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L’Equipe’s player ratings tend to be notoriously harsh, and they came down heavily on some of Barcelona’s players after the Catalan giants lost 4-0 to Liverpool at Anfield last night.

The worst Barcelona players on the evening, according to L’Equipe were Luis Suarez (a former Liverpool player himself) and left back Jordi Alba, both of whom got a 2/10. A similar rating was given to Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, who was soundly criticised for his tactics after the game.

Lionel Messi (6) and Arturo Vidal (5) were the only outfield players to emerge with any credit for the Blaugrana.

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A game that could have a pivotal impact on the title race sees Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United square off against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. The Reds have a better record under the referee for this game, but United will be doing local rivals City a great favour if they can take points off the Reds in this GW27 clash.

Here are the predictions for the game from various well known TV pundits

Mark Lawrenson: Lawro says that the atmosphere at Old Trafford will be “white-hot” and that this is “one of Liverpool’s difficult league games between now and the end of the season”

Has predicted a 1-1 draw.

Paul Merson: Merson predicts a 2-1 win to United, saying that the “nerves of Liverpool will be too much”

Robbie Savage: Savage is another who has gone for the same scoreline as Merson- a 2-1 is his prediction as well.

Michael Owen & Kevin Kilbane: Ex-Liverpool striker Owen and former Everton medio Kilbane have both tipped this to end in a draw, but one in which both teams will score.

Bottom line: Few think Liverpool can win at Old Trafford this afternoon! Three points here would be a huge statement of intent from the Reds.

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The referee for Round 27’s marquee clash between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool has been announced, and it’s Michael Oliver.

The Reds have a very good recent record under him. Oliver last refereed a Liverpool game in December- the 5-1 win over Arsenal at Anfield. LFC are on a four game winning streak under him, and their last defeat with him in the middle came nearly two years ago, when Leicester beat them 3-1 at the end of the 2016/17 season.

Liverpool last four under Oliver

Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal
Huddersfield 0-1 Liverpool
Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool
Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool

Manchester United were on a three game losing streak under Oliver before they halted it with a 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff before Christmas, also Solskjaer’s first game as Red Devils interim manager after taking over from Jose Mourinho.

United have a win percentage of a little over 40% in Oliver games over the last decade or so. Their last win against a fellow top six side when Oliver was the ref came back in 2016.

This is the first time since January 2017 that Oliver is taking charge of a game between these two great North West rivals. That last clash (at Old Trafford) ended in a 1-1 draw.

United’s last four games under Oliver

Cardiff 1-5 Man Utd
West Ham 3-1 Man Utd
Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd
Man Utd 1-2 Man City

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Xherdan Shaqiri has been left out of Liverpoool’s squad to travel to Belgrade for their Champions League clash against Red Star. The versatile playmaker was not named in the 21 member team announced by the Reds, with Jurgen Klopp wary of a potentially harsh reception for the Swiss star, who has Kosovar-Albanian heritage, especially after his Double Eagle celebration at the World Cup earlier this summer in Russia. The Swiss came from behind to win 2-1 against the Serbs thanks to goals from Shaqiri and Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka.

Liverpool’s 21 member squad to travel to Belgrade for Red Star game:- Fabinho, Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Lovren, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Mane, Salah, Gomez, Alisson, Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Mignolet, Robertson, Origi, Solanke, Matip, Kelleher, Alexander-Arnold

Here is what manager Jurgen Klopp had to say on the matter.

We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions that would take focus away from a 90-minute-plus contest that is important for football and only football. So for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday

Red Star fans can be a passionate lot- the Serbian giants attracted a crowd of 49,112 for their 0-0 draw against Napoli earlier in the competition. They’re currently bottom of the group, while the Reds narrowly top it ahead of Paris SG and the Partenopei after three game weeks.

Liverpool beat Red Star 4-0 in MD3 thanks to a brace from Mo Salah and goals from his attacking partners Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

LFC drew 1-1 with Arsenal over the weekend, with Milner’s opener cancelled out by the Gunners’ French star Alexandre Lacazette.

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Stuart Attwell has been appointed as referee for Liverpool’s clash against Cardiff this weekend. The Bluebirds registered a much needed 4-2 win over Fulham at home last weekend, aided by some truly dire defending from the Cottagers. It was the first win of the season for Neil Warnock’s promoted team.

Attwell has been given the whistle for this one. He has refereed four Premier League games featuring Liverpool.

March 2010- Liverpool 4-1 Portsmouth
September 2010- Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland
February 2018- Liverpool 4-1 West Ham
April 2018- West Brom 2-2 Liverpool

Going by this 4-1 and 2-2 sequence, this weekend’s game is likely to end 4-1 in favour of Jurgen Klopp’s Reds!

Another interesting stat- Cardiff have not won in their last four games (all in the Championship) under Attwell.

Attwell’s assists for this LFC Cardiff clash will be Constantine Hatzidakis and Adrian Holmes, with Craig Pawson to serve as the fourth official at Anfield.

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Michael Oliver has been appointed as referee for Liverpool’s first game after the October international break- an away trip to the John Smith’s Stadium to take on Huddersfield Town.

The Reds have already played twice under Oliver this season in the league. Both were away fixtures- a 2-0 win at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace in Week 2, and a 2-1 win at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur in Week 5.

Huddersfield, by comparison, have struggled in recent games under Oliver. He reffed their 0-0 stalemate at home against Cardiff in Week 3, a fixture in which he sent off Jonathan Hogg. In Town’s last three games with Oliver in the middle, they’ve failed to score a single goal.

Will Michael Oliver again end up red carding a Huddersfield player?

Liverpool’s referee from their last game v City, Martin Atkinson, has been handed the reigns of the West Ham-Spurs game. Atkinson was also the ref for West Ham’s first game after the September international break (when they beat Everton 3-1)

Mike Dean will handle the weekend’s first kick off (Chelsea v Man Utd), while Man City’s home clash against Burnley will be reffed by Jonathan Moss.

Oliver will be assisted by Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett, with Simon Hooper to serve as the fourth official.

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Liverpool really did not have to get out of second gear as they managed an easy 3-0 win over Mark Hughes’ Southampton over the weekend- the scoreline a repeat of their win from last season.

The Reds tried out a 4-2-3-1 formation at the beginning of the game to accommodate Xherdan Shaqiri, but reverted back to the 4-3-3 that Klopp has generally favoured after the Swiss international’s withdrawal at half time.

The win also means that LFC are the only team in the league with a 100% record following Chelsea’s goalless stalemate at the London Stadium against Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham.

That Liverpool didn’t really hit their stride, but were also not posed any real problems, is shown in their ratings, with most players earning a 7 for their efforts at Anfield. Southampton took 90 minutes to register their first shot on target, and that was easily saved by Alisson.

Most of the papers, bar the Echo, thought that Virgil van Dijk was the best LFC backline player on show. They also agreed that Xherdan Shaqiri had an impressive full debut.

This was a relatively easy fixture in a tough schedule for the Reds- this Saints clash was preceded by their Champions League clash against PSG, and will be followed by back to back games against Chelsea (Cup & League) and a trip to Italy to take on Napoli.

LFC player ratings v Soton

PlayerStarEchoMailESPN
Alisson7667
TAA776.57
Matip9767
Van Dijk7688
Robertson776.57
Wijnaldum7767
Henderson766.57
Mane776.57
Shaqiri777.58
Firmino776.57
Salah8767
Milner7767
Gomez7768
Keita665.56
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Liverpool made it six wins in as many games as they brushed aside the challenge of Mark Hughes’ Southampton at Anfield on Saturday afternoon. For Saints, it was effectively a repeat of last season’s game, having lost 3-0 in 2017/18 as well. LFC had the game wrapped up by half time, and didn’t even have to get out of second gear- this was a pretty easy win for them despite Southampton’s best efforts.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp handed Joel Matip and Xherdan Shaqiri their first league starts of the season and opted for a change in formation to 4-2-3-1. This saw Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield, Salah as the sole striker upfront, Shaqiri effectively employed as a No.10, with Roberto Firmino on the left and Sadio Mane on the right.

The home side went ahead in the 10th minute. The ball from a corner fell to Mane, and his through pass found Shaqiri. The Swiss international’s attempt took deflections off Shane Long and Wesley Hoedt as Saints conceded a bizarre own goal.

In the 21st minute, a great challenge from Cedric prevented Mo Salah from making it 2-0. But Saints were caught out from the resulting corner, with Matip heading in Trent Alexander Arnold’s corner. Very poor defending from the visitors, especially from Jannik Vestergaard, who was beaten to the ball by Matip despite the latter being several inches shorter.

Salah’s quest for a goal saw him attempt an outrageous backheel in the 43rd minute after a swift counter attack. It didn’t come off, but the Egyptian did get himself on the score sheet in first half stoppage time. Xherdan Shaqiri’s beautiful free kick hit the bar, but Salah was quickest to follow up, and his goal effectively killed any hopes Saints might have had of making a match of this.

That was Shaqiri’s last contribution of the afternoon- he was taken off at half time for James Milner. Liverpool reverted to a 4-3-3 after Milner’s introduction, with Firmino again taking up a central role. Salah also found the back of the net late in the game, but it was disallowed as Liverpool did not add to their first half tally.

Southampton did get into the final third a fair bit with Nathan Redmond getting the better of Andy Robertson on the right, but Liverpool’s defenders were quick to snuff out any threat. With Ings unavailable for selection and Gabbiadini injured, Saints never really posed a threat to Alisson, and it took them 91 minutes to finally get a shot on target (from substitute Charlie Austin)

This was a game for which both Mark Lawrenson and Paul Merson both got their predictions right- the duo had backed LFC to win 3-0.

The only bit of concern for Liverpool fans would’ve been seeing Virgil van Dijk subbed off early in the second half, but Klopp assured that it was merely a precautionary measure and nothing serious.

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Liverpool face Leicester at the King Power Stadium this weekend in MD 4, a tricky test for Jurgen Klopp’s table toppers. Despite losing to Manchester United on the opening day of the season, Claude Puel’s Leicester bounced back with wins over Wolves and Southampton- victories that one might say to be a tad lucky given how well their opponents played. Nevertheless, with six points from 3 games, Leicester are 7th in the table going into Round 4.

Here is what the pundits say for Leicester vs Liverpool

Mark Lawrenson: Lawro reckons Liverpool will drop points this weekend and says this will end in a 1-1 draw. His celebrity opponent for this round, radio host Greg James, however thinks Liverpool will continue their 100% record and will win 2-0 at the King Power.

Paul Merson: Merson reckons that Jamie Vardy’s suspension is a massive blow to the Foxes’ chances of coming away with something from this game, and says he can’t see “anything but a Liverpool win”. Has gone for a 3-0 win to the Reds.

Michael Owen: Former Liverpool striker Owen also reckons Liverpool will win, but says Alisson will not keep a clean sheet. Liverpool are yet to concede a goal this season.

Lawrenson: LCFC 1-1 Liverpool
Merson: LCFC 0-3 Liverpool
James: LCFC 0-2 Liverpool
Owen: Liverpool to win, but Leicester will score

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After having been given a relatively easy draw last season (Sevilla, Spartak and Maribor), Liverpool have been placed in a virtual Group of Death for the 2018/19 Champions League group stages. The Reds have been drawn alongside PSG, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade in Group C.

Benfica’s win over PAOK last night pushed Liverpool to Pot 3- they would’ve been in Pot 2 and potentially got an easier draw if the Greek side had triumphed.

Red Star, former European champions, are taking part in the group stages of the modern Champions League for the first time in their history.

Liverpool’s last European games against Red Star and PSG were back in 1973 and 1997 respectively, while they last did battle against Napoli back in 2010 in the Europa League.

Last season’s winners Real Madrid have been given an easy draw, with Roma, Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow in their group.

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