West Brom vs. Liverpool Preview

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Klopp’s Men travel to the Hawthorn stadium on Saturday Afternoon to face West Brom in what could potentially be the game that officially confirms the home side’s relegation from the premiere league.

West Brom, who are fresh off a victory against Manchester United, are 9 points from safety and a loss against Liverpool would seal their fate for the on-going premiere league campaign.

Liverpool on the other hand are almost over the line in their race for qualification for top 4 spots. Pochettino’s spurs dropped two points midweek and that has surely handed Liverpool a boost in their pursuit of top 4.

Jurgen Klopp will also have his eyes on the allusive first leg of the UCL semi-finals against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday. This fixture could see Klopp rotate is squad quite considerably to ensure that his team are rested enough to take on the Italian outfit which upset FC Barcelona in the previous round of the UEFA champions League.

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West Brom will have ex-Manchester United defender Jonny Evans as well as Welsh forward Robson-Kanu available for selection against the reds. Evans will be returning from a repetitive knee problem. Robson Kanu returns from a minor concussion. Daniel Sturridge is not available for selection against his parent club, regardless of his injury status.

 

Liverpool will miss defender Nathaniel Clyne who has been struggling with a “minor muscle problem”, in the words of Jurgen Klopp. However, the good news for Liverpool is that Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez have returned to training this week and may be in contention to start. The added options at the back certainly wipe away any defensive worries Klopp might have as Liverpool head into an exciting end for the season.

Predictions:

Liverpool win 0-3 (Salah x2 , D. Ings)

 

 

~ Kaustubh Deshpande

4/21/2018

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How the Reds defence has improved drastically.

Having now played 34 games in the Premier League, Liverpool have kept a total of 15 clean sheets. That is more than every other club in the Premiere League except Manchester United who have kept 16. The same Liverpool who couldn’t close games; the same Liverpool who surrendered big leads in; the same Liverpool who couldn’t play the bottom half teams; this same Liverpool now looks more defensively secure than they have in since the turn of the decade.

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Ever since Jurgen Klopp took over he has slowly but surely transformed the Liverpool defence. The Liverpool defence, which started Klopp’s first game in charge of Liverpool, differs vastly from the side that shut out Manchester City Last week. Understandably, this improvement in defence is a team effort. However, it is safe to say that the addition of Virgil Van Dijk has certainly galvanised the defence. Ever since the arrival of the 75 million pound Dutchamn, the Liverpool defence has looked rock solid and impenetrable at times. He has been commanding and a loud presence on the field. He makes those around him feel at ease and has improved the form of his fellow defensive partner Dejan Lovren. Additionally, over the last few months Liverpool fan have also seen a massive improvement in the form of Loris Karius, Trent-Alexander Arnold, Dejan Lovren and most noticeably Andrew Robertson.

Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round

Loris Karius who had a rather disappointing debut season for Liverpool was reinstated as Klopp’s no.1 in goal at towards the end of 2017. Ever since he’s hardly put a foot wrong and has been a commanding presence in the box.

After news of Nathaniel Clyne’s prolonged absence broke out, Klopp decided not to invest in a right back. He chose to place his faith in youth and entered the season with Joe Gomez and alexander-Arnold as his right back options. And how both of them have delivered. Joe Gomez up until his recent injury on international duty has been fantastic option at right back. While Trent Alexander Arnold has had an amazing break through season himself. He saw off Leroy Sane over both legs in the Champions League this past week.. If rumours are to be believed the pair will be rewarded with new contracts sooner rather than later.

Liverpool v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Anfield

Lastly, Andrew Robertson who was brought in for 8 million from Hull City has been a revelation as Liverpool have finally found themselves a Left back who will deliver defensively. Despite Alberto Moreno starting off the season for Klopp, his injury paved the way for Robertson who has since been a consistent performer in the rejuvenated Liverpool team.

Another notable improvement has been Jurgen Klopp’s ‘Game management’. In the second leg versus Manchester City at the Etihad, Jurgen Klopp moved Sadio Mane out to the right and played Salah through the middle while Firmino was pushed out left. Sadio Mane tracked back more than Salah and this change-helped alexander Arnold deal with City’s additionally attacking threat as they attempted to overcome a 3-0 deficit. Regarding the league, Liverpool dropped a total of 10 points form winning positions in the first half of the season. However, since the turn of the New Year they’ve only dropped two points. A majority of the praise naturally goes toward Van Dijk, who has been a massive presence on the backline. He brings direction and calmness to a defense, which previously lacked confidence and was extremely indecisive.

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The departure of Coutinho is another factor, which has resulted in a more shielding Liverpool midfield rather than one that can be split open quite easily. The Liverpool midfield is now much better balanced. Jordan Henderson, Gerogino Wijnaldum, James Milner and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain have all delivered in every position across the middle three when called upon.

Overall, Jurgen almost has his ideal midfield and defense. The club is consistently linked with Defensive Midfielders such as Ndidi, Jorginho and Doucoure. Along with the pending departure of Emre Can and arrival of Naby Keita, Exciting times lie ahead for what could be one of the greatest Liverpool sides in recent years.

Klopp: We can beat anyone

They creaked, they bent but they did not break. Liverpool Football Club are in the Champions League Semi-Finals. After taking the hits and looking on the ropes in the first half, the Red’s recovered at half-time, applied the adjustments instructed by Klopp and took a win at The Etihad through goals from Salah and Firmino.

The first half was not fun though, James Milner reflects on conceding the early Jesus goal”

“In a way maybe that woke us up as well, that early, says a lot about the boys to come under that pressure in the first half and the end of the first game, going 1-0 down early on, got the crowd up, they a good team and they always going to have chances…

“There is lots to learn from these two games” and “we need to keep improving from these two games.”

MILNER ROBERTSON - THIS IS ANFIELD

(Source: This Is Anfield)

Andy Robertson gave his thoughts on the night and result: “It was unbelievable, first half was tough going, we knew they were gonna come out attacking. We had to ride our luck, if any chances of theirs go in it could have been a different day.”

“We had to play our own game and in the 2nd half we manage to do that… over the two legs I think we deserve it.”

Andy mentioned that the half-time instructions were simple. Robertson: “He is one of those managers who keeps it all calm… he tells us what we need to do better and it was basic, we knew what to do better, we weren’t winning second balls, which were key and we weren’t keeping the ball, which is key and we never created any chances. We needed to push up a wee bit higher.”

Andy was diplomatic when asked who he would like to face in the semi-finals: ‘This club has been here before and they know how hard it is regardless of who you play to get to the final and try and win this trophy. We don’t care who we get, we know how hard its gonna be and we need to work so hard to get to the final cause we need to deserve it.”

Andy reflected to his young days when asked if this is his biggest night as a professional player: “I would say so, get to semi-final of the Champions League you know, as a wee boy you grow up watching these tournaments and you think what its like to play in it… hopefully I get a chance to play in these games and hopefully lead this club back to a final and hopefully the 6th Champions League.”

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Source: @LFC_MP

Gini Wijnaldum reflecting on the scenes in the dressing room after the game:

“The manager already said this is not the highlight of our season, so we have to carry on, trying to perform in all the other games that will come.” Gini was humble when talking about his team’s turn around: “We have to be fair, we got lucky in a few moments and we mustn’t forget that, think we showed character coming from 1-0 behind and we still won the game and also against man city which a good team playing great football.”

Gini describes Klopp’s half-time team talk: “He said we must play football, the moments we play football we created the chance, so he said that we mustn’t just play hectic and play long balls only, try and play football and try to create good chances. He was quite easy to be fair and confident trying to give us the confidence…”

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(Source: Football365)

Jurgen Klopp was in high spirits, contemplating the magnitude of his sides achievements, the Reds boss Klopp said: “I really think they are the best team in the world at the moment but I knew we could beat them. We completely deserve to be in the semi-finals.

“We are now in the semis and first of all we should enjoy the moment because it’s obviously a while ago that Liverpool were in the semis. It was a while ago that I was in the semis! “Now we are there together, so that’s quite a cool moment and I’m really happy about it.”

“If we have a good day we can beat anyone, on an average day we concede cheap goals. We’re still in a development phase, but we’re already a good team.”

PREVIEW: MANCHESTER CITY Vs LIVERPOOL

“We conquered all of Europe

We never gonna stop…”

The Reds make the journey east on the M62 to the Etihad to complete the job on Pep’s Citizen’s.

With a three goal lead and having not conceded an away goal Klopp’s men sit with a huge advantage going into the 2nd leg. They essentially need to avoid a hiding and should have the tools to get over the line against the hosts.

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                                                              Mane skips past Otamendi – Photos Via Liverpool FC

The Sky Blues will have their say though. A fantastic offensive side will go into the 2nd leg with haste to make the unlikely happen. They are well capable of getting over line but they will need a string of things to go their way. They need balance in attack to really spread the reds thin, they need to take their chances and hope they do not concede while throwing the bucket at Van Dijk and the rest of the defenders. If they concede, they will need five goals to go through.

READ MORE4TH April 2018 – A Night to remember 

Pep Guardiola rested Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne in their defeat to Manchester United on the weekend. So one can expect they will definitely play significant roles on Tuesday night. Danilo or Delph will probably come in at left-back over Laporte.

Liverpool have some serious selection worries of their own. Salah who was rested on the weekend will hopefully come in after resting his groin injury. Emre Can still looks like a serious doubt as Gini Wijnaldum was used in the deep role in midfield in the goalless draw against Everton. Henderson is suspended. The back line will probably be unchanged from Wednesday.

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                             Oxlade-Chamberlain takes on Gundagon and Kompany – Photos Via Liverpool FC

The Reds European record under Klopp is as solid as it comes. He took an inferior Liverpool side to Old Trafford with a two goal lead and came through quite comfortably. City’s confidence will have also taken a bit of a knock after back-to-back defeats in games they were favorites to win, they do not look that infallible now. Struggling to stretch Liverpool’s defense that has been known to be leaky and then throwing the chance to win the title versus United on the weekend having lead 2-0 when it could have been 5-0.
It is all quite simple for the Liverpool players. Pitch up mentally, execute the game plan which will include denying City the space they like in midfield and break with the deadly accuracy we have seen all season. No brain farts or red cards will also help. Do this and we will be booking a trip to the continent singing: “Allez, allez, allez…”  

PREVIEW: EVERTON V LIVERPOOL

How can you not be in love with this game. After one of the great Anfield nights against City, there is nothing like a Merseyside derby to keep the momentum going. Klopp’s mad reds make the one mile journey across Stanley Park to take on the Blue bits of Liverpool.

Everton come into this game off the back of being swept aside by champions elect Manchester City in their previous fixture. Sam Allardyce bizarrely thought Rooney could operate in a double pivot with Schneiderlin against one of the best midfields the league has ever seen. The fixture was over as a contest by the 12th minute. You would think Allardyce will not be as naive in the derby.

DXmXRXYW0AAR1ATWill Salah be available to lead the LFC attack in the derby or should he be rested?    (Source: @EmpreOfTheKop) 

The Toffees do have a chance though. It is reasonable to suggest that after Liverpool’s big effort and result in midweek, which gives them a “distraction” this coming week in Champions League and Chelsea barely hanging on in the race for a top four spot, there could be a gap for Everton to exploit, especially at home. This is also the final fixture of any meaning for them. They are comfortable in mid-table, 12 points off relegation in 9th place. They are also six and three points off Burnley and Leicester having played a game more, so possibly sneaking the last Europa League spot is also unlikely. Tomorrow is all they have left. So expect them to come all guns blazing.

Tosun, Bolasie and Walcott have shown bits of quality since coming into the squad this year, but Allardyce’s tactics makes it difficult for them to flourish beyond their current level. But if they try a cavalier attitude in attack they will expose the ageing legs of Rooney, Jagielka and Baines in defense. If they experience any joy in attack it will be through set-pieces and knocking the Reds off their stride, it is their only hope.   

Solanke-IngsDom Solanke or Danny Ings could fill in as Klopp looks to rotate, who will get the nod?    (Source: Daily Mirror) 

Liverpool, have a bit of a dilemma. After the exploits of Wednesday and a bit of an injury crisis, Klopp has to make a value judgement with his selection. Lallana, Gomez, Matip are not fit and Klavan has not played in months, leaving Van Dijk and Lovren the only fit senior centre backs. Salah pulled a groin muscle an hour into the game in midweek. Emre Can has gone from maybe missing the fixture against City to rumored to being out for the season. The Champions League tie is almost secured but so is the top four place and does that even matter in Klopp’s selections. Another factor to remember is that Everton scraped a result against Liverpool after Klopp rested key players in the league tie at Anfield. A game Liverpool should have won easily. So is it fair to say that big changes could still work for Liverpool and maybe then in turn not be such a big risk.

One can see Solanke or Ings coming in for Salah, Gini coming in for Ox or Milner, Clyne and Moreno coming in at the two fullback places. Ultimately, Klopp and his team has done such a fantastic job rotating and picking different horses for different courses that who ever pitches up on Saturday, we can say with confidence that Klopp will have the 11 and strategy to get a result against Everton.

DaGlfnjVwAMWl22The boss has some tinkering to do, but really, there is no one better would we trust with the task. (Source: @LFC)

This is an Everton side who at its core is not a very good side. Allardyce’s tactics are generally negative and this is a Liverpool side, who you cannot allow to just play. The Red’s need to pitch up mentally, keep their heads during the 90 minutes and play their game. If they do so, their quality will show and the one mile trip back across Stanley Park will include having to carry three more points.

4th April 2018: A Night To Remember

Incredible, spectacular, speechless, still can’t believe it and I’ve had the whole night to let it sink in. Probably similar to the majority of the fanbase, I was so nervous before the game, we are all aware of what Manchester City are capable of.

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Before continuing, I just want to make it absolutely clear that the attack and damage to the Man City bus before the game was bang out of order.  That is not a true representation of the LFC fan base. I hope the minority of individuals responsible feel ashamed and are dealt with lawfully.

READ MORE: Scintillating Liverpool carve Manchester City apart

Back to matters on the field, maybe I’m wrong, and someone will nudge my memory, but for the life of me, I can’t recall in recent history a performance as complete as that – Attack, Midfield, and Defence all 10/10. Fans of both teams and neutrals alike expected a lot of attacking flair and goals, but not many would’ve predicted that result or performance, we were simply sensational. Inside Anfield, it seemed the fans, players, and manager were all performing in perfect harmony.

I have to put my hands up and publically apologise. I wasn’t so sure about the signings of Ox, Robertson, and I even doubted whether or not Salah would be able to replicate his Roma form in England. I’m genuinely delighted to have been proven wrong, Salah has stolen all the headlines but to see Ox & Robertson flourishing demonstrates the knowledge Jurgen Klopp and his staff possess. I wonder how many managers globally would have given Ox the opportunity to play in a midfield three? 12 months ago, I definitely couldn’t see him playing in that position (for any club), let alone scoring an absolute screamer in a Champions League Quarter Final – I rate Ederson but even De Gea or Neuer wouldn’t have got anywhere near that.

We’ve all had our moments and a fair share of rants with Lovren, Karius, Henderson (in my opinion sometimes unjustifiably criticised), TAA and Milner, but you couldn’t pick a fault in any of them last night, they all performed. TAA put in one of the best individual performances I’ve seen this season, against, in my opinion, a future Ballon d’Or winner in Leroy Sane.

READ MORE: Q&A with Graeme Kelly

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Tactically, I believe Klopp made small significant changes in comparison to the previous thriller at Anfield in January. I saw us being even smarter (if possible) with our pressing, choosing moments and pockets to apply pressure rather than going full throttle from the whistle. We gassed out really badly in the last 10 mins back in January, if the game had continued for much longer City would’ve scored again and maybe even won the game. No such mistakes this time around, the movement & tempo was controlled throughout the 90 minutes, Firmino was special without doing anything special, and the midfield was disciplined. The first half is something I knew we are capable of, there was not much doubt about our attacking qualities but the second half, for me, was even more admirable. A defensive masterclass, something I haven’t seen in a decade from LFC in a big game, against a big opponent.

We lost to Man City 5-0 earlier on in the season, Sane scoring twice, Mane sent off. Fast forward to present time, we are still the only team to have scored three goals against Man City (twice now) this season, with one foot in the Champions League Semi-Finals, the highs and lows of the game – I simply love football.

P.S. Phil Coutinho anyone?

#WhatATimeToBeAlive

READ MORE: The fans voice: Gilly

Crystal Palace vs Liverpool : Review

              Liverpool claw back to clinch victory at Selhurst Park

Liverpool squared off against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the early lunchtime kickoff on Saturday. In what was Jurgen Klopp’s 100th game in charge of the reds, Mohammed Salah ensured the travelling Kop were left
ecstatic with his 85th minute winner. The winning goal saw Salah’s goal tally hit 37 for the season in all competitions.

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Mohammed Salah Nets 37th gol of the Season (LiverpoolFC.com)

Jurgen Klopp suffered his first defeat as the red’s coach at the hands ofthe eagles back in 2015. Additionally, the infamous 3-3 draw between these two sides towards the end of the 2013/14 season always looms over every time Liverpool play Palace at Selhurst park. However, this time around it was Liverpool who completed the comeback to snatch the three points and left Palace frustrated in their pursuit for survival in the Premier League. Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah netted second half goals after Milivojevic had put Palace ahead early in the first half. While
the referee, Neil Swarbrick, was in the spotlight as he decided not to show Sadio Mane a second yellow card for deliberate handball.

Wilfred Zaha was a threat from the start and often got the better of young Liverpool starlet Alexander-Arnold. Soon after kick off Zaha latched onto a header from Benteke and got to the ball first before being clattered by a
charging Karius. Neil Swarbrick wasn’t hesitant in awarding the penalty and Karius was lucky to escape with a yellow despite the Palace players appealing for a red. Milivojevic sent Karius the other way and slotted the
penalty into the bottom left corner giving Palace the lead. Sadio Mane equalised for Liverpool early into the second half. However, Mane was fortunate to remain on the pitch after he intentionally handled the ball
while having already been booked for diving in the first half. Needless to say Jurgen Klopp soon subbed off Sadio Mane in what was an odd
afternoon for the Senegalese star.

Christian Benteke, who has had a poor season with Palace so far, then wasted two amazing opportunities just minutes apart as he failed to put palace back in front after Mane’s equalizer. A failed lobbed attempt along with a shot over the bar left Benteke head in hands as he could’ve scored against his former club. Oxlade Chamberlain came on in the second half
and his cross in the 85th minute found Robertson. Andrew Robertson who had an impressive game squared the ball on the volley and found Salah who had no trouble slotting it past Wayne Hennessey in Palace goal.

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Andy Robertson celebrates with the travelling Kop after Salah’s winner. (LiverpoolFC.com)

Liverpool suffered a major casualty in what was a dirty win at Palace. Adam Lallana who came on as a second half sub suffered an injury as he went down holding his hamstring after an attempted tackle. A stretcher was called for. However, a devastated Lallana ended up hobbling off without the pitch and was replaced by Dejan Lovren. Based on initial
assessment the England international faces 5-6 weeks on the sideline as he now faces a battle against time to make it into Gareth Southgate’s
England squad, which will travel to Russia in the summer for the World Cup. This comes as heartbreaking news for Adam Lallana who has
already suffered from an injury stricken season for the reds and now faces the risk of missing out on appearing at what may potentially be his last World Cup with the Three Lions.

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Liverpool increased the pressure on Manchester United in the race for a 2nd place finish while also going 10 points clear of 5 th place Chelsea. On the other hand Crystal Palace remain in the fight to secure their place in
the Premiere League next season under ex-Liverpool coach Roy Hodgson. This win kicked off a season defining period for Klopp’s men
who face Guardiola’s Manchester City over two legs in the Champions League along with a trip to local rivals Everton. A busy 2 weeks to look
forward to for the Red Men indeed.

                                                        – Kaustubh Deshpande
31st March 2018