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Tony Pulis backs Liverpool to challenge for Premier League title

1 час 9 минут назад

West Brom boss Tony Pulis was full of praise for Liverpool after they defeated West Brom at Anfield on Saturday night, saying the Reds will challenge for the title this season.

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Goals from Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho in the first half gave Liverpool the three points, moving them to joint top of the Premier League table, before another goal conceded off a set piece made it a nervy ending.

What was most pleasing from a Liverpool perspective was the fluidity of the Reds’ attack, with Mane, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino expertly interchanging.

Pulis said was it was “very difficult” to defend against Liverpool’s front five.

“They’re a good side, their front five is as good as any in this league,” said the Baggies boss.

“This team has a chance (to win the league) this year. They have a free run at it (with no Europe).”

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Pulis suffered defeat in the league against Liverpool for the first time since 2011, having drawn four and won one of the previous five encounters against the Merseysiders.

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Video: Jurgen Klopp post-match press conference – Liverpool 2-1 West Brom

1 час 20 минут назад

Watch Jurgen Klopp speak to the media after Liverpool’s 2-1 win over West Brom at Anfield in the Premier League.

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Asked if he would have preferred to have got the goals and put the game away earlier, Klopp said: “In dreamland you win always 4 or 5 nil.”

“In this moment it feels better that we won 2-1, rather than 3 or 4 nil.

Adding: “Who wants to be top in October?”

Klopp was later asked why he doesn’t want to be top in October: “It was a little bit of a joke! Sorry!

“A 2-1 keeps you more awake, than a 4-0.”

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After his side went joint top of the Premier League table, Klopp was asked “what’s going to decisive in this title race,” saying “I until now haven’t seen a weak team in this league.”

The boss was finally asked about Steven Gerrard seemingly saying his goodbyes at LA Galaxy.

“He is always so welcome at Liverpool FC,” said the boss. Absolutely no problem.

“Nobody should be worried that there’s no space for Steven Gerrard, everything will be fine, 100%.”

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“Anfield at its best” – Jurgen Klopp hails atmosphere during West Brom triumph

Сб, 22/10/2016 - 23:35

A delighted Jurgen Klopp hailed the crowd as “Anfield at its best” as his Liverpool side edged past West Brom to go joint top of the Premier League.

Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho gave the Reds a comfortable 2-0 lead at the break, which could have easily been extended if they had not spurned good opportunities before Gareth McAuley pulled one back late on to cause some concern.

But the hosts held on to continue their run of 11 games unbeaten at their Anfield home and go level on points with Arsenal at the top of the table, and Klopp paid tribute to the fans.

He told BT Sport: “I’ve been here a little more than a year, but that was the best performance of the crowd in a non-European game.

“The atmosphere was outstanding, it was Anfield at its best. I was really, really happy [with] how the crowd respected West Brom and how they know it’s a difficult game.”

On his team’s performance, Klopp said: “Who needs clean sheets when you get three points? The lads did outstanding and I’m really pleased with the performance.

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“It’s unbelievably difficult against West Brom because so many balls are in the air and you always have to concentrate—their set-pieces are so dangerous.

“But I think it would have been a joke today if we drew the game or didn’t win—our performance was really good against a team like this.”

 West Bromwich Albion's head coach Tony Pulis before the FA Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Baggies boss Tony Pulis believes Liverpool are genuine title contenders.

He told BT Sport: “They are a terrific side, the players they have got and players on the bench that they can bring in, they have a clear run at this title this year.

“If you look at the clubs that play in Europe and have to play tomorrow, this football club has a real chance this year.

“We wanted to push players on further forward, but it’s difficult when 2-0 down against a good team like this.”

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LIVE: Liverpool vs. West Brom – Follow the Reds’ Premier League clash here

Сб, 22/10/2016 - 19:45

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Confirmed Liverpool lineup vs.West Brom: Lallana in, Sturridge out, Wijnaldum on bench

Сб, 22/10/2016 - 19:32

Jurgen Klopp has made one change to his side to take on West Bromwich Albion, with Adam Lallana returning in midfield for Liverpool.

The German pits himself against Tony Pulis for the third time in his reign as Liverpool manager, and will be hoping to do better than the two draws he has experienced so far.

Naming his side for the Reds’ Saturday evening clash at Anfield, Klopp has largely stuck with the same selection that were held to a 0-0 draw by Manchester United five days previous.

Loris Karius keeps his place in goal, behind a back four of Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and James Milner.

Milner recovered from a head injury to return to training in midweek, avoiding a setback in what has been an excellent run of form at left-back so far.

In midfield, Jordan Henderson is joined by Lallana and Emre Can, with the former returning from injury.

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This means Daniel Sturridge drops down to the substitutes’ bench, with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino making up the rest of Klopp’s starting lineup as a three-man attacking unit.

Alongside Sturridge and the returning Georginio Wijnaldum on the bench are Simon Mignolet, Ragnar Klavan, Lucas Leiva, Alberto Moreno and Divock Origi, providing Klopp with plenty of options throughout the evening.

Origi, who came off the bench to score a last-minute equaliser in Klopp’s first clash with Pulis—a 2-2 draw at Anfield—will be among those hoping to impress if called upon by the German.

Liverpool: Karius; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Lallana, Can; Mane, Coutinho, Firmino

Substitutes: Mignolet, Klavan, Lucas, Moreno, Wijnaldum, Sturridge, Origi

West Brom: Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Nyom; Phillips, Yacob, Fletcher, McClean; Chadli; Rondon

Substitutes: Myhill, Galloway, Morrison, Gardner, Brunt, Leko, Robson-Kanu

Odds and TV Info

Klopp’s men are 2/7 with BetVictor to win, the draw is 9/2 and a West Brom victory is 6/1. A repeat of last season’s 2-2 scoreline is 25/1.

This Is Anfield readers can bet £10 get £30 free with BetVictor. Click here to sign up!

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Coverage is live on BT Sport 1 from 5pm (BST), with the match getting underway at 5:30pm.

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Can the Reds end the Tony Pulis curse? – Liverpool vs. West Brom Preview

Пт, 21/10/2016 - 20:00

Liverpool have a second home Premier League game in five days on Saturday, as Tony Pulis’ West Brom side look to spoil the Anfield party.

Liverpool vs. West Brom

Saturday October 22, 2016 – 5:30pm (BST)
Premier League
Referee: Neil Swarbrick

It may be nearing the end of October, but the visit of the Baggies is still just the Reds’ fourth home league match of the season.

Monday’s disappointing 0-0 draw with Man United were the first dropped points at Anfield in 2016/17, having thumped Leicester City and Hull City prior to that.

Having had to endure Jose Mourinho’s negative tactics for 90 minutes, Jurgen Klopp‘s side will again come up against a side famed for their defensive nous on Saturday.

Pulis doesn’t gain any plaudits in terms of his attacking play, but what cannot be ignored is how well-drilled his teams always are.

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Liverpool will need to be patient and ruthless against West Brom – something they struggled to be against United – with three points crucial in their quest for a top-four finish and possibly even title glory.

The Reds currently sit fourth in the table and just two points adrift of leaders Man City, and a kinder offering of fixtures now await them.

Saturday must be the start of a strong run of results in those matches, in order for their hard work in the early months not to be undone.

Last meeting: West Brom 1-1 Liverpool

 Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the equaliser goal during the Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield. (Pic by James Maloney/Propaganda)

This match last season: Liverpool 2-2 West Brom

Opposition View

 West Bromwich Albion's head coach Tony Pulis during the Premier League match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We spoke to West Brom supporter and writer Heidi Turner (@Heidi_wba) to get her thoughts on this weekend’s clash.

Are you content with West Brom’s start to the season? You’ve gone quietly about your business in typical fashion.

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I’m much happier now than I was heading into the season! We are currently mid-table, where it is expected that we will be come the end of the season and the fact Albion have only lost twice this season is testament to the effort the players have displayed.

On the whole, the summer transfer window was poor from an Albion point of view but Nacer Chadli has been outstanding since joining the club. Albion were devoid of any creativity last season, and Chadli has offered this in abundance.

Happy with the job Tony Pulis is doing? Are you one to accept defence-minded football if you are getting results?

It will come as no surprise to read that Albion have drawn more times this season than any other Premier League team, and that is a statistic that has ‘Pulised’ stamped all over it.

The defensive approach has seen us grind out some impressive results over the last year or so as we’ve taken points from Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool. Player for player these games should not be a contest but Pulis has got the whole team working hard, organised and resilient. It’s a far cry from when Albion regularly shipped 4 goals or more against tougher opposition.

The frustration with the Pulis approach is when Albion come up against average opposition. Last season the Baggies dropped points against all three relegated teams, and failed to register a shot on target in seven games.

 West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino in action against Manchester City during the Premier League match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Realistically mid-table is the best we can expect from Albion in the league but setting out not to lose rather than going out on the front foot against teams of our level has led to a sense of apathy amongst supporters.

Pulis made no secret about his disappointment in the last transfer window, as Albion spent much of the summer faffing, and our famously prudent then-owner Jeremy Peace did not exactly back his manager with funds.

It will be interesting to see whether Pulis is backed in January by the new owners, and quite what the new owners think of our head coach’s approach to games.

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Which Liverpool players are you most fearful of ahead of Saturday’s game?

Adam Lallana has a tendency to score against Albion and will no doubt be a threat from the start or from the bench. Mane is another obvious threat. As resillient as Albion’s defence is, it lacks pace – especially in wide areas.

The suspended Jonny Evans, who has been nothing short of superb since joining the club, will be a huge miss. It is the pace that Liverpool have at their disposal that gives me the most cause for concern.

How do you expect the match to pan out? The Baggies to get more points at Anfield?

For the most part, Albion have enjoyed recent trips to Anfield and we were unfortunate not to come away with all three points last season. My heart says Albion will end the game with 20% possession but win 1-0 from a set piece goal! My head, however, says it will be a tough afternoon and that Liverpool will have too much for us.

Despite fearing a thrashing, I’ll go with 2-1 Liverpool.

Team News

 Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum in action against Swansea City during the FA Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp has been boosted by the news that Georginio Wijnaldum returned to full training on Wednesday, having picked up a hamstring injury for the Netherlands last week.

Adam Lallana is also back fully fit, having produced an impressive second-half cameo on Monday, and James Milner has recovered from a knock that saw him replaced by Alberto Moreno late on.

Daniel Sturridge had a bad night at the office against United, and may find himself relegated to the substitutes’ bench, with Roberto Firmino slotting back into a central role.

Emre Can will do well to keep his place, should Wijnaldum and Lallana be deemed fit enough to start, and Loris Karius will continue in goal, despite a slightly nervous last couple of appearances.

West Brom are without Jonny Evans because of suspension, which is a big blow to Pulis, but the West Brom manager has no injury concerns whatsoever.

Even long-term absentee Chris Brunt is now back fit, having come on as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham last weekend.


 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match against Manchester United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 0-0 vs. Man United
Won 2-1 vs. Swansea City
Won 5-1 vs. Hull City
Won 3-0 vs. Derby County
Won 2-1 vs. Chelsea

West Brom – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 1-1 vs. Tottenham
Drew 1-1 vs. Sunderland
Drew 1-1 vs. Stoke
Won 4-2 vs. West Ham
Lost 1-0 vs. Bournemouth

Klopp’s View

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The Liverpool manager spoke about the competitiveness of the Premier League:

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“The differences between the Premier League and all the other leagues in world football is that (there are) big individual qualities in all of these teams.

“I think we all know the reason for it and that’s the big difference.

“Nobody will go through and have at the end 120 points or something because there are a lot of difficult hurdles to jump over and West Brom is for sure one of them. They fight for every point.

“I respect them all and I showed it last year when we played West Brom. I celebrated the point and it was a little bit surprising for most of the people but I was happy.

“I don’t know in this moment if I would celebrate a draw again, it depends on the game we play on Saturday. Everything’s possible.”

One to Watch: Nacer Chadli

 Tottenham Hotspur's Nacer Chadli in action against Liverpool during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having struggled to nail down a regular place in Tottenham’s side last season, Nacer Chadli made a club-record £13million move to the Hawthorns in the summer.

The Belgian has made an immediate impact, with his all-round quality and eye for goal from midfield a cut above his teammates.

He has already found the net four times in five Premier League appearances for West Brom, and Liverpool have to keep a close eye on him on Saturday.

Strong, powerful and deceptively quick, Chadli is looking every bit the player the Baggies hoped they would see.

Odds & TV Info

Liverpool are the overriding favourites to leave Anfield with all three points in the bag, potentially moving to the top of the table in the process.

Klopp’s men are 2/7 with BetVictor to win, the draw is 9/2 and a West Brom victory is 6/1. A repeat of last season’s 2-2 scoreline is 25/1.

This Is Anfield readers can bet £10 get £30 free with BetVictor. Click here to sign up!

Coverage is live on BT Sport 1 from 5pm (BST), with the match getting underway at 5:30pm.

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Roberto Firmino on the No. 9 role: “I train every day to be better in this position”

Пт, 21/10/2016 - 19:24

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has described his commitment to improving in his focal role at the tip of Jurgen Klopp‘s attack.

Firmino has been promoted to the role of first-choice striker under Klopp this season, with five of his seven appearances in the Premier League so far coming as a No. 9.

This has seen him thrive, with his ability both on and off the ball central to Liverpool’s success.

Arriving as an attacking midfielder, Firmino’s development has been hugely positive, and this is down to his work on the training field, as he explained of his transition under Klopp.

“I train every day to be better in this position. Any position in which I play, I will always do my best and strive to be better,” he said this week.

“I will always play with attacking intent in my position, but I am always looking to help my teammates in any way I can.

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“I am an attacker; however, I don’t forget about defending. It’s always in my mind to help my team-mates the best I can.

“I try to do both on the pitch—attacking and defending—never forgetting either responsibility.”

 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)

This provides something of a contrast with his competition for a starting role, Daniel Sturridge, who looks to be struggling to adapt to the demands of leading the line for Klopp; with his pressing ability paling in comparison to Firmino.

While he is far from a lost cause, Firmino’s progress in front of goal looks set to further shunt Sturridge down the pecking order, too.

“I should be moving towards that direction otherwise there would be something wrong with the way I am training!” the Brazilian explained, when asked about his improving goalscoring record.

“The aim is always to be better. I am the type of player who is demanding of himself, so I try to improve in every aspect.

“You cannot stop. I will always keep trying to achieve my goals.”

These words will be music to Klopp’s ears, with Firmino the ideal player for his vision of football: hardworking, direct, tactically flexible and boasting a cutting edge in front of goal.

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Still only 25, having celebrated his birthday at the beginning of October, Firmino has plenty of scope to continue his development.

This, paired with his work ethic and positive attitude, will stand him in good stead as he continues his fine work in the No. 9 role on Merseyside.

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Video: Liverpool FC’s top 10 lobbed goals in the Premier League

Пт, 21/10/2016 - 19:19

Saturday’s clash with West Brom returns to the scene of one of Daniel Sturridge‘s greatest ever Liverpool goals.

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The striker, in sensational form duelling with Luis Suarez for the title of the Reds’ top goalscorer in 2013/14, lifted a long-range lob over Boaz Myhill in a 4-1 victory over the Baggies.

This was the latest in a long line of excellent chips and lobs from Liverpool players in the Premier League, as the club have showcased in a new video package.

Sturridge’s goal stands as the 10th best in the Reds’ repertoire, with Luis Suarez’s impudent chip against Tottenham Hotspur in the same season beating his to ninth place.

The No. 15’s lob over Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard also features, as well as three efforts against Manchester United: from Danny Murphy in 2002, Robbie Fowler in 1995 and Andrea Dossena in 2009.

There are two efforts from the halfway line included, with Suarez’s strike against Norwich City in 2012 edged by Xabi Alonso’s incredible goal against Newcastle United in 2006, while Emile Heskey makes the list for his goal at home to Coventry City in 2000.

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Liverpool’s No. 1 lobbed goal in their time in the Premier League, however, is given to Suarez.

The Uruguayan tormented Norwich throughout his spell with the Reds, and his long-range volley against the Canaries in 2013, beating John Ruddy from all of 35 yards, is the pick of the bunch.

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Liverpool’s settled defensive unit showing signs of consistency

Пт, 21/10/2016 - 13:48

Liverpool are starting to look far more organised and consistent in defence and an increasingly established back-line is key to its improvement.

Monday’s goalless draw with Man United may have been frustrating in terms of United nullifying Liverpool’s attack, but there was still a major positive to take from the game.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side recorded their first clean-sheet in the Premier League since the 2-0 home win over Watford on May 8 – a run of nine matches.

So much has been written about Liverpool’s defences deficiencies, most notably their set-piece woes, but slowly but surely we are witnessing a more solid Reds rearguard.

While they may not exactly be AC Milan’s Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini-inspired outfit of the late 1980s and 1990s yet, the current signs are positives.

Of course, the visit of West Brom is massively going to test that this weekend.

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Consistent Personnel

 Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Chelsea during the FA Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joel Matip was highly-rated by Klopp prior to his arrival at Anfield in the summer and the German made it his priority to sign the 25-year-old from Schalke.

The towering centre-back has impressed so far, bringing the kind of aerial dominance, composure and authority not seen since Sami Hyypia was at the club.

Since the Cameroonian made his debut against Burton Albion in the League Cup in August, the Reds have conceded just five goals in six matches.

In the two games prior to his Liverpool bow, the defence was breached on five occasions, which is perhaps pretty telling.

It would be churlish to solely put it all down to Matip, however, with several others becoming firm fixtures in the side this season.

Nathaniel Clyne is Liverpool’s Mr Consistent, and one of their best signings in recent years.

His fitness levels and defensive quality have added a huge amount of stability to this Reds side – even when they’ve been defending poorly, Clyne has often been blameless.

 Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne in action against Swansea City during the FA Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Dejan Lovren still doesn’t fill the Liverpool fanbase with universal confidence, but he has looked far happier since Matip came in.

Having a settled centre-back pairing is imperative for any team and the Reds haven’t had that for a while due to a mix of injuries and form.

Too often in the last three or four years the likes of Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Kolo Toure seemed to be in and out of the side as much as each other.

James Milner has been a revelation at left-back, despite plenty of doubts about him playing there at the start of the season.

The 30-year-old has grown into the role at a very impressive rate and in typical Milner fashion it looks as though he has played there for years.

Like Clyne, his fitness and all-round professionalism are invaluable attributes to have and his experience of winning football matches spreads confidence throughout the side.

Milner is unlikely to be the long-term solution at left-back, but for the time being having him there every week is proving to be a real blessing.

Then there’s Loris Karius, who has made a slightly nervy start since replacing Simon Mignolet in goal, but conceded just twice in four appearances to date.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Loris Karius during the FA Premier League match against Manchester United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Admittedly, the young German has barely been tested for large chunks – can you remember him making a save of note? – but there is an argument to say that he has given the defence more confidence than Mignolet.

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Karius is now going to be given an extended run in the team, unless something goes horribly wrong, which is only going to help the organisation of the defence.

The defensive work and importance of Jordan Henderson in front of the back-four also shouldn’t go unnoticed.

The Liverpool captain has been an ever-present in his new deep-lying role this season and his performances have been exemplary since an early blip away to Burnley.

His relationship with Matip and Lovren, in particular, is improving all the time, with the 26-year-old often dropping deep alongside the centre-back duo.

That’s six players who are now guaranteed regulars, assuming they avoid injury, and as they become more and more accustomed with one another it will help solve Liverpool’s biggest weakness.

Still Work To Do

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren after the 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur during the FA Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

What this defensive unit has to do now is show that they are capable of becoming consistent over a long period of time.

Six games is nothing in the grand scheme of things and there is still plenty that must be worked on.

Karius needs to start showing a little more authority between the sticks – his decision-making has been fortunate to go unpunished against both Swansea City and Man United – but that will hopefully come with time.

The Reds’ inability to defend set-pieces must also be eradicated, and an ability to concede soft goals from open play also remains an Achilles heel.

Since Matip was introduced two months ago, though, things have started to look more promising at the back – long may it continue.

West Brom will provide the next test on Saturday and if Liverpool can come through that with another clean-sheet, it will be another huge step in the right direction.

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Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool’s defending from set pieces as they prepare to face West Brom

Пт, 21/10/2016 - 12:32

Jurgen Klopp says his Liverpool side must have a plan against teams with a defensive approach, ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with West Brom.

Tony Pulis teams are famed for being difficult to beat and his Baggies side visit Anfield this weekend looking to continue their hard-to-beat run – Pulis’ last five games against Liverpool have seen four draws and just one win for the Reds.

Having been thwarted by a defence-minded Man United side on Monday, Klopp has expressed the importance of being prepared for matches of that ilk, starting with West Brom.

“We are a football-playing side and Manchester United were more physical and stronger than we were with a lot of tall players,” Klopp said.

“We did it well and I cannot remember there was a big advantage in this game out of these situations.

“We need to be ready again for situations like this [on Saturday]. You can always use a few things from the last game but on the other hand it will be different again.

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“Defending these balls was important, very important in the United game and will be important in the next game. Playing football would have been important in the Man United game too and will be very important in the West Brom game. There is a lot of work to do.”

Pulis’ men have scored the joint-most goals (4) from corners so far this season, and six of their eight league goals have been from set-pieces.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and West Bromwich Albion head coach Tony Pulis uring the Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield. (Pic by James Maloney/Propaganda)

Klopp is wary of the threat they pose in that respect, but believes his own side’s qualities should shine through.

“Everybody knows a little bit about their style of play, so there’s obvious things I can say. There will be a lot of set-pieces, 100%,” he continued.

“They are really strong at this, each Liverpool fan thinks there is one real weakness (for us) and it’s set-pieces. We don’t have these big problems any more but still we concede goals.

“The good news is it is not easy to outplay us, the bad news is, we don’t defend at 100% on set-pieces.

“That’s another kind of truth, so we need to be really concentrated. We can’t avoid the set-piece, we have to defend them really well.

“They are physical and strong, we know about this, and as long as we have the ball, they cannot do something else – they have to defend us.

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“It’s really important we find solutions for their formation, so maybe a few games we have played up to now is a good education for this game.

“All what we did for the start of pre-season is for games like this, so hopefully we can show we are taking a big step in the right direction.”

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Rivals to drop points as Chelsea host United and Spurs face tricky trip – Premier League Preview

Пт, 21/10/2016 - 11:00

After midweek European action, the Premier League is back this weekend, as Liverpool look to overcome Tony Pulis’ stubborn West Brom side at Anfield.

The Reds finished off last weekend’s league schedule with a much-anticipated home clash with Man United, but a poor match saw the two rivals battle to a goalless draw on Monday night.

There were a few surprise results that worked in Liverpool’s favour, however, with Man City held at home to Everton and Spurs drawing 1-1 at West Brom.

Arsenal kept their impressive winning run going with a 3-2 victory at home to Swansea City, while Chelsea overcome champions Leicester City with ease.

At the bottom, Sunderland lost 2-0 at Stoke City, further increasing the pressure on David Moyes, but West Ham picked up a much-needed win away to Crystal Palace.

This weekend, there are 10 top-flight matches to look forward to – we’re here to preview the best of the action.

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Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge

 Manchester United's manager Jose Mourinho shakes hands with Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the goal-less draw during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jose Mourinho has enjoyed two successful spells at Chelsea in the 2000s, winning three Premier League titles along the way.

Now Man United manager, the Portuguese returns to his former club on Sunday, in a crucial game at the top of the table.

Mourinho was typically negative in his tactics at Anfield on Monday night, but there is nobody better at grinding out results away to rival teams.

His approach will be no different against Antonio Conte’s men, and it could well make for another rather drab affair.

Chelsea have recovered well after a wobble, playing very well against Leicester, and another three points against United would get them right back in the title mix.

Southampton Search For Shock Win At The Etihad

 Southampton's goalkeeper Fraser Forster in action against Everton during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It doesn’t seem to matter who their manager is, Southampton have consistently exceeded expectations in recent years, playing some attractive football along the way.

The Saints eased to victory at home to Burnley last weekend and they are a side capable of troubling the top teams on their day.

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Man City are not invincible under Pep Guardiola, as they showed against Everton last weekend and in their 4-0 defeat at Barcelona in midweek – they could have their work cut out against Claude Puel’s side.

You would still expect City to pick up all three points though and could strike back in style with Sergio Aguero back in the starting 11 after being sub at the Nou Camp.

This should be a nice open game – an antidote to the Chelsea-United game that will follow it – and one that is not as much of a foregone conclusion as some think.

Arsenal Primed For Another Home Victory

 Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger during the Premier League match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arsenal have been quietly going about their business since their opening weekend defeat to Liverpool and are yet to taste defeat in the two months since.

Admittedly, the Gunners are in the middle of a kind run of fixtures, but there does appear to be more substance to their play this season.

Defensively, the signing of Shkodran Mustafi has made them look far more solid, while Granit Xhaka has added some steel in the middle of the park.

Theo Walcott is in impressive form, Mesut Ozil continues to dazzle and Alexis Sanchez is infectious in his playing style.

Arsenal should have no trouble overcoming a limited Middlesbrough side at the Emirates, with Aitor Karanka’s men struggling for goals and looking increasingly like relegation candidates this season.

Tricky One For Spurs

 Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen in action against Liverpool during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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No result last weekend was as eye-catching as Bournemouth’s 6-1 mauling of Hull City and it further outlined what a superb job Eddie Howe is doing as manager.

The Englishman’s side plays football in the right way and as each week passes the more they look like an established Premier League side.

The Cherries welcome undefeated Tottenham to Dean Court on Saturday lunchtime and Howe will feel his team can cause an upset.

Spurs are made of far sterner stuff these days, as Dele Alli’s late equaliser at West Brom last weekend showed, but they will have to be at their best against Bournemouth.

Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane are huge losses through injury, but the north Londoners should still have enough quality to squeeze past their opponents.

Everton Look To Avoid ‘Doing A Liverpool’

 Everton's manager Ronald Koeman during the FA Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Much like Spurs, Everton look a different animal this season, with their soft underbelly starting to look a thing of the past under Ronald Koeman.

They battled their way to a 1-1 at City last time around, with Maarten Stekelenburg saving penalties from Kevin De Bruyne and Aguero, and they sit sixth in the Premier League table.

On Saturday, they make the testing trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley – the scene of Liverpool’s lowest moment this season to date.

While the Clarets look fairly hopeless on their travels, they are very hard to beat at home, and Everton will have to break down a stubborn rearguard.

Koeman will believe his players have an enough ability to register a victory, but the longer it stays 0-0, or if Everton fall behind early, the more concerned he will become.

Fixtures & UK TV Info

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Manchester United FC

Bournemouth vs. Tottenham – Dean Court, Saturday 12:30pm, Sky Sports 1

Prediction: 1-2

Arsenal vs. Middlesbrough – Emirates Stadium, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 3-0

Burnley vs. Everton – Turf Moor, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 1-1

Hull vs. Stoke – KCOM Stadium, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 0-1

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Leicester vs. Crystal Palace – King Power Stadium, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 2-1

Swansea vs. Watford – Liberty Stadium, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 1-1

West Ham vs. Sunderland – London Stadium, Saturday 3pm

Prediction: 2-1

Liverpool vs. West Brom – Anfield, Saturday 5:30pm, BT Sport 1

Prediction: 3-1

Man City vs. Southampton – Etihad Stadium, Sunday 1:30pm, Sky Sports 1

Prediction: 3-1

Chelsea vs. Man United – Stamford Bridge, Sunday 4pm, Sky Sports 1

Prediction: 0-0

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Video: Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match press conference – Liverpool vs. West Brom

Чт, 20/10/2016 - 19:45

Watch Jurgen Klopp address the media ahead of Saturday’s visit of West Brom to Anfield on Saturday.

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The Reds’ boss refused to be drawn into petty games with Jose Mourinho, saying he was not interested in the Man United manager’s comments after Monday’s 0-0 draw at Anfield.

There was good news on the injury front, with Klopp saying Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner will all be fit for Saturday evening’s match, unless anything changes.

“Nobody is ruled out and Gini is on the way back. If nothing happens today or tomorrow, we have a big squad,” explained Klopp.

The boss also backed Loris Karius to improve, saying: “Of course he has to improve, he can improve. I feel quite comfortable, everything’s good.”

There was words of praise for Lallana ahead of his 100th appearance for the club: “Since I came he’s been at a constantly high level. It’s all good with Adam, everything is cool.”

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This game last season ended in a 2-2 draw and saw the Reds celebrate with the Kop after a late equaliser, on West Brom, Klopp said:

“The differences between the Premier League and all the other leagues in world football is that [there are] big individual qualities in all of these teams.

“Nobody will go through and have at the end 120 points or something because there are a lot of difficult hurdles to jump over and West Brom is for sure one of them. They fight for every point.

“I respect them all and I showed it last year when we played West Brom. I celebrated the point and it was a little bit surprising for most of the people but I was happy.

“I don’t know in this moment if I would celebrate a draw again, it depends on the game we play on Saturday. Everything’s possible.”

Klopp was also, bizarrely, asked if next week’s League Cup match would affect his team selection against West Brom. That would be a no.

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Video: Does Daniel Sturridge have a long-term future at Liverpool FC?

Чт, 20/10/2016 - 19:44

Whether Daniel Sturridge is a Liverpool player for the foreseeable future is a topic regularly debated by supporters.

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Sturridge’s position in the Liverpool squad has come under question since Jurgen Klopp‘s arrival as manager, with the German preferring Roberto Firmino in the focal role.

The 27-year-old has made just four starts in eight appearances so far, and has averaged 46.75 minutes per game; Firmino has started all nine of his outings, averaging 84.7 minutes per game.

His latest start came against Manchester United in Monday night’s 0-0 draw, but struggled to make an impact before being substituted midway through the second half.

Discussing Sturridge’s long-term prospects on Merseyside as part of the latest episode of Blow the Whistle, Betway Insider panellists Tom Clee and Jack Green took different stances over the England international’s future.

“He didn’t get a look in against United, so let’s not read too much into that,” Clee said.

“But the signs have been there for a while: his lack of starts under Klopp, and also those frosty back-and-forths with the German in the press.”

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Burton Albion during the Football League Cup 2nd Round match at the Pirelli Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, arguing against Clee’s testimony, Green said: “I think Sturridge has a future at Liverpool.”

“You don’t write off a player of his talent on the basis of a slow start to the season,” he countered.

“Just look at his scoring record: 43 league goals in 75 games Liverpool, that’s a great record.

“Klopp’s a smart man, he’s going to find a way to fit him in, and as ever, if he stays fit, this is going to be a good season for him.”

Green’s argument is certainly more measured, particularly given the Premier League season is just eight games old, but Klopp favouring Firmino cannot be ignored.

Whether Sturridge remains a Liverpool player for the long term likely depends on his opportunities for the rest of the campaign.

What are your thoughts on Sturridge’s future at Liverpool? Leave your thoughts in the comments section on the ‘Blow The Whistle’ YouTube video here — the best comments will win a £10 bet, courtesy of Betway.

Have a read of other sports topics discussed and debated on the Betway Insider blog here.

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Klopp: We don’t care about the opponent’s name, we have to win, that’s how it is

Чт, 20/10/2016 - 16:50

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has vowed not to take West Brom lightly and refused to rule out further full-time celebrations if his side are held at home by the Baggies again.

Last year Tony Pulis’ side claimed a 2-2 draw at Anfield, though the hosts only snatched a point thanks to a stoppage-time leveller from Divock Origi, and Klopp was so delighted he orchestrated on-pitch celebrations in front of the Kop.

Reacting in such a manner to a point against West Brom was derided by critics, yet Klopp insisted that was merely a consequence of his admiration for every team in the Premier League.

The Reds now have a run of league fixtures against West Brom, Crystal Palace and Watford, all of whom they dropped points to early in Klopp’s tenure.

“The differences between the Premier League and all the other leagues in world football is that (there are) big individual qualities in all of these teams,” said Klopp.

“I think we all know the reason for it and that’s the big difference.

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“Nobody will go through and have at the end 120 points or something because there are a lot of difficult hurdles to jump over and West Brom is for sure one of them. They fight for every point.

“I respect them all and I showed it last year when we played West Brom. I celebrated the point and it was a little bit surprising for most of the people but I was happy.

“I don’t know in this moment if I would celebrate a draw again, it depends on the game we play on Saturday. Everything’s possible.”

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and players thanking supporters after the Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield. (Pic by James Maloney/Propaganda)

The Reds’ Achilles heel under Klopp last year was their dropped points against the likes of West Brom, who they failed to beat either home or away.

With what could be construed as an enviable run of games until a Merseyside derby just before Christmas, Klopp will be keen for his team not to slip up in fixtures they are expected to win.

The German thinks the key to avoiding complacency setting in is to treat each opponent with the same regard.

“We don’t lose or win against another team because of the name or the common history; it’s because of performances,” he declared.

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“That’s what we have to do. If we want to be successful we should win a lot of games. First of all, we shouldn’t care about the name of the team, where we play them, at home or away, we have to win, we have to win, we have to win, that’s how it is.

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“For this you need to be lucky in different situations, you need to force it sometimes, always you have to fight for it. I don’t make differences between these types of teams.”

In addressing his team news, Klopp confirmed that “nobody is ruled out at this moment”, meaning Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum could be back after a hip problem picked up on international duty.

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Nathaniel Clyne on the “expectations” of being a Liverpool player

Чт, 20/10/2016 - 16:43

Nathaniel Clyne believes he has “come to terms with the expectations” of being a Liverpool player, with all-round commitment key.

The right-back has established himself as one of the Reds’ key players since his £12.5 million move from Southampton in 2015, maintaining this under both Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp.

Clyne has played every minute of every game under Klopp so far this season, and is arguably yet to produce a poor performance.

This has seen him match the “expectations” on Merseyside, which he detailed his view on this week.

“I love playing games, playing week in, week out and trying to improve as a player,” he explained.

“Every time I’m called upon, I’ll keep trying to do my best.

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“I feel like I’ve come to terms with the expectations that come with being a Liverpool player.

“You have to put in 100 percent in every game and every training session.

“You go out there for the team, for the manager and for the fans. It’s good and keeps us on our toes.”

 Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne in action against Swansea City during the FA Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Clyne helped keep the first Premier League clean sheet of Liverpool’s campaign in Monday night’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United, successfully shackling his compatriot, Ashley Young.

This saw him perform alongside two new signings for the Reds in Loris Karius and Joel Matip, while James Milner continued to operate in a new role at left-back, with Clyne full of praise for his colleagues.

“We’ve brought in some new players in defence. Joel and Milly have settled in really well,” he said.

“Ragnar [Klavan] too when he’s come in to play and [Alberto] Moreno when he’s been called on.

“We’ve settled really well at the back and we’re trying our best to keep up good performances like United, when we were more solid and didn’t give them many chances.

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“If you can get a clean sheet, it gives you a chance of winning the game.”

 Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Manchester United during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Clyne was particularly effusive in his praise of Matip, who he believes is “not fazed by anything.”

“He’s done really well. He’s settled in like he’s been playing for Liverpool for a really long time,” he continued.

“He’s built a good partnership and has done really well defensively.

“He’s confident on the ball, you see him driving forward from defence and helping to set up attacks.

“He’s good and I like playing with him. He is not fazed by anything.

“He is putting in good performances and long may they continue.”

Matip has been one of Liverpool’s most impressive signings of the summer, and after helping keep the Reds’ first clean sheet of the league campaign on Monday, he can look to build on this against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon.

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Joe Gomez linked with Huddersfield loan move

Чт, 20/10/2016 - 14:37

Jurgen Klopp‘s close friend David Wagner is keen on bringing Liverpool youngster Joe Gomez to Huddersfield Town on loan this season.

According to the ever-reliable Paul Joyce of the Express, Wagner is interested in acquiring the services of the 19-year-old, as he seeks promotion from the Championship.

Gomez is yet to play under Klopp at Anfield, having picked up a cruciate ligament injury representing England’s U21s the same week Klopp arrived at the club.

After a set-back this summer, the highly-rated defender has fought his way back to full fitness and is now back in full training.

Given his lack of match fitness though, and more experienced players being ahead of him in the pecking order, it seems hard to see Gomez getting much playing time at Liverpool any time soon.

Danny Ings suffered a similar injury to Gomez last October and was back in training in May, but he’s still struggling to find a way into the manager’s first-team plans. While Jon Flangan has been loaned to Burnley after a similarly long time on the sidelines with serious injury.

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Because of this, a temporary move to Huddersfield would benefit all parties, as Gomez looks to return to the level that saw him shine in his early weeks as a Reds player.

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez before the International Champions Cup 2016 game against AC Milan on day ten of the club's USA Pre-season Tour at the Levi's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers made the Englishman his first-choice left-back at the start of last season with Gomez preferred to Alberto Moreno in the role.

He impressed hugely there, particularly in a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates, before his aforementioned injury cruelly ended his season prematurely.

Wagner and Klopp have already done business in the past, with goalkeeper Danny Ward currently on loan at John Smith’s Stadium, and it appears likely that Gomez will be heading there next.

Huddersfield have enjoyed an excellent start to the season in the Championship, despite losing their last two games, and they sit fourth in the table as things stand, like Liverpool.

Gomez would be a shrewd buy, with his all-round quality likely to stand out through at that level, as it did during his Charlton Athletic days.

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How Liverpool can end their Tony Pulis and West Brom woes

Чт, 20/10/2016 - 14:22

Liverpool are now presented with, on paper, a winnable run of fixtures following a tough start to the season. But West Brom and Tony Pulis have proven tough to beat lately.

Emerging from a testing opening eight fixtures with 17 points and in fourth place, Liverpool’s start to the campaign has certainly been productive.

The next challenge for Jurgen Klopp’s side is to ensure that positive work is built upon by capitalising on a potentially rewarding run of games against extremely beatable opponents.

First up is West Brom at Anfield – a fixture that should see maximum points routinely won but has proven far from straightforward in recent years.

With no margin for error as strong progress is sought, Liverpool must address their West Brom woes to start the potentially prosperous stretch as they mean to go on.

West Brom Woes

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren looks dejected after missing a late chance against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Liverpool’s problems against smaller clubs have been well-documented, and West Brom are one of those the Reds have faltered against all too regularly.

That Liverpool are unbeaten in the last six meetings may not suggest it, but dig a little deeper and you find the Reds have won just two of those, drawing four – including three straight stalemates.

Consistently dropping points at the Hawthorns, where Liverpool are winless in their last four trips, has been disappointing, as has the Reds’ uninspiring home form against the Black Country outfit.

Liverpool have won just two of the last five Anfield meetings – drawing once and losing twice, suffering successive defeats against former employees, Roy Hodgson and Steve Clarke in 2012 and 2013.

Those dire losses were followed by back-to-back home wins – a 4-1 thrashing in October 2013 and 2-1 win a year later – but the Baggies caused further frustration on their last trip, earning a 2-2 draw against Klopp’s side last December.

Plucky Pulis

 West Bromwich Albion's head coach Tony Pulis during the Premier League match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This form may not be completely dreadful but it is undeniably poor, much like Liverpool’s record against teams managed by Reds nemesis Tony Pulis.

Liverpool have beaten the Welshman’s teams just four times in 16 attempts, being held to nine frustrating stalemates – and not since Luis Suarez netted on his debut in a 2-0 win over Stoke in 2011 have Liverpool beaten a Pulis team in the league.

We have, though, beaten Pulis teams twice in the cup since then (October 2011 in League Cup and March 2012 in FA Cup, both 2-1).

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Struggles against West Brom and Pulis have been bad enough on their own, but having merged together to hold Liverpool to three consecutive draws, it provides concern ahead of a crucial game.

Facing Pulis’ teams is never enjoyable and it wasn’t last December at Anfield for Klopp, who described the Baggies style, “a wall with only long balls and only set plays” after a scrappy 2-2 draw.

Klopp declared himself “really satisfied” after Divock Origi salvaged a point, sparking a show of unity between the team and fans at the Kop end, but now knowing full well what they face and the form his team have shown, he’s unlikely to be this time.

Forward Movement & Set-Piece Strength

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana celebrates scoring the first goal against Hull City during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool were frustrated by Jose Mourinho’s parked bus tactics last time out and a similar test awaits against Pulis’ outfit.

Klopp attributed a lack of patience to the Reds’ flat display at Anfield, and more control in their approach – probing with shorter and sharper passes in and around the box – will be required against a similarly deployed Baggies rear-guard.

Better final third movement and energy in midfield will assist this, and Adam Lallana’s likely starting XI return alongside Georgino Wijnaldum’s possible comeback, could provide the catalyst.

The work rate and link-play Lallana provides was sorely missed against United, and having seemingly come through his substitute appearance unscathed, his full comeback seems certain.

The physical battle that awaits could see Klopp keep Wijnaldum in reserve and stick with Emre Can for the added height and presence the German offers.

Restoring Lallana will allow Philippe Coutinho to return to his influential left-side role, but crucially, Roberto Firmino to take over striking duties from out-of-sorts Daniel Sturridge, who should make way after an ineffective showing against United’s physical centre-backs.

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 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge is substituted by manager Jürgen Klopp against Manchester United during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Similar treatment will come from Pulis’ hands-on defence, making Firmino a better pick for his movement and work rate to unsettle the Baggies’ strong but flat-footed backline.

These changes could help in attack, but Liverpool will have to deal better with the long-balls and set-pieces Klopp knows all about.

“The good news is it is not easy to outplay us, the bad news is, we don’t defend at 100% on set-pieces”, Klopp told the Liverpool Echo this week.

“That’s another kind of truth, so we need to be really concentrated. We can’t avoid the set-piece, we have to defend them really well.”

The Reds conceded twice from set-pieces in the last Anfield meeting, and with West Brom having scored a league-high four goals from corners already, organisation and marking in the box will be crucial, as will protecting Loris Karius, who will be cross-examined at every opportunity.

Reversing Fortunes

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and players thanking supporters after the Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield. (Pic by James Maloney/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s strong start has primed them perfectly for a period that could really elevate what is shaping into a promising league campaign.

Klopp’s men have claimed some fantastic results against direct rivals but now they must ensure slip-ups are avoided and vital points aren’t dropped – especially at Anfield.

Patience will be required against Pulis’ men, as will a more energetic midfield display and purposeful offensive performance from Klopp’s side.

Liverpool enjoyed a near faultless run against the Baggies at Anfield prior to recent struggles, winning 13 of 14 meetings between 1977 and 2010.

There’s no better time to begin re-establishing that dominance than on Saturday as the Reds seek the perfect start to a winnable run.

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Liverpool 4-1 West Brom (2013) – Luis Suarez magic does the trick

Чт, 20/10/2016 - 10:30

After a trip back to over 100 years ago for last week’s classic match feature, this week we only go back three years.

So far our literary time hopping has taken us back to the turn of the 20th century, the 1950s, the glory days of the 70s and 80s and the barren years of the 90s.

We’ve uncovered lost treasures, celebrated forgotten heroes and revisited old friends, but in doing so we’ve neglected some of the most magical moments from our recent history.

I’m not going to apologise for wallowing in ancient times. With history as glorious and fascinating as ours, it’s rude not to. But Liverpool’s is a story for today not just yesterday. After all for good or bad, we make history with every passing moment at Anfield.

That’s why I’ve chosen not to revel in a classic 1968 game against the Baggies, even though it featured a Roger Hunt hat-trick. Instead I’m taking you on short journey back to 2013 to relive a magnificent three from the irrepressible Luis Suarez. Buckle up, we’ll be there soon.

Without doubt the story of the 2013-14 season was one Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz. We just couldn’t get enough, even though at times he was just too much. As a banner on the Kop testifies, the gap between great genius and insanity is often wafer thin. El Pistolero was the living embodiment of these words on the pitch. However, before a ball had even been kicked, Arsenal would prove themselves the perfect representation of them off it.

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Suarez had decided he’d had enough of English football, and more specifically the fleet street posse who follow it. Nevertheless that didn’t stop him from baring soul to them in a series of ‘heart to heart’ interviews, in which he agitated for move away from the Reds and aimed a few disloyal blasts at the club and his manager. All seemed lost and, with no Spanish clubs eager to rid Anfield of its troublesome striker, it seemed his signature was Arsenal’s to lose. And lose it they did, in spectacular fashion.

 Liverpool's Luis Suarez and captain Steven Gerrard during a training session at Aami Park ahead of their preseason friendly against Melbourne Victory. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Their bid of £40 million plus a pound (not a penny more) was as hilarious as it was derisory. Clearly someone at the Emirates had been tipped off about the player’s buyout clause. The response of the Anfield hierarchy was to suggest that the Arsenal board were on an illegal high. The whole fiasco would turn John W Henry into a Twitter sensation and allow Steven Gerrard to argue that the Gunners didn’t respect Luis enough to pay his true value. Soon all was forgiven and Suarez was back in the fold, but there was still the small question of a completely self-inflicted suspension to get out of the way.

As Liverpool lined up against West Brom, the Reds were flying high in the league and had risen to these dizzy heights without the services of their number seven. Luis had missed the first five games of the season, thanks to a 10 game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in a 2-2 draw back in April. The Reds had barely missed a step though, taking 10 points from a potential 13, prompting talk of an unlikely title tilt.

Of course none of us really fancied the Reds to turn their great start into the sort of consistent run that had eluded them since Rafa’s near miss of 2009. Since then the club had been in almost perpetual trauma. Even Kenny’s two cup finals in one season couldn’t dissuade the owners from pressing the reset button again, dragging us all the way back to square one. To mount a serious challenge Liverpool would need a prolific goal scorer and so far the only time they’d managed more than one goal in a game, was in a 2-2 draw away to Swansea City.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the first goal against Sunderland with team-mate Luis Suarez during the Premiership match at the Stadium of Light. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Suarez’ return had provided the attacking potency Liverpool craved and his impact was instant. He scored in consecutive 3-1 victories against Sunderland and Crystal Palace, including a sublime effort from a narrow angle at the Stadium of Light. He drew a blank at Newcastle, as the Reds laboured to a 2-2 draw against ten men at St James’ Park, but at Anfield on the 26th of October 2013, West Brom would feel the full force of his incredible genius.

The Reds were lying third in the table prior to kick off and would go second if Southampton stumbled. In the opposition dugout was Steve Clarke, who had served as Kenny’s number two just a couple of years earlier. Everton reject Victor Anichebe lined up in attack for the Baggies, alongside former Red Nicolas Anelka. All three were destined for a miserable afternoon.

I remember those early parts of the 2013-14 season well. Expectations were at historically low levels. I don’t think anyone expected Liverpool to do much. There was the perennial talk about securing top-four, but that always felt like the barest of minimums to me. The Reds just didn’t seem built for success. Off the pitch they were just as much a work in progress as they were on it, or so it seemed.

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Despite the pregame realism, I remember being in high spirits for this one, the autumn sun was shining and I was looking forward to seeing Suarez paired with Sturridge in attack. There was also the added incentive of a little local needle from the blue half. They too were enjoying an uncharacteristically good start. Bobby Martinez was “the best little Spaniard they knew” and he had guided them into the top four by October. Only two points separated the clubs and some of my blue mates had already started counting chickens, when all they had was eggs.

A horrible trend had set in at Anfield back then. The crowd could get really nervous and unless the team took an early lead, that anxiety would strangle the life out of the atmosphere. Misplaced passes would be met with audible groans and the players would look edgy. With Clarke guiding his charges to a five game unbeaten run prior to the match, this could have been another frustrating affair.

 Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the first goal against West Bromwich Albion during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fortunately though, this was a season in which Liverpool began destroying teams in the opening twenty minutes of games, allowing the mood to soar along with our dreams. This game would prove to be one of the earliest examples of that attacking verve, that would give birth to the Kop anthem ‘poetry in motion,’.

Suarez took just 11 minutes to settle the Kop and put the Reds into a deserved lead. I remember him collecting a pass straight out of defence, some 40 yards from goal. He took it in his stride and ran at the West Brom defence. Boots were flying in, but he just ghosted past them, the ball seemingly glued to his foot. Suddenly he’s clear, with the ‘keeper at his mercy. He shows none and whips the ball into the bottom left hand corner. He’s scored a goal and the Kop go wild. We just can’t seem to get enough.

Six minutes later he’s at it again. Liverpool counter attacked and Luis found himself with the ball about twenty yards from goal. A line of Baggies player stood before him and he squared it to the on rushing Aly Cissokho, who had charged down the left flank. Suarez continued into the box and the left back delivered a great centre, which the number 7 met perfectly with his head, guiding the ball past Myhill and into the net from fully eighteen yards. It was 2-0 and in truth, game over. The Reds defence hadn’t quite acquired its reputation for self destruction yet and there was an air of inevitability about the result, with only a quarter of the game gone.

 Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the second goal against West Bromwich Albion during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, we would have to wait until the second half for more of the Uruguayan’s magic. With Liverpool attacking the Kop, the game was set up perfectly for a thrashing and the opposition couldn’t have relished coming out after half-time. Myhill took the customary applause from the Liverpool supporters as he crossed the half-way line. It would be the only thing he would take from the game.

Just ten minutes after the restart, Sturridge was clattered in front of the lower centenary stand, the ref signalled a free kick and Gerrard stood over the ball. We stood in anticipation, sensing something special. This was perfect territory for the skipper and he whipped in a sublime diagonal cross. Suarez, not the tallest man in the box, leapt head and shoulder above the Baggies defence and headed the ball into the roof of the net. The Kop exploded and his song boomed out once more.

Luis. Magician

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— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) October 26, 2013

Liverpool were cruising now, but this was a team who rarely kept a clean sheet. So when Cissokho bundled Billy Jones over in the box in the 66th minute, there was little surprise around the ground. It was a pointless intervention from the Frenchman, with the player going wide and plenty of cover in place, which added to the sense of frustration. Still there was an air of controversy about the ruling, with the linesman seeming to overrule the referee.

 Liverpool's hat-trick hero Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the third goal against West Bromwich Albion, to complete his hat-trick, with team-mate captain Steven Gerrard during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool should have been four up at this point, with Sturridge smashing the ball off the bar from 20 yards and to have gifted the opposition a foothold, no matter how tenuous was infuriating in the extreme. James Morrison smashed the penalty past Mignolet and their supporters celebrated it like it was a winner. They needn’t have bothered though, because Liverpool hadn’t finished and Sturridge wouldn’t be denied.

With the game heading into the last ten minutes, Sturridge raced towards goal. Although he hadn’t scored yet, his performance had been scintillating and he deserved the sublime strike he was about to make.

20 yards out and with a line of defenders in front of him, Daniel spotted Myhill off his line and opted to lob the keeper. Time seemed to stand still as the ‘keeper back-pedalled, grasping at thin air. The ball dropped perfectly behind him and the rout was complete. Liverpool were worth 4-1 winners and as we left the ground we had no idea that we were about to embark on the most magical and frustrating ride of our lives.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the fourth goal against West Bromwich Albion during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In his autobiography Alex Ferguson had said Liverpool were eight players away from mounting a serious title challenge. Turns out they actually only needed one, and that player was Luis Suarez. Thanks to a blunder of epic proportions by Arsenal, we got to enjoy him for one more season.

Imagine what would happen if Jurgen Klopp could get his hands on a player of that quality.

Liverpool (3-5-2): Mignolet; Toure, Skrtel, Sakho; Johnson (Kelly), Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard (Allen), Cissokho; Suarez (Alberto), Sturridge.

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Lucas Leiva explains why he remained at Liverpool for a 10th season this summer

Чт, 20/10/2016 - 00:07

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has discussed missing out on a summer move away from the club, but says he has “full confidence” in manager Jurgen Klopp.

Lucas was close to sealing a switch to Turkish giants Galatasaray, in a deal that would have seen him follow another long-serving stalwart, Martin Skrtel, to Istanbul.

But while Skrtel made the £5.5 million move to Fenerbahce, Lucas remains on Merseyside for his 10th season.

Speaking to ESPN Brazil this month, the 29-year-old said this was because the Reds’ hierarchy “didn’t feel comfortable” with letting him leave.

“There really were a few exit opportunities, they ended up not happening, Liverpool didn’t feel comfortable to seal a deal,” he said.

“For the time I’ve been here, I respected the club and stayed for another year, for this season, starting my 10th season for the club, which is a very cool mark.”

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Lucas’ words on staying “for this season” suggest he is set to leave the club on the expiry of his contract next summer, after a likely testimonial to mark his 10 years with the club.

 Liverpool's Lucas Leiva in action against Arsenal during the FA Premier League 2 Under-23 match at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds’ longest serving player, Lucas has only made three appearances so far this season; two starts and one as sub.

However, there remains a campaign to fight for throughout 2016/17, and Lucas has explained how he has “full confidence” in Jurgen Klopp‘s ability.

“A season with Klopp is much different than any other season I had with other managers,” he continued.

“My relationship with Klopp is very good, I have full confidence from him.

“Last year there were eight or nine months to know a little more about the way he wants the team to work.

“And this year, with a full pre-season with him and new signings, we started the Premier League very well.

“So we expect to be able to have a different year than last year in relation to titles, last year we got to two finals and we lost the two, and this year we expect it to be different.”

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After failing to conclude a move to Turkey in the summer, Lucas will be hoping to go out on a high in eight months’ time but his chances look set to be very limited.

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Harry Wilson’s Liverpool U23s form to test Jurgen Klopp’s ‘open door’ youth policy

Ср, 19/10/2016 - 21:00

With Liverpool Under-23s captain Harry Wilson in fine form in 2016/17 so far, the winger will hope for a first-team call-up.

Wilson scored the only goal in the young Reds’ 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Tuesday night, continuing his excellent run in Premier League 2 this season.

The 19-year-old has continued an encouraging development since the start of the campaign, and can now be considered one of Michael Beale‘s most important players—if not his key man.

But with the line between U23s and first team becoming increasingly blurred following Jurgen Klopp‘s arrival as manager, and the growing role of Pepijn Lijnders as developmental liaison, Wilson will be eager to step up to Melwood on a full-time basis in the near future.

This will be a test of the open-door policy Klopp has taken with Liverpool’s youth ranks—with Wilson’s position under the German still hugely debatable.


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Back From the Brink

 Liverpool's Harry Wilson in action against Manchester City during the Under-21 FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wilson has long been one of the most talked-about talents in the Liverpool academy, and rightly so, given his potential as a creative force in attack.

Joining the Reds as an eight-year-old back in 2005, Wilson progressed through the ranks, given a taste of under-18s football in 2012/13, before joining Neil Critchley‘s squad full time in 2013/14.

At 16, he had made his first appearance for the Wales national team, with manager Chris Coleman rather questionably handing the inexperienced winger his debut before he had established himself in the Under-21s squad at Liverpool.

He broke Gareth Bale’s record as Wales’ youngest-ever player, by 108 days, and continue his positive trajectory in the coming campaigns.

However, last season, with the Reds undergoing upheaval on and off the pitch, Wilson’s progress stalled through culmination of injury and a lack of game time.

 Liverpool's Harry Wilson in action against Leeds United during the Under-21 Premier League Cup match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

An ill-advised loan switch to Crewe Alexandra, where he made just seven League One appearances due to his commitment to the Wales Under-21s, was ended early as Klopp looked to reduce the amount of temporary moves within his squad.

Returning to Michael Beale’s U21 squad, Wilson suffered a series of debilitating injuries that further curtailed his development, and it was only in July, with the newly reshuffled U23s taking to Germany for a pre-season tour, that he returned to action.

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He had missed five months through injury, playing just 1,072 minutes of competitive football in 2015/16, but with time still on his side, Wilson has now worked to restore his standing.


Wilson’s Form, 2016/17

 Liverpool's captain Harry Wilson in action against Chelsea during the FA Premier League 2 Under-23 match at the Recreation Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Harry Wilson, it’s a huge year for him. Harry’s going to be captain this year, our longest serving player,” Beale said in August, on his decision to promote Wilson as his leader on the field.

“It was a case of who was going to be the best fit with the staff, who is someone we thought would benefit from having that role. We feel he’s a very, very talented player.”

After watching the likes of Sheyi Ojo, Cameron Brannagan and Sergi Canos make their first-team debuts in 2015/16, Wilson receiving the captain’s armband for the U23s, and signing a new contract, will have been a boost to his confidence.

This has seen the winger respond emphatically, with his 18th-minute strike against United, an impudent clip past goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, the latest in a long line of goals and assists this season.

 Liverpool's captain Harry Wilson celebrates scoring the third goal against Leicester City with team-mate Danny Ings during the FA Premier League 2 Under-23 match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After netting against Rhyl FC and MK Dons in pre-season, Wilson has made a direct goal contribution in each of the U23s’ Premier League 2 games this season but one (three goals, three assists), with Beale’s side unbeaten in their last five.

This included an excellent performance against Leicester City in September, when he scored the Reds’ third and set up Ovie Ejaria for the fourth in a 4-0 victory at Prenton Park.

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He also played a pivotal role coming off the bench in the U23s’ 6-1 friendly victory over Kilmarnock in the international break, with the teenager yet to produce a poor performance this season.

As the U23s’ standard bearer, their longest-serving player and their chief playmaker, Wilson is hugely important to Beale’s side—but does this form warrant a first-team opportunity?


Klopp’s ‘Open Door’

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp watches his U23 side take on Leicester City during the FA Premier League 2 Under-23 match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“When I am managing a club I think each young player should smile, because the door is wide open for him,” Klopp said shortly after his arrival as Liverpool manager.

“He has the chance to do anything. I don’t care so much about experience, it can be important but it is not the main thing.”

This, followed by debuts for Ojo, Canos, Connor Randall, Ryan Kent, Kevin Stewart, Joe Maguire and Danny Ward, underlined Klopp’s commitment to youth development in his role on Merseyside.

In short: if you’re good enough, you’re old enough, with Klopp’s first team the second-youngest in the Premier League, at an average age of just 25.5 years.

By this token, Wilson’s form for the U23s should grant him an opportunity under Klopp.

But, so far this season, the Welshman has remained in training under Beale at Kirkby, rather than joining the likes of Ejaria and Trent Alexander-Arnold at Melwood.

Working against Wilson is the plethora of talent at Klopp’s disposal in attack, with Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino firmly established as his first-choice trio, while Ojo, Danny Ings and Divock Origi are among those also awaiting their chance.

 Liverpool's captain Harry Wilson celebrates scoring the first goal against Manchester United during the FA Premier League 2 Under-23 match at Leigh Sports Village. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At 19, and boasting considerable experience at U23 level, Wilson should soon be targeting regular first-team football.

If he is true to his word from one year ago, Klopp should provide him with an opportunity, but it is likely that the quality already in his ranks will stop him from doing so.

But with no European football this season, chances for players such as Wilson are much less this season, with Klopp using strong sides in the League Cup so far and facing Tottenham in the competition next week won’t change that policy.

This leaves Wilson perhaps waiting for a chance depending the opposition in the FA Cup in January. Either that or he could head out on loan to continue his development.

For now, he is showing maturity in his role as U23s captain and progressing nicely.

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