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PL predictions: Leeds to thrash struggling Newcastle

2 hours 37 min ago

Our betting expert Jones Knows is back with some midweek prediction action.

Crystal Palace vs West Ham, Tuesday 6pm

"Don't listen to him, this muppet gets us wrong every week," tweeted one Hammers fan on social media.

He has a point.

Is it time to put faith in the improving Hammers?

This muppet took on David Moyes' side in their last two against Burnley and West Brom and my fingers were well and truly burnt. Are they really capable of a top-eight finish though? If they get there it will be based around being very disciplined at the back. In their last four Premier League games, they've shipped just one goal - a metric backed up by expected goals data of just 1.94. It's Manchester City levels of rearguard action.

Moyes' men rarely make mistakes or get pulled out of position. The ever-improving Declan Rice leads by example in that regard.

However, Palace will have Wilfried Zaha back for this one, they've lost all three matches without him this season. He gives them a crucial out-ball.

That was on show in the corresponding meeting between these two in December that finished 1-1 with Palace perhaps unfortunate not to take maximum points as Sebastian Haller turned into Didier Drogba for a split-second which was enough time to score a one-in-a-million overhead kick.

This one will be nitty. It'll be gritty. It's most likely to be a draw.

Muppets never learn do they?

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Newcastle vs Leeds, Tuesday 6pm

No matter what Steve Bruce will have you believe, Newcastle have been embarrassing in their last three matches.

Embarrassing.

No goals scored, an average of just nine touches in the opposition box per match and 1.6 shots on target per match. I'm always keen to treat a negative narrative like the one surrounding Newcastle with caution but in this case the toxicity towards their performance levels are fully justified. I've never seen a Premier League team so comfortable at 2-0 up than Aston Villa were on Saturday. The lack of endeavour, bite and spark in midfield for the Toon was jaw-dropping.

The end must near for Bruce on Tyneside if things continue in the same vein. The underlying numbers and performance data is now catching up with him. And, the last thing they need right now is a team like Leeds on their doorstep, full of energy, full of forward-thinking players.

And the money has come for a Leeds away win with the 10/11 with Sky Bet offer much shorter than late last week. I'm not one to get too carried away with an odds-on price, but this one is a real tempter.

Admittedly, Leeds were off-colour in a big way in their defeat to Brighton, sinking well below their usual average for shots, sprints and tackles. I'm willing to treat that blip in isolation as the influence of Kalvin Phillips' direct passing from deep was missing due to his suspension. He's back for this one and likely to run the show.

Marcelo Bielsa's boys scored five from a whopping 25 shots on goal in the fixture between these two at Elland Road. It would be a footballing travesty if Bruce gets the better of Bielsa here.

For those that love watching beauty overcoming the beast, this simply needs to be an away win. For football's sake.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-3 (12/1 with Sky Bet)

ALSO LOOK OUT FOR: Leeds to win, over 2.5 goals and Leeds to have 14 or more shots on goal (11/4 with Sky Bet - bet here!)

West Brom vs Manchester City, Tuesday 8pm

An open title race you say? Have you not seen Manchester City play recently? Liverpool's stumbles have seen even more confidence pile into Pep Guardiola's men in the betting markets.

They are now as short as 4/11 to win their third title in the last four seasons. It's theirs to lose.

Since losing to Spurs in November, City have conceded just two goals in 10 games, winning seven of those to nil. West Brom were actually one of the two teams to break through the City barricades in Slaven Bilic's final game in charge and although Sam Allardyce has given the Baggies at least a glimmer of survival hope, this fixture has a predictable look to it.

"We could play out of our skins, but still lose, so the games against Fulham and Sheffield United will be huge for us," Allardyce said in his pre-match press conference. Not exactly inspiring is it?

One of the biggest mysteries of this bonkers season is how City's slick full-back Joao Cancelo has just one assist to his name in the Premier League. He has created 27 chances for his team-mates - the same as James Rodriguez at Everton. That smart build-up play has generated an expected assist figure of 3.45, highlighting the high-quality supply he is producing. To put that into some context, Harry Kane has an expected assist figure of just 1.89 assists this season but has a ludicrously efficient 11 assists to his name.

Cancelo's influence off the bench in the FA Cup comeback at Cheltenham showcased just what an important player he is for Pep Guardiola right now, setting up Phil Foden for the all-important equaliser.

Unfortunately for punting purposes, the traders at Sky Bet are seemingly well versed with Cancelo's chance creation powers, pricing him up at just 2/1 to grab an assist. There are bigger prices available in the betting jungle.

He can play a big part in another win without conceding for Manchester City.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-2 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

Southampton vs Arsenal, Tuesday 8pm

These two teams meet for the third time in just over a month, so, theoretically, predicting an outcome should be a doddle, no?

Southampton have edged the two encounters with an aggregate score of 2-1 which does make an argument for them being overpriced as the supposed outsiders for this one at 21/10. But making assumptions like that using just the bare result on such a small sample size is the quickest way to skintsville. With a deeper overall assessment of both sides, a low scoring draw seems the most likely result between two evenly-matched teams.

I'm expecting the influence of a fully-fit Thomas Partey to have a massive impact on Arsenal's results over the next few months. He gives them a forceful ball-carrying option through the middle and possesses all the tools to be one of the best all-round midfielders in the Premier League - that was on show in the 1-0 win over Manchester United in November. When he's back at full-throttle, Arsenal have a player to take them up the table.

Thomas Partey is 2/1 to have a shot on target from outside the box Image: Thomas Partey is 2/1 to have a shot on target from outside the box

He's also a player that isn't afraid of shooting from range, which makes him very interesting in Sky Bet player shot markets. He's averaging 1.48 shots a game so far in his brief Arsenal career, a figure which is similar to his numbers at Atletico Madrid. He's 2/1 for a shot on target on Tuesday - a price certainly worth a look.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

ALSO LOOK OUT FOR: Thomas Partey to have a shot on target from outside the box (2/1 with Sky Bet)

Burnley vs Aston Villa, Wednesday 6pm

If you're going to get a result at Burnley, your two centre-backs need to stand strong. And, in Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, Villa have two excellent defenders that relish a battle and defend their box with great authority. They've been part of a back four that has registered nine clean sheets this term. If those two maintain their performance levels for this encounter, Villa should carry more than enough attacking threat to make the 11/10 on an away win with Sky Bet a winning price.

In the reverse fixture Burnley somehow got out of Villa Park with a 0-0 draw despite Villa registering 27 shots on their goal - the second-highest shot count posted by one team in a game this season. Dean Smith's side attack with such confidence, trickery and ruthlessness that it's really difficult to see how Burnley will keep a clean sheet. One goal should do it.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-1 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

Chelsea vs Wolves, Wednesday 6pm

Wolves can't catch a break. This fixture will have looked a lot more appealing to Nuno Espirito Santo on Monday morning than it does now. Instead of travelling to a confidence-drained, stuttering Chelsea side that looked under-motivated with Frank Lampard in charge, it's now a completely different scenario. Chelsea, you'd assume, will now be fully charged to impress their new boss Thomas Tuchel.

Timo Werner could hardly trap or pass the ball properly against Luton. Wolves will get to see the probable transformation into Diego Maradona up close on Wednesday night.

A change of boss in the dugout is always a difficult one to analyse from a betting view in the immediate aftermath. Tuchel is famed for his aggressive and tactically astute style but working on assumptions without using evidence is not a path to profit. I'll be sitting back and watching with interest to see what Tuchel does with an undoubtedly richly talented, yet out of form, squad of players.

What we do know is that Wolves are in toothless mood in the final third. Recording just one shot on target against Chorley from the sixth tier of the English football pyramid in the FA Cup took pragmatic football to another level. A Chelsea win to nil makes sense, but it's predicted with absolutely no confidence whatsoever.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

Brighton vs Fulham, Wednesday 7.30pm

Even my eyebrows were raised reading our alternative Premier League table according to Opta's Expected Goals model on Monday morning. Brighton are the kings of underperforming in accordance to their performance data but it was striking to see them sitting in fifth place in that xG table. As our stats man Matt Cheetham pointed out, based on how many times they have created significantly better chances than their opponents, Graham Potter might have been expected to have double their current points total.

Yet, they remain just five points above the drop zone and still they don't pass the test with the eye to suggest they are in a false position despite the staggering metrics. In both boxes Potter's team are flaky. A win for Fulham here would open up the dog-fight at the bottom, however, they have a touch of the Potters themselves. Scott Parker plays an easy-on-the-eye style but creating clear chances remains a problem - as does their ability to concede at crucial times in matches.

This clash looks a classic case of both teams taking a point, something that has occurred 14 times in matches involving these two this season, including in the reverse fixture at Craven Cottage.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Manchester United vs Sheffield United, Wednesday 8pm

I'm keen to get Sheffield United on my side for this one. Chris Wilder has found a formula that is generating progressive football once again - it's a shame it's come 10 games too late.

Trusting the Blades in the match result market looks too risky though as terrible finishing and defending their box properly will surely hold them back at Old Trafford. You can get 10/11 with Sky Bet on Wilder's boys with a +2 goal head start on the handicap, meaning you'll cop a return if they win, draw or lose by one goal. That makes perfect sense in what is likely to be a tougher assignment than many foresee for this Manchester United side.

However, I'm happy to invest in the shots market for this one. With the Blades now full of confidence again, their attacking patterns involving their wide players and midfield are flowing. This is yielding good territory and efforts at goal. In their last four games they have registered 67 shots at goal, averaging 16.75 per 90 minutes. Yes, two of those were against lower-league opposition in the FA Cup but they managed 16 in their clash with Tottenham.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side play in a progressive style that leaves them open to attacks on their goal, as showcased by facing 229 shots against this season - the seventh highest in the Premier League. They are happy to leave the back door open.

Depending on your style of punting, Sheffield United to have nine or more shots (5/6 with Sky Bet), 10 or more (11/8) or - for the brave souls - 13 or more (11/2) is an angle to get involved with.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-1 (13/2 with Sky Bet)

ALSO LOOK OUT FOR: Sheffield United to have nine or more shots (5/6 with Sky Bet)

Everton vs Leicester, Wednesday 8pm

A game to get excited about this one.

Leicester were excellent in their 2-0 win over Chelsea but had Frank Lampard to thank for that. His arrogant decision to set out his team to dominate possession, allowing Leicester to find space on the counter-attack, showed huge tactical naivety.

Carlo Ancelotti is too shrewd to fall into that trap.

As he's done in recent weeks - and in the 2-0 win at Leicester - he will set up to play compact with no space in behind. Everton will allow Leicester to dominate the ball and look to take advantage of any set-piece situations - it's an area they excel at and may prove the difference in this one.

Carlo Ancelotti Image: Carlo Ancelotti masterclass on the cards?

Only Chelsea have scored more goals from set-pieces than Everton this season, including the second goal in that win at the King Power and they scored twice from corners in their FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday. Leicester have shipped 10 goals from set-pieces, too, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina and Michael Keane are all huge threats. Home win.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

Tottenham vs Liverpool, Thursday 8pm

Whenever Liverpool trade at odds-against in a Premier League match, my eyes light up.

Yes, four Premier League games without a goal does sound the alarm bells that perhaps we've seen the peak of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool tenure and it's downhill from here. That is easily argued though, especially when looking at Liverpool's attacking metrics in their four-game goalless run. Klopp's men have lacked fluidity in the final third, granted, but the most important factor is that they're still getting into the areas that have made them such a force. Amazingly, they've registered 72 shots in those four games - only Manchester City have had more - and posted an expected goals figure of 5.72. All that is missing is the final finish. I'd be stunned if the goalless run continues in this one.

Even in defence, Liverpool aren't allowing many chances to the opposition. In that four-game run they've only faced 29 shots on their goal, just two more than Manchester City.

That equates to me that despite their alarming drop-off in results, the metrics bring forward the argument that fine margins aren't falling their way. If they stick to the process, then it's bound to turn. A price for an away win, which would normally be trading at 8/11, can be snapped up at 6/5. It's hard to ignore.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-2 (7/1 with Sky Bet)

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Pogba puts team first in Man Utd resurgence

Sun, 01/24/2021 - 22:12

Marcus Rashford played the final pass and Mason Greenwood applied the finish but it was Paul Pogba, toiling away at the other end of the pitch, who made Manchester United's first goal against Liverpool possible.

His role in it, stopping Roberto Firmino in his tracks on the edge of his own box and allowing his team-mates to spring forward on the break, typified the selflessness behind his recent resurgence.

Pogba's future was plunged into doubt when his agent, Mino Raiola, brazenly declared his Manchester United career was "over" in early December but it is brimming with possibility again now.

In the six weeks since, he has split his time between unfamiliar roles at the base of the midfield and the flanks and yet he has been outstanding, helping United first climb to the top of the Premier League then secure a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

He has produced moments of brilliance, most recently his stunning winner against Fulham on Wednesday, but what's most significant is that he has also shown qualities not normally associated with him.

Ole Gunnaer Solskjaer 0:38 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his Manchester United side have found a way of playing that they believe in following their 3-2 FA Cup win over Liverpool

Tenacity, discipline, teamwork. It was all there in Sunday's 3-2 win over Liverpool. Pogba started the game alongside Scott McTominay in central midfield but he finished it on the right flank, helping to nullify the threat of the overlapping Andrew Robertson.

"I thought Paul played really well in central midfield today; he got on the ball and won tackles and headers," said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer afterwards. "But I thought he played well at Anfield too, covering [on the right] as we know Andy Robertson likes to come forward.

"For a little spell there tonight, they overpowered us a little bit with Robertson. The thinking was to get Bruno [Fernandes] and Fred's energy on and to get Paul's power and physical presence to stay with Robertson. I felt he did it perfectly."

Pogba was certainly a willing runner out on that flank, taking one for the team when he was booked for hauling down Curtis Jones as he charged towards the Manchester United box in the closing stages then rising highest to head the resulting free-kick away himself.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted with the win in Manchester United's image Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted with Pogba's performance

But he was just as diligent in the centre of the pitch before that. When he was not stealing possession from Firmino, he was taking the ball off the toes of Mohamed Salah or forcing Georginio Wijnaldum and Thiago Alcantara backwards from inside United's defensive third.

It was not a one-off, either. In Premier League games since Raiola's comments, only Fred has won possession more times than Pogba among Manchester United players. Only Fred and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have made more tackles than him.

As in United's other recent games, Pogba was influential on the ball against Liverpool too, launching many of their most threatening attacks as they sought to exploit the visitors' weakness on the right side of their defence, where Rashford and Luke Shaw ripped into Rhys Williams and Trent Alexander-Arnold repeatedly.

Bruno Fernandes 0:33 Solskjaer praised Bruno Fernandes after his winning goal in Manchester United's FA Cup win over Liverpool

Pogba even had the energy to get forward and attempt five shots on goal. None of them found the target - his performance was not perfect - but the fact he managed more than any of his team-mates, on top of all the defensive work he put in over the course of the 90 minutes, underlined his all-round contribution to the victory.

Solskjaer deserves credit for his careful man-management. Another coach might have cast Pogba aside after Raiola's comments. We already know Jose Mourinho, for one, had little patience with the media circus that surrounds the club's record signing.

preview image 2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United's win over Fulham

But instead of being ostracised Pogba has been trusted, starting 10 of United's last 14 games in all competitions and completing the 90 minutes in all of them. "I have never had a problem with him," said Solskjaer last week. "I have been feeling very good, physically and mentally," said Pogba in an interview with Sky Sports.

If Pogba is feeling good it is because of the way in which his manager has treated him, ignoring the noise off the field and focusing on his performances. Pogba, a peripheral figure at the start of the season, now looks integral to their hopes of maintaining their form.

Manchester United supporters will feel they have been here before. This is not the first time Pogba has produced on an eye-catching run of performances over the last five years and the challenge now is to sustain it in the way he has been unable to on past occasions.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer congratulates Paul Pogba at full-time at Fulham Image: Pogba scored United's winner against Fulham on Wednesday

But recent signs are certainly encouraging. Pogba is showcasing his considerable talent but he is also fulfilling the tactical demands of his manager. "We have found a way that we and the players believe in," said Solskjaer. Pogba's performances show he is one of them.

As he approaches the final year of his contract, he has given Manchester United a decision to make on his future.

There seemed little prospect of him signing a new deal after Raiola's comments at the start of December. But Pogba is putting the team first and Manchester United are feeling the benefits. Perhaps there is a future for him at Old Trafford after all.

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Fernandes free-kick settles pulsating FA Cup tie

Sun, 01/24/2021 - 18:53

Bruno Fernandes fired Manchester United into the FA Cup fifth round as his 78th-minute free-kick earned his side a 3-2 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Liverpool's poor form continued at the home of the fierce rivals; they have now failed to progress beyond the fourth round in five of their six seasons under Jurgen Klopp and the Premier League champions have recorded one win in their last seven games in all competitions.

Mohamed Salah gave the visitors the perfect start with a sublime finish (18) but Mason Greenwood levelled eight minutes later following a sweeping move.

Marcus Rashford completed the turnaround with his fourth Old Trafford goal against Liverpool (48) but Salah restored parity after running onto Roberto Firmino's pass (58).

The stage was set for Fernandes, who settled the tie 12 minutes after his introduction with a venomous free-kick from the edge of the box to set up a fifth-round tie at home to West Ham next month.

Mo Salah is congratulated after scoring his second goal of the game to level for Liverpool against Manchester United Image: Mo Salah is congratulated after scoring his second goal of the game to level for Liverpool against Manchester United Player ratings

Man Utd: Henderson (6), Wan Bissaka (6), Lindelof (6), Maguire (6), Shaw (7), Pogba (8), McTominay (6), Greenwood (7), Van de Beek (6), Rashford (8), Cavani (7).

Subs: Fred (7), Bruno Fernandes (7), Martial (n/a).

Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Williams (5), Fabinho (6), Robertson (6), Milner (7), Thiago (7), Wijnaldum (7), Jones (6), Salah (7), Firmino (7).

Subs: Mane (6), Shaqiri (n/a), Origi (n/a).

Man of the match: Marcus Rashford.

Fernandes steals headlines in thriller

United entered the tie unbeaten in their last seven home games against Liverpool in all competitions since a 3-0 loss in March 2014. Last weekend's stalemate failed to inspire, but Liverpool came to Old Trafford dressed in hyper turquoise, and this fourth-round tie lived up to the hype.

The clash got off to an intense, end-to-end start, with Liverpool finding the breakthrough in the 18th minute. Firmino threaded a pass between Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof to Salah, who was played onside by the latter and coolly lifted the ball over Dean Henderson.

Mo Salah opens the scoring for Liverpool at Old Trafford in the FA Cup fourth round Image: Mo Salah opens the scoring for Liverpool at Old Trafford

United have won seven of nine league games having conceded the first goal, collecting 21 points from losing positions, and they made it 1-1 in the 26th minute. Greenwood had already had two half chances, failing to trouble Alisson, but his luck would change.

Team news

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes for Manchester United's FA Cup fourth-round clash with rivals Liverpool. Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford came into the starting line-up, as did Dean Henderson and Victor Lindelof.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp also made five alterations on Sunday, with Rhys Williams, James Milner, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones brought in.

Paul Pogba broke up a Liverpool attack and Donny van de Beek sent a quick pass as the hosts raced forwards, with Rashford darting down the left before cutting back and sending a fine diagonal ball over to Greenwood on the right. The teenager matched the play with his unerring finish, firing right-footed across Alisson.

With 19 FA Cup titles between them, it was clear both managers were desperate to reach round five, and the first half drew to a close with Pogba and Scott McTominay heading over presentable chances from two Shaw corners.

Marcus Rashford scores to put Manchester United 2-1 ahead in their FA Cup tie with Liverpool Image: Marcus Rashford scores to put Manchester United 2-1 ahead in their FA Cup tie with Liverpool

Sky Sports' Nick Wright said: "Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has clearly instructed his side to target the right-hand side of Liverpool's defence. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Rhys Williams look extremely vulnerable up against Rashford and Shaw."

Shaw created three times as many chances as any other United player in the opening period but Jurgen Klopp stuck with his same starting XI for the restart - and three minutes later, his side were behind.

Shaw began the move as his throw-in was collected in midfield by Edinson Cavani, who rode the challenge of Thiago and found Greenwood. Rhys Williams failed to clear Greenwood's first time ball, which allowed Rashford to race through and coolly turn past Alisson.

Mason Greenwood equalises for Manchester United against Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round tie Image: Mason Greenwood equalises for Manchester United against Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth-round tie

Liverpool reacted well to falling behind, however, and James Milner was left holding his head in his hands after scooping over from close range.

But the 35-year-old midfielder soon helped Liverpool level as they capitalised on uncharacteristically sloppy Cavani play, with Milner leaving Firmino's cross for Salah to sweep home.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer identified that Liverpool were in the ascendancy and duly turned to Fernandes on his bench. Twelve minutes later, Fabinho gave United a chance with the clock winding down after fouling Cavani on the edge of the box.

The Brazil international avoided a second yellow card but Fernandes would carry out the ultimate punishment. The Portugal midfielder pulled rank and buried his 28th goal for United to provide a classic FA Cup tie with the match-winning strike it deserved.

Man of the match - Marcus Rashford

4 - Marcus Rashford has scored four goals in five appearances against Liverpool at Old Trafford, the most goals he has scored against any opponent at the venue. Dreamy. pic.twitter.com/jiniW0Phy9

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 24, 2021

Rashford endured a frustrating afternoon at Anfield last weekend but he so often enjoys his duels with Liverpool on home soil.

He received a 5 in Sky Sports' player ratings seven days ago having been deployed, by quite some distance, as United's furthest-forward player, showing a "baffling indiscipline with the offside rule".

But here, back out in his preferred role on the left, he mesmerised in tandem with Shaw. Trent Alexander-Arnold had a torrid time containing him.

What the managers said   Image: Fernandes celebrates his knockout blow to settle the contest on Sunday

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "It's fantastic to win games against last year's champions - they are a fantastic team and we have had good results over the past couple of years playing different systems but today we played well and won on our terms.

"We have found a way that we and the players believe in and we are getting stronger and stronger. Our mentality to come back from 1-0 down. We have shown it so many times this season. Physically we have got stronger and stronger and lasted to the end of games a lot more.

Ole Gunnaer Solskjaer 0:38 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his Manchester United side have found a way of playing that they believe in, following their 3-2 FA Cup win over Liverpool.

"We look at the difference of a year ago and six months back... you cannot take too many big strides at any one point, but layer by layer we are getting better and better, winning tight games. The morale and confidence of course is very good.

For us it's a good feeling to play on our terms. We have had some good results over the last few years, playing with the diamond or with a 3-5-2... different systems to nullify opponents but to win today with a positive selection and in the way we see our team, that's a statement to ourselves.

"That's the confidence boost that we can match the best with our style of football."

Mo Salah opens the scoring for Liverpool at Old Trafford in the FA Cup fourth round Image: Mo Salah opens the scoring for Liverpool at Old Trafford

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "It's not what we wanted so it's always frustrating. If we wanted to win today, we had to be at the absolute top of our game but we made a lot of steps in the right direction. We started the game well, and then we made decisive mistakes. We had not enough protection for United's first goal, but it's good that my team likes to go forward and score goals.

"In the end, they scored three and we scored two but we can take positives out of this game. We know exactly what we need to work on, but we have to make steps. We made big steps tonight, which for the moment is OK.

Bruno Fernandes 0:33 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praises Bruno Fernandes after his winning goal in Manchester United's FA Cup win over Liverpool.

"We scored twice and we had other situations where we created well against a deep defending block. We made obvious mistakes around the goals, and with the third, your colleagues tell me it wasn't a foul but I didn't see it. I was told that it might not have been a foul for the free-kick but that's how it is. If you want to change something you have to work hard and that's what we'll do.

"There's no doubt about my trust in the players, but we need to be critical on ourselves. As a group, we are really together. If we have problems, we have to solve it together. Nobody is thinking about the very good things of the past few years. We are in this moment, and all we can is try to win football games. Tonight, I didn't see any confidence problems but obviously if we don't score for a while it's not good for confidence. It's about how you deal with it."

 Sunday January 24, 2021. 1:19 Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was encouraged by his side's performance in their 3-2 FA Cup defeat to Manchester United. Liverpool's wait for Old Trafford win goes on - Opta stats Georginio Wijnaldum has a shot on goal under pressure from Luke Shaw Image: Georginio Wijnaldum has a shot on goal under pressure from Luke Shaw
  • Manchester United have eliminated Liverpool from the FA Cup proper for the 10th time; in the competition's history, only Liverpool themselves (12 v Everton) have knocked a particular side out more times (including finals).
  • Liverpool have won just one of their last 15 matches at Old Trafford in all competitions (D4 L10), and are winless in their last eight at the ground (D4 L4).
  • Manchester United have won each of their last eight home games in the FA Cup; only from 1908 to 1912 have they had a better winning run on home soil in the competition (9 games).
  • Liverpool are the first reigning Premier League champion to be eliminated from the FA Cup as early as the fourth round since Manchester City in 2014-15.
  • Liverpool have lost back-to-back games in all competitions for the first time since March 2020.
FA Cup 2020/21 - key dates and draw

The FA Cup schedule has been confirmed, with the final set to take place at Wembley on Saturday May 15.

There will be no replays this season to help ease fixture congestion.

  • Fifth round: Wednesday February 10
  • Quarter-finals: Saturday March 20
  • Semi-finals: Saturday April 17
  • Final: Saturday May 15

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Klopp: My players have not changed overnight

Sat, 01/23/2021 - 22:30

Jurgen Klopp hopes his Liverpool side have hit their lowest point and can now start to bounce back.

Klopp insists his players have not "changed overnight" despite the defeat to Burnley ending a 68-match unbeaten run at home in the Premier League after a fourth successive game without a goal.

Their challenge only gets harder with an FA Cup trip to Manchester United on Sunday but Klopp wants to believe they have reached their nadir and can start to climb out of the slump.

"We lost that game and it was a really low point. It's not that I thought, 'Who cares?'," he said.

"When I think back I can't find a reason why we lost that game but we lost it. It happened and sometimes you need a really low point to change things properly and that's for sure [what] we will go for now.

preview image 1:02 Jurgen Klopp says his responsibility is to improve the fortunes of Liverpool with their current playing squad after admitting decisions on transfer targets are made by someone else

"If we would have won in a bad game the world would have said, 'OK, it's not the football they usually play but they are back on the result path', but in the long term it would not help.

"It can be a real help if we use it. I can imagine what a lot of people think about us in the moment.

"But people don't change overnight. People sometimes face challenges they are not immediately ready for and sometimes you don't even know a challenge will come up.

2:07 Paul Merson says Klopp got his team selection wrong in the defeat to Burnley

"But this is a challenge we didn't want to have. Was it absolutely impossible it could happen? No, especially in the situation we are.

"They [the players] are still brilliant people and brilliant characters, all of them.

"All of them made happen what happened in the last few years and they don't change overnight. It is still a really good group."

Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow saves a shot from Mohamed Salah Image: Mohamed Salah is expected to return to the starting line-up against Manchester United

Mohamed Salah was on the bench for the first hour of the Burnley defeat but will be unleashed against United as the Premier League's leading goalscorer looks to improve a run of one goal - against Aston Villa's youth team in the previous round - in six matches.

In an interview published in Spain just before Christmas the Egypt international spoke about his disappointment over not being made captain for the Champions League dead rubber against Midtjylland, while also expressing his admiration for Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Earlier this week Salah said he wants to stay at Liverpool for as long as he can and Klopp insists the speculation is not a distraction for the player or the team.

preview image 3:05 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Burnley's win against Liverpool in the Premier League

"That's a normal thing in the world of football. He didn't have a speech, it is not that we go out and talk about things which are important, it is pretty rare that happens," he said.

"We get asked questions and then we answer. It always sounds like we started the conversation but in most cases it is not like that.

"I don't think it will distract the season."

Klopp on transfers: 'I cannot spend the money'

Klopp says he discusses Liverpool transfer targets on a daily basis but he "cannot spend the money" as he hinted at frustration over the club not strengthening his squad.

The German suggested there is a willingness on his part to find solutions in the transfer window, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and summer recruit Diogo Jota among those unavailable through injury.

Sunday 31st January 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

"Of course someone else is making the decisions, it was always like this," Klopp said when asked to clarify comments he made after defeat to Burnley, where he implied he did not have the final say on bringing in reinforcements.

"If people are surprised about that I cannot change that. The situation we have is we discuss on a daily basis.

"Could we improve something or not? I then make recommendations, but I cannot spend the money. I don't make these decisions, I never did."

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Klopp on transfers: 'I cannot spend the money'

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 14:30

Jurgen Klopp says he discusses Liverpool transfer targets on a daily basis but he "cannot spend the money" as he hints at frustration over the club not strengthening his squad.

Liverpool are out of form and shorn of confidence after a run of five Premier League games without a victory, which has heightened the club's injury problems.

Klopp took the blame in the immediate aftermath of the league champions' defeat to Burnley on Thursday - a result which ended their 68-game unbeaten home Premier League run.

But the German suggests there is a willingness on his part to find solutions in the transfer window, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and summer recruit Diogo Jota among those unavailable through injury.

"Of course someone else is making the decisions, it was always like this," Klopp said when asked to clarify comments he made after defeat to Burnley, where he implied he did not have the final say on bringing in reinforcements.

preview image 5:13 Jurgen Klopp says he takes responsibility for Liverpool's shock defeat at home to Burnley which ended their unbeaten run at Anfield

"If people are surprised about that I cannot change that. The situation we have is we discuss on a daily basis.

"Could we improve something or not? I then make recommendations, but I cannot spend the money. I don't make these decisions, I never did."

Liverpool have only scored once in the league since they took apart Crystal Palace 7-0 to go five points clear at the top of the league table on December 19.

Jurgen Klopp shows his frustration during Liverpool's defeat to Burnley at Anfield 0:28 Jurgen Klopp says it his task to inspire clarity of thought from his misfiring Liverpool attack

But since then their feared strike force has struggled to reach its expected heights and Klopp is aware a change in approach is required.

Klopp, whose side have slipped to fourth, said: "When the things don't work out on the pitch as we want them to work out there is an issue. How I understand it, the issue is I didn't tell the boys clear enough.

"I have to change the way I tell the boys and then they have to change the way we play."

preview image 3:05 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Burnley's win against Liverpool in the Premier League

Klopp says he may look to create a 'chasers' mentality within his squad going forward as he looks to secure a morale-boosting victory against Premier League leaders Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

"In each bad situation there is a chance for something and I see it that way but I will not do that here," he said.

"I spoke to my players last night, I will speak to them today.

"We have to work on the details."

Liverpool are awaiting their first league win in 2021 Image: Liverpool are awaiting their first league win in 2021 Analysis: Title slipping away from Liverpool Carra on Liverpool 2:55 Jamie Carragher says Liverpool could face a battle to finish in the top four following their defeat to Burnley at Anfield

Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher at Anfield:

"We were talking about a blip for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp has come out and defended his players as you would expect because these players have done so much for Liverpool.

"But at this moment it looks like the title is slipping away. Six points can still be recovered but the form Liverpool are in and the fixtures they have in the coming months, I think Liverpool fans will be worrying a little more about their top-four position than the title.

"I think they have got to get back to scoring goals and winning games before they start thinking about someone taking the title off them. They have just been so poor. You cannot quite believe what has happened to Liverpool in the last few weeks.

"You go from that 7-0 win at Palace to so many players out of form at the same time. It is his job to fix it - whether that is formations, personnel, however they go about it - but there are so many teams challenging for that top four it will be a worry for Liverpool until they get out of this little run that they are on."

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Merson: Liverpool response can confirm greatness

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 14:30

Liverpool’s shock Anfield defeat to Burnley may have given extra incentive to their title rivals, but Paul Merson believes there is still life in the champions’ title defence yet – and an opportunity to prove their greatness...

Klopp got team selection horribly wrong

It's easy to say it now but Klopp got his team selection horribly wrong. When you're struggling like Liverpool are, you play your best team.

Divock Origi isn't going to win Liverpool leagues, no disrespect. If he was better than Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino, he'd be playing every week. If he scores that chance in the first half, then the game would have been over.

Klopp knows how hard this league is, he knows he has got to put his best team out. Burnley's last four games had all finished 1-0, they don't get into big open football matches, they aren't gung-ho, things are tight.

They are great defensively, have an unbelievable goalkeeper; you play your best forwards because you're not going to get a lorry-load of chances.

Klopp got it wrong, you play your top players, score two goals and then you take them off.

preview image 3:05 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Burnley's win against Liverpool in the Premier League Resting Salah and Firmino for FA Cup game, really?

Why would you rest players ahead of an FA Cup game?

Klopp has never won the FA Cup and might want to win it, who knows, but as long as Manchester City are in it that's going to be hard. To a large extent the FA Cup is won by the draw you get; who's to say Liverpool won't be drawn away at Manchester City, Chelsea or Tottenham in future rounds and find it hard to win the cup?

I'd be really shocked if he played his strongest team at Manchester United on Sunday, I'd have played them against Burnley and then given them a rest ahead of next week's trip to Tottenham.

Klopp would have probably watched the FA Cup growing up, and it was the ultimate back in the day, but it's not now. I'd be disappointed if he played Salah and Firmino at Old Trafford because Liverpool need to now get a result next week at Spurs after losing to Burnley.

Win at Tottenham and Liverpool will forget about that five-game winless run, the confidence will start coming back and the pressure will come off a group of players who look a little bit shot.

Carra on Liverpool 2:55 Jamie Carragher says Liverpool could face a battle to finish in the top four following their defeat to Burnley at Anfield Liverpool missing midfield engine

For all the good players Liverpool have got, when that title-winning midfield three of Henderson, Fabinho and Wijnaldum isn't playing, they are not the same team.

Those three are the unsung heroes of Liverpool's recent success, they are engine that makes everything else happen.

Thiago is a top, top player and makes the game look very easy, but he's not that kind of player. If you want to win the Champions League, then Thiago plays and dictates the game. But when you're in the hustle and bustle of the Premier League it's a different game.

Don't get me wrong, Thiago is not to blame for Liverpool's dip whatsoever, but he has come into a team at a time when they are really struggling.

The one thing Liverpool were last season that they are not this year is consistent in their line-up. Last season everyone could name a Liverpool starting line-up, it never changed. They were the best team in the world without the ball; when one went, they all went.

Now all of a sudden, four or five injuries and chopping and changing of positions means they don't know when to press as a unit like they used to. There is no closing down, it's non-existent and I hardly see them winning the ball back ever, really.

Jurgen Klopp shows his frustration during Liverpool's defeat to Burnley at Anfield 0:28 Jurgen Klopp says it his responsibility to inspire clarity of thought from his misfiring Liverpool attack The difference between winning and retaining title

If you look back to the game against West Brom before Christmas, that typifies how hard it is to defend the title.

Having already won the league, Liverpool became lackadaisical when confronted with a game that was easy.

Now, if they hadn't won the league yet and were chasing their first title there was no way West Brom would have got back into that game.

Liverpool had luck on their side more often than not last season, but this year it's gone the other way recently.

That has contributed to the run they are on, and while on that run other teams, namely Manchester United and Manchester City, have had major runs in the opposite direction, so it's been a double whammy for Liverpool.

6:18 Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher analyse Liverpool's struggles this season and discuss how they can turn it around Opportunity for Liverpool to prove greatness

This run is taking a toll on Klopp and all of his players. They have been so great of the past few years, now the players are all making the wrong decisions, and that's all about confidence.

These players are experiencing something they have never been through. Most of Liverpool's players came into the team, hit the ground running, won the Champions League and Premier League and had never lost a league game at Anfield until last night.

But it's in difficult moments like these where players have to play their way out, this is when great players get themselves out of this situation.

This is why the likes of Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, all of those players, earned such a good reputation because if they did have a bad run - and trust me, they all did - they were out of it and were great again.

You've only got to look at the figures Liverpool have put up over the last two seasons to know they are still in this title race. A six-point gap for a side capable of winning 10 matches on the trot? Liverpool can click at any moment and can be right back up there.

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What's gone wrong for Liverpool?

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 11:40

A successful title defence? The fear after Liverpool's defeat to Burnley on Thursday night was whether they were now in a battle to even make the top four. 

"I cannot remember a time with so many players out of form at the same time," said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher after Ashley Barnes' late penalty handed Liverpool their first defeat at Anfield in the Premier League since April 2017, 69 games ago.

It's now five Premier League matches without a win for the reigning champions and while they are just six points off the top of the table, their tough upcoming run of fixtures look like they could define Liverpool's season.

They face Manchester United in the FA Cup on Sunday, and then take on Tottenham (a), West Ham (a), Brighton (h), Man City (h), and Leicester (a) in the league.

Then, just a few days after the first leg of Liverpool's Champions League last-16 tie at Bundesliga title chasers RB Leipzig, there's a Merseyside derby at Anfield.

"If the next run of games do not go well then I have no doubt they will be well out of the title race by the middle of February, the end of February," said Carragher. "If that happens then Liverpool will be fighting for their lives to be in the Champions League next season."

preview image 3:05 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Burnley's win against Liverpool in the Premier League

Former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness said: "Jurgen has some hard thinking to do. Some of those players look like they are shot. There is no sparkle about them."

So what has gone wrong for this Liverpool team which has been so impressive for the past three seasons? We take a look at their problems...

A goal drought and misfiring front three

Sky Sports' Peter Smith:

Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 7-0 last month. They are the top scorers in the Premier League. But four league games - and 87 shots - without a goal has raised real concerns about the team's previously formidable attack.

As Jamie Carragher highlighted on Monday Night Football, Liverpool's reliance on their front three to deliver week-in, week-out, might be becoming a problem - especially with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane out of form, and Roberto Firmino experiencing a potentially more concerning dip.

Mohamed Salah puts his hands to his head during Liverpool's defeat to Burnley at Anfield Image: It's one goal in six games for Mohamed Salah, who was not able to make an impact after stepping off the bench against Burnley

The Brazil forward has had 16 shots during Liverpool's goal drought and bad misses against Manchester United and Burnley have drawn criticism of his finishing technique.

He has never been as prolific as Salah and Mane - Firmino nearly went the entirety of Liverpool's title-winning season without scoring at Anfield - but with stats suggesting he is no longer driving the counter-press and winning the ball back in the final third as he has previously to spark attacks, that front-three machine is no longer clicking.

Klopp has bemoaned his attacking players' decision making and, from dithering when the shot was on to Salah repeatedly trying and failing to dribble past Erik Pieters, a drop-off in confidence and sharpness is now plain to see.

How costly that decision from the manager to play Diogo Jota deep into the dead-rubber against FC Midtjylland is looking now. The injury he picked up in the final minutes of that Champions League game not only deprived Liverpool of their in-form forward but also the option to rest and rotate Salah, Firmino, and Mane.

Divock Origi - who fired a golden one-on-one chance against the bar on Thursday - and Klopp's other alternatives in attack just do not match up, while this Liverpool midfield has never provided an abundance of goals.

Liverpool's front three have taken them to extraordinary heights - but they are now struggling badly for the first time.

Alexander-Arnold below his best

Sky Sports' Peter Smith:

As well as the front three, a defining part of Liverpool's attack in recent seasons has been the supply from the flying full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. The pair have 55 assists between them over the past three seasons and only Man City's Kevin De Bruyne has set up more goals than them in that period.

But at right-back, Alexander-Arnold is struggling to hit the consistent levels he has reached so impressively for much of his young career.

Trent Alexander-Arnold sent in 22 crosses against Burnley - but found a team-mate with just one Image: Trent Alexander-Arnold sent in 22 crosses against Burnley - but found a team-mate with just one

Defensively, he has looked less assured, while, on the front foot, he has just one assist in the Premier League since September. His chance creation rate is down by almost a third.

Against Burnley, Alexander-Arnold sent in 22 crosses - the most he had ever launched in a game - and found a team-mate with just one.

That is a statistic which is not solely down to him - he needs his targets to be alert in the box - but it shows things are not coming together in a department which has been so fruitful for this side.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has just two Premier League assists so far this season after recording 13 in 2019/20 Image: Trent Alexander-Arnold has just two Premier League assists so far this season after recording 13 in 2019/20

At left-back, Robertson's numbers for assists and crossing accuracy are holding up. While Alexander-Arnold has created just three clear-cut openings for his team-mates, Robertson ranks fifth in the Premier League in that metric with eight.

Although he missed two good chances against Man Utd, Robertson remains a reliable performer. But his partner at right-back is below his best.

A patched-up defence has impacted the midfield

Sky Sports' Gerard Brand:

It goes without saying that losing your player of the year will negatively impact your season. Virgil van Dijk's injury in October may go down as the key moment in this title race, but the impact has arguably been felt more in midfield than defence.

 Image: Virgil van Dijk's injury has had a long-lasting impact on Liverpool

Fabinho has dropped into the back line with authority - his mistake in the lead-up to Burnley's goal on Thursday was a rare one - and Liverpool have coped better than many had expected considering additional injuries to Joe Gomez and the recurring absence of Joel Matip.

In fact, they are conceding fewer shots per game this season (8.2) than last (9), and have conceded just 13 goals in 21 games since that ill-fated Merseyside derby.

But there's little doubt Fabinho's influence has been missed in midfield. He has not played there since the Everton match, and though Jurgen Klopp has tested young partners in Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams, neither have been given full trust, failing to start consecutive league games.

While the defence has been patched up as well as realistically hoped, the midfield have missed out, having a knock-on impact up the field. Klopp has rotated his midfield three incessantly; Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Curtis Jones has been the most popular three since that draw at Everton, but only on five occasions in the Premier League.

6:18 Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher analyse Liverpool's struggles this season and discuss how they can turn it around

Klopp has tried James Milner, Naby Keita and Takumi Minamino in an attempt to find the intensity they have sorely missed. Thiago's return from injury gives Klopp another option, but the consistency and pinball-like midfield tenacity that punctuated their title-winning campaign has been missing - their overall duel success is down from 51.5 per cent to 47 per cent.

That lack of bite in midfield was even more keenly felt when captain Henderson was also pulled back into defence alongside Fabinho for the recent games with Southampton and Manchester United.

Matip's return against Burnley did not prompt the movement of Fabinho into midfield, but that switch may come once the defender settles into match fitness.

More possession, less space?

Sky Sports Gerard Brand:

In almost every post-match interview following an indifferent result, Klopp has referenced the deep-lying defence of the opposition.

It's nothing new, of course. Big teams have had to deal with low blocks for years, but is the tactic becoming more prevalent throughout the Premier League? And why are Liverpool feeling it more acutely this season?

There is a reason retaining the Premier League is harder than winning it; as champions, Liverpool become the team to beat, or rather, the team you have to stop.

Jurgen Klopp shows his frustration during Liverpool's defeat to Burnley at Anfield 0:28 Jurgen Klopp says it his responsibility to inspire clarity of thought from his misfiring Liverpool attack

Opposing teams are happier to let Liverpool have possession and sit 10 behind the ball - Liverpool's average possession is up slightly (65 per cent from 63.5 per cent), but their best performances have come when they have had less of the ball.

The wins over Leicester (56 per cent possession), Wolves (60 per cent), Chelsea (61 per cent) and even Crystal Palace (64 per cent), scoring 16 goals in total, all came in the bottom half of Liverpool's possessional counts this season. The recent poor form - defeats against Southampton (67 per cent) and Burnley (71 per cent), and draws against Fulham (75 per cent), West Brom (78 per cent) and Newcastle (73 per cent) - all come in the top half.

With less green to run into, Liverpool's fast breaks have gone down by nearly 50 per cent this season compared to last, and while last season Liverpool topped the league for direct attacks, before the Burnley game they were 12th.

Though Klopp is correct to say teams sit back against Liverpool - and perhaps more this season - it should not come as a surprise. Their problem has been breaking it down.

Missing a little luck… and belief

Sky Sports' Peter Smith:

"It is not a catastrophe," said Klopp when asked about Liverpool's dip in form ahead of the defeat to Burnley and it is important not to go overboard on the criticism. A solitary extra goal in their last four league games would have given Liverpool six more points and kept them top of the table.

As pointed out by Opta's Duncan Alexander, Liverpool have had an Expected Goals figure of 7.2 across their last five league games and scored just once. They have missed six clear-cut chances in their last four. The overall picture could easily have been different.

Indeed, how would Thursday night's match have panned out if Origi, clear through one-on-one, had found the top corner rather than rattled the bar?

Carra on Liverpool 2:55 Jamie Carragher says Liverpool could face a battle to finish in the top four following their defeat to Burnley at Anfield

These fine margins can swing things. They do not detract from some of the deeper problems that are starting to appear but, as Souness said on Sky Sports, some more fortune may have covered the cracks a little longer.

Late goals also played a major part in last season's title win. Think about the home wins against Leicester, Tottenham, and West Ham, or the victories at Wolves, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, and Norwich. There was Adam Lallana's crucial late leveller against Manchester United at Anfield, too.

But, as Carragher highlighted after the defeat to Burnley, that relentless energy at the end of games, that belief and drive required to eventually find a way over the line, is missing right now.

Liverpool scored nine goals in the final 15 minutes of the first 14 games in this season. That late punch has disappeared.

"As the clock ticks closer and closer to 90 minutes the belief goes and you cannot see how Liverpool can score," he said.

With the Premier League campaign edging into its second half, the clock is ticking on Liverpool's title defence, too. They need to respond quickly.

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Klopp: Van Dijk recovery 'really promising'

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 10:42

Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has made "really promising" progress in his rehabilitation from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Van Dijk has missed the majority of the season after sustaining the injury in a challenge with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the Merseyside derby on October 17.

Klopp has confirmed the 29-year-old is progressing well in his recovery but says it is too early to predict a potential return date for the Netherlands international.

Thursday 21st January 7:30pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Main Event HD Sky Sports Main Event HD

"I don't know what is possible and what is not possible, I don't know if I'm the right person to judge that 100 per cent, but he looks really good," said the Liverpool manager.

"I spoke with him this morning on the phone and he is in a really good mood, so it's all very promising. But I don't know when he will be back.

"There are a lot of stages still to go over and to pass - that is clear. I had this injury myself.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford's tackle left Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk requiring knee surgery Image: Van Dijk suffered the injury in a challenge with Everton's Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby on October 17

"But for the time we are in, for how long he is out now and how long the rehabilitation has been going on, he looks really, really promising."

Liverpool have struggled for consistency without Van Dijk in central defence and have dropped to fourth in the Premier League following Sunday's goalless draw with Manchester United.

Klopp was forced to play midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in central defence against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side but the Liverpool manager is hopeful of having Joel Matip back from injury for Thursday's match against Burnley, live on Sky Sports.

Matip has missed Liverpool's last four matches with an adductor injury but is now back in full training ahead of the match at Anfield.

However, Klopp admits it will be a number of weeks before Diogo Jota will be available for selection, as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side have gone three league games without scoring 0:56 Klopp admits Liverpool are not 'where they want to be' with the champions fourth in the Premier League

"Diogo is still a few weeks away, I don't know exactly how long but it will not be in the next one or two weeks," added Klopp.

"He needs time, the injury needs time. How much I miss the player is not important because when the player is not there, we are not allowed to miss him. We never think like that.

"That is why we have to deal with the situation, that is what we've done and we'll all be happy when, hopefully in the near future, he will be back again."

Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool form down to small margins Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has played down his side's recent run of form - despite going four matches without a win and three without scoring Image: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has played down his side's recent run of form - despite going four matches without a win and three without scoring

Jurgen Klopp has played down Liverpool's current form, believing only small margins are separating his side from a return to winning ways.

Four matches without a win, the last three without scoring, has led to scrutiny not previously experienced by the defending champions.

preview image 2:57 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the goalless draw between Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League

A lack of goals is being held up as the prime reason for their recent failure but Klopp is refusing to panic, instead looking at the bigger picture.

"We all know it is all about results but sometimes you can see little steps in the right direction or not," he said.

"But it is nothing for you [the media] because you can't deal with small details. You make them big things. You are not ready for this information.

"We wanted to play better but there were a lot of good signs and I cannot ignore them and I will not.

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Klopp: Liverpool form down to small margins

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 22:32

Jurgen Klopp has played down Liverpool’s current form, believing only small margins are separating his side from a return to winning ways.

Four matches without a win, the last three without scoring, has led to scrutiny not previously experienced by the defending champions.

A lack of goals is being held up as the prime reason for their recent failure but Klopp is refusing to panic, instead looking at the bigger picture.

Thursday 21st January 7:30pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League Sky Sports Premier League

"We all know it is all about results but sometimes you can see little steps in the right direction or not," he said.

"But it is nothing for you (the media) because you can't deal with small details. You make them big things. You are not ready for this information.

"We wanted to play better but there were a lot of good signs and I cannot ignore them and I will not.

"You cannot change the approach because everybody who has no real idea about the job expects now massive changes, from the wake-up call to the nutrition, because we don't have the results.

"Sometimes we have to be really, not stubborn, resilient maybe, and do it.

"I understand that at the moment in the press conference people think 'Oh he is so entertaining' and now they think 'What kind of mood is he in?', 'Does he see reality?'

"It (scrutiny) is just getting earlier and earlier but it is all fine. We are on it, believe me."

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side have gone three league games without scoring 0:56 Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool are not 'where they want to be' with the champions fourth in the Premier League, four points behind leaders Leicester.

Klopp's side cannot yet take encouragement from videos of Virgil van Dijk in Dubai stepping up his rehabilitation from surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The club have been reluctant to rule the influential centre-back out, absent since mid-October, of the whole season and while the manager was optimistic he was also cautious about raising expectations.

"I don't know what is possible and I don't think I am the right person to judge it," he said.

"He looks really good and I spoke to him this morning and he is in a good mood but I don't know when he will be back.

"I had this injury myself but for the time we are in and how long he is out he looks really really promising."

Carragher on Liverpool's front three 5:52 Jamie Carragher explains why Liverpool's front three have been struggling to score in recent weeks, and admits he's concerned about the form of Roberto Firmino. Carra 'worried' for Firmino at Liverpool

Liverpool's front three will soon have to be broken up and Roberto Firmino could be the first man to make way, according to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino have been instrumental in Liverpool's success under Jurgen Klopp, scoring 183 Premier League goals between them across the last four seasons.

But their form has come under scrutiny lately following a run of three games without a goal in the Premier League, including Sunday's scoreless draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Speaking on Monday Night Football, Carragher pointed out that the trio have already been together for longer than other great Premier League front threes and while he expects Mane and Salah's form to improve - he is less sure of Firmino's long-term prospects.

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Man Utd vs Liverpool team news LIVE!

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 16:46

FTFull Time AETAfter Extra Time LIVEThis is a live match. ETExtra Time HTHalf Time

Manchester United vs Liverpool. The FA Cup Fourth Round.

5:00pm, Sunday 24th January 2021.

Old Trafford.

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Live PL on Sky: Liverpool vs Man City, Merseyside derby

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 16:00

Liverpool and Manchester City will go head to head in front of the Sky Sports cameras in February as a thrilling Premier League title race gathers pace.

Sky Sports has announced its latest televised fixtures, with the Anfield clash between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola's title rivals on Sunday February 7 (kick-off 4.30pm) one of 15 top-flight games added to the schedule for February.

The Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton on Saturday February 20 (kick-off 5.30pm) and Manchester United's trip to Chelsea on Sunday February 28 (kick-off 4.30pm) are also among Sky Sports' picks for the forthcoming weeks.

Sky Sports can also confirm three extra games will be shown on the final weekend of January as Manchester City host Sheffield United, Wolves travel to Crystal Palace and Brighton face Tottenham.

The Premier League has announced that all games from January 30 to the last weekend of February will be made available to fans to watch live in the United Kingdom via existing broadcast partners as part of an "accessible solution for fans" while they remain absent from stadia.

Confirmed Premier League fixtures live on Sky Sports Man City and Liverpool drew 1-1 at the Etihad in November - watch the rematch live on Sky Sports Image: Man City and Liverpool drew 1-1 at the Etihad in November - watch the rematch live on Sky Sports

Mon Jan 18: Arsenal vs Newcastle - Kick-Off 8pm

Tue Jan 19: Leicester vs Chelsea - Kick-Off 8.15pm

Wed Jan 20: Leeds vs Southampton - Kick-Off 6pm

Thur Jan 21: Liverpool vs Burnley - Kick-Off 8pm

Sat Jan 30: Man City vs Sheff Utd - Kick-Off 3pm

Sat Jan 30: Crystal Palace vs Wolves - Kick-Off 3pm

Sat Jan 30: Arsenal vs Man Utd - Kick-Off 5.30pm

Sat Jan 30: Southampton vs Aston Villa - Kick-Off 8pm

Sun Jan 31: Leicester vs Leeds - Kick-Off 2pm

Sun Jan 31: West Ham vs Liverpool - Kick-Off 4.30pm

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Klopp: Matip back in full training, Jota needs time

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 14:00

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Joel Matip has returned to full training but will face a late fitness test ahead of their match against Burnley.

Matip has missed Liverpool's last four matches after suffering a muscular injury against West Brom on December 27.

Klopp was forced to play two midfielders - Jordan Henderson and Fabinho - at centre-back in Sunday's goalless draw with Manchester United, a result which saw Liverpool drop to fourth in the Premier League after wins for Manchester City and Leicester.

Thursday 21st January 7:30pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Main Event HD Sky Sports Main Event HD

The defending champions next face Burnley at Anfield on Thursday, live on Sky Sports, and Klopp is hopeful Matip can make his return to the side.

"Joel is in full training. Now we will have to make a decision, we will see how that will be tomorrow," said Klopp at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

"Yesterday he trained completely normal."

 Image: Jurgen Klopp confirmed Diogo Jota is still recovering from a knee injury and is a number of weeks away from a return

Klopp also confirmed Diogo Jota is still a number of weeks away from a return after suffering a knee injury against Midtjylland on December 9.

"Diogo is still a few weeks away, I don't know exactly how long but it will not be in the next one or two weeks," added Klopp.

preview image 2:57 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the goalless draw between Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League

"He needs time, the injury needs time. How much I miss the player is not important because when the player is not there, we are not allowed to miss him. We never think like that.

"That is why we have to deal with the situation, that is what we've done and we'll all be happy when, hopefully in the near future, he will be back again."

Klopp: Our form is not a catastrophe Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side have gone three league games without scoring 0:56 Klopp admits his side are not 'where they want to be' with the champions fourth in the Premier League, four points behind leaders Leicester

Liverpool have not won in their last four Premier League matches and have also not scored in their last three league games - their worst run since 2005.

However, Klopp insists their current form is not the "catastrophe" it is being made out to be.

"I understand the need to talk all the time about it but we cannot change it in a minute," he said.

"Most of the things the public thinks of we do as well but someone has to be calm in this situation, it is not a catastrophe.

"It is not perfect but I saw a lot of good signs again in the Man United game but because we didn't win, nobody was interested."

Carra 'worried' for Firmino at Liverpool Carragher on Liverpool's front three 5:52 Jamie Carragher explains why Liverpool's front three have been struggling to score in recent weeks, and admits he's concerned about the form of Roberto Firmino

Liverpool's front three will soon have to be broken up and Roberto Firmino could be the first man to make way, according to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino have been instrumental in Liverpool's success under Jurgen Klopp, scoring 183 Premier League goals between them across the last four seasons.

But their form has come under scrutiny lately following a run of three games without a goal in the Premier League, including Sunday's scoreless draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Liverpool graphic Image: Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City's great front threes were together for a maximum of three years

Speaking on Monday Night Football, Carragher pointed out that the trio have already been together for longer than other great Premier League front threes and while he expects Mane and Salah's form to improve, he is less sure of Firmino's long-term prospects.

"When we talk about this Liverpool team, we talk about the front three," said Carragher. "It's almost like they come as a package.

"The reason I say that Liverpool's front three is unique is not that they are better than other front threes, it's how long they've stayed together.

Roberto Firmino Image: Firmino has scored just five goals in 25 games for Liverpool this season

"They are now in their fourth season and the great front threes in the Premier League have normally only been together for two or three years.

"We're now in year four for Liverpool and we're maybe going to go into year five because they've all got two or three years left on their contracts.

"They are all getting to their late 20s and sooner or later that front three will have to be broken up You can't, in two years' time, say 'we're going to buy a new front three' and replace them all. It will change over time.

"At this moment, I think Mane and Salah are going through poor form. It happens. I'm still confident that Mane and Salah will start scoring goals again, but I must say I am worried for Firmino."

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Henderson becomes NHS Charities Together Champion

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 13:00

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been named as the first NHS Charities Together 'Champion'.

The role means Henderson will act as an ambassador for NHS Charities Together, an organisation which supports staff, volunteers and patients within the NHS and raises funds for more than 240 related charities.

Henderson has been involved with the cause since last April when he was instrumental in the #PlayersTogether Covid-19 appeal - an initiative which saw Premier League players donate £4m to the NHS.

"It's a massive honour for me," Henderson said. "As part of being involved with NHS Charities Together I've heard first-hand from NHS staff about the challenges they face and how donations are making such a difference to them.

"As the charity's official Champion I'll do what I can to shine a light on the amazing work NHS charities do to support the NHS.

"My relationship with NHS Charities Together began in April with the launch of the #PlayersTogether COVID-19 appeal and having family members who work for the NHS I know as well as anyone what impact the pandemic has had across the board.

"I was also extremely grateful to the NHS for the care they gave my dad last year when he was treated for cancer."

He added: "NHS charities are also providing additional support where it is most needed by NHS staff, volunteers and patients in their area, with a focus on support for people who are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis, such as patients and staff from BAME communities and high-risk groups like those living with disabilities.

"In the longer term the money raised will also fund programmes to help staff and families recover fully once the crisis has abated, reducing the long-term impact on them and the people they care about.

"Stay safe, and I know it's not easy but try and stay positive through these difficult times and remember, protect the NHS."

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Carra 'worried' for Firmino at Liverpool

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 12:00

Liverpool's front three will soon have to be broken up and Roberto Firmino could be the first man to make way, according to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino have been instrumental in Liverpool's success under Jurgen Klopp, scoring 183 Premier League goals between them across the last four seasons.

But their form has come under scrutiny lately following a run of three games without a goal in the Premier League, including Sunday's scoreless draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Speaking on Monday Night Football, Carragher pointed out that the trio have already been together for longer than other great Premier League front threes and while he expects Mane and Salah's form to improve, he is less sure of Firmino's long-term prospects.

"When we talk about this Liverpool team, we talk about the front three," said Carragher. "It's almost like they come as a package.

"The reason I say that Liverpool's front three is unique is not that they are better than other front threes, it's how long they've stayed together.

Liverpool graphic Image: Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City's great front threes were together for a maximum of three years

"They are now in their fourth season and the great front threes in the Premier League have normally only been together for two or three years.

"We're now in year four for Liverpool and we're maybe going to go into year five because they've all got two or three years left on their contracts.

"They are all getting to their late 20s and sooner or later that front three will have to be broken up.

"You can't, in two years' time, say 'we're going to buy a new front three' and replace them all. It will change over time.

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah

"At this moment, I think Mane and Salah are going through poor form. It happens.

"I'm still confident that Mane and Salah will start scoring goals again, but I must say I am worried for Firmino."

Firmino's Premier League goal totals have declined from season to season over the last four years. His lack of goal threat is an issue for Carragher but the Sky Sports pundit is more worried about other aspects of his game.

"He's never been seen as the goal scorer, that's the responsibility of the other two," said Carragher.

"But he's there to chip in and when they're not scoring, and I just feel he needs to be a bigger goal threat.

"Yesterday [against Manchester United], he had a couple of chances but he's not quite striking the ball right. His bringing players into the game has dropped off too.

xxx Image: Firmino's goals have dropped off and so too have his numbers for possessions won in the final third

"And also the counter-pressing and winning the ball back has dropped off with Firmino - and not just this season.

"I'm actually going back to last season, when Liverpool won the league. I was a little bit worried then and I was thinking, 'Can he turn it around this season?'"

Firmino's numbers for possessions won in the final third have dropped dramatically in recent months, from 1.11 per 90 minutes to 0.42 per 90 minutes.

"He was the best in the league at it, but it's a massive drop off, over 50 per cent from last season," said Carragher.

preview image 2:57 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the goalless draw between Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League.

"Last season, when he wasn't getting the goals and assists, you'd say, 'well, look at what else he's doing from the front'.

"I'm sure everyone's numbers for pressing have gone down this season, but that for me is a big drop.

"He's the one I'm worried about, whether it be a lack of form or maybe just that slow decline as you get a little bit older, which is natural for any attacker when they get to their late 20s because they don't play as long as players in other areas of the pitch.

"It's almost unprecedented, what Liverpool have done with their front three, how long they have been together and how often they play, and sooner or later that front three will have to be broken up."

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Salah: I want to stay at Liverpool as long as I can

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 18:55

Mohamed Salah has pledged his long-term commitment to Liverpool by saying he wants to stay at Anfield for as long as he can.

The Egypt international, the Premier League's top scorer this season with 13 goals, has a contract until the summer of 2023 and has said he wants to stay and continue to break records with the Reds.

However just before Christmas, the forward, in a rare interview, voiced his disappointment at not being named captain for their Champions League group match against FC Midtjylland and encouraged speculation by talking about the "great" clubs of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Asked about his future by Norwegian channel TV2, Salah said: "I do not know. If you ask, I say I want to stay here as long as I can, but, as I have said before, it is in the hands of the club.

"I will always give 100 per cent to the last minute I am in this club and I want to win as many trophies as I can.

Thursday 21st January 7:30pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League Sky Sports Premier League

"And I want to give 100 per cent to the people, who show me love all the time."

At the time, Jurgen Klopp played down the significance of the answers Salah gave on Barcelona and Real Madrid, although he admitted the club could not force people to stay.

"We never speak [about contracts]," Klopp said last month.

"Mo is in a good mood and moment, shape and that is the most important thing. You would have seen him laughing a lot [today]. The rest is nice for you to write about but internally, nothing really [to say]."

preview image 10:30 Sky Sports catches up with Mohamed Salah to ask him your questions in the latest episode of Fan Q&A.

After a run of four goals in four league matches Salah's blank in Sunday's goalless draw with Manchester United made it four games without a goal for the forward.

Klopp's side, who are fourth in the Premier League table and three points behind leaders United, face Burnley (January 21), United again in the FA Cup (January 24), Tottenham (January 28), and West Ham (January 31) before the end of this month.

Salah and Fabinho 1:11 Liverpool midfielder Fabinho pays tribute to teammate Mo Salah and plays down transfer rumours about the striker. Why aren't Liverpool scoring goals?

Analysis by Sky Sports' Adam Bate...

Liverpool dominated possession and had more shots than Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday but there will still be an element of relief that they escaped this match against their great rivals with that now 68-game unbeaten home record intact.

It is not just that Alisson had to come up with two excellent saves or the fact that Fabinho had to defend expertly to deny Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford in the closing stages.

This goalless draw does not knock United off top but it does keep the gap between the teams down to just three points with 20 games remaining. It kicks the question down the line. Liverpool might reasonably expect United to fade. They can hope Manchester City will not take advantage. The title defence is just about on course.

Maybe that is enough given the circumstances. Two midfielders at centre-back. Xherdan Shaqiri making his first Premier League start for over a year. "It is a team that is settled against a team that is shuffling things around and that is not what you want for a game like this," Graeme Souness told Sky Sports beforehand.

All of which would make some sense if it had been Liverpool's defence that had creaked under the pressure of facing perhaps the best counter-attacking team in the league.

Instead, it was the forwards who failed to deliver. That is a worry.

Watch Liverpool vs Burnley live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event on Thursday from 7:30pm; kick-off 8pm.

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Ref Watch: 'Surprising to see Tierney blow early at Anfield'

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 13:46

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In the latest Ref Watch, Dermot Gallagher tells us why referee Paul Tierney made a mistake blowing up early for half-time in Liverpool's draw with Manchester United at Anfield on Super Sunday.
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Why aren't Liverpool scoring goals?

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 20:38

Liverpool dominated possession and had more shots than Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday but there will still be an element of relief that they escaped this match against their great rivals with that now 68-game unbeaten home record intact.

It is not just that Alisson had to come up with two excellent saves or the fact that Fabinho had to defend expertly to deny Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford in the closing stages.

This goalless draw does not knock United off top but it does keep the gap between the teams down to just three points with 20 games remaining. It kicks the question down the line. Liverpool might reasonably expect United to fade. They can hope Manchester City will not take advantage. The title defence is just about on course.

Maybe that is enough given the circumstances. Two midfielders at centre-back. Xherdan Shaqiri making his first Premier League start for over a year. "It is a team that is settled against a team that is shuffling things around and that is not what you want for a game like this," Graeme Souness told Sky Sports beforehand.

preview image 1:45 Graeme Souness feels Liverpool front three were not threatening enough

All of which would make some sense if it had been Liverpool's defence that had creaked under the pressure of facing perhaps the best counter-attacking team in the league.

Instead, it was the forwards who failed to deliver. That is a worry.

preview image 2:57 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the draw between Liverpool and Man Utd

This was the first time in over two years that Liverpool have failed to score in a Premier League game at Anfield. This was the first time that Liverpool have failed to score in three consecutive Premier League games since March 2005, almost 16 years ago.

Only the defending salvaged their unbeaten record.

Jurgen Klopp could not be accused of being overly cautious. The full-backs still attacked, even though their delivery was not always on point. The inclusion of Shaqiri should have brought creativity to the midfield. The passing range of Thiago certainly did.

Making his first appearance as a Liverpool player at Anfield, the summer signing from Bayern Munich showcased his passing range, firing balls forward at clever angles. He did all he could to manoeuvre the ball around but Liverpool still could not take advantage.

That was on the front three. Roberto Firmino wasted a number of half-chances in the first half. Sadio Mane, after a promising start, could find no way past Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Mohamed Salah looked a little subdued throughout and never seemed to find the space.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Sadio Mane vie for the ball during the goalless draw between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield Image: Aaron Wan-Bissaka kept Sadio Mane relatively quiet on Sunday

Liverpool supporters will be left wondering whether Diogo Jota might have made a difference given his strong start to the season before succumbing to injury. The Portuguese will certainly be needed during the second half of the campaign to keep everyone fresh, but that should not have been an issue here.

The fixture list had been kind in giving Liverpool nine days to prepare - with even the preceding game being a confidence-boosting run out against Aston Villa's youngsters in which Mane and Salah both scored. It was United who had to go to Burnley in midweek. Everything was set up for them to really attack.

And they had the chances. Not lots, admittedly. But enough.

The statistics suggest that Liverpool's opportunities against United would - on average - have been enough to yield 1.2 goals. When they blanked away to Southampton, the stats indicated that 1.5 goals would have been the average number of goals expected from those chances. In the goalless draw at Newcastle prior to that, those chances amounted to 1.4 goals.

Remarkably, these three matches - back to back - each saw Liverpool underperform their expected goals by more than any previous Premier League game throughout 2020.

It represents a miserable run of finishing in three consecutive games. Had Liverpool finished merely averagely in these matches they would have seven points from them instead of two.

It probably does not help that the better chances fell to Firmino, rarely the cleanest of finishers. But there should have been more openings too. There was the time when Mane unexpectedly delayed his through-ball. There were the moments of uncharacteristic selfishness from Firmino as he looked to shoot instead of pass.

Mohamed Salah and Luke Shaw vie for the ball during the goalless draw between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield Image: Mohamed Salah was unable to get the better of Luke Shaw at Anfield

Salah, meanwhile, lacked his usual decisiveness in the final third, even eschewing the opportunity to run at Luke Shaw when one on one with the full-back inside the penalty box late on. Too often he was content to lay the ball off rather than drive at the defence.

"You have to be brave," Klopp told Sky Sports before kick-off.

"You have to play really brave football. You have to be cheeky in moments. You have to be well organised but not hide behind organisation so you have to be brave in defence as well. Play good football. Play between the lines. Play behind the lines. Be calm on the ball but be lively on the ball."

Is there enough of that in Liverpool's game right now?

Not on this evidence and the fact that the dip in form has coincided with a winnable run of fixtures - remember that the last Premier League goal that they did score was in a 1-1 draw at home to West Brom - puts the champions under pressure as trickier games loom.

preview image 3:45 Jurgen Klopp insists he's not concerned about their lack of goals in recent games

Next month brings Manchester City and Everton to Anfield with a trip to Leicester in between. Before all that there is an away game against Tottenham to negotiate.

Something approaching Liverpool's best will be needed if they are to win consistently throughout that period, particularly with the complication of the Champions League to come. It leaves little room for error at home to Burnley on Thursday evening.

There will be no Jota for that one and though Klopp's inclusion of Shaqiri here and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Southampton recently suggests it might be the plan, there can be no great expectation that goals from midfield are suddenly going to start flowing.

If Liverpool are to retain this Premier League title, they will need their front three to start scoring again. Without that, no amount of impressive defending is going to be enough.

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Liverpool, Man Utd lack punch in title race stalemate

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 18:20

Liverpool and Manchester United could only play out a goalless draw at Anfield as a game billed as a title race marker failed to find a finish.

Five days after knocking the champions off their Premier League perch with victory at Burnley, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were hoping to further assert heavyweight title credentials at the home of their fiercest foes.

In this truer test, the hosts' long unbeaten league run on Merseyside never looked under real threat until late on, when Alisson made two vital saves to deny Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba from close range.

Alisson saves from Paul Pogba in the second half at Anfield Image: Alisson saves from Paul Pogba in the second half at Anfield

Liverpool, in Jurgen Klopp's 200th Premier League game, found the breakthrough elusive themselves as they dominated the ball for long spells but struggled for attacking fluidity, failing to score for a third Premier League game in a row.

Manchester United stay three points clear of Liverpool, whom they meet again in the FA Cup on next Sunday, at the top of the table, with Leicester - a point above the Reds - between them.

But this was a result to offer real encouragement to Manchester City - who will close the gap at the top to just two points if they beat Crystal Palace later on Sunday - as well as to Tottenham and Brendan Rodgers' team.

Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (8), Alexander-Arnold (6), Henderson (7), Fabinho (8), Robertson (6), Thiago (7), Wijnaldum (6), Shaqiri (6), Salah (5), Firmino (4), Mane (6).

Subs used: Milner (N/A), Jones (6), Origi (N/A).

Man Utd: De Gea (6), Wan Bissaka (6), Lindelof (7), Maguire (7), Shaw (8), Fred (6), McTominay (6), Rashford (5), Fernandes (3), Pogba (6), Martial (4).

Subs used: Cavani (5).

Man of the match: Alisson

Hotly-anticipated showdown - but no goals

Ahead of a tantalising contest between two northern powerhouses unusually locked in a title race, Anfield's anthem echoed poignantly around an empty stadium, its late hitmaker Gerry Marsden remembered before kick-off.

Gary Neville had expected Liverpool to "come out like animals" after the sting of defeat to Southampton but their play was quietly controlled in a cagey start, Andy Robertson on the end of two patient moves but twice off target.

United had offered an early glimpse of their counter-attacking threat down the left but the game's midfield pattern soon became clear, Fred and Scott McTominay prised apart as Thiago probed.

Team news
  • Liverpool deployed Jordan Henderson at centre-back, with Joel Matip not fit. Xherdan Shaqiri making his first Premier League start in 13 months at the expense of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
  • Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought Scott McTominay and Fred into midfield, and started Victor Lindelof over Eric Bailly in defence. Anthony Martial was passed fit after a hamstring complaint.

Roberto Firmino cut inside ominously, only to be thwarted by Victor Lindelof, while Harry Maguire put his body in the way of shots from Xherdan Shaqiri and Gini Wijnaldum with Liverpool further encouraged and well in command yet still to have a shot on target as the half-hour mark came.

Fernandes pulled his shirt over his head in frustration as a free-kick curled just wide of Alisson's post and though Firmino spurned another opportunity after Mohamed Salah broke clear, United sensed a foothold as more Liverpool attacks came and went without reward.

Bruno Fernandes goes close with a free kick in the first half (AP) Image: Bruno Fernandes goes close with a free kick in the first half (AP)

Jamie Carragher called for "more quality" from Liverpool's frontline but a laboured feel remained as players for so long so potent took an extra touch, an unnecessary pass. One delivery of real menace from Robertson just before the hour was cut out by Maguire and then Salah dithered in the box before firing wide.

A fine Fabinho block had denied Fernandes not long before but Solskjaer was emboldened enough by the scoreline to send on Edinson Cavani, a smash-and-grab scent in the air.

3:03 After their 0-0 draw with Manchester United, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson says they are missing a bit of luck in front of goal.

Thiago forced a stop from David de Gea late on as Liverpool's intent only flickered but Alisson's late work was more significant, the Brazilian denying Fernandes and then Paul Pogba's half-volley from close range as the Frenchman punched the turf.

It was a strong finish from Solskjaer's side in a game that will have disappointed the protagonists but cheered their rivals as the title race picture continues to look a compelling one.

What the managers said

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "If we won 1-0 I'd think it was completely fine. You can't deny Manchester United chances for 90 minutes. You never could. They're in a good moment. With all the things said before the game - they're flying and we're struggling - my boys did a good game.

preview image 3:45 Jurgen Klopp was pleased with Liverpool's performance against Manchester Utd but admitted scoring goals is a challenge for his side at the moment.

"First half the counter-press was great, passing was good. But we didn't score. That's the most important thing in football. The second half was a bit more open. They had two big chances - Alisson made two good saves.

"There is no easy explanation [for their recent lack of goals]. You always miss chances. You have to keep going and try to ignore the talk around it. Everyone wants to see goals. You cannot force it. These moments happen. I saw a lot of really good individual performances and the team performance was good. Not the result we wanted, but the result we got."

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "I've got to be honest and say I'm disappointed at the moment. With the injuries they have had lately, you want to come here and get a result. We didn't, but a point might be OK if we win the next one

preview image 2:34 Manchester Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt that his side did not deserve to claim all the three points against Liverpool and believes they could have played a lot better.

"We didn't deserve the three points because we didn't play well enough. We didn't impose ourselves on the game, especially first half. We grew in the game and thought it was there to win in the second half and created two massive chances.

"We can play better than this, we know that. We can be more composed; we can have the ball more. We had to defend really often, and we gave the ball away too often. A couple of things we need to improve on."

'Encouragement for Liverpool's rivals' preview image 1:45 Graeme Souness feels Liverpool front three were not threatening enough against Manchester Utd and will need to improve in the coming weeks.

Sky Sports' Graeme Souness:

"Liverpool weren't at their best.

"We could talk all night about what Liverpool are not at this moment in time, but where they are is in the top four, not at their best, and that will be a source of encouragement for a lot of people."

'Can Man Utd win it? This is progress at least...' preview image 1:22 Roy Keane felt that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be happy with coming away from Anfield with a point after a positive performance.

Sky Sports' Roy Keane:

"It was a big test for United. They were sloppy for a while but overall, the draw, the clean sheet, the better chances - I think Ole should be ok with this.

"For us to discuss Man Utd being top of the table at this stage is progress. The hard part is winning these tight games but overall I would be pleased with their performance. Have they got enough to win it? I don't know, I'm changing my mind every few weeks!

"I wouldn't be too critical of United. They showed a good mentality. The back four was brilliant.

"Rashford didn't turn up, Fernandes didn't play well, but they still created the best two chances in the game. If Pogba wants to be the main man, he has to take that chance."

2:09 Harry Maguire says Manchester United had the best chances to win the match against Liverpool and that they were braver than when they played at Anfield last season. Match stats - Goal-shy Liverpool
  • Liverpool have failed to score in any of their last three Premier League matches, their longest run since another three-match spell in March 2005.
  • Liverpool and Manchester United have drawn nil-nil at Anfield in the league three times in the last five seasons, as many times as in the previous 48 top-flight campaigns.
  • Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 16 away matches in the Premier League (W12 D4) - only once have they gone longer without a defeat on the road in the competition (17 games ending in September 1999).
  • Liverpool are now unbeaten in their last 68 Premier League games at Anfield, earning 178 out of a possible 204 points over this run.
  • Manchester United are the first side to stop Liverpool scoring at Anfield in a Premier League match since Manchester City in October 2018 - this was Liverpool's 43rd such game since then.
  • Under Jurgen Klopp Liverpool are unbeaten in all seven of their Premier League games at Anfield when facing the side starting the day top of the table (W3 D4).
  • Liverpool are the third reigning champions to fail to score in three successive league games, after Arsenal in 1998-99 (three games) and Leicester City in 2016-17 (six games).
  • Marcus Rashford was called offside five times in this match, the most of any Premier League player this season and the most by a Man Utd player since Robin van Persie (six) vs Spurs in January 2013.
What's next? Thursday 21st January 7:30pm Kick off 8:00pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

Liverpool host Burnley in an 8pm kick-off on Thursday evening, live on Sky Sports Premier League, before going to Manchester United in the FA Cup at 5pm on Sunday.

Before that FA Cup reunion with the Reds, Manchester United travel to Fulham in the Premier League at 8.15pm on Wednesday.

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Shaqiri starts, Henderson at CB for Liverpool

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 15:30

Xherdan Shaqiri starts for Liverpool against Manchester United on Super Sunday, with Jordan Henderson joining Fabinho at centre-back.

Shaqiri starts for the first time in the Premier League for Liverpool since December 2019, alongside Thiago and Gini Wijnaldum in midfield.

Jurgen Klopp also opts for the same centre-back partnership that lost 1-0 at Southampton in Liverpool's last Premier League game, with young centre-backs Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips on the bench. Joel Matip is not fit enough for the squad.

Liverpool v Midtjylland - UEFA Champions League - Group D - Anfield
Liverpool's Jordan Henderson during the UEFA Champions League Group D match at Anfield, Liverpool. Image: Jordan Henderson starts alongside Fabinho at centre-back for Liverpool

Midfielder Naby Keita remains sidelined with a muscle problem which has kept him out since December 19.

For Manchester United, Anthony Martial starts after concerns over his fitness, while Victor Lindelof returns at centre-back to partner Harry Maguire.

Man Utd vs Watford, PA Image: Anthony Martial starts for Manchester United after a fitness concern

They make three changes from the 1-0 win at Burnley as Fred and Scott McTominay come in for Edinson Cavani and Nemanja Matic.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Henderson, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Thiago, Shaqiri, Salah, Mane, Firmino

Subs: Kelleher, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Origi, R Williams, Phillips, N Williams

Man Utd: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, Pogba, McTominay, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial

Subs: Henderson, Bailly, Cavani, Mata, Greenwood, Telles, Matic, Van de Beek, Tuanzebe

Klopp names ultra-attacking team

Sky Sports' Adam Bate:

"That is an attacking line-up that Jurgen Klopp has named. Jordan Henderson and Fabinho at the back with Thiago in midfield already makes Liverpool look more expansive, albeit slightly more vulnerable too, but it is the inclusion of Xherdan Shaqiri that rams home the message.

"Shaqiri has not started a Premier League game for over a year. It is a dramatic decision in a game of this magnitude and it suggests that Klopp really wants to attack Manchester United. He is backing his players to create the better chances if he can open this game up."

How to follow Sunday 17th January 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

Liverpool vs Man Utd will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 4pm on Sunday; kick-off at 4.30pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Free highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

Jones Knows' prediction

Big match alert.

In situations like this, trying to not get carried away with the pre-match hullabaloo when it comes to finding intelligent betting angles is key. This one has the hallmarks of being a cagey affair.

Liverpool have the best Premier League home record this season - and are unbeaten in their last 67 league matches at Anfield - while Man Utd have the best away record in the division. So, what happens when an immovable object meets a force of nature? Stalemate, that's what.

Surely "don't lose" will be the message rather than going all out to win it for both teams, especially in the Manchester United dressing room. A draw will be a huge result for them. If the game gets to 60-65 minutes and is all square, we could see a repeat of what happened in Man City vs Liverpool, where both were happy with a point. I will be backing the draw.

Manchester United travel to Liverpool in this week's Super 6 Extra round. Play for free. Image: Manchester United travel to Liverpool in this week's Super 6 Extra round. Play for free

There is value to be had elsewhere though. One area of football betting I have found to be quite profitable in recent years is the cards markets. The stats will tell you that Scott McTominay has yet to be booked this season but he's made 22 fouls, averaging over 2.2 fouls per 90 minutes. Unsurprisingly, he has made the most fouls without being booked of any current Premier League player this season. If you stretch it back to last season he has now on a run of 31 fouls without a card since being booked after 24 seconds on Boxing Day in 2019 vs Newcastle - which is the quickest booking since Opta started collating data in 2006.

No doubt he will be tasked with breaking up Liverpool's play in midfield this weekend in what is likely to be a niggly encounter. Liverpool always pack plenty of physicality and punch in their midfield and 12 opposition central midfielders have been booked vs Liverpool in their last 14 Premier League games. At 12/1 McTominay is worth an interest to get carded first, or those that can handle backing short prices in this market should look at the 23/10 for him to be carded anytime.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

ALSO LOOK OUT FOR: Scott McTominay to pick up the first card (12/1 with Sky Bet)

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Klopp: Rare that games are absolutely perfect

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 13:04

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he can "count on one hand" the games that have gone perfectly as he prepares to face Manchester United this weekend, live on Sky Sports.

Klopp has had to contend with plenty of obstacles since winning the 2019/20 Premier League title, including injuries to key players and the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Indeed, a shortage of senior centre-backs has seen Fabinho and Jordan Henderson dropping into defence, but is the Liverpool boss concerned that this will leave his midfield exposed?

In an exclusive interview with Soccer Saturday ahead of Sunday's meeting with Man Utd, live on Sky Sports, Klopp answered with a wry laugh: "That's the whole season already like this, so there's no moaning or complaining about it. It's just how it is and it's always like this in football.

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"I'm around about 20 years as a coach or a manager and probably one hand is enough to count the days when things were absolutely perfect. No problems, the right team could play, we had the right shape, the last game was exactly how it should have been, the next game is looking promising - it's really rare. So it's constantly like this that you have to find solutions.

"You have to reduce your own expectations of a perfect matchday and you still have to make sure the boys are absolutely spot on. That's not just for the coaches, that's for everybody.

"We have a lot of players with kids at home and home-schooling and I think the challenges are much harder for the players to deal with. That's how it is and it's not too different to life in the 'outside bubble'. I think we have all faced a lot of challenges which we never would have expected to face ever in our life."

One of those challenges has been the absence of fans inside stadiums. A small number were briefly allowed to return to Anfield around Christmas, but one of football's greatest rivalries will be played without supporters this weekend.

"I don't think our supporters in this specific moment are thinking, 'this [playing against Man Utd] was the most important moment'," Klopp explained.

Jurgen Klopp gestures to the fans at Anfield - PA Image: Liverpool were able to briefly welcome fans back at the end of 2020

"We had to deal with the situation that we couldn't celebrate the championship [winning the Premier League] together, so now two United games in a week - one is at home and one is away [in the FA Cup next Sunday] - but they all can watch it on TV.

"They're all with us and can scream in their bedrooms or living rooms for us and that's all you can get in the moment. It's still better than we wouldn't play, so it's a big one and it will always be a big one.

Sunday 17th January 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

"I'm really happy that we're in a situation where we can say it will be difficult, but we have a chance and that's all I need before a football game."

As with any big match, all eyes will be on team selection, although Klopp insists that with injuries hitting his squad, he has no second-string players.

preview image 3:36 Jamie Carragher and Paul Ince choose their combined Liverpool-Manchester United XIs ahead of the sides' Premier League clash on Sunday, with Paul Pogba an inevitable talking point

He said: "We don't have fringe players, or we didn't have fringe players this season - we had fit players and not fit players and the kids, pretty much. We needed each of them really desperately.

"The problem is they come back and they are not injured anymore, then it takes a while for them to be fit again and when they are, they need rhythm so it's not just being out for two or three months and you're suddenly ready to go again."

One thing is for sure, even without fans or first-choice centre-backs, and with plenty of solutions to find, Klopp and Liverpool will be ready to go against Man Utd this weekend.

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