Liverpool FC’s fixture list for 2018-19

Liverpool’s Premier League campaign for 2018-19 will get under way with a home fixture against West Ham United.

The Reds are set to kickstart their league season at Anfield for the first time since 2014-15 having been scheduled to face Manuel Pellegrini’s team on August 11.

Liverpool will host the first Merseyside derby of the season on December 1, with the return fixture at Everton’s Goodison Park slated for March 2.

Jürgen Klopp’s side will also take on their other great rivals Manchester United at home first, the Anfield edition of that fixture coming on December 15, with a trip to Old Trafford following on February 23.

Newcastle United are set to visit Anfield on Boxing Day, while the Reds will conclude their Premier League programme with a home clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on May 12.

August

11 – West Ham United (H)
18 – Crystal Palace (A)
25 – Brighton and Hove Albion (H)

September

1 – Leicester City (A)
15 – Tottenham Hotspur (A)
22 – Southampton (H)
29 – Chelsea (A)

October

6 – Manchester City (H)
20 – Huddersfield Town (A)
27 – Cardiff City (H)

November

3 – Arsenal (A)
10 – Fulham (H)
24 – Watford (A)

December

1 – Everton (H)
4 – Burnley (A)
8 – Bournemouth (A)
15 – Manchester United (H)
22 – Wolverhampton Wanderers (A)
26 – Newcastle United (H)
29 – Arsenal (H)

January

1 – Manchester City (A)
12 – Brighton and Hove Albion (A)
19 – Crystal Palace (H)
30 – Leicester City (H)

February

2 – West Ham United (A)
9 – Bournemouth (H)
23 – Manchester United (A)
27 – Watford (H)

March

2 – Everton (A)
9 – Burnley (H)
16 – Fulham (A)
30 – Tottenham Hotspur (H)

April

6 – Southampton (A)
13 – Chelsea (H)
20 – Cardiff City (A)
27 – Huddersfield Town (H)

May

4 – Newcastle United (A)
12 – Wolverhampton Wanderers (H)

Salah on course to score 35 league goals this season

At his current rate of 0.93 goals per Premier League game, Salah is on course to score 35 league goals this season. There is good reason to think that he might easily hit that target given Liverpool still have to play Bournemouth, Stoke City and Brighton at Anfield, and Crystal Palace and West Brom away from home.

Should Salah reach that figure of 35, it would be a landmark achievement. The Egyptian only needs four goals to surpass the highest ever goal total in a 38-game Premier League season, but 35 would make him the highest goalscorer in any English top-flight season since Ron Davies for Southampton in 1966/67.

A player signed as a wide forward has not just scored goals at a surprising rate, but a rate above anything we have seen in 50 years of English football.

Jurgen Klopp’s post-game summation of Salah understandably generated plenty of headlines:

“I think Mo is on the way. I don’t think Mo or anybody else wants to be compared with Lionel Messi – he is the one who has been doing what he’s been doing for what feels like 20 years or so. The last player I know who had the same influence on a team performance was Diego Maradona. But Mo is in a fantastic way, that’s for sure.”

You can’t really doubt that assessment, although Klopp knows as well as anyone that saying the M-word will inevitably lead to Messi comparisons. Salah has produced a ‘Messi season’, one in which everything he touches turns to gold and one in which at times he is simply unplayable. There is no possible defence for this.

To judge this success story, we have to look at where it came from. Salah’s fee looks remarkably cheap now, but there was a reason for it. He was a creator as much as a finisher, but also a player who was prone to inconsistency. Liverpool were not fighting off interest from dozens of other clubs.

“It’s a lot of money for Liverpool to buy a player, who, if everybody is fit, I don’t think starts,” said former Liverpool player (and now pundit) Steve Nicol, and it was hardly an outrageous suggestion at the time with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in place.

From that place of doubt, Salah has potentially made himself the best single-season goalscorer in the last 50 years of English football. Kevin de Bruyne might have been the Premier League’s best player and thus deserving of the PFA’s award, but Salah has produced the single most astonishing achievement of the season.

The all-time Premier League table

The Premier League celebrates its 25-year anniversary this summer and what a quarter-century of action it has been in the top flight, with six different champions, countless fortunes spent and a whopping 76 sides relegated.

But what would happen if all 25 Premier League seasons thus far were put together in one glorious table separating the greats from the greatest and the worse from the worst? Who’d take pole position, who’d be stuck at the bottom and who’d find a comfortable place somewhere in between?

Let’s take a look…

Bournemouth deserved their win over Liverpool

Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, showed true class by praising Bournemouth following their victory over Liverpool.

After the match Klopp could be seen congratulating the Bournemouth coaching staff and players. He was full of praise for the tenacity shown by the Cherries, and thought the win was completely deserved.

“I think for a long part of the game we were the better side and we would have deserved to win, but in the decisive moment we gave the game away to Bournemouth. We opened the door and they ran through with all their heads.”

Losing a game that your side led twice by two goals is not a good feeling, but Klopp saw what all of us saw: a side that just wasn’t playing, first at 2-0 up, and again at 3-1 up. Even before our opening scores, he wasn’t happy with the passing and movement of the squad, but he thinks this could prove an important lesson going forward.

“Of course it can [help]. No way is without rocks and stones. All the time you have to jump over hurdles and things like this. I didn’t need this today. But now we have it and we strike back.”

A big part of Jürgen’s personality is his deep love for football. You might even call him a football romantic. This was what led him to take the reins of Liverpool, and today, to appreciate what Bournemouth did to his side in the closing stages of the match.

“Oh, I like these stories in football. I like it more when I’m involved in the positive side, and I even can respect it when I’m involved on the other side. Jordan Ibe as a little bit of the game changer. When he came in he did really well. He’s still a little bit our boy even if he’s a Bournemouth player now. Of course I can give credit for it, that’s not problem.”

Very classy from the Liverpool boss. I certainly think that Liverpool have no reason to panic after seeing their 15-game unbeaten run end at Bournemouth – the key is the work done on the training ground this week.

Man United break another record… their squad is worth 100% more than Liverpool’s

CIES Football Observatory revealing that they have the most valuable squad of players in world football.

cies-football-squads

As their research into Europe’s top five leagues shows, Man United’s first-team squad cost €718m (£628m) to assemble, putting them ahead of Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Interestingly, Liverpool’s €356m (£311m) is less than half of Man United’s outlay, while title-winning Leicester have a squad worth just 18% of the Manchester rivals’ ranks.

Liverpool FC: Rodgers refuses to blame players after shock defeat

Liverpool Boss Brendan Rodgers avoided blaming his players after their home Premier League defeat to West Brom.

The Reds dominated the vast majority of the tie at Anfield, but slipped to a shock 2-0 loss when Gareth McAuley and Romelu Lukaku found the net late after skipper Steven Gerrard failed to convert from a spot kick in the final quarter.

Rodgers admitted his disappointment following the defeat but insisted he could not fault the efforts of his players.

“These players always react very well. They were very disappointed, like we all were, last night because we wanted to make our home form better in the league.  That’s something we’d done, especially of late. We entered into the game against West Brom with the best defensive home record in the league, so that shows the mark of improvement we were making as a group.  It’s something that left the players disappointed, but they will react in the right manner. They’re good guys here, they want to work well and they’re very good at moving on. That’s something we’ll have to do if we want to progress.”

Liverpool are now down to ninth spot in the table, a gaping 12 points adrift from fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. With 12 matches remaining do you think the Reds will climb back to finish fourth in the table ?

Liverpool FC: Liverpool smash Norwich 5-0

Liverpool 5-0 Norwich

The Reds got back to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League after a thumping 5-0 win over Norwich City at Anfield on Saturday afternoon. Jordan Henderson’s 26th minute strike gave Liverpool the early lead before a well-worked move saw Luis Suarez double the advantage nine minutes before the break. £12million signing Daniel Sturridge found the net after the break and became the first Liverpool player since Ray Kennedy in 1974 to score in his first three matches. Steven Gerrard and a Ryan Bennett own goal made it a comfortable 5-0 victory.

Boss Brendan Rodgers was pleased to see the exiting partnership between forwards Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and now believes the Reds have the front two capable of striking fear into any Barclays Premier League defence:

“They linked very, very well.  Luis has done what he’s done for us all season. He’s 100 per cent every game.  They are both players who are not just static. Daniel’s got pace and power but he’s also clever.  That was important for us today.  It gives the opponent someone else to really worry about.  Suarez has been incredible for us this season and has had some young players up there with him, but we’ve now got a recognized goalscorer up beside him.  If you look at the movements between the two of them.  The second goal was a wonderful demonstration of how good players can link together.”

What did you think of the match?

Look how wrong I was over Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola 1

Yesterday I predicted that Pep Guardiola was going to join Man City.  I thought my views were well informed given his recent comments about wanting to manage in England, and having looked at the likely clubs in the Premiership I was pretty pleased with my analysis.

Last night I got home from work to hear that Guardiola is confirmed as Bayern Munich boss –

The former Barcelona coach, who is on a year-long sabbatical in Manhattan after leaving Camp Nou last summer, has agreed a three-year deal with the Bundesliga club and will replace Jupp Heynckes on 1 July.

The Catalan will become the highest-earning manager in the club’s history – it has been mooted that he struck a separate sponsorship deal with Adidas, Bayern’s kit supplier – at around €10m (£8.3m) a year, a figure he might have eclipsed at any of his other suitors, with Chelsea having made their admiration clear last March and in the summer.

Yet Guardiola appears to have been attracted by the similarities between Bayern and Barça, both of whom thrive essentially on bringing players through their youth system and relying on their managers to oversee the first-team set-up, with others charged with recruitment.

The deal with Bayern was signed before Christmas and confirmed on Wednesday.  Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the Bayern Munich CEO said:

“Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world.  We are sure that he can make not just Bayern but all of German football shine. We are very pleased that we have managed to convince someone who was coveted and contacted by many top clubs to come to Bayern.”

Heynckes, who had steered Bayern to a nine-point lead in the Bundesliga at the start of the winter break – in his third spell at the club – had already indicated his intention to retire when his contract expires on 30 June.  Uli Hoeness the Bayern Munich chairman said:

“Only someone of the calibre of coach Pep Guardiola could be considered an adequate replacement for Jupp Heynckes”

Pep Guardiola to join Man City

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola seems to be closer to a decision as he expressed a strong interest coaching in the Premiership after his New York sabbatical is over. He is London attending the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.  Having done a little bit of reading around it seems most likely that Guardiola will land at Man City for several reasons.

  • Aitor ‘Txiki’ Begiristain is Man City’s recently hired Director of Football was responsible in 2008 for promoting the then unknown Guardiola, the coach of their B team, as Frank Rijkaard’s successor.
  • Man City’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, was Barca’s CFO during Guardiola’s tenure.
  • Mancini has struggled with success in Europe despite spending millions and I can’t see City’s owners continuing with him beyond this season bar a miracle taking place.
  • Man City also have one of the best youth academies in the country, having produced more professionals than any other Premiership side including a number of internationals.  Guardiola is obvious very passionate about youth development having handed Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Jeffren, and Thiago Alcantara their Barcelona debuts after nurturing their careers in the B side.

Chelsea don’t have the reputation for Guardiola – they don’t focus on nurturing and looking after players – instead they are clearly run by the whims of Abramovich as owner, just look at the purchases of Andrey Shevchenko and Fernando Torres, the loss of Didier Drogba, the likely loss of Frank Lampard, and the revolving door that the coaching staff seem to go around.  I see it much more likely that Jose Mourinho and Abramovich repair their relationship and he makes a return to the EPL.

Sir Alex Ferguson is the problem for Guardiola to take on the role at Man Utd.  He isn’t looking like leaving soon unless he has a sudden change of heart or he decides his health is more important which from all his statements seems highly unlikely – and given his high level of success the Glaziers are unlikely to dispatch of Ferguson.

Given Guardiola has a clear preference for the English Premier League I believe that PSG and Bayern Munich are out of the running, which only leaves the dark horse of Arsenal.  He could be brilliant for the club, but I’m not sure the club’s board have got the imagination to walk away from Arsene Wenger and to engage with another brilliant tactician – although this season’s results so far could move this up their agenda.