Liverpool FC seal spot in 2018-19 Champions League

Liverpool tied up qualification for the 2018-19 Champions League with a 4-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

The Reds claimed fourth place in the Premier League on the final day of the season through goals from Mohamed Salah, Dejan Lovren, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson.

Jürgen Klopp’s team will therefore go straight into the group stage of next term’s edition of Europe’s elite club competition.

Liverpool are set to contest the final of this season’s tournament against Real Madrid in Kiev on Saturday May 26.

Mohamed Salah takes top prizes at LFC Players’ Awards

Mohamed Salah was named Liverpool’s star man for the season as the achievements of the first team, Academy, Ladies, legends and fans were celebrated at the 2018 LFC Players’ Awards on Thursday night.

The No.11, who has so far scored 43 goals in 50 appearances since joining the club last summer, was voted Player of the Season by both the fans – in an online vote on Liverpoolfc.com – and by his teammates at Melwood.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the man who has played the most matches in the club’s history, Ian Callaghan, while the 1978 European Cup-winning Reds side were acknowledged with the Outstanding Team Achievement Award on the 40th anniversary of their triumph over FC Bruges at Wembley.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s excellent season, which has included 11 games and two goals throughout the Reds’ run to the Champions League final, was rewarded with the Young Player of the Season accolade, and Harry Wilson claimed the Academy Player of the Season honour.

Goal of the Season – shortlisted by supporters and decided by an LFC panel – went to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the midfielder’s stunning long-range blast during the European win against Manchester City at Anfield in April.

Gemma Bonner and Sophie Ingle were presented with the Ladies Player of the Season and Ladies Players’ Player of the Season awards respectively.

And there were special accolades for the Fans Supporting Foodbanks initiative, in the form of the Bill Shankly Community Award, and New South Wales as the official Supporters’ Club of the Season.

2018 LFC Players’ Awards winners

Player of the Season: Mohamed Salah
Players’ Player of the Season: Mohamed Salah
Ladies Player of the Season: Gemma Bonner
Ladies Players’ Player of the Season: Sophie Ingle
Young Player of the Season: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Academy Player of the Season: Harry Wilson
Goal of the Season: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain v Manchester City (April 4)
Bill Shankly Community Award: Fans Supporting Foodbanks
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ian Callaghan
Outstanding Team Achievement Award: 1978 European Cup-winning team
Supporters’ Club of the Season: New South Wales

Steven Gerrard labelled Salah ‘the best player on the planet right now’

Steven Gerrard labelled Mohamed Salah ‘the best player on the planet right now’ after the Liverpool forward inspired a 5-2 win against AS Roma.

The Egyptian was the architect of his former club’s downfall in Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield, opening up a two-goal lead before the interval with a trademark curled finish and a calm dink.

Salah – who now has 43 for the season, four short of Ian Rush’s club-record 47 – then set up strikes for Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino as the Reds took control of the tie ahead of next week’s return in Rome.

And Gerrard, who was Liverpool’s talisman in the run to European Cup glory in 2005, was impressed enough to argue that nobody in world football can currently match the No.11:

“He is in the form of his life.  It’s difficult to compare him to [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi because they have done it for so long and they have been consistent year in, year out. But without a shadow of a doubt he’s the best player on the planet right now.”

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.

Liverpool draw Manchester City in the Champions League Quarterfinals

Liverpool have been drawn to face Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Jürgen Klopp’s side will take on the fellow Premier League club over two legs next month, having progressed to the last eight with a 5-0 aggregate victory over FC Porto.

The first leg of the tie will take place at Anfield on Wednesday April 4, with the return meeting at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday April 10.  Click here to view an updated fixture list.

The teams have met twice already this season in league football, each winning on home soil, with the Reds 4-3 victors over Pep Guardiola’s men in January.

Elsewhere in the draw, FC Barcelona will face AS Roma, Sevilla take on Bayern Munich, and Juventus meet Real Madrid.

Klopp said:

“I’ve said it before and it’s still the truth, it’s always common in a draw that you’ll get your neighbour, more or less, but to be honest I don’t mind, really.

 

“It is exactly like it was before – we take what we’ve got. Now it’s Manchester City, let’s go.

 

“We’ve lost once and we’ve won once against them in the league – and I don’t think they thought before the best draw they could have got is Liverpool. That’s a sign for us and how strong we can be.

 

“We are for sure not the favourites in this round, but in the last eight there are not a lot of favourites – maybe two of them, Bayern and Barcelona – but thank God it’s football and nothing is decided.

 

“We have a few games to play until then, but I am really looking forward to it and we will give it everything.”

Just six days separate the two legs, and Klopp doesn’t feel hosting the first game will make too much difference to the final outcome of the tie.  He said:

“In this case, it’s not too important. For us, it’s completely normal. We can get a result at home for sure, but it’s obviously a difficult game – but good news for both teams.

 

“It is like it should be in the last eight. It was clear we would face a strong team. Now we have Man City. The good thing is they are the team we know most about. It’s not too cool for England because now only one team can go to the semis. But we will try everything.”

Klopp: We have to respond, 100 per cent

Liverpool entered Saturday’s match against Manchester United as the Premier League’s in-form side, having outperformed Manchester City in 2018 and looking likely to finish next best to them in the final table. They left it looking rather shakier.

They’re down to fourth in the table, five points behind United in second, and looked largely ineffective on Saturday against their rivals. It’s left manager Jürgen Klopp in a rather annoyed mood, eager for the chance to show his side can bounce back.

Klopp told the club’s official website when asked about Saturday’s stinging 2-1 defeat. 

“We have to respond, 100 per cent.  I still have to work to swallow this one and it’s quite difficult. It’s really difficult to take. The mistakes were obvious.

 

“Before the two goals, after the two goals, I thought we were dominant. We don’t ignore the goals we conceded, but you would say, ‘OK, that’s how you have to play.’ We had these things in pretty much all moments, but we didn’t score. “

 

“I think we deserved the goal and then it was the situation with the best piece of football in the whole game, the one-two between Roberto and Sadio and a clear foul and no penalty. That’s hard, but not to change anymore.

 

“I think with all the minutes around the two goals we conceded then a draw would have been deserved for us, but because we made these two mistakes we have to take the result like it is.

 

“It feels massively rubbish and that’s not nice. We will carry on of course, but in the moment it’s a big disappointment.”

Klopp: Brewster will get all the support he needs

Jürgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool will offer Rhian Brewster ‘all the support he needs’ after the young striker this week spoke out about the racial abuse he has faced during his fledgling career.

In an interview with the Guardian published on Thursday, Brewster detailed instances where he has been targeted by fans and opponents while representing Chelsea, Liverpool and England at youth level.

Speaking in his pre-Leicester press conference on Friday, when asked about Brewster’s comments, Klopp said:

“He will get all the support he needs and wants and we can give.

“I’m really long in this sport and I’ve never faced a situation like that but obviously it happens all the time.

“I’m really happy that he is brave enough to do what he did. It’s such an important thing – I can’t believe people still have these thoughts in their minds.

“Obviously, we needed a 17-year-old boy to shout out, to say, ‘it’s still happening and it happens all the time – I need help, we need help and we have to stop that’.

“It’s not a situation that you want a 17-year-old boy (to be) in but, if it is like this, then he needs help and we will give it to him, of course.”

Philippe Coutinho’s 200 LFC appearances in numbers

Philippe Coutinho reached the landmark of 200 Liverpool appearances on Boxing Day – here are some statistics of the Brazilian’s double-century with the Reds to date:

1,779 – days separated his Liverpool debut, as a 78th-minute substitute against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield, and his 200th outing

500 – the playmaker has had 500 shots at goal in the Premier League, including 155 on target

54 – goals he has scored for the club, at a ratio of almost exactly one every four matches

52 – appearances in 2014-15 remains the highest number of games the attacker has clocked up, in all competitions, during one season

44.07 – passes per match is Coutinho’s average after 151 Premier League games

41 – Premier League goals make Philippe the most prolific Brazilian in the competition’s history

35 – assists in the English top flight have been recorded by the No.10

25 – per cent of fans nominated Coutinho’s sensational solo effort against Manchester United at Old Trafford in March 2016 as his best goal for Liverpool

14 – goals in the 2016-17 season represent Philippe’s best return across a single campaign for Liverpool so far

12 – appearances against Chelsea, more than any other opponent since he joined the club in January 2013

12 – times Coutinho has hit the woodwork in Premier League action

7 – goals so far this December – his most prolific single month for the Reds

6 – free-kicks converted by the Brazilian, his most recent set-piece success the clever under-the-wall conversion against Brighton and Hove Albion earlier this month

5 – goals against Manchester City, the most common victims of the No.10’s scoring touch

3 – times Coutinho has worn the captain’s armband for Liverpool – all this season

1 – successful penalty scored, in the 7-0 Champions League victory over Spartak Moscow

1 – competitive hat-trick, in the aforementioned thrashing of the Russian side at Anfield

Liverpool agree world-record £75m deal for Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool have finally won the race to sign Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk after agreeing a world record £75 million fee for a defender.

The two clubs have again been in discreet negotiations in recent days following the acrimonious breakdown of a potential deal last summer and have today reached agreement on the transfer.

Manchester City and Chelsea are both also interested and have made inquiries at different stages of the past six months but, barring any late super-bid from another club, Van Dijk will get his move to Liverpool.

Liverpool did not ultimately make a formal offer to Southampton last summer but were ready to pay around £60 million after it became clear that Van Dijk wanted to join them. Southampton were furious at the leak of information before a fee had been agreed and their complaint to the Premier League prompted an apology from Liverpool and an agreement not to pursue the deal.

That position held throughout the summer transfer window, with Southampton also turning down a large offer from Chelsea. Van Dijk then missed the start of the season amid concern at his focus before being reintegrated back into the team under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino. He has since been left out of the recent games against Chelsea, Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur.

Premier League leaders Manchester City are also keen and were preparing a £60 million opening bid but the situation has moved on quickly in recent days and Southampton are now extremely close to an agreement with Liverpool.

Personal terms on around £180,000-a-week are likely to be a formality and there is a growing feeling that a deal may even be completed ahead of the transfer window formally opening next Monday. Van Dijk’s preference has been Liverpool and the chance to work with their manager, Jurgen Klopp.

The world record transfer for a defender is the £54 million that Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker last summer.

A fee of £75 million would also be level with Romelu Lukaku as the second most expensive transfer in Premier League history, behind only Manchester United’s £90 million purchase of Paul Pogba.

Southampton have won one of their last 11 games and have now decided that it would be better to sell Van Dijk and reinvest the fee this January. Pellegrino is under growing pressure but has had the Van Dijk situation hanging over him since replacing Claude Puel as manager last summer.

Source: Telegraph

Salah level with Kane in PL goalscoring chart at halfway point

Mohamed Salah leads the way alongside Harry Kane at the summit of the Premier League goalscoring chart with half of the season now completed.

The Egypt international has raced to 15 strikes in England’s top division this term since Liverpool swooped to secure his signature from AS Roma in the summer.

His most recent goal came in Friday night’s 3-3 draw with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium – which had put Salah three clear of Tottenham Hotspur’s Kane.

But the Englishman struck a hat-trick this evening to draw level with the Reds forward in the race for the league’s Golden Boot at its midway point.

Sergio Aguero (12), Raheem Sterling (12), Romelu Lukaku (10) and Wayne Rooney (10) also form part of the chasing pack ahead of the second half of 2017-18.

 

Liverpool FC to face FC Porto in Champions League last 16

Liverpool have been drawn to face FC Porto in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Reds were paired with the Portuguese club during Monday morning’s draw for the first round of the knockout stage, at UEFA headquarters in Switzerland.

Jürgen Klopp’s side earned their place in the pot as a seeded team after claiming top spot in Group E, ahead of Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and NK Maribor.

Due to the rules of the draw, Liverpool could not draw Chelsea nor Sevilla, leaving Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Basel as possible opponents in the Round of 16. Liverpool managed to avoid some of the biggest names, drawing Porto, and what should be a very welcomed trip to Portugal in February.

As group winners, Liverpool have a distinct mathematical advantage.  Since the current format was adopted, group winners have advanced to the quarterfinals 72.3% of the time. One of the advantages is having the second of two legs back within the safe confines of Anfield.

The first leg of the last-16 tie will be held at the Estadio do Dragao, either on February 13th or 14h, or the following week, the 20th or 21st. The return leg will be at Anfield in March, either the 6th or 7th, or the 13th or 14th.

Liverpool and Porto have met four times competitively, with the most recent encounter coming in the 2007-08 Champions League group stages.

After a 1-1 tie in Portugal, the Reds recorded an emphatic 4-1 victory in the return meeting at Anfield.

The sides also went head-to-head in Liverpool’s run to UEFA Cup success in 2001, with Gerard Houllier’s team earning a goalless draw in the award leg before winning 2-0 at home in the fifth-round clash.

Salah reaches 10 Premier League goals in record-equalling time

Mohamed Salah’s 65th-minute goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea equalled a club record set by Daniel Sturridge during the 2012-13 season.

The Egyptian forward’s strike against the Blues took his Premier League tally to 10 goals in just 13 games and no player has done it quicker for the Reds.

The Liverpool No.11 matched a milestone set by Daniel Sturridge, who netted his 10th Premier League strike with the final goal of a hat-trick against Fulham in the penultimate game of his debut season.

The pair sit top of the club standings ahead of the likes of Robbie Fowler and Fernando Torres, who both took 18 games to score 10 Premier League goals.

Salah, who has scored 15 goals in all competitions for the Reds, is also the Premier League’s leading goalscorer this season, one ahead of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Tottenham’s Harry Kane who both have nine.