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Lampard and Klopp showdown

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 22:30
Rivalry resumes between Frank Lampard and Jurgen Klopp. Watch Chelsea vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event from 4pm on Sunday; Kick-off 4.30pm

Last Updated: 20/09/20 8:08am

Frank Lampard and Jurgen Klopp face off when Chelsea host Liverpool on Sunday Frank Lampard and Jurgen Klopp face off when Chelsea host Liverpool on Sunday Frank Lampard and Jurgen Klopp face off when Chelsea host Liverpool on Sunday

Chelsea and Liverpool has been a heated rivalry during the Premier League era but the appointment of Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge appears to have added extra spice given his exchanges with Jurgen Klopp, on the touchline and in the media, in recent months.

Now, as Liverpool prepare for their first away game of their Premier League title defence, it is perhaps appropriate that they travel to Chelsea - the biggest spenders of the summer and a club aiming to close the gap on the champions to become genuine challengers this season.

How the row started

Lampard was the visiting manager on the night that Liverpool celebrated their first title win in 30 years in July - and made his presence felt on the touchline with some choice words following a dispute with several figures on the opposition bench at Anfield.

"Fair play to Liverpool Football Club, they have won the league," Lampard told Sky Sports after the game. "But also do not get too arrogant with it. That was my point, but it is done."

1:02 How the row between Lampard and Klopp began at Anfield last season How the row between Lampard and Klopp began at Anfield last season Response from Klopp

Klopp can be vocal on the touchline himself but did not take kindly to Lampard's decision to fan the flames after the final whistle with this accusation of arrogance.

"You cannot hit me with something like that - or my bench with something like that - because we are not arrogant," the Liverpool boss responded.

"Frank was in a really competitive mood and I respect that a lot. You can pretty much, from my point of view, say what you want in a situation like that. For me, it's after the game. It's completely over. I have said a lot in the past because it is pure emotion. But what he has to learn is to finish it with the final whistle and he did not do that.

"Speaking after it like this is not OK. Frank has to learn. He has a lot of time to learn, he is a young coach. But he has to learn."

Klopp's spending claim

With the season over, all seemed to be forgotten but Klopp's decision to highlight Chelsea's spending and contrast it with that of Liverpool during the transfer window changed all that.

"We live in a world at the moment with a lot of uncertainty," Klopp explained. "For some clubs it seems to be less important how uncertain the future is - owned by countries, owned by oligarchs, that is the truth. We are a different kind of club.

"We got to the Champions League final two years ago, we won it last year, and became Premier League champions last season by being the club we are, by being led the way we are led. We cannot just change it overnight and say 'so now we want to behave like Chelsea, now we want to behave like them' now they have signed a lot of players."

Klopp was speaking in the wake of Chelsea signing Timo Werner for £50m - a deal that Liverpool found a little too rich for their tastes despite interest in the striker's talents.

With Lampard also being provided the funds to acquire Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz this summer, there is no denying that he has been backed.

0:31 Kai Havertz is confident he can form an effective partnership with Germany team-mate Timo Werner at Chelsea. Kai Havertz is confident he can form an effective partnership with Germany team-mate Timo Werner at Chelsea.

However, the Chelsea boss bristles at the notion that Liverpool's journey to becoming Premier League champions did not come with considerable spending of their own.

Response from Lampard

"I was less annoyed with it, I found it slightly amusing," said Lampard. "It is a fantastic story of a club - over four and a half, five years that Jurgen Klopp's been there - that have managed to get recruitment right to a really high level.

"The really smart thing they have done is believe in their coach and system for a number of years. It's a great story, but it is story that has seen money spent on players. What we have done is come off the back of a ban and tried to address the situation to improve."

3:07 Lampard discusses the rivalry with Liverpool and his exchange with Klopp Lampard discusses the rivalry with Liverpool and his exchange with Klopp Does Lampard have a point?

There is some mitigation here that helps to explain Chelsea's lavish spending. As alluded to by Lampard, the club's earlier transfer ban had allowed them to stockpile funds for the summer so it was no surprise to see owner Roman Abramovich dip into the market.

It is also worth acknowledging that while Liverpool do not have the sort of external funding enjoyed by some of their rivals, this more organic growth has not prevented spending.

Alisson Becker arrived for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper when Liverpool paid £67m for his services, while the £75m paid for Virgil van Dijk was a world record for a defender.

Liverpool's brilliant front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have all proven bargains but still cost around £100m to assemble at Anfield, while Klopp boasts options in a midfield that includes no fewer than five players who cost £20m or more.

5:03 Chelsea and Liverpool matches always have memorable moments - here are some of the greatest goals from their clashes Chelsea and Liverpool matches always have memorable moments - here are some of the greatest goals from their clashes But that is not the whole story

Such spending does not seem so big when the departures from Anfield are factored in. Indeed, the purchase of Van Dijk was entirely funded in the same transfer window by the huge £145m fee that Barcelona paid for Philippe Coutinho that January.

Liverpool's clever work in the market has seen them recoup money from the sale of squad players too, with Bournemouth paying big sums for Jordon Ibe and Dominic Solanke. Since Klopp's arrival, the club's net spend is a mere fraction of the Manchester clubs.

It is a testament to Klopp's fine work, although there is perhaps an element of self-interest in Lampard's claims that the German's success is an argument for sticking with a manager over an extended period. How he would love Chelsea to wait so long for a first trophy.

But Klopp's track record demanded time, having won back-to-back Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund. While Lampard had lost a Championship playoff final with Derby County at Wembley, Klopp's high-profile defeat there had come in the Champions League final.

Chelsea vs Liverpool

September 20, 2020, 4:00pm

Live on

Downplaying the rivalry

In the immediate build-up to the game, both managers sought to calm the mood, painting this so-called rivalry as a media construction rather than a case of any genuine animosity.

"There is a lot of airtime for you to have to fill with talk of these rivalries so I understand that sometimes they can be scrutinised in every possible way," said Lampard.

"I have got a huge amount of respect for him as a manager, I always have. What he has done at Liverpool in the course of time has been incredible and that's on him as the focal point of the club. There is nothing in it for me. The competitive nature of the 90 minutes can always slightly boil over. The respect I have for Jurgen Klopp will never change."

1:24 Jurgen Klopp says the signing of Thiago Alcântara was a 'win-win', with both the player and the club excited to team up Jurgen Klopp says the signing of Thiago Alcântara was a 'win-win', with both the player and the club excited to team up

Klopp has also sought to defuse the rivalry.

"When you ask me a question, I answer it and everybody takes it the way they want to take it," he added. "It might be a language issue or something. You made up a story that I said about the 'transfer behaviour of Chelsea'. What I said was in the situation we are in, we cannot deal with the situation the same as other clubs. One of them was Chelsea.

"Then you create a rivalry between Frank Lampard and me. Why? We meet two or three times a year. I respect a lot what he's doing. He's probably a really nice guy, but I don't know because I don't know him privately and he doesn't know me.

"I have no problems, none at all, with Frank Lampard."

Will the truce hold? Find out on Sunday.

How to follow

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

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool sign Jota from Wolves

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 17:00
Ki-Jana Hoever completed a move from Liverpool to Molineux on a five-year contract in a separate deal worth an initial £10m

Last Updated: 20/09/20 7:57am

Liverpool unveil new signing Diogo Jota Liverpool unveil new signing Diogo Jota Liverpool unveil new signing Diogo Jota

Liverpool have completed the signing of Diogo Jota from Wolves for a fee of £40m, which could rise to £45m.

The move comes a day after the Premier League champions secured the signing of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich in a deal that could be worth up to £25m.

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Jota's arrival at Anfield is separate to a deal which saw defender Ki-Jana Hoever moving to Wolves on a five-year contract in a transfer worth £10m, plus add-ons.

That means Liverpool's initial net spend with Wolves over the two deals is around £30m.

"It's just a really exciting moment for me and my family," Jota told Liverpool's website.

"All of my path since I was a kid and now, to join a club like Liverpool - the world champions - is just unbelievable. I just want to get started.

"It is one of the best teams in the world - the best at the moment because they are world champions. When you look at the Premier League, you always see Liverpool as one of the biggest teams in the country, so it's impossible to say no.

"So we just want to come [here], to give our best and hopefully I can become a good option for Liverpool in the future."

As for the impact he can have at Anfield, Jota added: "I think I am a team player.

"I play up front and my job is to find a way to score goals and to provide assists and that's what they can expect from me - that I will always do my best. I will always try to help the team in the best way possible.

"They [the fans] can count on me because now I am one of them and I will give my best."

The 23-year-old has been given the vacant No 20 shirt.

Jota left Molineux before kick-off against Stoke in the Carabao Cup on Thursday and was an unused substitute in Monday's 2-0 win at Sheffield United.

The Portugal international scored 26 goals in 85 appearances in all competitions for Wolves since joining from Atletico Madrid in July 2018.

Liverpool youngster Ki-Jana Hoever (R) has joined Wolves Liverpool youngster Ki-Jana Hoever (R) has joined Wolves Liverpool youngster Ki-Jana Hoever (R) has joined Wolves

Hoever, who appeared four times for Jurgen Klopp's side, can play right wing-back, right-back and centre-back - all positions which Wolves were keen to strengthen during this transfer window.

The 18-year-old joined Liverpool from Ajax in 2018 and only signed a new long-term contract at Anfield last summer but has now joined Wolves on a permanent deal.

'Jota's versatility key for Klopp'

Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol on The Transfer Show:

Jurgen Klopp has been looking for some competition for his front three and has decided to go for Jota.

Liverpool were also interested in Watford's Ismaila Sarr, but Jota is Klopp's first choice.

Klopp believes he has the required versatility because he can play anywhere along the front line and that will put some pressure on Salah, Firmino and Mane.

Analysis: How Thiago could transform Liverpool ONE MILLION POUNDS! Can you imagine?

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Sky Sports' Adam Bate:

'Cover for Andrew Robertson has already arrived. Attacking depth would help. But a midfield creator could be transformative. Naby Keita brings some of those qualities, albeit slightly further forwards, but think of that midfield and one still suspects industry is valued over invention.

'It has hardly been a problem, whether it is Fabinho cracking one in from 30 yards or Jordan Henderson driving the team on to glory at home and abroad over the past 18 months. It has come to be seen as the Liverpool way. A decision to focus on the flanks. A style that works.

'Thiago is the Spanish pass master with Brazilian roots and a Barcelona upbringing. A man at home in the midfield hot house, seemingly born to work in those tight spaces.

'He averaged 82.6 completed passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this past season - the most of any regular midfielder. He had a pass completion rate in excess of 90 per cent - an accuracy level that does not really reflect the range of his passing with both feet.

'Where he could help Liverpool is by moving the ball with one and two touches, opening games up against deeper defences.'

Summer transfer window - key dates and times

The summer transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday October 5 with a feast of activity lined up on Transfer Deadline Day on Sky Sports News and across our Sky Sports platforms.

A domestic-only window for deals between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday, October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on SSN and across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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Liverpool agree £45m Jota deal

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 17:54
Liverpool defender Ki-Jana Hoever set to move to Molineux in a deal worth an initial £10m

Last Updated: 19/09/20 10:32am

Liverpool are set to make Diogo Jota their third signing of the transfer window Liverpool are set to make Diogo Jota their third signing of the transfer window Liverpool are set to make Diogo Jota their third signing of the transfer window

Liverpool have agreed a £45m deal for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, with the 23-year-old set to head to Melwood on Saturday to undergo a medical before completing the deal.

The move comes just hours after the Premier League champions secured the signing of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich in a deal that could be worth up to £25m.

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Jota's arrival at Anfield could be made easier by Liverpool defender Ki-Jana Hoever moving to Wolves in a deal worth £10m, plus add-ons.

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Jota left Molineux before kick-off against Stoke in the Carabao Cup on Thursday and was an unused substitute at the weekend in the 2-0 win at Sheffield United.

Liverpool youngster Ki-Jana Hoever (R) looks set to join Wolves Liverpool youngster Ki-Jana Hoever (R) looks set to join Wolves Liverpool youngster Ki-Jana Hoever (R) looks set to join Wolves

Liverpool teenager Hoever, who has appeared four times for Jurgen Klopp's side, can play right wing-back, right-back and centre-back - all positions which Wolves are looking to strengthen during this transfer window.

The 18-year-old joined Liverpool from Ajax in 2018 and only signed a new long-term contract at Anfield last summer.

However, he is set to join Wolves on a permanent deal after terms were agreed between the two Premier League clubs.

0:46 Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor has the details of the contract signed by Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor has the details of the contract signed by Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara Summer transfer window - key dates and times

The summer transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday October 5 with a feast of activity lined up on Transfer Deadline Day on Sky Sports News and across our Sky Sports platforms.

A domestic-only window for deals between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday, October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on SSN and across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool sign Thiago from Bayern Munich

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 16:00
Liverpool will pay £20m across Thiago's four-year contract, with the potential for further £5m in add-ons

Last Updated: 19/09/20 12:01am

1:24 Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says the signing of Thiago was a 'win-win', with both the player and the club excited to team up with each other Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says the signing of Thiago was a 'win-win', with both the player and the club excited to team up with each other

Liverpool have signed Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich in a deal that could rise to £25m.

Liverpool will pay £20m for the Spain international, with the potential for a further £5m in add-ons, and the midfielder will wear the No 6 jersey.

Thiago arrived in the UK on Friday morning, flying in to Manchester from Munich to complete a medical and finalise the deal.

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The 29-year-old helped Bayern win the treble last season, as they beat Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League final last month in Lisbon.

"I think it's an amazing feeling. I was waiting for this moment for a long time and I am very, very happy to be here," Thiago told Liverpool's official website.

"When the years are passing, you are trying to win as much as you can - and when you win, you want to win more. I think this club describes what I am as well; I want to achieve all of the goals, win as many trophies as possible.

"It also [has] this kind of family [feeling] that I need because we [like to] have a very close relationship with the club and I think I will feel this, I will have this feeling, with this club as well.

0:46 Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor has the details of the contract signed by Thiago Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor has the details of the contract signed by Thiago

"I must adapt to the team as fast as I can in the situation and the context that we are living right now.

"Everything is more compact and we started a little bit later, but still it is football and I think we have to mix all the big things up, all the good things we have. I will help the team in a defensive and offensive [way] and also in a mental aspect.

"[The fans] are not more excited than I am - for sure not! It is not about saying words, it is about doing the things. I will give my heart on the field to my team-mates, the club and also to the fans."

'Most difficult decision of my sports career'

When he left the Bundesliga club, Thiago took to social media to post a goodbye video which said: "I have made the most difficult decision of my sports career.

"I will close this chapter in this wonderful football club where I have grown as a player for seven years.

"Triumphs, joys and also hard times but what I am most proud of is that I arrived in Munich as a young man full of dreams and now I will leave completely fulfilled with the club, a history and a culture.

"Here I learned to love a tradition that I am now saying goodbye to but which I will never forget.

"My decision is purely a sporting nature as a soccer player, I want new challenges to develop myself further. Bavaria will always be my home, thank you FC Bayern."

Bayern boss Hansi Flick paid tribute to Thiago on Thursday, saying: "Thiago is an exceptional player who spent seven hugely successful years here.

Thiago Alcantara with the Champions League trophy Thiago Alcantara with the Champions League trophy Thiago Alcantara with the Champions League trophy

"He's a wonderful person and an outstanding professional. It was very emotional today when he said goodbye to us all."

Thiago started his career at Barcelona and was handed his debut for the Catalan side by Pep Guardiola in 2009 at the age of 18.

He was an unused substitute as Barca beat Manchester United in the Champions League final the following season.

Thiago joined up with Guardiola again in 2013 when the then-Bayern boss took him to Bavaria. He went on to win seven Bundesliga titles and four DFB-Pokal cups.

Analysis: Thiago signing shows how high Liverpool are regarded

Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol told The Transfer Show:

"Liverpool signing Thiago shows how high Liverpool's standing is right now in world football because this is a player who is the best in the world at what he does. He's been at Bayern Munich for seven seasons, he's won a title every season, he's just won the Champions League and was one of the best players in the competition last season.

Thiago will wear the No 6 jersey for Liverpool this season Thiago will wear the No 6 jersey for Liverpool this season Thiago will wear the No 6 jersey for Liverpool this season

"Bayern were aware his contract was running out next summer. They put a new contract in front of him, a four-year deal and they thought it was all agreed, he was going to sign on the dotted line but at the last minute, he had a change of heart and decided to leave this summer. Bayern decided to let him go and he wants a new challenge which is at Liverpool.

"From Liverpool's point of view, Bayern were initially asking for €30m and there was no way Liverpool were going to pay that. The way they have structured this deal is that they are paying £20m but over four seasons so £5m per year for Thiago. When you look at it like that, it is the best lease purchase deal I have ever seen to get a player that good for just £5m per year.

"That's why a lot of Liverpool fans on social media are saying their sporting director Michael Edwards is a genius."

'Thiago deal a no-brainer for Liverpool'

Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O'Connor:

"Liverpool's stance throughout the summer was that they would not be signing Thiago Alcantara - that changed a little a couple of weeks ago when the suggestion was they would only try to sign him if someone was leaving, but they did not believe that was going to happen.

"Now Liverpool have decided to go ahead regardless of that and they think Thiago is the man for them.

1:39 Jurgen Klopp speaks exclusively to Sky Sports about Liverpool's 'toughest season' ahead and the transfer market Jurgen Klopp speaks exclusively to Sky Sports about Liverpool's 'toughest season' ahead and the transfer market

"Jurgen Klopp had also been consistent throughout the summer - Liverpool would not be doing business unless a really good opportunity presented itself and a deal was there to be done.

"This is a deal that Liverpool could not turn down.

"At 29, Thiago does not necessarily fit the FSG [Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's owners] model of buying players young, coaching them and increasing their ability and value, but the out-and-out quality of Thiago, combined with his experience of performing on the biggest stage, meant this particular move was a no-brainer.

1:07 Speaking before the move was confirmed, Jamie Redknapp said Thiago will add a different dimension to Liverpool's midfield Speaking before the move was confirmed, Jamie Redknapp said Thiago will add a different dimension to Liverpool's midfield

"He is a player for the here and now, untested in the Premier League but someone who is used to performing on the biggest stage for Barcelona, Bayern and Spain.

"The signing should also help to solve an issue that Liverpool have recognised recently - Trent Alexander Arnold alluded to it in an interview a couple of weeks ago - the game plan needs to change.

"It has been in the back of Liverpool's minds to change the dynamic in midfield. It is not a case of things going stale but they are keen to give the opposition something else to think about now. Liverpool have been playing the same way for a couple of years and Thiago brings them something completely different.

1:51 Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol said Liverpool's £25m deal for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago is 'incredible business' Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol said Liverpool's £25m deal for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago is 'incredible business'

"The signing of Bayern Munich's treble-winning midfielder renews that competition for places and says to the other players in that position they have to raise their game again.

"They have now decided to move from a position of strength to freshen things up and give other teams something new to think about."

Analysis: How Thiago could transform Liverpool

Sky Sports' Adam Bate:

The commentator was just saying how comfortable Paris Saint-Germain were looking when it happened. "They are quite happy for Bayern to have the ball in their half," he said. But it was at that precise moment that Thiago Alcantara weaved his magic, firing a crisp pass between the lines.

The ball was in the back of the net seconds later. The goal was enough to win the 2020 Champions League for Bayern Munich and while scorer Kingsley Coman was the official man of the match, the role of Thiago in the team's triumph escaped no one.

At 29 and reluctant to sign a new contract, Bayern realised they might have to sell. Liverpool have pounced and it is easy to see why. Jurgen Klopp's side can do almost anything. But they cannot do what Thiago can do…

Read the full feature on what Thiago would offer Liverpool here

Analysis: A staggering CV and pedigree

Sky Sports' Adam Smith:

His CV tells the story. At 29 years old, Thiago has racked up 11 league titles with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Since his league debut, he has only ever missed out on the domestic crown once - back in 2011/12.

If that was not enough, what else interested Jurgen Klopp? The reduced fee from his dwindling contract was undoubtedly attractive, but so too are his strengths - in particular, his ability to press opponents.

False restart

Thiago played only 106 minutes in the Bundesliga after the restart due to a groin injury

Only Wolfsburg's Maximilian Arnold reclaimed possession in the middle third more than Thiago in the Bundesliga last season - and he played 1,055 minutes more than the Spain international.

Thiago also offers an improved dimension to Liverpool's existing midfield tranche: the ability to run with the ball. His frequency of completed dribbles is outstanding, given the fact he patrols central areas of the pitch.

In addition, the 29-year-old retains possession, despite his forward-thinking drive and above-average number of passes attempted - clocking a passing accuracy of 90.5 per cent, which ranks 21st in the league.

Thiago provides unrivalled pedigree, with 12 years' experience at powerhouse clubs and nine with Spain, while fitting the mould for a midfielder under Klopp.

Summer transfer window - key dates and times

The summer transfer window will close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday, October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Live on Sky: Chelsea vs Liverpool

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 12:32

Team news and stats ahead of Chelsea vs Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday (kick-off 4.30pm).

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Team news

Liverpool managed to register the paperwork in time for new signing Thiago Alcantara to be available for Sunday's trip to Chelsea.

 0:46 Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor has the details of the contract signed by Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara

Although the £20m deal for the Bayern Munich midfielder was not announced until late on Friday afternoon the formalities had already been completed in advance for the Spain international to join the squad if manager Jurgen Klopp requires.

Thiago would most likely start on the bench if selected but fellow midfielder Fabinho could start at the expense of Naby Keita.

Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva will all miss out for Chelsea.

The new recruits must wait for their league debuts for the Blues, with Ziyech still nursing a knee complaint, Chilwell a heel issue and Silva searching for match fitness.

More on this story

Christian Pulisic is still to shake off a hamstring problem, but striker Timo Werner is fit, having eased past a dead leg picked up at Brighton on Monday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp 0:39 Jurgen Klopp says there could be more transfers at Liverpool before the window closes in October How to follow

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

Christian Pulisic glides past two Liverpool players during a virtuoso display 5:03 Chelsea and Liverpool matches always have memorable moments, here are some of the greatest goals from their clashes Watch the Premier League live on Sky Sports

One hundred and forty-six Premier League games will be shown live on Sky Sports in the 2020/21 season, with an additional six matches added in September.

The Premier League has further increased the number of televised games this season from 200 to 231, with over half of the extra fixtures set to be shown live on Sky Sports.

Overall, Sky Sports will be showing 146 Premier League matches live throughout the 2020/21 season, continuing to bring you all the latest twists, turns and shocks at the home of the Premier League.

There will also be two additional midweek programmes - one will be played across the weeks commencing January 11 and 18 and the second will be in the week commencing May 10. All of these games will be broadcast live.

You can also follow the action with our dedicated live blogs on the Sky Sports website and app, and watch free match highlights from every game shortly after full-time on our digital platforms and YouTube channel.

Sunday 20th September 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Frank Lampard and Jurgen Klopp 1:15 Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says Chelsea have bought well in the transfer window, but believes they have threats all over the pitch. Opta stats
  • Chelsea have lost each of their last three Premier League meetings with Liverpool; only once before have they lost more in a row against the Reds in the competition (four between November 2010 and May 2012).
  • After winning just one of their first 16 Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge between 1992-93 and 2007-08 (D4 L11), Liverpool have since won six of their last 12 league games away at Chelsea (D3 L3), including three of five under Jürgen Klopp (D1 L1).
  • Only Liverpool themselves (22) have won more Premier League matches against the reigning champions than Chelsea (15 - level with Manchester United); indeed, the Blues are unbeaten in their last 13 home league games against the previous season's title-winning side (W7 D6), winning each of their last three in succession.
  • Excluding games on the opening day of a season, this will be Liverpool's first Premier League match against a side starting the day above them in the league table since October 2018, a 0-0 draw against Manchester City.
  • Chelsea finished the 2019-20 Premier League season with six consecutive home victories, last winning seven in a row at Stamford in Bridge in the competition in December 2017 under Antonio Conte.
  • Since their 2019-20 title win was confirmed in June, Liverpool have conceded 15 goals in their eight Premier League games (W5 D1 L2) - their previous 15 league goals conceded came across a 23-game spell.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Salah on track for greatness

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 09:11
Nick Wright

Comment and Analysis @nicholaspwright

Will Mohamed Salah haunt his former club at Stamford Bridge? Watch Chelsea vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League HD from 4pm on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

Last Updated: 18/09/20 11:16am

For Mohamed Salah, a trip to Stamford Bridge serves as a reminder of how far he has come. The Egyptian has blossomed since he was cut loose by Chelsea as a youngster. As ever, he will be eager to show his former club what they are missing on Super Sunday.

He heads to west London having made an explosive start to the season, his match-winning hat-trick in Liverpool's 4-3 victory over Leeds United on the opening day prompting Gary Neville to say he is performing at "an absolutely different level". "He looks mean, he looks hungry, he looks strong," added the Sky Sports pundit on Monday Night Football.

Salah's brilliance can be taken for granted at times. Jamie Carragher said his achievements were "underappreciated" after a 3-2 win over West Ham in February. But his devastating performance at Anfield on Saturday was a reminder that he is on track to achieve Premier League greatness.

Raising expectations for himself 3:59 Gary Neville believes Mohamed Salah's performance against Leeds shows that he's playing at a different level to most players in the world Gary Neville believes Mohamed Salah's performance against Leeds shows that he's playing at a different level to most players in the world

Salah is a victim of the extraordinarily high standards he set himself during his first season at Anfield. He sent records tumbling that year, hitting a total of 44 goals in all competitions, including 32 in the Premier League - breaking the record set by Luis Suarez four years earlier.

Salah has not hit those numbers since. In fact, his goal totals have trended downwards. He scored 22 in the Premier League in 2018/19, followed by 19 last season.

But examine his time at Liverpool as a whole and it becomes clear that his output is unmatched.

Since his arrival at Anfield from Roma in the summer of 2017, Salah has scored 11 more goals than any other Premier League player, leaving Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Sergio Aguero trailing in his wake. He has hit 26 more than Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane in the same timeframe.

To score 76 goals in just 109 Premier League appearances is a remarkable feat. And even after adding the 13 appearances he made for Chelsea - during which he scored twice - there are only four players who can better his record.

Salah boasts more goals after 122 Premier League appearance than Thierry Henry.

It is all the more impressive when you consider that, unlike the rest of the names in that distinguished list, Salah operates from the flank rather than as a central striker.

While his goal totals may have dipped in the last two seasons, there is little in his underlying numbers to cause alarm. Salah has averaged around four shots per 90 minutes every season at Liverpool and his numbers for touches in the opposition box have in fact risen from year to year.

The difference is that he has not finished his chances quite as clinically in the last two seasons as in the one before that, but his hat-trick against Leeds was a reminder of what he is capable of. It might also hint that he is primed for another goalscoring campaign like his first one.

'Selfish' streak but creative too Salah celebrates scoring his second goal with Roberto Firmino Salah celebrates scoring his second goal with Roberto Firmino Salah celebrates scoring his second goal with Roberto Firmino

Neville touched on Salah's mentality as well as his ability on Monday Night Football, saying the 28-year-old's hunger for goals reminds him of his former Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Mane is likeable… he'll do the selfless thing for the team," said Neville. "Then you look at Salah on the other side. He sometimes doesn't pass to his team-mates. He is a little bit more selfish and a little bit less likeable because of that, probably to the fans and to his own team-mates."

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Neville believes that selfish streak will elevate Salah into the group of players vying to be considered the best in the world in the years ahead and that side of his character is no secret. It even caused tensions to boil over in August of last year, when Mane reacted angrily to his refusal to pass to him during a 3-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.

It would be unfair, though, to suggest that Salah is only out for himself. In addition to the 76 Premier League goals he has scored since his arrival at Liverpool, there have been 28 assists. Across the division since then, only Andrew Robertson, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have provided more.

The statistics suggest Salah's perceived selfishness may in fact be overplayed.

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If his numbers for assists are not impressive enough, consider the fact that only De Bruyne has created more open-play chances since the start of the 2017/18 season. Salah's total stands at 175 - an average of almost two per 90 minutes played. Salah is a goal creator as well as a goal scorer.

Thiago to provide another lift 1:51 Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol says Liverpool's £25m deal for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara is 'incredible business' Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol says Liverpool's £25m deal for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara is 'incredible business'

The worry for Liverpool's Premier League rivals is that, with Thiago Alcantara finally on his way to Anfield, Salah is about to get even better.

Thiago, who is due to complete his £25m move from Bayern Munich imminently, will bring a new dimension to Jurgen Klopp's side. His passing ability and technical skill will allow them to play through midfield rather than bypass it. He will offer Salah a new source of ammunition.

The 29-year-old is not an assists-machine in the mould of Kevin De Bruyne. He plays deeper than the Belgian, controlling the game and orchestrating attacks from the base of midfield and most commonly providing the pass before the pass, as he did in the build-up to Kingsley Coman's winning goal in last month's Champions League final.

2:59 Highlights from Liverpool's 4-3 win over Leeds in the Premier League Highlights from Liverpool's 4-3 win over Leeds in the Premier League

But he still excels at picking out runners in front of him and that's good news for Salah, who is at his most dangerous when running in behind the opposition's defence. The kind of passes he needs rarely come from Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and the rest. But, as Carragher puts it: "Thiago would bring something different".

Salah will be licking his lips at the prospect of feeding off Thiago's passes. He has started the season in the most emphatic style possible, but it seems the best is yet to come from a player already destined for Premier League greatness.

Watch Chelsea vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League HD from 4pm on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

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Liverpool could face Leicester or Arsenal in Carabao Cup

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 22:20
Spurs could face Chelsea if they progress past Leyton Orient and Barnsley respectively

Last Updated: 18/09/20 6:13am

The winner of Liverpool's Carabao Cup tie against Lincoln City, live on Sky Sports Football next Thursday, will face either Arsenal or Leicester in round four of the competition.

Spurs could face Chelsea if they each progress past Leyton Orient and Barnsley respectively, while the winner between holders Manchester City and Bournemouth will play either Millwall or Burnley.

Brentford could have a chance to exact revenge on Fulham for last season's Championship play-off final, if the Bees beat West Brom and their west London rivals beat Sheffield Wednesday.

Manchester United or Luton will come up against whoever is successful between Preston North End and Brighton, and a win for Aston Villa against Bristol City would see them play either Stoke City or Gillingham.

Fleetwood or Everton will take on West Ham or Hull, and the victors of Newport against Watford will get either Morecambe or Newcastle in round four.

Everton will face either West Ham or Hull if they beat Fleetwood in round three Everton will face either West Ham or Hull if they beat Fleetwood in round three Everton will face either West Ham or Hull if they beat Fleetwood in round three

The round four games will be played in the week commencing September 28, with four - to be announced at a later date - broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Carabao Cup round four draw
  • Lincoln or Liverpool vs Leicester City or Arsenal
  • Millwall or Burnley vs Manchester City or Bournemouth
  • West Brom or Brentford vs Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday
  • Fleetwood or Everton vs West Ham or Hull
  • Bristol City or Aston Villa vs Stoke or Gillingham
  • Leyton Orient or Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea or Barnsley
  • Newport or Watford vs Morecambe or Newcastle
  • Preston or Brighton vs Luton or Manchester United
Carabao Cup round three live on Sky Sports

Four round three ties have been chosen for broadcast live on Sky Sports:

  • Tue 22 Sep: Leyton Orient v Tottenham (6pm)
  • Tue 22 Sep: Luton v Manchester United (8.15pm)
  • Wed 23 Sep: Fleetwood v Everton (7.45pm)
  • Thu 24 Sep: Lincoln v Liverpool (7.45pm)
Carabao Cup round three draw

Round three ties to be played in the week commencing September 21:

  • Lincoln vs Liverpool
  • Bristol City vs Aston Villa
  • Morecambe vs Newcastle
  • Luton vs Manchester United
  • Preston vs Brighton
  • Fulham vs Sheffield Wednesday
  • Manchester City vs Bournemouth
  • Millwall vs Burnley
  • Chelsea vs Barnsley
  • Stoke vs Gillingham
  • Leicester City vs Arsenal
  • West Brom vs Brentford
  • Newport vs Watford
  • Fleetwood vs Everton
  • Leyton Orient vs Tottenham Hotspur
  • West Ham vs Hull
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How Thiago could transform Liverpool

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 10:00
Adam Bate

Comment and Analysis @ghostgoal

A detailed look at how the Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago Alcantara could impact Liverpool's build-up play through midfield...

Last Updated: 17/09/20 10:42am

The commentator was just saying how comfortable Paris Saint-Germain were looking when it happened. "They are quite happy for Bayern to have the ball in their half," he said. But it was at that precise moment that Thiago Alcantara weaved his magic, firing a crisp pass between the lines.

The ball was in the back of the net seconds later. The goal was enough to win the 2020 Champions League for Bayern Munich and while scorer Kingsley Coman was the official man of the match, the role of Thiago in the team's triumph escaped absolutely no one.

At 29 and reluctant to sign a new contract, Bayern realised they might have to sell. Liverpool are now ready to pounce and it is easy to see why the move might appeal. Jurgen Klopp's side can do almost anything. But they cannot do what Thiago can do.

"Liverpool's squad is fine in most areas," Jamie Carragher recently told Sky Sports. "But l think there are a couple of glaring areas where it should be better than it is."

Cover for Andrew Robertson has already arrived. Attacking depth would help. But a midfield creator could be transformative. Naby Keita brings some of those qualities, albeit slightly further forwards, but think of that midfield and one still suspects industry is valued over invention.

It has hardly been a problem, whether it is Fabinho cracking one in from 30 yards or Jordan Henderson driving the team on to glory at home and abroad over the past 18 months. It has come to be seen as the Liverpool way. A decision to focus on the flanks. A style that works.

1:07 Jamie Redknapp believes Thiago Alacantara would add a different dimension to Liverpool's midfield if he was to join from Bayern Munich Jamie Redknapp believes Thiago Alacantara would add a different dimension to Liverpool's midfield if he was to join from Bayern Munich

Which is what makes the link with Thiago so fascinating.

He is the Spanish pass master with Brazilian roots and a Barcelona upbringing. A man at home in the midfield hot house, seemingly born to work in those tight spaces.

Pep Guardiola gave him his professional debut and it shows. He was the one who first took him to Munich. "He is the only player I want," said Guardiola at the time. "It will be him or no one."

That was seven Bundesliga titles ago. A period in which Thiago has become a symbol of the shift as Bayern have totally dominated the league - and with it the football.

He might be seen as a Guardiola player, but he is now expected to find himself in a Klopp team. Even though the German has adapted his own approach in recent years, there remains a difference. Perhaps that is the whole idea. Thiago brings new qualities.

He averaged 82.6 completed passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this past season - the most of any regular midfielder. He had a pass completion rate in excess of 90 per cent - an accuracy level that does not really reflect the range of his passing with both feet.

Thiago's passing sonar for the 2019/20 Champions League season Thiago's passing sonar for the 2019/20 Champions League season Thiago's passing sonar for the 2019/20 Champions League season

Those numbers hint at the sort of metronomic use of the ball through midfield that has come to characterise Guardiola's Manchester City. Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan completed the most passes per 90 minutes by midfielders in the Premier League last season. They were followed by Chelsea's Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic. No Liverpool player came close.

Liverpool's passing networks for the 2019/20 Premier League season Liverpool's passing networks for the 2019/20 Premier League season Liverpool's passing networks for the 2019/20 Premier League season

That should come as no surprise. It is indicative of Klopp's use of his midfield. The passing networks during Liverpool's title-winning season reveal the plans behind their build-up play.

The ball is spread from the centre of defence to the full-backs out wide. Their job is to raid forward and connect directly with the team's attackers. The role of the midfielders in this system is often to cover those advances, recycle possession and prevent the counter.

It is rare that Liverpool use the centre of midfield to penetrate the opposition penalty box directly. The passing sonars for the team highlight the fact that the more ambitious delivery comes from the full-backs and the wide forwards. In midfield, the passes go sideways.

As a result, the threat level when Liverpool have the ball in the middle of the pitch is indirect. When the ball is in those areas, the plan is to move it out wide once more in search of an opening, stretching the play and creating spaces for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool's focus of attack during the 2019/20 Premier League season Liverpool's focus of attack during the 2019/20 Premier League season Liverpool's focus of attack during the 2019/20 Premier League season

The contrast with City is illustrated by the through-balls completed by Kevin De Bruyne. He made 13 such passes last season, more than three times that of any Liverpool player.

Thiago's inclusion would not change all that. He is more than capable of keeping possession and playing his part in this game of ball circulation. Where he could help Liverpool is by moving the ball with one and two touches, opening games up against deeper defences.

That could be an attraction for Klopp when the wide route to goal has been shut down with opponents content to defend the perimeter of their penalty box. Thiago picks passes others cannot - a consequence of a lifetime spent threading the needle for Barca and Bayern.

It would be a new challenge, trading his job with the new European champions for one with the reigning conquerors of the Premier League and the world. Thiago would have to adapt to Liverpool rather than the other way around. The ball might not reach him quite so often.

Chelsea vs Liverpool

September 20, 2020, 4:00pm

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It is not just the fact that Bayern play more passes than the rest. For every seven passes completed by his team per 90 minutes last season, Thiago was making one of them. For Georginio Wijnaldum, despite being similarly diligent in retaining possession, that number for Liverpool was only one in 12. The patterns of play are different.

The tendency at Liverpool is to bypass the middle of the pitch more often, playing around them rather than into the feet of the sitting midfielder. It is why other qualities such as winning the ball back and pressing opponents are of such great importance to Klopp.

Thiago will need some of that but he might just change Liverpool a little too. Perhaps Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez would look to him rather than Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Maybe Mane and Salah would bounce passes back rather than look to go it alone.

Thiago is not a typical Liverpool player but that is what has made the speculation so intriguing. He would add a new dynamic. And that could be bad news for everyone else.

A version of this article was originally published on August 24, 2020

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Liverpool transfer rumours

Wed, 09/16/2020 - 07:00
Transfer news, rumours and gossip from Anfield By Sky Sports Football

Last Updated: 16/09/20 7:25am

Is Bayern midfielder Thiago Alcantara on his way to Anfield? Is Bayern midfielder Thiago Alcantara on his way to Anfield? Is Bayern midfielder Thiago Alcantara on his way to Anfield?

The latest transfer news and gossip on the players linked with Liverpool - and those who could leave the club.

Confirmed Liverpool signings

Kostas Tsimikas - Liverpool have completed signing of Olympiakos left-back Kostas Tsimikas for an £11.75m fee (August 10).

The latest players linked with a move to Liverpool...

Thiago Alcantara - The Spaniard has "obviously" agreed a contract with Liverpool - perhaps even both clubs, suspects former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness (Express, September 14); Hoeness believes Liverpool are 'blackmailing' the Champions League winners over the signing of Alcantara (Mail, September 14); Liverpool may have to hurry if they want to sign Alcantara with Bayern boss Hansi Flick insisting the midfielder remains in his plans for next season (Daily Star, September 10); The Bayern midfielder has denied telling the Champions League winners that he wants to leave (Sunday Mirror, September 6); Alcantara is "waiting for Liverpool's call" over a move to Anfield, although no bid has been made yet (The Athletic, August 28); Liverpool yet to approach Bayern over move for midfielder and will not pay pay 30m euros for a player shortly out of contract (Sky Sports News/Sky in Germany, August 26).

Marcelo Pitaluga - Liverpool are set to sign the 17-year-old Brazilian goalkeeper for £1.8m (Telegraph, September 14); Liverpool have reportedly agreed a £1.8m deal for the Brazilian goalkeeper from Fluminese as the Premier League champions make their second signing of the summer (Mail, September 13).

Ismaila Sarr - Liverpool are ready to bid for speedy winger Ismaila Sarr - and match Watford's stunning £40m asking price. (Daily Mirror, August 31); Liverpool are seriously considering making a formal move to sign Ismaila Sarr this summer, and are prioritising him over their other transfer target - Wolves winger Adama Traore (Sunday Express, August 30); Watford forward has called Liverpool a "great team" amid increasing speculation about his future (Express, August 13); Watford are willing to sell Sarr this summer but want more than £40m for the 22-year-old forward (Sky Sports, August 12).

Kylian Mbappe - the Frenchman will spark a £400m battle between the Manchester giants, Liverpool and Real Madrid (Sun, September 14).

Javi Cendon - Liverpool are weighing up a move for the Spanish goalkeeper after inviting the youngster to their training camp in Austria (Daily Mirror, August 25).

Giovanni Reyna - Liverpool are reportedly monitoring the player as manager Jurgen Klopp ponders a future swoop for the Borussia Dortmund prospect (Mirror, September 12).

Adama Traore - Wolves may sell the winger after Nuno Espirito Santo was told he needed to raise transfer funds which leaves Liverpool and Manchester City to battle it out (Sunday Mirror, August 23)

Diego Carlos - Liverpool have been told they must meet the defender's £68m release clause if they want to purchase him from Sevilla (Star, August 11); Liverpool will face competition from Manchester City as they look to sign the Sevilla centre back (Daily Mirror, August 1).

David Brooks - Liverpool are eyeing a shock £35m swoop for Bournemouth midfielder Brooks (The Sun, August 9).

Victor Osimhen - The Lille striker has joined Napoli for £74m after turning down Liverpool and Manchester United (Liverpool Echo, August 1).

Aissa Mandi - Liverpool are facing a transfer battle with West Ham for the signature of the Real Betis defender (Mirror, August 7).

Mateusz Musialowski - Liverpool have stolen a march in the transfer market and signed the 16-year-old Polish sensation from SMS Lodz (The Sun, August 1).

Ricardo van der Laan - Arsenal and Liverpool are reportedly chasing the 17-year-old goalkeeper from Portuguese side Belenenses (The Sun, August 1).

Lloyd Kelly - Liverpool are ready to revive their interest in the Bournemouth defender after missing out on him last summer (Daily Express, July 31).

Confirmed Liverpool departures

Adam Lallana - Brighton have signed the midfielder on a free transfer from Liverpool (Sky Sports July 28).

Dejan Lovren - The Croatia defender has completed his move from Liverpool to Zenit St Petersburg for a fee of around £11m (Sky Sports July 27).

The latest on players linked with a Liverpool exit...

Mo Salah - Barcelona want Salah and the Liverpool winger is eager to make the move, according to Ronald Koeman's close friend and Ajax record appearance holder Sjaak Swart (Sun, September 14); Koeman has made the Liverpool forward his top transfer target (Express, September 13).

Rhian Brewster - Brewster could end up going back to Swansea on loan - if Liverpool don't secure a Premier League move for the striker. (Daily Star, September 10); Liverpool are considering allowing Rhian Brewster to leave on a permanent deal in this transfer window with the possible protection of a buy-back clause (Sky Sports, September 8); Aston Villa want to buy Brewster from Liverpool as their search for a striker goes into overdrive (The Sun, September 8); Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reportedly blocked an approach from Newcastle to take Reds striker Brewster on loan next season (Daily Express, September 8); In-demand Brewster is ready to wait as Klopp weighs up Liverpool transfer offers (Daily Mirror, July 19); The young Liverpool star is wanted on loan by Sheffield United in a three-way fight (Sun, July 26).

Georginio Wijnaldum - The Dutchman has held positive talks with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp over his future at Anfield (Sky Sports, September 10): Klopp will sit down for talks with Wijnaldum over his future at Liverpool on Wednesday. (Sky Sports, September 9); Liverpool have told Barcelona it will cost them £15m to land Wijnaldum (Sunday Mirror, September 6); The Netherlands international's agent is closing in on an agreement for his client to join Barcelona this summer (Daily Star, September 5); Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman wants Wijnaldum to play a pivotal role in his rebuilding project at the Nou Camp (Sky Sports, September 2).

Anderson Arroyo - The defender is joining Portuguese side Tondela on loan (Sky Sports, September 10).

Nat Phillips - Blackburn, Bristol City and Swansea City are all interested in Liverpool defender Phillips (Daily Express, September 5)

Marko Grujic and Harry Wilson - Wilson will only leave Liverpool on a permanent deal this summer - otherwise he will be part of Jurgen Klopp's squad (Sky Sports News, August 25); Liverpool are prepared to ignore further loan deals for both Grujic and Wilson this summer as the Reds seek to bring in around £40m for the in-demand duo (Daily Mirror, August 20); Aston Villa are ready to compete with Leeds United for Liverpool's £20m-rated winger Wilson (The Sun, August 20).

Loris Karius - Liverpool are hoping to raise £6m from the sale of Loris Karius, with French outfit Montpellier believed to be keen on the German goalkeeper (Daily Mirror, July 23).

Yasser Larouci - The 19-year-old Algerian defender is set to leave Liverpool this summer, with Leeds and Brentford among the clubs interested in signing the full-back (Goal, July 17).

Divock Origi - Aston Villa are interested in signing Liverpool's Belgium international (Sun, Aug 3).

Follow the summer transfer window on Sky Sports

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5. A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports' digital platforms.

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Merson Says: Liverpool could easily finish fourth

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 11:29
Paul Merson

Football Expert & Columnist @PaulMerse

"Kane's one of the best in the business at scoring, but he’s scoring 30 goals a season and not getting chances to win trophies. What’s the point in being there?"

Last Updated: 14/09/20 7:03pm

Harry Kane had just two touches in the Everton box on Super Sunday Harry Kane had just two touches in the Everton box on Super Sunday Harry Kane had just two touches in the Everton box on Super Sunday

In his latest column, Paul Merson asks why the Manchester clubs haven't tried to sign Harry Kane yet, and insists Liverpool could easily finish fourth.

Kane's Tottenham started the season with a 1-0 home defeat by Everton, with the England striker touching the ball in the opposition box just twice.

Meanwhile, Liverpool conceded three but scored four to beat newly-promoted Leeds, but the fact the champions have conceded 16 goals in their last nine games concerns Merse, while the former Arsenal forward also believes the Gunners are still some way from top-four material despite a positive opening-day win at Fulham.

'What is Kane going to win at Tottenham?' 2:55 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Everton's win over Tottenham in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Everton's win over Tottenham in the Premier League

I'm probably Harry Kane's biggest fan after his Mum and Dad! I look at him and I think: "What are you going to win at Tottenham?" He's one of the best in the business at scoring goals, but he's scoring 30 goals a season and not getting chances to win trophies, what's the point in being there?

I just cannot believe nobody has come in for him. What am I missing?! Manchester United are crying out for a goal scoring centre-forward, and if I'm being honest I think Man City are too. If Sergio Aguero gets injured, they miss too many chances. Aguero is two shots, one goal.

I just don't understand why there isn't more talk about a team signing Kane.

In terms of Spurs, you hear Jose Mourinho saying Spurs aren't fit enough; if they lose four or five of their first six games, the season is over. That's it. It's massive. I said on air with Sky last year - and I got crucified for it - this is the way Mourinho plays. You're not turning up at Spurs this season seeing 5-4s. It's all well and good talking about the fitness, but it's also the way he plays. He'll sit deep, and he'll counter-attack teams.

5:08 Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho wasn't pleased with his side's pressing following their defeat at home to Everton Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho wasn't pleased with his side's pressing following their defeat at home to Everton

It's OK when there's nobody in the ground, but with 60,000 people at Spurs, and they're seeing that, they're not going to be happy. They've seen some entertaining football there over the last few years. Over the last few years they've been as good as anybody, before the Champions League final.

I can understand if he plays that way against Man City, but it's Everton, at home! If you're a Spurs fan watching that, you're thinking: 'Where are we going?' I know there's a long way to go, but you might be the most loyal Spurs fans in the world, you cannot sit there and honestly think, hand on heart, that you're going to finish in the top four this season.

It's a shame for them, considering where they've been in the last few years.

'Liverpool could easily drop to fourth' 2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds in the Premier League

You look at the goals Liverpool let in against Leeds: wow. I just think they turned up and thought they'd wipe the floor with Leeds.

I think they need to buy someone. It wouldn't surprise me if the finished fourth this season, and I thought that before this game. It's the same team, and they have a massive amount of players who have to play every week. Virgil van Dijk can't get injured. The full-backs can't get injured. They haven't got anyone to replace the front three if they're injured.

I keep saying it. There's a famous fast food chain that used to sell more chips and burgers than anyone; they still did adverts. You spend to stay at the top.

4:35 Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool's 4-3 win over Leeds was football at its best Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool's 4-3 win over Leeds was football at its best

If Man City get injuries, they'll just play: 'We'll score more goals than you' anyway. What we'll see later in the season is teams like Man City come into the fold massively, because their squad is too big. That's why I worry about Liverpool, there's five or six players who must play week in, week out, otherwise the team is weakened immensely.

This is the hardest league in the world. You have to be fit, it's the first thing. Passing comes well below fitness! You could be the best passer in the world, but if you're not fit, you're not playing a game. After that, it's about pace and passing the ball.

'Why did Chelsea sell Willian?' 2:44 An analysis of Willian's Arsenal debut against Fulham by Stephen Warnock on The Football Show An analysis of Willian's Arsenal debut against Fulham by Stephen Warnock on The Football Show

I can't believe Chelsea let Willian go. I know they've gone out and get special players, but there's nothing to say they're going to hit the ground running. In Willian, you've got someone there who is ready-made. I like who they've signed, but they cost a lot of money, and their wages are probably the same as Willian.

Frank Lampard has now. He hasn't got four years. That's management, I'm not being horrible. Even if Frank wins the league this year, it doesn't mean he's going to be there in four years' time! We know that, and how it changes.

Who is to say this isn't going to take time for Chelsea? And I don't think they've got time at the moment.

In terms of Arsenal's win at Fulham, these are the dangerous games; you don't want to play promoted teams when they come up. You want to play them in January when it's hit home how hard it is, and they have a couple injuries.

2:58 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal's win over Fulham in the Premier League FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal's win over Fulham in the Premier League

I thought it was a great result for Arsenal. Gabriel makes his debut, is solid, and scores a goal. It was a good performance. I like Arteta, you can see what he's trying to do, playing a certain way, as a team and with a high tempo.

I like what they're doing, but top four? I just think the gulf is too big. There's three or four leagues within the Premier League. I think the top four is the top four in their own league, then you've got your Arsenal, Tottenham and maybe even Everton now with Leicester. Then you've probably got another little league in mid-table before you get to the lower ends. It's quite interesting, and that's why it's the best league in the world.

Whoever is the fittest, and whoever hits the ground running, has an unbelievable chance.

'West Ham's fixtures? I've never seen anything like it!' West Ham's next six PL fixtures Arsenal (A) Wolves (H) Leicester (A) Tottenham (A) Man City (H) Liverpool (A)

West Ham had to beat Newcastle. It was their cup final! Look at their fixtures! I'm not being horrible, but what results are they going to get? I honestly think if Man City had the same fixtures, they wouldn't win the league!

I know people say there's a long way to go, but that's such a cruel start for them. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that.

People will say: 'It all equals out' and 'What follows hard fixtures is easy fixtures,' but you want it the other way around. You want confidence going into hard games. I do feel for them, I really do.

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Sheff Utd, Palace in Brewster talks

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 10:35
Liverpool to insist on buy-back clause should the 20-year-old be allowed to leave Anfield on a permanent deal

Last Updated: 15/09/20 11:21am

Sheffield United and Crystal Palace have both held talks with Liverpool over a deal for Rhian Brewster.

However, the Premier League champions have yet to decide whether the 20-year-old will be allowed to leave Anfield in this window.

If that will be the case, Liverpool are likely to insist on a buy-back clause for the England Under-21 striker who came through their academy.

Brewster scored 10 goals in 20 Championship games last season whilst on loan at Swansea and is keen on discussing the idea of a move, in order to get more first-team football.

Up to six Premier League clubs have expressed an interest in the forward - including Aston Villa, Brighton and Newcastle, though Steve Bruce's interest may have waned after signing Callum Wilson from Bournemouth.

Last month, Brewster made a substitute appearance in Liverpool's Community Shield defeat to Arsenal and missed the crucial penalty in the shoot-out.

13:17 Sky Sports assesses Rhian Brewster and explains why the striker is set to be a star of the future in English football Sky Sports assesses Rhian Brewster and explains why the striker is set to be a star of the future in English football Brewster: A future star

Analysis by Sky Sports' EFL pundits Keith Andrews and Don Goodman:

Sky Sports assess Brewster's attributes and explain why the Liverpool striker, 20, is set to be a star of the future in English football.

"He just looks very comfortable and with the composure that he shows in front of goal, he is lethal," says Andrews. "His general build-up play maybe needs to be worked on but there's going to be aspects of every part of his game that slightly need to be worked on.

"The biggest thing he's got going for him is the fact that he's an instinctive finisher. He doesn't thrash at things, he's very composed and he has a knack for heading as well.

"He can't overpower 6ft 2in centre halves, he has to out-cute them. He has to get in between areas and he does that very well."

4:28 A selection of Brewster's best goals for Swansea last season in the Championship A selection of Brewster's best goals for Swansea last season in the Championship Transfer Centre LIVE!

All the latest news, analysis and rumours from the window in one place.

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday, October 16 at 5pm.

Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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Neville: 'Hungry' Salah reaching another level

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 18:39
Mohamed Salah is capable of rivalling the best players in the world in the coming years, says Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville

Last Updated: 15/09/20 8:42am

3:59 Gary Neville believes Mo Salah's performance against Leeds shows that he's playing a different level to most players in the world Gary Neville believes Mo Salah's performance against Leeds shows that he's playing a different level to most players in the world

Mohamed Salah has reached another level at Liverpool and could challenge the best players in the world in the next few seasons, according to Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.

Salah smashed a hat-trick against Leeds on Saturday as Liverpool kicked off their Premier League title defence with a 4-3 win at Anfield.

The goals took Salah's overall tally to 97 in 154 appearances since his arrival at Liverpool from Roma in the summer of 2016 and Neville feels the 28-year-old is going from strength to strength at Anfield.

"There was a point in the game where I was watching Salah and I just thought, that is some player," he said on Monday Night Football.

2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's win over Leeds

"Four years ago, when he first came to Liverpool and he got those 40-odd goals, I thought, 'That's a freak. He won't be able to live with that'.

"But then he consistently produces over a period of two or three years."

Salah is frequently compared to Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane, who has scored at a similarly-impressive rate during their time together at Anfield, but Neville believes the Egyptian's ruthless mentality will help him overtake his team-mate in the years ahead.

"You think about the mentality difference between Mane and Salah," Neville added. "Mane is likeable. I think the players probably love him, he gives his all every single day, he'll do the selfless thing for the team.

He looks mean, he looks hungry, he looks strong. His game is more mature

Gary Neville on Mohamed Salah

"Then you look at Salah over the other side. He doesn't pass sometimes to his team-mates. He's a little bit more selfish and a little bit less likeable because of that, probably to the fans and to his own team-mates.

"But then, I look at him as an outsider and I'm thinking that he is an absolute killer on the pitch.

"It reminds me of the twin tracking of [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Wayne] Rooney in the mid-2000s. That's where Mane and Salah are now.

"I think Salah will end up going above Mane, not because Mane's not a great player, he is a great player as Rooney was, but the reason players [like Salah or Ronaldo] are different is that they have something up here which means that they go home at night and being the best player in the world rocks their world, whereas a Rooney or a Mane, they feel that the team's got to win, I've got to give my all, I'll fight for my team-mates. Salah doesn't do that."

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his second goal against Leeds with Roberto Firmino Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his second goal against Leeds with Roberto Firmino Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his second goal against Leeds with Roberto Firmino

Neville believes Salah is a completely different player from the one who struggled to make an impact at Chelsea during his first stint in the Premier League as a youngster.

"He was frantic, he was weaker, he was making poor decisions, he was immature as you would expect from a young player who is developing," he said.

"But watching him on Saturday, it was almost like he was toying with the game, almost like he had the game in his hands.

"He looks different. He looks mean, he looks hungry, he looks strong. His game is more mature."

With Lionel Messi and his former Manchester United team-mate Ronaldo entering the twilight of their careers, Neville. sees no reason why Salah can't go on and establish himself as one of the world's best.

"[Kylian] Mbappe, he's fantastic. Neymar, he's a bit up and down a bit… Where is the best player in the world going to be in the next couple of years?

"Salah is not far away from it anyway, but to me on Saturday he looked like an absolutely different level."

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Klopp, Souness laud 'unbelievable' Leeds

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 21:10
Souness: "Leeds have made a real statement tonight."

Last Updated: 13/09/20 9:48am

Leeds 'made a statement' despite their defeat at Liverpool Leeds 'made a statement' despite their defeat at Liverpool Leeds 'made a statement' despite their defeat at Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp called Leeds' performance "unbelievable" while Graeme Souness said the Premier League newcomers made a real statement despite their 4-3 defeat at Liverpool.

Mohamed Salah's hat-trick helped Liverpool claim a thrilling victory over newly-promoted Leeds, as the Premier League champions were given an opening day scare.

Leeds had waited 16 years for this return to the elite and it was well worth the time served as they showed they are no respecters of reputations, equalising three times to indicate the quality they possess.

Klopp told Sky Sports: "I congratulated everyone of their team, what a team they are. Unbelievable. I will watch them quite often during the season.

"What a game, what an opponent, what a performance from both teams. A proper spectacle, I loved that.

"It is pretty rare you see that many goals in a game, we have left space for improvement in our defending but that is not unusual for a first game. Our players have played a few days ago for their countries so it is possible.

"The opponent forced us to make mistakes, we can do better, we will do better but I loved a lot about the game against a well-organised, passionate side like Leeds. We used our skills to cause them problems, we could have scored more and in the end we used set-pieces which is fine by me.

"It is not like riding a bike, you can lose something in pre-season and it takes time to all come together again. I am really positive about this game. Leeds will have a good season if they can keep up that intensity and they did it in the Championship with more games so why not?"

Chelsea vs Liverpool

September 20, 2020, 4:00pm

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Analysis: 'Leeds have made a statement' 4:52 Graeme Souness and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink discuss Leeds' return to the Premier League after they almost held the current champions, Liverpool, at Anfield. Graeme Souness and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink discuss Leeds' return to the Premier League after they almost held the current champions, Liverpool, at Anfield.

Sky Sports Graeme Souness:

"For 80 minutes, Leeds were fantastic. But in the last 10, Liverpool pinned them back and it was only a matter of time before someone made a mistake or someone came up with a piece of brilliance. But Leeds have made a real statement tonight.

"I wonder if they've got a big enough squad as they surely can't play like that every time as it was some effort. Liverpool weren't at their best because Leeds didn't allow it. Liverpool normally hunt teams down like Leeds did to them.

"Tonight, Leeds had more possession at Anfield than Liverpool and I don't think I've ever seen that before with this Liverpool team."

Bielsa: We deserved to lose 4:03 Leeds' Marcelo Bielsa says despite scoring three at Anfield they didn't create enough especially in the second half. Leeds' Marcelo Bielsa says despite scoring three at Anfield they didn't create enough especially in the second half.

Despite the plaudits, Leeds boss Bielsa had no complaints with the result even though Liverpool left it late to nick the points when Salah converted from the spot after Leeds' new signing Rodrigo had fouled Fabinho.

Bielsa told Sky Sports: "It was a just defeat. Liverpool made it hard for us to neutralise them.

"In the second half especially we struggled to get the ball from defence to attack.

"We also stopped Liverpool playing like they usually do and we made a lot of effort. During large parts of the game we were able to match them.

"You can never be happy in defeat. At this level errors equals goals.

"To be able to score three goals is a positive thing, we should have created more danger when we attacked.

"We were very efficient but we didn't create enough goalscoring opportunities. We also cannot ignore we conceded four goals. A lot of those goals could have been avoided.

"You can't predict football but there are situations you know are going to happen - just because you know they are going to happen it doesn't give you the security you can stop them happening.

"But when you concede goals to opportunities you feel could have been avoided it makes the disappointment bigger."

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Liverpool edge Leeds in seven-goal thriller

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 19:28

Leeds United returned to the Premier League with a bang but were beaten 4-3 by champions Liverpool in a thrilling encounter at Anfield.

Liverpool found themselves in front three times but were pegged back by a ruthless Leeds, who took the step up to the elite level in their stride. However, a late Mohamed Salah penalty - to seal his hat-trick - handed the hosts maximum points.

Salah also scored the first of his treble from the penalty spot after Leeds new-boy Robert Koch handled (4), but Jack Harrison scored an exquisite equaliser (12). Virgil van Dijk thumped home a header (20) only for Patrick Bamford to take advantage of a Van Dijk slip to level the game once again (30).

Salah then fired home a spectacular strike (32) as Liverpool took control, yet, Mateusz Klich equalised for the third time (66). The game looked to be drawing to a quiet conclusion but Leeds' new signing Rodrigo inexplicably fouled Fabinho inside the box and Salah stroked home from the spot.

How Reds edged chaotic encounter...

In the first touchline meeting between Jurgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa, it was Liverpool who dominated the tactical battle in the opening exchanges as Roberto Firmino got behind the visitors' defence after just 90 seconds but could not find the finish.

Team news

Skipper Jordan Henderson was passed fit for Liverpool. He was joined in midfield by Georginio Wijnaldum, despite recent speculation surround the Dutchman’s future at Anfield. Patrick Bamford kept his place in the starting XI, with new signing Rodrigo on the bench. Robin Koch was handed a debut his debut for Marcelo Bielsa's side.

The hosts continued to exploit the gaps in Leeds' defensive shape and Salah's strike deflected up off Koch's knee onto his arm. Referee Michael Oliver was well placed and awarded the penalty kick - a decision Sky Sports commentator Jamie Carragher called "harsh". Salah stepped up and fired home his first of the season in just the fourth minute.

Player Ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (5), Alexander-Arnold (5), Gomez (6), Van Dijk (4), Robertson (7), Henderson (6), Wijnaldum (6), Keita (4), Salah (8), Firmino (6), Mane (5)

Subs: Jones (N/A), Fabinho (N/A)

Leeds: Meslier (7), Ayling (6), Koch (5), Struijk (5), Dallas (6), Phillips (7), Klich (8), Harrison (8), Hernandez (6), Costa (7), Bamford (7)

Subs: Rodrigo (4), Roberts (N/A)

Man of the match: Mohamed Salah

The early setback did not dent Leeds' confidence going forward with a Kalvin Phillips pass slicing open the Liverpool defence on 12 minutes. Harrison collected the pass in his stride and showed remarkable touch and guile to beat both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez before firing a powerful finish into the corner for 1-1.

More on this story

Leeds remained naive in their defensive approach as a set-piece proved their downfall on 20 minutes. Koch's nightmare first involvement in the Premier League got worse as he allowed Van Dijk the run on him from a left-wing corner and the Dutchman's powerful header could not be kept out.

The 'you score, we score' vibe did not let up as Leeds were level again 10 minutes later. A ball over the top was arrogantly dealt with by Van Dijk, who could only prod a half-baked clearance into the path of Bamford. The former Chelsea striker clipped a nice finish over Alisson and perhaps now the game would settle down.

Marcelo Bielsa during Liverpool vs Leeds at Anfield Image: Marcelo Bielsa on the touchline at Anfield

Not so.

Liverpool were back in front within 90 seconds.

Some more questionable defending from Leeds following a free-kick that was launched into their area dropped to Salah about 18 yards out and he thrashed an unstoppable strike into the top corner.

Leeds remained in a brave mood after the break with, at times, Liverpool outnumbering attackers to defenders on the counter attack. Despite the openings, the fourth goal did not come for the hosts.

Georginio Wijnaldum drew a smart stop from Illan Meslier on 49 minutes and Sadio Mane blazed over after a superb one-two with Salah five minutes later.

Leeds punished that waywardness in front of goal with another well-executed equaliser with their third shot on target. Helder Costa swung a low ball into the box that included five Leeds attackers. The ball fell to Klich, who collected the ball into his stride and fired a dynamic finish into the far corner.

Mateusz Klich celebrates his goal Image: Mateusz Klich celebrates his goal

Most clubs would be happy with a 3-3 at Anfield, but not Leeds. Phillips curled an almost-perfect free-kick from 30 yards inches wide of the post as both teams hunted a winner. Van Dijk thought he had netted his second of the evening but his close-range finish from an Andy Robertson centre was chalked off for an infringement by substitute Curtis Jones on Koch.

Leeds looked likely to hold on but a lazy challenge by substitute Rodrigo on Fabinho inside the box handed Salah the chance to win it from the spot with two minutes left. The effervescent Egyptian made no mistake.

Plenty of plaudits and many things to take from their Anfield experience, but no points for Leeds.

Man of the match: Mohamed Salah

"He's looked the sharpest of Liverpool's front three," said Carragher. It was hard to argue.

No player had more touches of the ball than Salah (83), highlighting just how involved he was in everything Liverpool did going forward. Along with his three goals he also made four key passes - no player made more.

Salah told Sky Sports: "It was at times so tough to play, especially here at Anfield without the fans. They pressed well and their intensity was really high. We had a good game. We shouldn't have conceded three but overall we did a good job. They're a tough team and they reacted really well. They scored three goals against us so we have to keep improving."

Usually the hat-trick scorer in a victory would be an automatic selection for the outstanding player award but this was a close call. Harrison and Klich produced important moments of quality for Leeds, while Phillips stood out in the heart of their midfield on his first Premier League start.

What the managers said

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "What a game, what an opponent, what a performance from both teams. A proper spectacle, I loved that.

"It is pretty rare you see that many goals in a game, we have left space for improvement in our defending but that is not unusual for a first game. Our players have played a few days ago for their countries so it is possible.

"The opponent forced us to make mistakes, we can do better, we will do better but I loved a lot about the game against a well-organised, passionate side like Leeds. We used our skills to cause them problems, we could have scored more and in the end we used set-pieces which is fine by me.

"It is not like riding a bike, you can lose something in pre-season and it takes time to all come together again. I am really positive about this game. Leeds will have a good season if they can keep up that intensity and they did it in the Championship with more games so why not?"

preview image 4:35 Post match reaction from Jurgen Klopp

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa: "It was a just defeat. Liverpool made it hard for us to neutralise them.

"In the second half especially we struggled to get the ball from defence to attack.

"We also stopped Liverpool playing like they usually do and we made a lot of effort. During large parts of the game we were able to match them."

4:03 Marcelo Bielsa said Liverpool deserved to win 'Leeds have made a statement'

Sky Sports' Graeme Souness:

"For 80 minutes, Leeds were fantastic. But in the last 10, Liverpool pinned them back and it was only a matter of time before someone made a mistake or someone came up with a piece of brilliance. But Leeds have made a real statement tonight.

"I wonder if they've got a big enough squad as they surely can't play like that every time as it was some effort. Liverpool weren't at their best because Leeds didn't allow it. Liverpool normally hunt teams down like Leeds did to them.

"Tonight, Leeds had more possession at Anfield than Liverpool and I don't think I've ever seen that before with this Liverpool team."

Analysis: Bielsa makes his introduction

Sky Sports' Adam Bate:

"It would be easy to summarise the subsequent 4-3 defeat at Liverpool as Leeds United's introduction to the harsh realities of the Premier League. But after such a rousing display from the newly-promoted side, this felt more like the Premier League's introduction to Bielsa."

Read the full feature

Opta stats
  • Liverpool extended their unbeaten home league run to 60 games (W49 D11) - only the third ever run of 60+ unbeaten home games by a side in English top-flight history, after Chelsea's run of 86 ending in October 2008 and Liverpool's run of 63 ending in December 1980.
  • This was only the second ever Premier League game played on the opening matchday of a season to see five goals scored before half-time, after Man Utd 5-1 Fulham in August 2006 (4-1 at half-time).
  • Liverpool have conceded 3+ goals in back-to-back home league games for the first time since September 1982.
  • Van Dijk has made two errors leading directly to a goal in his last four Premier League games, more than he registered in his first 154 appearances in the competition (one).
  • Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich were the first players to score on their Premier League debut for Leeds United since Nick Barmby in August 2002 against Manchester City, and the first to do so in an away game since Alan Smith in November 1998 - which was also at Anfield against Liverpool.
What's next?

Klopp's men have a tasty fixture with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to focus on next Sunday, a game live on Sky Sports. Leeds welcome Hull City in the Carabao Cup in midweek before hosting Fulham in their first home game back in the Premier League next Saturday.

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Klopp: If we find the right player, we can buy

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 18:07
Watch Liverpool vs Leeds on Saturday Night Football live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 5pm; Kick Off 5.30pm.

Last Updated: 11/09/20 10:31pm

1:39 Jurgen Klopp speaks exclusively to Sky Sports about Liverpool's 'toughest season' ahead, the transfer market, and why he didn't want to face Leeds. Jurgen Klopp speaks exclusively to Sky Sports about Liverpool's 'toughest season' ahead, the transfer market, and why he didn't want to face Leeds.

"It's a big one for all of us. I think it will be tough, tougher, the toughest probably."

Jurgen Klopp is under no illusions about the challenge ahead as Liverpool look to retain the Premier League in a season like no other.

Having won their first title in 30 years in bizarre circumstances, Klopp's battle ahead becomes more unique; Liverpool are, now more than ever, the team to beat, with more games packed into a shorter time period, and a winning team difficult to improve.

Liverpool vs Leeds

September 12, 2020, 5:00pm

Live on

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves, Klopp outlined the task ahead for the champions, Liverpool's transfer business, and the opening-day clash with Leeds, live on Saturday Night Football on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event (Kick Off 5.30pm).

'Toughest season to come' "It's a big one for all of us. I think it will be tough, tougher, the toughest probably" "It's a big one for all of us. I think it will be tough, tougher, the toughest probably" "It's a big one for all of us. I think it will be tough, tougher, the toughest probably"

"It's a big one for all of us. I think it will be tough, tougher, the toughest probably. From 10 days on, when we play every three days, particularly the top five or six who have qualified for Europe, because European competition will be more intense than ever before.

"There's nothing experience-wise from the past that is helpful. You go to a different country to play, and two days later you play again. That's from late September to December at least. That's tough.

"We don't know how long we have to play without supporters, which makes this intense period even trickier, because the crowd can give you a boost in a game, so we have to do that by ourselves pretty much.

"In terms of being champions? Being Liverpool is always a challenge, wherever you go, they want to win anyway. Our challenge again will be to show again the greed, the desire, the mentality which we showed in the last years, to be successful again, as successful as possible.

1:23 Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold says rival teams will be 'extra motivated' when they play the defending Premier League champions this season Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold says rival teams will be 'extra motivated' when they play the defending Premier League champions this season

"We spoke very early in pre-season about these challenges. Doing the good things again is part of the answer, try to improve them, and work on the things that didn't work out as well.

"I didn't change. We tried to put in a lot in this season, because it's the only time of the year we really can train, so we try to create a basis which we can use for the full season. It will be interesting to see where we are exactly.

"Nobody here looked for one second tired or overly satisfied with the success we had in the past, because that's not possible in the environment we created, because it's a daily push, a daily kick in the butt with the sessions we have.

"I think we are as well prepared as possible, but it's difficult, really difficult, but the last years were also really difficult. It only looks when you look back and think: 'It was really easy'… it was not for one second easy. It was always a big challenge, and that didn't change."

'If we find the right player, we can sign them' Liverpool won the Premier League title with 99 points last season Liverpool won the Premier League title with 99 points last season Liverpool won the Premier League title with 99 points last season

Liverpool have signed just one player in left-back Konstantinos Tsimikas this season, with the window closing on October 5. But how do you improve a side which earned 99 points last season?

They have been heavily linked with Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, with Gini Wijnaldum's future still not resolved, but Klopp is not concerned.

"Since I've been here, there has not been one transfer window where I've thought: 'If we don't get this player, we cannot start the season'. Not once. We are in a luxury situation that if we can bring somebody in, it will be a really good player, and if we don't, we have really good players.

"It's a little bit of theatre, this transfer business, but in all the years I'm here it's always the same. That isn't to say we always did things right, we did things as good as we could do.

"It depends on different things; one is finding the player, one is having the money and all of these kind of things. But I read this morning that somebody who saw my body language saw 'anxiety, or anger' or things like this. Interesting! That starts really early, judging my body language! I expect that for the season, when we lose a game, when everybody will look if I'm still the funny guy I used to be in some press conferences when we won a game, but this is really early, having not even played a game.

Gini Wijnaldum's future at Anfield has not been resolved, while the club have been heavily linked with Thiago Alcantara Gini Wijnaldum's future at Anfield has not been resolved, while the club have been heavily linked with Thiago Alcantara Gini Wijnaldum's future at Anfield has not been resolved, while the club have been heavily linked with Thiago Alcantara

[If an exceptional player becomes available, can the club do it?] "It was always the case. Always the case. This club, since I am here, and before, spends what we earn. That was always the case. I don't know why this is so surprising now, it's nothing new. Pretty much everything we earn, we spend, if we have to in the moment. If not, we don't, because it makes no sense to throw money away.

"When I speak about the difficulty of the times we live in at the moment, people might think: 'Really? In football as well?' Yes! Surprisingly enough, in football as well! Uncertainty means uncertainty for all of us.

"It must fit to the group. Influence from outside, which a transfer is, can help, 100 per cent. If we can find the right player, it will probably happen, if not, then it won't."

'Bielsa... what a guy!' 1:02 Liverpool boss Klopp is full of respect for the job Marcelo Bielsa is doing at Leeds Liverpool boss Klopp is full of respect for the job Marcelo Bielsa is doing at Leeds

First up in Liverpool's title defence are newly-promoted Leeds on Saturday Night Football at Anfield. A comfortable start to the season? Klopp insists Marcelo Bielsa's side weren't even in his top 10 of sides he'd like to face.

"I can't wait to meet [Bielsa]. It's the first time in my life. I've seen him on television quite a lot. He's a proper character, obviously. I couldn't have more respect for what he's doing - what a guy - and how he's set up Leeds. Their style of play will suit them even more in the Premier League than the Championship, 100 per cent. They will be very, very, very uncomfortable to play against. We had that last year especially with Sheffield United! So different to all of the rest.

"Leeds, man marking over the whole pitch, super organised, really good players, speed, setting up 20, 25 traps on one pitch, and if you walk into one of them then you are in big trouble!

"It is unbelievably interesting. We are not in dreamland, and we cannot wish for things, but for sure they were not in the top 10 of teams we wanted to play on the first matchday. But that's how it is, and I'm really excited about it. It will be tough!"

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Analysis: Should Liverpool bring in new players?

Sky Sports' Gary Neville:

"I think it would be the right thing. It would definitely lift the players in the dressing room and it would also challenge them.

"They are obviously motivated players with a great attitude, but you do not to challenge them and stimulate them. Sometimes you can ease off when you gain success but a new player spikes you.

"I do think Jurgen Klopp was quite clear in that interview that he wanted more players and more quality. He has sweat every single last bit out of this squad in terms of performance. And l think the players themselves deserve a little bit of new help. They probably have 14, 15 really good players and then the quality really does drop. I think they need one or two more."

Analysis: And where should Liverpool strengthen?

Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher:

"It is in attack for me. I know there's a lot of talk about Thiago but l think the excitement is because he is completely different to what Liverpool have in midfield. He could add something completely different.

"But numbers-wise, it is the attacking front three. If one of them was to go down with a serious injury, l think it would really hurt Liverpool and they would find it difficult to go on and win the league. For me, they need someone to really challenge that front three. They have been vital, but they are at a similar age - 28 or 29 - and sooner or later they will need to be changed. I'd like to see Liverpool bring in someone now to take the pressure off that front three but also look to the future."

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Redknapp on Liverpool's title hopes, transfer priorities

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 09:00
Jamie Redknapp

Football Expert & Columnist

Listen to Sky Sports Football's Pitch to Post Podcast every Friday for the best build-up to the weekend's Premier League action

Last Updated: 11/09/20 9:54am

Jamie Redknapp believes Liverpool will retain their Premier League title - but he says there are two key pieces of transfer business they should do to strengthen the team.

Speaking to Sky Sports' Pitch to Post Podcast, Redknapp reckons Jurgen Klopp's side have all the ingredients to become just the second team to win back-to-back Premier League crowns since 2009.

However, the Sky Sports pundit believes Liverpool could boost their already talented squad by bringing in a new centre-back before the transfer window closes on October 5. So far, Liverpool have only recruited left-back Kostas Tsimikas for £11.75m from Olympiakos.

0:57 Jamie Redknapp believes Liverpool will retain their Premier League title – but, speaking on the Pitch to Post Podcast, he has picked out two pieces of transfer business they should do to strengthen the team Jamie Redknapp believes Liverpool will retain their Premier League title – but, speaking on the Pitch to Post Podcast, he has picked out two pieces of transfer business they should do to strengthen the team

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"I think they're in a great position to win it again," he said.

"History suggests you have to go out and sign one or two players to strengthen the squad, and I think people have said that in the last few weeks. 'Why haven't Liverpool maybe tried to get Thiago or get one or two players in to strengthen the centre-back area?'

"You've lost Dejan Lovren and that leaves you quite short with only Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk. From their point of view, you just hope you don't get any injuries because if they were to get any injuries in that area they would be short.

"Especially when Gomez has had injuries and Matip can't always play the full season, you might think that might be an area where they could struggle."

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Redknapp also believes it should be a priority for Liverpool to tie Gini Wijnaldum down to a new deal. The Dutch midfielder is out of contract next summer and has been linked with Barcelona.

"Certainly in midfield, the Wijnaldum situation is one that needs to be resolved and I think personally you want to keep him," said Redknapp.

Wijnaldum is such an important player for the team. He's very talented, incredible energy and why would you want to let him go at the moment, unless you can get someone in who's better?

Jamie Redknapp

"He's such an important player for the team, he's very talented, incredible energy and why would you want to let him go at the moment, unless you can get someone in who's better? And I don't see that many midfield players better in the world right now that can do what he can do."

However, regardless of Liverpool's quiet transfer window so far, Redknapp is confident they have what it takes to see off the challenge of Manchester City again this season. Although he expects Pep Guardiola's side to be stronger defensively with the addition of Bournemouth's Nathan Ake.

"I think it's between City and Liverpool, and I'll say it now, I think Liverpool will retain the title," said Redknapp. "I think they've got an incredible team there and a togetherness that is so difficult to find. And Jurgen Klopp has made that work so well.

Manchester City and Liverpool will battle for the Premier League title again Manchester City and Liverpool will battle for the Premier League title again Manchester City and Liverpool will battle for the Premier League title again

"If you look at City, there's not that many players out there that you can sign right now. Nathan Ake looks to me a sensible signing. He's a player that can play in many positions.

"As a young man he played in the defensive midfield position, if you want some protection. Obviously Fernandinho isn't getting any younger and he's one of the best that's ever been. He can also play left-back and he can play centre-back. But they're looking for a partnership in central defence because last year they had so many different times where they'd play Nicolas Otamendi or John Stones, Aymeric Laporte or Fernandinho, they never really got it right in that area.

"But with someone like Nathan Ake - and I know City fans might go, 'well he got relegated this year' - he's a quality player. He knows the game, he's got a brilliant left foot, incredible spring considering he's not the tallest player in the world. You can see him playing in a side like City's where your job is just to defend properly, get that ball to Kevin De Bruyne as quickly as possible and then things happen from there.

"Of course, City are going to be incredibly strong - but I don't think they're going to be as strong as Liverpool."

Listen to Sky Sports' Pitch to Post Podcast here to hear more from Redknapp on Chelsea's transfer business and which players he thinks will star in the Premier League this season. Plus we have updates from our reporters on Everton's new-look midfield and the Newcastle takeover.

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Alexander-Arnold: We have a big target on our backs

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 22:30
Liverpool begin their Premier League title defence at home to Leeds on Saturday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 5.30pm

Last Updated: 11/09/20 10:03am

1:23 Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool must adapt to being the defending Premier League champions Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool must adapt to being the defending Premier League champions

Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool will have a "big target" on their back this season and must adapt and improve if they are to defend their Premier League title.

Jurgen Klopp's side begin the new campaign at home to newly-promoted Leeds United on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

The title has been successfully defended just once in the last decade and Alexander-Arnold is expecting a tougher challenge than last season, which saw the Reds finish 18 points clear of their nearest rivals Manchester City.

"For us it's not about topping the points that we got or scoring more goals, it's about if we can all develop as a team and keep winning," Alexander-Arnold told Sky Sports News.

Liverpool vs Leeds

September 12, 2020, 5:00pm

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"We need to keep that mentality, that is the main thing that helped us get this far.

"We know that there's now a big target on our backs being the champions and teams are going to be extra motivated when they play us, so we need to match that mentality and take it to the next step.

"Winning it back-to-back is harder than winning it once."

Alexander-Arnold was named PFA Young Player of the Year on Tuesday - the first Liverpool player to win the coveted individual award since Steven Gerrard in 2001.

The 21-year-old, who scored four goals and provided 13 assists in the Premier League last season, feels as though opponents became more wary of his attacking threat as the season progressed.

"Towards the second half of last season, or even the final quarter after everything that happened, I found it a little bit tougher to find the space and have that freedom," said Alexander-Arnold.

"I found myself getting man-marked a few more times in games, which I wasn't used to.

Alexander-Arnold scored four goals and provided 13 assists in the Premier League last season Alexander-Arnold scored four goals and provided 13 assists in the Premier League last season Alexander-Arnold scored four goals and provided 13 assists in the Premier League last season

"When you pose a threat to the opposition, they look at it and try and stop it from happening. In my mind, if that's happened to me it means that I'm doing something right.

"I can only try and keep doing that. Every season you've got to adapt and change your ways because everyone is improving. You can't stay the same, you've got to keep improving.

"For me personally and for the team, we have to adapt to the new situation and adapt quickly."

When asked what advice he would give to other young players hoping to emulate his achievements, Alexander-Arnold added: "I'd say don't get fixated on other players.

"At that age it's all about development - you can't get attached on other players and what they're doing and what they're achieving at a different age.

4:53 Ahead of Leeds' return to the Premier League and their opening fixture against Champions Liverpool we take a look back at the greatest goals in the previous Premier League meetings between the two sides Ahead of Leeds' return to the Premier League and their opening fixture against Champions Liverpool we take a look back at the greatest goals in the previous Premier League meetings between the two sides

"People hit their prime at 30 years old and some at 20 years old. No career is the same so you can't judge yourself and compare yourself to other players.

"It's about knowing what's best for you, trying to find out what works for you as quick as possible and getting into routines. It's those routines and habits that make good players."

Young players can fill the void

Liverpool have made just one significant signing in the transfer window this summer, with Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas arriving at the club in a £11.75m move from Olympiakos.

Meanwhile, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana have left the club to join Zenit St Petersburg and Brighton respectively.

Alexander-Arnold says the current squad have enough experience to cope with their loss and believes himself and other young players can step up to the fill the void.

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"I've never really judged a player on his age and said if you're under 21 you can't be leader," he added.

"Leadership comes in different shapes and sizes and forms, whether that be through actions or words.

"Two massive personalities and senior players have departed the club and we know those gaps probably need to be filled but there is more than enough players, we have a full squad of leaders.

"That won't be a problem for us, we've got the players that will step up and make sure everyone is focused and doing the right thing on a day-to-day basis."

0:57 Jamie Redknapp believes Liverpool will retain their Premier League title – but, speaking on the Pitch to Post Podcast, he has picked out two pieces of transfer business they should do to strengthen the team Jamie Redknapp believes Liverpool will retain their Premier League title – but, speaking on the Pitch to Post Podcast, he has picked out two pieces of transfer business they should do to strengthen the team

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Nev & Carra: Who will lift the 2020/21 PL trophy?

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 07:00
Will Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or another team knock Jurgen Klopp's side off their perch? By Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher

Last Updated: 10/09/20 7:56am

Will Liverpool keep the Premier League trophy or can Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea or another side knock them off their perch? Will Liverpool keep the Premier League trophy or can Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea or another side knock them off their perch? Will Liverpool keep the Premier League trophy or can Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea or another side knock them off their perch?

With the curtain raising on the Premier League this weekend, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher give their verdict on whether Liverpool will keep their crown in 2020/21.

The Reds ended a unique 2019/20 season by lifting a first league title in 30 years at an empty Anfield, with previous back-to-back champions Manchester City finishing 18 points off the pace - and Pep Guardiola presiding over the most league defeats (nine) of any season in his managerial career.

Jurgen Klopp's men have made only one addition to their ranks this summer, with the arrival of Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas to provide back-up to Andrew Robertson, and while they have been strongly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, the Merseyside club have seen all of their top-four rivals add to their squads since the season finished on July 26.

2:48 Liverpool may approach Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara in January to avoid paying a transfer fee, Kaveh Solhekol tells The Transfer Show Liverpool may approach Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara in January to avoid paying a transfer fee, Kaveh Solhekol tells The Transfer Show

Liverpool's opener with Leeds is live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Saturday as one of six Sky Sports games across the first round of fixtures.

So how do Carra and Neville see the Premier League title race going, as we await the return of the top flight this weekend?

Liverpool vs Leeds

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Can Liverpool retain their crown?

Liverpool go into the new season in a position they have not been since 1990, as the team to knock off their perch as league champions, something Neville said would become a "stress" for Klopp's men - especially without any major incomings at Anfield to date.

However, the eight-time Premier League winner thinks Klopp can draw on his side's past resilience under his leadership as a positive sign ahead of the upcoming campaign.

"Liverpool are the team to catch," he said. "There's no doubt it will become a stress for them. They've had the same players for almost three seasons now, Champions League final, Champions League victory, going so close in the Premier League but then winning the league. It's a massive demand psychologically, mentally and physically to place upon the players without stimulating them again.

0:46 Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Micah Richards agree that Liverpool need to add some fresh faces to the squad before the transfer window closes Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Micah Richards agree that Liverpool need to add some fresh faces to the squad before the transfer window closes

"Now, Jurgen Klopp has been absolutely unbelievable and he certainly can manage them and get the best out of them, but I think if they were to get Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, it's the only area of the team where I'd say they were not world class, and they are very good in there because the players in there are fantastic players. They've got a great work ethic and attitude, they supplement and compliment the defence, the goalkeeper and the attack brilliantly but you put him in there and you've got a genuine world-class presence in the middle of a brilliant team already and that would also do a number of things.

"Jurgen Klopp has proven that Liverpool can go on. You win the Champions League and then you go on to win the league the year after, you've proven that you can go on. Even to get the Champions League final and the come back and win it, and then come back to win the league, he's proven he can get a performance out of them and he can get them to forget what's happened the season before.

"My only thing this season would be that demand of the same squad, the same players, the same message, the same relationships and the same jokes for two or three years without that something slightly different in the dressing room and that addition, just sometimes it can become a bit draining and the idea of Thiago coming to Liverpool is a big moment because it deals with all those issues that can occur after two or three seasons."

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Will the title be heading to Manchester? 0:46 Micah Richards and Gary Neville have their say on Manchester United's transfer business so far Micah Richards and Gary Neville have their say on Manchester United's transfer business so far

After racking up 198 points across two seasons as they lifted the Premier League trophy in 2017/18 and 2018/19, finishing nearly 20 points off the pace last season was somewhat of a fall from grace for Manchester City under Pep Guardiola, who ended the season with only one trophy on the back of two domestic trebles.

Ferran Torres and Nathan Ake have already been added to Guardiola's squad since the end of the season, with the club also hoping to also bring in defender Kalidou Koulibaly as they look to wrestle back the title they gave up in July.

The form of Manchester United in the second half of the campaign, eventually propelling them up to third in the league from sitting seventh as late as February, has also raised questions about whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can finally lead the club back into title contention, seven years since they last lifted a Premier League trophy in Sir Alex Ferguson's final season. But who has the better chance come next May?

"I still think Manchester City, rather than Manchester United, will be the biggest obstacle to Liverpool retaining the title but I do see United getting a lot closer," Carragher said. "The signing of Bruno Fernandes has been fantastic - he was outstanding in the second half of last season and I'm really excited to see him for a full season.

"If Liverpool don't win the league this season, I don't think it will be because they will have lacked motivation. This Liverpool team went to a Champions League final, came back the next year and won it, then went on to win the Premier League. The only worry for Liverpool is that the team hasn't changed too much. Sometimes you just need a bit of freshness adding to it, mentally as much as anything. It will be interesting to see if they get a signing or two across the line.

"I don't see Chelsea or Manchester United getting to 90-plus points to win a title. I hope they can close the gap to make it more exciting but I still just see Liverpool or City for the league."

Chelsea's time to shine? 0:48 Micah Richards, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have their say on Chelsea's transfer business so far in the transfer window Micah Richards, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have their say on Chelsea's transfer business so far in the transfer window

Despite sitting under a transfer ban last season and blooding a number of young players without any Premier League experience Frank Lampard, himself a relatively rookie boss, led Chelsea to the FA Cup final and another season in the Champions League.

But now with close to £150m already spent on some of Europe's top talent including Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, the pressure has ramped up around Stamford Bridge - so can the Blues legend deliver?

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September 14, 2020, 7:00pm

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"Chelsea's interesting because Roman Abramovich has wanted for 15 years a flamboyant team, and every time he's gone for the flamboyant managers to try and get the flamboyant team, he's been pulled back to that more methodical type of approach that's been successful for the club," said Neville.

"I think this year he's probably investing, partly because of Covid and he sees an opportunity to exploit the market, but I think because what Frank Lampard has done has invigorated him. The academy players finally coming through, the emergence of Christian Pulisic and other young players, a team that plays a different way, that's more energetic and really good to watch.

"More inconsistent, less reliable, you always get that when you are trying to go with younger players and a different style, but I think that's what he wants. He wants excitement, he wants thrill around Chelsea and that's why he's invested this summer, to go again at this moment because he sees a team that's got something he's always wanted."

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Leeds can give Liverpool a scare - Jones Knows

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 07:00
Lewis Jones

@_LJones_

Super 6 is also back with a bang! Predict six correct scores to win £1m...

Last Updated: 10/09/20 8:12am

Marcelo Bielsa and his Leeds players celebrate winning the title - can they shock Liverpool? Marcelo Bielsa and his Leeds players celebrate winning the title - can they shock Liverpool? Marcelo Bielsa and his Leeds players celebrate winning the title - can they shock Liverpool?

So, we go again. A clean slate. Clubs start from zero - as do the tipsters.

A healthy season's profit of +52.5 is now just a distant memory. The Premier League is back with a renewed air of unpredictably scattered across the top. Hope springs eternal that perhaps a new signing or change in the dugout can take a club to the next level.

It's not started smoothly though for yours truly. A new arrival of my own has rather scuppered plans for an in-depth article on the best betting opportunities across the Premier League from an ante-post perspective. My progressively expanding wife is set to unleash the next great sporting talent of a generation into the world this week. Putting a plan together for lunch has been difficult enough, so committing to a long-read season preview with the chances of me swooning off into the world of paternal leave at any point didn't seem the best decision.

However, the 2045 Open and Masters champion has decided to delay their adventure into the world. It's either been eavesdropping on what 2020 has been like and doesn't fancy it or - hopefully - been fine-tuning their short game in there.

This has given the father-to-be time to get stuck into the opening weekend and come out the other side with two bets for Saturday's Premier League action.

Remember comrades, whatever I tip, I back. We're in this together...

Liverpool vs Leeds United: 1pt on Leeds to have 10 or more shots & to get caught offside five or more times (7/2 with Sky Bet - bet here!)

Now this should be a proper football match and it's live on Sky Sports from 5pm on Saturday.

Newly promoted Leeds won't be changing their aggressive, high-tempo approach for anybody this season, and certainly not for the Premier League champions. Marcelo Bielsa will send his troops out to go toe-to-toe with Jurgen Klopp's side. I'm excited for it.

Liverpool vs Leeds

September 12, 2020, 5:00pm

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This brave tactic up against Liverpool's high defensive line will result in goalscoring opportunities for Leeds, whose fate in this game will be decided on whether they have the ruthless finisher to turn those chances into goals. I have my doubts on that front, but in terms of creating those chances, I'm happy to get them on side in the shots market.

Since Bielsa took charge in 2018, Leeds have averaged a remarkable 19 shots per game away from home, registering 114 more shots on the road than any other club in the Sky Bet Championship during that period.

They were magnificent against Arsenal at The Emirates in the FA Cup last season too, dominating proceedings, especially in the first half, to the extent they had 18 shots on goal in their 1-0 defeat.

Liverpool do offer up chances to counter-pressing opposition teams at Anfield. Southampton registered 17 shots last season, Brighton 12 and even Norwich managed 12 in the opening day fixture between the two. Despite their imperious record at Anfield, taking 55 points from a possible 57 last season, Klopp's side actually allowed 172 shots on their goal during that period. Leicester, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all managed to concede fewer shots at home.

With all that in mind, I'm happy to take Leeds to register 10 or more shots during the game. That price on its own though doesn't get my punting pulse racing enough. It needs juice adding.

That juice comes in the form of the amount of Leeds offsides in the game. I'm confident of there being more than five.

This fixture is a match-up of the kings of catching players offside (Liverpool) and the kings of getting caught offside (Leeds). With such pace in the heart of their defence, Klopp's men squeeze the life out of teams by playing a very high line that results in an above average figure of offsides in their matches. Last season, Liverpool made catching opposition players offside an art form, with 142 players being given offside against them, that's 43 more than any other club managed.

Leeds will look to work that space in behind that backline with their quick transitions like they did against Arsenal in that FA Cup clash, where they were caught offside seven times in the 90 minutes. No team was caught offside more than Bielsa's boys in the Championship last season either as they got ahead of the last man illegally 120 times.

Sky Bet have kindly priced up the shots and offsides double at 7/2 and I'll be very surprised if it doesn't go close.

Liverpool are the kings of catching opposition offside Liverpool are the kings of catching opposition offside Liverpool are the kings of catching opposition offside Crystal Palace vs Southampton: 2pts on Southampton/Southampton in half-time/full-time market (4/1 with Sky Bet - bet here!)

If my ante post season preview had made it to publication, then Southampton would have featured heavily.

When the Premier League returned after a three-month suspension, some teams came back stronger than before and that group was led by pressing kings Southampton, who saw a 71 per cent improvement in points-per-game form to finish in 11th. Ralph Hasenhuttl is a coach with high standards who is used to competing for big prizes and mixing it with the elite. He might just be able to take Southampton towards that top-six this season if maintaining their progression.

Their opening fixture pits them against a side with a completely different trajectory, very much looking down rather than up.

The Roy Hodgson-era at Palace seems to be meandering towards an inevitable conclusion. Not many managers can survive a run of taking one point from the last 27 available. A slow start to the season will be deemed unacceptable.

Saints look good to leave Selhurst Park with maximum points but instead of the outright win price, I've been tempted in by the juicy 4/1 for them to be winning at half-time and full-time. Hasenhuttl's side are notorious fast starters and should have this one wrapped up by half-time - as they did in the previous meeting in January, running out convincing 2-0 winners after a pulsating first-half display.

Since the turn of the year, only Manchester City have had more shots on goal away from home in the first half of games than Southampton (45) which has seen them score seven times before the break - again, only City have scored more.

They can score first here, cop the 4/1 and push Hodgson closer to the exit door.

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New players, new teams, new prices and it's your call - your call on transfers, your call on captaincy choices, and ultimately, your call whether you earn bragging rights over your friends and top the league ladder.

Why not set up your team early and get ahead of the game? The small matter of the £50,000 jackpot prize is at stake for the 2020/21 season of Sky Sports Fantasy Football.

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Liverpool 2020/21: Can Reds retain their title?

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 10:00
By Richard Morgan

Football journalist - @Richiereds1976

Ahead of the new season, we look at Liverpool's strengths, weaknesses and what the targets will be for boss Jurgen Klopp…

Last Updated: 08/09/20 12:00pm

Last season was statically Liverpool's best-ever top-flight campaign, so how does Jurgen Klopp's side better that feat? By going and retaining their title for the first time in 37 years.

Liverpool smashed a whole host of records on their way to winning a first league championship since 1990 last time around, but their manager has never been one to rest on his laurels.

The German will know the rest of the Premier League will be desperate to cut his team down to size and claim their scalp this season, while deposed champions Manchester City will surely not be so flaky again after losing nine matches in their failed title defence.

However, despite not having the Anfield crowd to support them - at least for the opening months of 2020/21 - there is no reason to think Liverpool will not be as relentless as in the past two seasons during which time they have accumulated an incredible 196 points, while losing only four times.

Where they stand

When the season was temporarily halted due to the outbreak of coronavirus back in March, Liverpool had only recently lost their first league match of the campaign, a shock 3-0 reverse at lowly Watford ending their record-breaking start of the season.

Two more defeats arrived following the resumption of activities in June to end the club's hopes of surpassing City's record-breaking 100-point haul from two years earlier, including a 4-0 hiding at the Etihad at the start of July.

However, both those setbacks - the second a 2-1 loss at Arsenal - came after the championship had been confirmed, so reading too much into the club's subsequent drop off in form in relation to the upcoming campaign may be unwise.

Liverpool transfer business so far

In
Kostas Tsimikas - Olympiakos, £11.75m

Out
Dejan Lovren - Zenit St Petersburg, £10.9m
Adam Lallana - Brighton, free transfer
Morgan Boyes -Fleetwood, loan
Kai McKenzie-Lyle - Cambridge, free transfer

Merson's verdict

"Liverpool will be up there this season, make no mistake about it, they are still the team to beat," says Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson. "The one thing they bring to the table above all else is consistency. Yes, they took their foot off the pedal after lockdown and lost a couple of games after the title was won, but before that their consistency was phenomenal.

"We talk about how hard it is for teams to defend the title and go back to back, and for that reason I like to see champions strengthen. Some decide to stick with a winning formula and that proves difficult the following season. It will be interesting to see which path Liverpool take.

"They are going to be title contenders, they are going to go deep in the Champions League and the FA Cup and League Cup, so there is going to be a lot of football after such a quick turnaround. If the full-backs, who are integral to this team, get injured, if Virgil van Dijk or Roberto Firmino get injured, a squad that lacks depth could well struggle. Come January and February, there is going to be a lot of injuries and fatigue and that could perhaps play into the hands of Manchester City, who have a bigger squad."

Where they're strong

Klopp invited professional surfer Sebastian Steudtner to deliver a rousing speech to his squad following their Champions League triumph last year - intended as a stark analogy for his players to overcome the last outstanding achievement: a league title.

And so the analogy became a reality. But now Liverpool must go again, perhaps in the hunt to retain their crown and reclaim Europe in the same season, or even begin a run of domination comparable to the 1970s and 1980s.

However, there isn't much room for improvement in league points, perhaps only consistency and a drip feed of young talent to keep the conveyor belt fresh.

Liverpool's defensive efficiency and intensity stood out most last season - the only two statistical areas where they usurped City.

The Reds conceded a league-low 33 goals and registered league-topping numbers for recoveries in the middle and attacking thirds - in addition to recording a league-high 3,980 sprints.

Where they need to improve

Liverpool ranked behind City in a raft of attacking metrics last season and their runaway title lift was primarily achieved from possessing a superior rearguard.

The disparity upon title win

Man City had conceded 12 goals more than Liverpool at matchday 31 - when Liverpool finally won the title - although the Reds' subsequent drop-off allowed them to close the gap.

However, Pep Guardiola is addressing his side's frailties at the back. If City return to watertight ways and score more goals, Liverpool's crown is under serious threat.

The Reds could benefit from signing a creative midfielder to carve openings and ease the burden on the full-backs, in addition to an out-and-out striker option - who could capitalise on their sublime set-piece deliveries and frequent crosses from the flanks.

What has the manager said?

"We will not try to defend it (the title), we will try to attack the next one," said Jurgen Klopp. "That's the truth, you don't change your approach. That is what we always did and there is no reason for changing it.

"Motivation will not be our problem. I know this team will not stop trying.

"I don't expect everything to happen for me, I never expected it, but I expect I will give absolutely everything and I expect the boys to do that as well."

Key man

While Liverpool's front three naturally grab most of the headlines, last season's title win was built around the club's rock-solid back line, at the heart of which was the colossal Virgil van Dijk.

The graceful Netherlands international started all 38 Premier League matches for the champions, the second campaign in a row the centre back has not missed a league clash for the Reds.

And it is that remarkable consistency, coupled with the 29-year-old's near-faultless displays at the back, that saw Liverpool let in just 33 goals, the second consecutive season Klopp's side have had the meanest defence in the top flight.

One to watch

Liverpool may have lost Adam Lallana on a free transfer to Brighton this summer, but Klopp has no intention of bringing in a replacement for the midfielder next season as he already has a ready-made one in the form of exciting youngster Curtis Jones.

The local lad, who joined the club aged just nine, enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last season, making 12 appearances, scoring three times and registering one assist.

One of those goals was, of course, the 19-year-old's exquisite winner against Everton in the FA Cup third round at Anfield in January, while the England U19 international also gave notice of his promise when producing a man-of-the-match display in a League Cup third-round win over the MK Dons, before nervelessly converting the winning spot kick in a penalty shootout against Arsenal the following round.

What is success for Liverpool in 2020/21?

Klopp always talks about forgetting past achievements and moving quickly on to the next goal and you can be sure the German will have been instilling this message into his players during their preseason training camp in Austria.

Do not be surprised, either, if the Liverpool manager has used another motivational speaker to once again rouse his troops ahead of what is sure to be an especially gruelling campaign.

This time the Reds' target will be becoming just the fourth club to retain the Premier League, and only the second since 2009 - even on that occasion last year, however, City still needed to amass 98 points to deny Klopp's side the championship.

While Liverpool may largely have the same set of players who won the league last time around, anything other than a robust defence of that long-awaited title would be considered a failure at Anfield.

Sky Sports Fantasy Football is back!

Another year, another £50,000 jackpot on the line. Sky Sports Fantasy Football makes its return for the 2020/21 season.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

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