After a much deserved break in Marbella, Liverpool are straight back in to the pressure cooker with the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 clash with Bayern Munich setting the stage for yet another one of those famous European nights at Anfield.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp knows a thing or two about the Bavarians having supplanted them — if only for a short while — as the dominant force in the Bundesliga during his time with Borussia Dortmund, but the German manager also knows the sting of losing out to “Hollywood FC” having come up just short when these two bitter rivals squared off in the 2013 final.
It goes without saying that there’s no easy fixtures at this stage in the game, but knowing full well the threat the visitors pose, we need to be worried about our game more than theirs.
Klopp and Henderson's Champions League press conference | Bayern Munich - YouTube
Video courtesy of Liverpool FC
“It’s always a big thing in these games that you show exactly the right amount of respect and not more. That’s what we will do. We have to play our game,” stressed Klopp, sounding just confident enough. “We all know the positive [things] I say about Bayern, I could say much more positive about us because I know us better,” mused the gaffer. “[We need] the right amount of respect, not a little bit more, and showing we are at home. I’m really looking forward to it.”
And though the race for the Premier League title remains the real focus of Liverpool supporters around the world, it’s safe to say they’re looking forward to it too — if there’s one thing that Anfield does absolutely right every time, it’s big European nights and they don’t come much bigger than the five time champions.
“We talked a lot about the power of Anfield and it’s the truth, but we don’t take it for granted, we have to create it anew every time,” explained Klopp. “If anybody ever asked about the influence of a crowd, in these games everybody experienced it in specific moments. It’s like pushing us from 100 per cent to 150 per cent,” added the manager, ready to make some memories. “If that’s possible, I think the crowd should give it a try.”
Knowing full well that Liverpool’s defensive lynchpin Virgil van Dijk will sit out the first leg of their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich through suspension, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has been forced to consider who will partner their one fit centre-back in Joel Matip when the Bavarians roll in to town.
Joe Gomez, who underwent a successful operation on a leg fracture earlier in the month, is out of the question and Dejan Lovren is likely to watch from the sidelines come Tuesday evening as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
“I don’t want to rule it out but I cannot really plan with it,” said Klopp, refusing to rule Lovren out completely. “If Dejan gives a sign on Monday – ‘I feel brilliant’ – then we’d have to think anew,” continued the German manager, hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. “But in the moment we prepare the game and in this preparation Dejan is not involved. We have to find other solutions.”
Someone has to partner Matip and if Lovren isn’t available that responsibility will likely fall squarely at the feet of Fabinho. There’s also been suggestions that club captain Jordan Henderson could be tasked to fill in, but the logical signs point to the big Brazilian stepping in in to role again.
Fabinho, as you know, has filled this role for us before and has done quite well, but he’s had the calming presence of van Dijk to guide him along — a luxury he won’t have this time around. Regardless of who is drafted in, Bayern will almost surely target them as the weak point. The German giants are a handful at the best of times, but with a chink in our armor this large, the boys are going to need the crowd to get behind them in a big way.
“Last year, I can remember about the semi-finals that they played against us, it was difficult. It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” said Liverpool ‘keeper Alisson, speaking about his experience coming to Anfield with AS Roma last season. “We players, we want a team that wants you, a team with quality with a good manager and with great supporters,” added the Brazilian. “The supporters are a great part of this team. They cannot go to the pitch and play but… they can do something to move us, to charge us to do something more on the pitch.”
After initially struggling for game time following his £43mil move from French side AS Monaco over the summer, Liverpool midfielder Fabinho has both settled in to life on Merseyside and found his place within the Reds title challenging squad.
The 25-year old has proved that he’s more than just a shield for the defense by showing that he’s not only strong in the tackle, but that he’s got a range of passing that’s crucial for the high octane brand of football employed by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp — skills that the German manager may not have seen right off the hop.
“I am happy. I still have things to improve but I am happy overall with my performances,” explained the Brazilian. “I am up to the speed of the Premier League and that was what I was looking for. I think if it was up to me I would have been playing from the beginning,” mused the former Monaco man. “Maybe Jurgen could see something I couldn’t see, so not just conversations with him but all the staff helped me.”
It might have taken a bit for Fabinho to get in the squad, but Klopp has proven time and again that he knows best when it comes to his new signings and when they’re ready to play.
Playing for the German manager holds a distinct appeal to footballers around the world and that’s helped him both at his old club Borussia Dortmund and since he’s made the move to Merseyside. That being said, it’s not always easy to attract the best talent, but when you’ve got stars like Sadio Mane and Naby Keita urging you to come to Anfield — like they have with highly coveted RB Leipzig attacker Timo Werner — you give it some serious thought.
“We played really well together at Leipzig and he was one of my best mates,” said Keita, speaking to German media outlet Sport Bild. “It’s clear, should he move, then I ask Timo to join us here at Liverpool,” added the Guinean midfielder, whose admiration for the 22-year old forward was echoed by Mane. “I’d advise him to join Liverpool. I like his style of play. Very forceful, good finisher, always giving it 100%,” explained the Senegalese striker. “If he wants to join us, we’d welcome him to our team.”
After putting three unanswered goals past AFC Bournemouth on Saturday, Liverpool are set to enjoy a bit of a break with their next outing the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie with Bayern Munich on Merseyside a week from today.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has been a big proponent of warm weather training since he took the reigns at Anfield and he’s seized the opportunity to get the squad a little sunshine ahead of their showdown with the German giants by jetting them off to Marbella, Spain.
While the rest of the boys enjoy a break from winter, there’s two noticeable absentees from the team that headed for the continent yesterday with defensive duo Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez missing out — something that the gaffer isn’t too pleased about.
“Dejan is not here and Joe [Gomez] is not here,” said Klopp. “That’s never a good sign, I would say, but we will try everything to make Dejan available for Munich. It will be a tight race,” explained the German manager. “For him, it makes sense in the moment to be in another place to do what he has to do. It wouldn’t have helped if he was here, so we will try everything – that’s clear.”
The Croatian defender has been out of action since picking up a hamstring injury in the FA Cup exit to Wolverhampton Wanderers back in January and this latest setback looks to be leading to a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
Although it didn’t really look like it against Bournemouth, injuries are starting to take their toll on the squad and while the rest of the team trained midfield trio James Milner, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum were missing — though, thankfully, they’re all expected to return to full training shortly.
“It’s how it is after games, you have a couple of problems,” mused Klopp, speaking to the club’s official website. “Millie and Gini still struggle with their illnesses, so they did a bit of work in the hotel. Fabinho felt [something] a little bit; it will not be a problem, but there was no reason for him to be out today,” added the boss. “Hopefully he can train tomorrow and if not then the day after that. None of them are serious, all will be fine.”
Manchester City reclaimed top spot in the Premier League with a midweek win over Everton, but Liverpool hold a game in hand and can go three-points clear if they’re able to get past AFC Bournemouth at Anfield this weekend.
For all the talk of pressure, things are going pretty well; if you were offered this position at the start of the season, you would have taken it with absolutely no questions asked.
Back to back draws took a bit of the wind out of our sails, but we’ve got a perfect chance to get back on track when the Cherries roll in to town. Eddie Howe’s side have lost seven Premier League away games in a row and come up against a Reds side that are not only holding on to a consecutive run of 33 home Premier League matches without defeat, but they’ve never lost to Bournemouth at home.
“If they have bad moments in a season or periods, they always come back,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, not concerning himself with records and stats. “On one hand, they’re always a threat for counter-attacks, they play football. On the other hand, they use the time without playing European football for set-pieces, they are always creative in that,” explained the gaffer, full of praise for the South Coast side. “Preparation for Bournemouth is always difficult. But we still try to do it and in this moment I think we are ready for it.”
After missing out in the 1-1 draw at the London Stadium, midfield duo Jordan Henderson and Geoginio Wijnaldum are back in the mix and they’ll be joined by Trent Alexander-Arnold after all three rejoined full training earlier in the week.
Getting the goals flowing again will be key for the Merseysiders and though Sadio Mane has been the main man as of late, Mohamed Salah’s five goals in a mere three league appearances against Cherries will mark him out as the danger man.
The visitors will be without in demand striker Callum Wilson, but they’ll be able to call on former Liverpool man Dominic Solanke who will be returning to Anfield for the first time since making the switch last month. The youngster will be one to keep an eye on, but the Liverpool defense will have to keep Josh King under wraps with the striker bagging three goals in his last three Premier League outings.
Key midfield man David Brooks is still sidelined and will miss the trip up North, but Howe could have fellow midfielder Jefferson Lerma back in the frame if he comes through a late fitness test. Another familiar face will be in the stands in on-loan Reds fullback Nathaniel Clyne, but the veteran defender is ineligible to play against his parent club.
To be fair, with the title race as tight as it’s ever been, anything but a win could prove to be a massive problem for Klopp and the boys — that being said, battling for top spot is a good problem to have. Long may it continue…
What has happened to the old Liverpool who plundered four goals against Newcastle or five goals against Arsenal?
Liverpool have disappointingly drawn their last two Premier League matches but the match before that showed the true Liverpool.
The 4-3 victory over Crystal Palace was an exciting and enthralling spectacle. One that saw Jurgen Klopp’s side play with the handbrake down, fast flowing attacking football and most importantly, scoring lots of goals!
That’s the Liverpool we NEED to see this weekend against Bournemouth at Anfield.
In fact, it is almost imperative Liverpool don’t play cautious defensive football but play more aggressive and on the front foot. They need to scare their opponents and play fast flowing which will pressure Eddie Howe’s team into mistakes.
Aim for a Clean Sheet and Cut Out Defensive Errors
Goalkeeper Alisson, hasn’t kept a clean sheet since the 1-0 win against Brighton and only one in 2019. This has to be reversed if Liverpool are to win the Premiership title.
Virgil Van Dijk and his defence need to cut out the stupid fowls that cost Liverpool possession, conceded free kicks in dangerous positions and ultimately led to their opponents capitalising and scoring.
Liverpool need maximum concentration against Bournemouth, and particularly against Manchester United at Old Trafford. These are now MUST WIN matches.
The Midfield Fluency
There’s been no fluency or bite in the Liverpool midfield.
It’s about time they axed Naby Keita for his poor showings of fowls and misplaced passes. Why Klopp decided to play a partially fit Adam Lallana from the start against West Ham, no one knows.
Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum should start against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Lining Up in Defence
The constant shift of midfielders playing in defence due to the injury crisis, lack of depth and foolish decision to send Nathaniel Clyne, to the very opponents of this weekend, means a makeshift defence.
Joel Matip or Fabinho could fill in at full back with first choice centre-half pairing of Virgil Van Dijk and Dejan Lovren making up the defensive unit.
Impact from the Bench
Shaqiri coming on as an impact player is crucial and why not throw Ki Jan-Hoever into the mix as well?
The Frontline MUST Impress and create chances
Sadio Mane has scored in his last three matches so that’s not a concern.
However, Firmino has been awful lately. Klopp is likely to keep him in attack but he must perform this weekend.
Mo Salah has been quite in the last two matches. If he plays well, Liverpool play well.
If an icy pitch was the excuse against Leicester City then there can be no excuses for the incredibly poor performance against West Ham on Monday.
The attacking trident need to score goals this Saturday and show Bournemouth how good Liverpool can be!
Manager Jurgen Klopp needs to drill it into his players from the beginning that this match is vital to the club!
They have to win to preserve the three point lead they potentially have on Manchester City.
And win to go top again, and shut the press up who have criticised Liverpool for drawing but when Man City lose to Newcastle last week, no-one says anything!
The media has been pro Manchester City who have bought glory, bought the Premiership when Liverpool haven’t won it for so long. Plus Man City have been highly ordinary and certainly beatable.
Getting the Fans Back on Side
Klopp needs to inspire his team as to how important this is to the club and the fans.
The team has majorly let the fans down in the last two matches. They need to make amends both against Bournemouth and against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The thought of winning the Premiership title and ending Liverpool’s long wait, should be motivation in itself.
Whilst, Man City’s wins against an awful Arsenal team and a half-hearted Everton, who seemed happy to let Man City win to climb above Liverpool on goal difference, is all the motivation they need to win!
The first 20 minutes is crucial. If Liverpool go in at half time 0-0 or 1-0, the fans will get anxious and will get on their back.
Liverpool need to score twice in the first 30 minutes or at least the first half to ease the pressure.
They can then build a platform from this to score more goals in the second half.
Liverpool haven’t scored in the second half in their previous two matches, both draws. They need much more attacking urgency this weekend to finally turn their form around.
With Liverpool’s round of sixteen Champions League showdown with German giants Bayern Munich looming just around the corner, earlier today the Reds submitted their squad for the knock-out stages and there is one name in particular included on the team sheet that caught the eye.
Ok, maybe there’s two names with the surprise addition of 17-year old Dutch defender Ki-Jana Hoever, but it was the inclusion of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that really stirred up conversation. The midfielder, who has been out with a serious knee injury since last spring, is on the road to recovery and despite being ruled out for the season is expected to hit the pitch in some capacity for the Anfield outfit before the close of the campaign.
His bullish attitude and ability to drive at the defense has been missed as of late with Liverpool settling in to a bit of a slump — and giving up ground in the title race — following draws with Leicester City and West Ham United.
Having Chambo included in the Champions League squad doesn’t help us right now, but it is a bright spot in a week that’s thus far been filled with some less than positive news.
Club captain Jordan Henderson and midfield linchpin Georginio Wijnaldum both missed the draw with the Hammers last night through injury and there’s really no indication when they’ll be back. Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, speaking to the press following the final whistle, said the situation was “not cool” and refused to speculate whether they’d be fit enough to face AFC Bournemouth at the weekend.
To go from bad to worse, the club has confirmed that defender Joe Gomez, who was expected back late last month after fracturing his leg in the win over Burnley in December, has undergone surgery in an attempt to speed up his recovery.
The 21-year old, who established himself as the first choice partner for Virgil van Dijk with some impressive performances earlier in the season, has been plagued by injuries since joining the Reds under previous boss Brendan Rodgers and he aired his frustrations on social media yesterday.
Was it two points dropped or a good point gained? That’s the question for Liverpool supporters the world ’round coming out of a 1-1 draw with Leicester City on Wednesday that in a lot of ways feels more like an opportunity squandered rather than a decent outing against a dangerous team.
Was it two points dropped, or a good point gained? That’s the question for Liverpool supporters the world ’round coming out of a 1-1 draw with Leicester City on Wednesday that in a lot of ways feels more like an opportunity squandered rather than a decent outing against a dangerous team.
As you already know, football isn’t the most forgiving sport.
If nothing else, hopefully the few brave punters out there that took a shot in the dark backing relegation threatened Newcastle United to beat defending champions Manchester City earlier in the week took advantage of some of the amazing promotions on offer by the bookies to give their winnings a healthy bump. It’s a nice thought, but it’s not one that’ll help us when the points are tallied up in May.
Sitting top of the table heading in to February isn’t anything to complain about but missing out on the chance to go seven points clear leaves a sour taste in the mouth regardless of the circumstances.
“I don’t see it like this, that we dropped points,” said Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, taking an altogether different view. “We take what we get – tonight it’s a point and that’s more than we had before the game,” continued the German manager, keen to move on and regain focus. “Am I overly happy? No, of course not, we wanted to win the game, but we knew before it would be really difficult.”
Let’s be honest here: Klopp knows more about football and setting expectations than the rest of us and in more ways than one, he’s absolutely spot-on with his assessment
Although the Foxes may be floundering mid-table, they’ve been bane of the top-four this season with wins over City and Chelsea propping up what’s been a relatively poor season under Claude Puel. Add a credible draw at Anfield to the mix and things look better for the Frenchman, but he can count himself lucky that Harry Maguire — who scored their equalizer just before the break — was only shown a yellow despite being the last man when he fouled Sadio Mane as he looked to run clear through on goal from about 40-yards out.
That, of course, wasn’t the only time that referee Martin Atkinson took a skewed view of the rules with Naby Keita unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when the Guinean midfielder had his foot unceremoniously stood on by Leicester full-back Ricardo Pereira.
“What was missing? A bit of luck I think, a bit of extra edge maybe that we sometimes have a little bit more of,” mused Reds defender Virgil van Dijk, speaking to the club’s official website following the final whistle. “There are a lot of circumstances that played a part.”
We knew there’d be days like these; there’s nothing easy about winning a title anywhere in Europe and that’s especially true in England where the competition is so strong. With fourteen matches left on the calendar, there’s almost certainly more twists and turns to come — for us and for the chasing pack — but we have to remember where we were and how far we’ve really come.
Sure, it’s an easy line to trot out and it doesn’t take away from the fact that we missed a trick against the Foxes, but heading in to February, we’ve got a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League having lost only a single match along the way. For a team that traditionally does things the hard way, we’re blazing a relatively easy path.
If that’s not a good enough reason to believe, you may want to give up looking — you’re not going to find one.
It’s another match an inevitably another cup final for Liverpool as the Reds look to keep the pace in the title race by bouncing back from a somewhat disappointing draw with Leicester City when they travel to the capital tomorrow.
Punters will put the safe money on the visitors coming out on top with West Ham United winless in their last four meetings with the Merseysiders, but this offer from Pinnacle could entice a few to have a flutter on the Hammers causing an upset at the London Stadium.
It’s all well and good for us to sit here and say that Liverpool need to put Manchester City — who easily dispatched Arsenal on Sunday to keep within touching distance of the top — out of our minds, but that’s all easier said than done.
“Will there be nervous moments? Yes, for sure,” stressed Reds boss Jurgen Klopp. “Don’t make them bigger than they are because there were nervous situations last year, two years ago, three years ago,” continued the gaffer. “That is part of the game of the football game,” added the boss, a man who knows a thing or two about this racket. “People are in a little bit of doubt about this and that, I understand yes, but people understand in general, outstanding support 100 per cent.”
All we can do is focus on us and winning our games and that’s exactly what we’ll do tomorrow. James Milner, who missed the draw with the Foxes through suspension, is expected to return to the starting eleven as a make-shift fullback in place of the still recovering Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho, who watched from the bench, could be brought in to add some steel to the midfield.
West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini will not only be hoping to avoid a repeat of the 4-0 thrashing Liverpool handed out at Anfield back in August, he’ll be looking to snag some points — if not to help his old pals at City close the gap, then to keep his own team inching towards the top half of the table.
With 14-matches left to play, the Irons are well clear of the relegation zone, but considering the money spent by the Chilean both the board and the fans will be expecting a better finish to the season. The news that star striker Marko Arnautovic could play a part comes as a boost for the veteran manager, but the return of first choice shot-stopper Lukasz Fabianski between the sticks could prove to be far more important.
The Reds, as you well know, love to score some goals and Mohamed Salah in particular loves one against West Ham with the Egyptian bagging three goals in his last four meetings the boys from the capital. That being said, we really only need one to get out of London with the points.
And that’s all that matters — another notch in the win column, three more points to keep City at a distance and a few days closer to May and the promise of what comes with it.