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Updated: 53 min 16 sec ago

Southampton boss Claude Puel dismisses Mamadou Sakho speculation

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 20:18

Claude Puel has dismissed as “speculation” reports linking Southampton with a move for Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho.

And Puel insisted that should Jose Fonte leave, after requesting a transfer, a replacement may not be recruited because Jack Stephens and Florin Gardos will be given the opportunity to succeed the captain in central defence.

It has been reported Southampton consider Liverpool’s out-of-favour Sakho as a potential successor to Fonte, 33, but that a loan bid had been rejected and that only a permanent transfer would be granted.

When asked about the 26-year-old Liverpool defender, however, Southampton’s manager responded: “I know this player but I know nothing about this, it’s speculation.

“We have a reflection about this possibility to see another centre-back if Jose Fonte left. For the moment it’s not the situation, and perhaps we will stay with the same squad, with good opportunities for Jack Stephens or Gardos.

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“It’s a long time with a lot of injuries for Gardos, but he came back for the Under-23s before this game (against Norwich in the FA Cup) with a good level and we will see if we just have Jack (Stephens) and Florin, or you might see another player if Jose Fonte leaves Southampton.”

Puel was also asked about reports of Fonte potentially joining West Ham, and he said: “Jose has different possibilities. He has the solution and the opportunity to see this, and we will see what the situation is in a few days.

“(Fonte) was in training (on Thursday) morning with the players and he works normally with good spirit, and like a professional.

“We will see after the situation of Jose. We tried Jack against Norwich. It’s important to see possibilities for different players and opportunities for the players.

“Perhaps we will stay with the same squad. We will see this when we reflect.”

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Jurgen Klopp’s faith rewarded as young Reds show benefit of remaining at LFC to develop

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 19:18

Jurgen Klopp’s decision to stick with his youngsters in the FA Cup replay at Plymouth paid off, with the win proving the benefits of keeping upcoming talent to develop at Anfield.


After the Reds’ youngest ever team failed to break down Plymouth at the first attempt, Klopp was criticised for his selection for the Anfield tie.

It seemed the struggles of that stalemate would see a more experienced side named in the replay, especially when Klopp said a “different team” would feature.

Though an altered lineup arrived – Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge replacing Emre Can and Sheyi Ojo – only one more ‘senior’ player was introduced as Klopp kept a similar structure to the first game as four teenagers started – just one fewer than the goalless draw.

While Trent-Alexander-Arnold’s inclusion was somewhat forced, sticking with Joe Gomez, Ovie Ejaria and 17-year-old Ben Woodburn was deemed a risk.

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But the result showed Klopp made the right call and rewarded the boss for his commitment to youth with progression to round four.

 

Youngsters repay Klopp’s faith

 Liverpool's Ben Woodburn in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp and the rotated Reds received some harsh criticism after being forced to an unwanted replay.

This is par for the course when playing for a club like Liverpool, as Klopp attested post-match, but it could have prompted their withdrawal from the firing line.

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Instead, Klopp stuck with them, as if challenging them to use the Anfield draw as motivation to do better.

And though producing far from the most blistering performance seen by a Liverpool team, the youngsters certainly rose to the challenge.

Indeed, Liverpool’s dominance on the night came predominantly through the efforts of the youngsters – even if it was two senior figures who sealed the win as Lucas headed his first goal for 201 games from Coutinho’s corner.

Alexander-Arnold produced an excellent showing, which was even more impressive given he made what will have been a physically and mentally draining first Premier League start at Old Trafford just four days earlier.

Alongside the right-back, Gomez showed his class as he swept up with little fuss and played from the back incisively, into midfield where Ejaria stood out while orchestrating Liverpool’s play.

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And though Woodburn will have more impactful days as he develops – he already has, in fact – his tenacity and constant endeavour impressed.

So too did the bright impacts made by Ojo and latest academy debutant, Harry Wilson, from the bench.

That they were introduced for Coutinho and Sturridge at a time Liverpool held a slender lead and were trying to see the game out epitomised Klopp’s belief.

That an even more inexperienced Reds side – boasting six teenagers – then saw out victory while keeping out a physical outfit of established professionals – regardless of their fourth-tier status – was worthy of far more credit than received.

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Benefits of nurturing youth at Anfield

 Liverpool and Plymouth Argyle players shake hands before the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Perhaps what this tie showed even more in than the level of talent progressing at Anfield, was the benefits of keeping youth at home to develop.

After the first tie, certain sections of the media and fan base alike assessed loan moves were needed for Ojo, Ejaria & co. in order to be better prepared for first-team stage at Anfield.

But that the youngsters returned to Melwood’s practice pitches meant they worked alongside established first-teamers to improve under Klopp and his staff – a reason to merge Anfield’s juniors and seniors at a unified base.

Klopp said pre-match his side “made it too complicated in the last game” as they lacked patience and directness, with the boss looking for improvement in these areas at Home Park.

It was difficult to impose a more purposeful, attacking style with Plymouth again happy to sit deep and wait for their one moment.

But there was better control to the young Reds as Klopp noted, “We did better than [at] Anfield in the right moments.”

And it was no surprise Liverpool improved as the game unfolded with an increasingly youth-dominated XI, featuring players who have played together for years in some cases.

This improvement will have come from work conducted since the goalless draw, highlighting a major benefit of keeping talent at Anfield – further evidenced by Wilson’s form for Liverpool’s under-23s, with 19 goals and nine assists outshining anything produced on previous loans.

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Future Opportunity

 Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coming through a tough occasion under intense scrutiny at Home Park will have provided a confidence boost to all involved – none more so than the youngsters.

It will also provide Klopp with reassurance over their readiness for further first-team action where possible.

With Liverpool kicking-off a season-shaping 10 days – in which they play four games across three competitions – against Swansea on Saturday, another chance presents in the upcoming round-four tie with Wolves.

Being sandwiched between the League Cup second-leg with Southampton and a blockbuster clash with Chelsea, provides another perfect opportunity for Klopp to utilise the youngsters again.

Against a step up in quality in Championship opposition, the tie will provide an interesting marker of progress and perhaps also a truer reflection of their capabilities.

Wolves are unlikely to look to hang on for dear life as Plymouth did, and assuming the second-tier outfit do show more ambition, a more engaging contest could follow.

It remains to be seen if it does, but Klopp can have full belief in giving his upcoming talent the opportunity to find out.

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Liverpool vs. Swansea: The view from South Wales ahead of the Premier League match

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 19:00

Liverpool host Swansea City at Anfield on Saturday, the first of four crucial home games in three different competitions in just 10 days.

The remaining four months of the season are going to be crucial for both Liverpool and Swansea, for very different reasons.

While the Reds are searching for a first ever Premier League title, and a top-four finish at worst, the Swans are desperately fighting relegation.

On paper, it looks as though it should be a relatively comfortable afternoon for Jurgen Klopp and his team, but football can be an unpredictable beast.

We’ve had a chat with Andrew Gwilym (@awgwilym) to hear about both Swansea and Liverpool’s seasons to date, and how he expects Saturday’s match to play out.

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I’m guessing it’s not going to be particularly high, but what would you give Swansea’s season out of 10 so far?

The league table does not lie and neither do the results.

You cannot give Swansea more than a three out of 10 so far this season. As bad as results have been, it has been the manner of some of the defeats that has stung the most.

To see a side regularly shipping three, four or five goals a game is never a good sign, and Swansea have proven to be far too fragile when they fall behind in games.

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Are you happy with the appointment of Paul Clement – a bold risk?

I think the appointment of Paul Clement is a recognition of the need for a rebuild, whatever division Swansea are in next season.

 Swansea City's manager Paul Clement (Pic by Gwenno Davies/Propaganda)

Ideally, he will keep Swansea in the Premier League, but if he is unable to, he will be tasked with trying to get them on an even keel in the Championship.

His appointment is more in line with some of Swansea’s previous managerial choices. He is a young coach who clearly has an appetite to succeed on his own terms, given he walked away from a job with Bayern Munich where silverware and a crack at the Champions League awaited in the second-half of the season.

Who have been Swansea’s three best players this season?

Given the season they have had, it is not an easy task to pick out three players who have stood out.

 Swansea City's Gylfi Sigurosson in action against Everton during the Premier League match at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Gylfi Sigurdsson is our best player, in terms of quality, and his five goals and six assists speak to his importance in this relegation fight. He has not been at his best recently but he is going to be key if Swansea are to stay up.

Fernando Llorente had a slow start to life in South Wales, but he has started to show some of his class and finishing ability sporadically over the last couple of months.

The rest have been much of a muchness.

What about Liverpool in 2016/17 – what have you made of their progress under Jurgen Klopp?

Liverpool have made tremendous strides since Jurgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers. The thing that stands out for me is their fitness and intensity.

They are capable of playing the game at a tremendous tempo – with and without the ball – which wears sides down or proves too much for them to handle. The movement and speed of their forward line is something to behold in full flight.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, which Liverpool players do you fear most?

With Sadio Mane absent, the talents of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino will cause Swansea plenty of headaches, and the latter was excellent in their win at the Liberty Stadium earlier this season.

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 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the first equalising goal against Swansea City during the FA Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Adam Lallana has also been enjoying an excellent season, and has shown arguably his best form since his move from Southampton.

Finally, I need two predictions from you: what will the score be at Anfield, and where will Swansea and Liverpool finish in the Premier League this season?

Well, I have to try and stay positive on the Swansea side of things, so I will go for a 1-1 draw.

I think from Swansea’s point of view the key is to make sure they are in the game after an hour. If Liverpool take an early lead, those old frailties could kick in again and it could be a very long afternoon.

However, there were signs of better organisation and structure under Paul Clement during the opening half of the defeat to Arsenal. If, and it is a big if, they can carry that on for longer in this game, and maybe rely on a moment of magic from Sigurdsson, they will give themselves a chance of pulling off an unlikely result.

In terms of final league position, I see Liverpool finishing third. They are an excellent side, but I feel maybe they are just an ingredient or two away from being title winners.

For Swansea, I will go for 17th place (just!).

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Home advantage and kind run-in can be vital in Liverpool’s title charge

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 16:00

Liverpool have 10 of their last 17 league games at home, and a nice run-in to look forward to in the second-half of the season – both could prove key in the title race.


If we’re trying to find reasons for why Liverpool are winning the Premier League title this season, their remaining fixtures can certainly be used to put a positive spin on things.

With 21 games played, the Reds sit third in the table on 45 points, level with second-placed Tottenham, having endured a harder run of games than any of their rivals.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side have already played at Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Man United, collecting eight points in the process.

Top 6 – games away to each other so far:

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Liverpool – Played: 4 – 8 points
Chelsea – 3 – 3 pts
Spurs – 3 – 1 pt
Man City – 3 – 3 pts
Arsenal – 2 – 1 pt
Man United – 2 – 1 pt

As shown, the rest of the top six have not encountered that level of difficulty.

For Liverpool to be where they are in the table is, therefore, a great achievement, especially when you consider pre-season expectations after a summer of relative spending.

Something else that stands out is the remaining home games that the Reds have to look forward to – something that was always going to work in their favour come the midway point of the campaign.

 

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Advantage over rivals

 Liverpool supporters celebrate as Sadio Mane scores the opening goal against West Bromwich Albion during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Due to the redevelopment of the Main Stand, Anfield didn’t host its first game until September 10th, when they romped to a 4-1 win over champions Leicester City.

Back-to-back away games to begin the season, at Arsenal and Burnley, was an immediate disadvantage, and Liverpool have played fewer home matches than anyone else in the division.

This is where the tide starts to turn, however.

Of the Reds’ 17 remaining home games, 10 are at Anfield and just seven are on their travels. This can be a big advantage between now and May.

Comparing this to Liverpool’s rivals shows that Klopp’s men once again have the upper hand.

Chelsea, Arsenal and City have nine home game left to play, while Spurs and United have just eight. That tends to suggest United have a real fight on their hands to finish in the top-four.

We also shouldn’t forget that Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal all still have to come to Anfield, and Liverpool will back themselves to win all three, or at least avoid defeat.

The reason this higher percentage of home games also feels so positive is because of how strong Liverpool have been at Anfield under Klopp – unbeaten at home since last January.

 

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Fortress Anfield must continue

 The Shankly Gates, featuring the club's anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" outside Liverpool's Anfield Stadium before the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match against Leeds United. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Following a shaky spell in the early months of his reign, which was perhaps to be expected, the Reds have now gone very nearly a year unbeaten at home.

Even the last defeat, against Stoke City in the League Cup semi-final second-leg, eventually saw Klopp’s men win on penalties.

The likes of Borussia Dortmund, Villarreal and all Liverpool’s English rivals have tried, and failed, to return home as victors.

No longer are inferior sides turning up to Anfield and nicking victories, as has so often been the case under almost every manager in the Premier League era prior to Klopp, with numerous opponents being dispatched of instead.

 Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop before the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match against Borussia Dortmund at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A number of opposition managers are visiting Merseyside solely to avoid a thumping, and with every match that passes, the more the fear factor grows and teams are beaten before games even kick-off.

This season, in particular, Liverpool have genuinely never felt like losing on their own turf, barring possibly a couple of brief spells against West Ham and Stoke City. A draw always felt like the worst outcome, however.

Klopp has turned Anfield into a genuine fortress again, and there is absolutely no reason why his team cannot win every one of their remaining matches there.

That may sound overly optimistic and arrogant, but why not? Brendan Rodgers‘ 2013/14 side showed that an unstoppable run is possible, and this team feels more well-equipped for a title charge, once key men return.

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Be in touch after Everton game

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match against Southampton at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In terms of the title run-in, it is intriguing to see how Liverpool’s season ends, with very little daunting games after a certain point.

On April 1st, Everton make the short trip to Anfield, in what has to be considered the Reds’ last genuinely ‘difficult’ match of the season – on paper of course.

We all like a laugh at Everton’s expense, but regardless of their woeful record in Merseyside derbies this century, they invariably make it a tricky game – barring the odd 4-0 here and there!

After the derby, Liverpool’s eight remaining fixtures look very winnable.

Trips to Stoke, West Brom, Watford and West Ham all look inviting for any team with title-winning intensity flowing through their veins, with the quartet all potentially halfway on their summer holidays by that point.

Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Middlesbrough are the visitors to Anfield, meanwhile, all of whom are both beatable and may have little to play for if they move avoid the relegation dogfight as you’d expect.

LFC’s fixtures from April 2nd onwards (dates subject to change)

Bournemouth (h) – April 5th
Stoke (a) – April 8th
West Brom (a) – April 16th
Crystal Palace (h) – April 22nd
Watford (a) – April 29nd
Southampton (h) – May 6th
West Ham (a) – May 13th
Middlesbrough (h) – May 21st

Key fixtures after April 1st, during LFC’s ‘easy’ run (dates subject to change)

Chelsea vs. Man City – April 5th
Man United vs. Chelsea – April 15th
Tottenham vs. Arsenal – April 29th
Arsenal vs. Man United – May 6th
Tottenham vs. Man United – May 13th

As run-ins go, it couldn’t be much kinder – it almost feels like an apologetic gift by the Premier League, having dished out such a tough start to Liverpool.

Not only that, but there are a number of matches involving the Reds’ title and top-four adversaries in April and May, which means guaranteed dropped points for rivals.

Given the unpredictable nature of the league, we really don’t know what to expect from now until the final weekend.

One thing we do know, however, is that there is plenty working in Liverpool’s favour, as they seek to give us all the happiest summer of our lives.

If they can go unbeaten at home, winning the majority of those 10 games, and be in touch with Chelsea after the Everton game on April Fools’ Day, things may get very interesting.

Hopefully that’s got you all believing.

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Philippe Coutinho ready for Premier League after “very important” Plymouth outing

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 15:31

Philippe Coutinho is closing in on a return to Liverpool’s Premier League starting line-up after coming through their FA Cup win at Plymouth unscathed.

Coutinho played over an hour of Wednesday night’s 1-0 third-round replay victory at Home Park, his first start since damaging ankle ligaments at the end of November.

The Brazilian playmaker eased his way back by making half-hour substitute appearances in the EFL Cup semi-final defeat at Southampton and the Premier League draw at Manchester United.

But Coutinho could now start Liverpool’s home league game with Swansea on Saturday after setting up the Lucas Leiva header which secured the Reds safe passage to the fourth round of the FA Cup and a home tie against Wolves.

“[He] was good. I’m happy, really happy,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said of the influential Coutinho.

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“It was very important for us. I thought 60-65 minutes was the perfect intensity for [Wednesday]. It was good for him and good for us.”

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Only teenage full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and Divock Origi—who fluffed a penalty to ease late Liverpool nerves—remained from the side which drew 1-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

However, it looked a far more potent side than the one League Two Plymouth had managed to hold at Anfield 10 days earlier, with Coutinho and Origi joined in attack by Daniel Sturridge.

But Klopp bristled at the suggestion that he had named a stronger team than for the original tie, and insisted squad rotation was essential with Liverpool having seven games in 20 days.

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“I named, again, the team I could name. That’s what I always do,” Klopp said.

“Only [the media] judge it as stronger or weaker, I don’t do this. It’s all about who is available.

“We play Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Tuesday. If I would always let the same players play, I would be a real idiot. I don’t do it.

“So, that was the team for [Wednesday]. We will see who we can line up on Saturday.”

 Plymouth Argyle's manager Derek Adams during the FA Cup 3rd Round match against Liverpool at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Over 17,000 packed into a noisy Home Park, which had temporary seating installed for the occasion, and a worldwide audience also tuned in to see Plymouth prove more than a match for their distinguished visitors.

Jake Jervis almost took the tie into extra time when his volley clattered the post, but at the end there was Plymouth pride and a cup cash bonanza for the Pilgrims which is expected to be around the £1 million mark.

“Over the two games, I think the football club are proud of their players,” Plymouth manager Derek Adams said.

“The game-plan was to get them to Home Park and then see if we could win the tie.

“The players wanted to do that. They have left nothing on the pitch and made this football club very proud again.”

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“More signs of promise from youngsters and a good experience” – Media on Plymouth 0-1 Liverpool

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 12:49

The media felt Liverpool’s youngsters repaid Jurgen Klopp’s faith as the Reds saw off Plymouth Argyle in a tricky FA Cup third-round replay with a narrow 1-0 win.

A rare goal from Lucas Leiva, who headed home from Philippe Coutinho’s corner in the first half, ensured Klopp’s youngsters progressed to round four of the famous cup competition.

It was far from a cup classic at Home Park, where neither side produced a particularly inspiring performance, but the likeable Brazilian’s first goal for 201 games proved enough to set up an Anfield tie with Championship outfit, Wolves.

However, Klopp will take great satisfaction from the way his young Reds rose to the challenge to earn a hard-fought win, moving on swiftly to put the disappointment of the Anfield stalemate behind them.

Here is how the media assessed the night’s events at Home Park.

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 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On a night all about earning victory regardless of how it came, reporters felt it was a case of “job done” for the young Reds, who repaid Klopp’s faith for sticking by them after a frustrating afternoon in the first meeting.

ESPN’s Steven Kelly drew positives from the Reds winning when not at their best to come through a tricky tie unscathed:

Some more signs of promise from youngsters and a good experience for them too. Ultimately, winning the game is all that matters against lower league opposition when there is little to gain and a lot to lose should things go wrong.

The Mirror’s David Anderson felt all of the youngsters involved justified Klopp’s decision to give them a second chance to seal progression:

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He has not lost faith in the likes of Ben Woodburn, Kevin Stewart, Ovie Ejaria and Trent Alexander-Arnold because of the goalless draw at Anfield 10 days ago. They have served him well in Liverpool’s run to the EFL Cup semis and the Reds boss knew tonight was a great learning experience for them.

And discussing the manager’s night, Kelly felt it was a case of “mission accomplished” for Klopp:

He got the job done and gave another youngster his debut. He will worry about how toothless Liverpool seemed at times, but getting through without using first-choice players was the mission, and it was accomplished.

But ESPN colleague, Mark Ogden, like Kelly, was, unimpressed by Liverpool’s attacking performance and feels the current struggle for goals will be a concern for Klopp:

But having been unable to score past League Two Plymouth during 90 frustrating minutes at Anfield earlier this month, winning by a solitary goal against a team lying 67 places beneath his side in the football pyramid will give Klopp cause for concern.

[…]

The team that hit four past Arsenal, Leicester and Crystal Palace, five past Hull and six past Watford has now scored just twice in four games.

Ogden also believes the Reds are struggling to find an effective way of attack without Sadio Mane:

The loss of Sadio Mane to African Nations Cup duty is clearly hurting Liverpool, who miss the forward’s pace and ability to stretch teams. He could yet be away for another month, so Liverpool need to find a way to rediscover the cutting edge that tore opponents apart early in the season.

Reporters heaped praised on unlikely match-winner, Lucas, with numerous journalists noting the Brazilian’s understated importance to Liverpool.

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 Liverpool's Lucas Leiva celebrates scoring the first goal against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s John Cross believes every club needs a player like “loyal servant”, Lucas:

Every club needs a player like Lucas, the loyal servant ready to fill in where necessary and do it with the sort of commitment needed to avoid becoming the big story of the FA Cup third round.

[…]

But on nights like these you need big hearts and experience and that is exactly what Lucas gave Liverpool because Plymouth gave them a few scares on a bitter night in the West Country.

Writing for JOE.co.uk, Tony Barrett praised Lucas’ dedication, and feels the Brazilian’s understated importance should not be underestimated.

But when selected, he can be relied upon to give his all, to use his experience to good effect and to perform with typical diligence. Those are qualities that should not be underrated, even if there are individuals in the current Liverpool team who have ones that catch the eye more readily.

[…]

In terms of dedication to the cause, willingness to persevere whatever the odds and commitment to his team mates, the midfielder has few peers in the modern game.

Kelly praised Lucas for leading by example:

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He led the side well and even scored the goal from a corner, amazingly his first in seven years. He played his part in keeping good possession during a second half in which Liverpool focused on taking the sting out of the game, rather than putting it out of Plymouth’s reach.

Reporters reflected on hugely disappointing nights for Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi, with journalists unanimously feeling neither striker did anywhere near enough to prove they are worthy of a place in Liverpool’s strongest lineup.

 Liverpool's Divock Origi sees his penalty kick saved during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Kelly felt the strike duo did little to convince Klopp they deserve more game time, despite a lack of service:

Both strikers (Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge) suffered from poor service but did little to suggest the manager should use them more often.

Anderson was among those who felt Sturridge failed to take his opportunity to impress:

Daniel Sturridge is getting his opportunity this month because Sadio Mane is away with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations, but he is not grabbing his chance. Although he should have had a first-half penalty, he did not really trouble Plymouth.

The Mail’s Martin Samuel labelled Sturridge’s performance “woeful”:

Sturridge was woeful. He didn’t look like an England international, he didn’t look like a Liverpool player, he looked no better than Plymouth’s men, in fact.

[…]

When he was replaced in the 75th minute by Sheyi Ojo, it was not because Liverpool were comfortable or had the game won.

However, the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle sympathised with Sturridge:

This wasn’t Sturridge’s night, but at least he stuck at it even if he could point to a distinct lack of service and being somewhat isolated, particularly during the first half.

Echo colleague, James Pearce assessed how Origi is low on confidence:

As for Origi, his recent slump is a source of real concern. His late penalty miss at Home Park compounded a wretched night for him.

It’s now eight games without a goal and his confidence has clearly taken a battering.

Doyle feels Origi’s loss of form has come at a bad time:

Origi, as at Old Trafford, was woefully off the pace, losing form at the precise moment Klopp has become more reliant on his undoubted attributes.

 Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And discussing other performers at Home Park, Pearce felt the senior players – bar Lucas – disappointed on the night:

Lucas aside, it was the more senior players who went AWOL in a contest which Liverpool finished with six teenagers on the field.

Meanwhile, Doyle was among the numerous journalists hugely impressed by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s performance:

But that this wasn’t even his biggest game this week indicates the great strides the 18-year-old is already making at Anfield.

The confidence gained from his impressive first Premier League start at Manchester United on Sunday was evident here with a hugely self-assured display.

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Sheyi Ojo a “wonderful player” but Klopp “not too happy with one or two things”

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 12:28

Jurgen Klopp has laid out Sheyi Ojo’s objectives for earning a regular role at Liverpool, praising the youngster as a “wonderful player” but pointing out a lack of maintaining focus.

Ojo was expected to start in Wednesday’s replay win at Plymouth in the FA Cup third round, but was instead left to settle for a place on the bench.

The 19-year-old came on with 14 minutes left to play however, and impressed, though he was booked for simulation.

It was Ojo’s second appearance of the season, after a muted display in the initial 0-0 draw at Anfield, and it is clear that he is still short of form following a back injury picked up in pre-season.

Speaking after the victory at Home Park, which saw Lucas Leiva head his first goal since 2010, Klopp highlighted Ojo as one of the young players to impress—despite initially leaving him out.

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“Everybody, maybe, with Ojo involved they expected he would have played as one of the [starters] if he [was involved in] this game tonight as one of the young players,” he told reporters.

“But I was not too happy with one or two things.

“That’s not to say, it’s about something you need to feel and then go again.

“Today, I thought he made a big difference when he came on, with his speed and there was sharpness involved.

“He’s a wonderful player but, without sharpness, it’s nothing.

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“I’m happy about their potential and we will do whatever we can to let it grow but they have a big job to do, too.”

 Liverpool's Sheyi Ojo in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ojo returned from a disappointing loan spell with Wolves—Liverpool’s opponents in the FA Cup fourth round—last year to produce a strong run of form as Klopp’s go-to youngster in attack.

He scored once and assisted another four times in 11 games, averaging a direct contribution every 90 minutes.

This included an impressive showing at home to Stoke City in April, setting up the second goal of a 4-1 win, bursting past Xherdan Shaqiri and lifting the ball up expertly for Daniel Sturridge to head home.

But after carrying this into the summer with the England U19s and, initially, with the Reds on their tour of the United States, his momentum was stunted by injury.

Klopp clearly has faith in Ojo, having rejected loan offers from Championship clubs including Newcastle United this month, but his decision to field 17-year-old Ben Woodburn ahead of him against Argyle could have been a warning sign.

However, with Liverpool to play another four games in January alone, including welcoming Wolves to Anfield on January 28, Ojo is likely to be given another chance to shine.

To get his season back up and running, Ojo must find consistency whenever called upon, with his short cameo in Devon hinting at the “sharpness” he requires to do so in Liverpool’s No. 54 shirt.

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Liverpool reject Southampton’s loan bid for Mamadou Sakho

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 12:10

Liverpool are reported to have rejected a loan offer from Southampton for outcast centre-back Mamadou Sakho, as they pursue a permanent departure for the French defender.

Sakho has garnered interest from across Europe this transfer window, after falling dramatically out of favour with Jurgen Klopp.

The centre-back seemingly has no opportunity to reclaim his first-team role, with a move away from Merseyside almost guaranteed—despite there being no major developments so far in January.

The likes of Swansea City and Crystal Palace have only made initial enquiries as to Sakho’s availability, serving as no real indicator of their interest.

But according to the Mail, Southampton have made their first move for the Reds’ No. 3, though it has proved unsuccessful.

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This has come with Saints manager Claude Puel seeking a loan deal for Sakho, in the light of Jose Fonte’s shock transfer request this month—with Liverpool only interested in moving him on permanently.

“We will see what happens in the next few days of the transfer window,” Klopp told reporters this week, before joking: “I’m really excited for January 31!”

Liverpool value Sakho at £20 million, despite his unfavourable position, given the current climate in the market for top-level centre-backs and the fact his contract runs until 2020.

Whether they will secure the full fee remains to be seen, but it is unlikely they will sanction a loan deal, having already been willing to keep him at the club for the past six months.

 Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho gives instructions to team-mate Tiago Ilori during the Premier League International Cup match against Wolfsburg at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Sakho has been hailed as a positive influence on the Liverpool U23s, having spent the first half of the season operating in the Young Reds’ back line.

“I think we were all surprised how professional [Sakho] has been and how serious he has been in training,” midfielder Matty Virtue said this month.

“It can be a problem when a first-team player comes down and doesn’t really want to be here but he’s managed himself very well and especially in the games we’ve all learned from him.

“He is a top player, captained France and captained PSG, and all you can do from those players is learn. He has been where we all want to get to.”

Virtue’s highlighting of Sakho’s accomplishments only serves to further depict his fall from grace, having helped fuel Liverpool’s push for the Europa League final in the latter months of 2015/16.

His regular partner for the U23s, Tiago Ilori, has already departed for Reading, joining the Championship club in a deal worth £3.75 million, having arrived at the same time back in 2013.

Then, they were described as key options for the club for the next decade, but this has not transpired.

But with Joe Gomez impressing once again in Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory away to Plymouth Argyle in the replay of their FA Cup third round clash, another long-term defensive pillar has emerged.

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Video: Jurgen Klopp post-match press conference – Plymouth Argyle 0-1 Liverpool

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 02:34

Jurgen Klopp was in a positive mood as he discussed Liverpool’s 1-0 replay victory over Plymouth Argyle in the third round of the FA Cup.

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It took a solitary Lucas Leiva goal for the Reds to seal the win at Home Park on Wednesday night, with Klopp’s young side forced to withstand a barrage from the Argyle attack.

Lucas’ first since 2010 secured a fourth-round tie at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, with Liverpool still on course to challenge on three fronts this season.

Addressing reporters after the game, Klopp hailed Lucas’ impact, and revealed the 30-year-old was an unlikely top goalscorer in training at Melwood.

“Every week in training we play old versus young and he is a top scorer for old, which is unbelievable,” he said.

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He also confirmed Lucas was likely to stay at Liverpool beyond the January transfer window, following interest from Serie A challengers Inter Milan.

The German was full of praise for the performance of his youthful lineup, as well as revealing his admiration for Argyle’s approach.

Liverpool will now make the long trip back to Merseyside in order to prepare for a Saturday lunchtime clash with Swansea City in the Premier League.

This kicks off a run of four home games in 10 days, with Southampton (League Cup), Wolves (FA Cup) and Chelsea (Premier League) all to come before the end of January.

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Jurgen Klopp happy with Liverpool’s youngsters after Plymouth win

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 02:17

Jurgen Klopp praised his Liverpool youngsters after avoiding an FA Cup upset at Plymouth.

Liverpool set up a fourth-round tie at home to Wolves with old head Lucas Leiva scoring a rare goal in their 1-0 win at Home Park.

Klopp named a stronger side than he had done in the goalless draw against the League Two high-fliers at Anfield 10 days earlier, but four teenagers still started the third-round replay – Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn.

Another two teenagers, Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo, also came on as second-half substitutes.

“It was tough again, but we did better than Anfield in the right moments,” Liverpool manager Klopp said. “There were a lot of challenges for the young players.

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“We were playing live on television against a fourth division team and everybody thinks you are three or four classes better.

“You do not want to feel the embarrassment of losing a game like this.

“I thought I could see that a bit when it started happening to them in the first half.

“I thought at half-time we could fix this, and we were kind of back in the race and controlled the game well after.

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“I’m happy about their potential and we will do everything we can to let it grow. But they have big job to do, too.”

Lucas’ 18th-minute header from a Philippe Coutinho corner was his first goal since scoring in a Europa League tie against Steaua Bucharest in October 2010.

But Klopp said: “He played in an old-against-young match last week when we finished training and he was top scorer.

“I was really surprised he didn’t score for that long. But he has a great personality, is a good player and a really good guy.

“Sometimes you have to line up without him, and it’s not his hobby to accept this. But he’s okay and really important for us.”

Plymouth almost forced the tie into extra time when Jake Jervis volleyed against the post 15 minutes from time.

 Liverpool's Ben Woodburn in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After being criticised by some for being ultra-defensive at Anfield, when they had only 23 per cent possession, Plymouth had some good moments and Liverpool were never allowed to rest easily.

Plymouth manager Derek Adams said: “Over the two games we are very proud of the performance. But it was not our night with Jake hitting the post.

“You’re disappointed when you go out of the cup, but Liverpool have been very respectful playing the players they did tonight and we pushed them all the way.

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“We’ve put Plymouth Argyle on the map again, the support we’ve had over the two games has been fantastic.

“We’ve shown a worldwide audience we can get back to where this club feels it belongs – and that is in the Championship.

“There is a population of 300,000 here – the biggest city not to have had a team in the Premier League – and we’re building the blocks to move the club through the leagues again.”

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Steven Gerrard urges Daniel Sturridge to stay “patient” and remain at Liverpool

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 02:05

Steven Gerrard has urged Daniel Sturridge to prove he can be a Liverpool hero in a team “on the verge of something really big.”

Former Reds captain Gerrard believes there is a key role in Jurgen Klopp‘s plans for his former team-mate and challenged him to show patience.

Sturridge has started just five Premier League matches this season, and has shown little of the form that made him such a threat to defences when paired with Luis Suarez, before the Uruguayan left for Barcelona two and a half years ago.

He played from the first whistle against Plymouth on Wednesday, before being subbed off in the 76th minute, and it was Lucas Leiva who grabbed the goal in a 1-0 win that carried Klopp’s team into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Sturridge will hope to be regularly selected by new England boss Gareth Southgate, and it was put to Gerrard that limited club action may not help his international chances.

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“That’s the thing that Daniel’s got to assess himself. Only he knows whether he’s happy, whether he’s frustrated or whether he wants to go somewhere else and challenge himself,” Gerrard said on BT Sport 2.

“But Liverpool aren’t going to let him go for cheap. Liverpool need him. He scores goals when he plays, his minutes-to-goals ratio is incredible.

“I’m sure if someone came along with a huge, huge offer and Daniel wanted it there could be a solution there, but as it stands right now Liverpool need Daniel Sturridge and I can’t see him going anywhere short term.

“He’s capable of world-class moments and performances and I think Liverpool are on the verge of something really big under this manager.

“Maybe he is frustrated from week to week but there’s a great chance he could get silverware with Liverpool in the near future.

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“If I were him I’d be patient. I think there’s good things on the horizon.”

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4 home games in 10 days – Liverpool set for crucial end to January

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 01:56

Liverpool next face four big home games in three different competitions over 10 days.

Victory at Plymouth on Wednesday was the Reds’ win first since the turn of the year, having drawn with Sunderland, Argyle and Man United, as well as losing to Southampton.

After an excellent first half of of the season, Jurgen Klopp‘s side have suffered their first major dip in form.

But the German will be hoping securing passage to the fourth round of the FA Cup will prompt an upturn in fortunes, with four games still left to play before the end of January.

Next up is a clash with Swansea City (12.30pm Saturday 21st) in the Premier League, before the second leg of their League Cup semi-final against Southampton (Wednesday 25th).

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Then Wolves (12.30pm, Saturday 28th) will travel to Anfield for a return to FA Cup action, with league leaders Chelsea (Tuesday 31st) rounding off the month in a blockbuster encounter.

Crucially, each of these games come at home, putting the onus on Liverpool to take four wins from four.

Doing so could prove the difference between the Reds enjoying a successful second half to the campaign and falling miserably, undoing all the good work of 2016.

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the second goal against Stoke City during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ahead of the weekend, Liverpool sit third in the Premier League table, seven points behind Chelsea and level with second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

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But victory over both Swansea and the Blues would see the Reds restore their title hopes, closing the gap between them and Antonio Conte’s in-form leaders.

Similarly, while the Reds are currently a goal behind on aggregate in the League Cup semi-final, taking on Southampton at Anfield provides the perfect opportunity to overturn this and push for their second final in the tournament in two years.

By comparison, Wolves present a meagre challenge on paper, but as two clashes with League Two side Argyle have proved, this is unlikely to be the case in the FA Cup.

But Liverpool have not lost at home since January 26th last year, with Klopp ensuring a return to fortress Anfield.

With four hugely important games coming up over a 10-day period, Liverpool are primed for a must-see January run, and one that could prove genuinely pivotal come May.

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Lucas Leiva laughs off rare Liverpool goal as Jurgen Klopp confirms likely stay

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 01:15

Lucas Leiva has played down the significance of his first Liverpool goal in seven years, but his manager moved to acknowledge his importance.

The Brazilian’s first-half effort secured a slim 1-0 victory over the League Two side in their FA Cup third-round replay on Wednesday night.

This sealed passage to the fourth round, when Wolverhampton Wanderers will travel to Anfield for another fierce clash, with the Reds hopeful of going all the way this season.

Lucas had not scored since September 16, 2010, when he struck from long range to add the third in Liverpool’s 4-1 victory at home to Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League.

None of Jurgen Klopp‘s senior squad were at the club on that day, and Ben Woodburn was a month shy of his 11th birthday.

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This was only Lucas’ seventh since joining the Reds in 2007, but speaking to BT Sport after the game, Lucas laughed off his dismal record.

“It’s that long? I scored last week in training!” he joked when reminded of his last goal.

“It’s good to score, I don’t score many, and I helped the team—that’s the main thing.

“They made it very difficult for us, fair play to them. They’re very strong physically and we had a lot of young players.”

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Also speaking at full-time, Klopp himself backed up Lucas’ claims of training-ground exploits, saying “he is the top scorer in training! I love this in football, everyone can cause problems.”

More importantly, the German moved to confirm that his longest-serving player was likely to remain at the club this month, adding “I would say, yes.”

Lucas has been the subject of interest from Inter Milan in the January transfer window, and was believed to be weighing up a move to the San Siro, considering his current first-team prospects.

But with Joel Matip‘s eligibility still yet to be determined following a dispute with the Cameroon FA, and only Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez as further centre-back options, Lucas can still play a vital role.

Beside his goal, Lucas produced a competent display at the back against the Pilgrims, though the home side bombarded Loris Karius‘ goals with a number of strong set-piece routines.

Liverpool’s next clash is at home to Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, while they will also be looking ahead to their fourth-round tie with Wolves on January 28.

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Plymouth Argyle 0-1 Liverpool: Player Ratings

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 01:05

Ovie Ejaria and Trent Alexander-Arnold were the standouts as Liverpool scraped through to the next round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over League Two Plymouth Argyle.


Plymouth Argyle 0-1 Liverpool

Home Park, FA Cup Third Round Replay
January 18, 2017

Goal: Lucas 18′

Loris Karius – 7

He was eager to come off his line and deal with things, clearing a ball into touch within the first few minutes and regularly coming to claim crosses.

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Made a good save from a Graham Carey shot from distance, and had another similar save to make at the start of the second half.

Could regularly be seen receiving the ball outside his area as he helped the defenders keep possession.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5 (Man of the Match)

 Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Made a good intervention late in the first half, covering across after Lucas had been beaten and a cross in had evaded Gomez. He got to the ball before Paul Garita at the far post.

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Went on to make numerous similar interventions throughout the game, covering behind Gomez and Lucas.

The team was made up of a mixture of youth players and first-teamers, and Alexander-Arnold looked like one of the latter.

Joe Gomez – 7

Involved in a physical battle with Garita which was a good test for the young defender.

He more than held his own against the Cameroonian striker in terms of strength, but was occasionally caught out when the ball was crossed.

Looked good in possession, and could be a good alternative to Joel Matip in the right centre-back slot.

Made an important clearing header late in the game when Plymouth were gaining momentum.

Lucas Leiva – 7

Scored his seventh goal for the club, and his first since September 2010 to give Liverpool an early lead and ease the nerves. It was a good, well-directed header, scored after he found himself unmarked at a Coutinho corner.

He was back making an important block in defence shortly after, but though he was comfortable when defending from deep, he was troubled when the opposition ran at him further up the pitch.

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Despite occasional troubles in defence the team managed to keep a clean sheet, it was his header which sees Liverpool through to the next round of the cup which is what matters in the end.

 Liverpool's Lucas Leiva celebrates scoring the first goal against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Good post match interview too. When he was told that it was 7 years since his last goal he commented that he scored last week in training.

Alberto Moreno – 6

Plenty of opportunities to cross from the left, linking up well with Coutinho, and though these balls in were almost dangerous, they weren’t quite on the money.

Was a good outlet down the his side of the pitch, and won a penalty later in the game with a burst into the area, bravely challenging for the ball.

Kevin Stewart – 5

Struggled to settle into the game, and couldn’t get into the passing rhythm needed from the deep lying midfielder.

Had a good chance to play Sturridge in on goal in the first half but his pass was far too strong.

Beaten to the first header which almost led to a Plymouth equaliser with 15-minutes to go.

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Ovie Ejaria – 7.5

Looked more comfortable in the centre of the park than Stewart, and kept things ticking over when the side were in possession.

Showed good control and played some neat passes in midfield, coming out of the game with a passing accuracy of 97%.

Ben Woodburn – 7

Played the first half of the game in the right attacking berth and struggled to get into the game.

Klopp changed things at half time, moving him into the centre where he could get more involved, and his pivotal role in the second half shows that he’s one of the more trusted youth players in the side, despite being one of the youngest.

Divock Origi – 5

 Liverpool's Divock Origi sees his penalty kick saved during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Had the chance to win the game with a penalty in the last five minutes, but it was poorly taken and easy for the Plymouth keeper Luke McCormick to save. He’d missed four penalties previously for Lille apparently – and his poor technique was clear to see.

He started the game in the central attacking midfield position behind the striker, and it took him some time to adapt to the role.

Moved out wide to the right in the second half, but looked better when eventually moved to the left after the introduction of Wilson.

Played a good 1-2 with Sturridge in the second half, flicking the ball into the path of his team-mate who was able to have a good effort on goal as a result.

Finished the game as striker which is an indication of Klopp’s trust in the forward to fit into his system in numerous positions, and had a late shot after his penalty which blazed over.

Philippe Coutinho – 7

Got the assist for the goal, taking the corner which was headed in by Lucas.

He played some good through balls for Sturridge, and some expansive passes out to the right for Alexander Arnold which put the side in good positions to attack.

Brought off midway through the second half, but this was another step towards match fitness following his injury absence.

Daniel Sturridge – 5

Saw a right-footed effort sail over inside the first ten minutes, and was always a willing runner as he looked to get on the end of Coutinho’s through balls.

Should have been awarded a penalty but the referee wasn’t interested, despite it looking like an obvious foul.

Had a few more efforts on goal but needed a little bit more chemistry with his team-mates in order to get a really good chance on the back of one of his runs in the channels.

Substitutes

 Liverpool's Harry Wilson in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Harry Wilson (on for Coutinho 65′) – 6.5

Finally made his Liverpool debut, having impressed in the youth teams for some time now.

Almost scored inadvertently minutes after coming on, as he closed down the opposition keeper, but the ball rebounded off him and over the goal.

Showed some good touches, and good awareness of his team-mates as he let a Gomez pass pass by him to Woodburn which started an attack.

Sheyi Ojo (on for Sturridge 76′) – 6

Unlucky not to win a free kick in a dangerous area towards the end of the game, and in his frustration he went to ground easily shortly after and was booked for diving.

Manager

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp – 7

Klopp has commented in recent press conferences that though he takes the FA Cup very seriously, he is forced into fielding academy players due to the fixture congestion.

As a result he made only two changes to his starting XI from the game against Plymouth at Anfield 11 days ago, bringing Coutinho in for Emre Can, and Sturridge in for Ojo.

This meant a slight chance in formation, with Sturridge up top on his own, Woodburn on the right, Origi just behind Sturridge, and Coutinho returning to his position on the left.

The team struggled to mix, and there looked to be more understanding later in the game when more of the youth players were on the pitch, as they’ll be used to playing together.

It wasn’t a pretty result, but the team are through to the next round of the FA Cup having given some young players priceless experience over the two games.

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“Not pretty but job done” – Fans react to Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Plymouth

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 00:57
on 18.01.2017

Liverpool scraped past Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday night, with Lucas Levia’s header proving the only goal of the tie.

There were a number of fresh faces in the Liverpool squad as Harry Wilson, Jordan Williams, Paulo Alves and Connor Randall were all named on the bench.

Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho started for the Reds who made two changes to the side from the 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Unsurprisingly, Liverpool dominated the early stages but the opening goal came from the most unlikeliest source as it was centre-back Lucas who netted his first goal in seven years.

There wasn’t too much to get excited about after that but Wilson came on as a substitute in the second half to make his debut for the club.

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Plymouth almost scored an incredible equaliser with 20 minutes left to play but it smashed off the post before Liverpool had a chance to double their lead with a penalty in the 86th minute.

However, Origi fired straight into the hands of the keeper which summed up a tough night for the striker and Liverpool held on to win 1-0.

Here’s the best of the reaction throughout the game on social media.

Everyone was as surprised as Lucas when he scored his first goal in seven years…

I hope Lucas' goal motivates him to stay at Liverpool, at least until June. He is a great character to have in and around the squad. #LFC

— Liam Bekker (@LiamBekkerLFC) January 18, 2017

I've seen it all now. Leicester winning the PL. Trump winning the Presidency. Cubs winning the world series and Lucas scoring for Liverpool.

— Sean O' Donovan (@henriksen1) January 18, 2017

Fans were delighted to see Wilson make his debut…

Harry Wilson coming on. YES

— Viktor Fagerström (@ViktorFagerLFC) January 18, 2017

Sturridge and Origi’s performances were not impressive…

Lucas Origi and Sturridge must offer more, they're responsible for driving this core of youth on here

— Chris Williams (@Chris78Williams) January 18, 2017

I hate it when Origi thinks he's Messi and tries to take on 26 players

— Jonathan (@JCLFC94) January 18, 2017

Sturridge has been terrible tonight. Huge fan, but doing his future chances no good whatsoever.

— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) January 18, 2017

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And Origi’s penalty was also a flop which infuriated fans…

Wow! That penalty was horrendous!!

— Ashley Rose (@Ashleyrose66) January 18, 2017

Compounds Divock Origi's awful night. Scored a handful of goals, but he's not been impressive at all this season.

— Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) January 18, 2017

Before the game I thought Origi was at best to average and he's not exactly convinced me otherwise tonight! ?

— MickyTommoLFC (@mickytommo) January 18, 2017

Liverpool held on to secure a 1-0 victory and progress through to the fourth round…

TAA & Woodburn ??

That is all. Rest of it was 'meh'

Bring on Swansea.

— Steven Halliwell (@Ste_Halliwell11) January 18, 2017

FT 0-1. Made hard work of it but the lads got the job done in the end. Credit to Plymouth, they kept us honest.

— James Phillips (@JJP_LFC) January 18, 2017

That'll do. Some good first-team football for the kids, and the "first team" rested ahead of Swansea on Saturday! In the next round. ?

— Ashley Rose (@Ashleyrose66) January 18, 2017

Job done. The least said about that game the better. Awful

— Spion Klopp (@TheKopHQ) January 18, 2017

Sighs of relief all round! Well played Plymouth, just one goal conceded in 180 minutes against one of the Premier League's biggest scorers.

— Jim Boardman (@JimBoardman) January 18, 2017

Wasn't pretty, probably Origi's worse game for us. MOTM imo Alexander Arnold.

— Eathen.. (@Eathen_1892) January 18, 2017

It's great when Liverpool give youngster a go. But it's still Liverpool. You have to play with heart and guts. Thank god for Harry (& Lucas)

— Mike Wilson (@Redsmail) January 18, 2017

Let us know your thoughts on the game in the comments section.

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LIVE: Plymouth Argyle vs Liverpool – Follow the Reds’ FA Cup replay here

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 22:00

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Confirmed Liverpool lineup vs. Plymouth Argyle: Coutinho makes first start since injury

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 21:35

Jurgen Klopp has named a mix of youth and experience in his Liverpool side for Wednesday night’s FA Cup third-round replay away to Plymouth Argyle.

The starting lineup for the initial 0-0 draw at Anfield was the Reds’ youngest in history, with Klopp utilising his academy ranks to form an impressive unit.

With injuries and international duty hampering his senior ranks in January, Klopp has taken a similar approach for the trip to Home Park, with a few more familiar names.

Loris Karius resumes his duties between the sticks, and will be hoping to continue his fine run of form in cup competitions after a difficult start to life on Merseyside.

After his full Premier League debut against Manchester United on Sunday, Trent Alexander-Arnold retains his place at right-back, with Nathaniel Clyne still suffering from a rib injury.

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Alexander-Arnold joins Joe Gomez, Lucas Leiva and Alberto Moreno in defence, with Joel Matip left on Merseyside as the dispute over his eligibility continues.

In midfield, Kevin Stewart takes over as Klopp’s No. 6, flanked by Philippe Coutinho and Ovie Ejaria, with both central to picking apart Plymouth’s stubborn defensive line.

With Sadio Mane at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, and Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino rested, Klopp has turned to Ben Woodburn, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi as his forward trio.

He has plenty of youth in reserve, with Simon Mignolet and Ragnar Klavan kept company by Connor Randall, Jordan Williams, Paulo Alves, Sheyi Ojo and Harry Wilson.

Plymouth Argyle: McCormick; Threlkeld, Songo’o, Bradley, Purrington; Fox, Carey, Donaldson; Jervis, Slew, Garita

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Substitutes: Dorel, Sawyer, Bulvitis, Rooney, Tanner, Fletcher, Rose

Liverpool: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Lucas, Moreno; Stewart, Coutinho, Ejaria; Origi, Woodburn, Sturridge

Substitutes: Mignolet, Klavan, Randall, Williams, Alves, Ojo, Wilson

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Marko Grujic still out after suffering injury setback

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 20:36

Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic is set to remain on the sidelines, with the club fearing a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury.

The Serbian midfielder has not featured for the first team since November’s 2-0 win at home to Leeds United in the League Cup quarter-finals, but only played one minute in that Anfield victory.

His last meaningful outing came a month previous, in the Reds’ fourth-round win over Tottenham Hotspur on October 25.

This has been due to a hamstring injury, with a lengthy recovery even keeping him from duty with the Liverpool U23s, for whom he has made just one appearance this season, also in October.

Grujic hinted at a return to action in December, and he has begun training with the first team at Melwood, but his absence from Jurgen Klopp‘s squad has been distinct.

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According to the Liverpool Echo‘s James Pearce, this is due to a struggle to fully recover.

Grujic could have been expected to feature in Wednesday night’s FA Cup third-round replay away to Plymouth Argyle, but he didn’t travel with the Liverpool squad, remaining on Merseyside.

A major blow to the 20-year-old’s development, this injury has hampered Grujic’s transition to life at his new club.

 Liverpool's Marko Grujic celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Barcelona during the International Champions Cup match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Grujic signed in a deal worth £5.1 million a year ago, but spent the last six months of 2015/16 on loan with his former club Red Star Belgrade, winning the Serbian SuperLiga.

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He linked up with the Reds in the summer, and played a starring role during pre-season, including a goal in August’s 4-0 friendly win over Barcelona at Wembley Stadium.

So far this season, Grujic has made just five appearances in all competitions, averaging 41.6 minutes per game, notching an assist for Daniel Sturridge‘s opener against Spurs.

His struggle to establish himself this season should come as no surprise, with the current campaign always likely to be more of a bedding-in period.

In September, he stressed that “next season will be the one where I show what I can do.”

But nevertheless, Grujic has been unable to benefit from valuable game time in the League Cup and FA Cup, with this latest setback heaping disappointment onto his maiden term in Liverpool’s No. 16.

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The reason for Joel Matip’s Cameroon dispute revealed in FIFA ruling

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 14:56

Joel Matip‘s current eligibility dispute may be due to the centre-back not officially writing a letter of his retirement to the Cameroon FA in 2015.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been forced to omit Matip from his past two matchday squads, against Manchester United and Plymouth Argyle, over fears of a sanction from FIFA.

The 25-year-old withdrew himself from contention for this month’s Africa Cup of Nations, but FECAFOOT have not recognised his retirement.

This could, therefore, see FIFA suspend Matip for the duration of the tournament, keeping him out of action until mid-February, which would serve as a bitter blow to the Reds’ title hopes.

However, according to a FIFA ruling, Matip supposedly hasn’t submitted the required paperwork to FECAFOOT to announce his retirement from duty means he was “obliged” to heed their call-up.

FIFA ruling states that “any divergent agreement between a player and a club is prohibited,” though that “associations wishing to call up a player who is playing abroad must notify the player in writing at least 15 days before the day of the match for which he is required.

“The player’s club shall also be informed in writing at the same time. The club must confirm the release of the player within the following six days.

“Should he wish not to be called up for a certain match or matches or for a certain period of time, he must inform the association of which he is a national, in writing, of his intention before being called up.

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“Furthermore, only the player himself is entitled to renounce representing his national team. This declaration shall be submitted by the player to the association concerned in writing.”

 Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Burton Albion during the Football League Cup 2nd Round match at the Pirelli Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That FECAFOOT believe Matip didn’t inform them of his retirement in writing could lead to ramifications for Liverpool if he is then selected.

This is ruled to be “during the period for which he has been released or should have been released,” with this case meaning the duration of this winter’s AFCON.

Crucially, FIFA rules that if Matip is fielded during the dispute, this could affect Liverpool’s results:

“If a player who has been correctly called up but not released by his club plays for the latter during the period he should have been released, the Players’ Status Committee can ask the association where this club is affiliated to declare any match or matches in which the player participated as having been lost by the club concerned.”

Therefore, this could have enforced the Reds’ exit from the FA Cup if Matip helped his side secure victory at Home Park on Wednesday night, with Klopp instead deciding to leave him on Merseyside.

FIFA are due to decide whether to investigate Matip’s case on Friday, though Liverpool are adamant they are not at fault in this case, with the player’s retirement coming before his signing.

It is no surprise Matip should not wish to play for Cameroon, of course, with the 25-year-old citing a “bad experience with the previous technical staff” for his reason behind retiring.

In 2011, for example, Schalke refused to release Matip for an AFCON warmup after FECAFOOT were late submitting their own paperwork, while his nationality has been questioned in the past, too.

It seems that had Schalke advised Matip to make his retirement official with a written letter in 2015, all this could have been avoided.

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Liverpool training jacket made available to fans

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 14:00
on 18.01.2017

Liverpool have released some new training kit items today, but you’ll have to be quick as there’s only 1,000 of each available.

The pick of the three new items available is the grey zip training jacket – as worn by the players at Melwood this winter and sported this week by Adam Lallana in the image above.

Loris Karius of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on January 14, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on January 14, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

There’s also a grey training shirt that the players wore frequently in pre-season during warmer times, and a bright mid-layer training top which will make you stand out from the crowd at 5-a-side!

You can purchase these via the official club shop, here.

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