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On this day in 1913: Bill Shankly is born

Sun, 02/09/2018 - 12:00

Today marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of one of the most important figures in Liverpool FC history: the incomparable Bill Shankly.

He was born in Glenbuck, Scotland on Tuesday September 2, 1913, destined for a life in football and a revolutionary role in the fortunes of this club.

Shankly took the reins in December 1959 with Liverpool stranded in the Second Division. The size of the task on his hands, already more than apparent to the new boss, was confirmed by a 4-0 home defeat in his opening match.

Undaunted, he threw himself into the challenge of adapting, modernising and inspiring an entire club. “My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility,” declared Shanks.

To say he succeeded is an understatement.

By the time the baton was passed on to his trusted colleague Bob Paisley 15 years later, the Reds – now all in red at Shankly’s behest – had returned to the top flight, won it three times, ended their long wait for FA Cup glory and lifted the UEFA Cup.

His legacy will last forever.

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'Joe Gomez was outstanding' - the media on Leicester 1-2 LFC

Sun, 02/09/2018 - 11:05

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were on the mark as Liverpool maintained their winning momentum with a 2-1 win at Leicester City on Saturday.

Here is what the media made of a hard-fought victory at the King Power Stadium…

James Pearce, Liverpool Echo

Liverpool were careless in all departments at the King Power Stadium - a million miles away from their fluent best. But there is only one statistic that really matters: the Reds boast 12 points out of 12. For the first time since 1990-91 Liverpool have won their opening four matches to a top-flight campaign. Jürgen Klopp's side haven't done it with a swagger. They haven't delivered a booming statement of intent to champions Manchester City. But what they have done is showcase a new-found ability to grind out results when they aren't functioning well enough to simply blow opponents away. “We won ugly,” was vice-captain James Milner's honest assessment after they held on to beat Leicester City. Make no mistake, this is exactly the kind of game where Liverpool would have dropped points in previous seasons. The Reds' outstanding performer was Joe Gomez, who dealt brilliantly with the threat of Demarai Gray and produced a goal-saving block to thwart James Maddison. The young centre-back's recall to the England fold is richly deserved and Klopp must hope that Gareth Southgate looks after him.

Neil Jones,

The Liverpool bandwagon rolls on. Just. Klopp will have aged five years watching his side labour against Leicester on Saturday afternoon, but his side got the job done in the end, sneaking a 2-1 win at the King Power Stadium. For the first time since 1990, the Reds have started a league season with four straight wins. They were made to work for this one, and then some. Sloppy and sluggish, they were forced to hold on at times as Leicester threatened a rousing second-half fightback. The celebrations at the final whistle were of relief as much as anything. Klopp knew the significance of victory here, with his players now set to head off around the globe on international duty. When they return, Liverpool will be looking at a run of fixtures containing the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea (twice), Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli. September will not be for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure. Improvement will certainly be needed for the trip to Spurs in a fortnight’s time. Liverpool cannot be so lax in possession at Wembley, nor as ponderous in the final third. In any case, there are worse places to be than being 12 from 12 after four matches. The last time Liverpool started this well, Kenny Dalglish was their manager, John Barnes was their superstar and they were champions of England. It’s been a long, long wait since, so why shouldn't they enjoy it? Those who made the journey to Leicester left in good spirits, and rightly so. The sun shone, the goals came. Top of the league and not at their best. Imagine what could happen when Liverpool hit their stride...

Watch highlights of Leicester 1-2 LFC

David Lynch, London Evening Standard

Has an international break ever been so simultaneously welcome and unwelcome? Liverpool head into a period that will see large sections of their squad jet off for national team duty bemoaning its potential effects on momentum after four wins from four to start the season. But, having spent so long hanging onto a narrow lead against Leicester City in their final game, there was no doubt a huge sense of relief in the away end that the torture of club football is over for two weeks. The Reds made hard work of it against a Claude Puel side yet again, even if Rachid Ghezzal’s second-half goal was a gift the hosts did little to earn. For the third time in their four games this season, Liverpool grabbed a decisive goal right on the stroke of half-time. After a period that had seen Leicester grow into the game and begin to threaten, the visitors ensured they took a comfortable lead into the break as Firmino headed home. Goals such as these are aren’t just valuable in terms of the scoreline, they also deal a psychological blow to the opposition. The introduction of Xherdan Shaqiri late in the game may not have resulted in Liverpool extending their lead, but it did at least give Leicester something extra to think about after a period of utter dominance. The Swiss forward’s pace and ability to keep hold of the ball in tight areas proved a huge fillip for the Reds, who had struggled to get up the pitch for large periods in the second half. Shaqiri has been made to wait patiently for his chance, barely featuring in the opening four games of the campaign. However, he is likely to start regularly when a busy September gets under way, and looks a perfect fit for Klopp’s high-pressing, fast-breaking style of play on the evidence thus far.

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport

Liverpool can call on an old saying to bolster their confidence even further after making it four wins from four at the start of the Premier League season - namely it is a sign of champions that you can still win when well short of your best. And this certainly applied here, with Klopp's side mediocre for long periods, yet still emerging victorious in the face of Leicester's spirited challenge. Liverpool opened in the sort of blistering fashion that has blown teams apart in the past, with Salah missing an open goal even before Mane pounced on a rebound off Harry Maguire to score. They then, surprisingly, became subdued, only to score against the run of play as Firmino guided in Milner's corner on the stroke of half-time. Liverpool looked rocky under pressure as Leicester stepped up the pace after the break, with even the normally unflappable Virgil van Dijk rattled as he was put under a thorough examination. They could not control midfield, while Salah was, for once, totally out of sorts and could have had no complaints when he was eventually replaced by Xherdan Shaqiri. For all that, Liverpool dug deep and secured another three points in a season when they and Klopp know there will be little or no margin for error. On another day Salah will shine, their defence will be in control and Alisson will not make the sort of error that turned up the heat on Liverpool even further. There will be days throughout Liverpool's season when the result will over-ride the performance - and this was undoubtedly one of them.

This story has been reproduced from the media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

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Leicester 1-2 LFC: Watch goals, highlights and reaction

Sun, 02/09/2018 - 01:59



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Alisson: I'll learn from Leicester error

Sat, 01/09/2018 - 19:32

Alisson Becker has vowed to learn from the mistake that led to him conceding the first goal of his Liverpool career.

The goalkeeper hesitated after receiving Virgil van Dijk’s mis-directed back-pass midway through the second period of Saturday’s match against Leicester City, allowing Kelechi Iheanacho to steal possession and square for Rachid Ghezzal to score.

Ultimately, that incident did not prevent the Reds from picking up a fourth consecutive victory at the start of the Premier League season, with first-half strikes from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino proving enough to earn a hard-fought three points.

Alisson, though, insisted he will strive to avoid similar errors in the future after accepting culpability for the Foxes’ goal.

“I am angry that I made a mistake that put the team in a difficult situation,” the Brazil international told ESPN Brasil.

“When one person makes a mistake, it affects everyone and everyone fought back together. We have to improve still but the result is what matters at the moment.

“It was bad judgement, I made a mistake reading the play. I didn’t get a very good pass [and] we talked about that in the dressing room and I spoke to Virgil. It wasn’t a good pass but I could have just kicked it long.

“I wanted to keep playing and keep the possession [and] now everyone is going to analyse that. I’m not going to be stupid and make the same mistake. We have to learn from our mistakes.

“It is part of my game [playing out from the back with his feet] but I am not going to be arrogant to stand here and say I’m going to keep doing it. We have to learn from our mistakes.”

Jürgen Klopp on Alisson, Leicester win and improvement>>>

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Milner: Sometimes you have to win ugly

Sat, 01/09/2018 - 18:05

James Milner knows Liverpool were far from their best against Leicester City, but the vice-captain took satisfaction in the Reds’ ability to ‘win ugly’.

A hard-fought 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium on Saturday means Jürgen Klopp’s side head into the international break with 12 points from their four Premier League outings this season.

First-half goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino did the damage for the visitors, who conceded for the first time this term to Rachid Ghezzal in the 63rd minute but then managed to resist sustained spells of Leicester pressure to claim the win.

Milner, who made his 100th top-flight appearance for Liverpool, admitted post-match that there is much room for improvement in terms of performance in the weeks and months ahead.

However, the significance of picking up maximum points from a below-par display was not lost on the midfielder.

“It wasn’t a good performance from us in most aspects, really - pressing, defending, keeping the ball. It was tough work,” Milner told Sky Sports.

“But that’s not taking anything away from them, they’re a good team and they showed that. We knew it’d be tough but sometimes you have to win ugly and we did that today. 

“[There is] plenty to improve on again and we need to improve after the international break. Hopefully everyone comes back fully fit, but again if you’re winning games and you’re not happy with the performances, that’s where you need to be.

“I think you can see the way we know we can play, and the way we’ve played the last couple of games is just finding a way to get that result when things aren’t going for you. That’s what you have to do sometimes in the Premier League.”

Klopp on Leicester win, Alisson and improvement>>>

Milner went on to stress that nobody within the Liverpool dressing room is getting carried away with their 100 per cent winning start to 2018-19.

“[We’re in] As good a position as you could be in after four games obviously, winning them all, but like I said it’s a long season, a long way to go and there’s plenty we can improve on,” he added.

“We’ve seen that over the last few games, but it’s pleasing how we defended, pleasing how we’ve fought and got those results. 

“There’s a lot more to come from this team, I think we know that, but it’s early days in the season. I don’t think anyone’s hit top gear yet so it’s important that we know where we are and where we can improve and where we can hopefully get to.”

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Jürgen Klopp on Leicester win, Alisson and improvement

Sat, 01/09/2018 - 17:50

Jürgen Klopp felt Liverpool were deserved winners at Leicester City on another testing afternoon in the Premier League.

The Reds achieved a fourth successive victory to start the season for the first time since 1990-91 by claiming a 2-1 result at the King Power Stadium through first-half goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Alisson Becker was caught in possession midway through the second period and the Foxes capitalised, teeing up Rachid Ghezzal to halve the deficit from close range.

But Klopp’s men held onto their lead and head into the international break with maximum points.

After the final whistle, the manager gave his assessment of the game, Alisson’s error and the role of the team in ensuring the goalkeeper’s ability on the ball is used properly.

Read on for a summary…

On the performance and result…

Result-wise it could not have been better. Performance-wise, we know we can improve and we really know that we could have already done better. Again, the start today showed how good we can be but it’s still early in the season – so we are not 100 per cent stable in these situations to do the right things constantly. It was a bit difficult; when the pitch got drier and drier, it changed our game. We should not suffer from that too much but we did, it changed our game. We should have been much more direct, playing in behind, and use these situations much more than the other way around. But we scored a nice goal and we had the two biggest chances of the game before that already.

We scored a second one before half-time and then wanted to control the game better in the second half. We didn’t do that with the ball but without the ball we defended a bit deeper and had our counter-attacks. We didn’t finish them for different reasons; one or two times it was a smart foul from Leicester, a tactical foul, so we couldn’t go through. In the other situations, we didn’t play the right pass in the right moment. Then we gave the goal away, which obviously keeps the game open and we have to deal with that.

A lot of things were difficult for us. First and foremost, the quality of the opponent, of course, after the first 25 to 30 minutes I would say. And then circumstances – the pitch was dry and it was the first summer day again after a long period. That’s it. It was exciting until the end but I’m fine with that. We knew before the game we had to make a big fight of it. In the beginning we played fantastic football, then we fought for the three points, that’s how it should be. And that’s why we won the game.

On Alisson’s error for the Leicester goal…

It was last week when he did what he did and the way everybody spoke about it, it was clear that it would happen one day that we conceded a goal because of that. But we still want to use it. I have to watch it back but I thought Joe Gomez could have cleared the situation, then Virgil for sure could have cleared it. In the end, if Alisson with the first touch puts the ball away, everything is fine. For some reason, he didn’t do that, he dribbled and they scored the goal. That’s it. I said to him, it’s the best game to do it because we still won the game and we ticked that box. As a team, we are still in the period where we have to adapt to each other and not use him in the wrong moments. He’s not the solution for us, he’s an option. We did it a few times too much and it’s not cool. If we concede a second goal we have to take that as well. They had one or two situations where we needed the goalkeeper; the block from Joe Gomez was brilliant of course. We had these situations but they had them as well, so we are the deserved winner and that’s the only thing I’m interested in.

On whether Alisson’s ability on the ball comes with a risk…

No. It’s only positive that he is that good a footballer. But we all have to learn to use it in the right way still. That means, pass the ball in the right moment, then immediately make another offer for him, open some passing options. That’s the job for the team, play the pass in the right moment, not on a dry pitch, not hard enough. Don’t do it in these moments. That was a mistake – no goalkeeper in the world should dribble in that situation. But he did it. But it’s all OK. For me, much more interesting is how the reaction was and it was good. We still used him in better situations. The crowd wanted to make him a bit nervous but he didn’t look nervous. That helps a lot. Then it’s all fine. Football is a game where a lot of mistakes happen over 90 minutes. But that one was a big one, decisive because we conceded a goal. But the reaction was brilliant and I’m completely fine. How I said, it was always clear it will happen. It needed to happen so that it will not happen again. I think today was the day.

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Free live audio commentary: Leicester v Liverpool

Sat, 01/09/2018 - 14:20
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Klopp explains Henderson’s return to starting XI

Sat, 01/09/2018 - 13:36

Jordan Henderson’s return to Liverpool’s starting line-up is borne out of Jürgen Klopp’s desire to be ‘rock solid’ at Leicester City.

The captain makes his first start of the season at the King Power Stadium in place of Naby Keita, with his introduction Klopp’s only change to the XI that has reeled off successive wins over West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Brighton and Hove Albion at the start of the campaign.

Speaking pre-match, the boss said: “I thought it made sense for the game today. We have to [be], if you want, rock solid, in all departments because Leicester is a good football-playing side, so we need to defend very well, to be really compact and all different things so it helps when the boys are used to this. 

“This midfield played pretty much the last third of the last season unchanged, so that’s the reason.

“On the other hand, it’s about being fresh and all that stuff.”

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Team news: Confirmed Liverpool line-up v Leicester City

Sat, 01/09/2018 - 13:28

Liverpool make one change for this afternoon’s Premier League clash with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

Jordan Henderson makes his first start of the season, replacing Naby Keita in midfield, in the Reds’ only alteration to the line-up.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino.

Subs: Mignolet, Keita, Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Shaqiri, Matip.

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LIVE: Leicester v Liverpool - follow the build-up

Sat, 01/09/2018 - 11:25

Team news

Who's likely to play for Liverpool this afternoon, then?

Jürgen Klopp has, of course, started the same team in all three of the Reds' Premier League games so far this season - with that side claiming nine points to boot.

However, the boss didn't rule out making changes during his press conference on Friday.

"I want to see who shows me the most and who shows me that he’s so desperate to play. Of course there is a little advantage for the line-up last week which won the game, but that’s the only thing. I’m really open," he said.

One man who could return is Jordan Henderson, who has featured only as a substitute this term after his World Cup exertions with England.

"Of course it is difficult for him as captain [not starting], but Hendo is such an important player to us and he knows that. We had talks about that," Klopp added.

The manager also reported no fresh injury concerns, with only Dejan Lovren, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster unavailable.

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Alisson: Why I've settled so quickly at Liverpool

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 22:00

Harmonious conditions at work and home have allowed Alisson Becker to make a smooth start to life at Liverpool.

The Brazil international has yet to concede a goal since joining the Reds from AS Roma in the summer, recording three consecutive clean sheets to begin the Premier League season.

Only three goalkeepers – Bruce Grobbelaar, Simon Mignolet and Pepe Reina – had achieved that feat for the club in the previous 51 campaigns.

Alisson has enthralled fans with his passing range, too, the No.13 being comfortable in spreading play short and long when required to deal with possession.

And the stopper credits his family, new colleagues and the staff at Melwood for creating an environment in which he can concentrate on performing at his best.

“We’ve come here to Liverpool with our heads and our hearts,” he told Premier League Productions ahead of Saturday’s clash with Leicester City.

“We made the decision to come to this massive club as a family. We’ve come with our bodies, souls and hearts to Liverpool. Everything has gone really well. We’ve settled in really quickly.

“My teammates have been very helpful in this. John [Achterberg] the goalkeeping coach is a great guy, great to work with. He gives me tranquillity and calm.

“Similarly, if I’ve ever made some mistakes I’ve got my daughter to come home to, who receives me with a big smile! That’s always great.

“There are the other goalkeepers as well – Simon [Mignolet] and the lads from the youth team, Caoimhin [Kelleher] and Kamil [Grabara]. It’s really important that the goalkeepers are united. That’s always been the case wherever I’ve played. It has been really good.

“Off the field, family is really important. If things are going well on the field, that helps it to go well off the field. The settling in has been great. My wife is happy. We have our daughter to make us happy. That’s the most important thing.”

Nobody at Liverpool believes their ‘perfect’ start in terms of numbers – three games, three wins, none conceded – represents a ‘perfect’ series of displays over 90 minutes.

Indeed, Jürgen Klopp cited the hard-fought nature of the win against Brighton and Hove Albion as proof of the work his side still need to do.

Alisson shares that sentiment.

“Quite often, wins hide faults. You can say: ‘We won 1-0, it was perfect, we kept a clean sheet.’ But that might hide some things going on,” he said.

“For example, we need to improve our passing, make less mistakes, work on continuity, make less errors in the area of passing, positioning could improve, we need to concentrate one hundred per cent for the full game. That’s something we can do, to really succeed in this competition.”

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The view from Leicester: 'City will take the game to Liverpool'

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 21:00

Liverpool put their 100 per cent winning start to the season on the line at Leicester City on Saturday.

The Reds will come up against a manager who has proven a thorn in their side in recent times, though.

Claude Puel enjoyed a six-match unbeaten run (won three, drawn three) against Liverpool as Olympique Lyonnais and Southampton boss - a streak that came to an end last season when his Foxes side lost 2-1 at Anfield.

Puel's team have made a promising start to 2018-19, narrowly losing out to Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening day before beating Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton in their subsequent Premier League matches.

However, they head into Saturday's clash without striker Jamie Vardy following his sending off against Wolves.

So, what are the Foxes' expectations heading into the clash with the Reds?

We caught up with Leicester fan, journalist and author Rob Tanner (@robtannermerc) to find out...

How is Puel regarded by Leicester's fans?

Leicester City manager Claude Puel

There are a section of the supporters who were unhappy with the way City failed to take their opportunity to qualify for the Europa League last season and Puel has to win those fans over. A good start to the season was crucial in that regard and those critics of his style of play and selections are a little quieter now, but they are still there and after a poor run of results they will become vocal again. Puel hasn't got much credit in the bank with them.

However, many fans seem to see what he is trying to do with a very young, attacking side. Their patience will be crucial for Puel.

Four games into the campaign (including a Carabao Cup win over Fleetwood Town), have your pre-season expectations for 2018-19 changed?

No, the expectations remain the same. City must challenge for European qualification again this season, not just to silence Puel's critics, but to demonstrate to the young stars like Harry Maguire that they can fulfill their ambitions at the club. There will be many clubs watching England international Maguire, Wilfred Ndidi, Ben Chilwell and the other promising youngsters, waiting to try to lure them away.

A cup wouldn't go a miss either, especially the FA Cup.

How have the club's summer transfer dealings affected the team?

Leicester City summer signing James Maddison

Everyone knew that Riyad Mahrez was likely to leave this summer. That was no surprise, so Leicester have been preparing for life without their most effective attacking player in terms of goals and assists. His departure has weakened City. However, it looked like an effective window, with James Maddison adding a strong option in the No.10 role.

Leicester signed a left-footed Algerian winger who plays on the right flank in Rachid Ghezzal, who has replaced the left-footed Algerian winger who plays on the right flank in Mahrez. City also needed to bolster their defence, and Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu have done that.

Puel's Leicester narrowly lost to LFC at Anfield last season, what will he do differently this time?

I don't think he will change his approach. City will line-up in the same system and adopt the same style of play. He tends to concentrate on how Leicester play rather than on stopping the opposition, and he probably knows it will be impossible to keep Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane quiet for 90 minutes anyway.

City will take the game to Liverpool. They will try to keep possession, which is a big change from the counter-attacking style they had before, but the loss of Vardy is a big problem for them.

What is the team's biggest strength?

Leicester City youngster Demarai Gray

Their youthfulness in attack. They do play with freedom and confidence with Maddison, Chilwell and Demarai Gray combining well. The final ball sometimes isn't quite there and if they can get that right more consistently they will test every defence in the league. Ndidi is also hugely influencial in midfield.

And what is giving you cause for concern?

The defence is still settling in. Puel has switched repeatedly between Evans and Wes Morgan to partner Maguire, and he has also continually switched between Daniel Amartey and Pereira at right back, sometimes using the latter as a winger.

The back four need to be settled and get to know each other as quickly as possible, but it will be interesting to see when Puel introduces Soyuncu. The Turkish defender will provide further options.

How do you expect the Foxes to line up this weekend?

I'd expect Puel to go for...

With Vardy suspended, who is Leicester's danger man?

Maddison is the creator. He finds space in the pocket between the midfield and back four and likes to turn and thread passes through. He has been encouraged to shoot more often too. He is a very positive player and is always looking to play forward. Liverpool will have to be aware of him.

Which key battle could turn the game in either team's favour?

The key is how City's defence handles Liverpool's phenomenal front three. If they can't get to grips with them then they will be out of the game very quickly. They have to do something that most defences have failed to do and that is stop the triple threat of Salah, Firmino and Mane.

What is your prediction for the game?

If City can get it right defensively, and Ndidi and Mendy will be key to protecting the back four, I feel they could get a draw. 1-1.

2018-19 2018-19

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Stats: Milner closing in on Liverpool landmark

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 20:00

James Milner is in line to make a milestone appearance for Liverpool in Saturday's clash with Leicester City.

The 32-year-old midfielder will play his 100th Premier League match for the Reds if selected at the King Power Stadium.

For more need-to-know pre-match facts and figures courtesy of club statistician Ged Rea, read on...

Liverpool could record back-to-back league wins at Leicester for the first time since 1996-97.

Jordan Henderson has scored in the Reds' last two league wins at the King Power.

Daniel Sturridge celebrates his 29th birthday on the day of the game. The striker was the last Liverpool player to score for the club on his birthday - in a 1-0 home win over Manchester United in 2013.

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge is one goal short of his 50th in the Premier League for the Reds.

Should Alisson Becker shutout Leicester, he will become only the second Liverpool goalkeeper in history to keep a clean sheet in the opening four league games of his Anfield career - matching Pepe Reina in 2005.

Liverpool have never won the first four games of a Premier League season. 

The club's highest points tally after four Premier League games is 10. They have achieved that five times, but not since 2013-14.

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Corey Whelan joins Crewe on loan

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 19:14

Corey Whelan has joined Crewe Alexandra on loan until January.

The Academy defender, who moved to Liverpool from Crewe at U10 level, is scheduled to return to the club on January 7 having spent just over three months with the League Two outfit.

A Republic of Ireland U21 international, Whelan was appointed the Reds’ U23s captain ahead of the 2017-18 campaign and made 11 appearances for Yeovil Town last term after moving to Huish Park on loan in January.

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On demand: Watch Jürgen Klopp's press conference

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 15:39

Jürgen Klopp held his pre-Leicester City press conference on Friday - and you can watch it again for free.

The Reds head to the King Power Stadium with a 100 per cent record from their opening three Premier League games of the season.

Ahead of the trip, Klopp took questions from the media at Melwood, and you can see everything the manager had to say below.

[embedded content]

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'We're going to Leicester for three points, not 12'

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 15:12

Jürgen Klopp is not interested in the bigger picture as he prepares Liverpool for a ‘real fight’ with Leicester City.

The Reds travel to the King Power Stadium on Saturday seeking to make it 12 points from their opening four top-flight matches ahead of the season’s first international break.

Never before in the Premier League era have Liverpool won their first four league matches of a campaign, but Klopp is focused solely on the task at hand rather than making a ‘statement’ by achieving that feat this weekend.

“Of course it would be fantastic [to have 12 points before the international break], but we don’t go for 12, we go for three - and that’s difficult enough actually - and then the next three,” the manager said.

“How could I sit here after the season Leicester played so far and only have a percentage of an idea that we will win there for sure? That’s not possible. We only will try everything and for that we need to be ready for a real fight.

“They really have a good side. So in a situation like that people talk up the Champions League draw, we all talk about the same clubs and when the next matchday is - but there are really good football teams and Leicester looked to me really good in these first three games. 

“The message will be we are ready and we were ready so far for all these games, that’s the message, but that doesn’t mean anything. 

“Then the boys go all over the world again, big travel, big journeys, the Brazilians come from the USA in the midweek before we play Tottenham, so that’s how it is. We want to win that game, you can imagine that, but I can’t be sure in the moment it will happen.

“I have no problem with that but it doesn’t mean for the rest of the season anything, only that we have already 12 of the I-don’t-know-which number we’ll have at the end. 

“Then very difficult games are coming up: going to Tottenham was never easy and will not be in the moment easy. That’s it, but we will still try to do it at Leicester with all the things we know about them. We know yes it’s possible but it will be really difficult.”

Claude Puel’s Leicester go into the match having recovered from their opening-weekend defeat at Manchester United by claiming back-to-back victories over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton.

The Foxes will be without the suspended Jamie Vardy for the visit of the Reds but, while acknowledging that the striker has been a thorn in his team’s side in the past, Klopp thinks Puel has other excellent players at his disposal.

“Jamie caused pretty much each team problems with his style of play. He’s always on the edge, going in behind, over the shoulder, all that stuff - it’s really difficult to defend,” the boss said.

“That makes him different to nearly all other strikers in the Premier League, that makes him so special and that’s good for him but now that he will not play that changed of course a few moments in the game maybe for Leicester.

“But Iheanacho is a very good striker as well, slightly different of course but very, very good. And they changed anyway the style a bit, so it’s a very good team. 

“OK, we play them so it’s not important that I like it too much, but the work of Claude Puel obviously now starts paying off. You can see it with Maddison, Pereira, Gray, that’s an offensive line that not a lot of teams in the Premier League have, plus then whoever is the striker in that formation.

“So that changes the style a bit and the preparation for the game was really interesting because it’s good football Leicester are playing. I think they are full of confidence, especially with the last result, which always helps and it will be difficult for us. 

“But how I said, we are in a good moment as well and we go there and really try everything, everything to get the result we deserve at the end. So if we play good maybe we can deserve a win, and if we play not that good then it will be difficult. We have to be at our best, that’s it.”

Klopp explains appointment of throw-in coach>>>

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Jürgen: We strengthened our squad for this kind of run of fixtures

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 15:06

Jürgen Klopp is confident Liverpool’s strength in depth will allow them to tackle their forthcoming fixture schedule at the highest level as they prepare to get their Champions League and Carabao Cup campaigns under way in September.

The Reds take on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium tomorrow in the final game ahead of the two-week international break.

Once they return to action versus Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on September 15, they face a run of seven matches in 23 days, including Champions League head-to-heads with Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli, as well as Premier League encounters against Chelsea and Manchester City.

In addition, Chelsea will also visit Anfield in the third round of the League Cup following Thursday evening’s draw.

“Today it [squad depth] is good, but it needs to stay good,” Klopp told journalists at Melwood on Friday morning, when asked whether he felt he had the number of players at his disposal to successfully tackle their upcoming fixture list.

“It was always clear that August would be a bit different because we’ve started three times in a row with the same starting line-up. That will not happen too often from now on in the future, it’s probably not possible.

“That’s why we did it [strengthened the squad] - we didn’t do it for August, we did it for pretty much all the other months of the season. For the moment it is absolutely good, but we have to prove it as well on the pitch.

“It is not about knowing who is available, it’s about the guy who is available can perform at the highest level – that’s very important. We try to help with all we can - with training, meetings and stuff like that - but in the end the boys have to deliver.

“I thought after pre-season it looked really good, now all the players are all four weeks further [along] and that means they are now in a much better situation than three weeks ago when season started because of the physical things.

“We need that, we need a good result tomorrow and a good result in all the other games – and for that we will need all the players. I’m looking forward to it.”

Klopp has elected to name the same starting line-up for Liverpool’s opening three Premier League matches of 2018-19.

However, the manager insists the possibility of a player forcing their way into the reckoning by performance level in training is always there.

“When you win a game in a week like this – Saturday to Saturday – when we have at least three very intense sessions, I am pretty open,” he said. “I am pretty open to everyone; I want to see who shows me the most and who shows me that he’s so desperate to play.

“Of course, there is a little advantage for the line-up last week that won the game, but that’s the only thing. I am really open to it, it’s the best way that nobody has a weaker week from the starting line-up last week, but then maybe somebody is really showing up so that’s one part. Then it’s what fits for the opponent, what is needed for the opponent.

“It’s not that I have closed the book already directly after the game and thought, ‘OK, they won again so they will play again if nothing happens’ – no, there are a lot of possibilities through a normal week. It is much more difficult when you play three times a week because then you have not that much training and I have to guess a bit more. But in this time, in this week especially, I saw a lot.

“The quality of training needs to be on a really high level and that’s a good thing with the squad when they are all fit and available, then you have 21, 22 players and if they are all then really in a good moment, even the players that didn’t play because we know we will need them, then the quality is really high. If we can take that through the season, that would be a massive help.”

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Klopp explains appointment of throw-in coach

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 14:40

Jürgen Klopp has explained why it made sense for Liverpool to employ the services of specialist throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark.

At his pre-Leicester City press conference on Friday, the manager confirmed that the Dane has been working with the Reds as part of their training programmes.

“I think it’s not only important to me, it’s important to everybody,” said Klopp.

“To be honest, I’d never heard about a throw-in coach. How it is as a football manager, you know a lot about different things – I played the game, I’ve been managing since around about 18 years or so – but that doesn’t mean I’m a goalkeeper specialist and I’m obviously not a throw-in specialist.

“I know about different movements, what we always did, but it was not 100 per cent clear – maybe it’s my fault – how I can improve the guy with the ball, not only the movements of all the other guys.

“When I heard about Thomas, it was clear to me I wanted to meet him; when I met him, it was 100 per cent clear I wanted to employ him. Now he is here and we work on that from time to time.

“We use his information as well during the weeks when he is not here. We use it of course for the Academy as well. It’s good.

“You cannot have enough specialists around you. I must always be the guy who makes the decisions on when we use all these specialists but you cannot have enough. We have the fitness, medical department, we have the nutrition, and now we have somebody for throw-ins.

“He’s a good guy, to be honest. He has already [made a difference]. The boys like it; when you have somebody who knows what he is talking about, it always helps when you want to improve something.”

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'Performances have been good... goals and wins will come'

Fri, 31/08/2018 - 05:00

Neil Critchley has faith his Liverpool U23s team will soon turn the chances they are creating into the goals he feels their performances deserve.

After three successive draws in Premier League 2, the young Reds are hoping to get their first win of 2018-19 when West Ham United visit Kirkby in front of the live LFCTV cameras on Sunday (kick-off 1pm BST).

Ahead of the match, we got Critchley’s thoughts on the U23s’ form in front of goal, facing West Ham and playing regularly at the new-look Academy.

On drawing the first three games at the start of 2018-19…

I think our performances so far have not been backed up by our points return. It has been a fine line in all of the games but what’s pleasing is we haven’t lost any of them and we haven’t conceded many goals. We have just been lacking in the final bit, which is finishing our chances.

On why he is confident that the goals will start to flow from his team…

I would be more worried if we weren’t creating chances and it didn’t look like we were going to score goals. I think sooner or later with the amount of opportunities we are creating we are going to take one or two of them with the quality of players that we have got. We are trying not to overly concern ourselves too much with that at the moment, or focus on it too much, because otherwise you are putting unnecessary pressure on the players.

On Liam Millar netting his first goal at U23 level against Manchester City at the Etihad…

You could see with the way he celebrated what that meant to him. He is off and running and as any striker would tell you, goals are really important to them. I think Liam felt that was a bit of a weight off his shoulders and hopefully now he will go on to score many more for us this season.

On why there were many positives to take from the 1-1 draw at City…

I was really proud of our performance on the night. It was a lovely stadium for the lads to play at and the game mirrored our first two games; in terms of chances created we were the better team but just didn’t take them. But I can’t fault the spirit and the effort, the work ethic from the players, which I think has been outstanding in all of the games. You could see us pushing right until the very end of the game to try to get the winner, so I couldn’t have been more pleased with that side of our game.

On the healthy competition for places at U23 level with the likes of Conor Masterson and Tony Gallacher battling hard for a starting berth…

We have a strong squad and it’s something that we are stressing to the players, that they have to get used to that, because they are going into a squad game. Being in and out of the team, fighting for your place, and knowing how to keep your place in the team, and knowing what might get you out of the team – they are really important facets to learn when you are a young player developing. Ultimately you want to get picked in that starting XI and that’s something that we are stressing to the boys quite a lot recently.

On the visit of West Ham United next up in Premier League 2…

West Ham gave us two very tough games last season. We had a win away and they beat us at home. We know it will be a competitive and physical game and we’ll have to be at our best if we want to pick up all three points. If we can keep performing like we have then I think eventually those performances will turn into the wins that have so far eluded us.

On playing at the Kirkby Academy in front of the new stand…

We are looking forward to playing at our home venue. There are a few alterations from last season and, I know I’m biased, but I really like our home venue and think it’s one of the best in the country. The stand which is now in place for the supporters has added something a little bit different. We love playing here on the main front pitch and it’s a great environment for the players to perform.

On the importance of a good start after conceding a goal in the opening three minutes against the Hammers back in February…

The team was vastly changed from the first part of the season when the lads had the chance to go on loan. Curtis Jones played one of his first games at U23 level for us, as did Rafael Camacho, who came off the bench, and Adam Lewis played in midfield with Elijah Dixon-Bonner. After conceding a really sloppy goal early on in the game I actually thought we went on to be the better team but unfortunately we didn’t get what we probably merited. We know West Ham have got some good players, they are strong and powerful and hard to beat.

Watch the U23s take on West Ham at the Kirkby Academy live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO>>>

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Confirmed: Liverpool's Champions League fixture dates

Thu, 30/08/2018 - 23:39

The dates of Liverpool's six Champions League group games have been confirmed.

The Reds were drawn with Paris Saint-Germain, SSC Napoli and Red Star Belgrade in Group C during Thursday's draw in Monaco.

Jürgen Klopp's team will begin their Champions League campaign with a home match against PSG on Tuesday September 18, before they then visit Napoli on Wednesday October 3.

Matchday three, on Wednesday October 24, will see Liverpool face Red Star at home, with the return meeting next up on Tuesday November 6.

The Reds will then take on PSG away on Wednesday November 28, before concluding Group C against Napoli at Anfield on Tuesday December 11.

Confirmed Champions League fixtures (all times BST)

Liverpool v Paris Saint-Germain - Tuesday September 18, 8pm
Napoli v Liverpool - Wednesday October 3, 8pm
Liverpool v Red Star - Wednesday October 24, 8pm
Red Star v Liverpool - Tuesday November 6, 5.55pm
Paris Saint-Germain v Liverpool - Wednesday November 28, 8pm
Liverpool v Napoli - Tuesday December 11, 8pm

Watch Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League in style with a range of hospitality packages>>

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