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Riise released from hospital after car accident

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 15:05

Last Updated: 08/04/20 3:46pm

John Arne Riise has left hospital following the accident John Arne Riise has left hospital following the accident John Arne Riise has left hospital following the accident

Former Liverpool full-back John Arne Riise has been released from hospital following a car accident in his native Norway.

Riise was driving to his home in Alesund with his daughter Ariana when he needed to swerve to avoid an obstacle on the road, leading to the accident. No other cars were involved.

Police confirmed it was an accident and Riise is not suspected of any driving offences.

Riise won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005 Riise won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005 Riise won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005

Signed from Monaco in the summer of 2001, Riise scored on debut as Liverpool beat Bayern Munich 3-2 to win the UEFA Super Cup at the Stade Louis II.

The full-back spent seven years at Anfield, during which time he made 334 appearances, winning an FA Cup, a League Cup and the Champions League in 2005.

Riise turned out for Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin in the Indian Super League Riise turned out for Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin in the Indian Super League Riise turned out for Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin in the Indian Super League

Riise moved to Serie A side Roma in 2007, playing 136 games and scoring 11 goals during a four-year spell in the Italian capital.

He then returned to England to play at Fulham for three seasons before stints in Cyprus, India and Norway. Riise ended his playing career in 2017.

The 39-year-old, who is Norway's most capped international, had a brief spell as sporting director with Maltese Club Birkirkara which ended last year.

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Mane 'accepts' Liverpool may be denied title

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 09:35
Mane: "It's my dream and I want to win it this year. If that's not the case, I will accept, it's part of life. Hopefully we will win it next year." By Liam Grace

Last Updated: 08/04/20 10:30am

Sadio Mane admits the coronavirus crisis has been 'difficult for Liverpool' Sadio Mane admits the coronavirus crisis has been 'difficult for Liverpool' Sadio Mane admits the coronavirus crisis has been 'difficult for Liverpool'

Sadio Mane says he will "understand" if Liverpool are denied winning the Premier League title due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Jurgen Klopp's runaway leaders looked destined to lift their first top-flight trophy in 30 years until English football was brought to a halt amid the pandemic which has gripped the world.

As it stands the 2019/20 campaign has been suspended indefinitely and will only resume when it is deemed safe and appropriate to do so, although calls have been made to make the season null and void.

That would stop Liverpool winning the title, despite their huge 25-point advantage over second-placed Manchester City and being just two wins away from being crowned champions.

"I want to win the games and I want to get the trophy, it's what I would love," Mane told talkSPORT. "But with this situation, whatever happens I will understand.

1:55 Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann is pleased that Liverpool have reversed their decision to furlough some non-playing staff Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann is pleased that Liverpool have reversed their decision to furlough some non-playing staff

"It has been difficult for Liverpool, but it has been more difficult for many millions of people around the world. Some people have lost family members and that is the more complicated situation.

"But for myself, it's my dream and I want to win it this year. If that's not the case, I will accept, it's part of life. Hopefully we will win it next year."

Liverpool were handed a boost on Tuesday when UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he could see "no way" that Klopp's side could finish the season without the Premier League title.

0:31 Matthew Ashton, the director of Public Health Liverpool, believes Liverpool's Champions League match against Atletico Madrid should not have taken place because of the spread of coronavirus Matthew Ashton, the director of Public Health Liverpool, believes Liverpool's Champions League match against Atletico Madrid should not have taken place because of the spread of coronavirus

Meanwhile, in Belgium, Club Brugge could be crowned champions early after the Jupiler Pro League's board of directors recommended the season should be ended early.

The recommendation still needs to be endorsed at a general assembly meeting on April 15, with Club Brugge, like Liverpool, runaway leaders, holding a 15-point advantage at the top of the table.

Mane, though, insists he does not yet feel like a champion, adding: "I think not yet. I love my job and I love football, I want to win on the pitch."

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Ceferin: No way Liverpool won't be PL champions

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 09:45

Last Updated: 07/04/20 4:49pm

Liverpool have won 27 of their 29 Premier League games this season Liverpool have won 27 of their 29 Premier League games this season Liverpool have won 27 of their 29 Premier League games this season

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin can see "no way" that Liverpool could finish the season without the Premier League title.

Ceferin said on Monday that Liverpool would surely win the Premier League title if this season continues but if the coronavirus pandemic does cancel the remaining games then there would be no option to null and void the season.

Jurgen Klopp's side are currently 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City with eight games remaining.

"I see no way for Liverpool to stay untitled. If the championship resumes, they will almost certainly win it - theoretically, it has not yet reached the guaranteed level, but it is practically close," Ceferin told Slovenian sports daily Ekipa.

"However, if it could not be played, it would also be necessary to announce the results in some way and find some key on how the champions should be determined. And, of course, again I do not see a scenario in which that would not be Liverpool.

Aleksander Ceferin is optimistic football will resume Aleksander Ceferin is optimistic football will resume Aleksander Ceferin is optimistic football will resume

"I understand that fans will be disappointed if it happens in an empty stadium or even at the green table, but I believe they will win the title one way or another."

Ceferin says he is hopeful the leagues in Italy and Spain will also resume, the two countries are the most affected in Europe from COVID-19 so far.

He added: "I'm an optimist. I am optimistic that we will see the conclusion of the Spanish championship, I am optimistic that we will see the conclusion of the Italian one, and I am optimistic in general.

"Of course, I cannot guarantee anything, I cannot promise anything. It will all depend on the situation in the individual countries, it will all depend on whether the circumstances are good enough for you to avoid endangering anyone by playing football."

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Liverpool reverse furlough decision

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 18:30
"We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week... [we] are truly sorry for that," says CEO Peter Moore in open letter to fans

Last Updated: 07/04/20 8:16am

5:17 Jamie Carragher gives his thoughts on the news that Liverpool have reversed their decision to use the government's furlough scheme to pay non-playing club staff Jamie Carragher gives his thoughts on the news that Liverpool have reversed their decision to use the government's furlough scheme to pay non-playing club staff

Liverpool have reversed their decision to use the government's furlough scheme to pay non-playing club staff, apologising to fans for coming to the "wrong conclusion".

The club had planned to use the scheme to pay around 200 staff, whose work has been affected by the suspension of the Premier League, a move which was criticised by former players Jamie Carragher and Dietmar Hamann.

In an open letter to fans, CEO Peter Moore wrote: "We have consulted with a range of key stakeholders as part of a process aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for all concerned.

"A range of possible scenarios were considered, including but not restricted to: applying to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which pays 80 per cent of salary and guaranteeing the 20 per cent payment; applying to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with a guarantee to reimburse monies received at a later date and, thirdly, finding an alternative means to cover our furlough costs.

"It is as a direct result of this extensive consultation and our own internal deliberations at various levels throughout the Club that we have opted to find alternative means despite our eligibility to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

"We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week to announce that we intended to apply to the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and furlough staff due to the suspension of the Premier League football calendar, and are truly sorry for that.

"Our intentions were, and still are, to ensure the entire workforce is given as much protection as possible from redundancy and/or loss of earnings during this unprecedented period.

"We are therefore committed to finding alternative ways to operate while there are no football matches being played that ensures we are not applying for the government relief scheme."

Carragher: 'I'm delighted - it was a shocking original decision'

Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher told The Debate:

"My hope was that there would be enough time to reverse this decision - I was very angry when the original decision came through because people look at Liverpool as a model of how to do things and clubs try to replicate them.

"The football world expected it from Tottenham and Daniel Levy, Newcastle and Mike Ashley - but not from Liverpool, who have built themselves up over the last few years of 'this means more' and the 'You'll Never Walk Alone' anthem and always looking back at Bill Shankly with socialist values. I thought it was a shocking decision, but I'm delighted they've changed their minds. However, it will still leave a bitter taste with some Liverpool supporters.

"This has embarrassed Liverpool supporters. Manchester United, City and Everton fans have been laughing at Liverpool. I'm glad they've seen sense. When these owners have made a big mistake, they've called back on it - they deserve credit for that."

Neville: 'Football needs to do more'

Sky Sports' Gary Neville told The Debate:

"There is no doubt Liverpool were always going to reverse that decision. Liverpool get a lot of things right, they get a lot of things wrong, like every football club does, every business does.

4:48 Gary Neville claims there needs to be a collective deal from the Premier League and the clubs which suits the whole of football, including struggling EFL clubs Gary Neville claims there needs to be a collective deal from the Premier League and the clubs which suits the whole of football, including struggling EFL clubs

"But this is symptomatic of football's approach in the last three weeks that they are not in any way, shape or form capturing the public mood around football and what they need to do. They need to health and safety, protect their own business but they need to make sure they set the tone for the whole country by doing good, looking after each other, being kind - all the messages we are hearing, the Queen on Sunday night. Football is not performing to the mantra of the country, football needs to give and suffer financially because it can suffer financially.

"The reality is that there are clubs in the lower leagues, in non-league, that are going to go under here if they don't get propped up by the Premier League. The Premier League is probably in a position where they could loan £1billion from somewhere or get an advance and then pay it back. The clubs in the lower leagues need money, the Premier League need to do the right thing.

"What Liverpool did on Saturday is symptomatic of what the last three weeks has been - lack of leadership, lack of decision-making, lack of clarity, lack of communication. Football is getting this really wrong at the highest level and it's a structural flaw in the game, there is no single body with an aligned interest."

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Five Liverpool 19/20 stats you didn't know

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 12:00
Explore Liverpool's stats from the 2019/20 season

Last Updated: 05/04/20 3:02pm

Firmino has endured contrasting fortunes at home this season Firmino has endured contrasting fortunes at home this season Firmino has endured contrasting fortunes at home this season

From their record-breaking points haul to the forward who cannot score at Anfield, we pick out five stats you may not have known about Liverpool's 2019/20 season.

Possession is nine-tenths of the law

This is not that surprising given Jurgen Klopp teams are built around the concept of Gegenpressing, but the Premier League leaders have won possession on 194 occasions the final third so far this season.

And that is a whopping 32 more times than any other side in the Premier League.

In fact, one of the enduring images of the Reds in this campaign - or any since the German arrived at Anfield - is that of them stealing the ball back from the opposition, before breaking forward at pace like the Red Arrows.

Virgil's human after all Van Dijk has been dribbled past six times already this season Van Dijk has been dribbled past six times already this season Van Dijk has been dribbled past six times already this season

It was one of the most eye-catching stats from last season - that Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk had not been dribbled past during the entire 38-game Premier League campaign.

Well, it seems the imposing Netherlands international is human after all given that this season has seen him dribbled past on six occasions.

Sloppy Reds

Surprisingly for a team currently walking away with the Premier League having lost just once all season and with the best defensive record in the top flight, Liverpool have actually made 19 errors that have directly led to shots.

In fact, only relegation-threatened Aston Villa and Tottenham have worse records in this field.

Record breakers

Before the shutdown, Liverpool had managed to rack up a ridiculous 82 points after 29 games of the campaign, meaning Klopp's men had dropped just five points all season long.

To put those numbers into context, that points haul means Liverpool have the best record at this stage of a season in the history of Europe's top five leagues.

Bobby's contrasting home fortunes Firmino has laid on six league goals at Anfield this campaign, while failing to score Firmino has laid on six league goals at Anfield this campaign, while failing to score Firmino has laid on six league goals at Anfield this campaign, while failing to score

It has been a strange campaign at Anfield for Liverpool forward Firmino - on the one hand, the Brazilian has struggled horribly in front of goal in the league, having 48 shots without finding the back of the net.

At the same time, however, Firmino has also contributed six assists at Anfield, a total bettered only by team-mate Trent Alexander Arnold and Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.

Explore more Liverpool stats

Use the interactive widget below to explore more Liverpool stats from the 2019/20 season - from passing to shooting to discipline... just hit the tabs. And then delve into each player's individual numbers using the drop-down option in the second widget.

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Liverpool place some non-playing staff on furlough

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 14:43
The move to place staff of furlough labelled 'poor' by former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher

Last Updated: 05/04/20 10:31am

Liverpool have announced they have placed some non-playing staff on furlough as the Premier League remains suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It is understood around 200 staff, whose work has been affected by the suspension of the Premier League, have been furloughed.

The move was criticised by former Liverpool players Jamie Carragher and Dietmar Hamann.

Carragher tweeted: "Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in Premier League players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect & goodwill is lost, poor this Liverpool FC."

Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in @premierleague players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect & goodwill is lost, poor this @LFC https://t.co/9bE8Rw1veE

— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) April 4, 2020

Former Germany international Hamann tweeted: "Astonished by the news that Liverpool FC takes advantage of the furlough scheme to claim 80 per cent of non-playing staffs wages back of the government. That's not what the scheme was designed for. Contrary to the morals and values of the club I got to know."

Astonished by the news that @lfc takes advantage of the furlough scheme to claim 80 % of non playing staffs wages back of the government. That’s not what the scheme was designed for. Contrary to the morals and values of the club i got to know

— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann) April 4, 2020

The announcement came after Premier League clubs met with representatives of players and managers on Saturday to discuss possible wage cuts for first-team staff.

The league's 20 sides met on Friday, when they unanimously agreed to consult their players over a "combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration".

Liverpool join fellow Premier League clubs Tottenham, Norwich, Newcastle and Bournemouth in placing staff members in furlough.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme sees the government step in to cover 80 per cent of wages for the next two months, capped at a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Liverpool have pledged to top up any wages of any staff member put on furlough to ensure they continue to receive their full salary.

Jordan Henderson is understood to be involved in organising a fund to help fight the coronavirus pandemic Jordan Henderson is understood to be involved in organising a fund to help fight the coronavirus pandemic Jordan Henderson is understood to be involved in organising a fund to help fight the coronavirus pandemic

A Liverpool club statement said: "The club have confirmed those staff will be paid 100 per cent of their salaries to ensure no member of staff is financially disadvantaged.

"Last month the club also confirmed that it would pay its matchday and non-matchday staff while the Premier League is suspended."

Premier League players have come under pressure from a number of politicians this week, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to "play their part" during the coronavirus pandemic by taking a pay cut.

'On furlough' - what does it mean?

HM Revenue & Customs says: "If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

"Your employer could pay 80% of your wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.

"You’ll still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income. You cannot undertake work for your employer while on furlough."The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is expected to be up and running by the end of April.

Source: Gov.uk

Liverpool revealed their first-team players have been in discussions with the club from the beginning of the Premier League suspension to ensure the club's staff are not financially hurt by the situation.

The statement added: "Even prior to the decision on staff furloughing, there was a collective commitment at senior levels of the club - on and off the pitch - with everyone working towards a solution that secures jobs for employees of the club during this unprecedented crisis.

"There is ongoing active engagement about the topic of salary deductions during the period matches are not being played to schedule. These discussions are complex and as a result the process is ongoing."

The club also said a "significant" donation had been made to St Andrews foodbank in north Liverpool from first-team players and the Liverpool FC Foundation, while the club have launched their own foodbank appeal.

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Retro report: Liverpool dent Toon title hopes in thriller

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 21:10

Stan Collymore's 92nd-minute winner put a dent in Newcastle's title hopes as they were beaten 4-3 by Liverpool in an Anfield thriller.

In a game sure to go down in history as one of the Premier League's greats, Collymore found space on the left in the second minute of injury time and from John Barnes' pass before beating Pavel Srnicek with a fine finish, leaving Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan slumped over the advertising hoardings in front of his dugout and his side still trailing Manchester United by three points in the race for the 1995/96 Premiership title.

Having come into the game on a run of just one win in five, Newcastle could not have wished for a worse start than Robbie Fowler's unmarked header from Collymore's cross to open the scoring inside two minutes, but in a lightning start they turned the game on its head through quickfire goals from Les Ferdinand and David Ginola inside 14 minutes.

Liverpool missed several chances to level before half-time but there was nothing missing from Fowler's second of the night, and his 28th in the Premiership this season as he equalised with a smart outside-of-the-boot finish.

Liverpool's bench celebrate the winner as Kevin Keegan slumps on the advertising board Image: Liverpool's bench celebrate the winner as Kevin Keegan slumps on the advertising board

Newcastle restored their lead two minutes later when Faustino Asprilla caught David James well off his line, but Collymore again levelled up from Jason McAteer's pinpoint cross with 22 minutes to go.

There was still more drama ahead at Anfield however, and after several one-twos between Ian Rush and Barnes, the latter found Collymore unmarked to score a dramatic winner and keep Liverpool's slim hopes of the title alive. Newcastle remain three points behind Manchester United with a game in hand, but have collected just four points from their last six games.

How Liverpool stole victory in classic

Both sides came into the game looking to put defeats behind them from their previous matches, but there was little sign of any lack in confidence on the evidence of the opening exchanges.

More on this story

Given Fowler's electric form throughout the season, it was unwise for Newcastle's defence to leave him totally unmarked from Collymore's cross to nod into the ground and beyond Srnicek with the first chance of the game.

Stan Collymore scores the winner at Anfield Image: Stan Collymore scores the winner at Anfield

But they soon made amends. Asprilla's tricky feet took him inside Neil Ruddock with ease, and when Ferdinand was found in the middle, he turned exquisitely before beating James with a powerful effort which perhaps he should have done better with.

Ginola then stunned Anfield as he ran through off the left and beat an onrushing James with a cool finish from 20 yards, to silence The Kop as Newcastle, as it stood, moved level with United at the top of the table.

It would be back in full voice as first Fowler and then Steve McManaman went close, but not close enough to level the scores before half-time.

Newcastle had led twice at Anfield Image: Newcastle had led twice at Anfield

The second period was just nine minutes old when Fowler did find a breakthrough with his second of the evening from McManaman's smart set-up, another example of a combination which may provide hope for Terry Venables' England side ahead of Euro 96 this summer.

The relief around Anfield was still palpable when it was burst. Lee, who should have doubled Newcastle's lead before Fowler's leveller, played Asprilla through and with the Liverpool back three waiting for an offside flag, he beat James, who was already out of his area on the charge, from nearly 30 yards.

Newcastle could have put the game to bed had Ginola found Les Ferdinand in a great position to score a fourth of the night, and any fears Keegan had about his side holding on would soon be realised.

Newcastle players look dejected after Collymore's winner Image: Newcastle players look dejected after Collymore's winner

Collymore's first of the night soon followed as he turned in McAteer's excellent low delivery from deep on the right flank, before Newcastle missed yet another chance as James denied Ferdinand in a one-on-one.

Was that it for the drama? It appeared that way until deep into added time substitute Rush and Barnes played a number of one-twos on the edge of the Newcastle box. There appeared little danger with plenty back for the visitors, but none had picked up Collymore's run off the left flank, and when Barnes stroked the ball through to him, he rifled it past Srnicek to give an exhilarating game a fitting finale.

Man of the match - Steve McManaman

McManaman may not have got on the scoresheet but he created the most chances (5) of anyone on the pitch, completed the most passes in the opposition half of any player (48) and the second-highest number of dribbles (12).

He also played his part in Liverpool's equaliser to bring the game back to 2-2, continuing his superb form creating goals this season.

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Relive Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle from 1996

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 18:02

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Your PL player of the season revealed

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 11:00
Liverpool forward lands 33 per cent of the vote, ahead of Jordan Henderson and Kevin De Bruyne

Last Updated: 03/04/20 11:06am

2:35 Highlights from three of the contenders for the Premier League Player of the Season award; Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Kevin De Bruyne. Highlights from three of the contenders for the Premier League Player of the Season award; Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Kevin De Bruyne.

Sadio Mane is the Premier League player of the season according to the Sky Sports audience.

During our special week-long focus on the player of the season prize, we've been asking you to vote for your standout player of the 2019/20 campaign - and Liverpool forward Mane has emerged as the winner.

Over 50,000 votes were cast and Mane scooped up 33 per cent of them, placing him just ahead of his team-mate and captain Jordan Henderson (31 per cent), with Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne (20 per cent) in third.

That trio were the main choices, with Liverpool pair Virgil van Dijk (five per cent) and Mohamed Salah (two per cent), way back in the standings. 'Someone else' was an option selected by nine per cent of voters.

Mane has been a key figure for the runaway Premier League leaders this season, scoring 14 times. Crucially, his goals have won Liverpool 18 points - that's more than any other player at any other club.

Throw in his seven assists - only Alexander-Arnold has provided more among Liverpool players this season - and Mane has had a direct hand in 32 per cent of Liverpool's goals.

Download the player of the season podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox | Spreaker

Jamie Redknapp's verdict: 'He's a phenomenal player'

"When they signed him from Southampton there were a few raised eyebrows, but he has just been incredible," Redknapp tells Sky Sports. "He's made out of granite. He's so strong, he's brilliant in the air, he attacks the back post as well as anybody and he can finish off either foot.

"He is just a phenomenal player, great at playing off that side, where he'll put the ball into the frontman and Roberto Firmino will set him up. He is an absolute machine in every single game. He gets scrappy goals, great goals, he doesn't care, and that's what sets him apart."

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'Collymore closing in!' - Tyler's Anfield memories

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 07:00
Martin Tyler

Football Commentator & Columnist

Watch Premier League Retro: Liverpool v Newcastle on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event at 7.30pm

Last Updated: 03/04/20 6:10am

4:33 Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler talks about the greatest game he's covered Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler talks about the greatest game he's covered

At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of the 20 Premier League clubs.

In part 10 of the series, Sky Sports' Voice of Football takes us on a virtual visit to Liverpool's Anfield and recalls one of the most famous matches in the history of the Premier League as Liverpool beat Newcastle 4-3 on April 3rd, 1996.

You can watch that match in full on Sky Sports from 7.30pm on Friday evening with a live blog and match clips available on the Sky Sports website and app.

0:35 Take a look at Martin Tyler's latest teaser involving Liverpool. Scroll down the page for the answer. Take a look at Martin Tyler's latest teaser involving Liverpool. Scroll down the page for the answer. Anfield: How I get there

By train from London Euston to Liverpool Lime St. and then a taxi to the ground. The television trucks are parked outside the Anfield Road end of the stadium.

What's it like to commentate there

It is no exaggeration to say that the Anfield gantry which served television broadcasters for decades was the best in the world in my experience. Built into the roof of the old Main Stand it was a perfect viewing point and with the fans below, the feeling of involvement was total.

The recent construction of the Centenary Stand changed all that. Of course it is change for the better for Liverpool Football Club, who can now accommodate large crowds, but not for commentators. The current position is much more distant, level with the opposite roof of the Kenny Dalglish stand. The main cameras were moved up there as well but after one season the club found a lower level for them, rather proving the point.

Unfortunately, there is not space for commentators to sit alongside the cameras which is in itself a difficulty. You at home are watching the match from a different angle to we broadcasters. It is the same at Chelsea and Wembley.

Did you know?

"You'll Never Walk Alone" was adopted as the Anfield anthem in 1963. It was a number one hit in the music charts for local group Gerry and the Pacemakers. The song originally came from the musical "Carousel" and was sung by a character surnamed Fowler - a girl called Nettie, not a boy called Robbie!

My most notable memory of Anfield "Collymore closing in...." one of the most iconic moments in Premier League history "Collymore closing in...." one of the most iconic moments in Premier League history "Collymore closing in...." one of the most iconic moments in Premier League history

I do often get asked what is the best game I have ever commentated on. Getting on for a quarter of century after it happened, I have had no reason to change my mind.

It was at Anfield: Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle United 3 (the 1996 version - amazingly a year later we were at the same ground with the same teams and saw the same score!)

Both clubs were going for the Premier League title, though neither would win it.

The aforementioned Robbie Fowler gave Liverpool the lead in the second minute. Les Ferdinand equalised after 10 and Liverpool did not lead again until two minutes into added time.

Both sides were in the title race in the 1995/96 season Both sides were in the title race in the 1995/96 season Both sides were in the title race in the 1995/96 season

David Ginola put the away side 2-1 up with only 14 minutes gone in a titanic battle. Fowler equalised 10 minutes into the second half with his second goal. Immediately Newcastle regained the lead, Faustino Asprilla this time. When Stan Collymore made it 3-3 there was still a quarter of the game left, and the draw was no good to either side.

The deciding seventh goal came from "Collymore closing in - and Liverpool led in stoppage time". Kevin Keegan, the former Liverpool star, then in charge of Newcastle, slumped over the advertising hoardings, an iconic image of an amazing evening. Everything we love about football bottled in up in one extraordinary match.

Eighteen years later Stan Collymore and I were in a lift going up to the commentary positions for a World Cup game in Brazil in 2014. The lift doors opened and there staring us in the face was 'Tino' Asprilla. "Stan, it's you. You cost me my Premiers League's winners medal," was the Colombian's instant response.

Unforgettable for everyone involved!

April 3, 2020, 7:30pm

Live on

What I like about Anfield

The Liverpool Football Club of today, with its American owners and its German manager, could have easily lost touch with the past, but they understand the significance of the serial winners of the seventies and eighties, and the influence of Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish, Rush etc.

It is only 10 years or so since the club were exploring the possibility of a move to a new home. Instead they have invested in the evolution and development of Anfield. You don't have to be a fan of the club to say well done for that.

0:53 Spoiler alert! Here is the answer to Martin Tyler's Liverpool teaser. Spoiler alert! Here is the answer to Martin Tyler's Liverpool teaser.

On Sunday: Martin brings us his guide to Manchester City's Etihad Stadium

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If PL starts from scratch - what did you back?

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 07:00
City at 7/4 heavily popular while Liverpool were friendless; Toon tipped for the drop and Spurs fancied for top four

Last Updated: 01/04/20 3:53pm

According to punters, Sergio Aguero could be getting his hands on this trophy again at Manchester City According to punters, Sergio Aguero could be getting his hands on this trophy again at Manchester City According to punters, Sergio Aguero could be getting his hands on this trophy again at Manchester City

Manchester City to win the Premier League and Newcastle the value call to be relegated; this is where punters would stick their imaginary £50 if the season was to start from scratch tomorrow.

Last week I made my debut as an odds compiler, pricing up key Premier League markets - in fantasy version only of course - in the event of the Premier League being declared void and we start afresh tomorrow, from scratch, with the same teams, squads and managers.

£50 CHALLENGE!

I was craving a betting buzz. So I’ve priced up four PL markets based on the season being void & we start from scratch tomorrow.

Where’s the value? How would you spread your £50? Max four bets. Go on, I know you’re bored....https://t.co/BlcwvNPJep pic.twitter.com/EPAklemefq

— Lewis Jones (@_LJones_) March 30, 2020

I was calling for some engagement from the masses and gave you a fictional £50 to spend - this was a good barometer to see how high the boredom levels are out there. Would people get involved? Judging by the response, I think it's clear that boredom levels are more dramatic than first feared as the article generated plenty of reaction.

So, what did we learn? What odds got you rushing to my bookmakers counter? What prices did I get wrong? Here are the most popular bets put forward by those that got in touch.

Manchester City to win the Premier League at 7/4

Judging by public reaction, my decision to offer 7/4 about City and 4/6 on Liverpool severely underrated Pep Guardiola's side, to the extent that many would actually have City as favourites in the market despite toiling behind the runaway Reds this season.

Newcastle to be relegated at 9/4

The Premier League relegation market was a relatively simple one to price up with the current bottom three of Norwich (4/6), Aston Villa (5/4) and Bournemouth (13/8) taking up the first three spots in the market. The odds-against quote offered up about Villa generated plenty of interest but without question the most popular price was the 9/4 about Newcastle suffering the drop with their poor performance metrics sighted as a reason to why those odds offered some juice.

For what it's worth, I'm completely in agreement that the Toon are likely to struggle next season but thought the prices offered were short enough when in fact I could have gone shorter.

Tottenham top-four finish at 11/4

The faith in Jose Mourinho remains strong it seems as the 11/4 about Spurs making the top four tempted many in - perhaps I had underestimated the impact of a fit-again Harry Kane would have on their chances. There weren't any takers for Leicester which suggests the consensus is Brendan Rodgers' side are unlikely to build on their impressive performances with more action seen on Arsenal, who at 7/2 certainly pricked the ears of a few punters.

Marcus Rashford to finish top goalscorer at 20/1

Was this down the online Manchester United bias or genuine interest in the striker to finish top of charts? Hard to tell. But certainly Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has put a huge amount of faith in Rashford and with improvement expected from United next season perhaps the 20/1 does seem a little bit too generous?

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PL, EFL: Season return only when 'safe and appropriate'

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 20:13
No decisions yet made on players' wages or format of season resumption; Talks to continue until end of the week

Last Updated: 01/04/20 8:36pm

Talks about the season's resumption and players wages will continue this week Talks about the season's resumption and players wages will continue this week Talks about the season's resumption and players wages will continue this week

The Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and representatives of the game's players and managers have all agreed that the season cannot resume until it is "safe and appropriate to do so".

Senior representatives from the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), Premier League, EFL and League Managers Association (LMA) met on Wednesday to discuss the challenges facing the sport during the coronavirus pandemic.

All English football was suspended last month, with the Premier League and EFL announcing at the time that fixtures will not resume until April 30 "at the earliest".

The resumption of the 2019/20 season was one of several issues discussed on Wednesday, but no decisions were made and talks are set to continue this week.

Player salaries were also high on the agenda, following a number of club owners and chairmen warning that a wage deferral is inevitable if clubs are to get through the current situation and survive the financial burden of the pandemic.

0:53 Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has urged Premier League players to donate some of their wages 'from the heart' so that other staff members can keep being paid 100% of their salary Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has urged Premier League players to donate some of their wages 'from the heart' so that other staff members can keep being paid 100% of their salary

A joint statement from the Premier League, EFL, LMA and PFA read: "Senior representatives from the PFA, Premier League, EFL and LMA met today and shared a constructive meeting regarding the challenges facing the game as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The meeting reiterated that the overriding priority is the health and well-being of the nation - including that of players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters - and everyone agreed football must only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

2:15 Tottenham striker Harry Kane believes the Premier League season must be finished by the end of June following the coronavirus pandemic Tottenham striker Harry Kane believes the Premier League season must be finished by the end of June following the coronavirus pandemic

"No decisions were taken today with discussions set to continue in the next 48 hours with a focus on several high-profile matters, including player wages and the resumption of the 2019/20 season."

On Wednesday, Bournemouth announced that manager Eddie Howe has become the first Premier League boss to take a voluntary pay cut.

Newcastle, Norwich, Bournemouth and Tottenham and a high number of EFL clubs have announced that many non-playing staff have been furloughed in order to take up the benefits of the government financial scheme to preserve jobs.

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PFA meeting PL, EFL over player wage deferrals

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 14:00
Club owners warn wage deferral scheme integral to surviving current crisis

Last Updated: 01/04/20 2:08pm

The PFA will meet with both Premier League and EFL officials on Wednesday to discuss player wages and whether they can agree a deferral of salaries during the current crisis.

On the agenda will be the suggestion of a collective agreement to cover all players from the Premier League to League Two, however the issue is a complex one with the varying levels of salaries involved.

Newcastle, Norwich and Tottenham and a high number of EFL clubs have announced that many non-playing staff have been furloughed in order to take up the benefits of the government financial scheme to preserve jobs.

A number of club owners and chairmen are warning that a wage deferral is inevitable if clubs are to get through the current situation and survive the financial burden.

The world's leading players union, FIFPro, has called on clubs to stop firing players or cutting their salaries before talks.

FIFPro said it is "extremely concerned" that clubs in several countries "have begun to immediately lay off players or unilaterally reduce their salaries" because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Netherlands-based union said many players worldwide earn at or below average domestic income "and would be severely affected by salary decreases".

The first-team squads of several top European clubs including Barcelona and Juventus have agreed to take wage cuts.

Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, however, has urged players to make a gesture 'from the heart' to make sure that non-playing members of staff can keep picking up 100 per cent of their salary.

0:53 Former Tottenham manager has surged Premier League players to donate some of their wages 'from the heart' so that other staff members can keep being paid 100% of their salary. Former Tottenham manager has surged Premier League players to donate some of their wages 'from the heart' so that other staff members can keep being paid 100% of their salary.

"For me, it would be a great opportunity for the captains of the football club to get the players together and say 'look lads, we need to do something' and give from the heart'," Redknapp told Sky Sports News.

"Premier League players, most of them can afford to do it.

"Make the gesture, I think it would be fantastic, and not defer it, if you defer it you're going to get it back, give it, give it!"

5:01 Sky Sports' Alan McInally says the top earners in the Premier League can afford to take a pay cut to help their clubs deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus Sky Sports' Alan McInally says the top earners in the Premier League can afford to take a pay cut to help their clubs deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus

The Premier League and EFL have told football fans there are no "quick answers" on how and when football will return after its suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Premier League, the EFL and Women's Super League and Championship have been suspended until April 30 "at the earliest".

The deadline for returning to action was extended indefinitely as part of an agreement with the FA.

Last month, the EFL put in place a £50m fund to help with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on clubs.

The pinch is already being felt, with Birmingham asking some players to defer half their pay, while players at Leeds have volunteered for a wage deferral.

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Who's your Liverpool player of the season?

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 13:00
Jordan Henderson? Virgil van Dijk? Sadio Mane? Have your say...

Last Updated: 01/04/20 1:09pm

Salah and Mane (right) have both enjoyed eye-catching campaigns for Liverpool Salah and Mane (right) have both enjoyed eye-catching campaigns for Liverpool Salah and Mane (right) have both enjoyed eye-catching campaigns for Liverpool

Who has been Liverpool's player of the season so far? See our picks and have your say.

There are a whole host of contenders from Jurgen Klopp's squad following the Reds' record-breaking season that has seen them move to within just two wins of a first top-flight title in 30 years, but who edges it?

Read on for the Sky Sports Football selections and have your say. Want to make a case for another player? If you're reading on skysports.com, leave a comment below...

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Trent Alexander-Arnold

Another brilliant season from the England right-back, who is just one of three Liverpool players to have featured in all 29 of their league games so far this season, all but one of which were starts.

The 21-year-old has also continued to reinvent the role of the full-back, with the attack-minded defender having contributed 12 more assists this campaign, second only to Man City's Kevin De Bruyne (16).

Virgil van Dijk

The rock at the heart of the Reds' backline, with the imposing Netherlands international defender the only player to have started all 29 of the club's league games so far this season, playing every minute of those contests.

The 28-year-old has also chipped in with four vital goals this campaign, all headers, making him an absolutely vital part of Klopp's side at both ends of the pitch.

But it is at the back where the central defender has been most influential, helping to marshal a back four that has conceded a paltry 21 goals all season, the fewest in the top flight.

Jordan Henderson

The inspirational Reds captain has been the driving force behind the club's surge towards a first top-flight title since 1990, with the midfielder now on the verge of becoming the first Liverpool skipper since Alan Hansen to lift the trophy.

The numbers - three goals and five assists in the league so far this season - are immaterial, although they do represent his best return since the 2014-15 campaign.

However, it is more the 29-year-old's overall influence on his side and team-mates that makes him one of the standout contenders.

Mohamed Salah

It has been another impressive campaign in front of goal from the Reds forward, who has managed to score 20 goals in all competitions to date, 16 of which have come in the Premier League.

And while that total leaves the Egypt international joint third overall in the top flight's goalscoring standings, the striker is still the club's leading marksman this campaign.

Not only that, but the 27-year-old has also become the first Liverpool player to score 20 or more goals in three consecutive seasons since Michael Owen (2000-03).

Sadio Mane

Eighteen goals in total so far, including 14 in the Premier League, makes the Senegal forward the Reds' second top scorer this season behind fellow frontman Salah, although the latter takes penalties.

The 27-year-old may have come under the spotlight after his cross words with his team-mate earlier this campaign, but the duo have once again formed a brilliant attacking partnership operating either side of Roberto Firmino.

But it is testament to Mane's importance to the champions elect that if any of the trio are absent, it is him who is missed the most.

Someone else?

How about the Reds' unflappable shot stopper Alisson, who has kept 10 clean sheets so far this season? Or Scotland left-back Andy Robertson for his constant raiding down that flank leading to seven league assists? Then there is all-action midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (pictured), who has started 28 of the Reds' 29 top-flight matches this campaign. Use our poll and comments section to put forward an alternative candidate...

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POTS: How Henderson became Liverpool's leader

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 06:57
Nick Wright

Comment and Analysis @nicholaspwright

Jordan Henderson is among the leading contenders for the PFA Player of the Year Award

Last Updated: 31/03/20 2:08pm

2:35 Watch the best bits from Premier League player of the season contenders Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Kevin De Bruyne Watch the best bits from Premier League player of the season contenders Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Kevin De Bruyne

Roy Keane was furious. Sunderland's reserves had just suffered a dismal defeat to Gateshead and, after laying into some of their more senior players, the manager turned his attention to a teenager in the corner.

"Do you think you're good enough to play for the first team?" he scowled.

"Yeah, I do," replied Jordan Henderson.

"Good answer," said Keane, after a pause.

Henderson was only 17 at the time. He remembers "sweating buckets" under the glare of his childhood idol. But his self-belief was unshaken and he still had the courage to speak his mind. The story, recounted by Henderson on Jamie Carragher's Greatest Game podcast, provides an early insight into the mentality that has underpinned his career.

"He actually got a bit of stick for that kind of thing when he was a youngster," Stephen Wright, a team-mate of Henderson's at Sunderland and later during his loan spell at Coventry, tells Sky Sports with a chuckle. "But it was always obvious that he just had so much belief in himself."

Download the player of the season podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox | Spreaker

The episode certainly stayed with Keane, who was impressed enough to promote the cocksure teenager to the first-team squad for Sunderland's next pre-season friendly. "That was where it all started for me," Henderson told Carragher. He would go on to play 71 Premier League games for his boyhood club before making the £16m move to Liverpool in 2011.

That move would prove to be the making of Henderson. But it is only now that his belief in himself is shared by the wider public.

At 29, close to adding a historic Premier League title to the Champions League trophy he lifted in June, he is emerging as one of the most decorated captains in Liverpool's recent history. Henderson, more than any other player, has been the driving force behind their success.

Henderson celebrates with Roberto Firmino Henderson celebrates with Roberto Firmino Henderson celebrates with Roberto Firmino

It can be seen not just in his commanding performances on the pitch but in how his absence with a hamstring injury in late February and early March impacted the side. Not coincidentally, it was during that period that Liverpool's Premier League unbeaten run was ended by Watford and their FA Cup hopes extinguished by Chelsea.

Henderson is now among the favourites for the PFA Player of the Year award and his importance to Liverpool is universally acknowledged. But before all this, he had to withstand years of near-relentless criticism.

Henderson has been doubted and disparaged like few others. His move to Liverpool in 2011 was met with mockery. He was not up to it, they said. Overpriced and not good enough for England either. In his 2013 autobiography, Sir Alex Ferguson even questioned his running style.

"Going to Liverpool, wow, I have to admit that even I was sceptical," adds Wright. "Honestly, I was very surprised that he got that move for that amount of money."

Henderson took the captain's armband from Steven Gerrard Henderson took the captain's armband from Steven Gerrard Henderson took the captain's armband from Steven Gerrard

There were doubts within the club too. Henderson made more appearances than any other player during his first season at Anfield, but the questions over his suitability were persistent. When Brendan Rodgers took over from Kenny Dalglish at the end of the campaign, Henderson was offered to Fulham in a part-exchange deal to sign Clint Dempsey.

Henderson was devastated when Rodgers broke it to him, but his response - refusing to go and vowing to prove himself at Anfield - typified his determination. "It was a tough moment, but one that I feel helped me," he later reflected. "Looking back now, it was a blessing in disguise."

There would be more doubts, more questions and more criticism in the years that followed. But Henderson was true to his word, impressing Rodgers to the extent that he was named club captain following Steven Gerrard's departure in 2015.

It is a position he has held ever since.

"Turning all the sceptics around has been an unbelievable feat," says Wright, who came through Liverpool's academy as a player and now works for the club as a scout. "He was walking into a dressing room with a lot of big characters - Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Craig Bellamy - but he held his own and it has been brilliant to see him develop in the way he has. He is just totally determined. You can see it in his eyes."

You can see it in the way he is regarded by his team-mates too.

"I don't know if he is under-appreciated outside the club, but inside the club I know how highly we all think of him," said Virgil van Dijk earlier this season. "When you play with him, you train with him and see the way he acts off the field, it's an absolute pleasure for him to be our captain," added Andrew Robertson. To Trent Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, he is "the perfect role model".

Henderson is fiercely devoted and demands the same dedication from those around him. His insatiable appetite for improvement has pulled him through difficult periods - even under Jurgen Klopp, there have been times when his place in the side seemed at risk - and it was also instrumental in maintaining Liverpool's momentum for so much of this season.

Jordan Henderson lifts the Champions League trophy Jordan Henderson lifts the Champions League trophy Jordan Henderson lifts the Champions League trophy

Take his reaction to the 1-0 win over Tottenham in January. While other players were celebrating a hard-fought victory which put Liverpool 16 points clear, Henderson was furious with the performance, mouthing the words "not good enough" as he pushed his way past Klopp and stormed down the tunnel at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

There have been plenty more moments like it. Klopp described him as an "example" to his team-mates after the 4-0 win over Southampton in February. "Did he look like the captain of a team that is 19 points ahead?" he said. "Not for a second. It looked like if we lose, we are relegated."

That attitude, invaluable to Liverpool for so much of the season, was sorely missed during their capitulation at Vicarage Road.

"You could see from an early age that he was very professional," adds Wright. "He was always staying late at training, practising free kicks or other things he needed to work on. He was so focused, and he's the same now. Just listening to him after games, he is never thinking about the league, he is only ever thinking about the next game."

That mentality is perhaps the most important thing Henderson brings to this Liverpool side, but it is not everything.

Jorden Henderson has moved to the right side of the midfield three Jorden Henderson has moved to the right side of the midfield three Jorden Henderson has moved to the right side of the midfield three

He has grown as a player as well as a leader and that's been more apparent than ever since he was pushed forward from the holding role to the right-hand side of midfield in the second half of last season. His performances there even prompted Klopp to apologise for previously playing him out of position. "Sorry for that!" he said. "But we needed him there."

Henderson's intensity sets the tone for this Liverpool side - he ranks third in the Premier League for possession won in attacking areas - and where once he was chastised for sideways passing, now he is applauded for thinking forward. This season, only Alexander-Arnold has averaged more passes into the final third per 90 minutes. Henderson has even added goals, scoring as many in this campaign as in the previous three combined.

He has become an all-rounder, in other words, his completeness encapsulated in that 4-0 win over Southampton in February. It was his pressing which led to the turnover in the build-up to his clinically-taken goal. Then, he showed his vision and passing ability with his perfectly weighted through-ball to set up Mohamed Salah's second.

Jordan Henderson is important to Liverpool with and without the ball Jordan Henderson is important to Liverpool with and without the ball Jordan Henderson is important to Liverpool with and without the ball

Henderson is now shining in his favoured position, but crucially, he still puts the team first and happily fills in elsewhere when required. He has slotted back into the holding role at times this season. In the Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey, he even stepped in at centre-back.

Henderson drew plaudits for his performance in that game - Adam Lallana called it "magnificent" and Klopp agreed - but it was typical of him that he deflected the praise elsewhere. "I had fantastic players around me," said Henderson. "I just tried to do my best for the team and thankfully we got the win. If the manager needed me to go there again, I would do it."

That selflessness is just another reason why he has become indispensable to Liverpool. There were plenty who doubted he would ever achieve that status. Plenty who would have scoffed at the very thought of it. But even as an untested teenager confronting a furious Roy Keane at Sunderland, Jordan Henderson was not one of them.

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Jamie Redknapp's verdict: 'The perfect team player'

"Jordan is the perfect team player," Redknapp tells Sky Sports. "When he gets the ball, he's got a front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, and his first thought is, 'can I get it up to them as quickly as possible?'

"He's a leader, the players absolutely respect him and he's scored some important goals for this Liverpool side. He has captained the side that not only won the Champions League last year but - if we get the season going again - is going to win the Premier League as well. It's phenomenal for him.

"I know the pressure of Liverpool captain. I remember when I was first appointed and I wasn't playing well, how difficult it was because you're trying to get yourself going and the crowd are looking at you as a leader because they have seen the likes of Graeme Souness and Phil Thompson.

"I found that pressure hard sometimes. But I think with Jordan, he has realised what he's got to do and he has been so assured and not worried about the ghost of Steven Gerrard.

"That's really hard. I played with Steven. The fans adored him. He was one of their own, a local lad, and Jordan's had to win them over and he's done that and more. Now they really know the value of what he brings."

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If PL starts from scratch - how would the odds look?

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 12:00
Lewis Jones

@_LJones_

You have an imaginary £50 to spend: Liverpool or Manchester City for the title? Who would make top four?

Last Updated: 30/03/20 12:29pm

Jones Knows prices up the Premier League winner market - who would you back? Jones Knows prices up the Premier League winner market - who would you back? Jones Knows prices up the Premier League winner market - who would you back?

If the Premier League is declared void and we start afresh, what would the betting markets look like? Jones Knows offers some odds and gives you an imaginary £50 to spend.

We've all be guilty of letting our imaginations wander in over the past two weeks - mine has been no different.

After the decision to expunge results for the 2019-20 season for non-League divisions below the National League and National League North and South, the thought of the same happening to the Premier League has crossed my mind.

Picture this purely hypothetical scene.

The Premier League season is declared null and void.

The authorities have declared that we're all set to kick off tomorrow with the same teams that started the 2019/20 season. Everything that has gone before between August and March vanishes from the history books and clubs will set off on the new season with their current squad and manager.

This means all of us of a betting persuasion will be ready to feast upon the ante-post markets and try and sniff out some value.

But this would be a unique situation, wouldn't it? As we'll be conjuring up our opinions with the caveat that theoretically we already know what's going to occur as we've already played the majority of this season. Liverpool will run away with the Premier League, Tottenham and Arsenal will take huge steps back and Norwich will prop up the table.

Thankfully, football isn't that predictable.

How would you assess Sheffield United's chances of repeating their top-four push? Can Leicester kick on after charging into the elite this season? Who would you back to go down?

With bookmakers currently suspending all their markets, Jones Knows has taken time out from his not-so-busy schedule to create a pop-up fictional bookmakers called Jones Knows Bet and created ante-post markets in the event that this season would be void and we'd have to do it all again.

Of course, these are all hypothetical markets. I can't lay you a penny.

The pre-season prediction chat is one of my favourite times of the season and in these current football-free times, I wanted to create a bit of that buzz that usually gets many of us revved up. Or at least create a few moments of distraction from the current realities of our strange world.

As you scroll your way down the page, keep in mind that I'll be giving you an imaginary £50 to spend across the four markets. Where does the value lie? What price has got your punting juices flowing?

Tweet me your staking plans - maximum four selections and you don't have to include every market. I'll review the most popular selections and give a few shout-outs in next week's column.

Premier League outright

This is a two-team book.

My calculations deem that there is a 96 per cent chance that either Liverpool or Manchester City will win the Premier League if it was to restart from scratch. The way this market is shaped is a complete role reversal to the way it looked at the start of the 2019/20 season with City then 8/13 favourites and Liverpool available at 9/4 before a ball was kicked.

The 29 per cent swing in favour of Liverpool in the market with my pricing is based on their obvious ruthlessness at winning matches, reliability and defensive brilliance. Also, you have to factor in the current question marks surrounding Pep Guardiola and some of City's key players due to the potential European ban. What price would City be if Guardiola or Kevin De Bruyne left? You could certainly double that 7/4, at least.

City do however remain a seriously frightening team, packed full of match winners. Interestingly, using Opta's xG (expected goals) data they sit top of the Premier League when analysing all the metrics - above Liverpool!

And although I'd favour them to beat Liverpool over 90 minutes at a neutral ground, Liverpool remain an all-round stronger team when it comes to long-term performance in a league situation. They have to be favourites.

TRADER'S VIEW: Robert Carr, Sky Bet Football Trader, writes: "Should the season be void and restart tomorrow, the 4/6 Liverpool and 7/4 Manchester City look too far apart to me. It's admittedly tough to avoid a 'recency bias' when a quick glance at the current league table shows such a significant gap between the two sides, but City's shot data is still at a different level this season and the absence of Aymeric Laporte has had a serious impact on their defensive solidity.

"Liverpool have again managed to keep players fit all season and win the games which could have gone another way. I'd be much closer these two in the market, maybe even a classic pick 'em, so I'd back City at the prices on offer."

Race for top four

With Liverpool and Manchester City near certainties to finish top four, this market is a race for the two other spots, leaving a very congested and competitive race involving seven realistic candidates. Sorry, Sheffield United fans.

I've just about favoured Manchester United to head the market due to their improving characteristics. Since losing to Burnley in January, United have gone unbeaten in five matches, including beating Manchester City 2-0, and have conceded just one goal along that way.

The introduction of Bruno Fernandes and potential return of Paul Pogba also were factored into their price. Chelsea are bound to keep on kicking under Frank Lampard after a slight over-achievement on what was expected and the 5/6 would shorten significantly if they were to splash some cash and convince a player like Jadon Sancho to join.

The graph below shows the teams odds at the start of the season compared to my odds, converted to a percentage to show the difference. The percentage shown demonstrates the difference in probability according to the market about the chances - in this case - of making the top four compared to first day of the 2019/20 season.

The big take out from this has to be the rapid decline of Tottenham and to a lesser extent Arsenal. Spurs went into the start of the 2019/20 season odds-on to make the top four (4/7) but according to my prices are a 11/4 shot under Jose Mourinho to finish in that position if the season was to start again tomorrow, meaning they are 27 per cent less likely to finish in the top four if my prices are somewhere on the money. Sounds about right though, doesn't it?

Arsenal also have suffered a drop-off, from a price of 13/8 to 7/2 - showcasing a 16 per cent less likely probability of securing a top-four finish.

TRADER'S VIEW: "This is a very interesting challenge to price given the current struggles of an injury-ravaged Tottenham, an Arsenal side that have been woeful on a lot of metrics this season before and after the appointment of Mikel Arteta, and inconsistencies shown by Chelsea and Manchester United.

"This has opened the door for a team like Wolves who have shown remarkable consistency, despite competing in Europe with a squad many worried was too thin in pre-season. I'd have Arsenal a bit shorter than 7/2 though and think United look a little short at 4/5."

Relegation

When assessing the relegation picture, it certainly seems the current Premier League table doesn't lie as the three teams filling the relegation spots are the top three in the market. Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth would be the most likely candidates but I'm sure they'd be plenty of punters out there willing to look elsewhere at bigger prices as all three of those teams have shown at various points that they carry Premier League quality within their ranks.

Again, the graph below shows the teams odds at the start of the season compared to my odds, converted to a percentage to show the difference. The percentage shown demonstrates the difference in probability according to the market about the chances - in this case - of relegation from the first day of the 2019/20 season.

The big winners here are certainly Sheffield United, who were favourites at 8/11 to suffer the drop at the start of the campaign but are now 11/2 according to my revised prices. That is an absolutely monstrous swing in probability equating to a 43 per cent less chance of them getting relegated, further underlining the brilliant job Chris Wilder is doing at Bramall Lane. Burnley (13 per cent) and Crystal Palace (three per cent) are the only other teams to have increased their probability of staying up.

Bournemouth and West Ham are the two with the biggest negative swings. Both teams were unfancied in the relegation markets at the start of the season with 9/2 available on the Cherries and a whopping 16/1 on the Hammers but would be popular to face the drop now.

TRADER'S VIEW: "The relegation battle was starting to look particularly interesting before the interruption of this season. Norwich look doomed, Aston Villa were 4/11 from a pre-season high of 9/4 and it's seemingly between four others for the final spot.

"My eye would be drawn to a Newcastle price of 9/4 here though. Their data for chance creation and shot totals suggest they've overperformed this season, and I'd have them much closer to the head of the market to go down if the season started tomorrow."

Premier League top goalscorer

This was the trickiest market to price up but I came to the conclusion that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be the one I'd back at any prices above 6/1 so I had to make him favourite. The Arsenal striker boasts a conversion rate of 36.17 per cent - the highest of any player with 10 or more goals this season - and has scored 17 goals in what is frankly a mediocre Arsenal team.

The Liverpool duo of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are obviously huge players in this contest but Liverpool have a tendency of sharing out their goals which slightly reduces the likelihood of one of them becoming a Golden Boot winner.

Sergio Aguero will tempt many in at his prices but are his powers diminishing slightly? The rise of Gabriel Jesus would also put me off Aguero at short prices. Harry Kane would be favourite if he played for a stronger top four contender while the 12/1 about Jamie Vardy will surely see plenty of action as he's leading the market this year with 19 goals.

TRADER'S VIEW: "The top goalscorer market saw Kane go off favourite this season, but he's missed too much of the season with another lengthy injury to trouble the top of the charts. I'd look for a bit of each way interest here with someone like Raul Jimenez at 33/1, who has a superb injury record, scores a high proportion of Wolves' goals and ranks high on shot data."

Sky Bet Trader Robert Carr's £50 selections:

  • £20 on Manchester City to win the Premier League 7/4
  • £20 on Newcastle to be relegated at 9/4
  • £5 EW on Raul Jimenez top goalscorer 33/1

Tweet me your staking plans - maximum four selections and you don't have to include every market. I'll review the most popular selections and give a few shout-outs in next week's column.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

POTS: Mane more important than ever

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 07:00
Nick Wright

Comment and Analysis @nicholaspwright

Sadio Mane is among the favourites for the PFA Player of the Year award following his stellar performances for Liverpool this season

Last Updated: 30/03/20 10:50am

2:35 We take a look at the best bits of three of the contenders for the Premier League Player of the Season award; Liverpool's Sadio Mane & Jordan Henderson and Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne. We take a look at the best bits of three of the contenders for the Premier League Player of the Season award; Liverpool's Sadio Mane & Jordan Henderson and Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne.

There were 87 minutes on the clock at Villa Park when Sadio Mane shifted the ball onto his weaker foot, spotted Andrew Robertson's run towards the far post, and lifted a pinpoint cross directly into his path.

The left-back met it with an emphatic header, cancelling out Aston Villa's opener, and three minutes later another moment of inspiration from Mane completed the turnaround. This time, he scored the goal himself, deftly flicking home Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner to spark wild celebrations.

Download the player of the season podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox | Spreaker

Liverpool now sit 25 points clear at the top of the table. Their Premier League title triumph became a formality long before it was delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. But the season might have turned out differently had it not been for that comeback in the West Midlands in early November.

That day, Liverpool were heading towards a deflating defeat which would have cut their lead to three points ahead of the following weekend's clash with Manchester City. Instead, thanks to Mane's heroics, they went into that game on a high, their six-point cushion intact. Pep Guardiola's side were duly beaten 3-1. There would be no way back for them.

Sadio Mane has scored 14 Premier League goals for Liverpool this season Sadio Mane has scored 14 Premier League goals for Liverpool this season Sadio Mane has scored 14 Premier League goals for Liverpool this season

It was not the first time Mane has made the difference for Liverpool and it would not be the last. In the last two months of the season alone, there have been winning goals against Bournemouth - a cool finish from Virgil van Dijk's pass - West Ham - a poacher's effort from close-range - and Norwich - a stunning strike with his weaker foot after coming off the bench.

Those victories, together with the comeback at Villa Park in November, are just four examples of the 14 Premier League games Liverpool have won by a one-goal margin this season. It's a record which owes a lot to their defensive resilience - few sides are better at holding onto a lead - but it owes even more to Mane's game-changing brilliance.

He has scored 14 goals in the Premier League so far, two fewer than team-mate Mohamed Salah, but his goals tend to matter more. In fact, they have won Liverpool 18 points over the course of the season - eight more than the Egyptian's and two more than any other Premier League player.

Throw in his seven assists - only Alexander-Arnold has provided more among Liverpool players this season - and Mane has had a direct hand in 32 per cent of Liverpool's goals. It is an increase from 26 per cent last season and 20 per cent in the campaign before that. Mane, in other words, has become more important to Liverpool than ever.

For their opponents, it has become increasingly difficult to stop him.

Mane is at his most dangerous when flying down Liverpool's left flank, but he has technical ability and intelligence to match his athletic prowess and he can score all kinds of goals too. Since the start of last season, there have nine with his weaker foot and eight with his head. Mane stands at just 5ft 7ins, but he is excellent in the air and has that rare knack for being in the right place at the right time.

His completeness extends to his off-the-ball work too. When he's not hurting opponents in the final third, he is pressing defenders feverishly and tracking back to protect his full-back. This season, he ranks among the top six Premier League forwards for both tackles and ball recoveries.

His value to the side has long been apparent to everyone at Liverpool - "Since his first day he was an incredibly important player," said Klopp in December - but it is perhaps only in the last 18 months that he has usurped Salah as their main man and received the wider recognition he deserves.

Atletico Madrid certainly went to great lengths in order to throw him off his game in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium last month, getting under his skin to such an extent that Klopp was forced to take him off at half-time. "He was targeted," said the Liverpool boss afterwards.

Sadio has been outstanding for a long period of time now. He’s a fantastic person off the pitch, he dedicates his life to football

Jurgen Klopp on Sadio Mane

Diego Simeone knew that he could stop Liverpool by stopping Mane and his influence is certainly not lost on Klopp either. In December, after the 27-year-old had finished fourth in the Ballon d'Or voting, he described him as a future winner. "If he stays healthy, he will have an incredible career in front of him and he can climb that table," he said.

Lionel Messi, last year's winner, feels the same way. "It's a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place," he said after collecting the prize. "I chose him because he's a player that I like. Mane achieved a great year and was exceptional for the Liverpool team. That's why I chose him."

Compliments do not come much bigger than that - "This is kind of like being crowned by the king," said Klopp at the time - but Mane is getting used to the adulation now. He is Liverpool's match-winner, a world-class talent who has hit new heights for a side on the brink of history.

Jamie Redknapp's verdict: 'He's an absolute machine'

"When they signed him from Southampton there were a few raised eyebrows, but he has just been incredible," Redknapp tells Sky Sports. "He's made out of granite. He's so strong, he's brilliant in the air, he attacks the back post as well as anybody and he can finish off either foot.

"He is just a phenomenal player, great at playing off that side, where he'll put the ball into the frontman and Roberto Firmino will set him up. He is an absolute machine in every single game. He gets scrappy goals, great goals, he doesn't care, and that's what sets him apart."

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Categories: LFC NEWS

'Liverpool players all behind charity work'

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 16:45
By Vinny O'Connor, Sky Sports News reporter

Last Updated: 28/03/20 6:28pm

The LFC Foundation are keeping up the good work The LFC Foundation are keeping up the good work The LFC Foundation are keeping up the good work

Saturday should have been the pinnacle of the fundraising year for the LFC Foundation. Another Anfield sell out was due to host the legends match between Liverpool and Barcelona, raising vital funds for many of those members of our society that the sporting shutdown is trying to protect.

"In terms of the fundraising, yes, it will be tighter," admitted Foundation director Matt Parish. "But we work on the basis that the legends game isn't cancelled, it is postponed.

"The importance of the charity game is the other charities we are able to support and what we want to do is get the game back on, when it is safe to do so, to enable us to support those charities and the great work they do."

Two weeks ago, when the football season was first put on hold, there was an immediate need to help out one local charity. 25 per cent of all donations to the North Liverpool Foodbank come from Liverpool home games. With no football, there was a big hole to fill.

"Jordan Henderson kicked off the fundraising campaign with his call to fans [to support the foodbanks]," says Parish. "The players made a £20k donation which we, as the LFC foundation, matched. That plugged the gap and a bit more.

"There is a definite feeling of we are all in it together. For instance Alisson Becker has been involved in the WHO messaging about hand washing, hygiene and staying safe. The players are all behind it, they're all engaged."

Maintaining engagement with participants during a global pandemic is a bit more tricky. Early on, the coronavirus outbreak forced the shutdown of the Red Neighbours outreach scheme to tackle social isolation.

With many of the participants in the vulnerable category, this had to be done and, subsequently, the Foundation's educational programmes went the same way.

But that doesn't mean work stops. For now, the method of delivery may have changed, but the significance of their role is heightened.

"I like what someone said to me the other day: creativity and connectivity. How can we creatively stay in contact with all our participants and as many supporters and other people connected with club as we can?

"Debbie Moore [wife of the club's chief executive Peter Moore], our chair-based yoga teacher, has videoed sessions for the people who take part so they can still carry on. Our staff have been videoing content so participants can carry on with their physical activity.

"There's also been academic content put together, working with the Premier League and the Premier League All Stars programme. And we will continue with phone calls and video calls to the more vulnerable participants.

"For instance, for the elderly members of the community or if you're a young person who comes to one of our disability inclusion sessions on a Wednesday night, obviously that's not going to be running for a while, but you can get some advice and guidance and still have that point of contact with us."

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Off Script: Why management isn't for Carra

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 12:00

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Klopp: Solidarity, discipline and dancing like Ox

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 12:16
"I tried the dance of Ox. Not as bad as you probably think. It's very important in these times that we all show we take this situation seriously, but we are human beings" By Calum Wilson

Last Updated: 27/03/20 1:11pm

Jurgen Klopp says it is important for the players to keep their mood up and that of the public Jurgen Klopp says it is important for the players to keep their mood up and that of the public Jurgen Klopp says it is important for the players to keep their mood up and that of the public

Jurgen Klopp say his Liverpool players are keeping in high spirits by entertaining each other in a group chat, with the Reds boss even trying to replicate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's dance moves.

With the Premier League season currently suspended, all fit members of his squad are training alone at home and Klopp has been keeping in touch via the players' WhatsApp group.

In a message to the club's fans, Klopp issued a rallying cry for solidarity and reiterated the importance of discipline in maintaining a safe social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to Liverpool's official website via a video call from his home, Klopp said: "The only way to get football back as soon as possible, if that's what the people want, the more disciplined we are now the earlier we will get, piece by piece by piece, our life back. That's how it is.

"There is no other solution in the moment, nobody has another solution. We have to be disciplined by ourselves, we have to keep the distance to other people.

1:54 David Beckham was among the sports stars who took part in the 'clap for our carers' to show appreciation to NHS workers David Beckham was among the sports stars who took part in the 'clap for our carers' to show appreciation to NHS workers

"It is a difficult time for all of us, but from a personal point of view an interesting one as well because I've never had a situation like this and was never that long at home.

"From a personal point of view, I am really good, but like everybody else, [I am] concerned about the situation around us, of course.

"There are so many people out there that have much bigger problems so it would feel really embarrassing to myself if I was to talk about my 'problems' - I have the problems every person in the world has in the moment. That's the lesson we learn in this moment.

"In the future, in 10, 20, 30, 40 years, if we look back and then the conclusion is that this was the period when the world showed the biggest solidarity, the biggest love, the biggest friendship or whatever, that would be great.

"So in the moment when you go through a phase or a period like this it's not possible to see that, especially not for the people who are ill, but there will be a point in the future, a moment in the future when we look back and hopefully then we can see it like this."

A number of Liverpool players have been posting updates and entertaining fans on their social media pages.

Oxlade-Chamberlain released a video of himself dancing with his partner - Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards - while team-mate James Milner played up to a joke of him being boring by pretending to cut grass with a pair of scissors.

"We spoke a couple of times, we have a really intense, big, big group chat - the whole of Melwood are in that," Klopp said.

"The boys are really lively in that, the boys are just interested in what everybody is doing, comments on what everybody is doing - if Ox (Oxlade-Chamberlain) is on Instagram or whatever. So, that helps a lot. The mood is good.

"I didn't cut the grass but I tried the dance of Ox. Not as bad as you probably think. It's very important in these times that we all show we take this situation seriously, but we are human beings.

"At the moment we are at home and when you are at home, you cannot do something to help outside. We are not health workers, we don't work in a supermarket.

"You have to keep your own mood up and you have to keep the mood up for other people. If the boys do anything on Instagram, as long as it's in a legal frame I'm overly happy about it - it just shows they are still cheeky and all that stuff."

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