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  1. 6 points
    When Trent Alexander-Arnold first appeared in and around the first team squad, I saw flashes of the teenage Steven Gerrard in him. I may have even written it once or twice (albeit hesitantly), but generally I steered away from making any comparisons. After all, there’s a strong case to be had that Gerrard is the best to ever play for the club, so even mentioning anybody else in the same breath seems like lunacy, no matter how carefully chosen the words are. Nevertheless, having watched Trent coming through the Academy sides, there were times when he reminded me of Stevie. He wasn’t a carbon copy of course, but every now and then he’d do something that would make you think “there was a bit of Gerrard in that”. It might have been a crunching tackle (one against Spurs in a League Cup tie at Anfield springs to mind) or a raking cross field ball. Sometimes it was just the way he carried himself. Just little things that reminded me of the young Gerrard who first came into the side playing right back. Like Gerrard, Trent was a midfielder who initially could ‘do a job’ at full back. Unlike Gerrard, Trent looks like he might actually stay there. I still feel as though there’s a world class midfielder in there should Jurgen ever decide to unleash him, but he’s so special at right back there’s no rush to move him, especially as the full back position in this current team is massively important. More important than it’s ever been in fact. I’m not saying that in the past you could just throw anyone in at full back, but it was certainly the least important position in the side. You could ‘make do’ and we often did. For example, we nearly won the league in 2014 with Aly Cissokho and Jon Flanagan sharing duties at left back, and with Glen Johnson underachieving like only he could on the opposite flank. Djimi Traore was left back in a Champions League winning side. Now, the style we play under Klopp, it’s a whole different ball game. The two full backs need to be skilled footballers and terrific athletes because the way we play demands it. Not only do they have to defend, but they need to provide the creativity from wide positions because the wingers play inside. Traditional full backs just won’t get it done in this set up. That’s why I’m no longer as convinced that Trent is going to end up in midfield, at least not any time soon. He’d be incredibly difficult to replace at right back because of the quality he has and his knack for creating goals. Like Andy Robbo on the other side, Trent is essentially doing the job of two players. They’re both doing it incredibly well and earlier this season L’Equipe hailed them as the best full back pairing in the world. Credit to them for noticing that, because you rarely hear anyone else pointing it out. They are the best full back pairing in the world and I don’t even think it’s close. Who else would even be in the discussion? They’re part of the tightest back four in Europe so there’s no weakness defensively, but look at what they’re doing at the other end. It might be unprecedented actually. Look at the assists leaders in the Premier League. Trent (with 12) is equal third with Christian Eriksen, behind Eden Hazard and Ryan Fraser. Robbo is fifth, with just one assist fewer. Two full backs in the top five, having created more goals than the likes of Sterling, Sane, Alli, Pedro, Ramsay, Pogba, the Silvas, De Bruyne, Willian etc…. I don’t think enough attention has been paid to that. The last pair to make playing full back so cool were Cafu and Roberto Carlos. Trent added another four in the Champions League, giving him 16 assists from right back. It’s almost unheard of. Admittedly, unlike Robbo, some of Trent’s have been from set pieces, but even that is credit to how special he is. How many full backs are entrusted with taking their team’s free-kicks and corners? He’s a top player in just about every way. The only thing lacking is a few goals, but that’s not really his job, and besides, it’s only a matter of time before he’s chipping in with a few. So now, a little over two years later, I’ll have no qualms about mentioning Trent in the same breath as Gerrard because 20 year old Trent compares favourably with Gerrard at the same age. Yes, Stevie was brilliant even at 20 years old, but so is Trent. Whether Trent goes on to become anywhere near as incredible a player as Gerrard went on to be doesn’t matter. He might, he might not, but I’m saying that, right now, at 20, he’s in the same bracket. I’m aware that’s a bold statement but the body of work stacks up. By the age of 20 we knew Gerrard was special and was going to be a great player. We didn’t know that he’d turn into Superman and carry the team for several years, or inspire the greatest comeback in football history to clinch our fifth European Cup. We don’t know what Trent will do either. We do know what he’s done so far though, and like I say, it stacks up with what Gerrard had achieved at the same age. Trent was named in the ‘Team of the Year’ and played in his second Champions League Final in consecutive seasons. He is a key player in a side that has just collected a club record 97 points and won a European Cup. He’s not just a part of the team, he’s a vitally important player in it. A genuine difference maker. From bloody right back! How many right backs are true difference makers? It’s often been said that had Gerrard stayed at right back he’d have been the best in the world. I agree with that because he’d have been phenomenal wherever he played. He didn’t stay at right back though, he was moved into midfield because that was a more important position and he became the best in the world in that position instead. Trent, on the other hand, has been left where he was and is well on his way to becoming the best right back on the planet. He might be already. I don’t watch enough European footy to know, but I do know he’s already the best in the Premier League and will only get better. The belief back then was that Gerrard would have been wasted as a right back and a part of me thinks maybe Trent would be too. But then, as previously stated, being a right back in this Klopp team is unlike playing there for most sides. There are no restrictions on going forward and the full backs see plenty of the ball. I imagine it’s a lot of fun playing full back in this Liverpool team. Besides, Trent’s attributes are different to Gerrard’s anyway. He doesn’t tackle as fiercely, his long range shooting doesn’t compare yet and he seems to be a calmer, less aggressive type of character on the field. He’s not as rash as Gerrard could be and is far less likely to land himself in bother with refs. Maybe his skillset is better suited to full back than midfield, time will tell on that. What we do know is that in the two full seasons we’ve had from him at right back, it’s impossible to have asked for more from him. He’s ended this season in sensational form, creating goals on a weekly basis. He had an understandably slowish start to the campaign though due to reporting back late following the World Cup. It had been a long season anyway but his inclusion in the England squad meant he had virtually no summer holiday. Nevertheless, despite his lack of a pre-season he was in the line up for the first game and was an ever present until Klopp took him out of the line up for a couple of games in October. One of those games was against Manchester City, and he was then left out at PSG a month later. He was also on the bench at Old Trafford and for the trip to the Nou Camp, which could be co-incidence or it might point to a tendency from Klopp to go with a less ‘adventurous’ option in the most difficult games. His creativity was badly missed in that game away at United though and the point was emphasised a few days later when he claimed a hat-trick of assists against Watford at Anfield. It’s interesting to look back over the season at his assists, because prior to that Watford game he only had three. He had none for the following month and then went nuts in April and May when he had ten. TEN!! His performance level in the closing months of the season has been staggeringly good. Ten assists in two months from right back is nuts. Just think about it for a second, it really is astonishing, especially given the pressure of the games and the high quality of the opposition, such as Spurs, Porto & Barcelona. The rest of his game has been top drawer too. The effortless way he just sprays it around. Whether it's the crossfield balls to Robbo, the fizzed passes into the feet of Bobby and the midfielders or the pinpoint knocks into the channel to Mo running free, he can do it all. And we saw with that quick corner kick against Barca just what a great football brain he has. Only special players produce that kind of thing. It was Gerrard-esque. Defensively he’s been solid too. That side of his game isn’t as spectacular as when he has the ball at his feet, but he’s already very good and will only get better, as that’s something that comes with coaching and experience. That's why it was laughable hearing Martin Tyler question whether Trent is good enough defensively for international football. The standard of football in the Premier and Champions League is way higher than international football. If Trent can cope against Man City and Barcelona, I think he can handle Serbia and Malta. And on top of all that, he’s a local kid. I don’t think any of us really care where our players come from as long as they’re good enough and give us their all, but it’s also fair to say that there’s something special about one of our own coming through the ranks to establish themselves in the team. Especially now, in this era when it’s so difficult for local kids to make it due to the incredibly high standard of players at the top clubs. It was difficult enough in the 80s when the club were generally only signing players from this country, but it’s nigh on impossible now when you look at the competition for places. Youngsters have to be something very special to force their way into squads that are heaving with world class players from all around the globe, but Trent has managed to do it and there’s something heart warming about that. A kid who has been a fan his entire life, who was a ballboy at Anfield and has been at the Academy since he was six, is now a mainstay of the first team and one of the best players in the world in his position. And he’s only 20 years old. The sight of him whipping in crosses for his brothers on the pitch after the Wolves game showed you everything you need to know, as did the emotional scenes in Madrid when went to celebrate with all of his family. He’s just a young Kopite living the dream. Dare I say it, just like Stevie. Best Moment: The corner against Barca. That’s an iconic goal that will be remembered for decades, and it will be remembered as much for Trent’s quick thinking and perfect delivery as it will for Divock Origi actually finishing it off. Worst Moment: Tough one this. It would have been the handball on the line at St James’ Park had Christian Atsu not got him off the hook by burying the rebound and sparing the referee from having to produce a red card. Conceding a penalty and being reduced to ten men at that point may have been immaterial now with the benefit of hindsight, but at the time it would have been devastating. And besides, the last thing any of us want is Newcastle’s moronic hordes singing about costing us the league for the next couple of decades. Getting skinned twice in ten minutes by Mendez-Laing at Cardiff wasn’t Trent’s finest hour either, but that lad has Olympic sprinter speed so it’s pretty difficult to do much about it when it comes down to a race. So in short, I can’t really think of a ‘worst moment’, which shows just how good he’s been. Rating 9/10: Same rating as last year, but I wouldn’t bet against him getting higher this time next year, considering the rate at which he’s progressing. Please note, this is a free article but the rest of the 'Season Report Cards' will only be available to TLW subscribers. Subscriptions are just £2 per month and can be purchased here.
  2. 4 points
    After a memorable 2019, the Reds get back to business with their first game of the new decade against Sheffield United. on Thursday evening. The Blades have been one of the great stories of the 2019/20 season to date. Through impressive manager Chris Wilder, the pre-season relegation favourites have refused to take a backward step against any opposition they have faced with their outstanding record away from home in this campaign being true testament of that. The fans from @Blades_Mad gave TLW an insightful description into the impact that Wilder has made to the club in his tenure and what players have taken to Premier League football like a duck to water. Can you talk our readers though the job that Chris Wilder has done since his appointment and what do you see as his key strengths as a manager? To put it simple; he's dragged this club off the canvas and propelled it back into the big time and in such a short space of time as well. He took the club over three and a half years ago, when it was at its lowest having finished a paltry 11th in League One under his predecessor. 46 games and 100 points later, United had romped to the League One title in style, meaning an end to six years of hurt, languishing in English football's third tier. A season of consolidation in the Championship and a top half finished followed, and then a promotion charge which couldn't have been foreseen by many, with United still recording one of the lowest budgets in the Championship. United managed to stave off competition from Leeds United and secure an automatic promotion spot alongside fellow unfancied outfit - Norwich City. The start to life back in the Premier League has been nothing short of remarkable really. We were tipped by many to be a dead certainty to go straight back down and although many Blades fans felt that was unjust, this ridiculously terrific start by Chris Wilder's men couldn't have been foreseen. The gaffer has many strengths. He's a huge motivator and passion certainly is one of his traits if you like, but underneath all of that is a revolutionary football manager. United play in a way which has never been seen before, keep an eye out for the overlapping centre-backs if they get the chance at Anfield! He's one of our own. He's the greatest manager in this club's history. We often see the usual suspects being linked with managerial posts (case in point David Moyes and West Ham), do you think there will come a time when clubs come calling for Wilder? What I would say is that quite a few "high profile" jobs have become available recently and Chris Wilder (thankfully for us) was never genuinely linked with the managerial hot seat at any of those clubs. Surely if he was ever to be offered a job at one of the country's top clubs it would have been now as his stock has never been higher. So long as the board at Sheffield United are on the same page as Wilder, in terms of continuing to levitate this club, then he has the dream job and don't see any reason he'd want to leave. Wilder has never stood still in his managerial career, and now he and Sheffield United are in the dizzy heights of the top half of the Premier League, I'm sure he wants to put no stop to that. In his early days at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp coined a phrase that he wanted to turn the fans from doubters into believers. Do you think the remarkable exploits of last season in winning automatic promotion has carried over to this campaign giving everyone associated with the club a new sense of confidence? I think that's a fair comparison, for sure. There's certainly some momentum there, if you like, but we've been on an upward curve since Chris Wilder took over back in 2016. We suffered our first defeat on the road at Man City on Sunday (in controversial circumstances may I add), and that run stretched all the way back to January. The lads have certainly settled to life in the Premier League, and certainly look a lot more comfortable as the games are ticked off. Bear in mind this is the first real taste of top flight football for many of these lads. I think the reverse fixture with yourselves at Bramall Lane in September gave the boys a huge amount of confidence, because we proved we can put it up against the big boys in this league. Arguably we should and could have got something out of that fixture. Add victories over Arsenal and Everton, and draws against Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United into that and that proves we are capable of matching it up against the very best. Which of your player(s) have pleasantly surprised you in their ability to adapt to Premier League Football? You could say all of them, to be honest! There's a few we knew could adapt to Premier League football, but they've all gone way and above beyond that. I'll go for John Lundstram. He was out of the picture last season and played only a bit part in our promotion campaign from the Championship. This season, he's started every game up to last Sunday (missed due to injury), and has really given us a new dimension as we altered to a flat midfield three. He’s Fantasy Premier League God, also! Haha. What do you believe should be your obtainable goals in the second half of the season? It's a tough one. For now, still get to that magical 40 points mark. And then take it from there really. Without trying to put the mockers on it, I do feel as though we'll comfortably survive. Blades fans have been singing about going on European tours and away trips to Napoli, and whilst most of it is said in jest, who knows what we can achieve? I'm not sure what the ceiling of achievements are under Chris Wilder. I wouldn't rule anything out. This one is a general question especially as it has been over a decade since you were last in the top flight. Is there anything different you have noticed in terms of strength of depth in the Premier League, the quality of player that teams sign nowadays and indeed the style of football that teams play? Absolutely. It was 12 years ago since we were last in the Premier League. A lot has changed. Just the exposure it gets is ridiculous to be honest. And the arrival of the world's best managers into our league, particularly Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola to name a couple, has really propelled football in this country. Some of the best teams ever to grace our leagues have been present in these past 12 years, none more so than the current crop you have at Liverpool right now. It's a great league to be a part of, VAR aside, and we are loving the journey! Is there a particular opposition player or team which has impressed you most this season? Opposition player is an easy one. Virgil Van Dijk. And I'm not just saying that because I'm chatting to a Liverpool fan site. I thought we played phenomenally well against Liverpool earlier in the season, but I just seem to recall Van Dijk getting his body in the way of every ball that came near him. He just seemed to be there all the time, which was increasingly frustrating for us, but very impressive at the same time. Team wise, I wouldn't say there's been a stand out one to be honest. Wolves are a tough nut to crack. Manchester United turned it on for 10 minutes and we couldn't do much about it for that period of time. But we've coped well against pretty much every side this season. The Blades certainly gave Liverpool a real test at Bramall Lane early in the season, do you think the manager will set the team up in a similar way in this fixture? The set up will be pretty familiar, yes. Whether we "go for it" as much remains to be seen. I find that unlikely. Lys Mousset will start this one you would imagine, and will provide United with a real threat on the counter. He caused Man City all sorts of problems at the weekend and could have had a hat trick but for VAR and some unfortunate finishing. You have not been daunted by any opposition you have faced so far, so as a fan how excited are you to come to Anfield in such a confident frame of mind? Very excited to come to Anfield! This is one of the games I've been looking forward to the most, and I reckon I vouch for most Blades fans with that one. Can't wait to see how we cope against the European champions on their own patch. Under the lights. I think we'll put up a real fight and effort. Can't wait! Is there a particular Liverpool player that you would love in Blades’ colours if money was no object. I do think Van Dijk is a colossus, but I'm pretty happy with our centre-halves to be honest haha! So I'll say Sadio Mane! Fantastic player. Great finisher. Has really blossomed this season. What is your score prediction for this clash? I'm going to back us to get something! The odds are unlikely, but if we play anything like we did at Man City in Sunday and the ref doesn't decide to assist the opposition for their opening goal, then I fancy us for a draw. Let's say 1-1!
  3. 3 points
    As it turns out, Tommy Smith's bullet header in the 1977 European Cup Final wasn't to mark the end of his career, as Barry Davies famously declared in commentary. Smith played on at Anfield for another year, but at the time most felt that this would be his Liverpool swansong and it looked like a Roy of the Rovers style ending. Terry McDermott had given the Reds the lead against Borrussia Moenchengladbach, but a stunning strike from the Dane Alan Simonsen had levelled things up in the second half. Liverpool were wobbling and needed Ray Clemence to keep the Germans at bay. Then came Smith's moment. The following extract is taken from Tommy's first autobiography, entitled Tommy Smith: I Did it the Hard Way. Even Tommy himself thought it might have been his last game for the club, but he was still here the following season and had a big part to play. He appeared in 34 games in all competitions, but was cruelly robbed of an appearance in another European Cup final when a DIY accident at home cost him a place in the team that beat Bruges at Wembley to retain the trophy. As disappointing as that must have been, at least he had the memory of that header to ease the pain.
  4. 2 points
    Virgil Van Dijk has said the closeness of the Liverpool squad is what makes them such a special group to be a part of.The imperious Dutch central defender gave a insight into the inner sanctum of the Champions League winners telling The Mirror that it is just not the current players that play a part.“The legends of the great days – such as Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush – travel with us during European weeks.“Dalglish even sends me texts on my phone and we will have a chat at times.“When I go to see my family after a match, I go by the boardroom and it is always full of former top players.“But we can also have a laugh and a joke about each other." Van Dijk has been around the game long enough to make judgements on what makes a cohesive unit. He is well aware that cliques can develop to the detriment of the side, but at Liverpool, it is clear that he feels at home.“At almost every club, you find that there are lots of different little groups in a squad.”“ In my opinion, Liverpool are one big family – and that is why this club suits me so much.“James Milner says the same thing – and he has played at big clubs like Man City, Newcastle United and Aston Villa.“ That’s why this club is great for me. The people are all humble.It may come as a surprise, but Van Dijk says that Sadio Mane is the joker of the squad while Andy Robertson always has plenty to say for himself.Virgil is naturally very close to his countryman in Gini Wijnaldum.He recalled a story about the midfielder before the Champions League final.“When we were about to go on to the pitch for the biggest game of the year in Madrid, suddenly it was Gini who said, ‘Hang on, boys, let’s all get together here.“We formed a tight circle right there in the dressing room and Gini started to talk.“He said all the right things, he really went for it and I could feel I was getting a lump in my throat.“It was so special what he said – and it was so perfect.“Gini is such a warm person.”While Van Dijk certainly does not share the same relationship with Leo Messi, he feels he has earned the respect of the Barcelona legend after speaking with him at the Ballon D’ Or ceremony.“I spoke to Messi during the evening. “It was not the longest conversation because he doesn’t speak a lot of English."But it was still enough to make me realise that the respect between us now also runs the other way.”
  5. 2 points
    This season TLW will give the readers a look into the opposition camp as we progress through what should be another thrilling season. The opening game against newly promoted Norwich on Friday night is the perfect launching point for this piece. Connor Southwell (@cjsouthwell1902) and Anita Byrne (@anitajbyrne) from @NorwichCityMFW give an insightful viewpoint about what it means to be back in the Premier League, the impact of their impressive manager Daniel Farke and who their key players are to keep an eye on throughout the season. Before we look ahead, belated congratulations for your return to the Premier League. Can you talk our readers through what it means to be back in the top tier of English Football and perhaps a personal highlight or two from your outstanding Championship winning season? CS: Thank you! The majority of the Canary nation would proclaim that the feeling is one of profound sweetness. To contextualise, you have to rewind two seasons previous, where Daniel Farke had just been installed, and the club felt like it was in somewhat of a slump. Disconnect between the players and the supporters became fractious with the general perception of underachievement because of the highest ever wage budget Alex Neil oversaw. The last two years have proved transformative. Sporting Director Stuart Webber has instigated the most significant culture change the club has ever experienced, with a lower budget being embraced and youth were provided with a chance. The bridge between the first team and the academy has been non-existent for a while. From there, it was all down to Farke. He’d experienced a tough first season which was put down to the transitional state of the club. Recruitment was a key factor, but the German deserves all the praise for sculpting a side to play football that was aesthetically pleasing but equally effective. The combination of youth and entertaining football made for a season that will be confined to the history books forever. That underdog spirit was something special and, at times, Carrow Road was a cauldron of noise. In terms of highlights, there are two that stand out in my mind. That win at Elland Road where Norwich schooled Marcelo Bielsa’s men and tactically outthought them. That was the night many Norwich fans became believers and then Blackburn at home, the game that secured promotion. It’s good to be back, but now they need to prove they deserve to stay there. Can you give an insight into your manager Daniel Farke. From an outsiders point of view he has come to the club, assessed what needed to be done and went about it in a methodical fashion, much like what his countryman Jurgen Klopp did for the Reds. What has impressed you most about the man and his methods? CS: I think there’s an assumption about every German coach who comes to these shores that their methodology and philosophy is identical to that to Jurgen Klopp because of the impact he’s made at Liverpool. The influx of German coaches with Farke, Wagner, Siewart, Stendel and Hassenhuttel (although Austrian) has altered the dynamic with fresh ideas and a style of football that places entertainment at the forefront of the game. Spanish possession and tika-taka have been developed with ideas of pressing. However, with Farke, Norwich has seen a more Thomas Tuchel approach whereby it’s all about being the protagonists in-game and using that possession-based approach to create overloads with an emphasis on attacking phases. The full-backs occupy high positions, and the wingers become number tens. It’s all about locating space between the lines. His ability to get an extra percentage out of players has been a massive strength. Players like Moritz Leitner, who was on the bench for Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League Final and have lost their way slightly, he’s managed to rejuvenate players careers on a shoestring with a style suited to the Premier League. He’s proven himself to be an adept and pragmatic operator. What’s impressed me more than anything is his temperament. Regardless of the club’s fate or situations, he always remained level headed. After a 4-0 defeat to Millwall, he was calm and rational, and equally so after the game that sealed promotion. Football is an emotional game, but it shows his composure. For fans all over the footballing landscape, the new season breeds plenty of hope especially in terms of a newly promoted club. Some promoted clubs like Huddersfield and Cardiff see the first season almost as a free hit and a true adventure, whilst others like Bournemouth, Burnley and Wolves seemingly have a structure in place to have a long term stay. Of course there are plenty of variables to take into account throughout the course of a season, but do you feel the club have a strong structure in place to become an established Premier League club? CS: The structure has been built over the last two years. I don’t see anything dramatic changing, particularly. They are ahead of the curve in terms of their long-term project to become established. They’ve developed the training ground and also have several assets on the pitch in terms of young talent so relegation wouldn’t be harmful in that sense. Naturally, the aim is to survive and prosper in the Premier League, but it’s about cultivating that underdog spirit and thriving off it. Every pundit, predictor and supporter outside of Norfolk will undoubtedly have Norwich in their bottom three, that’s what Norwich have developed momentum from. That attitude of overcoming adversity and proving people wrong. The group they’ve constructed has been designed purposefully to have the characteristic of being on the football rejection line. That culture they’ve installed is due to stand the test of time, regardless of who occupies the dugout. So in that regard, Norwich won’t alter their core beliefs irrespective of the league they are in. There was a point where relegation was feared, now, because of that strong structure, if they go down, then there is a belief they’ll come back. If they stay up, then the potential is there to sustain themselves. AB: Norwich have not changed our squad significantly or spent big money in the transfer market, which has targeted the club for some negativity and accusations of “lack of ambition” and “naivety." However, if you look at Fulham and its spending last season it doesn’t always amount to success. We have a team we don’t have individuals that think they’re bigger than the club. The camaraderie and bond has extended itself to the fans, which in return has increased atmosphere, it’s a double-edged sword. Any players that would come into the club would have to buy into its philosophy. Also making too many changes could alter that balance, let’s reward our players that got us promotion. Some of our players proved they are worth more than our rival teams are spending. Talk us through some of your squad. Who are some of your key players that Liverpool need to keep a close eye on and who do you feel have the qualities needed to thrive at this level? CS : Teemu Pukki is going to be a primary protagonist for Norwich’s survival mission. His 30 goals in all competitions were bettered only by James Norwood in the EFL. In terms of free transfers, he has to be one of the best in the club’s history: a natural goalscorer but an intellectual mover who can finish from all angles. Another is Emi Buendia, a name that I’m sure will be accustomed to all come May. The Argentinean is one of those footballers capable of provoking emotion with his creative style. His ability to impact games and produce moments of genuine quality excites the Canary faithful. Buendia can unlock doors that many can’t. His temperament is a concern, and his relentless graft often becomes aggression. Another intelligent operator, Buendia’s game, is reliant of locating those spaces between the lines and turning on the half turn. He’s a technical footballer whose ceiling is way beyond his current level — one to watch. Then, of course, there is a plethora of young talent at Farke’s disposal. Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis, the two full-backs, have been pivotal for asserting Farke’s possession-based philosophy. Their dynamism and physicality are vital to providing width and an out ball when the space in the central phase is condensed. Which of your summer signings have impressed you most in the pre-season? AB: Man City winger Patrick Roberts (pictured below) who has joined on a season long loan is a player I could see getting some valuable minutes on the pitch, lets hope he can reproduce his success at Celtic. Injuries have hampered him and our coach has already got the best out of players who feel they need a second chance and got it all to prove. This could also apply to former West Ham and Leeds right back Sam Byram. Just as being the first match on centre court for the Wimbledon Championships or facing the first ball in a Lords test match is a massive occasion, there must be great sense of pride for the club to be involved in a stand-alone season opener under the Anfield lights? AB: In my eyes Anfield is the best way to kick off our start in the top flight of football. Klopp v Farke, two German coaches both from Borussia Dortmund, with mutual respect. Klopp was known to be following the Canaries results closely last year having worked with Moritz Leitner, Mario Vrancic and Marco Steipermann in the past. First game against the champions of Europe, a huge stage to start on. I would love Farke to become as successful as Klopp, there is no doubting how both have won the hearts of their fans. CS: This is what the players worked so tirelessly for last season, for nights and opportunities like this. Without pressure, they can go and showcase themselves on one of the most famous sporting backdrops in the world. There is pride, but Norwich has a group who will travel to Anfield with a desire and belief that they can win. They don’t fear anyone, nor will their natural inclination to be to put men behind the ball. Norwich will come to Anfield believing they can return with three points, of course, they won’t possess the same amount of the ball, so it’ll be interesting how they approach it but, of course, it’ll be an uphill battle. Thankfully for the Canaries there is no Luis Suarez in the Liverpool lineup. But in an opposition fans’ opinion, who are the key men that Norwich need to contain in your quest to get a result? CS: Haha! Thank goodness for no Luis Suarez! Whoever Liverpool deploy will ooze quality, so dismantling the Reds system and nullifying the supply line to that potent front three is key. What Liverpool possess is a game that doesn’t provide respite, whether they are on or off the ball or in transition. It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Canaries… Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are undoubtedly the operators Norwich to somehow contain but reducing Liverpool’s time in possession and attempting to stop the ball as it travels through the thirds is the challenge. It’ll be a counter-attacking performance at Anfield from Norwich; I think that’s the case for every team who finds themselves in the opposing dressing room. I’m intrigued to see how it pans out, but that front three is mortifying for every team in the division. With their extended summers for varying reasons, hopefully, they have a rare off day come August 9th. If money was no object who is the one player which current Liverpool player would you love to have in your lineup? AB: Without hesitation PFA player of the year... Virgil Van Dijk would be the player I would jump at having in our line up. He must be one of or if not the best Centre back in the world. He has it all! Good on the ball, pace and can even use his head. A defender who is as equally great in both boxes, hard working and still young enough to improve. Worth every penny of his huge transfer fee, not something us as Norwich fans could ever believe we could spend under our current module. CS: The obvious answer would be to say any of the front three. That would be tremendous fun to consume every week. Instead, I’ll apply it to Norwich at the moment; the goalkeeping situation is still not fixed, so Alisson would be perfect for occupying that spot. With the youthful exuberance in the defence, then an assured, positive influence in goal who can win points singlehandedly, that could be a massive asset in the bid for survival. One of the best goalkeepers in the world, you can’t turn your nose up at that! So what is your score prediction for this fixture? CS: I think it’ll be an exciting game with a curious dynamic, but I’ll be pragmatic and go with a humbling 3-0 defeat. As long as it isn’t humiliating, then Norwich can dust themselves down and go again. And in broader terms where do you think you will finish in 2019/20? AB. Survival is crucial this season for us to then learn and build the following season. I would be happy with 15th however if we could finish above that i would class that as a huge success. Watching Nuno’s Wolverhampton proves that a club can come up from the Championship and build on their success, let’s hope Norwich can do just that.
  6. 1 point
    Liverpool are believed to be a number of Premier League sides keeping tabs on left-back Max Clark who is currently playing for Vitesse Arnhem.The 23 year-old who came through the ranks at Hull City has represented England at U/16 and U/17 level and also spent some time at Cambridge United before venturing off to play in the Dutch top flight on a free transfer. Since making the move, Clark has made 43 appearances in all competitions for Vitas and won admirers with the quality of his pin-point delivery from wide areas and his tackling ability and is known to be on the radar of England manager Gareth Southgate as competition for incumbent Ben Chilwell.The Mirror reports that Liverpool are closely looking at the progress of Clark as they consider a back-up option for the tireless Andy Robertson.While Clark has 18 months left on his current deal, it is believed the current sixth placed side in the Eredivisie are bracing for bids in the January window.Ironically, Robertson and Clark were at Hull together and the latter replaced the Scottish captain when he departed to come to the Reds in the summer of 2018.At the time, Robertson was delighted for his understudy getting his chance to fill his shoes. Speaking about the move to Holland, Clark recently told Sky Sports:“ I had seen others go abroad and do well, kicking their career on, so I thought I would take myself out of my comfort zone and give it a go.“A lot of people were surprised because I was leaving my hometown club, a club I had grown up supporting. “All I had ever known was life in England so it was a big step and I was a bit nervous at first wondering how it would be But I challenged myself to do it."I don't have the distractions that I had at home.“Coming here on my own away from family and friends has changed my routines. "I am just focused on the task ahead. Everything about it."After pulling off a masterstroke in signing Takumi Minamito, don’t be surprised to see another ‘under the radar’ type signing like Clark arrive at the club in the near future.
  7. 1 point
    Andy Robertson hopes that Liverpool’s victory in the Club World Cup will lead to English clubs taking the competition more seriously and building more interest across the nation.The Reds became just the second Premier League side to claim the trophy and it will expand to a 24 team tournament from 2021.The left-back says it is clear that it is seen differently in various parts of the world, with South American teams seeing it as a badge of honour to take on the cream of the crop from Europe.The Mirror reported Robertson as saying:“I don’t think the perception in South America needs to change,if they had won, there was going to be parties on the streets. “In England, I suppose everyone has just moved on with their lives.“I think it is because not many English teams have been here. “Down in England, everyone tends to focus on the Carabao Cup because everyone can win it.”Despite being a maligned competition, there was a piece of silverware up for grabs against Flamengo, and Robertson said the team wanted to grab it with both hands, taking lessons learnt from their Champions League final experience.“Leading up to the first Champions League final in 2018 where we got beat, we said to ourselves that we may not be here again, play with no regrets.“We did that and fell short, but the following season we were back. “We didn’t expect that.“To get here, you need to win Champions League and we know just how hard that is from the last two years.“We needed to take it like we’ll never be back and now we’re world champions for 2019.” Robertson looked back with pride over the success that Liverpool have had in 2019, but he also said it is important to continue the momentum into the new calendar year.“Look, that’s three for 2019, we have won the Champions League, Super Cup and now this.“To win three in any calendar year is special – and these are big ones.“The Champions League is absolutely massive. The Super Cup and the Club World Cup are massive to us. “We are really excited about it but we have got to take the momentum into 2020.“Hopefully there are a couple more of these scenes of us lifting trophies above our head to come.”
  8. 1 point
    Virgil Van Dijk has given high praise to the performances of Jordan Henderson saying that the squad respects him at every level.Henderson has been a lightning rod for debate among Liverpool fans virtually since he joined the club from Sunderland in the summer of 2011 for around £20 million.He was viewed as Steven Gerrard’s long term successor, but as anyone who has been around a professional sporting team will tell you, it is virtually impossible to fill the identical role of a talismanic figure like Gerrard. It was even tougher for Henderson when he was handed the armband as the team was suffering a long malaise from the title heartbreak from 2014 as well as suffering from a range of injuries and inconsistent form himself.However he had a clear supporter in Jürgen Klopp who despite all the outside noise, stood by his captain through thick and thin.And he has been rewarded with Henderson maturing into the role season upon season and arguably has not played better than he has done in the past yearVan Dijk who was viewed by many as a captain-in-waiting when he joined from Southhampton, was glowing in tribute for the 29 year-old’s consistent performances as The Mirror reported:“ He’s our captain. That’s what we all respect. He’s having a fantastic season so far.“He’s been doing fantastically whether he’s filling in for Fabinho at the moment or he’s playing as a right midfielder where he’s giving assists and stuff.“He has been fantastic, in and out of the pitch he is very important for us whether he plays or not. “We are all respect him on that level.”Van Dijk says the ability of Henderson to block out the outside noise is one of his true assets, as is his adaptability. "I think from him that is also the most important thing. "When other people say negative things it doesn’t really matter.“He was outstanding when he played centre half. I was really proud of him. “I told him after the game. “He has got a lot more respect for what we do in the back as well.“It’s not easy and I know sometimes we make it look a bit easy but it’s difficult."Van Dijk also discussed the magnitude of claiming the Club World Cup with victory over Flamengo on Saturday evening.“Obviously it’s something special. “We are the first Liverpool team that have won it so we can be very proud of that and hopefully more to come.“To be out there, to start a tournament you want to finish as the winner and that’s what we did. We are very happy about that.“We had Flamengo fans next to our hotel and they were partying the whole time as well. We had already a feeling I know how big Flamengo is as a club."We knew Brazil was living for them to win this. “So I enjoyed the atmosphere, I enjoyed the passion they had and their team made it tough for us.”
  9. 1 point
    Jordan Henderson spoke of his pride in becoming world champions after Liverpool claimed their third piece of silverware in 2019 after defeating Flamengo 1-0 in the final of the World Club Cup in Qatar on Saturday evening.The Reds captain played a key part in the winning goal with a defence splitting pass to Sadio Mane who then laid it off to Roberto Firmino who expertly slotted it past Diego Alves in the Flamengo goal in the ninth minute of the extra time period.It was the second time that the Brazilian had been the match winner in the tournament having also scored the decisive goal against Monterrey on Wednesday evening.Once again the focus and mentality of the Reds came to the fore in a match played in gruelling conditions with a number of baffling decisions made by the referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim and dubious antics from the Brazilian side.Speaking after the game to the Official site, Henderson said the tag of World Champions had a “very nice” ring to it. He also said ability to keep going until the end was the difference in the tight contest.“I’m delighted that we’ve come here and done what we wanted to do and that’s win. We’ve had two tough games with extra-time but I thought the lads kept going and showed a great mentality again to find the winner.“We had some great chances in the game but always kept going and always kept fighting and tried to find the breakthrough, so I’m delighted that we’ve managed to do that and keep the clean sheet.”Henderson said that the team must now use the confidence form this latest triumph as a catalyst in the quest for more honours during the second half of the season. “ From the summer we’ve kicked on again.“We’ve kept going and we’ve used it to help us progress and used it to stay hungry. So we need to do the same with this one.“We need to keep going, we’ve got a big game coming up in midweek and the games come thick and fast, so of course we can enjoy tonight but then tomorrow we’ve got to recover and get straight back on the focus of Leicester.”Jürgen Klopp echoed his captains thoughts after the game with ESPN reporting his great pride.“ I struggle to find the right words, to express my respect for the boys.“ It was incredible, we did so many good things, everyone was on the edge pretty much and there were so many sensational, good performances.“ I said before I didn't know how it would feel (to win it) and now I can say -- it's outstanding.”
  10. 1 point
    Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson has discussed his joy over Liverpool’s hard fought 2-1 win over CONCACAF champions Monterrey in the semi final of the FIFA Club World Cup in Doha on Wednesday evening.The Mexican side pushed the Reds all the way, but once again the belief within the squad played a massive part with substitute Roberto Firmino scoring the winner in injury time.With the victory, Liverpool became the first English team to reach the final twice and know they can look to right the wrongs from 2005.The gloveman was playing with a much changed back four in front of him including captain Jordan Henderson who filled in for Virgil Van Dijk.Despite being much busier than normal and winning high praise from his manager for his performance , the keeper says that it was the strong team mentality which saw them through.The Official site reported Alisson as saying:Just to be mentally strong and focus on every movement. “I think the guys know me long enough to know me, even Hendo being in a different position. “I tried to speak with him all the time to help him in the movements but I think everybody did well. “Of course there were many chances for them but they helped me in those chances to be close to the ball, to make sure the strikers don’t have time to shoot alone, and this makes a difference for the goalkeeper to make a save.” Alisson says he is greatly looking forward to the final on Saturday evening against a team from his homeland, that being Flamengo.“It will be a tough game for us as it was tonight against Monterrey. "They are different sides. Flamengo have a lot of quality, they have a good defence but I don’t know what to expect from the game. “I just know it will be a nice challenge for us, a good challenge and I think for who will be watching the game it will be a nice game with quality [of a] high level. “We are both champions of the most important tournaments, us with the Champions League and Flamengo won the Copa Libertadores. "I know how important this championship is for the Brazilian teams and South American teams, and I know it will be a hard game for us.”
  11. 1 point
    Liverpool may be riding high on top of the Premier League table but just like any good team, they are looking at areas where they can improve.One of the areas for debate in the past 12 months has been cover at the left-back position.Andy Robertson is undisputedly one of the best left backs in World Football, but just as any footballer who produces the power of work that the Scottish captain does on a game to game basis, a occasional break is required so burnout does not become a issue.The ever-reliable James Milner has been deployed in that position, while youngsters Adam Lewis and Yasser Larouci are seen to be long term prospects.But if a recent report is to be believed, Liverpool will be bringing another option to the club in 19 year old-Coventry player Sam McCallum. A number of Liverpool’s main Premier League rivals including Man City, Leicester and Chelsea were all keeping tabs on the talented youngster.But the Birmingham Mail reports( via 90min.com) that the Reds are set to win the race for McCallum before loaning him back to the League One side for the rest of the season.He has already more than doubled the amount of appearances that he made for Coventry last season (19-8) and some of strengths lie in his discipline in defence and his ability to bring the ball forward with confidence.But it hasn’t been the traditional road to get to this stage for the young left-back as he came to Coventry from non-league side Herne Bay.Someone who has had a lot to do with his development is Coventry First team Technical coach Jason Farndon who said he has “got the lot” in terms of a modern day full-back.Farndon also said McCallum can be a role model for those coming through the road less travelled.“Yes, for any young left-back in the country, I’d suggest, that’s playing non-league football and maybe thinks they haven’t had the chance they deserve.“ Sam has come in and worked ultra hard and been brilliant really.“ He’s highly intelligent so he takes information on board and everything you ask him to do he does to the best of his ability. "And if he doesn’t know what it is he asks questions, and is not afraid to ask questions.“ But he just works really hard and wants to be the best he can be.“It’s an exciting time to see what he does in his career.”With Coventry manager Mark Robins virtually consigned to the thought of losing McCallum to a “big Premier League team", that next step could well be at Melwood.
  12. 1 point
    Man City midfielder Rodri has played against his fair share of quality teams in his career to date but according to the 23 year-old, Liverpool stand out above all others.The Spanish international who came through the ranks at Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, is currently in his first season in English Football, but he has seen enough for of the European Champions to be mightily impressed.The Echo(via Goal) reported Rodri as saying“On an individual basis I can say that Liverpool are the best team I have faced.“They dominate at both ends of the field, they are very aggressive.“ They dominate the lines well and that makes them a fearsome team.But despite sitting 14 points behind the Reds on the table, the holding midfielder believes that there is still hope for the reigning champions. “They are very good, but anyone can beat them, so we are going to fight until the end.“If we focus on Liverpool too much, we are wrong. “We would be better looking at ourselves and play as we did at Atletico under Simeone, game by game.“You can't stop competing and that's what [Pep] Guardiola instils in us every day, that every game is a final." This mindset was in stark contrast to his teammate Ilkay Gundogan who virtually raised the white flag earlier in the week.“It's so far and a difficult season for us. There's already a huge gap in the Premier League between Liverpool and us. “We can't deny that the title race is already over for us. “We have to compete for the Champions League again next season and that's disappointing to be honest. (It's) so early in the season to have such a huge gap and is not something we are used to.“ No-one says if you are not successful in the Premier League then you can't be successful in the Champions League. “I think in the Champions League there are still all chances open."No matter what thought process and potential mind games that come from the Blue side of Manchester, don’t expect Jürgen Klopp and his players to be caught up in it.
  13. 1 point
    James Milner has put any doubt to rest regarding his future at Liverpool after signing a deal that will see the popular veteran remain at the club until 2022.On a landmark day for the club that also saw Jürgen Klopp commit his long term to the club, a delighted Milner said being at the club is a true joy in his life.The Official site reported Milner as saying:“I’ve been lucky and privileged to play for this club for four-and-a-half years now, it has been an amazing time seeing how the club is changing and developing.“I just enjoy coming into training every day, working with this group of players, this manager and coaching staff, and being part of this football club."Liverpool is an unbelievable place to be and we’re a very, very good football team and hopefully we can keep improving.“ There’s a long, long way to go now, we know that, no-one is getting ahead of themselves. Again, that’s a massive strength of the squad, we take it a game at a time and concentrate on one at a time.The versatile 33 year-old said that despite talk of moving to his boyhood club Leeds, he was intent on playing at the elite level for as long as possible. “We had discussions with the club and this was obviously the ideal for me, this was what I wanted to do – stay and play at the highest level as long as I can.Displaying his well known dry wit, Milner said his manager made sure the time was right to sign his own contract.“Obviously the gaffer waited to sign his dependent on whether I signed mine, so that makes me a feel bit more important!” Naturally, Klopp was delighted to see one of his senior players sign on the dotted line.The Echo reported the manager as saying:“ I remember I said in the summer I had not had the pleasure of working with many players like James Milner before in my career - and I am so pleased I will continue to get the chance to work with him for the next few years.“It is great news for Liverpool FC to have a player of - first and foremost - his qualities and attitude, but also, of course, his experience, here among our squad for the future.“ He is our vice-captain and obviously one of the big leaders in our squad. “He is just as important to us off the pitch in the dressing room as he is on the field, and that tells you everything as he is a big, big player for us. “He is a big voice in the dressing room and someone all of the players look up to and respect."While the veteran is a leader on the pitch, Klopp remembered a story from last season which illustrated the importance of Milner away from the bright lights.“One of the best examples of this is how he was on the morning of the Barcelona game at Anfield when he arrived at Melwood – as soon as he walked through the door that day, he was pushing everyone around him and motivating them and I loved it.“And one of my favourite things about Millie, of which there are many, is he is genuinely still improving all the time as a player.“He has an outstanding attitude: towards football, towards looking after himself and towards looking after others. “He is an outstanding footballer and we all believe he still has a lot left to give, which is why this deal makes so much sense for all.”
  14. 1 point
    Jürgen Klopp has hailed the resilience and intelligence of his side after Liverpool passed a searching test against RB Salzburg on Tuesday.Two goals in as many minutes just before the hour mark by Naby Keita and a brilliant Mo Salah finish were enough for the Reds to progress to the knockout stages.While the result may look routine in the record books in the years ahead, it was anything but as the visitors had to be at their defensive best to keep a clean sheet against their high octane opponents.What would have undoubtedly impressed Klopp the most was that his side were able to get the job done once again in a pressurised situation.A loss in this fixture would have meant Europa League duty, which would have been a massive blow to confidence within the squad.But the mentality that this team has been built upon came to the fore and Klopp told the assembled media pack afterwards about the pride he felt, as well as paying a glowing tribute to their opponents. The Mirror reported the manager as saying:“I couldn't have more respect for what Salzburg are doing. "You see how good they are, how good they were in the first game, how good they were against Napoli.“You could come here as current Champions League winners and misunderstand it. "But my team is so smart, and I really love it that they listen and put a shift in like that.“ Salzburg were unbelievably strong especially in the first half but we were as well and were ready for the fight. “We should have scored in the first half and then in the second half, it's not easy to keep that intensity but we scored the goals.”Salah had what you could describe as a mixed evening at the office.He was unusually wasteful in front of goal, but made up for that with a goal from an incredibly acute angle which only the very best of players could even contemplate of scoring. "How do I explain it? Thank God I don't have to! It was for sure the most difficult situation he had tonight.“He played really well but didn't score in the situations we expect him to score, staying on track and making such a decisive but difficult finish says probably much more about him than all the other goals he scored.“He stayed concentrated, believed in the next moment and it was a very, very good goal. A sensational finish.”
  15. 1 point
    Jürgen Klopp says that the depth of Liverpool’s squad was clearly illustrated after their emphatic 5-2 victory over Everton on Wednesday evening.The manager made five changes from the team that beat Brighton on the weekend with the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and captain Jordan Henderson all rested while Alisson was suspended.Players like Divock Origi, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri were given the opportunity to shine in one of the standout fixtures on the Premier League calendar.And it is fair to say that the fringe players did not let him down with Origi grabbing a double and Shaqiri scoring his first goal for the club in nearly a year.Sky Sports reported a delighted Klopp as saying:“ There were a lot of great football moments in that game.“ We made five changes. I speak a lot about the quality in the squad, so I have to show it from time to time.“It’s really important and gives us the feeling that we can do it more often – and we will do it more often.“ You give the responsibility to the boys and they have to show that they can perform and what they're made of, which is incredible.“ Divock's goal, Sadio's passes, Shaq's everything, Adam Lallana everywhere and he had so many really really good moments. "They are fantastic footballers. "I said before the season that there is no one in the squad who is not an outstanding footballer." Klopp said he was thrilled with the first half performance in particular, but wasn’t happy when his players switched off allowing Richarlison to score on the stroke of half time.“From time to time it was a bit rusty in defending because they were really direct."It was all good until 4-1, but the 4-2 I didn't like so much. "But we have to learn and have to improve and that's what we will do."
  16. 1 point
    It is the fixture that divides the city but it is fair to say the gap between Liverpool and Everton has not been this large for many a year. The Toffees come to Anfield in 17th place with a manager in crisis and a fanbase fearing relegation if things do not improve quickly. For this Opposition View, TLW tried something a little unique. Instead of an individual answering the questions, we thought it would be worthwhile to gauge the opinion of a range of Blues supporters from the Everton FC fan forum. What you see is brutal honesty and quite a fascinating insight into what has gone wrong for our neighbours this season. In your opinion, what are the main reasons behind Everton’s inconsistent form over the past 18 months? Rob Preece: Poor signings and management. An over reliance to stick with a system that doesn’t work. Zonal marking. No striker of any great note and a lack of creativity from midfield. David Holroyd: Look at the money Liverpool spent on Salah and Mane. We got Gylfi for almost same price. We should be looking for a better manager than Silva. Benitez would be a better choice, don't be afraid because of what he said in the past let him see for himself. Andy Kay: 30 years of mismanagement from the start of the Premier League era. Wasted money, the stadium, merchandise, kits, players and directors who don't care for the club.... We've become a laughing stock while Liverpool have embarrassed us in every way possible. We are Espanyol, Torino and 1860 Munich rolled into one. Once the pride of Merseyside is now a shambles. Elaine Dutton: A pick and mix squad of players brought in by Koeman, Allardyce and Silva to play specific roles and as each new manager comes in with his own style we have players who don't fit in to that way of playing. There is no heart to the team with Jags, Baines, Coleman, Gueye and Lukaku no longer at the club or past their prime Why do you think Marco Silva has struggled so much to get the best of his squad? Matthew Thompson: Not replacing Zouma and Gueye and also having injured midfielder (Jean Philippe) Gbamin out for 2/3 months, Gomes for likely the rest of season and not once being able to play his strongest 11. He also wanted a left footed right-winger. We all knew before the season started that we were short at the back and that has started to become too much of a gamble. We have a good crop of players but we lack that finishing touch. Dan Lawrence: Square pegs and round holes. He's stubborn the way he wants to play and wedges players into formation when main players are unavailable. Also I don’t think he knows his best 11 and the zonal marking doesn’t work but he still insists on using it. He’s a nice guy but as a result we are too nice on the pitch. Everton have looked to be big players in the transfer market of late bringing in skilled players like Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson. But do you believe you have lost some of that grit and graft that was part of your DNA under David Moyes? Mark Hayes: The initial downfall was appointing Martinez. I know there will be a lot that disagree because they have fell for the Spanish stains’ bullshit and seem to forget the state the team were in when he left, but here's a reminder... a team that were so unfit because of his training ideas, that they struggled to even see out a game. A team that couldn't defend because Brown shoes didn't think defence was that important and training to defend set-pieces wasn't even a consideration. Finishing 5th with what was Moyes' team (apart from a young hungry Lukaku) was a one off and we all saw the real Martinez team the following two seasons. Unfortunately the club did not learn by their mistake and carried on making them with Koeman and now Silva. Mark Mellor: Unfortunately yes, for me passion is as important as talent? Look at Norwich and Sheffield U, on paper we should be better because we have a more expensive team but they both play as a team and are really up for it? We need more of what they have? Commitment!! Which player(s) have impressed you this season and who needs to raise their performance? Jon McCarthy: (Djibril) Sidibe has been a decent signing, Bernard has done well when fit, but as for the rest of the team.... shambles. Gylfi hasn't shown even a glimpse of the 'talent' he has. Anthony Gray: Mina has surprised me as i didn't think he was any good but he's actually not that bad... Bernard, Gomes, Sidibe all done ok.... Completely in shock over Digne, where’s he gone?? Siggi has always been defended by me, but now there's no argument for me to defend him. He's too slow and does not look interested. Pickford is just a little fat prick who thinks he's class when he is far from it. Mark Killey: Not one of our players would get into a normal top 6 team and that just shows who has impressed. We have a squad who play average to poor football week in week out. Silva was never the man for the job, but with that team off mercenaries I can't see anyone getting us out off this shite where in now. What would be your ultimate Footballing nightmare. Relegation or Liverpool winning the Premier League title? Mark Quinn: Not being bottom 3 is the priority of course. It's sad when the obsession with the other lot blurs our own priorities. Kenny Almond : Bottom 3 100%! Don't get all these fans who want us to lose games so it helps others who are challenging. I want us to win every game we play! As much as I hate the red shite we seem to be more bothered about them. At the end of the day whatever team manages ends on top after 38 games wins the league and probably deserve it. We need Silva out and kick on up the table at this point. I would take a mid table finish and only Everton matter to me. Alan James Martyn: Let's be positive; it's not over until the final whistle. The Reds haven't won yet and we ain't down. We are true blues and have more home grown fans then them. Who is someone that you believe can take the game to Liverpool and conversely who do you need to contain? Kyle Marsh: Our wingers against their fullbacks. They're both good going forward but not great defensively. Dan Malone: Five at the back. Start Kean. Robert Cruikshank: Everything comes from Trent and Robertson. Nullify them, that gives us a chance. Do you have a score prediction for this fixture? Mike Warren: We either going to get battered or lose by 1 absolute stinker of a decision. Hope they surprise me with a win though. Wes Hershberger: 2-2 draw, Moise Kean equalizer on 92’ Graham Weedall: My heart is saying 1-2. But my head is saying 3-0.
  17. 1 point
    We all know that Virgil Van Dijk is as graceful as they come on the pitch, but he has produced similar etiquette when it comes to social media.As widely predicted, Lionel Messi won his sixth Ballon d’or award in Paris on Monday night with Van Dijk coming in as runner up ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.It is only the third time in the last twelve years that Messi and Ronaldo have not finished 1/2 in the award.Before the event, a reporter said to Virgil, “Cristiano wont be here tonight so that is one less rival to worry about.”In a off-the cuff response, Van Dijk then said “Was Cristiano Ronaldo really a rival.”Ever the provocateur, the morning show host Piers Morgan piped up to say on Twitter,“No., Cristiano is a far greater player, you’re not in his league."While many would have bitten back in savage fashion, Van Dijk to his great credit did not feed the troll and responded:“ Hi Piers, If you don’t jump on the social media bandwagon and would listen to the whole interview then you would know I made a joke, and only got respect for those 2." The talismanic Dutchman was just as gracious after the event as the Official site reported:"You need to respect greatness. I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better. “I’m very proud of what I achieved last year, with Liverpool and Holland. Hopefully we can do it again this year.“I never thought I would be up for a Ballon d’Or until I was actually nominated. "It says a lot about how my career has been, it has never been easy. I came late but I never gave up on my dreams. I had to work very hard every step of the way.“Where I am right now is something I’m very proud of. To be here makes me very proud and makes me want to work even harder and hopefully be here next year again.”Van Dijk becomes only the third Liverpool player to finish in the top two of the award along with Kenny Dalglish (second in 1983) and Michael Owen who claimed the top gong in 2001.Liverpool were deservedly well represented in the top 10 with Sadio Mane (4th), Mo Salah(5th) and Alisson (7th).Roberto Firmino finished 17th, Trent Alexander-Arnold was just behind him in 19th while Gini Wijnaldum came in at 26th.The Brazilian gloveman was also awarded the Yachine Trophy for the best goalkeeper award in World Football voted by France Football magazine.It adds to his bulging haul of honours which includes the Champions League Goalkeeper of the season and Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award. Allison was humbled by the honour as reported by the Official site.“It’s a great honour to be here with those great players, men and women.“I just want to thank my family, my wife, who support me everywhere I go. To my parents, they are in Brazil – I think watching me! And to God. “ It is a great honour he is giving me in 2019, winning the Champions League and winning some individual awards.“I don’t feel lucky, I feel blessed and grateful. I also want to say thank you to my teammates, to all the Liverpool staff. Thank you very much.”
  18. 1 point
    Key Liverpool midfielder Fabinho could be sidelined for the most demanding part of Liverpool’s season to date.The Brazilian hobbled off before the 20 minute mark of the Reds 1-1 draw with Napoli on Wednesday evening.Fabinho did not have a scan on his troublesome ankle on Thursday as they were keen to let the area settle.But the Daily Mail says that there is a feeling within the Liverpool camp that he will out of action between four and six weeks meaning that he will miss the Club World Cup and the Christmas and New Year fixtures. Speaking after the game, Jürgen Klopp alluded to the fact that they could lose the Brazilian for a decent stretch saying:“That’s the biggest thing from tonight. “It’s still early and we all hope it’s not too serious but it’s pretty painful in an area you don’t want to have pain.Gini Wijnaldum who could well be the player to fill the hoiding midfield role in Fabinho's absence also said it was a big setback. " It is a blow, a big blow, for the whole team, of course also for him as a player but there are situations you have to deal with.“I think during the years we have had a few blows, in terms of injuries, and we just have to show we can deal with the situation.” Gini is right on the money with that observation, and in a way it is better if this kind of setback for Fabinho and indeed Joel Matip happen now than in the title run-in.Jürgen Klopp has built a fantastic squad mentality where one player comes in and plays their role such as what we have seen with Dejan Lovren.That same opportunity will arise for Fab's replacement.
  19. 1 point
    Andy Robertson says that Liverpool are pleased with their start to the season but still believes they can progress to another level.The Reds have shown once again this season that they are prepared to go the full ninety minutes to get the desired result, but the Left-Back said that they would prefer a more comfy ride for themselves and their fans. The Echo reported Robbo as saying:"We have found ways to win and have been going right the way to the end. “Against [Manchester] City and Tottenham we played unbelievable but Villa and Palace we had to dig deep.“We have 37 points in the Premier League, you can't do much better than that but we are always striving for perfection.“We haven't reached our best yet and it will be great when that happens. “Fans would love a game where they can sit down for the last 10 minutes and enjoy it, not biting nails." The Scottish captain is like a energizer battery running up and down his flank every game, but the 25 year-old admits he has been carrying his share of niggles of late.He admits that he hates missing any game time, but sometimes smart game management and preservation is necessary like what occurred against Genk when he came on late in that Champions League group game.“The lads will say I've been in the treatment room too long and the physio is getting sick of me.“It just takes longer to get things going, and once I get going it's okay. I have 30 mins to warm up rather than 10-15 mins.“Everyone is pushing each other in the squad. It's not about fear, it's about me personally wanting to play in every game. Watching isn't good for the heart! I'd sooner be playing. "We all want to play games and sometimes it's just not possible. You have to respect that."
  20. 1 point
    Rafa Benitez has given the tick of approval to the work of the FSG group since taking ownership of the Reds and says it is a major reason that they have been able to stay the course with Man City.Benitez knows first hand the difference between successful and dysfunctional ownership and therefore was able to give a astute description in what he has seen from John Henry, Tom Werner and their team over the past nine years.The Echo (via Four Four Two magazine) reported Benitez as saying:“ My memories of Liverpool are really good with (former owner) David Moores, but he couldn't spend the money to compete against the other teams.“ When he decided to sell, I think it was to the wrong people. It was very clear - I knew that and the fans knew that, then afterwards, was the proof.“ Now I think they have a model that is more competitive. “They make the right decisions, which means they are able to compete with Manchester City." The much-loved former manager also touched on his famous ‘facts’ press conference in 2009 when battling Man United for the Premier League title.While many may well disagree,to this day, Benitez remains steadfast in his belief that he was in full control of his emotions.“ People tried to compare that press conference to Kevin Keegan's (for Newcastle in 1996) but it was nothing like that. I was very calm.“ Everything I was saying was a fact, even though people were laughing about my way of pronouncing the word 'fact'. “But it was very clear - if you analyse it now, I was right."The current manager of Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League said that the Reds finished the campaign in very strong fashion including thrashing their bitter rivals in their own backyard.“ Later on we went to Old Trafford and I remember a father and son had a banner saying 'Rafa's cracking up'. “We beat United 4-1. "In the last 11 games of the season, our only draw was the 4-4 draw with Arsenal, when Andrey Arshavin scored four goals. “We won 10 out of 11.“ Manchester United had played in the Club World Cup and had a couple of games in hand. They won them and continued winning, but we continued winning as well.“That's not cracking up. People have short memories. They follow the propaganda of the people who are winning."
  21. 1 point
    New details have emerged over the altercation between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez while on England duty.The much discussed incident has created a deal of embarrassment for the national team ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifier with Montenegro.It caused national team manager Gareth Southgate to take the step to stand down the Man City star from the fixture.The friction between the pair began in the last few minutes of Liverpool's 3-1 victory on Sunday when they clashed and words were exchanged.The incident on the day looked pretty innocuous and when the English players gathered in camp, the mood was said to be quite relaxed. However The Mirror (via The Athletic) reports that things took a different turn when the two players came face to face.Gomez had initially said "Hello" to Sterling to which the forward replied.“So you think you're the big man? That line saw plenty of laughter to everyone in the room but Sterling.He then reportedly rose to his feet and attempted to get Gomez in a headlock, knocking food over on the table in the process.A eyewitness to the incident claimed that “It was a pretty full-on thing and food went everywhere. “Sterling behaved like a bit of a child."Gomez was left with a noticeable scratch mark on his face following the incident. Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell said that both players have since aired their differences in front of the squad and put the issue well and truly to bed.“Raheem wanted to apologise and Joe wanted to get stuff off his chest as well. It's not been spoken of since."[Raheem] was apologetic, he said it's not in his nature, which it's not, but we all know as football players emotions can run high. “No one's trying to make excuses for him.“Raheem has come out and said what he thought. We are in the changing room this morning and everyone is fine.“Joe is OK. He's good. Himself. “He's a great character and has done very well. It wasn't on anyone's mind this morning"It is very important not to forget what Raheem has done for English football. Yes he has made a mistake but he's a very important character in the dressing room."While Sterling's international teammates and coaching staff may want to forgive and forget the incident, its fair to say Reds fans will keep the matter firmly in the forefront of their minds.
  22. 1 point
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain feels that he is steadily returning to his top form after a man-of-the-match performance in Liverpool’s 2-1 Champions League victory over Genk on Tuesday night.The roaming midfielder was a constant threat all night for the Genk defence and made it four goals in as many games in all competitions when he combined beautifully with Mo Salah to put the Reds back in front after they were pegged back on the brink of half time by Mbwana Samatta.Gini Wijnaldum opened the scoring on the evening on 14 minutes after being set up by James Milner but the visitors levelled when the Reds failed to deal with a set-piece. Just like bestusacasinosites though Liverpool delivered as Oxlade-Chamberlain fired in low at the Kop end.The Official site reported the 26 year-old as saying that while he is not at his sharpest, he is feeling better with every game he plays.“When I took one on the ankle and went down, I was a bit disappointed because usually when I feel sharp I manage to get past him there.“I maybe underestimated him a little bit but they're the type of moments where I feel like I've not just quite got that fully back yet. “I feel like a need to be sharper in those moments to burst through and get running, change things and break lines.“I think that's coming and I'm getting my feeling back with that."“I've been trying to sort of dribble a bit more and get that side of my game back because that sort of stuff can take a bit of a while when you've been out for a while.“Overall, I think there's more to come from me for sure." The England international said that a key to Liverpool’s success is the standards that they set. There's a reason why the Reds are six points clear and if they can overcome Manchester City this weekend then they will be in pole position to win the title, which will no doubt be reflected by sports betting online odds.“To get into the team you've got to be able to press in a certain way with a certain intensity.“I take the Tottenham game, the way that Gini, Hendo and Fab did it in that game was brilliant and even the boys up front as well were second to none. “So you look at that and they're the sort of standards that we set for that“If you're not sort of hitting those standards then you'll struggle to get a game regularly, so I've been battling to try to get that side of things back. I think I can improve on that.“Also on my attacking as well, I think I can improve on that, but I'm confident it will come and I'll keep working as hard as I can. I'll make sure it comes.With Napoli’s draw to RB Salzburg, Liverpool moved to the top of Group E ahead of the showdown with the Italians at Anfield on Matchday 5.Despite being five points clear of the Austrian outfit with two games to play, Oxlade-Chamberlain is taking nothing for granted.“With the other two playing each other, we knew this was a big chance for us to sort of get three points and hope they took points off each other and make the table look a lot better for us. “We knew that going into tonight, so I'm glad that we've come out of that. “But we've got big games coming up still and a lot of work still to do, a lot of improvement still to make and more convincing performances [needed] to progress.”
  23. 1 point
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the latest Liverpool player to commit his future to the Reds by signing a long term deal.The decision to sign the midfielder from Arsenal in August 2017 raised some eyebrows at the time and he went through the usual acclimatising period when joining a new club.The start of 2018 saw the England international truly come into his own and his drive from midfield pushed the Reds to the next level especially when they came up against elite opposition such as Manchester City.Just when ‘Ox ’was becoming a indispensable part of the starting lineup, he was cruelly cut down by a very serious knee injury in the first leg of the semi final tie against Roma at Anfield.So began a year of blood, sweat, and tears in the rehabilitation room as the 26 year-old played the role that no footballer wants to be be - a spectator.The team evolved further in his absence, perhaps not as dynamic, but certainly more pragmatic as they found ways to win and displayed the resilience that Oxlade-Chamberlain was showing in his rehab.The popular member of the squad took his first steps back to first team football at the tail end of last season, but it has been in the early part of this campaign where he has become a starting member once again. There was little doubt last season that the Reds missed his dynamism and drive from midfield, and speaking after signing the contract, Oxlade-Chamberlain was clearly looking forward to moving on the next phase of his career. The Official site reported Oxlade-Chamberlain as saying:“I’m really, really excited - it’s been in the pipeline for a little while, so it’s nice to finally get it done and just extend my time here, which I am really looking forward to.“I feel like I missed out on a year, which I obviously did, so it’s really exciting for me to be able to sign. “It’s something that I feel is an opportunity to give that year back and make up for lost time – and hopefully put in some good performances to make amends for not being around last year”“You’ve got to count your blessings every time you get an opportunity like this, you don’t get the chance to play for Liverpool Football Club every day. “I am really excited to be able to extend my time here.”You get a sense that the hard times that the midfielder has experienced has made him want to make the best of every opportunity, as well as respecting those who put their hard earned money into the club. “I can promise the supporters that I'll give them absolutely everything moving forward.“As a footballer, I think the least you can do is respect the fans, the club and who you play for and give them everything you can. “When you get the support back that you do, you can't really have any complaints. It's [Liverpool] a hard place not to embrace. It's such a full-on culture, so much passion from everyone that is associated with the club – it's really endearing.“There might be times where I have bad games and good games and moments where it's not so good, but I'll always work through those moments and give my everything to correct them and keep pushing this team for.Meanwhile, the manager was just as delighted to see Oxlade-Chamberlain commit to the club.“When I heard Ox had signed his new contract with us, I am sure my emotions were the same as every Liverpool fan hearing the news tonight – absolutely delighted.“We all know Alex’s story since he came to the club, and yes there have been disappointments as well as highs, but what has impressed me and everyone is his attitude to dealing with setbacks and his character.“That’s why none of us were ever in any doubt about him fighting his way back in the way he did. “To see him play almost the whole game at Southampton on Saturday was such a positive moment for all of us, especially him.And Jurgen has a request for the fans in relation to Alex.“Maybe this is the season we hear the Kop sing an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain song. " I can tell you it would mean a lot to me and the boys to hear that, let alone him!”
  24. 1 point
    In TLW's ongoing series focussing on our upcoming opponents, next up is Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday evening. Dave Seager (@goonerdave66) of gunnerstown.com was able to give an insight about what to expect from our North London rivals. Two wins from two, you must be happy with the solid start to the season? Yes delighted. Neither victory has been pretty but when you are waiting for stars to return from summer international duty, as well as blending in new signings and youth players, that is to be expected. In addition to that, you must be delighted with the business you did in the summer on a somewhat minimal budget? Oddly, we did end up with a net spend of around the rumoured figure but with spread payments on the purchases, obviously a loan and many players leaving who were surplus to requirements, we did exceptionally well. Who of all the new signings have impressed you the most and what has made them stand out in your view? We have only seen two cameos from (Nicolas) Pepe but enough to know we have an exciting talent to give us the pace and trickery on the flanks we have lacked. (Dani) Ceballos however, with a full 90 minutes last weekend looks a shining gem of a player. It remains to be seen if he stays at 10 or drops deeper as we progress but his ball retention and speed of thought will be vital against high pressing teams like yourselves. He reminds me of Santi Cazorla and that is high praise. David Luiz raised an eyebrow or two, but at £8 million he brings a winning mentality and will assist us in playing out from the back. Which members of your first team squad do you think can progress to the next level this season? I am looking forward to seeing (Lucas) Torreira’s second campaign, now he is fully adjusted to the league and I am perhaps not in the majority but feel the sky is the limit for (Matteo) Guendouzi. That said he will face a stern challenge from young Joe Willock (below) who now seems ready to challenge. The first season at a new club is a tough one for any manager, let alone someone who is coming to a foreign league and taking over from an iconic figure such as Arsene Wenger. How do you think Unai Emery has adapted to the club and what would you like to see him improve on in his second season? I think that most are wiling him to succeed but he lost a few supporters as we tailed off at the end of last season. He now has a large majority of his own squad and has been well backed by the club, so we need to see not only an improvement but also what his style of play is. For so long under Wenger we had a style and I am not sure we yet fully know what Unai’s is. I hope that having Edu and Ljungberg in and around the coaching set-up will help him. Arsenal has enjoyed some memorable moments at Anfield over the years, but it has been tough going of late. What are your thoughts heading into this fixture on Saturday evening? I suspect Emery will go with an alternative approach and play cautiously at the outset with three at the back and wingbacks. He will hope to stay in the game and play on the counter, exploiting space left by your advanced fullbacks. If we are in the match in the second half I think he will add pace from the bench. I would be happy with a draw. Where do you think Liverpool’s strength lies and conversely, do you believe there an area that Emery can expose? Liverpool’s obvious strength is the front three, fabulous fullbacks and well-drilled high press. If there are weaknesses, as I said above it is when the fullbacks bomb on they leave gaps and your midfield is not overly creative, whichever three Klopp selects. I am not sure of the stand-in keeper either. If there was one Liverpool player that you could put into the Arsenal line-up who would be and why? VVD for obvious reasons, given our defensive frailties. Do you have a score prediction for Saturday? Goals for sure – 2-2 would be what my heart says, but my head says 3-1 to LFC.
  25. 1 point
    James Milner scored a double in Liverpool's 3-1 pre-season win against Bradford on Sunday, however his contribution to the day was a whole lot more meaningful than his performance on the pitch.It was a highly poignant day for individuals from both clubs as they paid homage to Stephen Darby, someone who came through the ranks at the Reds before having a distinguished career at the Bantams where he was club captain.Football is so important to so many people, but nothing is more important than your own health and so it proved when the right-back had to retire from the game he loves at just 29 when he was diagnosed with the dreadful terminal neurological condition Motor Neurone Disease.Milner was one of the main architects in making this day such a special one for all involved donating £30,000 to the Darby-Rimmer MND foundation as well as £10,000 to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.Speaking after the game, the veteran midfielder said it was the least he could do to help.The Official site reported Milner as saying:Obviously I’m in a fortunate position to help, we help some great causes and Darbs’s foundation is one of many. "How he’s conducted himself, how he is going about what he’s done, setting up the foundation, him and Steph [Houghton] together – we obviously want to help as much as we can. "We’re having another ball this year on December 1 and hopefully we can raise more funds again and some of those will be going to that again.Milner said the awful prognosis that comes with this sort of disease puts life well and truly into perspective."Football becomes secondary. We know how important it is, how much it means to people, how much it changes lives and how happy it makes people. "You see the parade after the Champions League and what it means to people. "Maybe when they’re going through hard times football gives them a bit to take their mind off it. "That’s secondary obviously to everything else and what the disease can do to people and families. "So, the more money we can raise and the awareness to learn more about it because there’s not too much that’s known about the effects and what can help it.Milner said the selfless attitude of Darby along with his nearest and dearest is something incredible to witness first hand. Incredible. I’m proud to know him. Losing his football career like he did, that’s one thing. And then dealing with the disease, having Steph around him, she’s doing incredibly as well – carrying on her football and being there for Darbs at the same time, going through it together. "(He is) thinking about himself and his family but also thinking about others in setting up the foundation and how it can help other people going forward. "He is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. It’s unfortunate what happened. "Today shows how much everybody thinks of him, both the clubs he’s played at and all the people who have come out today. We obviously wish Stephen and his family the very best during this awfully difficult time, and it also highlights what a special guy James Milner is and how lucky we are to have him at the Reds. A true professional in Football and in life as well.



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