subs: Mane (6), Jones (6), Thiago (6), Oxalde-Chamberlain (NA), Milner (NA)

AC Milan: Maignan (7), Calabria (6), Kjaer (6), Tomori (5), Hernandez (6), Bennacer (5), Kessie (6), Saelemaekers (6), Diaz (6), Leao (6), Rebic (7).

Subs: Giroud (5), Florenzi (5), Tonali (5), Maldini (NA)

Man of the match: Jordan Henderson

How Liverpool came out on top in five-goal classic

It was Anfield's first European night with supporters in attendance since the start of the pandemic, while seven-time winners AC Milan were back in Champions League action for the first time in seven years.

But it was a rude awakening initially for the Italians as Liverpool camped in Milan's defensive third from the first minute; Andrew Robertson and Diogo Jota missed early half-chances, and they took the lead through brilliant combination play between Alexander-Arnold and Salah.

Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates after putting Liverpool 1-0 ahead Image: Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates after putting Liverpool 1-0 ahead

Having played a one-two with Salah around an unsuspecting Rafael Leao, Alexander-Arnold skipped his way into the box on the right, looked to centre, and saw the ball deflect off Tomori and over goalkeeper Maignan for an own goal.

It should have been 2-0 moments later as Liverpool were awarded a penalty for a handball from Ismael Bennacer as he blocked Robertson's cross, but Salah's blasted penalty was saved by Maignan down the middle, before the Milan stopper reacted well to tip away Jota's headed rebound at close range.

Team news

Liverpool made four changes to the side that beat Liverpool as Virgil van Dijk was benched alongside Thiago and Sadio Mane, while Harvey Elliott was out injured.

Joe Gomez came in for his first start since November, Divock Origi got his first start since January, while Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita came into midfield.

AC Milan made three changes to the side that beat Lazio on Sunday as Simon Kjaer, Ismael Bennacer and Alexis Saelemakers came in for Alessio Romagnoli, Sandro Tonali and Alessandro Florenzi. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was out injured, while Olivier Giroud was on the bench.

Milan then settled slightly as Liverpool moved to a lower gear, but the chances continued to flow as Joel Matip headed a good opportunity at Maignan, and Salah's snap-shot from the edge of the box was tipped away brilliantly by the busy goalkeeper.

14 - Mohamed Salah is now Liverpool's joint-highest scorer in European Cup/UEFA Champions League games at Anfield, with his 14th taking him level with Steven Gerrard. King. pic.twitter.com/XEPkOSGwfe

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 15, 2021

But such is the nature of Champions League football, one moment of quality turned the game on its head. Milan equalised from nowhere as Leao's pass split Matip and Joe Gomez to find Rebic, who wrapped his foot around the ball to finish low past Alisson.

Brahim Diaz put AC Milan 2-1 up Image: Brahim Diaz put AC Milan 2-1 up just before the break

And just 110 seconds later it was 2-1 as Rebic was released again by Leao on the left of the box. This time he squared for Theo Hernandez, whose shot was blocked on the line by Robertson, only for Diaz to tap home again with the Liverpool defender failing to get back to his feet in time.

Liverpool's fans and players went into half-time wondering how their dominance was not reflected in the scoreline.

But they were let off the hook seconds after the restart as Simon Kjaer converted at the back post from a Jordan Henderson error at a corner, only for the offside flag to correctly go up, and it was soon 2-2.

Mohamed Salah scores Liverpool's second goal against AC Milan Image: Mo Salah scores Liverpool's second goal

Receiving the ball on the edge of the box from Salah, Origi scooped the ball over the Milan back line for the Egyptian, who composed himself before pushing the ball past Maignan, staying just onside.

AC Milan retreated again, and Liverpool huffed and puffed before getting their third midway through the second half through an unlikely source.

From a half-cleared corner, Henderson's first-time half-volley from the edge of the box was struck superbly, flying into the bottom left corner for only his second Liverpool goal since the end of the 2019/20 season.

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Jordan Henderson described Liverpool's 3-2 win against AC Milan as a rollercoaster after scoring the winner at Anfield.

The one-goal lead was still fragile as sub Olivier Giroud headed off target, while Alisson just cleared ahead of Milan's front line from a corner, but Liverpool held on.

This wasn't quite Istanbul in 2005, but the victory and comeback was a show of character from a Liverpool side reverting to type following an topsy-turvy 2020/21 season, and a classic European night will contribute heavily to the feeling of normality at Anfield.

Klopp: No Origi interest? Obviously people don't watch enough football! Divock Origi put in a fine performance in Liverpool's 3-2 win over AC Milan Image: Divock Origi put in a fine performance in Liverpool's 3-2 win over AC Milan

Jurgen Klopp on BT Sport:

"[Divock] played a beautiful game. People forget how good he is, it's difficult to get into this team.

"In the summer transfer window we all thought there would be a proper offer for him, but obviously people don't watch football enough.

"He's a sensational striker and he did really well today."

Klopp added in his post-match press conference: "He's a great guy. He'll be seen as a legend when he leaves. He could have left in the summer but football is a crazy place and people forgot how good he is. We have to decide the positions. He did nothing wrong."

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says their 3-2 win against AC Milan was but was a good game to win with every point valuable in the Champions League group stages. Opta stats - 2,485 days between Henderson's CL goals
  • Liverpool have won their opening home game in seven of their last eight Champions League campaigns (D1), last losing such a match in October 2007 (0-1 against Marseille).
  • Under Jüugen Klopp, Liverpool have only lost one of their 13 group stage games in the UEFA Champions League at Anfield (W10 D2) - 0-2 versus Atalanta last season. The Reds have averaged 2.5 goals per home game in the group stage since the German took charge (33 goals).
  • Liverpool's Jordan Henderson scored just his 2nd Champions League goal (39th appearance), 2,485 days since his first, against Ludogorets Razgrad in November 2014.
Liverpool's remaining Champions League fixtures

September 28: Porto (A) - kick-off 8pm

October 19: Atletico Madrid (A) - kick-off 8pm

November 3: Atletico Madrid (H) - kick-off 8pm

November 24: Porto (H) - kick-off 8pm

December 7: AC Milan (A) - kick-off 8pm

What's next?

Liverpool now host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm, while Milan are at Juventus on Sunday evening at 7.45pm in Serie A. Milan's next Champions League group game is at home to Atletico Madrid on September 28 at 8pm.

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Liverpool rampant but Van Dijk missed

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 19:27

For around half an hour of Wednesday night's game at Anfield, the pressure on AC Milan's goal was unrelenting.

Rafael Leao, disorientated amid the onslaught, could be seen passing the ball straight to Trent Alexander-Arnold in his own box. Ismael Bennacer, terrified as Andrew Robertson snapped at his heels, was spotted dribbling at full speed in the wrong direction.

This Liverpool side can do strange things to their opponents when they are in this kind of mood; rampant in their pursuit of victory and roared on by a feverish Anfield crowd. Implausibly, their shot count stood at 13 after just 15 minutes of the game.

"We started incredibly well," said Jurgen Klopp afterwards. It was an understatement. By the time their opener arrived, Alexander-Arnold's cross-shot bouncing in off Fikayo Tomori in the ninth minute, Liverpool could have been out of sight already.

Milan kept trying to play out from the back and Liverpool kept swarming all over them. Stefano Pioli's side barely made it out of their own defensive third let alone their half. "Super, super, super intense," added Klopp in his description of that opening period.

This was Liverpool at their most electrifying.

The full-backs flew forward, the front three interchanged positions, and in midfield, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson enjoyed total control. Neither of them misplaced a single pass in the opening half hour.

Even after Mohamed Salah missed his penalty, it felt inevitable the lead would be extended. Mike Maignan saved from Joel Matip and then thwarted Salah again. But Liverpool kept pushing.

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Jurgen Klopp gives his verdict on the 3-2 win over Milan

Gradually, though, the tempo began to ease off and soon Milan were able to gain a foothold in the game.

Liverpool had been utterly dominant but the contest was turned on its head when Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz scored in the space of just 110 seconds shortly before the break.

To most, the turnaround came from nowhere.

Klopp, though, had seen it coming.

"We got punished in the last few minutes before half-time but it started earlier," he explained. "We got a bit carried away by our own football. We didn't keep it simple anymore, offensively, and we were not well organised anymore defensively.

"When we are organised, Fabinho is absolutely incredible and he can pick up all the challenges we need him for. But when the spaces are too big, even he can't solve it."

Mohamed Salah scores Liverpool's second goal against AC Milan Image: Salah scored Liverpool's second goal against AC Milan

There were numerous errors for both Milan goals.

For the first, Diaz was given too much space to find Alexis Saelemaekers, who had eluded Naby Keita too easily between the lines. Joe Gomez then allowed Rebic to run off him, while Matip and Alexander-Arnold were too far away to be of any help.

Liverpool's defence was in disarray and it was the same story for Milan's second. Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho were too slow in tracking Leao, Matip missed his interception and suddenly Liverpool were behind. "Not nice," was how Klopp described it afterwards.

As Milan celebrated each goal, the camera panned to Virgil van Dijk on the Liverpool bench. The Dutchman was conspicuous by his absence in those error-strewn passages of play.

Liverpool did improve defensively after the break but it is a testament to just how quickly Van Dijk has re-established his presence in their defence that he can be so sorely missed after only four games back in the side.

Van Dijk has been his commanding self since returning to action last month. In his four Premier League appearances so far, Liverpool have only conceded one goal. Only Manchester City and Wolves have allowed their opponents fewer shots.

Liverpool had to manage without him for almost the entirety of last season as he recovered from his cruciate knee injury but that chaotic period against Milan was another reminder of what they lose when he's not there.

Van Dijk's physical and technical qualities are unrivalled and so too is his ability to organise what happens around him.

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Jordan Henderson described Liverpool's 3-2 win against AC Milan as a rollercoaster

Indeed, the communication breakdown between Gomez and Matip for Milan's first goal wouldn't have happened had he been there. Alexander-Arnold wouldn't have been allowed to wander so far out of position either.

"Virgil could have played but I have to force myself to be really sensible," explained Klopp before the game, citing Liverpool's hectic schedule and the 30-year-old's recent return from injury.

"It's not exactly what Virgil wanted, or what I wanted, but I had to do it anyway."

In the end, Klopp was right to be sensible. Many supporters would have welcomed the sight of Van Dijk appearing from the bench but Klopp trusted the others to recover and that's what they did.

Van Dijk will be better for the rest and, with the Dutchman restored to the starting line-up, Liverpool will hope the next time they subject their opponent to a barrage like the opening half-hour at Anfield on Wednesday night, there will be no defensive errors to jeopardise the result.

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Struijk loses appeal against Elliott tackle red card

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 09:15

Leeds have been unsuccessful in their appeal against the red card shown to Pascal Struijk for a tackle that left Liverpool's Harvey Elliott requiring surgery on a dislocated ankle.

Struijk was dismissed for the challenge on the Liverpool 18-year-old, which resulted in him being taken off on a stretcher.

Elliott is expected to return to action this season, according to Liverpool's club doctor, after the midfielder underwent a successful ankle operation on Tuesday.

This is a breaking Leeds news story that is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh this page for the latest updates.

Sky Sports brings you live updates as they happen. Get breaking sports news, analysis, exclusive interviews, replays and highlights.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says everyone is in shock after Harvey Elliott suffered a terrible injury against Leeds, and insists they will all be there for the 18-year-old during his recovery.

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Elliott expected to return this season after successful surgery

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 19:10

Harvey Elliott is expected to return to action this season, according to Liverpool's club doctor, after the midfielder underwent a successful ankle operation on Tuesday.

Liverpool confirmed Elliott suffered a fracture dislocation of the left joint in his ankle, and he will now begin a rehabilitation programme with no timeframe being placed for his comeback.

However, club doctor Dr Jim Moxon - who attended to Elliott on the pitch along with first-team physiotherapist Chris Morgan - has said a return this season is possible.

"We were able to reduce the dislocation immediately on the pitch and Harvey had surgery today to repair the fracture and ligaments damaged in the incident. The operation was a success so his comeback starts now," Dr Moxon said.

"We won't put pressure on him by setting a specific timeframe beyond being able to say with confidence we expect him to feature again later in the season following our rehab programme."

Elliott provided his own update from his hospital bed, saying on Instagram: "Operation was a success! Thank you so much to everyone for your amazing support. The road to recovery starts now. At the end of the storm there's a golden sky."

Meanwhile, Leeds have appealed against Pascal Struijk's red card for the challenge which injured the Liverpool teenager.

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Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher says Pascal Struijk did not intend to injure Elliott but that a red card for the Leeds player was the right decision

The 18-year-old was stretchered off during the second half of Liverpool's 3-0 win at Leeds on Sunday, with Struijk shown a straight red card by referee Craig Pawson after a VAR intervention.

Elliott absolved Struijk of any blame, describing the incident as a "freak accident".

Liverpool boss Klopp was awaiting an update on Elliott's condition when he held his press conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League game with AC Milan.

"I spoke to him right after the game, he was in the best possible place," said Klopp of Elliott. "He had accepted already that he would be out for a while.

"He is in London and will have the surgery today (Tuesday). That is the next step on the way back."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds in the Premier League

Elliott's team-mates were clearly disturbed by the seriousness of the injury at the time but they have all rallied round since.

"What happened with Harvey made me sad. It's difficult to deal with that when you're on the pitch," said goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

"All the players have a big role to support him, we need to do our best in this time."

Carragher: All-time great Salah deserves new deal

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Jamie Carragher discusses Mohamed Salah's importance to Liverpool and just why the Egyptian winger deserves a new contract with The Reds

Jamie Carragher says Mohamed Salah will be in Liverpool's all-time XI and wants to see him sign a new deal at Anfield.

Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal in the 3-0 win over Leeds United on Sunday and Carragher believes that his impact at Liverpool is still underrated.

Tuesday 21st September 7:00pm Kick off 7:45pm Sky Sports Football HD Sky Sports Football HD

"He is massively important and sometimes I feel sorry for Mo Salah because I think he goes under the radar in terms of Liverpool," he told Monday Night Football.

"When people talk about Liverpool winning the league, they always go back to Liverpool signing Alisson and Virgil Van Dijk. Mo Salah came in six months before [Van Dijk].

"It is the three of them but everyone mentions that it was the goalkeeper and the centre-back that took Liverpool to this next level. Mo Salah is a huge part of that.

"We should not forget as well that Salah plays from the right. Yes, he is a wide forward but he does not play through the centre. He is Johnny on the spot.

"If he goes a few games without a goal you just think there is one coming because it is Mo Salah. That is just how it is."

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Klopp: Raducanu is the 'talent of the century'

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 16:10

Jurgen Klopp has described Emma Raducanu as the "talent of the century" and says he will watch more women's tennis after the 18-year-old's US Open win.

The Liverpool manager halted his preparations for his side's 3-0 win over Leeds on Sunday to join the millions watching on Saturday night as Raducanu became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since 1977 by beating Leylah Fernandez.

Teenager Raducanu is also the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title, but Klopp was most inspired by the humility of both players after the result.

"It is long ago I watched a full tennis game and I was impressed by the power, the speed and the whole game," he said.

Emma Raducanu posed on the red carpet at the Met Gala in New York on Monday night Image: Raducanu posed on the red carpet at the Met Gala in New York on Monday night

"Women's tennis is obviously in a brilliant moment. These two girls, 18 and 19, what they showed in the game was massively impressive, but then when they got the trophies during the ceremony, both girls how they spoke was really inspiring, to be honest.

"Even more so than the tennis which was inspiring enough. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the way they presented themselves. Fernandez was obviously disappointed and Emma showed great respect for her.

I will watch women's tennis much more, for sure, than I did in the last few years. Jurgen Klopp

"They knew they will face each other in the future very often and be in many more finals. I wish that for them. It was a great show of sportsmanship and elite sport and how humble you can be, so young on top of the world.

"When you are 18-years-old and win the US Open it can only come from hard work. She is for sure the talent of the century, but without hard work it is not possible to be there and doing that.

"Now she is there and you see her smiling during the game, it is the nicest thing I can imagine. I will watch women's tennis much more, for sure, than I did in the last few years."

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Carra: All-time great Salah deserves new deal

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 17:29

Jamie Carragher says Mohamed Salah will be in Liverpool’s all-time XI and wants to see him sign a new deal at Anfield.

Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal in the 3-0 win over Leeds United on Sunday and Carragher believes that his impact at Liverpool is still underrated.

"He is massively important and sometimes I feel sorry for Mo Salah because I think he goes under the radar in terms of Liverpool," he told Monday Night Football.

"When people talk about Liverpool winning the league, they always go back to Liverpool signing Alisson and Virgil Van Dijk. Mo Salah came in six months before [Van Dijk].

"It is the three of them but everyone mentions that it was the goalkeeper and the centre-back that took Liverpool to this next level. Mo Salah is a huge part of that."

"We should not forget as well that Salah plays from the right. Yes, he is a wide forward but he does not play through the centre. He is Johnny on the spot.

"If he goes a few games without a goal you just think there is one coming because it is Mo Salah. That is just how it is."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds in the Premier League

A number of Liverpool favourites have agreed new contracts in recent months with Fabinho, Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk and Andy Robertson all signing extensions.

Carragher wants someone else to join that list.

"While Liverpool have not spend big this summer like other teams they have had a lot of players sign new contracts. The one that is yet to sign is Mo Salah," he added.

"Now, he obviously wants a few quid. And rightly so. Good luck to him. He deserves it. He deserves to be one of the highest paid players in the Premier League for what he has done since he came to Liverpool, he really does.

"He is never injured and year after year he is top goalscorer. He just is. That is what he is.

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Watch Mohamed Salah's greatest Premier League goals as he brings up his ton

"I will say something else. When you pick your all-time Liverpool XI, there are positions where you just think, 'He is in.' Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness, John Barnes, Steven Gerrard, Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish. You could fill all those positions no matter what this team does.

"There is nobody you ever think of on the right. Mo Salah will be in that position when he finishes his Liverpool career. He will be in that all-time Liverpool XI. There is no doubt for me about that.

"When you think about strikers getting to 29 or 30, we talk about Cristiano Ronaldo being 36, that guy is a machine in terms of how he looks after himself.

"I think Mo Salah is as professional as Ronaldo, he looks after his body and I think there are a lot of years left in Mo Salah so I just hope this gets sorted sooner rather than later.

"You always debate about money, the player wants a bit more, the club wants a bit less, but that needs to be sorted. Fingers crossed it will because he deserves it for what he has done for Liverpool."

How Salah became a centurion

Salah's Premier League journey hasn't been as smooth as his run to 100 league goals would suggest. Remember the ill-fated 30-month spell at Chelsea which started it all?

The Egyptian winger had scored for Basel in both of their Champions League group games against Jose Mourinho's side, prompting his transfer to Stamford Bridge in January 2014.

But he would go onto make only 13 Premier League appearances for the Blues, and score only two goals, before he was shipped off on loan to Fiorentina and then Roma, who he joined on a permanent transfer in 2016.

His return to the Premier League a year later would mark the start of something very different.

"He's a fantastic player with speed," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after his move was agreed. "We said after last season that we would try to add things to an already really good squad.

"One of those things is speed. He brings that, as well as being able to provide and to finish. He brings all that."

Mohamed Salah celebrates his equaliser late in the first half Image: Mohamed Salah celebrates his equaliser late in the first half

Salah would bring more than just speed. In his first season, he equalled Roger Hunt's record from 1961 of scoring 23 goals before the New Year, and went on to edge Harry Kane in the Premier League Golden Boot race with his 32-goal haul.

From there, things kept on getting better.

"This is very special," Salah told Sky Sports after becoming the highest scorer in a 38-game Premier League season when winning that Golden Boot.

"I am trying to improve every year so I am very happy. It's special to break the record here."

Salah hasn't quite hit those goalscoring heights since, but he has broken the 20-goal mark in two of his three other full seasons in the Premier League, while adding a title winners' medal, plus another Golden Boot, to his trophy cabinet.

Now, 2,732 days after his first goal, Salah has become the latest member of the Premier League 100 club, and only the second from Africa, after Chelsea legend Didier Drogba.

The speed with which he has reached the tally - Sunday's meeting with Leeds was his 162nd Premier League appearance - puts him among the very best goalscorers in the competition's history.

"Mo's record is crazy," Klopp told Sky Sports at Elland Road. "I don't know how many more records he can break but he's probably desperate to do so.

"What a player - and he's still hungry. I saw him in the dressing room and we were all in the situation concerning Harvey Elliott but he was still not happy for not scoring one or two other goals.

"That's how top-class players are"

And at 29, Mohamed Salah is far from finished yet.

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Nev on Ronaldo impact: Manchester is buzzing

Sun, 09/12/2021 - 22:40

Gary Neville discusses Cristiano Ronaldo instant impact at Manchester United, has likened Thiago’s performance for Liverpool at Leeds as ‘Paul Scholes-like’ and predicted Chelsea will be hard to stop this season.

Speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast following Liverpool's 3-0 win over Leeds, the Sky Sports pundit also had his say on why this season's Premier League season could be the greatest in terms of quality and his early thoughts on the title race.

Download the Gary Neville Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox | Spreaker

Neville on...Cristiano Ronaldo fever in Manchester

"I walked out into Manchester's city centre on Saturday morning and I've not seen it as alive for five or 10 years. What he's done to the Premier League for interest is exciting but for the city, he's absolutely got it buzzing with excitement - and this was even before he scored the two goals.

"I was at Salford and saw the news that he scored. I could only imagine what the atmosphere was like and I spoke to a couple of people who were there and they said it was out of this world, bouncing like they've never seen it before. And, Salford scored in the last minute which meant it was the perfect football day."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United's win over Newcastle in the Premier League. Neville on...the quality of the Premier League

"In the first half of the Leeds game, I sat back and was marvelling at the speed, quality and atmosphere. We always tend to look back and say there was more tackling in the 80s and 90s, it was more real, standing on the terraces. But what I've seen in the first four weeks of this season, takes some beating in terms of quality. This is as good as I've seen. We lauded the players for being brilliant through Covid last season in difficult times and all the fans frustratingly having to watch at home. It was desperate at times with no fans in the stadium. But it's more than made up for it at the start of this season - it's a compelling watch. And Ronaldo coming back has put the cherry on top of a very good cake."

Neville on...Liverpool's title chances and classy Thiago

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds.

"Everyone is talking about Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United, Manchester City being champions and Chelsea signing Romelu Lukaku, so everything has been away from Liverpool with people questioning if this team is over the hill or past their best. But this was a really good performance, they did everything they were asked to do.

"That Liverpool midfield wasn't perhaps the most athletic or mobile - he could have played Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Naby Keita to match Leeds up. But it was all about composure. It reminded me of the way Paul Scholes played at Anfield. There would be a frantic spell in the game and all of sudden there would be a small guy in the middle of the pitch who would get his foot on it and there would be calm and peace. Michael Carrick could do the same. And Thiago did the same today. Today was an example of what he has been signed to do. When it's frantic and desperate, put your foot on the ball and play the pass that opens the game. He did that."

Thiago Neville on...Chelsea being difficult to stop

"There is a feeling about Chelsea. They keep clean sheets, their striker is guaranteed to score, there's a good midfield. They will be very difficult to stop. The talk will be all about Manchester. Pep Guardiola, Ronaldo, but everyone knows Chelsea are serious. I watched them at Anfield and it was a real performance. It's a brilliant Premier League. I'm looking forward to see what happens in the next few months. We just have to let it develop - everyone will want to try and predict the champions this early. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea but Liverpool are really in it. They really are in it."

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Liverpool's win at Leeds marred by Elliott injury

Sun, 09/12/2021 - 19:00

Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners at Leeds but the result was marred by a serious leg injury sustained to Harvey Elliott and red card to Pascal Struijk.

After goals from Mohamed Salah - his 100th in the Premier League - and Fabinho, the game took an unfortunate twist when Elliott suffered the injury on 59 minutes in a challenge with Pascal Struijk, who received a controversial red card after a VAR review. Play was halted for a number of minutes early in the second half as Elliott received treatment from Liverpool's medical staff.

Sky Sports' co-commentator Gary Neville said: "The most important thing is the boy but I'm not sure it's a red card. The red card is a result of the injury rather than the tackle."

Sadio Mane, after spurning a hatful of chances, scored in injury-time to wrap up the points.

Even before the red card Liverpool were dominant across all areas of the pitch with Alexander-Arnold, back at right-back after his midfield experiment with England, playing a part in both opening goals. Jurgen Klopp's men could and should have had a hatful of goals as Mane was especially culpable at not making more of the team's 30 efforts at goal with Mane having 10 of them.

Liverpool move up to third, level on points with Manchester United and Chelsea, while Leeds remain winless this season.

Player ratings

Leeds: Meslier (6), Ayling (6), Firpo (6), Cooper (5), Llorente (6), Dallas (5), Phillips (7), Harrison (5), Raphinha (6), Rodrigo (5), Bamford (6)

Subs: Roberts (6), Struijk (5), James (5)

Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (8), Robertson (7), Van Dijk (8), Matip (7), Fabinho (8), Thiago (8), Elliott (8), Mane (6), Jota (7), Salah (7)

Subs: Henderson (7), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6)

Man of the match: Thiago

How Liverpool shone at Elland Road…

The atmosphere inside the ground was electric and the roof nearly came off inside six minutes but Rodrigo couldn't beat Alisson from 15 yards out after some silky play down the line by Raphinha.

From then on, Liverpool took over as Leeds chased shadows.

Team news
  • Just the one change for Leeds from the 1-1 draw at Burnley last time out as Junior Firpo came in at left-back for Pascal Struijk, who dropped down to the bench. Dan James was named on the substitutes bench along with Mateusz Klich.
  • Jurgen Klopp made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Chelsea before the international break as Diogo Jota and Thiago replaced Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino.

With the home crowd quietened, Diogo Jota tested Illan Meslier with a looping effort before Salah opened the scoring on 20 minutes.

Joel Matip was the architect, driving with the ball from centre-back to open the play up and releasing Alexander-Arnold down the right. His quality from the wide area was up to his usual high standard and Salah had an easy finish to join the Premier League 100 club.

The ball was in Meslier's net again five minutes later as Thiago headed home another Alexander-Arnold cross, but Salah had strayed offside in the build-up and the delayed flag put pay to the celebrations.

Leeds were hanging on but Liverpool kept letting them off their hook with some poor finishing.

Mane showed great movement to get free on the back post on 27 minutes but somehow managed to scoop a shanked effort over the bar from no more than four yards out. Virgil van Dijk was the next Liverpool player to waste a glorious chance, headed off target from eight yards out from another superb Alexander-Arnold delivery.

Such was the dominance on show from the visitors, Neville said: "Leeds have been given a right doing here."

Liverpool went into the break knowing they were unbeaten in their last 91 Premier League matches when leading at half-time (W82, D9) dating back to 2016 when losing to Bournemouth.

They emerged from the tunnel with the look of a team keen to finish the job. Mane should have on 48 minutes but was denied by a brilliant last-ditch block by a combination of Struijk and Kalvin Phillips.

Liverpool would get the second goal from the following corner. Alexander-Arnold did the expert delivering again, finding Van Dijk, who headed down into a dangerous area and Fabinho prodded home from close range.

Liverpool's Fabinho celebrates after scoring against Leeds Image: Liverpool's Fabinho celebrates after scoring against Leeds

The game took a sour turn moments later when Elliott went down after a coming together with Struijk and Salah immediately signalled towards the bench for the medics to rush on with Elliott clearly in major discomfort. Although referee Craig Pawson didn't originally show a red card, a VAR review deemed the challenge from the Leeds man as a serious offence and he was dismissed.

Neville described the challenge as "a robust one, but not a nasty one".

Elliott, making his fourth Premier League appearance of the campaign, was replaced by Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.

Leeds' new signing Daniel James replaced Harrison soon after for his club debut, but made little impact as Liverpool remained so dangerous in the final third.

Mane broke clear and pulled another effort wide with the goal beckoning.

But Leeds conceded a third when Mane turned on to Fabinho's ball inside and drove home a low finish in the closing stages.

'No malice in Elliott challenge'

Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp:

"Every time you go in for a challenge, you are going to endanger someone.

"Having seen it, I feel personally that it's an innocuous challenge. Does he mean to hurt him? No, of course he doesn't. It's just one of those that happens every now and again in football.

"I actually feel sorry for the player involved because it's a very difficult thing for a player. Players find it really hard to get over those sort of things, so it's an awful situation all-round."

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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says all of the squad's thoughts are with Harvey Elliott after the teenager suffered a horrible injury during their 3-0 win at Leeds. What the managers said...

Jurgen Klopp said: "It's a bad injury to his ankle. I heard it was dislocated so we could put it back and he's now in hospital. We have to wait, obviously. He played an incredible game and is an incredible player who is out.

"Do I want such a young boy early in his career to have this experience? No, but now it's the case so we have to be there and we will be there. We'll play football without him but we will wait for him as well because obviously he's a top player.

"I saw the situation and I saw immediately the extent as I could see his foot was not in the right place. That's why we were shocked."

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says everyone is in shock after Harvey Elliott suffered a terrible injury against Leeds, and insists they will all be there for the 18-year-old during his recovery.

Marcelo Bielsa said: "Pascal recovered the ball. The action to get the ball didn't have an infraction, but I have the feeling that the movement of the rest of his body after he recovered the ball made him hit Elliott.

"These types of recoveries of the ball are totally frequent. The difference here was Pascal's speed and power hit the opponent and that caused the injury.

"I regret dearly that such a young player who was playing at a high level was interrupted through this. I hope he is able to get back.

"For me the referee decides. He has enough resources to make the decision and I don't know why the decision wasn't immediate and it was after. But I never like to condition the decisions the referee makes."

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Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa was disappointed with his side's performance and admits Liverpool were by far the better team as they were beaten 3-0 at Elland Road. Opta stats
  • Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 11 meetings with Leeds in all competitions (W8 D3) since a 2-1 home loss in April 2001.
  • Leeds have failed to win any of their opening four league games in a top-flight campaign for the first time since 1958-59.
  • Since the start of last season, Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals from corners than any other side (13), while Leeds have conceded the most in this fashion in that time (also 13).
  • Liverpool had 30 shots in this match, taking their tally to 100 for the season - at least 16 more than any other Premier League side.
  • Salah became the 30th different player to score 100 Premier League goals, with only four players reaching the milestone in fewer appearances than the Egyptian (162 games).
  • Mané eventually scored with his 10th shot in this match, the most shots he's ever had in a single Premier League game.
What's next?

Leeds face Newcastle live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7.30pm on Friday, with kick-off at 8pm.

Liverpool host AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday night then continue their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday at 3pm.

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Klopp: We'll be there for Harvey

Sun, 09/12/2021 - 14:35

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says the club will do all it can to support Harvey Elliott after the teenager sustained a serious injury during the Reds' 3-0 win at Leeds.

The home side played the final half an hour with 10 men after substitute Pascal Struijk was sent off for his challenge on Elliott, who received lengthy treatment before being carried off on a stretcher.

Elliott, 18, posted a picture of himself with thumbs up on Instagram before full-time, writing: "Thank you for the messages guys! Road to recovery. YNWA."

"It's a bad injury to his ankle," Klopp told Sky Sports. "I heard it was dislocated so we could put it back and he's now in hospital. We have to wait, obviously. He played an incredible game and is an incredible player who is out.

PA IMAGE Image: Elliott needed lengthy treatment on the pitch

"Do I want such a young boy early in his career to have this experience? No, but now it's the case so we have to be there and we will be there. We'll play football without him but we will wait for him as well because obviously he's a top player."

Klopp's side cruised to their fifth straight league win on the road and are now undefeated in 14 league games in total stretching back to last season.

Mohamed Salah turned home Trent Alexander-Arnold's trademark low cross in a one-sided first half - his 100th Premier League goal.

Harvey Elliott is consoled on the pitch Image: Harvey Elliott is consoled on the pitch

Salah became the 30th different centurion, with only four players reaching the milestone in fewer appearances than the Egyptian (162 games).

"With Mo's record, it's crazy," Klopp added. "I don't know how many he can break and he's probably desperate to do so. Since he joined us, what a player! And he's still hungry.

"I saw him in the dressing room and we were all in the situation concerning Harvey but he was still not happy for not scoring one or two other goals. That's how top-class players are and that's fine."

Fabinho struck five minutes into the second and Sadio Mane added a deserved late third to extend Liverpool's unbeaten start.

Salah Image: Salah became the 30th player to join the Premier League's 100-goal club

"I thought we were really good," Klopp continued. "We played for a long period a top game. After the red card and Harvey going off, obviously everybody was in shock and we lost our rhythm a little bit but still controlled the game.

"We gave them a little bit too many counter-attacks and set pieces, that's true, but who cares. We should've made more of the football we played.

"The goal for Mo from Trent's cross is an example of what we should've done more often. We had plenty of these situations but we just couldn't find a player.

"3-0 is a great result and we're not that greedy to the point of standing here and saying we should've won five, six or 7-0. We have a lot of chances, but we have space for improvement."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds Players show support for Elliott

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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says all of the squad's thoughts are with Harvey Elliott after the teenager suffered a horrible injury during their 3-0 win at Leeds

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to Sky Sports:

"First and foremost all our thoughts and prayers are going to Harvey. Hopefully, he recovers quickly and as well as possible from it. Obviously at this stage we have no idea of the diagnosis at this moment but it looked bad.

Apart from that, it was a fantastic win here in an intense game. I enjoyed it from the point of the view of the atmosphere as we've not experienced it for a while but there's clearly two feelings.

"From the moment the injury happened, I saw Mo [Salah] shouting to the side and I saw the reaction of Harvey so I knew it was really serious. It was difficult to re-focus but we had to deal with it. We tried to deal with it in the best possible way.

Great result and performance against a tough side. However it was horrible to see Harvey pick up an injury like that…. Thoughts are with him and I know he will have all the support he needs to come back even stronger! We are all here for you mate! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/TdWtLh4WaK

— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) September 12, 2021

"100 per cent I'll be there to support Harvey, and the good thing is that I've experienced with all the players and the staff at Liverpool that they had my back. They were there for me in difficult times too so I'm 100 per cent sure they'll be there for Harvey as well."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson posted on Twitter: "Great result and performance against a tough side.

"However it was horrible to see Harvey pick up an injury like that... Thoughts are with him and I know he will have all the support he needs to come back even stronger! We are all here for you mate!"

Redknapp: No malice in Struijk challenge

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Jamie Redknapp wished Harvery Elliott a speedy recovery from his ankle injury but felt that the tackle from Pascal Struijk was innocuous and not a deliberate attempt to injury the player.

Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp:

"I feel for him. The recovery starts now. What I would say is there are players who have come back from horrendous injuries. I think about Andre Gomes at Everton. People questioned whether he would play again.

"Fingers crossed it's a straight-forward break, because there are some that can be a lot more complicated and keep you out a lot longer.

"I feel so sorry for this young man. It's the start of an incredible journey for him. He just got into the first team and he looks so at home in the Premier League.

Pascal Struijk was dismissed for the challenge Image: Pascal Struijk was dismissed for the challenge

"No doubt he will do again. He's just got to be patient and listen to the right people. He'll feel heartbroken but I wish him a speedy recovery. Fingers crossed he comes back stronger."

"Every time you go in for a challenge, you are going to endanger someone.

"Having seen it, I feel personally that it's an innocuous challenge. Does he mean to hurt him? No, of course he doesn't. It's just one of those that happens every now and again in football.

"I actually feel sorry for the player involved because it's a very difficult thing for a player. Players find it really hard to get over those sort of things, so it's an awful situation all-round."

Bielsa concedes best team won

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Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa was disappointed with his side's performance and admits Liverpool were by far the better team as they were beaten 3-0 at Elland Road

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa to Sky Sports:

"We were not in charge very often in the game. They were superior to us in all aspects. I don't know why. I need to know what reasons are. When we lost the ball they created danger. Of course it worries me that we lost 3-0."

On the red card: "I regret dearly the opponent was injured and I'm 100 per cent certain our player did not have a bad intention. I wish it had not happened."

Sadio Mane celebrates making it 3-0 Image: Sadio Mane celebrates making it 3-0

Leeds defender Stuart Dallas to Sky Sports:

"The crowd gave us a lift but Liverpool made it really difficult for us. You are not going to get too many chances. Unfortunately we couldn't take any of them. We want to make it as difficult as possible for teams coming to Elland Road.

"A 3-0 defeat is never good. We have got to be better than that and we're really, really disappointed.

"It's easy for people to say the second season [in the Premier League] is difficult. We've got two points from four games so it's easy for people to say that."

What's next? Friday 17th September 7:30pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

Leeds face Newcastle live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7.30pm on Friday, with kick-off at 8pm.

Liverpool host AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday night then continue their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday at 3pm.

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Why Thiago, Fabinho hold key for Liverpool

Sun, 09/12/2021 - 14:30

Thiago Alcantara spoke in glowing terms about Liverpool team-mate Fabinho in conversation with Sky Sports in May. "He is a very smart and intelligent player," he said. "He knows how and where to be on the pitch, and he has great strength in challenges."

Thiago was finally beginning to settle at Liverpool after a difficult first season in the Premier League and it had a lot to do with the man whose influence he was so eager to talk up.

At the time, Liverpool had won the last seven games the pair had started together in midfield. Following Sunday's 3-0 victory against Leeds at Elland Road, that number now stands at nine.

The game will of course be remembered primarily for the sickening injury sustained by Harvey Elliott. The suspected dislocated ankle is a cruel blow for the 18-year-old, who had started the season brilliantly. But Liverpool's midfield is in good hands.

Their injury issues prevented Jurgen Klopp from pairing Thiago and Fabinho together for much of last season but there's nothing stopping him now and that's good news for their title chances.

Between them at Elland Road, the pair dominated the midfield, working in tandem to smother Leeds and then pick them apart.

Fabinho scored the second goal. Thiago set up the third.

But those were just two of many standout moments.

Fabinho was in the right place at the right time for his goal and the same could be said for his entire performance. Leeds tried but they simply could not find a way past him.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds

There was a period of around two minutes in the first half which encapsulated his importance to Klopp's side.

First, he stuck out a leg to prevent a Jack Harrison through-ball from putting Rodrigo in on goal. Then, after Liverpool had lost possession in midfield less than 30 seconds later, he cut out another probing forward pass, this time from Pascal Struijk.

Soon, Leeds were coming forward again. Rodrigo had released Stuart Dallas on the right-hand side. The counter-attack was on. But there was Fabinho, once again, to block his attempted ball over the top before it could reach Patrick Bamford.

Fabinho intercepts Jack Harrison's through-ball intended for Rodrigo Image: Fabinho intercepts Jack Harrison's through-ball intended for Rodrigo Fabinho then cuts out Pascal Struijk's pass forward Image: Fabinho then cuts out Pascal Struijk's pass forward Fabinho gets his body in the way of Stuart Dallas's ball over the top Image: Fabinho gets his body in the way of Stuart Dallas's ball over the top

Three potentially dangerous situations all stamped out with a minimum of fuss in the space of a couple of minutes. They are not the kind of interventions that appear in highlights reels but they are crucial nonetheless - and they are Fabinho's speciality.

At the halfway point of the game, the 27-year-old had made a total of five interceptions - one more than the other 21 players on the pitch had managed between them.

It was typical of a player who acts as a security blanket for this Liverpool side and, against Leeds, he also ensured there was cover in place when Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk carried the ball out of defence.

Thiago Fabinho

Matip and Van Dijk's forward bursts were a feature of Liverpool's performance at Elland Road. The tactic was used by Klopp in order to destabilise Marcelo Bielsa's man-marking system but it was only thanks to Fabinho's intelligent positioning that it worked.

Each time one of them went, Fabinho dropped in behind them. Liverpool's centre-backs were free to charge into the final third and Leeds found themselves outfoxed and outnumbered.

It was Matip's pass, remember, that allowed Trent Alexander-Arnold to set up Mohamed Salah's opener. All the while, Fabinho was waiting to snuff out potential counter-attacks behind him.

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Jurgen Klopp says everyone is in shock after Harvey Elliott's injury

Fabinho did not do the defensive work on his own. In fact Thiago made more tackles (four) and more ball recoveries (10) than anyone else on the pitch. But the Spaniard's main duties are with the ball at his feet and that's where he truly excelled at Elland Road.

"That Liverpool midfield wasn't perhaps the most athletic or mobile," said Gary Neville on the Gary Neville Podcast afterwards. "Klopp could have played Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Naby Keita to match Leeds up. But it was all about composure.

"Thiago reminded me of the way Paul Scholes played at Anfield. There would be a frantic spell in the game and all of sudden there would be a small guy in the middle of the pitch who would get his foot on the ball and there would be calm and peace.

Thiago

"Michael Carrick could do the same and Thiago did the same today. It was an example of what he has been signed to do. When it's frantic and desperate, put your foot on the ball and play the pass that opens the game up. He did that."

Leeds did their best to press him. In fact, Kalvin Phillips could be seen breathing down his neck as early as the first few seconds of the game. But Thiago evaded his marker's close attention on that occasion and it was the same story for the rest of the afternoon.

The deft pass to set up Sadio Mane's goal was one of 38 in the opposition half over the course of the game. Nobody else got close to that total and no Leeds defenders could get close enough to him.

Klopp was understandably downbeat after the game. Elliott's injury was a shock to him and his players. But he will approach the challenges ahead knowing that in Thiago and Fabinho, Liverpool have a midfield axis to take them forward.

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Klopp 'cannot understand' Southgate using TAA in midfield

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 18:34

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp cannot understand why England boss Gareth Southgate wants to use the "best right-back in the world" Trent Alexander-Arnold as a midfielder.

With a plethora of right-sided defenders at his disposal, the national team boss decided to shoehorn the 22-year-old into the side for the World Cup Qualifier against Andorra in a more advanced position.

It was an experiment that lasted just 45 minutes before Alexander-Arnold was restored to his preferred role where he looked much more comfortable and threatening.

Klopp has been forced to play the academy graduate in midfield on a couple of occasions when injuries bit deep into his squad, although not since May 2018, but he had no intention to revisit the plan.

Trent Alexander-Arnold played in midfield for England against Andorra (PA) Image: Alexander-Arnold played in midfield for England against Andorra

And speaking ahead of Liverpool's Sky Sports Super Sunday clash against Leeds, Klopp said he thinks Southgate got it wrong in more ways than one against Andorra.

"In this game, in a game where England are that dominant for example, or that we are that dominant that Trent could play in midfield, I would rather he was the six than in this case the eight," said Klopp.

Sunday 12th September 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

"That is possible but why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder? I don't understand that really.

"As if the right-back position is not as important as the others. People who say that I struggle to understand how you could think that."

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Former England internationals Stephen Warnock and Sue Smith analyse whether Alexander-Arnold's positional switch to midfield worked.

Alexander-Arnold plays a key role in Liverpool's attacking options and the numbers he has posted since establishing himself as first-choice right-back at Anfield are testament to that.

In 132 Premier League appearances he has scored eight goals and provided 34 assists but the majority of those (32) have come in the last three seasons, and in the club's title-winning campaign of 2019-20 only Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne created more goals.

"If you watch our games then you will see that Trent's position has already changed," added Klopp.

"Not in all the games but in games where it is possible, so there is no need to now make him a midfield player.

"It is a little bit a shame that we talk in 2021 like this about football. Players play everywhere, especially good players.

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Highlights of the World Cup qualifying group I match between England and Andorra from Wembley.

"Trent on the right wing was already everywhere on the pitch. Some people think that because he plays 10 yards further up the pitch he would be more influential.

"Being more influential than Trent Alexander-Arnold in the last, I don't know, how many years he has played for me is really tricky.

"It would mean I would have to have a proper look to find somebody.

"He plays the right position, we adapt and try and use his skills absolutely, but in the end the right-back is the one who defends the right side and he is doing that really well.

"All the rest when we have the ball, we use him as good as we can."

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Leeds vs Liverpool on Sky: Will Alisson, Fabinho, Raphinha feature?

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:00

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Leeds vs Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm.

Team news

Leeds United have Stuart Dallas available despite the Northern Ireland midfielder withdrawing from international duty for personal reasons.

Daniel James could make his Leeds debut at Elland Road, while Mateusz Klich and Junior Firpo have recovered from Covid-19, but the involvement of Raphinha remains dependant on his ban for not being released for international duty being lifted.

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Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa says the club made the right decision to sign Daniel James and the Welsh winger will be available this weekend.

Like Raphinha, Liverpool duo Alisson Becker and Fabinho remain ineligible to feature after failing to appear for Brazil national duty, while fellow Brazilian Roberto Firmino is out injured.

Virgil van Dijk and Harvey Elliott are both fit but James Milner, despite returning to training this week, remains a doubt to feature against his former club.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he is still waiting to find out whether Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino are allowed to play this weekend. How to follow

Leeds vs Liverpool is live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm; kick-off 4.30pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

Sunday 12th September 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD Last time out...

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's draw with Chelsea

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Burnley's draw with Leeds Opta stats
  • After winning both league meetings against Liverpool in 2000-01, Leeds are winless in their last eight against the Reds in the Premier League (D3 L5).
  • Liverpool have lost just one of their last nine away league games against Leeds (W5 D3), going down 4-3 in November 2000 with Mark Viduka netting all four goals for the Whites.
  • Liverpool have only failed to score in one of their last 22 meetings with Leeds in all competitions, finding the net in each of their last 15 against the Whites since a goalless draw at Elland Road in April 1999.
  • After winning their last four games of the 2020-21 campaign, Leeds are without a win so far this season (D2 L1). They've not failed to win any of their first four games to a top-flight campaign since 1958-59 under Bill Lambton.
  • Leeds are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League home games (W3 D4), their longest run without defeat at Elland Road in the top-flight since a run of 15 in 2001.

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We look ahead to matchweek four in the Premier League as Crystal Palace host Tottenham, Leicester face Manchester City and Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to make his return to the Premier League as Manchester United host Newcastle.
  • Coming into this weekend's games, only Brentford (15) are on a longer unbeaten run in England's top four tiers than Liverpool (13 - W10 D3). Away from home, Liverpool have won seven of their last eight Premier League matches (D1), including each of the last four in a row.
  • Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has created more chances than any other player in the Premier League this season (15), while no player has provided more successful open play crosses than Alexander-Arnold (6).
  • Leeds' Patrick Bamford has been involved in five goals in his last seven Premier League appearances (4 goals, 1 assist), while the England striker is also on 98 goals in total in his English league career (272 games).
  • Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has scored 99 goals in 161 Premier League appearances, and a goal here would see him become the fifth fastest player to reach 100 in the competition after Alan Shearer (124), Harry Kane (141), Sergio Agüero (147) and Thierry Henry (160).

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Klopp, Pep and Tuchel on 'nonsense' Brazilian player ban

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 13:15

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he still has "no idea" if the club's Brazilian players will be able to face Leeds United on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola also voicing his frustration.

On Wednesday it was revealed that FIFA had invoked Article 5 to block Premier League clubs from selecting players who they had refused to release for the latest round of international fixtures, following a request from the Brazilian Football Confederation.

It comes after Premier League clubs unanimously agreed last month not to release players for international matches in countries on the UK Government's red list.

If enforced, Article 5 would prevent players from playing in this weekend's round of Premier League fixtures and also Tuesday's Champions League matches.

Liverpool would be one of the clubs hit hardest by the restrictions with Alisson, Fabinho and Robert Firmino, who is currently injured, banned from playing against Leeds.

Liverpool believe FIFA has no basis with which to ban clubs from selecting the players but Klopp admits he is unsure if he will be allowed to pick the Brazilians on Sunday, as discussions continue over their availability.

Sunday 12th September 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm Sky Sports Main Event HD Sky Sports Main Event HD

"I have no idea when I can expect a solution," Klopp said.

"We will see. I don't know at the moment when I will have to make a decision about it. But there will be a moment.

"Today's training session will obviously be a very important one, it would nice if we could train with the team I want to play on Sunday. We will see."

Klopp added: "It is a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs, and the players especially.

"We should not forget at this moment that the players wanted to play these games, the clubs wanted to let the players go but it was not possible."

Klopp believes the issue could also affect the next international break in October, particularly if more countries are added to the UK Government's red list.

"We still don't know what we can do right now at the weekend but that's the smallest problem because next time, we don't know how the pandemic develops - there could be 10 or 15 other countries on the red list," Klopp added.

"I hope that it's not the case but we cannot ignore that this could be possible. If that happens, then it's the same problem again with all the players.

"If we still think that the clubs and the players should get the punishment for something that we have absolutely no influence over, that for sure is not right."

Guardiola faces wait over Brazil duo

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Pep Guardiola says he is unsure if the Brazil players in his squad will be available this weekend but is hopeful of a solution

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is also in the dark over whether Brazil duo Ederson and Gabriel Jesus will be able to play against Leicester City on Saturday.

City, in common with a number of other English top-flight clubs, did not want the players to travel because of quarantine restrictions on return to the UK.

With Brazil also having quarantine rules, Guardiola admits the whole situation is a confusing one.

"If they had travelled there they wouldn't be allowed to play for quarantine," said Guardiola during his Friday press conference.

"If they do it, so they cannot play in Brazil, and after they come back and cannot play here for 10 days.

"If they don't fly they are suspended for five days because they are here. It makes no sense."

Guardiola added: "Right now, at 1.35pm, it is unclear. I don't know, hopefully they can play. We are going to wait to see if they can play or not."

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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has suggested moving international fixtures to green-listed countries as a solution for making players available for both club and country amid the coronavirus pandemic Tuchel: Switch international games to green-list countries

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel, who also has Brazilian defender Thiago Silva embroiled in the club vs country row, believes international venues should be changed moving forward.

Like his fellow compatriots, Silva did not travel to South America for Brazil duty in the international break, and could now face a five-day suspension.

The 36-year-old could miss Chelsea's Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Saturday and Tuesday's Champions League encounter with Zenit St Petersburg.

Asked if Silva faced a no-win situation, Tuchel said: "Yes, I don't understand it, it makes no sense from either side.

"Did it make sense from the Brazilian national team? No. Did it make sense for us? No.

"Because now we are in danger that he maybe cannot play the next two matches, because of a ban. If we would have sent him he would be out for 10 days in a hotel room, not able to train.

"Which I can understand because these are the travel restrictions at the moment. And nobody wants that.

Chelsea's Thiago Silva is another player who is affected by the club vs country row with Brazil Image: Chelsea's Thiago Silva is another player who is affected by the club vs country row with Brazil

"So these solutions where we are right now, these discussions, I don't know if any fan or anybody involved in the game can understand the positive effect of it. There is simply none.

"The chairman is still in negotiations, and I'm still positive and he is not out yet officially."

Instead, Tuchel proposed international matches are switched from red-list to green-list countries moving forward, as happened in last season's Champions League.

"Personally, I think it could be a solution maybe to move games from red listed to green listed countries, like we did with the Champions League."

Klopp: World Cup plans don't consider players

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he opposes plans to play a World Cup every two years because of the extra demands it will place on players

Klopp has revealed he recently held talks with FIFA's chief of global football development Arsene Wenger over the proposal to host the World Cup every two years instead of four.

However, the Liverpool manager has suggested he would be opposed to any plans that could lead to more matches in the football calendar and less time for his players to recover during the summer break.

"There is no other sport in the world with such a relentless calendar," said Klopp.

"There are more demanding sports like athletics, marathon running - but they don't run 20 or 30 or 40 a year.

"We all know why it is happening. Whatever people say, that it is giving other countries opportunities - that's why there are more teams at the World Cup for example.

"But in the end it is all about money. That is how it is."

Klopp added: "At some point somebody has to understand that without the players, the most important ingredient of this wonderful game, we don't play.

"So whoever thinks they are more important - FIFA, UEFA, the sporting directors, the managers - nobody is more important than the players."

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