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Van Dijk plays down talk of new deal

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 07:40
Watch Chelsea vs Liverpool on Sunday from 4pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 4.30pm

Last Updated: 18/09/19 7:51am

Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton for £75m in January 2018 Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton for £75m in January 2018 Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton for £75m in January 2018

Virgil van Dijk insists he is "not even discussing anything at the moment" regarding negotiations over a contract extension at Liverpool.

The Reds defender opened up to Sky Sports News reporter Bryan Swanson immediately after Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat away to Napoli.

It was a miserable start to the defence of their Champions League campaign, particularly with the exemplary Van Dijk allowing Fernando Llorente to steal a late second goal.

Van Dijk is the clear favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or after leading Liverpool to Champions League glory Van Dijk is the clear favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or after leading Liverpool to Champions League glory Van Dijk is the clear favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or after leading Liverpool to Champions League glory

On the back of reports earlier in September that he had agreed a new bumper deal at Anfield, the 28-year-old, who moved to Anfield from Southampton for £75m in January 2018, was asked if he wanted to hold talks about a contract extension.

"There is nothing going on, so that's it," he said.

Asked again about wanting to hold talks about 'any extension', Van Dijk added: "That's not on me! I saw some reports in the media that I was agreeing a new deal and stuff.

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"But I'm not even discussing anything at the moment. The only thing I want to do right now is focus on the games and we'll see in the future what may happen."

Van Dijk has been at the heart of Liverpool's ascent under Jurgen Klopp, playing a leading role in the club's path to Champions League glory last season and their emergence as Manchester City's main rivals for Premier League dominance.

Liverpool have made a perfect start to their domestic campaign by winning their first five Premier League games, but they face their biggest challenge so far when they travel to Stamford Bridge to face Frank Lampard's Chelsea on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

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Klopp: A 'clear and obvious' no penalty

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 23:45
Liverpool start Champions League defence with 2-0 defeat in Naples

Last Updated: 18/09/19 6:23am

0:51 Jurgen Klopp was frustrated at Napoli's penalty with the Liverpool boss saying 'as long as humans are involved in VAR there is still potential for failure' Jurgen Klopp was frustrated at Napoli's penalty with the Liverpool boss saying 'as long as humans are involved in VAR there is still potential for failure'

Jurgen Klopp was less than pleased with the penalty decision which helped Napoli to a 2-0 win over his Liverpool side in their Champions League group stage tie on Tuesday night.

Jose Callejon went down in the Liverpool box under minimal pressure from Andrew Robertson, but the well-placed referee gave a spot-kick, and the VAR official decided against overturning the decision.

That allowed Dries Mertens to open the scoring from 12 yards, in a game Liverpool had otherwise been largely comfortable in, and in the dying moments, they added a second goal to seal victory in Naples.

"For me, it's clear and obvious, no penalty, because Callejon jumps before he has any contact," Klopp said. "But we cannot change that so we have to be critical with ourselves. We did well in a lot of moments, we played a lot of good football but we didn't finish off.

"In the second half, we had this wild game, we were running, they were running. They've killed everybody on the pitch, started controlling again and then we've conceded a penalty.

Goals by Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente condemned Liverpool to defeat Goals by Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente condemned Liverpool to defeat Goals by Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente condemned Liverpool to defeat

"Of course that doesn't help and I've seen it now, I don't think that's a penalty."

Klopp was also unhappy with his misfiring forward line, whose link-up play was far below their usual standard and forced only two real saves out of Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret across the 90 minutes.

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"We controlled it in moments, but we had not enough chances in the end," Klopp said. "What you saw was a lot of respect from both sides, we both defended well and each ball we lost, or they lost, was immediately a threat.

"The last ball is the most difficult ball anyway, and if you are not in the right circumstances it's even more difficult. And so there were moments when we should have done better, for sure."

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Liverpool sunk by late Napoli goals

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 22:00
Ron Walker

Digital Football Journalist

Champions League holders beaten in Naples for the second season in a row

Last Updated: 18/09/19 6:23am

Liverpool suffered a frustrating night in Naples Liverpool suffered a frustrating night in Naples Liverpool suffered a frustrating night in Naples

Late goals from Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente earned Napoli a 2-0 victory as Liverpool made a slow start to their Champions League defence.

For the second season in a row, Jurgen Klopp's side were beaten in the group stage in Naples - they lost 1-0 last October - and it was more sloppy defending which saw the Group E game slip away from them in the final minutes.

The Reds had defended stoutly against some sustained pressure from the home side, but were unlucky to be punished when Jose Callejon skipped inside of Andy Robertson before making the most of minimal contact with the Liverpool defender and, when a VAR review failed to give the visitors a reprieve, Dries Mertens took full advantage to beat Adrian from the spot.

"For me it's clear and obvious, no penalty, because Callejon jumps before he has any contact," an unhappy Jurgen Klopp complained after the game.

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As Liverpool pushed for a late equaliser, Fernando Llorente doubled the lead during added-on time after a rare Virgil van Dijk mistake, profiting when the defender's mis-hit pass ran into his path and he slotted the ball home to spark wild celebrations on the home bench.

Victory was sealed - and the reigning champions of Europe had been beaten in the first game of their defence for the first time since AC Milan in 1994.

Liverpool defence gets off to a whimper

Liverpool were hoping for better than their limp showing at the Stadio San Paolo last season, but found themselves caught out on the break early on when, as they would have feared, Lorenzo Insigne found space in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold. But from his pull-back Fabian twice pulled simple saves out of Adrian from a good position.

Liverpool responded when Jordan Henderson's lob found Sadio Mane unmarked on the edge of the box, but his heavy touch took him wide of Alex Meret's post and, from a tight angle, it was simple enough for the goalkeeper to turn his effort round the post with his legs.

Player ratings

Napoli: Meret (7), Di Lorenzo (6), Koulibaly (8), Manolas (6), Mario Rui (7), Callejo (6), Fabian (7), Allan (7), Insigne (6), Lozano (6), Mertens (7).

Subs: Zielinski (6), Llorente (7), Elmas (6).

Liverpool: Adrian (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (6), Van Dijk (5), Roberton (6), Milner (6), Henderson (6), Fabinho (7), Salah (5), Firmino (6), Mane (5).

Subs: Wijnaldum (5), Shaqiri (n/a)

Man of the match: Kalidou Koulibaly

There was little more to shout about from either side before the break although it took a last-gasp challenge from Alexander-Arnold to take the ball off Insigne's foot as he prepared to shoot.

The second half did not take so long to liven up. It was less than four minutes old when Liverpool were indebted to a world-class save from Adrian to stay level, with the goalkeeper somehow tipping over Mertens' far-post header when he looked certain to score.

When the visitors did get chances to attack, their front three looked out of sorts; it was summed up when Mane hung onto the ball too long as Liverpool broke before over-hitting a simple pass across to the unmarked Mo Salah.

Goals by Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente condemned Liverpool to defeat Goals by Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente condemned Liverpool to defeat Goals by Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente condemned Liverpool to defeat

Liverpool were left to rue those misfiring attacks when Callejon took a late tumble under pressure from Robertson, the referee pointed straight to the spot and Mertens found the bottom corner, despite a commendable effort from Adrian.

It was already looking like a case of deja vu for Liverpool at this point, but things got worse in added time when Van Dijk's uncharacteristic error set up Llorente, who had been in the defeated Spurs squad in last season's final, to slot under Adrian and seal three points for the hosts.

'Not a typical Liverpool performance'

Former Liverpool defender Phil Babb told The Debate:

"It was comfortable, they created chances, I think they had four on target which was an improvement from last season when they only had one. But it wasn't a typical Liverpool performance; we didn't see Andy Robertson or Trent Alexander-Arnold bombing forward.

"Sadio Mane looked sharp, Mo Salah looked sharp at times, they did create chances but it was a masterclass from Kalidou Koulibaly - he was like the Virgil van Dijk of last season, and Liverpool got no joy out of him. It was a couple of sucker-punches.

"After that Adrian save, you thought 'yeah, coming out of this 0-0, it's a good point', but unfortunately they lost it."

Opta facts
  • Napoli have now won five of their six Champions League home games against English opposition (L1 - a 2-4 defat to Man City in November 2017).
  • Liverpool have lost their opening Champions League match of a new campaign for only the second time (P12 W6 D4 L2), and for the first time since a 0-2 defeat to Valencia in September 2002.
  • Liverpool have lost six of their last eight away games in the Champions League (W2), as many as in their previous 25 such matches in the competition.
  • Napoli striker Fernando Llorente has now scored a Champions League goal for four different clubs (Juventus, Sevilla, Spurs and Napoli) - the joint-most sides of all Spaniards alongside Fernando Morientes.
What's next?

Chelsea host league leaders Liverpool on Renault Super Sunday - live at 4pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 4.30pm.

The Reds' next Champions League game is at home to Red Bull Salzburg, who thrashed Genk 6-2 in their opening game, on October 2.

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Klopp: Agent joked I could leave over weather

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 21:10
Klopp: 'It is German humour but obviously nobody got it! I am completely fine with the weather!'

Last Updated: 16/09/19 9:44pm

1:08 Jurgen Klopp says comments made by his agent that he was contemplating his Liverpool future because of the British weather were meant as a joke Jurgen Klopp says comments made by his agent that he was contemplating his Liverpool future because of the British weather were meant as a joke

Jurgen Klopp has dismissed as a joke a claim made by his agent that he could leave Liverpool because of the British weather.

The German's contract at Anfield runs until 2022, and Sky Sports News understands the Premier League leaders are keen to secure him to a new long-term deal.

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The Liverpool manager's agent Marc Kosicke suggested in a recent interview that Klopp could be tempted to move to a warmer climate.

But speaking on the eve of Liverpool's Champions League opener against Napoli, Klopp said: "There is nothing in that story.

"He wanted to make a joke so now I have to be serious.

0:34 Klopp revealed in July he wants to remain at Liverpool for 'at least three' more years, taking him to the end of his current contract Klopp revealed in July he wants to remain at Liverpool for 'at least three' more years, taking him to the end of his current contract

"It is German humour but obviously nobody got it...I am completely fine with the weather.

"Let me spell it out, the weather has never been a reason for me to choose a city and it's certainly not a reason for me to leave the country.

"Maybe at the moment (in England) it's the most healthy weather in the world - we have enough rain, it's cool, pretty much the opposite of this room!

"There's nothing in that story. He's my agent and my friend.

"When I speak about the weather it was about the wind which can have an effect on football, but that is not allowed in England. But that is not to a reason leave the country. I am fine."

How to watch Premier League highlights

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We'll bring you highlights of every Premier League game on the Sky Sports website and app at full-time or from 5.15pm on Saturday afternoons.

You'll also be able to watch in-game goals from Sky Live games on Twitter and catch Premier League highlights on our Sky Sports Football YouTube channel.

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Klopp: City best team in the world

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 20:00

Last Updated: 16/09/19 8:31pm

0:20 Jurgen Klopp has said that his side cannot be the best in Europe - because Manchester City are the best in the world! Jurgen Klopp has said that his side cannot be the best in Europe - because Manchester City are the best in the world!

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says Manchester City are the best team in the world.

Liverpool are top of the Premier League table after a perfect start to their campaign and are five points clear of reigning champions City.

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But Klopp believes City - who have averaged 99 points in the last two Premier League seasons - are still superior to his Liverpool side.

"We cannot be the best team in Europe because Manchester City are the best team in the world - and that is the same planet I've heard," Klopp said ahead of Liverpool's Champions League opener against Napoli.

1:04 Pep Guardiola says he is not worried about the Premier League title race after falling five points behind Liverpool and joked the Anfield club are already champions. Pep Guardiola says he is not worried about the Premier League title race after falling five points behind Liverpool and joked the Anfield club are already champions.

"There are a lot of good teams out there and you have to prove that [you are up there with the best] constantly.

"Last year, we were really good. I'm not sure we were the best team in Europe, but we were really good in the right moments and that's why we won the Champions League."

1:59 Graeme Souness feels Aymeric Laporte's injury has put Liverpool in the driving seat to win the Premier League ahead of defending champions Manchester City. Graeme Souness feels Aymeric Laporte's injury has put Liverpool in the driving seat to win the Premier League ahead of defending champions Manchester City.

Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 in last season's Champions League final in Madrid to win their sixth European title, but Klopp says his team will not feel burdened by heading into this season's competition as champions.

"We don't feel the burden because I don't know exactly how that should feel to be honest," said the German.

"It's long ago. Three or four months. The question keeps coming up about whether teams will play differently against us. I have no clue to be honest.

"I never went into a Champions League season, winning the Champions League the year before, so we will experience that [together for the first time]. I hope we are prepared for that."

Lorenzo Insigne scored a last minute winner against Liverpool last season Lorenzo Insigne scored a last minute winner against Liverpool last season Lorenzo Insigne scored a last minute winner against Liverpool last season

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson lifted the Champion League trophy in Madrid last season, but the midfielder dismissed the notion that his side have a target on their back as reigning champions.

"I feel as though being at Liverpool everyone wants to beat you anyway," he said.

Jordan Henderson captained Liverpool to Champions League glory last term Jordan Henderson captained Liverpool to Champions League glory last term Jordan Henderson captained Liverpool to Champions League glory last term

"It's the same for us, we want to beat everyone we play and they want to beat us.

"For us, it is the same as it always has been - it's to give everything in every single game we play in and we know it will be a tough game tomorrow.

"They're a great side but we've just got to concentrate on what we can do. If we perform at the level that I know we can then we'll have a good opportunity to win the game."

Analysis - Bryan Swanson, chief reporter in Naples...

Jurgen Klopp was at his blistering best as Naples turned up the heat in a small room inside the vast San Paolo stadium.

Klopp sweated his way through half an hour in front of the media ahead of his side's clash with Napoli with his usual humour while drinking plenty of water, as he attempted to pour cold water on repeated questions about Liverpool's new status as Champions League holders.

Jurgen Klopp and Jordan Henderson emerge from the plane with the Champions League trophy Jurgen Klopp and Jordan Henderson emerge from the plane with the Champions League trophy Jurgen Klopp and Jordan Henderson emerge from the plane with the Champions League trophy

Asked whether he could use Champions League success to gain a psychological advantage, he replied: "It's so easy to carry on normal, if you have the right characters.

"If you go nuts and start taking drugs and drinking, and driving different cars, or whatever, and leave your missus at home because you think 'Now I'm a Champions League winner', then I can't help you. We are not like this. We want to create more stories in the future."

On the state of Napoli's dressing rooms, after criticism last week: "They're brilliant! I don't see anything new from last year." Was he wary of the 'San Paolo effect' for Napoli, similar to the effect of teams playing at Anfield: "Yes!" he smiled, in his only one-word answer of the news conference.

One Italian journalist wished him well: "From the bottom of your heart, I'm sure!", he replied with sarcasm. Would Klopp take a draw? "Let's see on the performance."

Last year, Liverpool travelled to Napoli and lost 1-0 in the Champions League group stage. Klopp is well aware of the improvement in 11 months but would not be drawn on specifics.

Jurgen Klopp clarified his agent's remarks on the weather Jurgen Klopp clarified his agent's remarks on the weather Jurgen Klopp clarified his agent's remarks on the weather

He was impressed by UEFA interpreter Patrick Kendrick's extensive answers - "unbelievable" - and his ability to handle the soaring temperatures. "He's not even sweating!" Klopp joked to the club's head of press Matt McCann, after one answer. "You don't even sweat, it's unbelievable!" he told Kendrick.

On the weather back home, Klopp clarified his agent's remarks about whether it would influence his decision to extend his Liverpool contract: "I am completely fine with the weather. It's the opposite of this room. Nobody got his joke, and that's how it is."

Klopp left the media room "sweating like crazy" as Liverpool expect another red-hot night in Naples on Tuesday.

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Ancelotti: Liverpool better than last year

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 19:28

Last Updated: 16/09/19 7:34pm

Napoli and Liverpool both won their respective home games as they met in the Champions League last season Napoli and Liverpool both won their respective home games as they met in the Champions League last season Napoli and Liverpool both won their respective home games as they met in the Champions League last season

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti believes that Liverpool are an even better side after their Champions League win last season, as the clubs prepare to go head-to-head in the competition again.

Lorenzo Insigne's last-gasp strike was all that separated the sides in the corresponding group-stage fixture last season, before the Reds prevailed in the reverse encounter at Anfield.

With the teams paired together in the Champions League for the second successive season, Ancelotti is aware of the visitors' threat but claims Napoli have also improved ahead of clash on Tuesday night.

He said: "We're playing the best team in Europe and they haven't dropped any points in the Premier League yet.

"The result is very important in matches like this but it's even more important we have the confidence to match the best teams out there.

Napoli and Liverpool both won their respective home games as they met in the Champions League last season Napoli and Liverpool both won their respective home games as they met in the Champions League last season Napoli and Liverpool both won their respective home games as they met in the Champions League last season

"Last year we were in a really tough group and we very nearly qualified. We're determined to erase the disappointment of last season, which had a psychological effect on us in Serie A too.

"Normally it's the European champions who are favourites but we hope it ends the same way as last year's game at the San Paolo.

"Liverpool have improved because winning the Champions League gives you belief.

1:59 Graeme Souness feels Aymeric Laporte's injury has put Liverpool in the driving seat to win the Premier League ahead of defending champions Manchester City Graeme Souness feels Aymeric Laporte's injury has put Liverpool in the driving seat to win the Premier League ahead of defending champions Manchester City

"Napoli have improved too and we've bolstered our squad with the addition of some quality players. I think it will be a great game - hard fought and intense."

Liverpool pipped Napoli in qualifying for the last 16 last term by virtue of scoring more goals in the group stage after the teams could not be split on points and a number of other determining factors.

The Reds went on to scoop the most prestigious trophy in European club competition, but glory does not appear to have blunted their ambition as they have started the Premier League campaign with five straight wins.

Ancelotti added: "We want to play a starring role, first by reaching the knockout stage and cementing our place as one of Europe's top clubs.

"We know how good we are and we want to prove it on the international stage."

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Brewster in for Napoli, injured Origi out

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:18
19-year-old Brewster yet to make Liverpool senior debut

Last Updated: 16/09/19 4:24pm

Rhian Brewster won the U17 World Cup with England in 2017 Rhian Brewster won the U17 World Cup with England in 2017 Rhian Brewster won the U17 World Cup with England in 2017

Teenage striker Rhian Brewster is in Liverpool's squad for their Champions League group game against Napoli, with injured Divock Origi missing out.

The Champions League holders begin the defence of their sixth European Cup title in Naples on Tuesday at the San Paolo Stadium. Also in Group E are Belgian side Genk and Austrian club RB Salzburg.

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Brewster, 19, has not been included in a Premier League matchday squad this season. His only first-team involvement this term has been in the 22-man UEFA Super Cup squad.

But Origi's injury against Newcastle in Saturday's 3-1 win at Anfield increases the likelihood of Brewster's involvement against Napoli with Liverpool short on back-up striking options.

Divock Origi receives medical attention against Newcastle Divock Origi receives medical attention against Newcastle Divock Origi receives medical attention against Newcastle

In fact, Origi's injury on Saturday prompted the Liverpool U23 coaching staff to substitute Brewster 15 minutes into their match against Derby.

Origi, the Belgium forward, was taken off after suffering an ankle injury in Saturday's 3-1 win at Anfield and, according to manager Jurgen Klopp, he will undergo a scan to assess the damage.

Liverpool's 20-man squad

Goalkeeper: Adrian, Caoimhin Kelleher, Andy Lonergan

Defenders: Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Rhian Brewster

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Charlie's European predictions

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:15
Charlie Nicholas

Football Expert

Follow the Champions League and Europa League across Sky Sports digital platforms and on Soccer Special

Last Updated: 16/09/19 4:40pm

Charlie Nicholas returns with his latest round of European predictions Charlie Nicholas returns with his latest round of European predictions Charlie Nicholas returns with his latest round of European predictions

Charlie Nicholas returns with his predictions for the British teams getting their Champions League and Europa League campaigns under way this week.

There are nine British clubs involved in the European competitions this year, including Liverpool, who are looking to defend their Champions League title.

And Soccer Saturday's Charlie has given his predictions for the upcoming fixtures...

Napoli vs Liverpool Liverpool will be looking to defend their Champions League title Liverpool will be looking to defend their Champions League title Liverpool will be looking to defend their Champions League title

This will be a good test for the Champions League holders. We saw a vulnerable side to their defence at the weekend again, conceding after just seven minutes against Newcastle. They have walked away comfortably and won, but that is not the point.

The difference Roberto Firmino makes is unbelievable. He doesn't get the goals that Mohamed Salah gets or has the pace that Sadio Mane does but he has skill and cunning. He is a real team player and is my favourite out of the three, my favourite to watch, although he may be easier to mark than the other two.

2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's 3-1 win over Newcastle in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's 3-1 win over Newcastle in the Premier League

Liverpool have not improved in midfield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still a fringe player. We know they are a good side but those three have to be on their game to win matches.

Napoli are all-action and very strong at home, but not convincing away from home. Dries Mertens just rocks up and does the job. He gets big goals and I expect him to grab another through the week.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (10/1 with Sky Bet)

Chelsea vs Valencia Chelsea won the Europa League last season to reach the Champions League group stages Chelsea won the Europa League last season to reach the Champions League group stages Chelsea won the Europa League last season to reach the Champions League group stages

Tammy Abraham's goals are gigantic but Mason Mount's performances have been impressive. England U21 players have scored all 11 Premier League goals thus far which is remarkable. I thought they would be in trouble at Wolves but I was wrong. They have good energy and good pace up front. It is an expansive way of playing for Frank Lampard.

Valencia sacked their manager and I do not see them being as flamboyant. They will try to counter-attack which will make it hard for Abraham and Mount to understand.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

Olympiakos vs Tottenham 2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham's 4-0 win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham's 4-0 win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League

This is an awkward one. Tottenham were very impressive in the first half against Crystal Palace, which allowed them to ease down to second gear in the second half. They kept hold of Christian Eriksen and so things have calmed down a bit. He started against Palace, so is that why it has calmed down?

Mauricio Pochettino has changed his team too much and that is why they look vulnerable at the back. I would imagine Tottenham would try to control possession, but this is an awkward trip and these are dangerous teams to travel to. Tottenham are still unpredictable.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (11/2 with Sky Bet)

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City 2:48 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Norwich's 3-2 win over Manchester City in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Norwich's 3-2 win over Manchester City in the Premier League

Manchester City found this one difficult last season. Shakhtar have always brought in a bit of pedigree but that is getting less and less as the years progress. They are not quite getting those names anymore and it takes away the creative ability that they were once dangerous with. They are not quite sure whether they should be contesting or not.

City will be badly winded after the Norwich game. Aymeric Laporte is a massive miss for them. I don't know why Pep Guardiola decided to leave Kevin de Bruyne out at the weekend. This will be a comfortable win to get the Premier League champions back on track.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 0-4 (12/1 with Sky Bet)

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Arsenal Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw by Watford on Sunday, but can they bounce back in Europe? Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw by Watford on Sunday, but can they bounce back in Europe? Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw by Watford on Sunday, but can they bounce back in Europe?

God only knows what defence Unai Emery will pick. I don't know how often we will have to say it as Arsenal fans. They are very good going forward, as are the youngsters. The balance from midfield to front is not bad either, but it is scary how bad Arsenal are defensively.

What is the attraction to Sokratis Papastathopoulos? I would play Kieran Tierney on Thursday and see if Hector Bellerin could start too. Regarding Sunday's game against Watford, when you see David Luiz giving instructions with 20 minutes to go, you know you are in trouble.

Konstantinos Mavropanos is still game time away from being fit. It would be the end if Shkodran Mustafi was to be brought back. We need to get Rob Holding, Bellerin and Tierney back into the side as soon as possible. I would take a hit and play these players to give them game time and let them get match fitness.

2:44 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Watford's 2-2 draw with Arsenal in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Watford's 2-2 draw with Arsenal in the Premier League

Nicolas Pepe was dreadful against Watford. How Emery took Mesut Ozil and Dani Ceballos off ahead of him was beyond me. It is starting to effect Ainsley Maitland-Niles and some of the other young players. Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock came on and could not keep the ball.

It is the manager's responsibility. He must resolve this and come to a conclusion on how to sort this out. Tierney, Bellerin, and Holding should play - I would play them this week and take a defeat if it meant they got the game time they needed.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-2 (12/1 with Sky Bet)

Manchester United vs Astana 2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United's win over Leicester in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United's win over Leicester in the Premier League

Astana will come and 'park the bus'. Manchester United were not brilliant at the weekend, but it was a fabulous result - they nearly stumbled but they didn't, and it is about getting yourselves the three points, in what was a dangerous game.

It doesn't make a difference that Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard were missing - they have not been setting the world on fire. It is not convincing with United but this is another game in which they will get over the line, in comfortable fashion.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-0 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Wolves vs Braga Nuno Espirito Santo will come up against a side from his native Portugal Nuno Espirito Santo will come up against a side from his native Portugal Nuno Espirito Santo will come up against a side from his native Portugal

Nuno Espirito Santo will want to get one over on the Portuguese side. Braga are always dangerous but do not travel well. Are Wolves caught up in the emotion of the Europa League? They took their foot off the pedal in Premier League as they were thumped by Chelsea.

They were blown away at weekend and it was very unlike them to concede five and make so many mistakes. They need to get back to basics and get a win in in the Premier League, but Nuno will take this seriously and I expect Wolves to be too strong here, getting off to a fine start in the group stages.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

Rennes vs Celtic Celtic could struggle in France, according to Charlie Nicholas Celtic could struggle in France, according to Charlie Nicholas Celtic could struggle in France, according to Charlie Nicholas

Rennes have started very well in Ligue 1. I am hoping that M'Baye Niang will not be playing. He is lightning quick, almost a lesser version of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. These guys can play and move, and that is what Celtic struggle against.

Celtic will be good on the counter-attack, but their reputation is always the same. They get scared when they travel away from home. They don't know where to pitch their defence and whether to play a squeezing game or not. They will have technically gifted players and pace out wide, where they will look to exploit. Celtic still have defensive injuries and will not threaten here.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (17/2 with Sky Bet)

Rangers vs Feyenoord Steven Gerrard will lead Rangers in their Europa League campaign Steven Gerrard will lead Rangers in their Europa League campaign Steven Gerrard will lead Rangers in their Europa League campaign

This will be a fiery game. Feyenoord have a strong reputation. Feyenoord have the passion but are not bringing the support they would always bring. Rangers enjoy these nights and that is why Steven Gerrard is there.They have not clicked into gear just yet though. Jaap Stam's side will sit in for 20-25 minutes and this could cause frustration around Ibrox - this is when they could pounce.

Alfredo Morelos is the threat and Feyenoord will be winding him up to see if they can get to him. He seems a lot calmer than what he has been in the past! It is not an easy night. It will be tense and very physical. I don't know if Rangers quite have the knowledge to get through these games yet.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

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'Liverpool now have the edge over City'

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 13:24
Graeme Souness

Football Expert & Columnist

Last Updated: 16/09/19 2:47pm

1:59 Graeme Souness feels Aymeric Laporte's injury has put Liverpool in the driving seat to win the Premier League ahead of defending champions Manchester City Graeme Souness feels Aymeric Laporte's injury has put Liverpool in the driving seat to win the Premier League ahead of defending champions Manchester City

Liverpool now have the edge over Manchester City in the Premier League title race, according to Graeme Souness.

Jurgen Klopp's side, who have now won five out of five in the league, opened up a five-point gap to defending champions Manchester City over the weekend after Pep Guardiola's side fell to a surprise 3-2 defeat at Carrow Road on Saturday.

The absence of centre-back Aymeric Laporte, who faces up to six months out, has already proven costly with Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones both struggling in the loss to Norwich.

0:46 Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock says he has concerns over Manchester City's defence following the departure of Vincent Kompany Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock says he has concerns over Manchester City's defence following the departure of Vincent Kompany

When asked if Laporte's absence gives Liverpool the edge in the title race, Souness told Sky Sports News: "I think so. With Laporte's injury I thought City would find it difficult against the better teams. With all due respect to Norwich, they did a number on them over the weekend.

"I thought they would get by in most games but against better teams they would find it hard to defend and get caught out.

It's not a big advantage, you have to remember that we are still in September but first blood has gone to Liverpool. They have momentum and no one is asking any questions of them while all eyes are on City."

'Liverpool stars willing to point fingers' Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah say they have ended their 'feud' Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah say they have ended their 'feud' Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah say they have ended their 'feud'

Souness also feels the competitive performance culture instilled by Klopp at Anfield is bringing the very best out of Liverpool's players.

"They are a team I don't think anyone enjoys playing against because they are aggressive and they test every part of your game with the physicality and technique they all have," he added.

"They play as a team. It's unusual in the modern game but they have players who are willing to point fingers at team-mates if they are not at it. That makes them very, very strong.

"They are the team that no one enjoys playing against, people will say that about City in a different way. You have to be at your very best against them."

'Stones has potential to be among the best' Man City defender react as Norwich go 3-1 up at Carrow Road Man City defender react as Norwich go 3-1 up at Carrow Road Man City defender react as Norwich go 3-1 up at Carrow Road

Laporte's absence should give Stones a chance to have an extended run in Guardiola's starting line-up.

Souness believes the England international has the potential to be among the best defenders in Europe if he can improve his decision making.

"[City] have to hope Stones and Otamendi can form a partnership.

"I think Stones is just missing something, whether it is his decision-making? He has the potential to be the best, better than all of them other than [Virgil] van Dijk.

"He needs to get his decision-making spot on, if he gets that City might have one of the best centre-halves in the country, maybe outside the country."

Graeme Souness was speaking on behalf of the The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK during the annual Bobby Moore Charity Golf Day. All the proceeds are spent on dedicated bowel cancer research by Cancer Research UK.

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Napoli vs Liverpool preview

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 12:23
Follow minute-by-minute updates across the Sky Sports website and app; kick-off 8pm

Last Updated: 16/09/19 6:48pm

Sadio Mane comes into the game having scored six goals in five games this season Sadio Mane comes into the game having scored six goals in five games this season Sadio Mane comes into the game having scored six goals in five games this season

Team news, key stats and predictions ahead of Napoli vs Liverpool as the Champions League group stages commence.

Team news

Divock Origi missed out on Liverpool's 20-man squad which travelled to Italy on Monday following his injury suffered against Newcastle, with Alisson Becker (leg) Naby Keita (groin) and Nathaniel Clyne (knee) also missing with longer-term conditions. The fitness of left-back Andy Robertson will be assessed prior to kick-off.

Arkadiusz Milik looks likely to miss out for Torino, having been absent since suffering a muscle injury in mid-August, but Lorenzo Insigne, who scored against the Reds when the two sides met in pre-season, may be fit after training alone for part of last week.

Lorenzo Insigne scored twice against Liverpool when the two sides met in pre-season Lorenzo Insigne scored twice against Liverpool when the two sides met in pre-season Lorenzo Insigne scored twice against Liverpool when the two sides met in pre-season Opta stats

This will be the fifth meeting between Napoli and Liverpool in European competition, after they met twice in the 2010-11 UEFA Europa League Group Stage and again in two Group Stage games in last season's UEFA Champions League.

Liverpool didn't attempt a single shot on target in their 0-1 UEFA Champions League Group Stage defeat away at Napoli last season. This is the only time in their last 74 games in the competition that they haven't attempted one.

Napoli have won just one of their last six European meetings with English clubs, losing the other five in this run and failing to score in the last three. The only victory in this time was the 1-0 home win over Liverpool on MD2 of the UEFA Champions League 2018/19.

0:44 Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said last week he was shocked to see the state of the dressing rooms at the Stadio San Paolo ahead of Liverpool's Champions League visit Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said last week he was shocked to see the state of the dressing rooms at the Stadio San Paolo ahead of Liverpool's Champions League visit

Over the last two UEFA Champions League campaigns, Liverpool have scored more goals (65) and won more games (15) than any other side in the competition.

The reigning UEFA Champions League champion have not lost their opening UCL game the following season since AC Milan did so in 1994-95 against Ajax (W14 D10 since).

Liverpool's forward Sadio Mane has scored 14 goals in 24 UEFA Champions League appearances. Should he score in his next appearance in the competition, he'll equal Didier Drogba's record of 25 appearances to score his first 15 goals in the UCL; which is the current quickest to 15 goals by an African player.

Charlie Nicholas' prediction

This will be a good test for the Champions League holders. We saw a vulnerable side to their defence at the weekend again, conceding after just seven minutes against Newcastle. They have walked away comfortably and won, but that is not the point.

The difference Roberto Firmino makes is unbelievable. He doesn't get the goals that Mohamed Salah gets or has the pace that Sadio Mane does but he has skill and cunning. He is a real team player and is my favourite out of the three, my favourite to watch, although he may be easier to mark than the other two.

Liverpool have not improved in midfield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still a fringe player. We know they are a good side but those three have to be on their game to win matches.

Napoli are all-action and very strong at home, but not convincing away from home. Dries Mertens just rocks up and does the job. He gets big goals and I expect him to grab another through the week.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (10/1 with Sky Bet)

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Mane: Salah feud is forgotten

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 07:03
Sadio Mane was angry with Mohamed Salah for not passing to him during Liverpool's 3-0 win against Burnley

Last Updated: 16/09/19 10:07am

Liverpool's Sadio Mane showed his anger during the 3-0 win over Burnley Liverpool's Sadio Mane showed his anger during the 3-0 win over Burnley Liverpool's Sadio Mane showed his anger during the 3-0 win over Burnley

Sadio Mane insists his feud with Mohamed Salah is forgotten after his furious outburst aimed at the Egyptian two weeks ago.

Liverpool forward Mane reacted angrily to Salah choosing to shoot rather than pass to him during the 3-0 victory over Burnley on August 31.

Instead of passing to an unmarked Mane, Salah chose to take on the shot himself and was crowded out by Burnley defenders and his shot was blocked.

After being substituted, the Senegalese international threw his training shirt on the floor and gesticulated towards his team-mate, but declared on Canal+ that the pair have buried the hatchet.

He said: "With Salah? It's forgotten.

2:51 Highlights from Liverpool's 3-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League Highlights from Liverpool's 3-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League

"Sometimes you have to say things face to face. These are things that happen in football, sometimes it happens that I am not given the pass.

"But we have reconciled and become the good friends we were before."

Mane, who scored twice in the 3-1 Reds' victory over Newcastle on Saturday, now has six goals in six appearances this season, while Salah has four in seven.

Should Salah have passed? Mane was frustrated with Mohamed Salah during Liverpool's 3-0 win over Burnley Mane was frustrated with Mohamed Salah during Liverpool's 3-0 win over Burnley Mane was frustrated with Mohamed Salah during Liverpool's 3-0 win over Burnley

Following the 3-0 win against Burnley just over two weeks ago, Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Jon Walters said they liked to see some competition between players, but admitted Salah should have passed.

Carragher told Saturday Night Football: "There were even times last season that I was frustrated with Salah in commentary because if he hasn't scored in the first hour, it's like he's looking at the clock thinking 'I've only got half an hour, I have to score'. Really, he should have passed.

"What we should mention is that out of the front three, it is Salah who gets the most assists. Against Burnley, it was his 100th goal involvement in terms of goals and assists since he's come to Liverpool in something like 110 games, which is unbelievable.

2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's 3-1 win over Newcastle in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's 3-1 win over Newcastle in the Premier League

"He's virtually creating or assisting a goal every single game he plays, but there are times when he should make that extra pass or show that bit of composure every now and again.

"But Michael Owen was like that, Gary Neville tells me Ruud van Nistelrooy was like that, they would come in and win 3-0 but if they hadn't scored, they wouldn't be happy. Salah will feel like that and it is a good thing because you want him to keep driving and keep scoring goals but now and again, there's nothing wrong with passing to your mates."

Jon Walters added: "It's a good thing that strikers are like that with each other in a way. Liverpool have got a good group so it will be forgotten about straight away, no doubt.

"Mo Salah wanted the goal but it's important to have that competition in your team. You want two or three strikers really pushing each other the whole way during the season, you don't want one who is happy not to get a goal, you want them to want it."

Klopp: They are 'refreshed' after international break Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was pleased to give Salah and Mane a rest Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was pleased to give Salah and Mane a rest Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was pleased to give Salah and Mane a rest

After finishing their season with Liverpool on June 1 in the Champions League, both represented their respective countries in the Africa Cup of Nations, with Mane only returning to training five days before the new season after Senegal reached the final.

With neither Egypt nor Senegal in action over the most recent international break, manager Jurgen Klopp decided not to train to allow the pair a well-deserved rest.

He said: "It was perfect for the boys who did not have to go.

"We could have trained as there were five players here, but then Sadio and Mo would not have got the time off that they needed. They are refreshed, that is how it is, and hopefully we can use that."

Chelsea vs Liverpool

September 22, 2019, 4:00pm

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The value of Firmino: forget the stats

Sun, 09/15/2019 - 12:10
"It's not on the stats, you just need to watch and enjoy it. Sometimes I think he goes under the radar and he's not appreciated enough."

Last Updated: 15/09/19 1:59pm

2:10 Brazilian journalist Natalie Gedra underlines Roberto Firmino's importance to Liverpool on the Sunday Supplement Brazilian journalist Natalie Gedra underlines Roberto Firmino's importance to Liverpool on the Sunday Supplement

Roberto Firmino's stats will never paint a true story of his ability as Brazilian journalist Natalie Gedra underlines his importance to Liverpool.

Firmino started on the bench for Liverpool in their 3-1 win over Newcastle but was thrust into the action when Divock Origi suffered an ankle injury and the Brazilian set up Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah for Liverpool's final two goals.

Despite just playing 53 minutes, Firmino grabbed the official man-of-the-match award.

Even Newcastle boss Steve Bruce conceded Firmino was the difference: "His movement and the way he plays, Liverpool are as good as there is with him in that position."

0:40 Jurgen Klopp praises his players for coming from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League Jurgen Klopp praises his players for coming from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League

While Mane and Salah scored 22 goals apiece last season in Liverpool's extraordinary run to a runners-up finish in the Premier League, Firmino netted 12 and only recorded six assists.

Firmino is once again lagging behind his strike partners with just two goals compared to their four this season but ESPN Sports Correspondent Gedra, who is Brazilian, thinks analysing his statistics aren't a true reflection of his integral role for Jurgen Klopp's side.

She said on Sunday Supplement: "There's a discussion in Brazil about if he is the best player to have ever played in the Premier League and the counter argument is that he's never led in assists, he's never won the Premier League but that's the thing about Firmino - it's hard to measure how much he does for the team.

"It's not on the stats, you just need to watch and enjoy it. Sometimes I think he goes under the radar and he's not appreciated enough because his stats are not outstanding but he does so much more than that. His assist against Newcastle was just brilliant for Salah's goal.

"The impression that I have about Firmino is that his vision of the game just keeps improving and when you think he's reached the top because for the past few seasons, he's just been brilliant and now he keeps getting better and better. He reads perfectly his team's needs - it's impressive. We keep talking about how unselfish he is, but his cleverness on the pitch is so crucial for this Liverpool side."

Jason Burt - of the Daily Telegraph - agreed without Firmino, Liverpool wouldn't operate at the same level.

"Firmino and Mane are a great combination and Firmino is the oil in the engine for Liverpool," he said.

"He makes Mane and Salah better because they are direct and very clever players, but he is the one that has that subtlety. He sets the press too - he is the one that presses first, closes down the opposition and it's that work rate as well. They're getting better and better.

Firmino has scored twice and registered four assists in six games this season Firmino has scored twice and registered four assists in six games this season Firmino has scored twice and registered four assists in six games this season

"What I really like about this Liverpool team and what they did in the summer has allowed the team to develop more than anything else. They've thought 'we'll put our foot on the ball in the transfer market, we don't need to bring in loads of new players, maybe we'll bring in a few next summer, but this season is the one to capitalise on what we did last year and push on with that'.

"They've effectively got new players coming in in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez and these players haven't peaked yet. This could be the season they peak as a team. You look at them at the moment with five wins from five and those three up front, you would go a long way to beat it."

'Firmino is priceless'

Firmino has established himself as a firm fan-favourite but his importance to this Liverpool team is also recognised by his team-mates.

"I'm running out of words to describe him," Trent Alexander-Arnold said after the win against Newcastle.

"He's an unbelievable player. I've said it before - he's priceless to us. For us he's the best player we could have. He's the one that makes everything tick, he's the glue that holds everything together.

"The quality he showed here - his work on and off the ball, especially that second assist - was world class. He is a world-class player."

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Mane double sees Liverpool stay perfect

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 14:15
Mohamed Salah scored the third as Liverpool extended their lead to five points over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League By Oliver Yew

Last Updated: 15/09/19 2:47pm

2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's 3-1 win over Newcastle in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's 3-1 win over Newcastle in the Premier League

Sadio Mane scored twice as Liverpool came from behind to preserve their 100 per cent start to the season with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle at Anfield.

Newcastle took a shock early lead through Jetro Willems' powerful strike (7) but Liverpool, who enjoyed 80 per cent possession in the first half, turned things around before half-time with Mane (28, 40) taking his tally for goals in the Premier league this season to four.

Liverpool continued to dominate after the break and the game was eventually made safe by Mohamed Salah as Jurgen Klopp's side extended their lead over Manchester City, who suffered a shock defeat at Norwich live on Saturday Night Football, at the top to five points.

A third defeat of the season sees Newcastle drop to 16th in the table.

How Liverpool extended their winning run

Anfield was left stunned after just seven minutes when Willems, picked out by Christian Atsu on the left flank, cut inside Trent Alexander-Arnold with an excellent piece of skill before striking a powerful right-footed shot into the top corner.

Player ratings

Liverpool: Adrian (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Fabinho (7), Wijnaldum (7), Oxlade-Chamberlain (7), Mane (9), Origi (6), Salah (8).

Subs: Firmino (8), Milner (6), Shaqiri (n/a)

Newcastle: Dubravka (8), Krafth (6), Lascelles (7), Schar (6), Dummett (7), Atsu (7), Hayden (6), Shelvey (6), Willems (7), Almiron (7), Joelinton (7).

Subs: Muto (6), Manquillo (6), Fernandez (n/a)

Man of the match: Sadio Mane

Klopp needed a response from his side and he got one when Andy Robertson squared to Mane, who curled a superb finish into the top right corner from inside the penalty area.

34 - Sadio Mané has never lost a Premier League home game in which he's found the net, winning 32 and drawing two of his previous 34 games when doing so. Unblemished. pic.twitter.com/PwKObTnJs2

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 14, 2019

After the equaliser it was all Liverpool. The hosts thought they should have had a penalty when Joel Matip looked to have been dragged down by Jamaal Lascelles while attacking a corner, but referee Andre Marriner, and VAR, remained unmoved.

Liverpool eventually took the lead five minutes before the break thanks to a touch of good fortune.

Roberto Firmino, on in place of the injured Divock Origi, slid the ball through to Mane but the ball rebounded off Martin Dubravka and onto Mane to hand the Senegal international a tap-in from close range for his second.

Roberto Firmino was named on the bench and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned as Premier League leaders Liverpool hosted Newcastle.

Divock Origi started up front and Jordan Henderson was also among the substitutes as manager Jurgen Klopp made two changes.

Former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey replaced Sean Longstaff in the Newcastle side.

Firmino was once again Liverpool's creator as Salah doubled his side's advantage. The Brazilian striker's exquisite backheeled flick pass released Salah in behind the Newcastle defence and he finished in clinical style to extend Liverpool's winning run to 14 matches.

Mohamed Salah celebrates with Roberto Firmino after making it 3-1 to Liverpool Mohamed Salah celebrates with Roberto Firmino after making it 3-1 to Liverpool Mohamed Salah celebrates with Roberto Firmino after making it 3-1 to Liverpool Man of the match - Sadio Mane

Mane did what he does best at the moment - rescue Liverpool from a tough start. He was their saviour at Southampton back in August and his two goals relieved any pressure on them before half-time here today too.

He's rapidly rivalling Mo Salah as Liverpool's most important attacking option and the Reds have, more than three years after his arrival, not lost a single home game in which he's scored, a record he also held at his former club Southampton too.

Opta stats
  • Liverpool are the fourth team to win 14 consecutive English top-flight matches, after Arsenal (14, August 2002), Man City (15, August 2019) and Man City again (18, December 2017).
  • Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 50 Premier League goals for Liverpool at Anfield, scoring 36 and providing 14 assists (41st appearance).
  • Newcastle's Jetro Willems scored his first ever goal within the top five European leagues, in what was his 49th such appearance (three for Newcastle and 46 for Eintracht Frankfurt).
Chelsea vs Liverpool

September 22, 2019, 4:00pm

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What's next?

Next up in the Premier League for Liverpool is a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Frank Lampard's Chelsea on Sunday, September 22, live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League (kick-off at 4.30pm).

Before that, Klopp's side's Champions League defence gets underway on Tuesday against Serie A side Napoli at the San Paolo stadium (kick-off at 8pm).

Newcastle are also live on Sky Sports next weekend when they face Brighton at St James' Park on Saturday, September 21 (kick-off at 5.30pm).

Newcastle vs Brighton

September 21, 2019, 5:00pm

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How to watch Premier League highlights

This season you can watch Premier League highlights just after the full-time whistle for free and without being a Sky Sports subscriber.

We'll bring you highlights of every Premier League game on the Sky Sports website and app at full-time or from 5.15pm on Saturday afternoons.

You'll also be able to watch in-game goals from Sky Live games on Twitter and catch Premier League highlights on our Sky Sports Football YouTube channel.

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Riley admits to four VAR mistakes in PL

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 13:51
Riley: "We are constantly learning. On these occasions, the judgement should have been that it was a clear and obvious error" By Sky Sports News

Last Updated: 13/09/19 6:15am

0:52 Watch the four incidents that Premier League referees' chief Mike Riley admitted were wrongly adjudicated by VAR during the opening weeks of the season Watch the four incidents that Premier League referees' chief Mike Riley admitted were wrongly adjudicated by VAR during the opening weeks of the season

VAR has made four mistakes so far during the Premier League season, referees' chief Mike Riley has admitted.

The examples, which include Fabian Schar's equaliser for Newcastle against Watford and Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans' apparent stamp on Bournemouth's Callum Wilson, were discussed in Thursday's meeting of Premier League shareholders.

The other two errors were the referee's decision not to award Manchester City a penalty when Jefferson Lerma stood on David Silva's foot in the Bournemouth box and a decision not to give West Ham a penalty when Sebastien Haller was brought down by Norwich's Tom Trybull.

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VAR in the Premier League
  • 227 - Incidents checked by VAR
  • 6 - On-field decisions changed
  • 10 - Decisions that should have been overturned

Riley, the managing director of the elite refereeing body, PGMOL told Sky Sports News: "We are learning as we go along and we are constantly improving.

"Out of the four match rounds, there have been some really good examples where we have intervened. There have been six incidents where VAR has advised the referee and we have got a better decision as a result.

Manchester City should have been awarded a penalty against Bournemouth for his foul on David Silva Manchester City should have been awarded a penalty against Bournemouth for his foul on David Silva Manchester City should have been awarded a penalty against Bournemouth for his foul on David Silva

"There were four incidents where VAR didn't intervene and had they done, we would have a better understanding of the role VAR plays in the game. [The mistakes] are all about the judgement of VAR and the process that we adopt.

"These are examples where VAR could have had a benefit and intervened to help the referee on the day."

When pressed on why those mistakes were made, Riley added: "A combination of factors. That is the fascinating thing as this project evolves, we are constantly learning.

2:08 The Sunday Supplement panel discuss how VAR has coped in the Premier League so far after several moments of early controversy The Sunday Supplement panel discuss how VAR has coped in the Premier League so far after several moments of early controversy

"We are trying not to disrupt the flow of the game but on these occasions, the judgement should have been that it was a clear and obvious error.

"One of the really positive things about the first four match rounds has been the quality of on-field performances.

"All the referees have incorporated the things we need to do with VAR into their refereeing while still focusing on making real-time decisions."

VAR ANALYSIS | By Bryan Swanson, chief reporter, Sky Sports News

This is a frank admission from the official in charge of Premier League referees. He sat in front of the most powerful figures in English football and admitted: "VAR got it wrong." He left the hotel and highlighted his own referees' errors on Sky Sports News. Many officials would have ducked interviews but Riley faced it head on.

Let's not be too dramatic. There were four mistakes from nearly 230 checks, fewer than two percent. Riley admits his officials are "learning" and patience is the name of the game. On six occasions, VARs have overturned a decision. The general feeling is that VARs have helped referees, as they were intended to do.

VARs never promised to be perfect but supporters have high expectations. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a poor decision. Some critics will continue to argue that if VARs don't correct clear and obvious errors, and only makes matters worse, what is the point in having it?

But, by admitting errors, Riley will hope to move on from them. He knows the pressure is on and VAR is in the spotlight for every game. He can't change the past but his guidance can help shape future decisions. Let's see how his referees react in this weekend's games.

Also discussed at the Premier League meeting...

Transfer window dates: The majority of clubs favour a change to the present system and its problems. Ideally European leagues would fall in line with the Premier League and close three weeks before the end of August next season - but that looks increasingly unlikely.

No vote on this was taken on this today. A vote is likely to happen at the next shareholders meeting in November or possibly as late as next February.

UEFA/ ECA proposals: Shareholders were given an extensive briefing on proposals from UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) meeting in Geneva.

An increasingly crucial meeting is now set for London on either October 17 or 18 between the European Leagues Assembly, at the Royal Lancaster hotel, where Premier League clubs will be pushing their European counterparts hard for a united front against proposals to change the European football calendar.

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'No words' for state of Napoli changing rooms

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:38
Ancelotti: "Where are we supposed to get changed for the games against Sampdoria and Liverpool? I'm shocked at the incompetence of the people in charge of the work."

Last Updated: 12/09/19 4:50pm

0:44 Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti says he is shocked to see the state of the dressing rooms at the Stadio San Paolo ahead of Liverpool's Champions League visit next week Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti says he is shocked to see the state of the dressing rooms at the Stadio San Paolo ahead of Liverpool's Champions League visit next week

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti has hit out at the state of the dressing rooms after a summer of renovation work at the San Paolo Stadium, five days prior to their Champions League Group E opener against Liverpool.

The Serie A club, who finished runners-up behind Juventus in Italy's top flight last season, played their first two league games of the campaign against Fiorentina and Juve away from home, while work on the stadium was ongoing.

Napoli host Sampdoria on Saturday, while Champions League holders Liverpool travel to Naples on September 17.

Ancelotti says he is 'shocked at the incompetence' regarding the lack of progress made to the changing rooms at the San Paolo stadium Ancelotti says he is 'shocked at the incompetence' regarding the lack of progress made to the changing rooms at the San Paolo stadium Ancelotti says he is 'shocked at the incompetence' regarding the lack of progress made to the changing rooms at the San Paolo stadium

"I have seen the state of the dressing rooms at the San Paolo. There are no words," Ancelotti said in a statement.

"I accepted the club's request to play the first two games away from home to allow the work to be finished, as was promised.

"You can build a house in two months, but they weren't capable of renovating the dressing rooms! Where are we supposed to get changed for the games against Sampdoria and Liverpool?

"I'm shocked at the incompetence of the people in charge of the work.

"How could the Region, Municipality and Commissioners fail to respect the commitments that were made? It smacks of disregard and a lack of a bond with the city's team. I'm dismayed."

Footage released on Napoli's twitter account shows there is extensive building work yet to be completed inside the dressing rooms, with their clash with Liverpool just five days away.

The works, namely changing room improvements and video surveillance at the San Paolo, were supposed to be finished by the middle of September.

The San Paolo stadium has undergone renovation works over the summer The San Paolo stadium has undergone renovation works over the summer The San Paolo stadium has undergone renovation works over the summer

Carlo Perego, the administrator of Tipiesse of Bergamo, a company that carried out the restructuring works, rebuffed Ancelotti's claims about the competence of the renovation process.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "The locker room work is over, except for small finishes that will be completed tomorrow.

"Delivery is scheduled for Friday, the date is confirmed. We are not late, indeed we are ahead on contractual times".

Architect Filomena Smiraglia, the director of the works also told the Italian publication: "I am baffled by the statement from Ancelotti.

"Also because today we had a visit to the dressing room of the vice president of Naples, Edoardo De Laurentiis, who complimented us in front of the workers for the work".

Liverpool will begin the defence of their sixth European title following their win against Tottenham in Madrid on June 1, when they travel to Italy next week.

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Premier League clubs set for key meeting

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 15:55
By Keith James

Last Updated: 12/09/19 8:06am

Proposals to make the most significant changes to the European football calendar in a generation will be one of the key topics for discussion when the Premier League’s 20 clubs gather in central London on Thursday.

Shareholders, meeting for the first time in this campaign, will be given an update on the discussions taking place this week in Geneva at the European Club Association (ECA) as they consider UEFA's proposed changes to European competitions from 2024.

The Premier League, along with their counterparts in Spain, remain against many of the changes, fearing more Champions League matches between elite clubs will adversely affect domestic league and cup calendars.

Manchester City are Premier League champions Manchester City are Premier League champions Manchester City are Premier League champions

Discussions will also focus on the key European Leagues Assembly, due to take place in London next month.

On the agendaSummer transfer window

Sky Sports News understands the majority of Premier League clubs are keen on a return to a summer deadline day three weeks later than the present August 8 closure.

Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur in action with Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur in action with Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur in action with Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal

When changes were implemented last year it was expected European leagues would follow suit, with all competitions ending their transfer business before the start of their respective seasons.

However, that failed to materialise, leaving Premier League clubs exposed, allowing for their European counterparts to unsettle and, in some cases, sign players they would prefer to keep.

Thursday's discussion could well push through to a vote, although a lack of time pressure means that will more likely take place at their next meeting in November.

Either way, it looks increasingly likely that Deadline Day, summer 2020, will be after the start of the season.

Search for a new chief executive

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck will update clubs on what has turned out to be a lengthy search for a new Premier League chief executive to replace Richard Scudamore, who left in November last year.

The search has proven to be a difficult one, with original headhunting firm Spencer Stuart ditched in the summer to be replaced by Russell Reynolds recruitment specialists.

Former Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore left last year Former Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore left last year Former Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore left last year

The Premier League's initial choice was Susanna Dinnage, a senior executive from the Discovery Channel, who late last year accepted the role, only to withdraw a few days later.

On Thursday, the Premier League's 20 clubs will be updated on the progress of the recruitment process, with one report suggesting the net has been cast wider by Russell Reynolds to include management talent from across the globe, not necessarily with expertise in football or TV rights.

Video Assistant Referees (VAR) James Milner is challenged by Paul Pogba James Milner is challenged by Paul Pogba James Milner is challenged by Paul Pogba

Clubs will be able to air their support or otherwise for the new Video Assistant Referees after four games of the Premier League calendar, with Neil Swarbrick having warned that it might take up to three years for everyone to adjust to VAR.

It is expected that the International Football Association Board's (IFAB) changes to the offside and handball rules, and how those changes have been applied, may also be up for debate.

Analysis: Will clubs change Deadline Day?

Sky Sports News chief reporter Bryan Swanson:

'The summer deadline is expected to be a high-profile talking point. A growing number of clubs are unhappy after Europe failed to follow the Premier League's lead. The existing deadline, on the Thursday before the start of the season, has left them vulnerable to late bids from clubs in other major leagues, including La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga.

1:40 Proposals to make the most significant changes to the European football calendar in a generation will be up for discussion when the Premier League’s 20 clubs gather Proposals to make the most significant changes to the European football calendar in a generation will be up for discussion when the Premier League’s 20 clubs gather

'Clubs wanted stability but, at times, the August 8 deadline created the opposite effect. In some instances, managers can think one thing, and their bosses can think differently. A healthy debate is usually encouraged but it is rare for clubs to strongly disagree with each other.

'Clubs are expected to discuss the issue but may not vote until a meeting in November. There is no rush. That said, according to sources, it is increasingly likely that next summer's Deadline Day will be after the start of the season.'

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'Liverpool made excuses over failed move'

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:02
Fekir's former agent: "He has to stop this show and stop taking people for fools. Everyone knows what happened."

Last Updated: 10/09/19 7:23pm

Nabil Fekir joined Real Betis from Lyon this summer after a proposed move to Liverpool fell through Nabil Fekir joined Real Betis from Lyon this summer after a proposed move to Liverpool fell through Nabil Fekir joined Real Betis from Lyon this summer after a proposed move to Liverpool fell through

Nabil Fekir says he still remains confused with Liverpool regarding the reasons behind his failed transfer to the club from Lyon last year.

The 26-year-old looked set to join Liverpool for £53m in 2018 before negotiations between the two clubs ended.

It was reported Fekir had undergone a medical and agreed personal terms with the Premier League club, only for the deal to collapse.

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Reports later suggested Liverpool had ended their pursuit of the France international because of concerns over a long-term knee problem.

However, Fekir insists he did not fail a medical examination with Liverpool and believes the move fell through because of other reasons, unknown to him.

The midfielder told L'Equipe: "There was an incredible amount of lies told about it. Everything that has been said about my family in particular. It hurts them, as it hurt me.

"You want the truth? Even I do not know it, I assure you. I did my medical examination and, behind, they decided not to sign me.

"At one point, they wanted me to believe it was the knee. But it was an excuse and medical tests passed at Clairefontaine were very clear.

"What irritated me was that by trying to advance this pseudo-physical problem, it ruled out chances with other clubs that were potentially interested, while there are other players who have experienced the same injury and it did not prevent them from returning to a normal trajectory.

Fekir has two goals in 21 caps for France Fekir has two goals in 21 caps for France Fekir has two goals in 21 caps for France

"I have no bitterness towards Liverpool. They showed me that they really wanted me. But behind, when you do not surround yourself with good people, it hurts you."

Fekir secured a move away from Lyon, where he was their club captain, this summer to join Real Betis on a four-year-deal for an initial £17.75m fee.

'Fekir has to stop taking people for fools'

Fekir's former agent Jean-Pierre Bernes has criticised the midfielder's latest comments on his failed Liverpool move, stating his knee injury was a legitimate reason why negotiations broke down.

He also told L'Equipe: "He has to stop this show and stop taking people for fools. Everyone knows what happened.

"The transfer to Liverpool has turned around for two reasons. The first is his knee, even though the English club's leaders were willing to make an effort on this.

"The second is the appearance of a foreign pseudo-representative who asked for the negotiations to be resumed from the beginning at the moment of signing.

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Throw-in coach hails Klopp's innovation

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:48
By Sky Sports News

Last Updated: 09/09/19 3:41pm

Jurgen Klopp recruited Thomas Gronnemark to his coaching staff last season Jurgen Klopp recruited Thomas Gronnemark to his coaching staff last season Jurgen Klopp recruited Thomas Gronnemark to his coaching staff last season

Liverpool's specialist throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark says Jurgen Klopp's innovative approach to management is helping to build "something special" at Anfield.

Klopp made headlines last season when he added Gronnemark to his coaching staff midway through the campaign.

The Dane, who holds the world record for the longest throw-in at 51.33m, had an immediate impact on the technique of the club's full-backs - most notably Joe Gomez.

Liverpool went on to claim their sixth European Cup later that season and Gronnemark is not surprised to see the Reds flourishing under Klopp.

"Jurgen is an innovator," Gronnemark told The Athletic. "He's a leader who says he doesn't know everything and is willing to listen to people if they have knowledge to take the club forward.

Liverpool's first team have received specialist coaching from Gronnemark Liverpool's first team have received specialist coaching from Gronnemark Liverpool's first team have received specialist coaching from Gronnemark

"If you have a leader who wants total control and thinks he knows best about everything then that will affect the employees.

"Even though you're one of the best clubs in the world, it doesn't mean you have to do the same thing as you did yesterday. When you meet Jurgen you feel like you are talking with a good friend. He listens a lot.

"To let a guy into the club who was pretty much unknown in England and say to him 'we want all your knowledge to put it into the training programme', that shows a lot of trust and fantastic leadership.

1:35 Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp explains his decision to employ a specialist throw-in coach at Anfield Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp explains his decision to employ a specialist throw-in coach at Anfield

"He's very good at getting the best out of people. It's much more egocentric at other clubs. At Liverpool, there's a satisfaction among the staff and the players. They all feel part of something special.

"Sometimes I'll stop and look at the players in front of me and think, 'Oh, this is crazy'. I'm working at a gigantic club who won the Champions League.

"Initially, I had a contract for the first half of last season then it was extended for the second half and now I have one for the full season.

"I don't think many people are laughing now. I think most people in football look at it and say, 'Okay, there must be something in it'."

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Pukki, Barnes nominated for PL POTM

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 11:35

Last Updated: 06/09/19 12:29pm

Teemu Pukki has been nominated for Player of the Month after scoring five in August Teemu Pukki has been nominated for Player of the Month after scoring five in August Teemu Pukki has been nominated for Player of the Month after scoring five in August

Norwich's Teemu Pukki, Burnley's Ashley Barnes, Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and Manchester City trio Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne have been nominated for Premier League Player of the Month for August.

Pukki scored five goals in four games in August in what is his maiden Premier League season, including a hat-trick in their 3-1 victory against Newcastle.

The Finland international striker is joined by Barnes on the list of nominees after the Austrian scored four goals for the Clarets in their opening four games.

Ashley Barnes was essential in securing four points for Burnley in August Ashley Barnes was essential in securing four points for Burnley in August Ashley Barnes was essential in securing four points for Burnley in August

Manchester City have a trio of players up for the award including Premier League top goalscorer Aguero.

The Argentine striker has scored in all four of City's games so far this season and has a total of six goals to his name.

Sergio Aguero leads the Premier League goalscoring charts this season Sergio Aguero leads the Premier League goalscoring charts this season Sergio Aguero leads the Premier League goalscoring charts this season

The other City players nominated are five-goal forward Sterling, who netted a hat-trick on the opening day against West Ham, and midfielder De Bruyne who contributed one goal and five assists in August, the highest tally so far.

League leaders Liverpool had just the one player nominated. Brazil's Firmino will be looking to win the award for the first time after contributing two goals and two assists to the Reds' perfect start to the campaign.

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Oxlade-Chamberlain targets Euro 2020 glory

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 23:05

Last Updated: 05/09/19 11:30pm

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last played for England in March of last year Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last played for England in March of last year Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last played for England in March of last year

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is dreaming of Euro 2020 success having watched part of England's march to the World Cup semi-finals in a London bar.

The 26-year-old midfielder missed over a year of football after suffering a serious knee injury which prevented him from playing for England in Russia and this summer's Nations League, as well as Liverpool's successive Champions League final appearances.

Oxlade-Chamberlain injured knee ligaments against Roma in April 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain injured knee ligaments against Roma in April 2018 Oxlade-Chamberlain injured knee ligaments against Roma in April 2018

But Oxlade-Chamberlain is fit again and has been instantly recalled by England boss Gareth Southgate for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo.

When asked if he was due a bit of luck at Euro 2020, he replied: "Yes, I think it's written in the stars for me to score the winner!

"I don't like to sit back right now and say that I was really unlucky to miss this particular tournament or that one.

"The timing was unlucky, but boys have injuries that stop them playing full stop. I have still had the opportunity to come back. I have just got to stop the timing of those injuries to give me the chance to get to the sort of level I can be.

0:59 Tyrone Mings says representing England seemed a 'different world away' when he was playing non-league football Tyrone Mings says representing England seemed a 'different world away' when he was playing non-league football

"It is every boy's dream. We have to respect what is in front of us and we can dream those dreams, but first of all we have got to beat Bulgaria and then Kosovo.

"There might be a bit more of an expectation going into the next tournament. But that is exciting for us and I think this squad has the confidence within it to cope with that.

"We would all sit here now saying that would be the dream come true, especially with a lot of it being at Wembley. It does not get much better than that."

1:16 England U21 head coach Aidy Boothroyd says there has never been a better time to play for England after seeing Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Mason Mount and James Maddison promoted from the U21s to the senior side England U21 head coach Aidy Boothroyd says there has never been a better time to play for England after seeing Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Mason Mount and James Maddison promoted from the U21s to the senior side

Oxlade-Chamberlain filled his time during his rehabilitation by visiting a number of hospitals and taking a keen interest in the business world.

That does not mean he turned away from football and he revealed he went to Box Park in Shoreditch to cheer on England in their Group G defeat to Belgium.

"At home," he replied when asked where he watched the World Cup last year.

Oxlade-Chamberlain watched England's World Cup game with Belgium in a bar Oxlade-Chamberlain watched England's World Cup game with Belgium in a bar Oxlade-Chamberlain watched England's World Cup game with Belgium in a bar

"All of it was at home, and one of the games at Box Park. That was interesting...that was an experience.

"I had a hat on and glasses, but yeah didn't do me much good. I was shocked. That was the first time I've ever watched a football match with football fans, of my team, if that makes sense.

"I've never been to a pub where there's a bunch of Liverpool fans or Arsenal fans and watched it with them, never been to a pub with England fans, or in a big place, to see what it means to them.

"It was like a surreal moment where I could see my mates on the screen doing what I usually do, and how everyone around them was reacting and what it meant to them. It was surreal. I was almost idolising them as well

"Just seeing them do that and what it was creating around me, I was like 'oh my God, that's Raheem Sterling, look at what he's done, do I really do that'?"

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