Liverpool stepped up their preparations for this weekend's clash with Manchester United by training at Melwood on Friday evening.
Having secured Champions League progress earlier this week, Jürgen Klopp's side resume their Premier League campaign when their fierce rivals visit Anfield this Sunday.
And they continued the work towards that showdown at their Melwood base today - and you can take a look in our photo gallery below.
Photos by Nick Taylor
Mohamed Salah has won the 2018 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.
The Liverpool and Egypt forward, who was the top choice from a five-man shortlist in an online vote of supporters, retains the prize he also won a year ago.
Salah finished ahead of Reds teammate Sadio Mane in the poll, as well as Medhi Benatia (Morocco), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal) and Thomas Partey (Ghana).
The No.11 enjoyed one of the greatest debut seasons in Liverpool history, scoring 44 goals to help the club reach the Champions League final, and then represented his country at the World Cup.
And his form has continued into the current campaign; his winner against Napoli in Tuesday’s Champions League tie increased his tally for the season to 13 strikes.
Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool will not adjust their own style for the visit of Manchester United this Sunday.
The Reds sit at the top of the Premier League table ahead of this weekend’s round of fixtures having navigated their opening 16 games of the campaign without defeat.
Jürgen Klopp’s side will aim to extend that record against their arch-rivals at Anfield – and won’t be daunted by the visitors’ threats as they try to do so, according to Van Dijk.
“You know what you’re going to face,” the No.4 explained to Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher in conversation with Sky Sports.
“We have pretty good pace as well, so we don’t need to be scared of anything. But obviously we need to be aware of their danger; they have good players, especially up front.
“We need to be ready for that. But we need to play our game and make sure we are on top of them and make sure they are put under pressure.”
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Sunday, December 16th @ 16:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 4/7, Draw 3/1, Manchester United 5/1Form Liverpool Form
Since that 2-1 defeat to PSG in France, The Reds have gone on to win their next four games, qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League and going top of the Premier League table in the process. Things don’t get much better as a Liverpool supporter. If you’re not enjoying the ride, you need to reassess what you think it means to be a football fan.
Hopefully, this particular rollercoaster remains on an upward curve this weekend as Manchester City will more than likely have picked up all three points against Everton on Saturday. There is very little margin for error in this title race. Let’s not have one of those ‘errors’ be dropped points against our biggest rivals.
Manchester United Form
United’s form has been up and down in recent weeks. An impressive 4-1 win over Fulham was their best result, and performance, in recent weeks but things just never really seem to improve under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils stumbled to a 1-0 win over Young Boys in the Champions League, came from two down to draw 2-2 at struggling Southampton, and lost to Valencia during the week.
Team News Liverpool Team News
Liverpool have run into something of an injury crisis among their defenders over the last couple of weeks. Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are both out until January while Nathaniel Clyne is also unavailable for Sunday’s game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold faces a late fitness test but will hopefully make the starting eleven. Jurgen Klopp is left with little choice regarding his back four so Dejan Lovren should start beside Virgil van Dijk with Andy Robertson at left-back and, hopefully, Alexander-Arnold on the opposite flank.
Klopp went for the solid midfield against Napoli on Tuesday and I think it will be the same trio again in the centre while up front it’s business as usual for Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mané.Manchester United Team News
Luke Shaw, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Lindelof are all out for United. They also have some concerns over the fitness of Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Scott McTominay, Matteo Darmian, Diego Dalot and Anthony Martial.
There will be a lot of late fitness tests carried out this week for United as Mourinho will be hoping that Chris Smalling, in particular, will be able to take his place in the back four.
Liverpool need to be wary of Marcus Rashford who enjoyed one of his best games for United when he scored both goals in their 2-1 win over Liverpool last season at Old Trafford. It will be interesting to see how Alexander-Arnold deals with Rashford on Sunday.
Juan Mata is also a threat and seems to really perform to his best against Liverpool.Predicted XIs
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson(c), Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1) – De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Jones, Young(c); Herrera, Matic; Mata, Lingard, Rashford; Lukaku
When they last met
The last two fixtures between these two sides at Anfield have finished 0-0. Klopp did oversee a 2-0 home win for The Reds against United in the Europa League in 2016 but Liverpool have not beaten United in a Premier League game since March 2014. That was a 3-0 win at Old Trafford.Prediction
Liverpool 1 – 1 Manchester United
Yes, I’m unfortunately swayed towards a draw in Sunday’s game. Never have I wanted to get a prediction wrong so much in my life. We’ve been stalled, and worse, by Mourinho’s ‘park the bus’ tactics before and, on Sunday, United’s boss will be far more motivated by the fear of losing than by any desire to actually go for the three points at Anfield.
Liverpool do possess some players who can unlock a low-block defence such as United’s and Xherdan Shaqiri could play a big part, whether starting or not. However, my gut is telling me a draw is to be expected.
** Please note – “xGA” in the Form Stats tables symbolises “expected goals against” **
**All xG stats courtesy of Understat.com and FiveThirtyEight.com
Trent Alexander-Arnold was today named as Liverpool's Standard Chartered Player of the Month for the first time in his career.
The 20-year-old scooped the accolade after supporters selected him as their star man for November in a poll on this website, seeing off competition from Xherdan Shaqiri, Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson.
Alexander-Arnold made four appearances for the Reds during the month, during which he scored a stunning long-range free-kick in the 3-0 win over Watford at Vicarage Road.
The No.66 also claimed a vital assist when he provided the pass for Salah to open the scoring in a home victory against Fulham a fortnight earlier.
Upon receiving the award at Melwood, Alexander-Arnold told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s massive. Getting awards from the fans means a lot more, to me especially. I’m thankful and grateful for the support they’ve given me so far. Hopefully there’ll be more to come.
“Especially when you’re in such a good team that is doing so well, it’s good to get the recognition, especially from the fans recognising good performances. It’s something to be very proud of and something I am really proud of.
“Hopefully there’ll be more chances and opportunities [to celebrate something] towards the end of the season and towards our big aims.”
Liverpool’s excellent form this season continued into December, including four wins out of four in all competitions so far this month.
Jürgen Klopp has had to lean on the depth of his squad to navigate a hectic run of fixtures in the Champions League and Premier League – in addition to several untimely injuries.
And Alexander-Arnold believes the attitude within the group is an important contributing factor to the Reds coping with setbacks and maintaining their challenge.
“In November we didn’t have all the results we wanted but [we have] that ability to bounce back and do well, and prove why we’re such a good team,” said the right-back.
“That’s what we’ve done throughout the whole season: bounce back from results that we were disappointed by and be able to win our next game. That shows signs of a really good, strong squad and team.
“It’s massive for any successful team to have a really good, in-depth squad. That’s something we’ve definitely got at the club now. It’s something we’re really happy with and something you need.
“People pick up knocks and you need others to step in and be ready. That’s down to the players that aren’t playing at the time to be mentally prepared to be able to step in and do a job. We’ve shown from the first week of the season up until now that we can do that. It’s down to the players really working hard on the training pitch.”
Standard Chartered Player of the Month winners 2018-19
August: Virgil van Dijk
September: Daniel Sturridge
October: Mohamed Salah
November: Trent Alexander-Arnold
“Liverpool, last year’s finalist, are the greatest threat.
“By state of form, style of play and footballers within the squad, Jurgen Klopp‘s team is best avoided.”
A repeat of last season’s Champions League final is something Reds supporters would relish, given the harsh nature of the defeat in Kyiv.
Revenge would be in the air, and with Cristiano Ronaldo now at Juventus, they would really fancy their chances of turning over the European champions.Gerrard Discusses “Unsettled” Ejaria
The on-loan Liverpool youngster has also deleted his Twitter account and unfollowed the Scottish club on Instagram.
Speaking after the 1-0 loss to Vienna, which saw Rangers crash out of Europe, manager Steven Gerrard admitted there are issues surrounding Ejaria currently:
“I had a chat with him a couple of days ago and he’s slightly unsettled.
“The next time I see Ovie is on Friday and we’ll have a conversation then and see where we go from there.
“Liverpool are aware of the situation and we’re in dialogue with them.”Klopp “Really Happy” With Wilson
While Ejaria appears to be struggling on loan, someone who is thriving is Harry Wilson.
The Welshman has been a revelation at Derby this season, winning three Goal of the Month awards, and Klopp told reporters that he is delighted with his progress:
“I’m really happy about what Harry is doing. It’s fantastic. It’s a perfect example for it sometimes being really good to leave home to show up somewhere else.
“I really think Harry left in the right moment. Since I was in everybody told me Harry Wilson needed to go on loan.
“He scored a lot of goals for the U23s already.”
Wilson is expected to start for Derby on Monday night, as Frank Lampard’s side face a crunch clash with rivals Nottingham Forest at Pride Park.Warnock Keen On Clyne
The 27-year-old continues to be linked with a move away from Anfield in January, though, with Cardiff one of those tipped to make a move for him.
Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock admits Clyne is a player they are monitoring, although he correctly states that Liverpool’s current injury problems mean signing him is unlikely.
“He would be one on our list definitely, yes,” Warnock told reporters.
“But at the moment, they [Liverpool] have other problems. I don’t think they would bother about us at the moment, they have to look after themselves.
“The thing about that is they’ve had a lot of injuries, they are in European competition, the league and they’ve got to look after themselves.”Liverpool Players Spread Xmas Cheer
Christmas is a time of year to help those less fortunate, with footballers in a hugely privileged position.
Liverpool’s players have taken the time to visit patients at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, bringing some festive cheers to youngsters suffering from illness.
It is a lovely touch and is no doubt an experience the children will always treasure.Reds Almost Signed Anderlecht Teenager
The 16-year-old was believed to be on the verge of joining the Reds both in January and in the summer, only for Coucke to intervene.
He offered Doku an improved contract at Anderlecht, and although it was half the price Liverpool were offering, he accepted it.
Doku has made five appearances for Belgium’s U17s, scoring three times.
The Liverpool squad and staff made their annual visit to the city's Alder Hey Children's Hospital on Thursday afternoon to bring some festive cheer to the patients and their families - and our cameras joined them.
Jürgen Klopp, the players and the backroom team took time out of their preparations for Sunday's clash with Manchester United to make the trip to the specialist facility in West Derby, which cares for more than 270,000 children, young people and families each year.
Once on the hospital wards, the squad spent time chatting to patients and parents, posing for photographs, signing autographs and handing out special gifts.
You can see how afternoon unfolded in our free video below...
Liverpool have issued a ticket update for the Premier League fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Friday December 21, kick-off 8pm.
A number of tickets remain and will be available to Season Ticket Holders, Official Members and Fan Card Holders based on attendance at Premier League away fixtures during Season 2017-18:
The below sales will take place online only.
Attendance at six games: From 10am until 1.45pm on Monday December 17.
Supporters are guaranteed a ticket during this sale and can purchase one ticket per person, up to a maximum of 10 tickets per transaction.
The following sales will then take place on a first come first served basis, subject to availability, and supporters can purchase one ticket per person up to a maximum of four tickets per transaction.
Attendance at five games: From 2pm on Monday December 17 until 9.45am on Tuesday December 18.
Attendance at four games: From 10am until 12.45pm on Tuesday December 18.
Attendance at three games: From 1pm on Tuesday December 18.
For ticket fulfilment (delivery & collection of tickets), click here
For coach travel, click here
For visiting supporters guide, click here
For away support information, click here
For general information, click here
For ticket office opening times, click here
Liverpool are preparing for their latest clash with Man United, but is Jose Mourinho set for one of his siege mentality showings?
Jurgen Klopp is yet to beat Mourinho’s United in the league but Liverpool have a wonderful opportunity to change that this weekend.
Their bitter rivals are struggling in sixth place and Mourinho isn’t winning any admirers for his dank playing style.
With the game fast approaching, we spoke to United We Stand’s John Ashton (@UWSmag) and Morning Star sports editor Kadeem Simmonds (@KadeemSimmonds) to get their thoughts on the season to date, Mourinho’s future and how the match may plan out.Man United sit sixth in the Premier League – why are you so far adrift this early?
JOHN: I think we’re seeing the repercussions of a pretty shambolic summer from both Ed Woodward and Jose Mourinho.
The team was lacking in a few key positions and then to only strengthen – and I use the termly lightly, with a teenage full-back and a £53million sixth-choice central midfielder meant that it was going to be hard to close the gap on Man City.
But Mourinho hasn’t helped matters. Alex Ferguson used to grate on Man United fans after a quiet summer with lines about ‘value in the market’ and ‘being happy with what he’s got’. But I understand why he said it, even if he was left frustrated, too.
Mourinho’s behaviour has completely undermined the players he’s got, particularly defensively.
On top of that, it doesn’t help when your centre forward comes back two stone heavier and can’t run or jump and can trap a ball further than I can kick it.
Another big factor is the goalkeeper, who pulled us out of the shit on numerous occasions last season but hasn’t got near anything this season.
Defensively we have been shocking, there’s no structure to the team and it’s all just been a bit of a mess really.
That’s 10 points United would have expected to get and would have us sitting in third.
In none of those games mentioned did the side look like winning and seeing City and Liverpool put those teams to bed early is why United find themselves in sixth.You’ve been a staunch defender of Jose Mourinho – do you still think he’s the man for the job?
JOHN: I’m sympathetic with him in some ways and you can understand his frustrations, but the team is declining under him and I don’t see how he can turn it around. He clearly isn’t getting the best out of the players he has, for whatever reason and after two and a half years, he still doesn’t seem to know his best team.
It changes week in, week out and there’s no consistency. How can you build a team when you’re constantly winging it game to game? He wants new players in, but all his best players are the ones he inherited. His signings have largely been overpriced disasters.
I spoke to you ahead of the game at Anfield last year when boots were on the opposite foot, but instead of having a go at you, we played negatively and killed all the attacking momentum we had and I still believe that’s the game where it all started to go wrong for Mourinho.
I think next season United will be playing Europa League football under a new manager.
KADEEM: I used to think short-term he was the answer but that is no longer the case.
The entire atmosphere around the club is toxic, players are playing well under their true potential and it has become a circus.
While there is still a small chance of qualifying for next year’s Champions League, I think he will stay.
United could be 11th in the league but still in the knockout stages and Jose will have a job. A change is needed.Which three players have stood out most for United, and why?
JOHN: Luke Shaw started the season well and then got his new contract, then reverted back to being Luke Shaw, so he doesn’t quite make it.
Ashley Young never lets the team down and looks like one player who actually cares and the other two would probably be Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Martial has got a lot of quality but can frustrate the hell out of you. He’s been a bit more consistent so far this season and is comfortably our top scorer.
Rashford is another that can frustrate you and if he can develop that bit more composure in the penalty area, he could genuinely be top class. But I love his graft and his willingness to work – something completely lacking in the man Mourinho bafflingly chooses to play ahead of him.
I’m not saying they could reach the level that Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo did, but whereas those two had senior players performing which meant we could compensate for their inconsistency, Rashford and Martial are pretty much carrying the can on their own.
KADEEM: Jesse Lingard, Marouane Fellaini and Martial.
Those three have managed to not be totally useless this season, with Martial really coming into his own over the last few weeks.
Lingard always impresses when on the field and it’s a shame he doesn’t play more.
As for Fellaini, he will never be liked by fans but he does a ‘job’ when on the pitch and has a knack of scoring key goals when they are needed.Any who you would like to say a few bad words about?
JOHN: How long have you got? We’ll start with ‘trampoline shins’ Romelu Lukaku, shall we?
I’ve seen sea lions control a ball better than him. It’s not even funny anymore how bad he is. He will always get his tap-ins against bottom-half teams but it’s pretty tragic to watch him lead the line for us when I’ve seen Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Robin van Persie and Andy Cole up there.
People bemoan his lack of service but in defence of our creative players, how can you provide service to someone who doesn’t run?
We actually had a brief spell of playing well – Juventus away, Bournemouth away, Everton at home – and won all three with a hatful of chances and the common denominator was Lukaku was missing. Then he came back, and that’s that again.
He’s not the only culprit, though. Nemanja Matic continues to play week in, week out despite the fact he has to have a runner playing alongside him. I imagine they don’t even bother washing his and Lukaku’s shirt after the match and just hang them straight back up in the dressing room.
Fred looks like he’s won a £53million raffle to play for us and Antonio Valencia is well past his sell by date now, too.
We hoped for big things from Alexis Sanchez after a good summer, but injuries have ruined that. The Paul Pogba saga is tiresome too. He’s either brilliant or appalling.
KADEEM: Matic. He’s been bad all season and needs an extended break from the first-team, but for whatever reason, Mourinho sees him as the first name on the team-sheet regardless of form.
He’s on the decline, which is natural with age, so I can’t blame him for that. I can blame him for just being inept on a weekly basis, although Mourinho needs to stop putting him in shit situations.
People will naturally blame Lukaku and Pogba, but when the Frenchman has the ball United don’t make runs off him, and Lukaku is forced to drop deep to collect the ball.
He has such a bad first touch and has become the laughing stock of the league. Both players have been dropped, yet Matic is still getting meaningful minutes.What have you made of Liverpool’s start? Genuine title challengers now?
JOHN: You’re top of the league in December, of course you are title challengers.
Do I think you will win it? I think you’ll fall short and them lot across town from us are both better and better-equipped squad-wise in the latter stages of the season.
You won’t be far away, but I think it will be another runners-up medal to add to Jurgen Klopp‘s mighty collection. But Liverpool are proof of what good investment does for you if you want to progress.
You realised where your weaknesses were at centre-back and in goal and you went out and replaced them with quality – something we haven’t done.
But it’s why I’m not getting too carried away with our current crisis. One or two new players in the right positions can make a massive difference.
KADEEM: It’s been remarkable. I don’t buy into Alisson being the key difference as he doesn’t seem to be tested that much.
When he has been called upon, he has looked great, though. Having four actual defenders in front of him has made his life so much easier and it’s settled the entire team.
As long as they don’t drop points against teams they are expected to beat, I think the title race will go down to the wire.Do you believe Jurgen Klopp will end up winning silverware, having perhaps doubted it up until now?
JOHN: I think he’s got to this season or you’re in danger of falling into Tottenham territory. You’re going to be in the mix and I think getting through your Champions League group was massive for you.
I think winning the Champions League will be easier than finishing above City. Klopp is obviously a very good manager and the way you play is living proof that you don’t have to over-complicate football.
Be solid defensively, run your arses off and have a bit of quality up front and you won’t go far wrong.
I don’t look at your players with envious glances with maybe the exception of Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, but your strength is collectively, and that comes from the manager. That is something we’re sadly lacking right now.
The first trophy is always the hardest one, and it’s been a while, lads…Anyone you fear for the Reds, in particular?
KADEEM: These will be famous last words but not really.
Mourinho still has the ability to negate the oppositions best players and has so far kept Salah quiet. I think it will be the same again.
At the moment, I fear entire teams more as opposed to individuals, as United have the ability of making even the worst teams look like Barcelona under Pep Guardiola.
Liverpool could easily enjoy 80 per cent possession without getting out of second gear against United.Looking ahead to the game, where do you see the key battles taking place?
JOHN: Normally here you would be expecting a Mourinho defensive masterclass but I don’t see it happening this season with how shambolic we are at the back.
I don’t see us keeping a clean-sheet, so where I would usually say keeping your front-three quiet is key, it’s the other end of the pitch where we have to make sure we create chances and are clinical.
If Lukaku is starting, you can probably rest Van Dijk for Wolves next weekend.
KADEEM: The midfield battle is the key for me.
I expect Matic and Fellaini to be deployed in front of the back-four in an attempt to win aerial balls, which will mean forcing Liverpool’s defenders to go long and bypass the midfield.
If Liverpool are able to get a foothold in the middle of the park, however, it’s going to be a long afternoon for United.Hit us with a prediction – will Jose be cupping his ear in front of the Kop at full time?
JOHN: Yes probably, but referring to something he did with another club that has fuck all to do with what he’s done at United!
We’re so unpredictable and I don’t just mean from one game to the next. I mean within the same game. We can look like world-beaters for half an hour and relegation fodder minutes later.
I wouldn’t be surprised with any result. We can win the game, no question, but we could also easily lose it 4-0.
I’m gonna stick my neck out and say that for the first time in a while, there will be goals in this fixture and I’m gonna say 2-2. No, wait. 0-0.
KADEEM: If Mourinho is cupping his ear, the only thing he will hear is, “You’re getting sacked in the morning”.
I don’t think it will be a total rout but it’s extremely hard to look past a Liverpool win. I can see it finishing 3-1 to the Reds.
Jürgen Klopp today detailed why being part of Liverpool versus Manchester United fixtures is 'something special' as he vowed his side would fight to clinch all three points on Sunday and maintain their outstanding start to 2018-19.
The boss will take charge of the Reds for the eighth time against the club's old rivals, though he has yet to secure a victory over them in the Premier League.
And while Liverpool go into the weekend encounter 16 points ahead of United in the standings, Klopp feels that will count for little come kick off, insisting his side will 'need to be angry' if they're to prevail.
Read on for a summary of the manager's pre-match press conference thoughts on the meeting with Jose Mourinho's men below...
On the global significance of the fixture…
Being part of the game is pretty special, I can say that. It’s a big one. When I heard about the game, when I was back in Germany years ago, I tried everything I could to watch it. Very often it was very intense and now I am in for a couple of years, it was always tight. In the Europa League, we were very successful against them, which was really good.
In the league, I don’t remember bad results too much, to be honest, but I don’t feel we always got the right result for the performance we had. Last year, they had a very, very good start in the home game against us and then we more or less took over but couldn’t get the game back, so it was a draw. Before, I don’t even remember it, but I don’t think we won a lot, so we’ll try to change that at least. It will be a very intense game and we need to be ready for that.
It’s really important because this week we reached a big target on Tuesday night, so we had one day exactly to feel the relief a little bit with that. Until Monday night and Tuesday afternoon it was not clear that we would stay in the Champions League. The boys did the job, so then we took the Wednesday to really calm down and since yesterday we are back on track.
Now today is the most important session to prepare for the game. I am really looking forward to it, it will be a big one. I think the people are ready to create again an atmosphere similar to Tuesday night, which was very special again. I am looking forward to it.
On how much he enjoys being involved in the fixture…
It’s good. It is one of these games when the players when the players talk to each other in the dressing room, the ones who have played it already prepare pretty much the others because it is special.
As I said before, it is well one of the games which you sign with your contract to try to do everything you have to win it. It’s an absolutely a big one. It is - historically - a big one and if Alex Ferguson says it is the British El Clasico then I am really blessed because I was already a part of the German El Clasico! It’s a cool game.
On the gap between the sides in the table…
I really don’t think I was ever interested in the points of Manchester United and I’m not today, obviously. Of course I’m aware of the criticism but when we make the analysis and switch off the sound, it’s all quality. There’s a lot of quality; there’s speed, there’s technique, there’s physical strength, they have pretty much everything. They still have De Gea in goal. It’s unbelievable. They have strikers – they can switch between Rashford, Lukaku and others; they have Lingard, they have Martial. They have unbelievable quality. We don’t judge the points they have, we judge the quality they have, and we prepare for that.
On how away teams approach games at Anfield…
I don’t know what other teams make of our situation. But we never thought before a game, because we have a few good results in the past at home, that it would be easy in the next game. That’s not the mood you can win football games in. We have to be angry on Sunday and we will be. We fight for our points, we don’t sort problems for others or whatever; we have our own problems and our own targets and we go for them.