Author: Kaustubh Deshpande

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.

Scintillating Liverpool carve apart Manchester City!

On a night where Anfield hosted it’s first Champions league quarterfinal in nearly 10 years Liverpool came out on top as Klopp’s Men tore apart Guardiola’s Manchester city in the first 31 minutes. Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane all made the score sheet as Manchester City’s defense was left shattered in a brilliant display of counter attacking football from the home side.

Liverpool made couple of changes to their starting line-up, with Oxlade- Chamberlain coming in for Wijnaldum. While James Milner kept hold of his place in midfield in the continued absence of injured Emre Can. Virgil Van Dijk who missed the previous meeting between these two sides at Anfield was present in the backline alongside Lovren who replaced the injured Joel Matip. Guardiola had surprise package in his line-up as midfielder Ilkay Gundogan was given the nod ahead of ex-Liverpool player Raheem Sterling.

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The KOP was in full voice as the game kicked off on an evening, which promised an enthralling game of football. Manchester City were composed in the first 10 minutes and Leroy Sane came close to breaking through the Liverpool backline only to end up side netting the goal. Twelve minutes into the game James Milner released Salah down the right hand side who slotted in Firmino. Ederson blocked Firmino’s shot. However, Firmino was quick to slide the deflected shot in to the path of Salah who made no mistake in smashing into the back of the net leaving Vincent company and Ederson helpless on the Manchester City goal line.

After the first goal Manchester City’s shape began to deteriorate and Liverpool began finding space much easier through the City midfield. Gundogan was brought in to dominate the midfield, which was one area Manchester City fell short in the game back in January. However, Liverpool’s high press was too much for the City midfield to handle. City began pressing much higher as well exposing space at the back. Kyle Walker and Laporte were caught off position several times by Liverpool wide men Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah.

In the 20th minute a series of 50-50 challenges led to the ball eding up at the feet of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian and he put his laces through to strike the ball hard into the goal. Ederson was wrong footed and the ball was already into the net before Ederson was even in the air. Guradiola was in disbelief as he found his side 2-0 down within the first twenty minutes.

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Liverpool continued their high press and kept finding space in between the lines as Manchester were now sloppy in their play. Midfielders Gundogan and fernadinho gave away silly possession and it nearly cost city as Liverpool came close on the counter. In every situation Liverpool were quick to win the second ball, which proved to be crucial to the final result.

READ MORE: Q&A with Sam McGuire

Slightly after a third of the game had been played Salah had a shot deflected on Kyle Walker. Quickly recovering possession Salah lofted the ball towards Firmino and Sadio Mane who had made runs towards the City goal. Firmino missed but Sadio Mane was able to lad a sharp header which made it’s way into the goal putting the home side 3-0 up within the first 30 minutes.

Liverpool fans were treated to a different Liverpool side in the second half of the game. Neutrals watching the game may have been disappointed as they second half was lackluster. However, the Liverpool fans were surely please as they were able to see through a 3-0 game without conceding late on or giving away the lad as they have done several times in the past. Mohammed Salah suffered what appeared to be a groin injury and was taken off as a precaution. Georgino Wijanldum replaced the in-form Egyptian who went straight down the tunnel.

In the second half Liverpool’s now front two of Sadio Mane and firmino began dropping much deeper to support the midfield and defense which was on the receiving end of a series of attacking play from Manchester City who were looking for a way back into the game. Henderson and Milner ensured the Liverpool fullbacks; Andy Robertson and Trent alexander Arnold had enough cover to prevent any space opening up at the back.

With the derby in mind Jurgen Klopp made substitutions to much earlier than usual. Solanke replaced Roberto Firmino in the 70th minute. Additionally Alberto Moreno came on as well. Both these substitutions allowed Liverpool to strengthen up at the back while giving them a focal point for the counter attack in the form of Solanke. The game ended 3-0 in favor of the home side.

READ MORE: 4th April 2018: A Night to Remember

The night saw the Manchester city bus get attacked by Liverpool supporters. The club had to issue an apology immediately after the incident. Additionally, Jurgen noted in his post match notes that Salah was alright and that the substitution was precautionary.

Overall, Liverpool were able to keep a steady shape and see out the second half and after the final whistle the Anfield faithful were relieved to know that their side would be taking a 3-0 lead into the Etihad next week. Allez Allez Allez echoed into night!!

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Player ratings:-

Loris Karius (10/10) :- Karius was composed in goal and quick to release the ball to kickstart any potential counter attacks.

Alexander-Arnold (10/10) :- After taking some heavy criticism Alexander Aronold “Came Good” in this game, in the words or Rio Ferdinand.

Dejan Lovren (10/10) :- Lovren was up to the mark in the game and rarely made any mistakes.

Van Dijk (8/10) :- Virgil Van dijk carelessly gave away the ball a few times and was on the receiving end of some harsh words from captin Jordan Henderson during the game.

Andy Robertson (10/10) : – Andy Robertson once again proved how 8 million was a bargain deal as he completely dominated the left flank of the game.

Jordan Henderson (10/10 MOTM) :- Jordan Henderson was captain fantastic on the pitch and my Man of the Match. He was vocal and controlled the play in midfield. He also covered for Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold when city attempted a counter attack.

James Milner (10/10) :- James Milner brought all of his expericne to the field as he was a major physical presence on the field. The ex-manchester city star also bagged an assist as he played in the ball to Alex-Oxlade Chamberlan for his wonder strike.

Alex Oxlade- chamberlain (10/10) : – Chamberlain had an energetic evening and was high on the press from the start. Another amazing performance from the new signing, who has stepped up since the departure of Phillipe Coutinho.

Sadio Mane, Firmino and Salah (10/10) :- The front three were absolutely stellar and gave the city midfield and defense massive problems form the start. Additionally, all three of dropped back to help out when Manchester city were on the attack. It is no longer an understatement to say that Liverpool have the deadliest attack in Europe.

 

 

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