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Match report: U23s kick off 2022 with PL2 victory at Derby

Mon, 01/10/2022 - 20:59

Liverpool U23s battled to a 1-0 victory at Derby County in their opening game of 2022 on Monday night.

An own goal by Eiran Cashin late in the second half at Loughborough University Stadium proved to be the decisive moment of a game the young Reds were on top of for long periods.

It was a satisfying beginning to the year for Barry Lewtas’ team as they clinched three points in Premier League 2 for the first time since November 28.

Liverpool almost opened the scoring within moments of kick-off.

An early example of the high press that the visitors would consistently use to good effect against their opponents saw the ball bounce out to James Norris around 20 yards from goal and his drive, which looked on course for the net, was hacked away by Max Bardell.

Barry Lewtas’ team went even closer in the 11th minute as Owen Beck’s deep free-kick from the left flank was sent across the area by Billy Koumetio and Melkamu Frauendorf connected with a header – but, this time, the effort was cleared from right on the Derby line.

The Rams continued with their strategy of short passing out from the back despite the Reds’ pressure and the visitors might have made more of an error they forced before the half-hour.

James Balagizi pounced on a misplaced pass and tried to poke it through to the run of Leighton Clarkson into the box, but he could not get the ball under his control.

Clear chances fizzled out as half-time approached and it then arrived with the score still goalless, though Liverpool remained very much on top.

There was a scrappier nature to the contest when it resumed, with little action in either penalty area until a series of Reds opportunities at the midway point.

First, Clarkson’s promising set-piece strike was deflected wide of the right post and then Isaac Mabaya’s fierce hit from outside the box was diverted over the crossbar by an opponent’s touch.

And the best of the three openings followed. Stefan Bajcetic guided an accurate right-to-left diagonal to the feet of Frauendorf in space in the channel, but his low shot on the angle was too close to the goalkeeper’s gloves.

In the end, it was a Derby own goal that handed Liverpool a 72nd-minute breakthrough they will feel they merited.

Norris’ slick pass out to the wing for Beck preceded a wicked cross from the left-back that Cashin cut out – but only with a swipe that sent the ball past his ’keeper.

Bajcetic was inches away from putting a 20-yard curler into the top corner as Liverpool pushed for a second goal that was not required as the final whistle soon confirmed victory.

Liverpool U23s: Pitaluga, Mabaya, Beck, Clayton, Koumetio, Bajcetic, Balagizi, Clarkson (Chambers, 84), Bearne, Norris, Frauendorf (Clark, 87).

Unused substitutes: Kelly, Wilson, Cannonier.

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Thiago Alcantara injury latest

Sun, 01/09/2022 - 16:46

Thiago Alcantara is expected to begin his rehabilitation programme on a hip injury on Monday, but Jürgen Klopp isn’t anticipating a prolonged spell on the sidelines.

The No.6 hasn’t figured in Liverpool’s last three matches due to the issue, but the problem isn’t thought to be a long-term one.

Asked during his post-Shrewsbury Town press conference about speculation Thiago could be out until the end of the season, Klopp sad: “No, neither March nor [the] end of the season is in my mind.

“It is something around the hip, that is the situation and it needs time now. He didn’t train this week but we expect him to be back to do rehab stuff from tomorrow on and then we will see.

“No, it is not that he is out until the end of the season, not at all.”

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Match report: Reds advance in FA Cup by beating Shrewsbury Town at Anfield

Sun, 01/09/2022 - 16:10

Liverpool advanced in the Emirates FA Cup with a 4-1 victory over Shrewsbury Town at Anfield on Sunday.

Daniel Udoh had put the League One side ahead in the third-round tie after 27 minutes, though the Reds fought back through goals from Kaide Gordon, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho (two).

Gordon became the club's second-youngest scorer with his well-taken equaliser after the half-hour mark, before Fabinho made it 2-1 from the penalty spot just before half-time.

Firmino then came off the bench in the second half to add the third, as Fabinho completed the scoring in injury time to secure the hosts' passage into round four.

Team news

In a much-changed Liverpool line-up, there were first senior starts for Max Woltman and Elijah Dixon-Bonner. Fellow Academy products Gordon, Conor Bradley, Tyler Morton joined them in the XI.

Jürgen Klopp also returned to the dugout following his isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test. 

First half

Liverpool took charge of the contest in the opening phases.

Their first real goalscoring chance arrived in the 20th minute, with Gordon's shot from outside the area forcing a save from Marko Marosi at his near post. Either side of that effort were headers over the bar by Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk from Andy Robertson delivery. 

But Shrewsbury picked their moment to attack and made it count. 

Nathanael Ogbeta had fired in a dangerous cross 60 seconds earlier that didn't connect, but second time around Udoh was there to divert it into the back of the net with a first-time strike. 

However, Liverpool's response was a quick one. 

Bradley found Gordon inside the penalty area, and the latter displayed quick feet inside the box to shift the ball onto his left foot, which he used to finish beyond Marko Marosi.

Then Ethan Ebanks-Landell was adjudged to have handled Robertson's free-kick into the area, prompting referee David Coote to point to the spot. 

Fabinho took responsibility from 12 yards out and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to put his side ahead. 

Second half

Takumi Minamino was introduced for the start of the second period in place of Woltman. 

Dixon-Bonner nearly netted Liverpool's third from close range early on, but was denied by a fine reaction save from Marosi.

The midfielder then received a well-deserved round of applause from the crowd when he was taken off for Firmino. 

The Brazilian left his mark on the tie when he brilliantly added the Reds' third with 12 minutes remaining.

Bradley's cut-back from the right touchline found Konate, whose shot was deflected towards Firmino. With his back to goal inside the six-yard box, the No.9 nonchalantly backheeled the ball past Marosi. 

And it was made 4-1 deep into stoppage time when Fabinho saw his initial header from Kostas Tsimikas’ free-kick saved, before following up the rebound with a powerful finish into the roof of the net.

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Confirmed Liverpool line-up v Shrewsbury Town

Sun, 01/09/2022 - 12:45

Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Max Woltman make their first senior starts for Liverpool in this afternoon’s Emirates FA Cup third-round tie with Shrewsbury Town.

The Academy pair join Conor Bradley, Kaide Gordon and Tyler Morton in a much-changed Reds line-up at Anfield.

Virgil van Dijk captains the team, while Andy Robertson returns after suspension.

Trent Alexander-Arnold misses out after testing positive for COVID-19 shortly after last weekend’s draw at Chelsea. He is expected to available to resume training in the coming days.

Liverpool: Kelleher, Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Morton, Dixon-Bonner, Gordon, Jones, Woltman.

Subs: Adrian, Firmino, Minamino, Tsimikas, Matip, Mabaya, Norris, Balagizi, Frauendorf.

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Jürgen Klopp to return for Shrewsbury tie

Sun, 01/09/2022 - 11:58

Jürgen Klopp will take charge of Liverpool’s Emirates FA Cup third-round tie with Shrewsbury Town today.

The manager will return to the touchline at Anfield after missing last weekend’s draw at Chelsea due to isolation following a positive COVID-19 test.

Klopp has now resumed duties and will lead the Reds into today’s meeting with the League One club.

Pepijn Lijnders will be absent from the bench as he continues his own stint in isolation after registering a positive test last week.

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Match Centre: Follow Liverpool v Shrewsbury live

Sun, 01/09/2022 - 10:00

Follow Liverpool's Emirates FA Cup third-round clash with Shrewsbury Town now in our live and interactive Match Centre.

Open the menu to access Match Centre.

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Liverpool v Shrewsbury Town team news

Sat, 01/08/2022 - 14:12

Liverpool will field a side mixed with youth and experience for Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup third-round tie with Shrewsbury Town at Anfield.

The Reds returned to the AXA Training Centre on Friday after the facility was closed for a 48-hour period following a significant number of suspected positive COVID-19 test results among the playing squad and staff.

With Jürgen Klopp and Pepijn Lijnders isolating, training was led by Peter Krawietz – and the assistant manager offered an update on the situation when addressing the media on Saturday lunchtime.

“I can’t tell you exact numbers, but obviously the situation is like that for the game tomorrow,” he said in relation to the club’s number of suspected positive COVID-19 tests. “We have a squad, we have a team, we can play and we will try to win this game.

“There’s a difficult situation out there. We had a couple of injuries, illness, COVID cases and this is the situation we have to deal with. We still have to wait for a few results as well; the players are not here [yet] for today, so they have to do their test before they can join the building and this is why I cannot speak about the exact numbers.”

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Krawietz confirmed Liverpool have recalled one player from a loan to join the squad for the visit of the League One side, but suspected positive COVID-19 tests among the U23s set-up will impact selection considerations.

He said: “The situation with the loan players, yes, we have one loan player back and he will probably join the squad tomorrow.

“Of course, we are searching for options for this game and for the squad for tomorrow nearly everywhere, but we found enough players to build a team and have a squad for tomorrow.

“In the U23s we had a few COVID cases as well. A few players are back now again and can join the squad and we will choose a team which is able to follow our football way.

“Can we expect a perfect set-up for tomorrow? No, of course we can’t but we can always show the right and perfect reaction to what is happening on the pitch. This is what we try to do, a proper team performance with experienced leaders in the team and young players who will get this fantastic experience to play at Anfield and feel the support of our supporters.”

One player who could return is Joel Matip.

The centre-back took part in training on Friday afternoon having missed last weekend’s draw at Chelsea due to a positive COVID test result.

“Joel Matip joined training yesterday again, but we have to see if he is available for tomorrow or not,” confirmed Krawietz.

There could also be a return on the sidelines, too, with Klopp in line to resume managerial duties following his spell in isolation.

“We hope so, of course,” said Krawietz when asked if the manager could be back on the touchline on Sunday.

“He is well so far, he feels fine, but of course the regulations are how they are and for this he has to do tests as well. We hope he will be fine to be in tomorrow, yes.”

Shrewsbury, who defeated Carlisle United in round two, will assess the fitness of forward Daniel Udoh prior the trip to Merseyside. 

Manager Steve Cotterill reported: "We'll leave Dan as long as we possibly can. 

"What he'll need to do is get a couple of days of training in him for us to think about including him. Other than that, we're good to go now."

On the contest, Cotterill continued: "[I'm] looking forward to it. We've wanted to get a big draw ever since the draw was made for the first round and that's what you sell to the players."

Last match

Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool (January 2): Kelleher, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Milner, Henderson, Mane, Jota, Salah.

Shrewsbury 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday (January 2): Marosi, Pennington, Ebanks-Landell, Nurse, Bennett, Ogbeta, Davis, Leahy, Vela, Bowman, Udoh. 

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Mo Salah on final shortlist for 2021 Best FIFA Men's Player

Fri, 01/07/2022 - 15:01

Mohamed Salah has been named one of the final three contenders for the 2021 Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

The Liverpool and Egypt forward was today confirmed on a shortlist that also includes Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland) and Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain/Argentina).

The accolade recognises the performances and achievements of men’s players worldwide from October 2020 to August 2021, with a list of 11 nominees now reduced to a final trio.

Equally weighted votes by current men’s national team coaches and captains, journalists and fans on will decide the winner of The Best FIFA Men’s Player, to be announced during a live broadcast on Monday January 17.

Salah, who is currently preparing to represent Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, scored 26 goals for the Reds during the applicable period and has, of course, continued his scintillating form into 2021-22 with 23 strikes and nine assists in 26 games at club level.

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Tyler Morton: We're buzzing to play again!

Fri, 01/07/2022 - 14:25

Liverpool’s players are ‘buzzing’ to return to action by getting their Emirates FA Cup campaign under way, Tyler Morton has explained.

After a week that included the postponement of the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal and the temporary closure of the AXA Training Centre due to a significant number of suspected positive COVID-19 test results, the Reds are now preparing for their third-round meeting with Shrewsbury Town.

And the teenager has detailed the feeling of excitement among the squad at the prospect of playing again, with youngsters at the Academy hopeful of being called upon.

“That’s what he’s best for, the manager: I’ve said it time and time again, he’s probably the best manager in the world for giving out opportunities and he’s given out a lot to the lads that play U23s,” the midfielder told

“Me included, he’s given me a lot of opportunities and we couldn’t speak more highly of him as a team. We’re all buzzing and especially the FA Cup coming up, it’s known for having youngsters playing in it. 

“Who knows what will happen but maybe he will give a few chances out, but everyone is buzzing. Even the senior players, everyone just wants to play footy. That’s what we’re here to do and we’re here to win.”

Read on for the rest of our in-depth pre-match interview with Morton…

Tyler, it’s been a crazy time. Has it been a case for you and the players of just trying to remain focused and prepare as best you can?

Yeah, 100 per cent. We try to remain focused through everything, to be honest, and especially through tough times for everyone at the club and for every club in the Premier League. The main thing is that you’ve got to stay ready because anything can happen and as you can see, the FA Cup’s definitely going on and everyone is buzzing about it because we’re playing a game – especially me!

How have you found your season so far? I guess it’s gone as well as you could have imagined?

One hundred per cent, yeah. Not what I expected at the start of the season, to be honest, but I’m absolutely buzzing with all the chances that I’ve got and I’ve still got a long season ahead. Still got another half of the season to go so I’m just making sure I remain focused as well and we’ll see what happens.

What’s been the biggest thing to adapt to?

Just first-team football in general because before this season I wasn’t training week in and week out with them. I was here and there, and now I’ve started playing a few games and now I’m training [with the senior squad] pretty regularly, this is the time I’ve started to adapt and I’ve started to adapt my game to first-team football.

How have you found it physically?

It’s a lot harder, especially physically. The physical side of it is what the Premier League is known for and how fast it is. You’ve got to just be clever with your touches and you’ve just got to be really switched on. Every single player in the Premier League is a clever footballer and that’s something else you’ve got to adapt to as well. I think I’ve adapted quite well. Hopefully I’ll keep pushing up.

Which opponent has given you the biggest test so far? 

To be honest, it’s never just me. When you play you’ve got all the players around you, so to be decent he’s got to beat me and someone else next to me because at Liverpool especially it’s never one-v-one, you’ve always got your mate helping you or someone helping you. Especially when you’re young, people know that, especially the experienced ones, they know that they need to help the youngster out. So, probably Maddison; a very good player, James Maddison, just because of his movement and his cleverness.

You’ve played in so many big games this season, has there been a moment when it’s properly hit home where you are? Hearing the Champions League music, for example…

Definitely. Champions League was the main one because when the camera comes around you mess around with your mates and stuff, but when it was happening it was surreal, to be honest! It was mad, but that’s why I’m playing. That’s where I want to be, so to play in the Champions League for Liverpool is a really massive achievement for me and my family, being big Reds.

Are you acting as a sponge, trying to absorb everything that’s going on?

Yeah, 100 per cent, because of the players I’m playing with and the staff I’m working with. It’s an elite level, it’s probably the best level because in my opinion Liverpool are one of the best teams in the world. I’ve just got to sink everything in to help me along my journey, wherever that is, wherever that ends. I’ve just got to sink everything in because I am playing with the best players in the world. How they conduct themselves around the training ground and how they conduct themselves when they are about to play a game; stuff like that is something I can take in and follow in my career.

Is that almost the biggest eye-opener? How the senior players act and conduct themselves around the training ground, not just on the pitch?

Yeah, it’s crazy when you’re there. You don’t understand until you train with them how hard they work and how passionate they are about it and stuff like that. Every training game is a proper game, no messing about, everyone wants to win and there’s a few moody faces when you don’t win! That’s what football is all about. It’s boss.

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First-team facilities reopen at AXA Training Centre

Fri, 01/07/2022 - 10:57

Liverpool FC can confirm the first-team facilities at AXA Training Centre have now reopened.

The senior training environment in Kirkby was temporarily closed for a 48-hour period following a significant number of suspected positive COVID-19 test results among the playing squad and staff.

The Reds’ Carabao Cup semi-final away leg against Arsenal, scheduled for Thursday, was subsequently postponed and has been rearranged for January 20.

After consultation with the relevant Public Health authority, operations have now resumed within the first-team set-up at the training ground.

Assistant manager Peter Krawietz is currently taking charge of the team and leading preparations for Liverpool’s next fixture, which sees Shrewsbury Town visit Anfield in the Emirates FA Cup third round on Sunday.

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LFC Women complete signing of Katie Stengel

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 11:00

Liverpool FC Women can today confirm the signing of forward Katie Stengel.

The 29-year-old joins the Reds after most recently playing with Valerenga, where she won the Norwegian Women’s Cup in October.

Florida-born Stengel has played most of her football in the United States' National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and Australia.

She originally emerged from the American college scene, shining as she became the all-time leading goalscorer at Wake Forest and earning All-American honours three times.

Stengel skipped the NWSL draft and headed abroad to join Bayern Munich in the Frauen-Bundesliga, top scoring in their title-winning season in 2015.

Returning to the US, she settled with Washington Spirit, before later moving on to Boston Breakers - where she played under LFC Women boss Matt Beard in 2017 - and later Utah Royals.

Stengel also enjoyed loan spells in the Australian W-League representing Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets, where she finished runner-up in the Golden Boot race.

After leaving the Royals in 2020, she briefly joined Houston Dash before heading to Norway.

Internationally, she represented the USA at U20 and U23 level, winning the FIFA U20 World Cup.

Beard told “Katie is different to the front players we’ve got at the club and brings a wealth of experience, having played at Bayern Munich and some of the top clubs in America.

“She’s an athletic forward who’s good in tight spaces. We only worked together briefly but she’s a good finisher and it’s important we have options in those positions where we’ve had some injuries and keep up competition for places.

“She’s an intelligent football player who will be a real help to the team in the second half of the season.”

The new No.24 joins the club subject to international clearance and could make her debut in Sunday’s FA Women’s Championship fixture away at Blackburn Rovers Ladies.

Stengel said: “It’s amazing to be here, everyone has been so welcoming and I can’t wait to get started.

“I always wanted to play in this league and when I got in contact with Matt it was just fate, I guess, and maybe a little bit of luck!

“I played under Matt at Boston Breakers. He was an incredible person and a great coach and I’m lucky to be playing for him again.”

In terms of her playing style, Stengel added: “I’m a No.9, very competitive, love to get the ball as much as possible and hopefully score goals!

“Coming in as a second-division team, you want to get promoted and have that big story behind you. The girls have put themselves in a great position and it would be great to get promoted and fight to get back to where we want to be.”

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Arsenal v Liverpool Carabao Cup tie postponed

Wed, 01/05/2022 - 13:00

Liverpool’s Carabao Cup semi-final, first-leg fixture with Arsenal on Thursday has been postponed.

The club’s submission to have the fixture rescheduled has been approved by the EFL due to the increasing number of suspected positive COVID-19 cases among players and staff.

The latest round of testing on Tuesday returned a significant number of positives, including Pepijn Lijnders, who was due to take charge of the Reds at Emirates Stadium.

The outbreak has left Liverpool without a sufficient number of players and staff to fulfil the contest as originally scheduled.

As a result, the first leg of the last-four encounter will now be played at Anfield on Thursday January 13, kick off 7.45pm GMT. The return will take place at Emirates Stadium on Thursday January 20, also getting under way at 7.45pm.

Tickets purchased for this match will remain valid for the new fixture date. The club will email all supporters who have purchased a ticket with details on refunds for those unable to attend the rescheduled date. Please don’t contact ticketing or fan services on this matter.

Liverpool Football Club would like to place on record their thanks to the EFL and Arsenal for their understanding, as well as supporters of both clubs, as we continue to navigate through this challenging period.

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AXA Training Centre temporarily closed

Wed, 01/05/2022 - 10:57

Liverpool Football Club can confirm the first-team training facilities at AXA Training Centre have been temporarily closed due to a rapidly growing number of suspected positive COVID-19 cases.

The Reds acted to suspend operations within the facility today after the latest round of testing revealed multiple new suspected positives.

The decision was made after consultation with the relevant Public Health authority.

The new cases are in addition to those recorded on Monday and Tuesday morning.

Among the multiple players and staff who tested positive in the latest round was Pepijn Lijnders, resulting in the cancellation of the pre-Arsenal press conference he had been due to host this morning.

The club has lodged an application with the EFL for the postponement of Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final, first-leg tie with the Gunners at Emirates Stadium. The outcome of that submission is currently pending.

We will offer a further update on the reopening of the training centre in due course.

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Pepijn Lijnders returns suspected positive COVID-19 test

Wed, 01/05/2022 - 09:30

Liverpool Football Club can confirm Pepijn Lijnders has returned a suspected positive test for COVID-19, further impacting the club’s preparations for Thursday’s Carabao Cup tie with Arsenal.

As an additional consequence, this morning’s scheduled press conference to preview the fixture has been cancelled. 

The assistant manager had been due to handle pre-match media duties at the AXA Training Centre in place of Jürgen Klopp, who is continuing to isolate having tested positive for the virus last week.

However, Lijnders also recorded a positive test late on Tuesday evening, meaning he has now also gone into isolation. 

The 38-year-old had taken interim charge of Liverpool for the weekend draw at Chelsea in the absence of Klopp and had been set to continue at the helm at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

Lijnders’ test result comes in addition to a number of suspected positive cases among players and football staff recorded earlier on Tuesday, which forced the cancellation of the day’s scheduled training session.

As a result of the outbreak and the suspension of preparations, as well as other illnesses and injuries recorded within the squad, the club submitted an application to the EFL for the postponement of Thursday’s tie with Arsenal, with the news of Lijnders’ positive result coming after the request was lodged.

The outcome of this application is still pending.

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Liverpool FC submits request for Arsenal postponement

Tue, 01/04/2022 - 18:44

Liverpool Football Club can confirm an application has been submitted for the postponement of Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final, first-leg tie with Arsenal due to an escalating number of suspected positive COVID-19 cases and player availability.

The Reds have formally requested to the EFL that the fixture is rescheduled after further suspected positive tests were registered among players and staff, allied to other factors impacting selection, including illness and injury.

In response, the club halted preparations at the AXA Training Centre, meaning Tuesday’s first-team training session was cancelled.

Among the considerations which led to today’s application to the EFL is the need for travelling supporters to be given as much notice as possible of any potential postponement.

With no prospect of the current situation improving ahead of Thursday’s fixture and the potential for it to worsen, the club considers it both prudent and reasonable to ask for the fixture to be rescheduled.

Liverpool FC will offer a further update on the application process, as well as the resumption of training, in due course.

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Inside Chelsea: A different look at Stamford Bridge draw

Tue, 01/04/2022 - 10:00

Take an alternative look at Liverpool’s enthralling 2-2 Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge in our Inside Chelsea video.

The Reds raced into a two-goal lead on Sunday through Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah but the hosts levelled before the break, and an absorbing second half ended without a winner.

View the game from a unique perspective with our behind-the-scenes footage from pitchside in the video below.

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Alexander-Arnold: We have to win and be ready to capitalise

Tue, 01/04/2022 - 09:20

Liverpool have to ensure they are ready to capitalise on any errors by their rivals in the title race, urged Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Sunday’s frantic 2-2 draw at Chelsea left the Reds 11 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City with a game in hand still to play.

Alexander-Arnold acknowledged Jürgen Klopp’s side’s championship ambitions now partly rest on City slipping up but the full-back stressed the importance of Liverpool returning to a winning streak to be in place to capitalise if that happens.

“There’s not really much we can do except try to win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season,” he told post-match. “We are just past the halfway point so a lot can happen between now and May.

“We make sure we focus on ourselves, make sure we stay as close to them as we can, but it will be difficult and we need teams to beat them for us. But it’s about us making sure we are in a position to capitalise if they do drop points.”

The visitors had put themselves firmly on course for victory at Stamford Bridge as Sadio Mane’s ninth-minute opener was followed by another scintillating Mohamed Salah finish from Alexander-Arnold’s smart assist.

Mateo Kovacic found the net with a stunning volley late in the first half, however, and Christian Pulisic swiftly broke into the area to guide a strike past Caoimhin Kelleher for 2-2 at the interval.

The back-and-forth nature of the intense contest continued until full-time, though without further change to the scoresheet, and Alexander-Arnold considered a draw fair.

“We started the game well and it was what we set out to do, we had a game plan and we did that first half. Probably not everything we set out to do but we scored two quite early goals,” said the No.66.

“Going 2-0 up was obviously what we wanted, and then last five or 10 minutes of the first half we’ve took our foot off the gas and let them back in. That first goal, no-one is in the changing room pointing fingers or anything, there’s nothing you can do about them, a world-class strike.

“The second one, there was a couple of mistakes and it could have been prevented but they took their chances and we took ours. At the end of the day it was a fair and even point.”

Liverpool might have snatched all three points in the second period but were twice denied by Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Salah and Mane efforts.

At the other end, Kelleher – standing in for Alisson Becker, one of three Reds absent due to a suspected positive COVID-19 test – brilliantly kept out a Pulisic strike.

“It was an even second half,” said Alexander-Arnold. “They probably had a lot more of the ball than us, especially in our defensive third and in and around our box, but we defended well and didn’t give them too many chances.

“When Caoimh was needed he’s pulled off two world-class saves in the first and second half and he’s stepped into Ali’s shoes and done really well today. It’s a credit to him, but we defended well and never gave them too many chances and we had the better chances in the second half.

“But when you are up against a world-class team with a world-class goalkeeper he makes world-class saves. So, like I said, I think a point apiece is fair.”

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Jordan Henderson: We've got to take the positives and move on

Mon, 01/03/2022 - 08:30

Jordan Henderson wants Liverpool to use the positives from Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea to make improvements at the next opportunity.

The Reds were denied three points at Stamford Bridge in a thrilling Premier League battle that they led by two goals in the early stages, courtesy of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah strikes by the 26th minute.

Mateo Kovacic lashed in a volley and Christian Pulisic slotted home an equaliser in a double blow before half-time, though, and nothing could then separate the sides in the second period as both goalkeepers produced vital saves.

“We’ll be disappointed with the goals we conceded,” Henderson told post-match. “Of course the first one is an outstanding finish but the lead-up to it we were disappointed with and then conceding so quickly on the second one, we’ll be disappointed with that also.

“But then we get in at half-time and I thought the lads came out and gave it everything. Chelsea are always going to create chances here, but I thought we defended and showed great spirit to keep going and keep digging in when the crowd was up.

“On another day we could have scored another one on the counter-attack, we had a couple of good chances, the ’keeper made some brilliant saves for them. So, in the end I think we’ve got to take the point and move on because it is a tough place to come.

“Of course, if you look at the league we would have liked to have taken the three points to try to get closer to [Manchester] City but, unfortunately, under the circumstances we couldn’t do that today.”

A run of three Premier League encounters without a win means Liverpool now trail leaders Manchester City by 11 points with a game in hand.

The captain was pleased by the response the Reds showed versus Chelsea following the disappointment of defeat at Leicester City, however, and insisted the team will not give up their pursuit at the summit.

“We were disappointed with the last game against Leicester,” said Henderson. “Overall, we weren’t at the races really and we can play a lot, lot better. If we do that then I think we get the three points, so that was a big disappointment.

“But I think we showed a reaction today to keep going, keep digging in when things aren’t going our way – to just try to keep going – and we ended up getting a point.

“So, like I said, still some positives to take forwards, still a lot of football to play from now until the end of the season. We’ll just give it absolutely everything when we get on the pitch.”

He continued: “We know how strong City are, Chelsea are, the whole of the Premier League – it’s a tough league, some very good teams, so you can’t get focused on anything else but yourself.

“We just need to focus on what we need to do in every game that we play and everybody in the squad needs to be ready to play over this next period over the next few weeks, especially without [Naby Keita, Mane and Salah, who now head to the Africa Cup of Nations].

“That’s football, you dig in, you keep going as a squad and hopefully we get our rewards come the end of the season.”

The Reds were without manager Jürgen Klopp plus Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip on Sunday as they isolate following suspected positive COVID-19 test results.

Caoimhin Kelleher was one of those to come into the starting XI, replacing Alisson, and Henderson praised the goalkeeper for his latest impressive performance when called upon.

“I thought he was outstanding,” said the skipper. “Not only his saves, but showing personality on the ball, playing out, being calm, his distribution was good.

“But he has been every time he has come in, so it doesn’t really surprise us, but I thought he was a big plus for us today – he was outstanding.”

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Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool: Pepijn Lijnders' reaction

Sun, 01/02/2022 - 19:50

Pepijn Lijnders spoke of his pride in Liverpool’s performance in drawing 2-2 with Chelsea, but rued the Reds’ inability to control an action-packed contest after they went 2-0 up at Stamford Bridge.

The visitors held a commanding advantage with 26 minutes of Sunday’s pulsating Premier League clash gone, thanks to goals by Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

However, Chelsea got in at half-time level after Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic both scored in the latter stages of the first period.

Caoimhin Kelleher made superb saves to deny Pulisic in each half, while Edouard Mendy produced excellent stops to thwart Salah and Mane in quick succession around the hour mark as the teams were forced to share the spoils following a frenetic game.

With Jürgen Klopp absent following a suspected positive COVID-19 test, Lijnders led Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Read a transcript of the assistant manager’s post-match press conference below…

On the result and Liverpool’s performance…

We should have controlled the game better. We had moments already before the 2-0; we were lethal in our counter-attacks. In the moments we played, we really connected well and we were quick in mind, thought about the next pass. The way we opened up spaces was incredible and we used these spaces really well in the whole game – maybe sometimes the last pass, maybe sometimes a better timing with our movement in behind to create even more. Overall, I can speak a lot about tactics and all these ideas but for me [the feeling is] pride because we could have come here with a lot of excuses, the team could have come here with a lot of excuses, but they fought with all they had. Getting a result away at Chelsea is always good, it is just we could have avoided it better if we’d played more football, more often better football in their half and they would not have had that many situations. We could have avoided these two goals with better defending.

On Liverpool’s display defensively…

I don’t think the problem was defensively. We corrected a few things at half-time, but I think the problem was we didn’t keep the ball for long enough in many moments when we went to their half because that’s the moment they have to push wing-backs back in and that’s the moment where we can really also rest with the ball. This balance was not right today, but again, you can always do things better in a draw. We are happy, we take this point because it’s a positive point in a very difficult situation.

On how today’s result impacts the Premier League title race…

It’s never boring with us. We never look at others. A title race is only decided on the last matchday and there are so many points to collect. We have this difficult situation and you never know if the opposition will get a difficult situation. We have to focus on ourselves, that’s how we always did it, that’s how we got into the position we are, that’s how our team developed, how our team is in this moment in time. We only focus on the next game to make it a final and give everything we have and with this we become better. With this we became champions, we won the Champions League and we won the other two cups, so this is what we have to keep doing. Again, a big compliment to our team because if we keep this fighting spirit up and we play a little bit better, then we have a big chance as well in the next games.

On whether he and Klopp are concerned about how the squad will be stretched in the coming weeks, with injuries, COVID-19 issues and Mane, Salah and Naby Keita now departing to the Africa Cup of Nations…

You can try to plan it but you can never prepare it. It is not a worry because we have faith in the boys we have and a few boys are coming back as well. We know that certain players can play more offensively as well, they have been playing in midfield but they can play more offensively as well. I just told the boys as well that Naby, Mo and Sadio: that they should try to win the AFCON because it is a prize to catch and the careers are never long and they deserve to fight for each prize. This prize now comes in front of them - it’s a tournament with so much passion, so much culture and it is a really proud situation if you can play for your country, if it’s England or Germany or Holland or whoever and that’s what they have and feel. So they are African legends, they are legends for me, but if they win it they will probably be even bigger legends so they should try with all they have to win it.

On whether he is expecting the likes of Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino to be available again soon…

Let’s see. Some of the boys plan to be back but they still didn’t start team training, so we have to see. That’s what I say: coming here, we could have made many excuses but we didn’t and I think it’s a positive point.

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Report: Reds held in breathless 2-2 draw at Chelsea

Sun, 01/02/2022 - 18:52

Liverpool and Chelsea played out a frantic 2-2 draw in an action-packed Premier League contest at Stamford Bridge.

Goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah put the Reds two up by the midway point of the first half on Sunday, but the home side hit back and were level at the break courtesy of Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic. 

Caoimhin Kelleher – starting with Alisson Becker ruled out due to a suspected positive COVID-19 test – and Edouard Mendy took centre stage in the second half, with both goalkeepers making excellent saves to ensure a relentlessly intense clash ended all square.

Team news

Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip were also sidelined by suspected positive COVID-19 tests and three changes were made by Liverpool, who were led by Pepijn Lijnders in the absence of Jürgen Klopp

As well as Kelleher replacing Alisson, Ibrahima Konate came in for Matip and James Milner returned in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield. 

First half

A booking after just 15 seconds for Mane - dished out following a collision with Cesar Azpilicueta as they were set to compete in an aerial duel - set the tone for a chaotic encounter.

Salah had already seen an effort saved by Mendy before a vital intervention from Kelleher prevented Chelsea from taking the lead. 

Kai Havertz charged down Trent Alexander-Arnold’s attempted clearance and the ball dropped kindly to Pulisic, but Kelleher read the American’s intentions and dived at his feet to paw to safety. 

Moments later, Liverpool went ahead. 

Mane pounced once Trevoh Chalobah had misjudged his attempt to intercept Diogo Jota’s searching pass, with the No.10 subsequently rounding Mendy prior to slotting home.

With the tempo having subsided slightly, the Reds began to enjoy more prolonged periods of possession and one such spell would produce their second goal with 26 minutes on the clock.

A patient sequence of passing was accelerated in typical fashion by Alexander-Arnold, who marked his 200th appearance for the club with another assist. 

The right-back picked out Salah with a wonderful, clipped ball and the Egyptian did the rest, speeding past Marcos Alonso in the area before drilling a near-post finish beyond Mendy.

A last-ditch tackle by Chalobah denied Salah the chance to make it three and Chelsea clawed their way back into the match in the final stages of the first half. 

First, Kelleher’s punched clearance to repel Alonso’s free-kick was met sweetly on the volley by Kovacic to make it 2-1, before Pulisic latched onto N’Golo Kante’s touch and found the top corner.

Second half 

With Chelsea’s ascendancy having been interrupted by the half-time whistle, Liverpool were able to clear their heads at the break and carried the greater attacking threat in the early stages of the second period.

Twice in quick succession fine saves by Mendy were required to deny the Reds a third, with Salah and Mane the players foiled.

Salah’s sight of goal originated from a Chelsea corner, with the No.11 trying to loft a shot over Mendy from all of 30 yards on the counter only for the goalkeeper to palm wide at full stretch. 

Then, a sweeping move from back to front concluded with Mendy redirecting Mane’s drive past the post following a sharp one-two between the No.10 and Salah.

However, Kelleher was again needed to thwart Pulisic – the ‘keeper showcasing lightning-quick reaction speed to palm an attempt away – as the hosts sought to forge ahead for the first time in the game.

The Reds introduced Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita from the bench midway through the half and the momentum duly swung this way and that between the teams as both sought to strike the decisive blow.

Indeed, it was Liverpool who finished the game on top, but a winning goal never arrived and the sides were left to settle for a point apiece.

Attendance: 40,072

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