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Jurgen Klopp says struggling Liverpool striker Christian Benteke must not hide

58 минут 40 секунд назад

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has backed striker Christian Benteke to end his current slump but admits there is “no hiding place” for the £32.5million signing.

 Liverpool's Christian Benteke looks dejected after missing a chance against West Ham United during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 25-year-old has not scored for 11 matches, a run stretching back to Boxing Day, and has just seven goals for the whole season.

He is still Liverpool’s top scorer, which speaks volumes about the Reds’ general form in front of goal, but with Daniel Sturridge making his long-awaited return from injury in Tuesday’s FA Cup exit at West Ham Benteke’s situation will come under even more scrutiny.

Klopp has spoken to the Belgium international about his struggles but admits only the player can really help himself.

“I can do a lot of things but at the end – and it is not only with Christian – the last important help comes from the player himself,” said the Reds boss.

“It is not the easiest period of his career but the number of opportunities (he is getting) is a good sign, if he had no opportunities it would be a much bigger problem but it is not too easy.

“You cannot hide yourself. I talked to him a few times and gave him some advice as a human being and a coach and he has really tried to come back to an easy moment.

“Strikers who do not score goals for a longer period are more interesting than someone else who does not score enough.

“But there are worse situations in the world – even in the world of football – so we have to carry on and he has to carry on.”

Liverpool head to Benteke’s former club Aston Villa on Sunday but Klopp cautioned against that trip sparking the big centre-forward into goalscoring action again.

“I have not the best experience with players coming back to former clubs, it is usually they make more pressure for themselves because they want to show extra,” the German said.

“I don’t know the history with Christian and Aston Villa so I don’t know whether they will welcome him with open arms or whistles but that is not too interesting for me.

“I don’t hope too often before a game ‘Come on, maybe this is the game when it will change’. It is about work and circumstances and we will see what line-up we will choose but it is not because of personal histories with this club.”

Sturridge seems likely to be eased back in after his first appearance for two months, coming off the bench to play for over an hour at Upton Park.

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Klopp will take no chances with the England international, who has played just seven times this season.

“He feels good and I have heard nothing else. We have to think about how we can manage the minutes but he made a big step in the last week and that is good,” he said.

Another welcome boost at West Ham was the return of playmaker Philippe Coutinho after a month out with a hamstring injury, who scored with a free-kick which went under the wall.

“It was one of the smartest free-kicks in football, you don’t see this too often and it was really cool,” said Klopp.

“Phil Coutinho is in good shape and I don’t know the names of too many teams in the world where he would not play.

“He has had two not too long but long-term injuries where four or five weeks (out) in the middle of the season is not too easy.

“He has to come back and find his rhythm and we will try to help him but if Phil is back he is always someone who can make the difference in a game.”

The injury situation is finally easing – although midfielder Joe Allen has been ruled out for a “long” time with a hamstring problem – and Klopp is looking forward to having plenty of options.

“It is the first time I’ve had this problem – usually anyone who could walk or stand up in a morning played!” he added. “Now we have the situation where hopefully we have to make some decisions.”

[embedded content]

KLOPP’S PRE-VILLA PRESSER

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool appointment ’causes jump in German tourists at Anfield’

1 час 2 минуты назад

Liverpool Football Club has reported a “spike” in the number of German tourists travelling to Anfield following the arrival of Jurgen Klopp as manager.

 A general view of Liverpool's Anfield Stadium before the FA Cup 4th Round match against West Ham United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The appointment of the “animated” 48-year-old has led to a surge in visitors from his home country, the club’s commercial tourism manager Tom Cassidy revealed.

He told the Press Association: “We have seen a spike in interest from Germany since the new manager has come on board … we have seen on the stadium tours an increase in terms of numbers.

“I dealt with an inquiry this week of a German company who are bringing 55 German tour operators on a familiarisation trip.

“They may have come regardless of Jurgen’s appointment but I know the interest is there.”

North-west England receives the highest proportion of football-driven visits in Britain with one in 10 tourists in the region going to a game, according to figures published by tourism body Visit Britain.

The research showed that some 800,000 people attended a football match while visiting Britain in 2014, spending a total of £684 million during their stay.

Speaking at the annual convention of tourism trade association UKinbound in Aviemore, Mr Cassidy said he was hoping that a welcome from Klopp will feature in a new stadium tour which is set to open in January 2017.

“He’s a very animated character. I imagine wherever he goes he will gather interest,” Mr Cassidy said. “It’s great he’s in Liverpool.”

The club’s American owners were forced into a U-turn over ticket prices earlier this week after being hurt by accusations of greed by protesting fans.

Supporters walked out in the 77th minute of last weekend’s game against Sunderland following the proposed introduction of a £77 match ticket next season.

On Wednesday the club announced a freeze on season and match ticket prices for the next two seasons.

ANALYSIS: Anfield’s revised ticket prices: 74% of existing match and season tickets are frozen or decreasing

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool ticket U-turn a “game-changer” claims Football Supporters Federation

1 час 5 минут назад

Liverpool fans’ successful walkout protest over ticket prices is a “game-changer”, according to the Football Supporters’ Federation.

 Liverpool fans protest against high ticket prices with a banner '£nough is £nough [Enough is Enough]' during the Premiership match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Owners Fenway Sports Group performed a U-turn on controversial plans to introduce a B£77 match ticket and Anfield’s first £1,000 season ticket after an estimated 10,000 fans walked out of Saturday’s draw at home to Sunderland in protest.

The Americans have been praised for recognising there was a problem but with ticket prices an ongoing issue for Premier League clubs there are more supporters’ groups who may be considering direct action themselves.

“It is obviously a significant success for the Liverpool supporters’ groups, Spion Kop 1906 and Spirit of Shankly, who organised the protest and managed to get a huge amount of support,” FSF chairman Malcolm Clarke told Press Association Sport.

“We would congratulate them on that and recognise that the owners have listened and at least put a freeze on what they were doing.

“It is rare for the owners to do it but they have done it because of a supporter protest of that magnitude where a larger proportion of supporters walked.

“It is something I am sure both owners and other supporters’ groups would have noticed.

“In some ways it has been a bit of a game-changer but the next big milestone is to see what Premier League clubs do at their meeting next month.

“Last time they got a majority for some kind of package but it was not the two-thirds needed so we would hope in the light of the Liverpool situation they will deliver something meaningful.”

The FSF are behind a number of campaigns with the Twenty’s Plenty initiative for away fans probably the one for which they are most well-known.

And while Clarke said there would be no central edict urging fans to follow the example set at Liverpool the FSF would provide support where necessary.

“Liverpool’s protest was about home prices and our campaign is mainly focusing on away prices and the situation at each club varies,” he said.

“We would support local groups who do that (stage a walkout protest) but what we wouldn’t do is say from the centre ‘we must do this’ or ‘we should do that’ because it is a local decision as the particular position on home prices varies enormously between clubs.

“The big clubs and the London clubs are worse on this but the likes of Stoke and Watford have a decent level of pricing.

“It is for each supporters’ group to decide on their tactics and whether similar tactics would be effective.”

ANALYSIS: Anfield’s revised ticket prices: 74% of existing match and season tickets are frozen or decreasing

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool FC: Nine Days that Shocked the Kop

4 часа 36 минут назад

Liverpool’s owners, FSG, were clearly surprised by supporters’ opposition to the proposed ticket prices for the forthcoming 2016/2017 season. Neil Poole explains how the last nine days have seen an unprecedented series of shockwaves batter Liverpool’s system.

 Liverpool's owner John W. Henry and Director Michael Gordon before the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match against Rubin Kazan at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The last time I felt as bereft leaving Anfield as I did in the 77th minute last Saturday was leaving Anfield after the 90th minute in April 2014 in the wake of a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea. However, while the defeat to Chelsea two years ago felt like the realistic end to a rare title challenge, Saturday felt more ominous, more like the end of days.

Whether it was the black flags, the graveyard silence or watching the billowing goal nets expand then contract as if blown by a red giant’s last breath, Liverpool Football Club genuinely felt like it was flat lining. A little melodramatic? The writing might be. The feeling was not.

In the four days preceding the game and in the four days that followed, the rhythm of that fading heartbeat was regularly punctuated by a toddler running rampant with a defibrillator. Some of the shocks just added to the trauma. Others were invigorating.

Where do you even start?

“Stand Clear!” Zap! News of the increased ticket prices came out of the blue for most of us and the proverbial hit the fan. The clever bods from LFC’s official site who came up with the ‘100 Players Who Shook the Kop’ series, now have a macabre variation on a theme should they ever have the stomach for it, called ‘9 Days That Shocked the Kop’.

“Stand clear!” Zap! The resistance of some supporters to fellow Reds wishing to protest against the new pricing structure was mind-boggling. It seems that the only thing that fires up those who are apathetic are people who do not share their apathy.

As a public servant and union member, I have regularly taken industrial action against draconian austerity measures in this country over the last six years. Many of the arguments against against the ticket price protest were frighteningly similar to those trundled out in workplace or by the right-wing media.

Having been outflanked by patronising invitations to enter the ‘real world’ and sh*thouse whining of ‘what’s the point’ over the last week, it suggests this attitude is less a football problem and more society’s. Of course, feel free to disagree, but try and refrain from feeling at total ease patronising those who choose to stand up for themselves and others.

 Liverpool supporters walk out of the ground on 77 minutes to protest against a £77 ticket price during the Premier League match against Sunderland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Stand clear!” Zap! The very idea of a walkout on seventy-seven minutes was unprecedented.

“Stand clear!” Zap! The club’s riposte, delivered by Ian Ayre, was one of startling arrogance and ill-conceived pretend-gangster menace. Liverpool were staggered at the response. Supporters were told to be careful what they wished for. Supporters were told to look at the facts. So we did… and we saw we were right to walk on 77.

“Stand clear!” Zap! You’ll Never Walk Alone. Enough is Enough. Deafening whistles. Stand up. Walk. “Liv-er-pool!” Bloody hell I’m about to cry here. I wasn’t expecting this. Walking on 77 was bitter sweet. Guilt ridden for abandoning your team for the first time in your life, yet walking in solidarity with over ten thousand other Reds for the future of your club.

Clearly, scarred by the aforementioned years of taking industrial action in work to no avail, I’ve become accustomed to taking action as a symbolic show of solidarity rather than in the expectancy of success. Liverpool were staggered. I was staggered. The biggest shock of this whole affair has been the numbers that walked, and the sense, at the time, that this might actually work.

 Liverpool's James Milner walks off the pitch to an almost empty stadium after supporters staged a 77 minute protest against high ticket prices during the Premier League match against Sunderland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Stand clear!” Zap. Ten minutes later, walking away from the ground, “What?! It ended 2-2! You’re f*cking kidding”

“Stand clear! Zap! Not arsed.

“Stand clear!” Zap! Almost unanimous support and positive coverage from the media, ex-players and not least on Match of the Day from the man who could bore a fox off a chicken, Alan Shearer. Only joking Al’! Good man.

“Stand clear! Zap. Liverpool Football Club apologise and freeze prices for the next two seasons, and do so within four days of the walkout. There’s a man with a terrible song out. The chorus goes “I wasn’t expecting tha’” but somehow he manages mispronounce ‘that’. Well, tha’.

The over-arching shock is, I genuinely thought Liverpool FC had given up on ever surprising supporters again. Up until the 2013/14 season, you could always expect Liverpool to do something unexpected.

We were predictably unpredictable, reliably unreliable. Liverpool FC has been an oxymoron dressed in red for the best part of thirty years.

Even our relatively recent muscle memory is primed with winning against the odds or in quirky ways: unglamorous trebles. A Champions League turnaround of Herculean proportions. An injury time FA Cup screamer from Gerrard saving us from the jaws of defeat and spring boarding us to FA Cup victory. Our captain’s cousin missing the crucial penalty in the shootout of the Capital One Cup final. There’s always been a story. There has always been unbelievable fairy-tale ending.

It’s why so many of us prematurely nailed our flags to the mast in the final weeks of the unexpected title challenge in 2013/2014. proclaiming it was indeed nailed on. It seemed like fate. What could be more Liverpool than somehow winning the league like this?

 Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop make a mosaic of European Cups before the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We all know what happened next…and if the footballing Gods have their way it currently appears that Leicester are more like Liverpool than Liverpool these days.

Since the end of that season, we have trudged through dirge from weekend to weekend, watching the same inadequate players, play the same games in the same ways, making the same mistakes to the same end.

The shocks have ceased to happen on the pitch. The ones that occur do so, for better or worse, are at the behest of Fenway Sports Group. The massive positive remains the surprise appointment of Jurgen Klopp when personally I had given up on us attracting a world class sought after manager, for years. The U-turn on ticket prices and the apology should be commended too. It is as welcome as it is unexpected.

On the other hand, the whole fiasco points at a worrying and fundamental disconnect with the culture of the club and its fans. Furthermore, freezing prices whilst positive need to be tempered with the reality that they are being frozen at a price, which is too high.

Who knows what will happen over the next few weeks, months and years. The only thing you can be certain of is that the shock waves of the last nine days will reverberate around and effect our club for a long time to come.

 

ANALYSIS: Anfield’s revised ticket prices: 74% of existing match and season tickets are frozen or decreasing

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Arsenal vs. Leicester and Man City vs. Spurs top Premier League billing

4 часа 46 минут назад

The Premier League title race is now really hotting up, and it could take further twists in what looks like a mouthwatering weekend of action.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and substitute Daniel Sturridge during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match against West Ham United at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool are fresh off the back of that cruel 2-1 defeat to West Ham in the FA Cup fourth round on Tuesday, and Jurgen Klopp‘s side visit Aston Villa on Sunday looking for a response.

Confidence is pretty low with the Reds right now, although the return to first-team action of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho is an enormous boost.

The trip to Villa Park is one of the many crucial Premier League clashes of the weekend, with a couple of potentially pivotal games standing out.

Biggest Day Yet in the Title Race

At points this season, the definition of Super Sunday has been stretched, but this Sunday’s action is the best of the season so far.

Top-of-the-table Leicester City visit Arsenal first up, with the Foxes well aware that victory would put them eight points clear of the Gunners.

Equally, an Arsenal win narrows the gap to just two points, which would surely make Arsene Wenger’s men favourites to win the title in May.

Man City then host Tottenham later in the afternoon, in a game that really could go either way.

Another home slip-up from City could see their title challenge in serious danger of petering out, while a Spurs win would further strengthen their bid for a maiden Premier League triumph.

Come Sunday evening, it will all look a lot clearer up at the top.

Despite these top-four clashes taking top billing, there are still some games that look interesting on paper.

Sunderland, currently 19th in the table, welcome Man United to the Stadium of Light on Saturday lunchtime, as the Black Cats look to build on the point they snatched at Anfield last weekend.

United, meanwhile, are still desperately hoping to finish in the top four this season. Failure to beat Sunderland would be very damaging.

Chelsea host struggling Newcastle on Saturday, with Steve McClaren’s side just outside the relegation places currently. Guus Hiddink still hasn’t lost a game as Chelsea manager, and that shouldn’t change at Stamford Bridge.

Norwich face a home clash with West Ham, with the Canaries’ Premier League survival looking increasingly unlikely, while fellow relegation-threatened duo Swansea City and Bournemouth host Southampton and Stoke City, respectively.

The remaining fixtures see mid-table outfits Crystal Palace and Everton enjoy home clashes against Watford and West Brom, in what feel like dead rubbers.

Full Fixtures & TV Info

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana celebrates the second goal against Sunderland with team-mate Roberto Firmino during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunderland vs. Man United – Saturday 12:45pm, BT Sport 1

Bournemouth vs. Stoke – Saturday 3pm

Crystal Palace vs. Watford – Saturday 3pm

Everton vs. West Brom – Saturday 3pm

Norwich vs. West Ham – Saturday 3pm

Swansea vs. Southampton – Saturday 3pm

Chelsea vs. Newcastle – Saturday 5:30pm, Sky Sports 1

Arsenal vs. Leicester – Sunday 12pm, Sky Sports 1

Aston Villa vs. Liverpool – Sunday 2:05pm, Sky Sports 1

Man City vs. Tottenham – Sunday 4:15pm, Sky Sports 1

Fantasy Football Tips

Jermain Defoe may be a little past his best these days, but he outlined his enduring quality with a expertly taken late equaliser away to Liverpool last Saturday.

The former England striker has 13 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions this season, and he will be a key figure against Man United this weekend. Don’t be surprised to see him add to his tally.

Diego Costa has improved at Chelsea ever since the sacking of Jose Mourinho, and his last-gasp strike against United six days ago earned the Blues a point at Stamford Bridge.

The 27-year-old will fancy his chances of dominating Newcastle’s defence on Saturday, in a game many would expect Chelsea to win comfortably.

Harry Kane and Dele Alli have deservedly received huge praise for their performances for Spurs this season, but Erik Lamela has also shone in attack.

The Argentina international has chipped in with eight goals throughout the campaign, and with Man City preoccupied with stopping Kane and Alli, Lamela may end up being the key man at the Etihad.

Much is being made of Leicester’s outstanding goal threat this season, but they will be thwarted by a solid Arsenal defence on Sunday.

Hector Bellerin has been the best right-back in the Premier League in 2015/16, and the attacking threat he brings means he is always a good fantasy football addition.

Expect a clean sheet too, despite the obvious danger that Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and others pose.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Anfield’s revised ticket prices: 74% of existing match and season tickets are frozen or decreasing

4 часа 52 минуты назад

Earlier in the week Dan Kennett analysed the controversial 2016/17 ticket price rises. Following Wednesday’s unprecedented u-turn from Liverpool, Dan analyses the revised 2016/17 prices.

 A general view of Anfield before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wednesday’s announcement included:

  • an end to match categorisation
  • top priced tickets being frozen at their current levels of £869 / £59
  • £9 tickets available in the corners of the Upper Main stand for all Premier League matches
  • keeping other good features from the original announcement for local school kids and young adults

After analysing the revised stadium ticket map and trying to understand how the 19 tiers became 12, my findings are that:

  • 74% of all existing match tickets and season tickets are being frozen or decreasing, compared to 53% under the original 2016/17 prices
  • Less than 200,000 tickets are increasing compared to over 350,000 in the original prices
  • The severity of increases under the revised prices are also much less

Anfield_Revised_Prices1

About 194,000 tickets are increasing – of which 180,000 are match tickets.

Over 130,000 of the increased tickets are in the Anfield Road End and whilst the increases are less severe under the revised prices there are almost 40,000 tickets increasing between 10 and 20%. In fact, 68% of all tickets that are increasing next season are match tickets in the Anfield Road End.

Match tickets in the other 3 stands are showing fewer increases and more decreases.

Anfield_Revised_Prices2

The most difficult aspect of the announcement to investigate was this:

“The pricing of tickets will be readjusted to result in zero revenue growth from GA ticketing on a like-for-like basis. Though individual ticket prices may move marginally from this season, we are freezing our 2016-17 GA ticket revenue at the 2015-16 level exclusive of newly-added seats in the new Main Stand.”

Under the original prices, the average ticket was increasing by £1.76. By my sums, the average price of all Anfield tickets next season is now back to the same as this season.

It’s also worth noting that all season tickets now cost less in real terms than when FSG took over.

Next season, the most expensive Kop season ticket is £735, in 2010/11 it was £732 (UK inflation would in the same period would be £797).

Next season, the most expensive Centenary/Main season ticket is £859, in 2010/11 it was £785 (UK inflation in same period would £857).

One other thing I noticed when reviewing the revised stadium map was the addition of some new general admission seats in the new Upper Main Stand.

main-stand-seating

My belief is that these are the 827 seats that were re-classified as “low level hospitality” in the original proposals, now back as Tier 1 match tickets. More good news for fans from an excellent announcement.

 

OPINION: Liverpool FC: Nine Days that Shocked the Kop

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Категории: LFC NEWS

James Milner: We’re keeping an eye on Liverpool’s academy graduates

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 23:14

Liverpool vice-captain James Milner has been impressed with the young players who represented the club so well in the FA Cup but has warned they will get a "kick up the rear" if they let their new-found fame go to their heads.

 Liverpool's James Milner in action against Leicester City during the Premier League match at Filbert Way. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The likes of Cameron Brannagan, Kevin Stewart, Joao Carlos Teixeira, Pedro Chirivella, Connor Randall, Sheyi Ojo and Jerome Sinclair, all under 23, were used by Jurgen Klopp as he tried to manage a crippling injury crisis in January.

Many kept their places for all the FA Cup matches, a run which ended in an extra-time fourth-round replay defeat at West Ham on Tuesday, and earned plaudits for their performances.

Milner does not expect any of the academy graduates to get too big for their boots following their unexpected first-team exposure but has stressed the senior players will keep a watchful eye on them.

"They've got their heads on their shoulders, their feet on the ground, and they know what they want to achieve," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"If they don't, that's where we step in and give them a kick up the rear but I don't see that being too much of a problem."

Milner hopes some will manage to provide viable competition for the established players in Klopp's squad.

"To perform how they did over those two games and when they've been called on this year is great," he added.

"We've had a lot of injuries this year and you want those boys to come in and not just fill that spot for the time being but to push whoever's holding that shirt and be part of the squad, improve and become better players as well.

"Ultimately they're the future of this club so the more games they get, the more experience and the more they can learn, it's obviously better for everyone."

midfielders-collage

While Milner and his team-mates keep an eye on the future of the club on the pitch, the future off it took another step forward with a topping-out ceremony – done when a structure reaches its maximum height – for the Main Stand as it undergoes its B£120million redevelopment.

Klopp, chief executive Ian Ayre, former player and manager Kenny Dalglish and a host of other ex-players marked the occasion alongside construction workers on site.

Ten former players – Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, Gary McAllister, Jamie Carragher, John Barnes, Ian Saint John, Phil Neal, Alan Kennedy, Ian Callaghan and Roger Hunt – all signed a piece of structural steel which will be lifted and secured into the roof of the stand, which is now more than double the height of the existing structure.

"We have today reached another important milestone in this fantastic project," said Ayre.

"We are absolutely delighted with the progress and are looking forward to having even more fans (redevelopment will add an extra 8,500 seats) supporting the team at Anfield when the Main Stand opens next season."

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Photos: Anfield Main Stand ‘topping out’ ceremony

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 21:41

Liverpool held a ‘topping out’ ceremony for the new Main Stand on Thursday, a tradition in the construction industry to bestow good luck on a new building.

The ceremony was attended by Jurgen Klopp and a host of former players, including Kenny Dalglish, Jamie Carragher, John Barnes, Gary McAllister, Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush, Ian St John, Phil Neal, Alan Kennedy, Ian Callaghan and Roger Hunt.

These all signed a steel girder which will then be hoisted into place atop the new roof of the stand.

The new Main Stand is due to be completed in time for next season, although Liverpool FC have now changed their wording again to say the project is “on target for completion later this year.”

We understand that some elements of the new stand, particularly internal aspects such as changing rooms and facilities, won’t be complete in time for the 2016/17.

Liverpool yesterday announced revised ticket prices for the new stand next season, meaning the most expensive seat will remain at £59 – although that price will apply no matter the opposition.

Some seats in the new upper tier of the Main Stand will cost as little as £9 – although these are believed to be restricted view seats.

Liverpool still haven’t announced naming rights for the new stand, which should generate in the region of £5 million in additional income per season.

The new stand will take Anfield’s overall capacity to just under 54,000, with phase two comprising of redeveloping the Anfield Road End – for which the club have outline planning permission but have not decided whether to go ahead with yet. That would see the overall capacity rise to 58,000.

Carragher posted a photo on Instagram from the top of the new stand, commenting how small Goodison Park looks across Stanley Park:

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Does Chinese investment and £8bn TV deal signal the end of the bargain signing?

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 21:01

With an influx of investment from wealthy sponsors and broadcasters, plus the emergence of Chinese football’s financial clout, will bargain signings soon be a thing of the past?

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the Premier League match against Arsenal at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s failed move for Brazilian attacker Alex Teixeira this winter helped mark another milestone in modern football’s financial upheaval.

With Shakhtar Donetsk playing hardball over their valuation—ranging from £24 million to £38 million—the Reds saw their approach fall short, with Jurgen Klopp calling off the pursuit.

“It’s not that we haven’t got money or anything, but you have to work respectfully and responsibly,” the German explained shortly after.

Teixeira subsequently made a £38 million move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning, in one of many big-money splurges from China in recent weeks – with plenty more linked to follow.

This is one example among many in an increasingly fraught financial landscape, and begs the question: are there still bargains to be found in modern football?

 

Influx of Riches

 Liverpool's owner John W. Henry during a preseason friendly match against Valerenga at the Ulleval Stadion. (Photo by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Gone are the days when the footballing oligarch was a foreign concept, with the Premier League awash with investment from a new generation of owners treating football as business.

Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, are of a similar breed, though they have taken a vested interest in the club’s fortunes on the field since their arrival in 2010.

In years gone by, last summer’s combined outlay of up to £61.5 million on Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino would have been incredibly rare.

Manchester United’s £30 million move for Rio Ferdinand in 2002, for example, saw the Old Trafford side invest in a sure thing; Ferdinand was one of the finest defensive prospects of his generation, and duly developed into a world-class centre-back.

The signings of Benteke and Firmino were far from the Premier League’s record for last summer, with Manchester City spending £54.5 million on Kevin de Bruyne and £49 million to bring Raheem Sterling to the Etihad from Anfield.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

City are backed by Sheikh Mansour, deputy prime minister of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, a model of the modern footballing investor. Mansour’s wealth reaches into the billions, similar to that of Jiangsu Suning’s owners, the Suning Commerce Group, but while the likes of Mansour and Abramovich are figureheads of a new footballing regime, every Premier League club has enjoyed a major boost in wealth of late.

This is due to a remarkable TV deal that sees Sky and BT paying a combined £5.14 billion for the next three years of domestic rights. Add in over £3 billion in foreign TV rights for the same period for the total of £8.3 billion for the league.

As a result, spending for traditionally ‘lesser’ clubs such as Stoke City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion has increased massively.

Stoke’s financial pulling power allowed them to sign the internationally renowned Xherdan Shaqiri from Inter Milan, with the £12 million fee sanctioned to secure his move now considered a bargain, stretching the definition of the word.

 

The New Bargain Signing

 Liverpool's Emre Can in action against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)c

Scanning through the current Liverpool squad, and the club’s many, high-profile acquisitions, few stand out as genuine bargain signings.

The lengthy service of Martin Skrtel and Lucas Leiva, signed for £6.5 million and £5 million in 2008 and 2007, could be argued as value for money for the Reds, as both near a decade on the books at Anfield, but such signings now are few and far between.

In the FSG era, few players signed for a similar value to that of Skrtel and Lucas have made a sustained impact in the Premier League.

Instead, a six-strong group, all signed for around the £12 million mark, much like Shaqiri, stands as the best business of Henry and Werner’s reign—bar the £23 million signing of Luis Suarez.

Nathaniel Clyne (£12.5m), Alberto Moreno (£12m), Emre Can (£10m), Philippe Coutinho (£8.5m), Daniel Sturridge (£12m) and Divock Origi (£10m) represent the best hopes for success among Klopp’s current crop.

 Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne in action against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

All signed young, with Clyne the eldest on his arrival at 24, this group were identified as both immediate and long-term solutions to some of Liverpool’s problem positions, and on their performances so far, look to serve as examples of the new bargain signing.

According to a study conducted by the CIES Football Observatory, Jonjo Shelvey’s £12 million move to Newcastle United was the best-value transfer of the January transfer window, across Europe’s top five leagues.

Based on the midfielder’s output, age and his existing contract with Swansea City, CIES valued Shelvey at a staggering £23.5 million, meaning Steve McClaren’s side acquired a high-value talent for a relative low fee.

But can £12 million for Shelvey, a creative midfielder with 13 assists in his last five seasons, really be considered a bargain?

Instead, one of Liverpool’s other summer signings, 18-year-old defender Joe Gomez, represents a modern-day steal at £3.5 million, underlining the ever-increasing importance of thorough scouting.

 

The Importance of Scouting

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action against True Thai Premier League All Stars during the True Super Trophy match at the Rajamangala National Stadium on day two of the club's preseason tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In an environment where every young talent’s movements are recorded, analysed and regurgitated, Gomez was still something of an unknown quantity to followers of English football.

Breaking into the Charlton Athletic first team in 2014/15, Gomez made himself an indispensable option at right-back for then-manager Guy Luzon, as well as turning out for England’s U19s side.

When news of Liverpool’s interest in Gomez broke, supporters frantically grasped for information on this bright, young thing.

Though October’s frustrating ACL injury derailed Gomez’s 2015/16 campaign, his performances in the early stages of the season reinforced his signing as a true bargain.

This is still relatively speaking, of course, with Arsene Wenger recently lamenting the impossible task of finding the next Patrick Vieira—a world-class midfielder who cost Arsenal just £2.5 million in 1996.

Nevertheless, Gomez’s under-the-radar success is a testament to thorough scouting, which is, regrettably, a dying art, as Michael Calvin so sensitively portrayed in his 2014 book, The Nowhere Men.

 Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez in action against Liverpool during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That Wenger recently poached Leicester City’s head of technical scouting, Ben Wrigglesworth, in a high-profile move shows the Frenchman’s appreciation for thorough assessment before recruitment.

Wrigglesworth played a major role in assembling the Foxes squad that are currently on course to win the Premier League title, with the 24-year-old overseeing the arrivals of Jamie Vardy (£1m), Riyad Mahrez (£350k), Marc Albrighton (free), N’Golo Kante (£5.6m), Robert Huth (£3m) and Christian Fuchs (free), among others.

The likes of Vardy, Mahrez and Kante are now lauded as standout transfers, and at a combined £10 million—or one Emre Can—they are genuine bargain signings.

Leicester perhaps stand as a bastion of value the modern footballing market, but the prospect of the age-old bargain signing has largely been eradicated.

Liverpool should take note, as the importance of scouting has been magnified by the Foxes’ success this season.

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Liverpool need to relieve goalscoring burden – Robbie Fowler backs Daniel Sturridge

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 19:31

On Daniel Sturridge‘s return to the Liverpool first team, former Reds striker Robbie Fowler has rejected calls to replace him in the long term.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and substitute Daniel Sturridge during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match against West Ham United at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sturridge made his first appearance for Liverpool since December in Tuesday night’s 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round replay defeat to West Ham United, coming on as a second-half substitute to make an impressive contribution.

Though he failed to find the back of the net at the Boleyn Ground, the England striker offered pace, dynamism and class as part of Jurgen Klopp‘s forward line.

The 26-year-old’s return marks the end of a long layoff, with Sturridge having suffered a number of minor setbacks throughout his recovery.

This brought calls for Sturridge to be sold, but speaking to Sport360, ex-Liverpool No. 9 Robbie Fowler says this would be mistake.

“I understand where fans are coming from when they say we may be better off getting him off the wage bill but Liverpool is all about trying to get a real decent squad and competition for places so we need to keep him,” Fowler says.

“It’s not ideal because he’s not [been] playing but I’ve been in the same situation before when I’ve been injured lots of times and I know how he feels, it’s a nightmare.”

 Liverpool's two-goal hero shakes hands with manager Jürgen Klopp as he is substituted against Southampton during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Dogged with injuries of his own throughout his long and illustrious top-flight career, Fowler is well aware of the mental challenges facing Sturridge on his way to recovery.

But while Fowler’s former strike partner Michael Owen has called for more information on Sturridge’s injuries, he believes the No. 15 simply needs support now in order to thrive.

“I don’t think he wants to be injured, he wants to play and certainly I wouldn’t get rid of him, I don’t think Liverpool can afford to,” he continued.

“I think it’s important we have someone else there to take the goalscoring burden off him and at the moment there isn’t.”

Klopp can call upon the likes of Christian Benteke and Divock Origi as fellow centre-forwards, but neither have scored regularly throughout 2015/16.

It can be argued that Liverpool’s best hope alongside Sturridge is Roberto Firmino.

Firmino has developed into a hugely effective striker in the absence of Sturridge, scoring six goals and assisting on a further five in 10 appearances as Liverpool’s No. 9.

The prospect of Sturridge and Firmino operating in a fluid forward line is no doubt an attractive one to Klopp.

With Firmino hitting form as Sturridge makes his return, the Brazilian is well placed to lighten the load on the Liverpool’s beleaguered striker.

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Willian questions Alex Teixeira’s China move, says Shakhtar “prefer to sell to small clubs”

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 19:00

Chelsea winger Willian has questioned former Shakhtar Donetsk team-mate Alex Teixeira’s move to Jiangsu Suning, criticising the club for blocking his move to Liverpool.

Alex Teixeira 1

Liverpool made a £24 million bid for Teixeira in January, but with Shakhtar standing firm on their high valuation of the Brazilian, Jurgen Klopp called the move off.

Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning agreed to pay the full £38 million fee for the midfielder, who made the switch last Friday.

Teixeira had previously expressed a desire to join a “big club” to increase his chances of a call-up to the Brazil national team.

But having joined a number of high-profile talents moving to the Super League this winter, Teixeira has hindered his prospects, according to former Shakhtar midfielder Willian.

“I wish him all the best in China. I’m sure that the financial aspect was crucial for his decision,” the Chelsea No. 22 said this week.

“He’s a very good player and could easily adapt to English football.

“I’d personally be happy if he’d come to the Premier League or even to another big European club as it would increases his chances to play for the Selecao.”

26.06.2011, Alois Latini Stadion, Zell am See, AUT, Salzburger Land Cup, FK Austria Wien vs Shaktar Donezk, im Bild Borgesl Willian, Shaktar Donezk, Peter Hlinka, FK Austria Wien, Santos Texeira, Shaktar Donezk, Tomas Bübchsman, Shaktar Donesk // during the Salzburger Land Cup 2011, FK Austria Wien vs Shaktar Donezk, at the Alois Latini Stadium, Austria on 26/06/2011, EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ J. Feichter

Joining Liverpool would certainly have improved Teixeira’s chances of being called up to Dunga’s Brazil squad, but Willian sympathised with his compatriot, having endured a similarly drawn-out departure from Shakhtar in 2013.

Willian moved to Russian Premier League side Anzhi Makhachkala in January of that year, before joining Chelsea for £30 million seven months later.

“[Shakhtar] prefer to sell to small clubs that can afford a higher fee than selling them to traditional clubs that wouldn’t pay the same amount of money,” he continued.

“That’s the case for Teixeira, and it has also happened with me.

“I know myself how difficult it is to negotiate with Shakhtar Donetsk. I suffered for two years there willing to leave the club.”

This presents the possibility that Teixeira will not stay with Jiangsu Suning for a lengthy period, and if he follows in Willian’s footsteps, this could see him move to the Premier League as soon as this summer.

With the Ukraine under turmoil at present, it is clear to see why Teixeira would seek to leave Shakhtar at the closest opportunity.

But whether his spell in the Chinese Super League is a short-term measure, like with Willian in Russia, remains to be seen.

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Rumour Mill: Joel Matip future to be announced this week, Liverpool move “likely”

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 18:51

The future of long-standing Liverpool target Joel Matip is believed to be revealed this week, with the centre-back rejecting a contract offer from Schalke.

18.09.2011, Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, GER, 1. FBL, FC Schalke 04 vs FC Bayern Muenchen, im Bild Zweikampf Joel Matip (#32 Schalke) - Nils Petersen (#9 Muenchen)// during 1. FBL FC Schalke 04 vs FC Bayern Muenchen at Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, GER, 2011-09-18. EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ Kurth ****** out of GER / CRO / BEL ******

Matip has been on the Reds’ radar since Jurgen Klopp‘s arrival as manager, and with his contract with Schalke in its last months, he could move to Merseyside on a free transfer this summer.

This is moving ever closer, according to reports in Germany, with a decision to be made this week.

Revier Sport claims that Schalke have made a series of improved contract offers for the Cameroon international, which were “probably in vain.”

Matip is believed to favour a move abroad, and with Liverpool widely reported to be chasing his signature, with little competition, a summer switch to join Klopp’s side is said to be “likely.”

Schalke’s sporting director Horst Heldt announced after Schalke’s 3-0 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday that “next week there will be a decision” on Matip’s future.

With fellow centre-back Benedikt Howedes signing a new long-term contract on Wednesday, this could pave the way for Matip’s exit.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 4th Round match against West Ham United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Matip joins Liverpool this summer, Klopp would be adding a strong, aggressive, versatile defender capable of operating at centre-back, on either defensive flank and at the base of the midfield.

This would largely strengthen a problem area for this season, with Matip likely pencilled in for a centre-back berth.

At 24, Matip has scope to develop into an effective Premier League defender, and as a right-sided option could be expected to partner either Mamadou Sakho or Dejan Lovren at centre-back.

Whether this spells the end for any of Klopp’s other centre-back options remains to be seen, but with Kolo Toure‘s own contract set to expire, it is likely that Matip takes the Ivorian’s place in the Liverpool squad.

Matip would provide welcome competition alongside Martin Skrtel, Tiago Ilori and Joe Gomez, and could also cover for Nathaniel Clyne at right-back.

Klopp should continue to focus on the development of Ilori and Gomez in his defensive line, but at 22 and 18 respectively, the duo have time on their side, while Matip represents an immediate solution.

The German would be remiss to ignore Matip’s availability, as he would be a hugely cost-effective addition.

Feature: What does the future hold for Liverpool’s young midfielders?

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Attacking Options Aplenty for Jurgen Klopp after Injury Absentees Return

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 17:00

The return to fitness of key attacking personnel presents Jurgen Klopp with a welcome array of exciting options to pick from for vital upcoming games.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and substitute Daniel Sturridge during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match against West Ham United at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Tuesday’s FA Cup exit further compounded a miserable season for Liverpool, but despite elimination, huge positivity came with the returns of key attacking players.

The eye-catching comebacks of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, and reappearance of Divock Origi, hand Klopp quality and depth desperately lacking over recent difficult months.

Alongside the in-form Roberto Firmino, plus Christian Benteke, Adam Lallana and Jordon Ibe, numbers have been helpfully boosted at a time the Reds boss looks to salvage the campaign with League Cup and European success.

With options come selection headaches, and Klopp will have his fair share with the refreshing range of exciting selections now at his disposal.

 

Personnel and Set-Ups

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against West Ham United during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For the first time since taking charge, Klopp has a healthy and quality attack to pick from after a hard period in which the Reds have struggled in the final third.

The German can now deploy his strongest offensive line up and also has the ability to spring a surprise, switch offensive systems and rotate – luxuries he has yet to enjoy.

Traditionally a 4-2-3-1 man, Klopp finally has the chance to install the fluid attacking system he’s waited patiently to introduce.

Within it, Coutinho and Lallana could flank central figure Firmino in a creative, tenacious attacking support of lethal lone striker Sturridge, who brings a blistering cutting edge as the focal point.

4-2-3-1 Lallana Firmino Coutinho Sturridge

Alternatively, Klopp may reunite an interchangeable, aggressive front three as utilised in the destructions of Chelsea and Man City earlier this season.

With Firmino and Sturridge offering high-quality, mobile strikers, the Brazilian and compatriot Coutinho and Lallana offer energy, technique and quick-thinking assistance to bamboozle opposition – allowing the disruptive James Milner to fight for a midfield shirt.

A tough decision would be forthcoming with one – likely Lallana – to miss out in a three man offense, but having the energy and intelligence of the ex-Saint to call upon provides an impacting reserve, with blossoming talents Origi and Joao Carlos Teixeira also ready.

Coutinho Firmino Sturridge 4-3-3

Before switching shape, Klopp could keep his favoured four man forward line, but play with a different outlook.

Liverpool have lacked genuine width and depending on the game and opposition, Ibe can supply it as a direct, pacey threat stretching opponents, in turn freeing space for fellow creators to enjoy.

Easing the creative burden with quality of Sturridge, Firmino and Coutinho, the natural focus on the more experienced football brains around Ibe could benefit the teenager.

4-2-3-1 Ibe Firmino Coutinho Sturridge

But Klopp has another option and perhaps the most exciting of all – establishing a strike partnership that could prove as devastating as Anfield’s last genuine strike-force.

 

Strike Partnership

sturridge-firmino

With ideal personnel ready and waiting, a potentially lethal strike partnership awaits Klopp’s tutelage.

Liverpool have sorely missed raw attacking brilliance since the break-up of the devastating Sturridge—Luis Suarez strike-force, but a version could yet be resurrected.

Partnering Sturridge with Firmino – who boasts a real likeness to El Pistolero – could revive a destructive combination with the way the pair could complement each other.

Firmino, the aggressor on and off the ball with constant harassing, craft and intelligence to unnerve defensive lines, alongside a razor sharp Sturridge bringing a killer instinct to the forward line, could provide Klopp with a game-changing attack.

A potentially skilful, creative and determined duo with a ruthless cutting edge – allowing them to develop an understanding with the right midfield support behind could prove a genius move.

4-4-2 Diamond Firmino Sturridge

Despite yet to play a minute together, it’s a prospect of mouth-watering promise that could be key to Liverpool enjoying better fortunes. But it would leave no room for Benteke.

The Belgian is a huge problem for Klopp having done little once again to show he should be a starter, despite a brighter display after Sturridge’s entrance at Upton Park.

Missing numerous chances that ultimately cost the Reds progression all but condemned the £32.5million man to being a desperate ‘Plan B’ for the foreseeable future.

Unless a brutal injury crisis reoccurs, his chances of a first Premier League start since the 2-0 league loss at West Ham in the first 2016 fixture look increasingly remote.

Benteke’s Anfield future already looks bleak and it’s surely only a matter of time before Klopp moves him on, making it pointless building an attack around him.

 

Upcoming Selections

Football - FA Cup - 4th Round Replay - West Ham United FC v Liverpool FC

Liverpool have some vital games looming in domestic and European competition.

In a crucial period, Klopp will need to think carefully and plan his attacking selection one step ahead.

Sturridge must be reintroduced gradually without overplaying, increasing injury risk, having instantly showed why it is absolutely vital he stays fit.

Firmino is therefore the man to lead the line against Aston Villa on Sunday, joined in attack by restoring Lallana to play with Ibe or Milner – or even all three – allowing his potential strike-partner and Coutinho to sensibly manage comebacks.

Sturridge’s next start – and Coutinho’s – should come in the crucial Augsburg first leg, with the Reds needing a positive result in Germany to allow for a straightforward return game just three days before the League Cup final.

 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores the third goal against Manchester City during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wembley could then see the first outing for the theoretically dazzling Firmino–Sturridge strike-duo on the biggest stage.

Having ripped Man City to shreds in November, replicating it would be made all the more realistic with the two playing in tandem.

But Klopp could go with the same trio that fired Liverpool to a 4-1 dismantling of their final opponents and no doubt scarred the minds of City’s defence.

Regardless, Klopp has options and most importantly quality to selection, making for a welcome change.

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“How can you justify it?” – journalist highlights agent fees and PFA chief’s exorbitant salary

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 16:14

The way in which the PFA use the vast sums of money they make every year is a “scandal”, according to the Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe.

Speaking to Radio City following FSG’s decision to U-turn on ticket prices at Anfield next season, Bascombe gave his thoughts on the current off-the-field topics dominating football over the last week or so.

He was highly critical of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), in particular chief executive Gordon Taylor, and also highlighted the ridiculous sums of money paid to agents.

“The PFA are a fantastic organisation for what it does, but it gets £20 million a year in broadcast revenue, and the chief executive pays himself £3.4 million a year,” explained Bascombe.

“That is a scandal, and you will not get any player, ex-player or anyone in football speaking out against it. How can you justify it?

“There was £150 million in agents fees going out of the game last year, and not one club will tell you which agent they paid. They are not helping themselves.

“It is up to somebody in football to be brave enough to say something.

 Liverpool supporters protest with black flags and banners "Football without fans is nothing" before the Premier League match against Sunderland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“The players pay just £150 a year to support their union, whereas baseball players pay $70 a day. And some of these footballers are on £250,000 a week.

“I’d like to see fans do some kind of demonstration outside the PFA and agents offices.”

Bascombe spoke about the hugely successful walk-out that Liverpool supporters staged last weekend, with FGS’s U-turn on Wednesday proof that is was well executed.

“There were indications on Sunday that it (the U-turn) was going to happen,” he explained.

“It was just a case of how far FSG would go. There was always a feeling that the £77 tickets would go very quickly, and it then it was a case of how many more concessions would be made.

“There was a lot of pleasant surprise that it was a two-year freeze, and the £9 tickets have been extended too. It is a very welcome and necessary response.

“It was seminal moment at Anfield (on Saturday), and when you looked around you had goosebumps. It felt like something magical was happening. Any fan involved should feel incredibly proud.”

RELATED: Liverpool owners apologise to fans, announce U-turn on proposed ticket prices

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FA Cup exit gives Liverpool opportunity for 10-day break ahead of League Cup Final

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 15:04

While Liverpool FA Cup’s elimination on Tuesday was tough to take, it will help keep Jurgen Klopp‘s squad fresh ahead of the League Cup Final.

Football - FA Cup - 4th Round Replay - West Ham United FC v Liverpool FC

Going out of the FA Cup in such gut wrenching fashion hurts, but the defeat now leaves Liverpool able to focus on three remaining competitions this season.

The Premier League is, in all likelihood, now little more than a case of finishing as far away from mid-table as possible, but the League Cup and Europa League do represent chances of a trophy.

The Reds have averaged over two games a week since Klopp’s arrival in October and injuries have played a part in his team’s stuttering performances.

Going out of the FA Cup will actually help in that respect and, assuming everything goes to plan, Klopp should have a fit, fresh team to select for the League Cup Final with Man City on 28th February.

The perfect scenario

 Liverpool players celebrating the victory after 6-6 winning in penalties during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa, Klopp and his Liverpool squad visit Augsburg for the first-leg of their Europa League last-32 clash next Thursday.

For all of the Reds’ struggles in 2015/16, it would be a surprise if they failed to overcome a team currently 14th in the Bundesliga over two legs.

Klopp should name a strong starting line-up in Germany, with no FA Cup fifth round commitments meaning a rare, free weekend following.

This is a best case scenario, but the hope is that Klopp’s men can get most of the job done in the first-leg, therefore allowing him to rest key figures seven days later at Anfield.

Should this happen, it would effectively give a number of players a 10-day break heading into the Wembley showdown.

City beware

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and substitute Daniel Sturridge during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match against West Ham United at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For much of the campaign, it has been hard to deny that the Reds have looked very average on paper. Important players have often been missing, and a lack of quality has been there for all to see.

However, there are signs that things are starting to come together in terms of available personnel and Klopp could have close to his best possible starting eleven available for Wembley later this month.

That is, of course, assuming the injury curse doesn’t return in the meantime.

Many of us have spent the season longing for an attacking trident of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge and it is finally close to coming to fruition. The trio have never been on the pitch together this season thus far.

Klopp will no doubt be careful in not overplaying Coutinho and Sturridge against Villa and Augsburg, but just having them back in the fold is huge. The duo’s class shone through against West Ham, despite the result.

Firmino, meanwhile, has been Liverpool’s best player in 2016 so far and is someone who will be even better with similarly top class footballers around him.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against West Ham United during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having the trio together in the same side is a mouthwatering prospect, and if none are required in the second-leg against Augsburg, it would be perfect heading into the City game.

Mamadou Sakho and Jordan Henderson are also two important players, but both have looked sluggish in recent weeks.

Sakho looks as though he needs time on the training ground to get his touch back, and for the first time in months, he should get that over the next couple of weeks.

Henderson’s ongoing heel problem is a real issue, and wrapping the captain in cotton wool until the final is a potential option for Klopp.

The England international has clearly been hampered hugely in recent matches, and using him sparingly against both Villa and Augsburg, if at all, would be a shrewd move.

Klopp hasn’t yet been able to enjoy a good run of training sessions, but the freeing up of fixtures that the West Ham defeat has created will allow him to have his side perfectly drilled for Wembley.

On the flip side

 Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho looks frustrated after missing a chance during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Considering how frustrating and unpredictable Liverpool’s season has been, there is every chance that things won’t pan out as perfectly as this.

It would be churlish to simply write Augsburg off, and they could quite easily win the first-leg in Germany next Thursday.

That would then completely scupper Klopp’s plan of rotating for the return fixture, which comes just three days before the City game.

All of a sudden, the 48-year-old would have to start weighing up which competition was more important, and who should play in each game.

There isn’t even 72 hours between the two kick-off times, so making any outfield player feature in both matches would be asking a lot of them.

A cup final would surely take precedence, even though Europa League glory means a place in next season’s Champions League.

The belief and winning mentality that a League Cup triumph would bring, especially in Klopp’s first season as Liverpool manager, would be huge for the squad.

Fingers crossed

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Very little in 2015/16 has gone to plan, from a ridiculous amount of hamstring injuries to limp league results, but there is reason for positivity currently.

Coutinho and Sturridge, arguably the two most important players at the club, are back fit and the team is finally about to get some rest.

If Klopp can get a positive result in Augsburg with a strong side, allowing him to make numerous changes at Anfield, it will be perfect ahead of the League Cup Final.

It would allow the squad to be fresher than they have been all season, and extra time on the training ground will prove priceless for both Klopp and his players.

City understandably go to Wembley as favourites to lift the trophy, but Liverpool could be in just the right physical shape to spring a surprise.

Potential League Cup Final starting XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Henderson, Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge.

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What does the future hold for Liverpool’s young midfielders?

Чт, 11/02/2016 - 11:00

Liverpool have assembled a sizeable number of young midfielders in their current squad, which will be further added to by the arrival of Marko Grujic this summer.

midfielders-collage

Last summer, no Reds supporter would ever have imagined their side’s starting central midfield pairing away to West Ham being Pedro Chirivella and Kevin Stewart.

A fair proportion of the fanbase may not even have been too familiar with either, but both excelled against the Hammers and showed their qualities on and off the ball.

Chirivella and Stewart are part of a young group of Reds midfielders who are all vying for first-team opportunities, but how does one get a place in the first XI ahead of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and James Milner?

New generation of Liverpool middle men

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

All of a sudden, Jurgen Klopp has numerous young midfielders at his disposal, and as Chirivella and Stewart showed on Tuesday, they are staking a claim to feature more regularly.

Cameron Brannagan, who is reportedly thought of more highly than any young player at the club, missed the match through illness.

The silky Englishman has shown this season what he can offer, and considering he is still just a teenager, he should improve drastically working alongside Klopp.

Joao Carlos Teixeira is another who started against West Ham, and while he didn’t impress as much as others, his quality was still evident.

The Portuguese attacker is under more pressure to perform than some of his younger colleagues, now aged 23 and with his contract expiring in four months.

The forgotten man here is is Jordan Rossiter, currently sidelined with his second hamstring injury since Klopp arrived at the club, restricting him to just one appearance under the German, away to FC Sion in the Europa League.

He, like Teixeira, is under pressure with his contract also set to expire at the end of the season.

There was a point when Rossiter was the to-go youngster to come in and be given a starting role in midfield, but sadly his progress has been blunted by injuries.

If there weren’t already enough young midfielders battling to forge a Liverpool career, Klopp also went and signed Marko Grujic from Red Star Belgrade last month.

Signed for £5.1 million, the club and Klopp clearly feel the Serbian can contribute once he arrives next season.

Cloudy futures

 Liverpool's Jordan Rossiter in action against FC Sion during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Football is a ruthless business, and for all his chirpy, jokey ways, Klopp is a ruthless manager.

At the end of the day, not all of these young players can be accommodated moving forward, and there is a good chance that the majority’s futures will lie elsewhere.

Can and Henderson are both certainties to be a part of the Liverpool midfield at present, while Grujic is also likely to feature once he arrives in the summer, possibly blocking the pathway for the current academy products.

Lucas Leiva and Milner may not be getting any younger, but they should still be at the club next season, which further highlights how tough it will be for the youngsters to force their way in.

Joe Allen looks set to leave, but with Grujic arriving and possibly more incoming players too, the path will be no clearer for Stewart, Brannagan and co.

Klopp has been linked with moves for proven quality midfielders such as Granit Xhaka and Iklay Gundogan and with the midfield often looking very one dimensional of late, such a signing to instantly improve the first XI would be very welcome this summer.

 Liverpool's Joao Carlos Teixeira in action against West Ham United's Winston Reid during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Pinpointing who is most likely to mature into a regular squad member is extremely difficult, but Rossiter and Teixeira probably look the most vulnerable currently – especially due to their contract situations.

“I haven’t played much. I’ve been on the bench a lot and I don’t like that,” said Teixiera last month.

“I need to play more. I’m here to work and show I can play more.

“For now, my plans are to stay with Liverpool and play more here, but you never know what will happen in the future.”

It’s difficult to see the 23-year-old having too many further chances in the Premier League now, especially with the returns from injury of Philippe Coutinho, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge. The Reds’ front three options are now aplenty.

You can fully expect another attacking option or two to arrive this summer, even if one is the return from loan of Lazar Markovic – further restricting the likelihood of Teixeira making it into the first team.

Brannagan and Chirivella are both still particularly young, and should mainly continue their development in the Under-21 side, perhaps benefitting from loans next season, depending if Liverpool qualify for the Europa League.

Stewart is the one who has come from nowhere, but the physical presence and general quality he has shown could see him as the one to feature most regularly from now until the end of the season.

Big few months ahead

 Liverpool's Cameron Brannagan and Pedro Chirivella in action against FC Girondins de Bordeaux during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Everyone associated with Liverpool is aware that the summer transfer window is set to be a pivotal one.

This means that the current set of players have a vital three months or so between now and the end of the season to prove their worth to the German.

With the Reds’ Premier League campaign becoming more and more irrelevant by the week, it could represent a great chance for Klopp to audition his young midfielders.

Henderson looks injured, while Can could certainly benefit from a rest, and it would be fascinating to see how Stewart, Chirivella, Brannagan and the rest cope in the league.

It has been so refreshing to see them excel in the FA Cup and League Cup this season, and while their run in the former has now ended, they have definitely done enough to justify more first-team football.

 Liverpool's Kevin Stewart in action against Exeter City during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at St. James Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For all we know, it may be that none end up being good enough, but as Liverpool Under-21 manager Michael Beale alluded to prior to the replay against West Ham, blooding more and more youngsters can be hugely beneficial financially.

“The aim of the academy is to develop these boys into first team players, I think Jordan Ibe is an example of how it works well, we brought him in for a minimal fee compared to what first team players cost,” he said.

“Kevin (Stewart), Cameron (Brannagan) and Brad (Smith) cost the club nothing, and I think that is really important, likewise with Jordan Rossiter and Ryan Kent, if these players can make an impact in the first team, they could save us a lot of money.”

This is a major positive, but Klopp playing these youngsters is not just a pity vote and a way of saving money, they are proving that they are up to the challenge.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

“Proud day all round to be a Liverpool fan” – Supporters react to Anfield ticket U-turn

Ср, 10/02/2016 - 23:34

Liverpool announced a U-turn on roundly criticised increases in ticket prices for 2016/17 and 2017/18, regaining the respect of supporters.

 Liverpool supporters stage a 77 minute walk-out in protest at ticket price increases and a £77 ticket, during the Premier League match against Sunderland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After 10,000 supporters flooded out of Anfield in protest of the club’s increased ticket pricing structure for 2016/17 and beyond, owner Fenway Sports Group underwent emergency talks.

This resulted in a U-turn in their approach, with an open letter from co-owners John W. Henry and Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon announcing that “for the next two seasons, LFC will not earn a single additional pound from increasing general admission ticket prices.”

A testament to the power of protest, this was met with widespread positivity from Liverpool supporters.

Full credit to FSG for listening to fans concerns and acting upon them. Credit also to the fans for making them take notice.

— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) February 10, 2016

Proud day all round to be a @LFC fan! Shows what can be achieved if we come together. #LFC

— Jay (@Jay82_LFC) February 10, 2016

Fair play to all of the Liverpool fans who walked out to make a point about the ticket prices. The club listened! Credit to you all.

— Jase (@JasonRoberts21) February 10, 2016

Quite the statement from Henry, Werner and Gordon, after an incredible statement from #LFC supporters. Great news for the club.

— Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) February 10, 2016

Credit to FSG for admitting they got it wrong & reacting. Lower prices remains the aim, but a freeze is a good start #LFC

— Kop Magazine (@TheKopMagazine) February 10, 2016

Credit also to every #LFC fan who protested. Walking out wasn't a decision taken lightly, but it got the message across.

— Kop Magazine (@TheKopMagazine) February 10, 2016

Fan power!

— Rebecca Parry (@beccaparry10) February 10, 2016

Well done @LFC for listening to. Fair play.??

— Neil Poole (@neil_poole1) February 10, 2016

Credit to #LFC for accepting their ticket policy was wrong. Bigger credit to fans for forcing the U-turn. It can be done, you know.

— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) February 10, 2016

Well played to the fans & credit to FSG. Let's hope it's the start of a journey towards affordable football for the masses. #LFC

— Joe (@JoeScouse_LFC) February 10, 2016

Really good news about the ticket prices, it goes to show that when a quarter of matchgoing fans vote with their feet people listen. #LFC

— Jim Boardman (@JimBoardman) February 10, 2016

Well done to the Liverpool fans who made a stand for football supporters and made a difference. Breakthrough for the game, hopefully.

— Mark Jones (@Mark_Jones86) February 10, 2016

Well done #LFC fans for making a stand against ticket prices. The other clubs must do the same if they are not happy!

— Darren Truswell (@DarrenTruswell) February 10, 2016

The ticketing situation has been resolved, Thanks to FSG for showing Courage. Now is for us to support the team together. #LFC

— Philippe Coutinho (@LFC_NO10) February 10, 2016

You wanna go where everybody knows your name. Well in @spiritofshankly and @SpionKop1906 and well done @LFC pic.twitter.com/5AJ64WYPmb

— THE ANFIELD WRAP (@TheAnfieldWrap) February 10, 2016

Erm, well I am not quite sure words can fully explain this. Remarkable change. Well in supporters. Win!

— Jay McKenna (@JayMcKenna87) February 10, 2016

Well done @John_W_Henry

— LFCTS (@LFCTS) February 10, 2016

FSG's reversal is great news but only the start, much more can and should be done on ticket prices across Premier League

— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) February 10, 2016

A huge victory for the fanbase and hopefully a turning point for football in this country. Kudos to SOS and the Spion Kop 1906 lads.

— Aaron Cutler (@aaron_cutler) February 10, 2016

Congratulations and thank you @spiritofshankly and @SpionKop1906 for so magnificently championing the rights of supporters – great work

— Jeff Goulding (@ShanklysBoys1) February 10, 2016

Well done @SpionKop1906 @spiritofshankly

You lead from the Kop, hope it reverberates from the Emirates to St James’s Park and all between

— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) February 10, 2016

And well done @spiritofshankly and @SpionKop1906. Heroes one and all.

— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) February 10, 2016

Most heartwarming in FSG’s announcement is not just a reversal but what seems a better deal for fans than now, but a proper apology. #lfc

— Dave Phillips (@lovefutebol) February 10, 2016

Credit to fans, journos, bloggers, podcasters, stat kids, fan groups & sites who were unrelentless in their opposition to prices #solidarity

— Neil Poole (@neil_poole1) February 10, 2016

A major climbdown from the ownership this may be but that they are prepared to hold their hands up is significant. A far cry from H&G.

— Aaron Cutler (@aaron_cutler) February 10, 2016

Credit also to every #LFC fan who protested. Walking out wasn't a decision taken lightly, but it got the message across.

— Kop Magazine (@TheKopMagazine) February 10, 2016

From 1,581 £9 tickets to over 10,000 at #lfc for EPL games – a 533% increase in the cheapest ticket allocation. Stunning.

— Dave Phillips (@lovefutebol) February 10, 2016

This conclusion is a major step forward for supporters in the modern footballing era, and supporters groups Spion Kop 1906 and Spirit of Shankly, and every supporter backing the protest should be commended.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool supporters groups welcome Liverpool ticket pricing U-turn

Ср, 10/02/2016 - 23:32

Liverpool supporters groups Spirit of Shankly and Spion Kop 1906 have welcomed the club’s apology to fans and announced price freeze at Anfield.

 Liverpool supporters walk out of the ground on 77 minutes to protest against a £77 ticket price during the Premier League match against Sunderland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Following a protest in which around 10,000 Liverpool fans walked out of Anfield on the 77th minute of Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland, the club have cancelled their plans to increase matchday prices.

An open letter from principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner also revealed the categorisation of matches has been scrapped, meaning all ticket prices are now the same – regardless of opposition.

In a joint statement with Spion Kop 1906, Liverpool supporters' union Spirit of Shankly said: "Today's announcement has to be seen a positive step in repairing the relationship between owners and supporters.

"If they had recognised what was being said by supporters about the impact of the original price rises…then much of the embarrassment and upset of the last four days would have been avoided. It is a sobering lesson in listening to your supporters properly.

"We welcome these changes from the owners and that they have recognised the mistake made and apologised for it. We take no delight in them being wrong. It helps no one.

"What is important though is that a lesson is learned and that proper engagement and taking note of supporters' concerns occurs and those views are taken more seriously.

"We will take this opportunity to review the numbers and their impact upon supporters, we will be speaking to the club about it and we will speak with supporters to get their views.

"The Spirit of Shankly and Spion Kop 1906 believe that, given the fact there has been this reconsideration by the owners, it is only fair and appropriate that we reconsider our next steps until the full impact of these changes can be established."

NEWS: Liverpool owners apologise to fans – and announce U-turn on proposed ticket increases

REACTION: “Proud day all round to be a Liverpool fan” – Supporters react to Anfield ticket U-turn

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool owners apologise to fans, announce U-turn on proposed ticket prices

Ср, 10/02/2016 - 23:08

Liverpool's owners have performed a U-turn on proposed ticket increases after apologising to fans for getting their plans wrong.

 Liverpool Managing Director Ian Ayre as fans protest against ticket prices behind him before the Premier League match against Sunderland at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Principal owner and John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner were understood to be shocked at the sight of an estimated 10,000 fans walking out of Saturday's Barclays Premier League match against Sunderland in the 77th minute in protest at increases next season which included a new £77 match ticket and the club's first £1,000 season ticket.

Press Association Sport understands they were also surprised by the level of abuse directed at them – fans chanted 'You greedy b******s, enough is enough' before walking out.

It is understood Henry and Werner were keen to stress they believe the connection between supporters is "unique and sacred" and that is the reason they have acted so swiftly to prevent further damage to their relationship with the fanbase.

Having promised an immediate review the American-based owners have listened to the concerns of fans and moved quickly to try to rectify the situation.

As a result they have announced a number of changes to their initial proposals in a structure which will also remain for the 2017/18 season.

Revenue generated from ticket prices will be frozen at 2015-16 levels; this means the highest match-day price for a general admission ticket will remain at £59 – the lowest will be £9 and these tickets will be offered for every match with an allocation of 10,000 across the season.

The highest season ticket price will be frozen at £869 and the lowest £685.

 Liverpool's owner John W. Henry and Director Michael Gordon before the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match against Rubin Kazan at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool's owners have also announced the removal of game categorisations, so regardless of the opposition, supporters will pay the same price for match day tickets.

"It has been a tumultuous week," said an open letter jointly signed by Henry and Werner.

"On behalf of everyone at Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool Football Club we would like to apologise for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016/17 season.

"We were strongly engaged in the process to develop the ticketing plan for 2016/2017.

"We met directly with representatives of LFC's Supporters' Committee and along with LFC management, wholeheartedly agreed with major concerns raised, notably: access for local and young supporters; engagement and access to Anfield for local children; access to Premier League matches for those in Liverpool most challenged by affordability.

"We believe the plan successfully addressed these concerns and are disappointed that these elements have been either lost or, worse, characterised as cynical attempts to mask profiteering in the plan as a whole.

"Rather, we prefer to look at them as the parts of the ticketing plan we got right.

"On the other hand, part of the ticketing plan we got wrong."

New LFC ticket prices for 2016/17 and 2017/18:

new-lfc-ticket-prices

Here are the changes:

After an intense period of consultation with LFC management we have decided to make major revisions to our ticketing structure for 2016-17:

We would hasten to add that the other initiatives announced last week in the 2016-17 plan will remain:

  • 17-21 young adult concession – 20,000 tickets across the Premier League season available at a 50 per cent reduction for young people.
  • 1,000 tickets to Premier League matches across the season will be given away free of charge to Liverpool schoolchildren based on merit, as recommended by their teachers.

“Proud day all round to be a Liverpool fan” – Supporters react to Anfield ticket U-turn

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Stats: Christian Benteke’s goalless run highlights profligacy at Liverpool

Ср, 10/02/2016 - 22:00

Christian Benteke‘s struggles in front of goal continued in Liverpool’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat to West Ham United, during a troubled season for the No. 9.

 Liverpool's Christian Benteke looks dejected after missing a chance against West Ham United during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Benteke played all 120 minutes in attack on Tuesday night’s Boleyn Ground loss, firing a number of good chances off target as Liverpool pushed for a winner.

The Belgian has come under fire from Reds supporters throughout 2015/16, as he struggles to justify the club’s £32.5 million outlay to bring him to Merseyside from Aston Villa.

Incredibly, another two hours without a goal in east London means Benteke hasn’t scored in 668 minutes in all competitions (via Transfermarkt.co.uk).

This covers all of the striker’s appearances so far in 2016, with his goal last coming last after half-time in Liverpool’s 1-0 win away to Sunderland at the end of December.

In that time, Benteke has played 180 minutes against League Two side Exeter City and three and a half hours against the Hammers in the FA Cup.

This troubling run is a by-product of a season of struggle for the 25-year-old:

  • Only three Premier League strikers (Troy Deeney, Salomon Rondon and Shinji Okazaki) have averaged more minutes per goal than Benteke (330).
  • Benteke has scored the joint-least goals from open play (1).
  • Only Southampton’s Graziano Pelle has averaged more shots off target per 90 minutes than Benteke (1.5).
  • Only two players have averaged fewer shots on target per 90 than Benteke (0.7).

Benteke is suffering with a considerable crisis of confidence, as particularly seen when he is called upon to start in the Liverpool attack.

This is perhaps why Jurgen Klopp has opted for Roberto Firmino as his first-choice centre-forward in league encounters in 2016, with Benteke restricted to a role as an impact substitute.

Having sanctioned a big-money spend on the former Genk man last summer, Liverpool may now be rueing the striker’s predicament—as he looks unlikely to arrest his poor form any time soon.

Having not started a Premier League game since January 2nd and now with Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi back fit, you can begin to question whether Benteke will ever start a league game again for the club.

(All statistics via WhoScored.com, and based on strikers with 10+ appearances when starting in the Premier League)

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Категории: LFC NEWS