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Missing end product costs Reds but “no reason for soul-searching” – Media on Napoli 2-0 Liverpool

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 09:05

The media thought Liverpool’s misfiring attack was costly in the 2-0 Champions League loss to Napoli but noted that the defeat is far from fatal.


The defence of the Champions League crown got off to a disappointing start as the Reds collapsed to a late defeat in Italy.

Late goals from Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente ensured Jurgen Klopp’s side left Stadio San Paolo empty-handed for the second year running.

Liverpool were punished on the night for uncharacteristic sloppiness in the final third and mistakes at the back and from VAR, but it’s now all about bouncing back positively against Chelsea.

Before the buildup to that game starts, here’s how the media assessed another off-night for the Reds in Italy.

Most reporters thought Liverpool’s performance was better than the result suggests…

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo looks dejected as a penalty is awarded to SSC Napoli during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

David Lynch, for the Evening Standard, echoed the thoughts of most reporters in noting the Reds were much improved from last season and that there were genuine positives with the overall display:

“In the aftermath of yet another defeat in Naples, it would be easy to say that Liverpool did not deliver on that specific target for the game, but that would be completely unfair.

“He won’t be happy having lost, but Klopp will take pleasure from plenty of elements of the Reds’ performance, which showed they are a far better team than at this stage of last season.”

Writing for Goal, Neil Jones felt Liverpool were particularly good in the first half, highlighting Fabinho’s performance as key:

“For 45 minutes, there was not too much wrong with their performance. They pressed intelligently, they threatened on the break and they bossed the midfield, with Fabinho in particular producing a magnificent first half.”

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe thinks there is no shame in defeat as Napoli are a good side who could go far in the competition, and thought the altered midfield was key to the improvement:

“Napoli were unlucky not to progress at Klopp’s expense last season and they look capable of going far in the competition, beautifully balanced and boasting one of the most coveted defenders in Kalidou Koulibaly.

[…]

“The real difference between Liverpool in Naples this time and last was in midfield, however.”

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk looks dejected after his mistake led to SSC Napoli's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. Napoli won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Not everyone saw it this way though, with the Independent’s Miguel Delaney labelling it Liverpool’s “most tepid display of the season so far”:

“This was not just a slow start for the defending European champions, but their most tepid display of the season so far.”

Going somewhat overboard, the Mirror’s David Maddock went as far as labelling it a “depressing” defeat:

“If the performance was much better than that sorry night here in Naples a year ago, which Jurgen Klopp branded his side’s worst of the season, then the outcome was equally depressing.

“Depressing, for the fact that the Reds should have killed off the game long before that penalty converted by Dries Mertens on 82 minutes, should have secured victory even, despite a second goal deep into stoppage time for Napoli.”

The media felt Liverpool’s display still lacked in certain areas – particularly in attack…

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah looks dejected after missing a chance during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ESPN’s Harry Kettle thought the Reds were too slow in possession and didn’t counter-attack with enough pace:

“The Reds showed Napoli far too much respect on the ball and seemed far too laid back when they were in possession.

“The hosts were often able to reset themselves pretty efficiently, and one of the key reasons for that was Liverpool’s slow pace, which always ensured they were living dangerously.”

Jones thought Klopp’s side paid the price for lacking end product and becoming increasingly disjointed late on:

“The final ball, though, was lacking. Mane was denied by Meret, Mo Salah buzzed but couldn’t find an end product. Napoli defended stoutly and gave their fans reason to stay with them as the game wore on.

“Liverpool dropped off after the break, the home side exploiting the gaps which appeared as a result.”

Kettle also thought Klopp should have done better from the touchline, bemoaning that the boss was too hesitant with substitutions which gave Napoli the upper hand:

“The manager struggled to make the necessary changes, and while Liverpool showed a clearer attacking incentive in the second half, Klopp’s hesitation with his substitutions didn’t help matters.”

The Guardian’s Barney Ronay thinks Napoli may have discovered the blueprint to beat the Reds:

“From the start Liverpool were tested by a Napoli gameplan that involved breaking the press and springing forward in numbers. This will be the pattern now.”

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

BBC Sport’s Steve Sutcliffe rightly reserved some praise for Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly for his work in thwarting Liverpool’s front three:

“Named the best defender in Serie A last term, the 28-year-old made several key interceptions and dispossessed both Roberto Firmino and Salah in one-versus-one situations.

“And he continued in that vein, patrolling behind left-back Mario Rui to snuff out the danger posed by the Egyptian’s pace and trickery. His reading of the game was exemplary throughout, ensuring he was rarely caught out of possession and was able to spring Napoli attacks.”

However, the watching journalists thought there were still several positive individual displays to take forward…

 Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s Alex Richards thought Trent Alexander-Arnold did well up against Lorenzo Insigne, labelling the right-back’s performance “one of his most intelligent defensive displays”:

“The Kop’s homegrown prince was more than a match, and this was perhaps one of his most intelligent defensive displays in a senior Liverpool shirt; throughout he got the distance between himself and Joel Matip spot on, always on hand to cover but detaching himself when the opportunity to go forwards presented itself.”

The Independent‘s Mark Critchley lauded Fabinho’s performance, noting just how vital and influential the Brazilian is to this Reds side:

“The control he exerted over this contest, most noticeably in the first half, is why Liverpool can be confident of leaving any ground on the continent with a positive result.

[…]

“He is quickly becoming one of Klopp’s most dependable performers.”

 Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Richards, again, thought Adrian “was on another level” and believes the Spaniard is doing a fantastic job in ensuring Alisson’s absence is not being felt as heavily as first envisaged:

“It says much about Adrian that he has made light of the continued absence of Alisson – arguably the world’s best goalkeeper.

“He received plenty of plaudits for his Super Cup heroics but here he was on another level; you could have been forgiven for thinking that he was indeed Liverpool’s £67 million No. 1.”

Certain reporters noted that the opening defeat is no disaster and backed the Reds to respond…

 Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (L) and captain Jordan Henderson applaud the supporters after the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. Napoli won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First off, Jones does feel that Klopp has to find the solution to Liverpool’s poor away form in group stage matches:

“Klopp has solved most puzzles in his time at Anfield, but one remains. How does he get this team to win Champions League group matches away from home?

“This was the seventh his side have played, and they have won only one. They lost all three last season, including here, scraping into the last 16 courtesy of their imperious home form.”

But summing up the early situation nicely, the Mail’s Dominic King correctly assessed that one defeat changes nothing and that Liverpool are still a serious contender to retain the trophy:

“Liverpool may have lost the first battle but they remain a threat to all and have quality players with which they can go to war.

[…]

“This defeat will sting but it is certainly no reason for soul-searching.”

Lynch played down the significance of the defeat to Liverpool’s ambitions and feels the Reds have a great chance to bounce back in the next games:

“That is not a disappointment they can afford to dwell on too long, though, with three winnable group games following this testing trip to Naples.

“The Reds will fancy themselves to beat RB Salzburg at Anfield before doing the same to Genk home and away, and that combination of results will put them in touching distance of qualification. Klopp’s side know they have it in their hands still.”

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Liverpool CEO provides welcome update from fan hospitalised after attack in Naples

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 08:38

Liverpool supporter Steven Allen was rushed to hospital at half-time in Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss to Napoli, following an attack in the city earlier in the day.


News of Allen’s injuries filtered through midway through the Reds’ opening Champions League group game, with friend Matty Johnson taking to Twitter to describe the tie as “completely irrelevant now.”

Johnson had previously warned other fans in Naples of “assaults in cafes,” and pleaded with those in the city after Allen was hospitalised.

“Mate got assaulted before the game, got bandaged up, was told he was all sound to go the match but collapsed at half-time and was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital,” he replied to one concerned Red.

He explained that “he’s alright but he’s on his own,” alleging that “the other lads can’t get to the hospital due to being locked in” at Stadio San Paolo.

Allen was taken to the Ospedale Cardarelli Hospital, and was later visited by Liverpool CEO Peter Moore, who provided a welcome update after ensuring the stricken fan received treatment.

 Liverpool's chief executive officer Peter Moore before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After initially complaining of a “distinct lack of urgency here from the police and medical staff,” Moore eventually relayed that they had proved “very cooperative.”

“He’s been seen and will be monitored throughout the night. He asked me to thank everyone for their concern,” he said of Allen:

Update to this. The hospital staff and the police have now helped Steven and been very cooperative. He’s been seen and will be monitored throughout the night. He asked me to thank everyone for their concern. https://t.co/aHxKiiXKRX

— Peter Moore (@PeterMooreLFC) September 18, 2019

Via BBC Sport on Wednesday morning, a statement from Merseyside Police detailed that “two Liverpool fans were reportedly assaulted at a bar before the match at 6pm local time.”

“They were attacked by a group on scooters and suffered cuts and grazes,” the report continued, though it is added that Allen had collapsed at Stadio San Paolo due to “significant blood loss.”

“The two men from the UK, aged 26 and 46, were treated at the scene before attending the game.”

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Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: Player Ratings – What the media and statistics say

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 07:00

Liverpool lost 2-0 away to Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, with Fabinho one of the few to genuinely impress for the Reds.


Jurgen Klopp‘s men faced a tough test on their return to European action and they tasted their first competitive defeat since May.

Jose Callejon won a soft late penalty after an apparent ‘foul’ by Andy Robertson—with the flaws of VAR exposed once again—and Dries Mertens converted the spot-kick.

Fernando Llorente then capitalised on a rare mistake by Virgil van Dijk to rub salt in the Reds’ wounds in the dying seconds.

Here we compare our player ratings with those from the Liverpool Echo, the Mirror, the Independent, Squawka, FotMob and the TIA readers.

Fabinho (8.0) was comfortably Liverpool’s standout performer on the night, once again showing why he is one of the world’s best defensive midfielders.

The 25-year-old was particularly colossal in the first half, making numerous tackles, producing incisive passes and dominating in the middle of the park.

The Echo‘s Ian Doyle described Fabinho‘s performance as “outstanding,” highlighting that he was “so often in the right place.”

Meanwhile, Squawka lauded the fact that the Brazilian “made a match-high six tackles and completed 95 percent of his passes.”

Adrian (7.5) also impressed at Stadio San Paolo, even though he ended up conceding twice.

It was no surprise to see his remarkable save to deny Mertens talked about, with David Maddock of the Mirror hailing it as a “worldie.”

Joel Matip (6.9) took home bronze in the average ratings, as he again cut an accomplished figure at the heart of the defence.

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk looks dejected after his mistake led to SSC Napoli's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. Napoli won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is Anfield’s James Nalton stressed that neither Napoli goal had anything to do with the Cameroonian: Robertson (5.3) and Van Dijk (6.4) were the guilty parties for once.

Speaking of lowest-rated individual Robertson, he endured a tough evening, with Maddock saying he was a “subdued” figure who wasn’t fully fit.

Next up for Liverpool is a testing trip to Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday, as Klopp’s team look to retain their 100 percent record.

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Jurgen Klopp criticises VAR and “game-changing” dive after Liverpool’s loss at Napoli

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 00:07

Jurgen Klopp questioned the awarding of a penalty to Napoli which he felt proved decisive as Liverpool started the defence of their Champions League crown on a bum note.


The Reds lacked a cutting edge but would have been worthy of a point at the intimidating Stadio San Paolo, only for the Group E opener to hinge on Jose Callejon being upended in the area by Andy Robertson.

Dries Mertens converted from the spot in the 82nd minute before Virgil Van Dijk lost the ball on the edge of the area in stoppage time, allowing former Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente to seal a 2-0 win for Napoli.

Liverpool manager Klopp said: “When we conceded to go 1-0 down that was the game changer. We have to accept the result.

“We are really critical of ourselves but it was not a really, really bad performance, it was a game which we could have won at Napoli but we didn’t because we didn’t score.

“We wanted to have at least a point and we didn’t get that because of the penalty. I’m pretty sure there are different views on that situation but when a player jumps before there is contact then it cannot be a penalty.

“But we cannot change that anymore so that’s how it is and now we carry on, that’s it.”

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo looks dejected as a penalty is awarded to SSC Napoli during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds’ strong appeals for a penalty against Newcastle at the weekend fell on deaf ears but they maintained their 100 percent winning start to the Premier League season by beating the Magpies 3-1.

Tuesday night’s decision proved central to the outcome but Klopp refused to be too critical of the process involving the video assistant referee.

He added: “I could say a lot of things about it but then I would look like a bad loser. I’m not the best loser in the world but I’m not bad at it.

“It was very decisive in that moment for sure but we can’t change it. As long as human beings make the decisions then there is still potential for [mistakes]. The rules are like this and we trust in the rules.”

The visitors, barracked throughout in a hostile atmosphere in Naples, lost the corresponding fixture between the sides last season en route to being defeated in every group stage game away from Anfield.

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Merseysiders managed to pip Napoli to the knockout stages by virtue of goals scored and went on to lift the European Cup for the sixth time in their history.

Klopp believes Napoli are more than capable of going all the way this season.

He added: “They can win the competition. If you have a good plan and good players, which they obviously have, then they can win the competition. We experienced that.

“You don’t have to be the best team in the world to win the Champions League. You have to be there in the right moments and you have to be lucky in some situations.”

Napoli counterpart Carlo Ancelotti welcomed Klopp’s assessment of his side as potential winners.

 SSC Napoli's head coach Carlo Ancelotti during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Italian said: “If Jurgen Klopp says that we have the ability to go on and win the Champions League then I say to him, ‘thank you very much’ because he’s a coach that knows football inside out.

“But there is still a very long way to go. Our first objective is to try to get through to the knockout stages.”

Ancelotti shied away from talking about the penalty award, preferring to focus on his side’s display.

He added: “It wasn’t all perfect but just when it seemed all was lost and Liverpool had taken complete control of the game, the team were very orderly and very switched on and they never lost sight of the game plan.

“The two goals came from rather curious and unusual circumstances but ultimately I’m very happy with how we played.”

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Video: Watch the goals and highlights from Napoli 2-0 Liverpool

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 22:51

Liverpool suffered defeat on their return to Champions League action on Tuesday, with Napoli prevailing 2-0 at Stadio San Paolo.

[embedded content]
* Video via BT Sport; geographic restrictions may apply.

Napoli 2-0 Liverpool

Champions League, Stadio San Paolo
September 17, 2019

Goals: Mertens pen 82′, Llorente 90+2′

The Reds headed to Naples as European champions but were left with a stinging feeling not felt since the 3-0 loss at Barcelona in May.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side performed far better than they did in last season’s game in Italy, but unfortunately, they still return home empty-handed.

A soft-looking late penalty was awarded after Andy Robertson was adjudged to have fouled Jose Callejon, with VAR once again very much under the microscope.

Dries Mertens fired past Adrian to open the scoring—the Liverpool goalkeeper had earlier made an outrageous save—and the game quickly got away from the Reds.

A rare mix-up in defence between Virgil van Dijk and Robertson then allowed Fernando Llorente to put the icing on the cake in stoppage time.

Ultimately, Liverpool paid the price for some sloppiness in the final third, as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all failed to find their ruthless top gear.

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk applauds the supporters after the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. Napoli won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The result is no great disaster, however, with Klopp’s men still expected to progress into the knockout stages later this year.

A response is required at Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, though, with their 100 percent Premier League record on the line.

And next up in the Champions League is a home clash with Red Bull Salzburg, who thrashed Genk 6-2 in their Group E opener, including a hat-trick from prolific teenager Erling Braut Haaland.

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Jurgen Klopp determined to ‘write more stories’ as Liverpool open defence of Euro crown

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 22:00

Jurgen Klopp played down suggestions Liverpool’s Champions League triumph last season makes them the best team in Europe as he revealed he wants to “create more stories to remember in the future.”


The Reds made up for missing out on the Premier League title by one point to Manchester City by clinching the most coveted prize in European club football by beating Tottenham in the Madrid final in June.

Klopp, though, insists Liverpool cannot dwell on their success as they prepare to begin the defence of their crown against Napoli in their Group E opener.

He said: “We cannot be the best team in Europe because Man City is the best team in the world, that’s the same planet, I heard! There are a lot of good teams out there and you have to prove that constantly.

“Last season we were really good. I’m not too sure we were the best team in Europe, but we were really good in the right moments and that’s why we won the Champions League.

“You cannot imagine how normal it is to carry on after the celebrations, it’s so easy to carry on normal if you have the right character.

 Liverpool's players throw Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp in the air as they celebrate a 2-0 victory in the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

“If you go nuts and start taking drugs and drinking and driving different cars or whatever, and leave your missus at home because you are now the Champions League winner, then I can’t help you.

“But we are not like this, we want to create more stories to remember in the future and not only this one, so we cannot stick to that.

“I have no idea how I could use the fact that I won the Champions League with the boys, so I didn’t even think about it.”

Liverpool’s ascent to glory came despite losing all three fixtures away from Anfield in the group stage last year, when they were also paired with Napoli, who triumphed 1-0 in the corresponding encounter last October.

Klopp added: “We want to be as consistent as last year, but play our football from this year. It’s just ‘do your best’ all the time.

 Liverpool's manager J¸rgen Klopp celebrates after beating SSC Napoli 1-0 and progressing to the knock-out phase during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Last year we learned from one game to the next game and we have to use that experience because if you don’t defend with all we have then we have no chance against Napoli, they are so strong.

“They are stubborn in a positive way. They play football, they break lines, they have good counter-attacks, they are creative. I enjoy it when I analyse Napoli. I like to watch them.”

Captain Jordan Henderson is unconcerned that Liverpool being defending champions leaves them with a target on their back.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) and captain Jordan Henderson during a press conference at the Stadio San Paolo ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The England midfielder said: “Maybe, but I feel as though being at Liverpool everybody wants to beat you anyway.

“It’s the same for us, we want to beat everyone we play. For us it’s the same it always has been, give everything in every game we play.

“We are always hungry for more and always want to improve and feel we can do better.

“Last season was last season. We can take experience from the campaign and, if we can take that into this campaign, ultimately we feel we can still do a lot of things better and everything is possible again.

“Napoli will be tough, they are a great side, but we just have to concentrate on what we do. If we perform to the level we can then we have a good opportunity to win the game.”

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How Liverpool have fared in their hardest European group games

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 21:06

By common consent, Liverpool start this season’s Champions League group stage with the hardest fixture of the six: away to Serie A side Napoli.


There are pros and cons to such a schedule; nobody wants to lose their opening group game, and it has been nearly two decades since the Reds did suffer defeat in their first European game of the season—but it also means it’s out the way early.

Even if the outcome is a loss, there’s then time to recover and put a string of wins together afterward.

Regardless of it being the first or last game, though, Liverpool do have to play on the road at the home of their biggest group rivals eventually, so how have they tended to fare in that away game down the years—and how has the result shaped the group itself overall?

Of course, it’s worth noting that as holders, Liverpool are this year the hardest fixture for everybody else, too…

18/19: PSG, Champions League – defeat

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is pulled back by Paris Saint-Germain's Marco Verratti during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool FC at Parc des Princes. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When it was played: The fifth group game of last season’s Champions League—a key point, given the Reds had lost away twice already.

What was the score: A 2-1 defeat for Liverpool. The Reds were two behind before James Milner struck a penalty late in the first half.

Game and group context: It left us needing a last-game victory with specific requirements to progress ahead of Napoli on the head-to-head ruling. Thanks to Mo Salah and Alisson in particular, we did just that!

17/18: Sevilla, Champions League – draw

 Sevilla's Guido Pizarro celebrates scoring a late equalising goal to seal a dramatic 3-3 draw, after being down 3-0 at half-time, during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Sevilla FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When it was played: Again, fifth game—after playing the Spanish side first off at Anfield.

What was the score: 3-3, ridiculously. The Reds were absolutely flying and three goals clear by the half-hour mark, before conceding the same tally to the Spanish side after the break, including an injury-time equaliser.

Game and group context: We were already top of the group heading into the game, but still required a win for progression. More notably, it was symptomatic of the Reds’ all-out-attack approach at times, with a propensity to silly defensive work.

15/16: Rubin Kazan, Europa League – victory

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Alberto Moreno and Adam Lallana after the 1-0 victory over Rubin Kazan during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at the Kazan Arena. (Pic by Oleg Nikishin/Propaganda)

When it was played: Fourth group game. The Reds and the Russians played back-to-back games against each other, at Anfield then at Kazan Arena.

What was the score: 1-0 to the Reds, newly under the management of Jurgen Klopp. Jordon Ibe scored early in the second half.

Game and group context: The three rivals were evenly matched, and though Sion came second, the trip to Kazan was arguably the harder test for a team in transition.

Under Brendan Rodgers we had drawn all three earlier fixtures, so this took Liverpool a big step toward eventually finishing top.

14/15: Real Madrid, Champions League – defeat

When it was played: Fourth game again, the second of the double-header against the Spanish giants.

What was the score: An extremely tepid and tame 1-0 defeat, two weeks after they battered us at Anfield by three.

Game and group context: For whatever reason, the Reds were atrocious in Europe after having almost won the league the previous season. This was a third loss from four games and left us almost out; shambolic draws against Ludogrets and Basel afterward completed the job.

We came third and the Bernabeu team selection became something of a symbol of Rodgers’ inability, or unwillingness that season, to make us competitive on the biggest stage.

12/13: Anzhi Makhachkala, Europa League – defeat

 Liverpool's Jon Flanagan in action against FC Anji Makhachkala'a Lacina Traore during the UEFA Europa League Group A match at the Lokomotiv Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When it was played: Once more this was the fourth game, a trip to the far reaches of Eastern Europe to face the then-cash-rich Anzhi side, who now compete in the regional third tier of the Russian football league.

What was the score: A rather forgettable 1-0 defeat, lanky striker Lacina Traore the scorer just before the break.

Game and group context: Thankfully, the Reds had beaten Anzhi by the same scoreline just previously—and these games meant Liverpool, Anzhi and Swiss side Young Boys all finished on 10 points each.

By head-to-head ruling, the Reds came top, thanks largely to a 5-3 drubbing of the Swiss outfit in the first game—but in these fixtures against the other best team in the group, the Reds haven’t habitually given a good account of themselves.

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Reds begin defence of Champions League crown – Napoli vs. Liverpool Preview

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 19:41

Liverpool may be looking to avenge last season’s defeat in Naples, but Napoli will be seeking revenge after the Italian side came closer than anyone to knocking out the Reds en-route to winning the Champions League.


Napoli vs. Liverpool

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 – 8pm (BST)
Stadio San Paolo
Champions League Group Stage (Matchday 1)
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)

There’s no stopping this Reds side at the minute.

Every challenge that comes their way seems to be hurdled emphatically as they continue to show why they are Europe’s most in-form team.

Saturday’s 3-1 win at home to Newcastle was typically impressive, overcoming a shock early deficit to eventually ease to victory.

Premier League commitments make way for the return of the Champions League in midweek, roughly 14 weeks since Jordan Henderson hoisted the trophy aloft in Madrid.

 Liverpool and Napoli players shake hands before the UEFA Champions League Group C match between S.S.C. Napoli and Liverpool FC at Stadio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s men open their account with their toughest game of the group stage, revisiting the location of one of their lowest moments last season.

The 1-0 defeat away to Napoli last October saw Liverpool perform woefully, but thankfully, they recovered and qualified for the knockout stages.

The Reds have improved so much since then, however, and they head to Stadio San Paolo brimming with confidence and feared by everyone across the continent.

Napoli will pose an obvious threat, and a draw would be a perfectly good result, but there is no reason why Liverpool can’t start the defence of their title with a bang.

Team News

 Liverpool's Divock Origi goes down with an injury forcing him out of the game during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alisson, Nathaniel Clyne and Naby Keita are all still unavailable and Divock Origi now joins them on the sidelines, after injury his ankle at the weekend.

Joe Gomez is an option instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, should Klopp opt for a more physical back-line.

Jordan Henderson will come back into the starting lineup after being rested at the weekend, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain likely the one to make way.

The 26-year-old is still finding his feet after his long injury absence.

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp loves the trio of Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum and Henderson in the big games – there is no reason why they won’t all start on Tuesday.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are expected to start, too, with enough time to recover before the weekend action.

Firmino was exceptional against Newcastle, earning rave reviews from many watching on, and he is a certainty to feature prominently after not starting at Anfield.

Napoli are without Arkadiusz Milik, who Alisson famously saved from in the dying seconds at Anfield last season, but star man Lorenzo Insigne should be fit.

Liverpool’s 20-man squad

Goalkeepers: Adrian, Kelleher, Lonergan

Defenders: Van Dijk, Lovren, Gomez, Robertson, Matip, Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana

Forwards: Firmino, Mane, Salah, Shaqiri, Brewster

Past Meetings with Napoli (All Competitions)

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker makes an injury time save from Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Won 1-0 (h) – December 2018 (Salah)
Lost 1-0 (a) – October 2018 (Insigne)
Won 3-1 (h) – November 2010 (Gerrard x3; Lavezzi)
Drew 0-0 (a) – October 2010

Stadio San Paolo

 David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Address: Piazzale Vincenzo Tecchio, 80125 Napoli NA, Italy

Capacity: 60,240

Did You Know?

 FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores the third goal from a free-kick during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC at the Camp Nou. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool may be European champions, but it’s worth remembering that they can get even better in the competition, namely away from home.

The Reds only won two matches on their travels last season, losing all three away group stage games and also suffering a 3-0 defeat at Barcelona in the semi-final first leg.

In the 2017/18 season, Klopp’s team also lost 4-2 away to Roma in the semi-final second leg, as well as failing to win at Spartak Moscow and Sevilla in the group.

It further highlights how good Liverpool have been at Anfield in Europe under Klopp, never losing there in both the Champions League and Europa League.

Form

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (#11) celebrates scoring the third goal with team-mate Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Napoli – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 2-0 vs. Sampdoria
Lost 4-3 vs. Juventus
Won 4-3 vs. Fiorentina
Lost 4-0 vs. Barcelona (pre-season friendly)
Lost 2-1 vs. Barcelona (pre-season friendly)

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 3-1 vs. Newcastle
Won 3-0 vs. Burnley
Won 3-1 vs. Arsenal
Won 2-1 vs. Southampton
Drew 2-2 vs. Chelsea (won 5-4 on penalties)

Klopp’s View

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a press conference at the Stadio San Paolo ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking in his press conference on Monday, Klopp noted the strengths of the Serie A side, as well as an interesting similarity with the Reds—like Liverpool, they finished as runners-up in their domestic league last term:

“A few new players but they kept most of team, so both of us didn’t start new, we build on last year. Hopefully for them it’s better in the end.

“They do what they do, stubborn in a positive way, break lines, creative between the lines. I enjoy analysing Napoli.

TV & Liveblog Info

 A silhouette of television cameras during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Napoli vs. Liverpool is live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm (BST), with kickoff at 8pm.

Chris Williams is in charge of This is Anfield’s matchday liveblog from 7.15pm, keeping you entertained before and during proceedings.

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Jurgen Klopp gives mixed injury update on Divock Origi and Andy Robertson

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 19:30

Liverpool have travelled to Naples for their Champions League game without Divock Origi and with doubts over Andy Robertson‘s fitness.


The boss wasn’t asked the usual question about players’ availability in his pre-game press conference, with the squad named earlier in the day.

Ahead of the presser in Naples, Klopp had already given an update on striker Origi’s injury to the club website—noting that he’ll be a couple of weeks sidelined, likely missing games against Napoli, Chelsea, MK Dons and perhaps Sheffield United.

“The update on Div is that it is not too serious.

“We expect him [to be out for] between one and two weeks, but it depends a little bit on when he can deal with the pain.

“It is nothing really; it’s a feeling, but it should be fine.”

On Andy Robertson, who didn’t train on Monday morning, the boss was more upbeat—but stopped short of guaranteeing his fitness for Tuesday.

“Robbo didn’t train today and we have to see. It is not a major thing, it was more precautionary today, but it is not 100 per cent sure [he will be available].

“We will have to test it tomorrow and then we will see.”

While Origi will simply be replaced by usual striker Roberto Firmino in the starting lineup, and his place on the bench filled by Rhian Brewster, it’s less clear-cut at left-back.

James Milner would more than likely be seen as the go-to replacement for Robertson if he’s unavailable, but Joe Gomez has previously played there for the Reds too.

Neither would be entirely suitable, though, as Robertson is a key outlet for the Reds and delivered his first assist of the season at the weekend—as well as almost scoring.

In addition, while many teams play with wide forwards these days cutting inside onto their stronger foot, Napoli will play right-footed Jose Callejon on the right flank, meaning a left-footed defender would be best-suited for the Reds to combat his threat.

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Spanish pair want Van Dijk & Reds considered Koulibaly – Monday’s Liverpool FC News Roundup

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:23

We round up the latest Liverpool news and transfer rumours on Monday, on the eve of the Reds’ Champions League opener away to Napoli.


Today’s Main Headlines Spanish Giants Want Van Dijk

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Virgil van Dijk produced another strong showing against Newcastle on Saturday, with one magnificent recovery tackle on Joelinton catching the eye.

According to AS, Real Madrid and Barcelona want to sign the Dutchman next summer, as they look to make a significant upgrade to their respective defences.

Although in the past this is a story that would have caused undoubted concern among Liverpool supporters, the Reds are now a completely different proposition.

As a team, they are superior to both Madrid and Barca, winning the Champions League last season and starting 2019/20 with five Premier League victories on the bounce.

They may be able to offer higher wages than Liverpool, but Van Dijk isn’t the kind to be swayed by that.

Koulibaly was Van Dijk Alternative

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking of Van Dijk, Goal‘s Neil Jones has explained that Liverpool “would have moved” for Kalidou Koulibaly, had they not acquired their current No.4’s signature.

The Senegalese, who will again come up against the Reds for Napoli on Tuesday, was one of a number of top targets, including Man City‘s Aymeric Laporte.

Liverpool got their man, however, with Van Dijk completing a £75million move to Anfield in January 2018 – he must be worth double that now, right?

Koulibaly is one of the world’s best centre-backs currently, so he wouldn’t have been a bad alternative.

Reds are Europe’s Best, says Ancelotti

 SSC Napoli's Napoli's head coach Carlo Ancelotti during a press conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Carlo Ancelotti will hope to avenge last season’s crucial 1-0 defeat at Anfield when Napoli take on Liverpool on Tuesday.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the Italian described the Reds as the best side in Europe currently, admitting it should be an intriguing game at Stadio San Paolo.

“It is the beginning of the Champions League group and we are confronted with the best team in Europe,” Ancelotti said.

“In the Premier League they have maximum points. It’s a difficult test, but at the same time very exciting.

“I think it will be a game of the same emotional level as last year, with lots of intensity. We hope for the same result as last year (in Italy).”

Meanwhile, the dressing rooms at Napoli’s ground are ready to use, after Ancelotti voiced his displeasure at the situation last week.

Agent Outlines Klopp’s Title Aim

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp has already guaranteed legendary status at Liverpool after winning the Champions League last season, but he wants to go one better.

The 52-year-old is aiming to become the first Reds manager to win a league title since 1990 – an achievement that would be celebrated in unrivalled fashion.

In an interview with Spox, Klopp’s agent, Marc Kosicke, revealed how focused the German is on title glory, also revealing the secret to his success:

“You have now seen what was going on in Liverpool after winning the Champions League. As a result, the very great pressure that he himself does not feel so much, but which was there from the outside, is gone.

“The UEFA Super Cup was also added. He is not only proud of the process that is going on, but also very happy that trophies have been won.

“Winning the Premier League is still a goal for Jurgen.

“On the one hand, he understands football as a top coach needs to understand it. On the other hand, his main competence is dealing with people, because he is unique.

“This trust that he gives people or the self-responsibility that gives his coaching team is unique.”

Klopp Almost Serenaded Firmino

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Roberto Firmino after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Roberto Firmino was a joy to watch on Saturday, producing a magnificent performance from the substitutes’ bench.

The Anfield crowd weren’t the only ones loving the Brazilian’s impact as they serenaded him with a rendition of ‘Si Señor!’, though.

Speaking to LiverpoolFC.com, Klopp admits he was on the cusp of joining in at one point, as he hailed the striker’s influence:

“I was close to singing it! No, it was really good. We knew that he could play, it’s not about that, it’s just that he had the trip he had.

“They [Firmino and fellow Brazil international Fabinho] were in Miami and LA and arrived on Thursday morning after playing Tuesday night. It’s really difficult to judge these situations and that’s why we made the decision.

“But of course, what Bobby did then on the pitch: phenomenal! Nice game!”

Firmino is expected to start against Napoli, with Divock Origi ruled out through injury.

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Milner on standby & Gomez to start? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Napoli

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:11

Liverpool will start the defence of their Champions League crown at Napoli, where Jurgen Klopp could be forced into a defensive change.


The Reds began their run of seven games in 22 days on a winning note against Newcastle over the weekend, where Klopp made a number of tweaks to his starting lineup following the conclusion of the international break.

But with few major injury considerations and the need to kickstart their European campaign on a high, Klopp could again return to his regular personnel in Italy.

Here’s how Liverpool could look to set up at the Stadio San Paolo come Tuesday evening.

20-Man Travelling Squad Available

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (#11) celebrates scoring the third goal with team-mate Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have named a 20-man travelling squad for the clash, with Divock Origi the notable absentee after picking up an ankle injury midway through the opening half against the Magpies.

Alisson and Naby Keita also remain back on Merseyside as they continue their respective comeback trails from injury, with the latter expected to resume training in the coming week.

Notably, Andy Robertson was absent from training at Melwood prior to the team’s departure to the continent with the boss confirming on Saturday post-match that he picked up a knock.

Klopp quickly allayed any fears by insisting he was “fine”, and it suggests his non-attendance was nothing but precautionary as he is a member of the travelling party, but doubts still surround his availability.

The German, therefore, potentially has the option to return to an XI he has consistently turned to throughout the early stages of the season.

At the back, Adrian, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Robertson all look set to retain their place – with James Milner to deputise at left-back should he be needed.

Meanwhile, another change in midfield could be likely after the trio of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum were given a run out on Saturday as skipper Jordan Henderson is set to return after being handed a rest following his international exploits with England.

With Origi absent for the clash, Rhian Brewster will take his place in the squad, where fellow attacking option Xherdan Shaqiri will also be eyeing some minutes on the park.

Should Klopp look to rotate his defence, Joe Gomez will be the man to step in at either right-back or centre-back ahead of Dejan Lovren.

Possible Liverpool Starting XI vs. Napoli

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having struggled away from home in Europe last season, losing four of six throughout the competition, the trip to Naples presents an early chance to right those wrongs.

Arguably the trickiest trip for the Reds in the group stage, the decision to field the strongest side would come as little surprise after a number of changes on Saturday.

That would mean the sole selection conundrum for the encounter would come in midfield, as has been the case in recent times.

Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped into the role against the Magpies and while Milner has also featured in the early parts of the season, the trio of Fabinho, Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum are likely to be reunited for the first time since starting in the back-to-back wins over Arsenal and Burnley.

After sitting out the entirety of the league game Henderson will come in with fresh legs and Wijnaldum’s withdrawal with six minutes left on the clock looked to be a nod to his involvement.

That would see the defensive five remain the same, with Adrian protected by Trent, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson – on the provision he is fit.

And Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are the undisputed first-choice trio in attack and will no double look to pick up from where they left off, having run riot at Anfield.

Adrian; Trent, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Firmino

Alternatively, Klopp’s hand could be forced into making a defensive change should Robertson miss out, paving the way for what would be Milner’s third start of the season.

And with the full-backs imperative to Liverpool’s style of play, Trent would then keep his place meaning Gomez could then be handed valuable minutes in his preferred position by filling-in for Matip.

With Napoli possessing pace in their attacking ranks, the inclusion of Gomez would certainly not detract anything from the right side of defence.

Moreover, Oxlade-Chamberlain could keep his place to add the forward impetus from midfield, replacing Wijnaldum in the side who has played 569 minutes of a possible 660 for Liverpool so far this season – in addition to his two starts for the Netherlands.

The skipper is again a shoo-in for a starting berth ahead of the deep-sitting Fabinho and behind his scintillating forwards.

Adrian; Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk, Milner; Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Mane, Firmino

With confidence high and Liverpool in the habit of winning, either lineup will be capable of getting a result against a Napoli side who have seen their defence breached seven times in just three league games.

A lot will hinge on Robertson’s availability, but only time will tell how it will dictate Klopp’s selection on the night.

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Origi misses out as Liverpool confirm 20-man squad for Napoli trip

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 15:11

Liverpool have named a 20-strong squad to travel to Italy for the Champions League group stage game against Napoli, but Divock Origi misses out injured.


The Belgian striker left the pitch midway through the first half at the weekend against Newcastle, suffering an ankle injury.

Aside from his absence though, and the long-term duo of Alisson and Naby Keita remaining sidelined, the Reds are otherwise unchanged in terms of fitness—despite left-back Andy Robertson not training on Monday morning.

The Scot is part of the squad, from which two players will miss out on the match-day 18—presumably Andy Lonergan, the third-choice goalkeeper, and one senior player. In recent fixtures it has been Dejan Lovren who has not made the cut, though Jurgen Klopp might opt for an extra defensive option this time against a much better side and with Robertson’s fitness in mind.

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Elsewhere, Origi’s place in the squad is filled by Rhian Brewster, called up from the U23s, while fellow youngsters Curtis Jones, Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott are not included, despite having been part of the training group on Monday morning.

They could each be likely to feature in the UEFA Youth League fixture on Tuesday against Napoli instead, all being eligible as U19 players.

Klopp will have a decision to make in midfield after some recent changes, with Jordan Henderson likely to return to the lineup.

The boss will be holding a press conference from Naples at 6:30 pm (BST), with full coverage to come on This Is Anfield.

Liverpool’s travelling squad vs. Napoli

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane (R) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Virgil van Dijk (L) during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goalkeepers: Adrian, Kelleher, Lonergan

Defenders: Van Dijk, Lovren, Gomez, Robertson, Matip, Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana

Forwards: Firmino, Mane, Salah, Shaqiri, Brewster

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Liverpool learn route through Club World Cup and potential final rivals

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 13:26

Liverpool today learned their route through the Club World Cup in Qatar in December—though all teams competing are yet to be confirmed.


Having secured the Champions League title in June, the Reds have already since gone on to reassert their European dominance by winning the UEFA Super Cup.

The next trophy opportunity will be that of world domination—well, sort of—with the intercontinental challenge awaiting Jurgen Klopp and his squad in winter.

And the first obstacle for Liverpool to overcome in Qatar will more than likely be
Mexican side CF Monterrey, after Monday’s draw saw Michael Owen paired the Reds with the Liga MX side.

The convoluted nature of the competition means the Reds only come in at the semi-final stage, with either three or four games to be played before our first fixture.

One other point to note from the draw was that the Reds will play their semi-final on 18 December, one day after the Copa Libertadores winners—as yet unknown—play their own last-four encounter.

The final is on 21 December.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Monterrey have one game to navigate before they are confirmed as Liverpool’s opponents in the semi-finals; they will play the winners of Match 1, which is contested between Al-Sadd of Qatar and Hienghene Sport of New Caledonia.

That said, if Al-Sadd win their Continental title, it will be the AFC Champions League runners-up who instead face Hienghene Sport.

In either case, the Mexican side should prove too strong for either challenger, assuming they play a full-strength side, though they have started the 19/20 Apertura season in uneven form at best.

Should Liverpool defeat the Mexicans—or a surprise alternative—in the semis, the most predictable outcome is that they face the Libertadores winners in the final, though again there are unknown quantities still at play on that side of the draw.

The Libertadores has reached the semi-final stage and we now know one Brazilian and one Argentinian side will be in the final: Flamengo face Gremio and Boca Juniors play River Plate.

On domestic form, Flamengo and Boca are the current favourites to win their respective last-four ties.

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Impressive progress rewarded as Jake Cain signs first professional deal with Liverpool

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 12:51

Liverpool have handed a first professional contract to U18 midfielder Jake Cain, who has made a hugely impressive start to the 2019/20 campaign.


One of the key midfield components of last season’s FA Youth Cup triumph, Cain is again a cornerstone of Barry Lewtas’ squad this term at U18 level.

While that squad is much-changed for this year, he—along with Leighton Clarkson—have begun this year showing their quality is well-suited to following the likes of Paul Glatzel and Yasser Larouci in taking a step-up toward the U23s soon.

Cain is also a regular in the U19 UEFA Youth League side, starting all seven of those fixtures last season.

His eye for a pass and creative influence were often felt last term as he racked up 13 assists in his 30 games, as well as scoring three times—a tally he has already matched in front of goal in 19/20 after a superb early run of form.

 Liverpool's captain Paul Glatzel lifts the cup after winning the FA Youth Cup Final match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the Academy Stadium. Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)2

A recent outing for the U18s against Man United saw Cain serve notice of both his current confidence and his great promise.

The Reds triumphed 4-3 after a back-and-forth game, with Cain providing two assists in that match.

Now his progress has been rightly rewarded and his future is secure at the club—he has been at Liverpool since age nine—and he can focus on improving even further.

Cain is likely to next be in action on Tuesday afternoon, as the young Reds face their Napoli counterparts in the UEFA Youth League, with a 1pm kick-off ahead of the senior side’s fixture against the same Italian opposition.


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Best photos as Liverpool train ahead of beginning Champions League defence at Napoli

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 12:24

Liverpool trained at Melwood on Monday morning ahead of their trip to Naples for their first Champions League group stage game and the squad looked in good shape.


Jurgen Klopp held a brief meeting out on the pitch before the Reds got underway with their warmup and some light ball work, which Pepijn Lijnders took the lead with as usual.

Despite winning the Champions League last season, Liverpool’s away performances in the group stage a year ago were somewhat less-than-impressive; they’ll be aiming to improve markedly on that, and in the results attained, this time around.

It’s the hardest game first this year, with Napoli being a regular foe over the last couple of years, so the boss is likely to revert to his strongest team after making a couple of changes at the weekend.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Divock Origi was not in training, having gone off injured against Newcastle—Naby Keita and Alisson are the other first-team absentees—but that means there’s a space in the squad for a young attacker to emerge, quite possibly Rhian Brewster.

 Liverpool's Rhian Brewster during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Fellow youngsters Sepp van den Berg, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones also trained with the seniors, along with Ki-Jana Hoever—who is not in the Champions League squad.

 Liverpool's Sepp van den Berg (L) and Ki-Jana Hoever during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

More worryingly for the Reds, Andy Robertson was not part of the training squad, with Klopp noting him as having taken a minor knock after the Anfield game on Saturday.

While Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in midfield, it could be that Klopp opts to bring back captain Jordan Henderson to the lineup.

Roberto Firmino will also certainly return, having been instrumental and unstoppable once more after coming off the bench at the weekend.

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

And, given the goalscoring form of the duo of late and how difficult a game it’s likely to be, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will complete the attacking lineup, as the Reds look to improve on not scoring or getting a point at the San Paolo last season.

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Gomez will be among those hoping to see game time after short sub outings and bench duty recently.

Full Liverpool squad in training

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks to his squad during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Goalkeepers: Adrian, Kelleher, Lonergan

Defenders: Matip, Van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van den Berg, Hoever

Midfielders: Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Milner, Jones, Lallana

Forwards: Firmino, Salah, Mane, Shaqiri, Brewster, Elliott

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Returning Reds look to continue perfect start to the season – Liverpool vs. Newcastle Preview

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 16:30

Liverpool return to Premier League action with the visit of Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime, as they aim to continue their remarkable winning streak.


Liverpool vs. Newcastle

Saturday, September 14, 2019, 12.30pm (BST)
Anfield
Premier League
Referee: Andre Marriner

The international break is over and proper football is back.

Liverpool were superb last time around, dispatching of Burnley 3-0 at Turf Moor, in what was their most accomplished display of the season to date.

It further suggested that Jurgen Klopp‘s men are all set to repeat their 2018/19 heroics in the league, racking up points at an impressive rate.

This weekend represents another great chance of victory for Liverpool, as Newcastle make the trip to Anfield.

After the rather predictable exit of Rafa Benitez, due largely Mike Ashley’s increasingly unpopular ownership, all is not well at St James’ Park.

Liverpool's Joel Matip (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team-mates during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. (Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images)

Boyhood fan Steve Bruce has come in and attempted to steady the ship, and although four points in as many games is an adequate start, a long season lies ahead.

Such is Liverpool’s supreme record at Anfield these days—they haven’t lost there in the league since April 2017—it is difficult to see anything other than a home win.

A Saturday lunchtime affair just after the international break can risk being a little flat, however, and the Reds must continue the form they showed at Burnley.

Put simply, they have to win matches of this ilk if they want to overcome a relentless Man City side in the title race.

Team News

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker looks dejected after the penalty shoot out to decide the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Manchester City won 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There are no new injury problems for Klopp to contend with after the internationals.

Alisson is still sidelined, though, as are Nathaniel Clyne and Naby Keita, although the latter will return to training next week.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson are expected to start at the back, as has been the norm so far this season.

Joe Gomez remains a strong option, but Matip’s excellent performances have seen the 22-year-old warm the substitutes’ bench regularly.

 Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In midfield, Klopp’s go-to trio of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum could start, although the No. 3 returned late from international duty with Brazil and the others started twice for England and the Netherlands.

James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may, therefore, be in line to feature, should any of the three not be deemed ready.

The same applies to Roberto Firmino in that respect, but Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are well rested after no international commitments.

Newcastle are without Sean Longstaff, Florian Lejeune, DeAndre Yedlin, Allan Saint-Maximin, Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll, while Miguel Almiron is also a doubt.

Last 5 At Home to Newcastle (All Competitions)

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal, from a penalty kick, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Won 4-0 – December 2018 (Lovren, Salah pen, Shaqiri, Fabinho)
Won 2-0 – March 2018 (Salah, Mane)
Drew 2-2 – April 2016 (Sturridge, Lallana; Cisse, Colback)
Won 2-0 – April 2015 (Sterling, Allen)
Won 2-1 – May 2014 (Agger, Sturridge; Skrtel OG)

Did You Know?

The influence of Salah, Mane and Firmino is clear, but their brilliance is outlined by their goalscoring expertise.

At least one of Liverpool’s much-lauded front three has scored in 12 of the Reds’ last 13 Premier League games.

The only time they didn’t came at Cardiff in April, when Wijnaldum and Milner got the goals.

In that time, Salah (eight), Mane (10) and Firmino (five) have scored 23 times between them in the league, going to show why they are Europe’s most-feared attacking unit.

Form

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 3-0 vs. Burnley
Won 3-1 vs. Arsenal
Won 2-1 vs. Southampton
Drew 2-2 vs. Chelsea (won 5-4 on penalties)
Won 4-1 vs. Norwich

Newcastle – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 1-1 vs. Watford
Drew 1-1 vs. Leicester (lost 4-2 on penalties)
Won 1-0 vs. Tottenham
Lost 3-1 vs. Norwich
Lost 1-0 vs. Arsenal

Klopp’s View

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Speaking on Friday, Klopp talked up Newcastle as a side, singling out striker Joelinton for special praise:

“[They are] very difficult to play, they pretty much kept the style of last year, Rondon got replaced by Joelinton: if you are looking for a player who is similar to Rondon, good choice!

“He can keep the ball, he’s a proper threat, has the speed and all that stuff.

“Then the wingers are quick, five at the back difficult to create chances against, they are always ready for counter-attacks, they have the speed for it.

“I think [they had] 24 or 25 percent possession at Tottenham, but always really, really good, scored a wonderful goal and defended with a big heart and good organisation.

“That’s it. That’s what we had to prepare for and that’s what we did.”

TV & Liveblog Info

Liverpool vs. Newcastle is live on BT Sport 1 from midday (BST), with kickoff at 12.30pm.

Ben Twelves is tasked with talking you through the game on our matchday liveblog from 11.45am, as the Reds aim to retain their 100 percent record in the league.

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Will Reds rotate? Will Firmino be rested? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Newcastle

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 16:00

Liverpool kick-off a run of seven games in 22 days, and the visit of Newcastle to Anfield on Saturday could see Jurgen Klopp start to rotate his squad.


Klopp said prior to the international break that rotation would be conducted after the Premier League restart, with the Reds to play seven games across three competitions in the coming weeks.

The key question is whether that starts immediately against the Magpies, or whether the more regular, consistent selection that hit the ground running stays in place.

Here’s how we think Klopp may set up his starting lineup against Newcastle.

Unchanged Squad Available

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Alisson, Naby Keita and Nathaniel Clyne are all still missing despite making progress, especially in the midfielder’s case.

Positively, no injuries were added during the international break with all the Reds thankfully back unscathed.

Klopp, therefore, has a strong squad at his disposal as he ponders whether to make changes.

The same defence could feature, with Adrian, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson all fit.

Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum currently hold the midfield shirts.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are certain starters given both sat out international duty, with Roberto Firmino in contention to join them.

Changes are being considered meaning several Reds will be hopeful of being handed a starting berth.

Joe Gomez is the main contender to come into the back four, with Dejan Lovren also available.

James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana will hope for a chance to shine.

Xherdan Shaqiri is in contention, with Klopp having said before the break that the Swiss will get his chance. Divock Origi is another option for the boss to consider.

Liverpool’s Potential Starting XI

 Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While a gruelling a schedule it also presents an ideal opportunity for the Reds to use the winning momentum established before the pause to really push on.

A great chance to start that presents on Saturday against an uncertain Newcastle side.

For that reason, Klopp could avoid making too many changes and opt for something close to a full side in attempt to pick up from where they left off.

The first fixture after an international break is always tricky, so staying close to the in-form, confident unit that has thrived with consistency would be a sensible move.

Liverpool’s strongest XI delivered vital back-to-back wins against Arsenal and Burnley, but Klopp could feel one slight adjustment to that side is needed.

Fabinho’s late return from Brazil duties may see a cautious approach taken with the key midfielder with Napoli and Chelsea in mind.

In a game the Reds will dominate against deep-sitting opponents, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s attacking energy would be welcome alongside Henderson, leaving Wijnaldum to deputise for Fabinho.

Once the game has – hopefully – been won, swift substitutions can then be made to begin the management of key men while handing fringe players vital minutes.

All the way up until October’s international break the Reds will play three games a week, so rotation has to come in somewhere.

It could be that we see Klopp make his first batch of changes immediately upon Saturday’s restart.

Considering two big games follow – for which Klopp will want his strongest XI in operation – rotating for a very winnable game at Anfield seems an ideal starting place.

And changes could be made in all departments.

Gomez, fresh after not playing a single minute for England, could replace the utilised Alexander-Arnold at right-back.

Henderson and Wijnaldum both featured heavily for their respective countries, which could mean both are rotated with the fresh legs of Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain available.

Mane and Salah will start, but Klopp may hand Firmino a break after the No.9 played in both of Brazil’s games in the United States.

Origi should be the man to benefit to make his first start since scoring in the opening day win over Norwich.

Klopp is facing a tough call between sticking closely to the winning formula but also managing and utilising his squad sensibly for the start of a busy schedule.

Starting with the strongest team to get the job done before then making changes seems the best move, but it remains to be seen how the boss decides to play it.

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Joe Gomez makes a convincing case to be Liverpool’s new free-kick taker

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 15:45

Joe Gomez has proved his surprise ability on free-kicks as he joined Xherdan Shaqiri, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino in a set-piece challenge.


Liverpool already have an outstanding free-kick taker lurking in their ranks in Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutchman rarely even stands over set-pieces, but on previous evidence—most notably with Celtic—he is able to strike them sweeter than dead-ball regulars Trent and Mohamed Salah.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side haven’t scored directly from a free-kick since Trent netted from distance in the 3-0 win at Watford in November—his second for the club.

With Harry Wilson departing on loan to join Bournemouth, and Shaqiri rarely starting since his arrival from Stoke last summer, Klopp has kept faith with his established takers.

But in a video released to promote FIFA 20, Gomez made a convincing case to come into contention for the future:

It’s Bobby Firmino vs @J_Gomez97 vs @trentaa98 vs @XS_11official in a #FIFARatings free-kick challenge ?

Play the #FIFA20 Demo now! https://t.co/EDxonboYk3

?? @EASPORTSFIFA pic.twitter.com/MJKnd2Ro5p

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 13, 2019

Joined by Shaqiri, Trent and Firmino at Melwood, the 22-year-old stepped up first and, confidently, put all five of his efforts in the back of the net, finding each corner before curling it into the centre.

As Trent points out, the pressures are different in game situations, but Gomez’s technique is certainly impressive.

No other player scored more than two, with Shaqiri’s left-footed attempts highlighting why he is such a danger from free-kicks—as he proved in the 3-0 win over Southampton last season.

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum before the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Both Trent and Firmino managed just one apiece, but Van Dijk stepped up to join the group for two tries: one hitting the crossbar and the other finding the top-left corner.

It would be unconventional to have two centre-backs as assigned free-kick takers, especially as they are often better utilised as targets in the box.

But perhaps Klopp should consider it with Van Dijk and Gomez!

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Ryan Kent claims he was “lied to” by Liverpool ahead of return “home” to Rangers

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 22:49

Ryan Kent declared Rangers were the first club he has felt at home as he claimed he had been lied to over his future before his return to Ibrox.


The 22-year-old rejoined Rangers on the final day of the Scottish transfer window in a deal understood to be worth a guaranteed £6.5 million.

Rangers had previously failed to persuade Liverpool to sanction a second season-long loan after the winger made a major impression at Ibrox last term.

Kent featured for Liverpool in pre-season but found himself in limbo after his international team-mates returned from an extended break.

And he admitted it had been a difficult period before Rangers resurrected the move.

“It was very tough,” he said. “I had to stay mentally strong, when you are told you can do one thing and then you are lied to and it doesn’t happen, that is quite hard to take.

“I just had to keep myself fit and train on my own and make sure I keep my fitness levels up and I was waiting for a moment like this to arrive.

“There’s no bitter taste, the thing that I wanted from the start happened at the end so I am just happy with that.

“I would have liked to have been here from the start, it is quite difficult watching it on the TV wishing I was part of some of the games but I am delighted to be back and I can’t wait to get going.

“There were probably some slight concerns along the way when I thought this might not happen and I might have to plan for something else but I always had a feeling that it might go to the last day of the window and that’s what happened.”

Rangers' Ryan Kent celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at the Hope CBD Stadium, Hamilton (Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images)

Kent had loan spells at Coventry, Barnsley, Freiburg and Bristol City and made one first-team appearance for Liverpool before finding happiness in Glasgow.

“I’m in a privileged position in life to be playing football, it’s every kid’s dream,” he said.

“And I think it’s naive to not enjoy that position in life. I’m fortunate to be in that position in life.

“For once in my life to be feeling at home somewhere, to be actually enjoying my football, I want that feeling for the rest of my career. I felt that for the first time when I came here.

“The manager believes in me and the coaching staff. Mick Beale had me as a kid at Liverpool and he got the best out of me then and I really started to flourish as a young kid coming through at Liverpool, and obviously the fans get the best out of you.

“So just everything as a collective at this football club I think gets the best out of me and my football.”

 Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp reacts with former players Steven Gerrard during a training session at the NSC Olimpiyskiy ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard thanked former club Liverpool for their part in the transfer and claimed it proved his club’s ambition.

“We want to try and make this team and squad competitive, and I am in a rush to do that,” he said.

“The club are very ambitious, they want to get back to the top. For me, qualifying for Europe for the second year on the spin certainly helped in terms of the board’s decision.

“But of course this club will never lack ambition. It wants to get back to the top as quick as it can.”

Gerrard confirmed Kent was in contention for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Livingston.

But he added: “I must say, we have to be careful. He hasn’t been doing regular sessions and hasn’t had many game minutes, so I think we all have to appreciate where he is at from a physical point of view. But he is available for selection which is great news.”

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Midfielder linked & Lallana’s admits “eye-opener” after omission – Thursday’s Liverpool FC News Roundup

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:37

We round up the latest Liverpool news and transfer rumours on Thursday, as Saturday’s visit of Newcastle edges nearer.


Today’s Main Headlines Liverpool Battle Heavyweight Trio for Ruiz Signing

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson (L) and Napoli's Fabián Ruiz during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The summer transfer window may be done and dusted, but that hasn’t stopped potential future arrivals making the headlines.

According to Calciomercato, Liverpool are one of four top clubs interested in signing Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are the other trio in question, highlighting how highly the 23-year-old is rated.

Capable of being both a creative force in midfield and also effective out wide, Ruiz would bring great versatility and quality to the Reds’ squad.

Liverpool could come face-to-face with the Spain international next Tuesday, as Napoli host Jurgen Klopp‘s side in the Champions League.

Lallana Reveals Surprise at Squad Omission

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana during a pre-season friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Adam Lallana enjoys an interview, with some Liverpool supporters often left baffled by how much he talks to the press.

In one of his more revealing chats, however, with the Times‘ Paul Joyce, the 31-year-old has opened up on a number of issues.

Speaking about his omission from Liverpool’s squad for their Premier League opener against Norwich, Lallana admitted it was “a bit of an eye-opener” after regaining fitness, not having experienced that type of omission since his teenage playing days.

The midfielder also says he is “still waiting” for his chance to play in the No.6 role that he did well in during pre-season, adding that he finds the position “very stimulating because I get more of the ball”.

He also revealed that his first exposure to the position came as far back as before the Bayern Munich game in the Champions League, as he mirrored Thiago’s role for the first team to get to grips with in training.

Perhaps most interestingly, Lallana reveals that his training schedule became the total opposite of his teammates’ during his injury absence, because he found it so hard seeing them when he was out.

The former Southampton man said that he felt as though he was “climbing a ladder that was never-ending” during his recovery, making it clear that it was a tough time in his career.

Barnes Tips Liverpool for Title Triumph

 Former Liverpool and England player John Barnes on the pitch at the half-time interval during the Premier League match against Manchester City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s perfect start to the season has done little to quieten those predicting them to win the Premier League title this season.

One of those who believes the Reds will go all the way, getting the better of an imperious Man City side in the process, is John Barnes.

In an interview with FourFourTwo, the Liverpool legend explained why he thinks they are better equipped than their title rivals:

“I think they’ll win the league this year. Winning the Champions League has given us that confidence, that determination.

“The thing about Liverpool now is that no matter who they play, whether that’s Man City away in the league or Swindon in the cup, they’ll play with the same determination and desire.

“They’ll do that and they’ll do that consistently, which is why I think they’ll win the title.”

City remain the bookies’ favourites to clinch a third league crown in succession, but there does seem to be a growing swell of opinion that this could be Liverpool’s year, at long last.

Randall Set for Bulgaria Move

 Liverpool's Connor Randall n action against AFC Bournemouth during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Connor Randall was never good enough to make the grade at Liverpool, despite making eight first-team appearances for the Reds.

The 23-year-old was released earlier in the summer and he has been on the search for a new club ever since.

Bulgarian football writer Metodi Shumanov has now reported that the defender has completed a shock move to Bulgarian top-flight side Arda Kardzhali.

? OFFICIAL: Ex-Liverpool right back Connor Randall has signed a 2-year contract with Bulgarian top-flight newcomers Arda#LFC pic.twitter.com/bv7rvtped9

— mshumanov (@shumansko) September 12, 2019

Who else didn’t see that coming?

Liverpool Helping Prison Inmates

Liverpool are one of 45 clubs to have teamed up on the ‘Twinning Project’, which helps give prison inmates training, in order to turn them into reformed characters.

A report from Sky Sports outlines the venture, with clubs delivering coaching and refereeing courses to local prisons.

The LFC Foundation, the club’s official charity, is set to deliver a second course at HMP Altcourse, with Ian Rush among those helping out.

The hope is that the project brings down re-offending rates and provides exciting opportunities for individuals looking to turn their lives around.

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