Premier League Cup last-16, Bishop Auckland
March 21, 2018
Goals: Curry 1′, 37′ & 58′; Virtue 65′
Missed pen: Curry 84′
The right-back has not played at all for the first-team this season because of a back injury, but this was another major step in the right direction.
With many players away on international duty, Adam Bogdan earned a surprise start in goal, and Tony Gallacher, Matty Virtue, Bobby Adekanye, Yan Dhanda and Toni Gomes also came in.
A win at Bishop Aukland would have secured a place in the quarter-finals.
Liverpool’s youngsters found themselves 1-0 down with just 45 seconds on the clock thanks to a superb effort by Mitchell Curry.
Luke Armstrong almost poached a second for the hosts a few minutes later, as the Reds made a very shaky start to proceedings in the north east.
Virtue headed harmlessly over the crossbar, in what was Liverpool’s first opportunity of note, and former Reds defender Tom Brewitt missed the target for ‘Boro. after arriving at the back post.
Clyne was a solid presence at right-back, but the 26-year-old did make one poor error of judgment with a header, allowing Robbie Tinkler to shoot over.
Adekanye hit the target, Rafa Camacho curled narrowly wide and Virtue forced Zachary Hemming into an excellent save, as Liverpool looked to respond before the interval.
The visitors were soon 2-0 down, though, as Bogdan produced a howler. The Hungarian dropped a routine catch, and Curry was on-hand to fire into an empty net.
Hemming again denied the lively Camacho, and just before the break, Dhanda’s free-kick flew agonisingly wide of the target.
Critchley’s side huffed and puffed in the early second-half exchanges, but just before the hour mark, ‘Boro were out of sight.
Curry completed his hat-trick, with his finish creeping past the dive of Bogdan, who again didn’t exactly cover himself in glory.
Virtue quickly pulled a goal back, following good work by Gomes, and Liverpool produced a spirited fightback, with Adekanye looking dangerous.
It wasn’t to be, though, and there was still time for Curry to blaze a penalty over with an effort Charlie Adam would have been proud of.
It is time to focus on Premier League 2 commitments again.
TIA Man of the Match: Bobby Adekanye
Liverpool: Bogdan, Clyne, Phillips, Masterson, Gallacher (Johnston 71′), Kane, Virtue, Adekanye, Dhanda, Camacho, Gomes.
Subs not used: George, R Williams, Sharif, McAuley.
We round up the latest Liverpool FC and transfer rumours on Wednesday, with Jurgen Klopp and his staff taking a much-needed break from Melwood.
On Tuesday it seemed as though Emre Can‘s injury problems were behind him, as he departed Merseyside to join the Germany squad for the international break.
But as Joachim Low’s side prepare for their upcoming friendlies at home to Spain (March 23) and Brazil (March 27), the 24-year-old has suffered another setback.
After lasting just 27 minutes in Saturday’s 5-0 victory over Watford, Can was forced off the field 15 minutes into training in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.
According to Sport BILD journalist Christian Falk this was due to “problems with his back,” indicating that this is a recurrence of the issue that saw him withdrawn from action at Anfield.
Elsewhere, for the truth about those “big club” quotes from Liverpool’s No. 23, read here.Klopp Heads to Tenerife
Liverpool have 27 players on international duty this month, with 16 of those from Klopp’s first–team squad for the current campaign.
A further six have been in regular action for the Reds’ academy sides this season, ensuring that both Melwood and Kirkby are sparsely populated over the next week.
As a result, the Liverpool Echo report that Klopp decided against a warm-weather training camp, with Adam Bogdan, Loris Karius, Danny Ward, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, James Milner and Danny Ings his only remaining senior players.
Instead, the Reds have been given the week off, with Klopp and his staff travelling to Tenerife for a short break before the season’s crucial run-in.
Liverpool will return to Melwood early next week to begin preparations for next Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace.U18s Captain Shines on England Bow
One of the youngsters called up for international duty this month was Liverpool U18s captain Adam Lewis, who has also featured for the U23s in recent weeks.
Lewis was included in the England U19s squad for the first time, and the left-back made his debut for Paul Simpson’s side against Hungary on Wednesday afternoon.
Lining up in his regular role in a 4-5-1, Lewis provided the Young Lions with much-needed width and excellent delivery from the left flank.
The 18-year-old had a hand in two goals as England came back from one behind to seal a 4-1 win in Macedonia.
The U19s’ next European Championship qualifier is against Latvia on March 24, before taking on Macedonia on March 27. Find out how to watch them both here.Riise Hails Klopp’s Left-Back Duo
Previously a problem position for the Reds, left-back is now arguably one of the strongest areas in Klopp’s squad, with Lewis and fellow youngster Tony Gallacher facing a big challenge in breaking through in the future.
“I’ve been very impressed [with Robertson]. He’s young, aggressive and fit,” he said.
“If he can stay healthy and focused, he has a big future as well. But I want to see him create even more and also score some goals!
“[Moreno] worked really hard, kept himself fit and I’m very happy for him as he was able to prove how good a player he is.
“I’ve sent him some messages just to tell him how pleased I am for him and how he turned it around and that he must now continue working hard.”Legends Clash Lineups Announced
Finally, with the Liverpool Legends set to take on Bayern Munich at Anfield on Saturday, both clubs have confirmed their squads for the charity clash:
Liverpool: Dudek, James, Kvarme, Agger, Babb, Riise, McManaman, Aldridge, Gerrard, Rush, Fowler, Garcia, Owen, Smicer, Alonso, Berger, Hamann, Kuyt, McAllister, Carragher
Bayern Munich: Butt, Zimmermann, Lizarazu, Tarnet, Van Buyten, Demichelis, Makaay, Pflugler, Elber, Matthaus, Witezcek, Gospodarek, Sergio, Alonso, Ze Roberto, Ottl, Toni, Zickler, Sternkopf, Misimovic
Tickets are still available but are in very limited supply (Anfield Road End and upper Main Stand). You can purchase them here.
You can also watch the match for free, live on the official LFC Facebook page, LFCTV GO, Sky channel 429 and Virgin Media channel 544 (3pm GMT kickoff).
Emre Can has come in for criticism on social media on Wednesday for allegedly asserting his “big club” status, but the German’s quotes seem to have been misconstrued by English media.
The Echo subsequently ran a reaction piece with supporters lambasting the 24-year-old as a “big-time Charlie” who is “already at a big club,” and “rates himself more than most.”
However, in extended quotes translated by LFC Transfer Room it transpires that Can was significantly more flattering of his current club than initially reported.
“Jurgen Klopp has been asked a lot of times about my future but he tells me as long as it doesn’t affect me, it’s OK,” he said.
“I have enough self-confidence to say my qualities are sufficient to play for a big club next season.”
But while Can continued to list La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A and even Ligue 1, along with the Premier League, as potential destinations on expiry of his contract, he maintained no decision had been made.
He went on to hail the influence of Jurgen Klopp, saying “I like our tactical play, the early press, the direct play forward,” and stresses that “Liverpool FC still feels like family.”
“What counts for me is that I’m an integral part of the team and at a club with a chance of winning the title,” he added.
“That’s what every footballer dreams of because that’s the reward of your hard work.”
It would be remiss to suggest Can has pledged his long-term future to Liverpool at this stage, but similarly it is unjust to take his quotes out of context.
Can has set his sights high, and is clearly keeping his options open ahead of the summer, but his admiration for Klopp, Anfield and his current club shines through.
The Reds are on an upward trajectory under Klopp, and while they are out of the title race this season they should not be ruled out of contention for next term.
“During my first pre-season in the USA I realised how many fans this club really has,” Can recalled.
“No matter where we went, thousands of people were there. That’s when I realised what massive history this club has.”
The No. 23 plainly acknowledges Liverpool as a “very big club,” and while he may still leave at the end of the season, there is no indication his mind is made up yet.
Liverpool legends Michael Owen, Steve McManaman and Jason McAteer attempted the 60-Second Volley Challenge, ahead of Saturday’s clash.
The trio all still have plenty to do with the Reds due to their jobs in the media, with McAteer working for LFCTV, and Owen and McManaman often at Anfield for BT Sport.
While some find it hard to label Owen and McManaman club legends, due to both joining Real Madrid under a cloud, their efforts at the club should never be forgotten.
All three will be turning out for the Liverpool Legends this weekend, when a team of Bayern Munich greats head to Merseyside (Saturday, 3pm kickoff), with Xabi Alonso representing both sides.
As a bit of fun, the former Reds heroes partook in the challenge displayed above, which sees them attempt to score as many volleys as possible in one minute.
With Steven Gerrard, Gary McAllister and Ian Rush all watching on, the pressure gets to McManaman, who manages to find the net just twice, with many of his efforts typically lackadaisical.Liverpool Legends Squad vs. Bayern Munich
1 – Jerzy Dudek
1 – David James
3 – Bjorn Tore Kvarme
4 – Jason McAteer
5 – Daniel Agger
6 – Phil Babb
6 – John Arne Riise
7 – Steve McManaman
8 – John Aldridge
8 – Steven Gerrard
9 – Ian Rush (player-manager)
9 – Robbie Fowler (captain)
10 – Luis Garcia
10 – Michael Owen
11 – Vladimir Smicer
14 – Xabi Alonso
15 – Patrik Berger
16 – Dietmar Hamann
18 – Dirk Kuyt
21 – Gary McAllister
23 – Jamie Carragher
For someone who famously scored a volley in the 2000 Champions League final for Madrid against Valencia, it was a pretty poor attempt.
Owen steps up and immediately puts his former club and international team-mate to shame, levelling the scores quickly before finishing with a respectable total of four.
McAteer is last up, and in cocksure mood as ever, but he can only score three times, with some tremendous goalkeeping on show from U23s stopper Andy Firth.
It means a happy, and clearly competitive, Owen goes home the victor, although the puffing and wheezing going on suggests some fitness work is required before Saturday.
Why not attempt it with your mates!
Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has played just 81 minutes of football in the past month, with illness prompting a battle for match fitness.
The 27-year-old has linked up with the Netherlands squad for this month’s clashes with England and Portugal, however, along with Virgil van Dijk.
And speaking to Dutch publication De Telegraaf while on international duty, Wijnaldum revealed how he was “hit by a violent infection, which caused me to lose weight.”
Wijnaldum detailed the club doctor’s evasive action in keeping him away from Melwood, in fear that he would “infect other players.”
“It lasted for two weeks,” he said, adding how prescribed antibiotics “made me sicker,” and after making his recovery he has been forced to play catch-up.
“I had to work on my fitness again. I have trained hard, but on Saturday I noticed that I need rhythm for the way I want to play,” he recalled.
“It’s going better, but I’m not as fit as before I got sick.”
His situation is similar to that of Ragnar Klavan, with the centre-back telling Estonian outlet Soccernet how he “lost six-and-a-half pounds” due to a virus in January, before suffering a hamstring injury.
“The timing of the injury was a bit bad—I don’t get injured very often, but I got exactly when the world’s most expensive midfielder is brought in,” he said.
“I gave up my position on a plate. Unfortunately, you can not choose how and when you get injured. After that, I knew that it would be difficult to win my position back.”
Salah’s season has gone from hugely impressive to truly remarkable, with the Egyptian exceeding all expectations following his move from Roma.
Going into Saturday’s thumping of the Hornets, Salah had netted 32 times in 2017/18, while his tally of 24 goals in the Premier League saw him level with Harry Kane.
What the 25-year-old achieved next was true footballing genius, though, in a performance that drew comparisons with Luis Suarez’s own four-goal showing against Norwich City in 2013/14.
The above video perfectly highlights how unplayable Salah was at the weekend, with Watford almost powerless to prevent him from running riot.
The first goal saw him completely bamboozle Miguel Britos before firing home with his weaker right foot, and he then converted Andrew Robertson‘s superb cross.
There was still time for Salah to get his fourth of the evening, firing home a rebound after Danny Ings had been thwarted by Orestis Karnezis.
Anyone present at Anfield was treated to one of the truly great individual performances by a Liverpool player, and he is now four goals clear of Kane in the race of the Golden Boot, with the Tottenham man currently out injured.
On top of that, Salah’s odds for PFA Player of the Year are shortening all the time, with Man City‘s Kevin De Bruyne now only the narrow favourite for the prestigious award.
If Salah continues this current trajectory, he will be hitting legendary status in no time at all.
Liverpool Legends will include the likes of Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt as they take on Bayern Munich on Saturday.
The former Reds take on their Bayern counterparts at Anfield in a 3pm kickoff (GMT), in the latest Legends outing in aid of the LFC Foundation.
Agger, Carragher, Gerrard, Kuyt and Luis Garcia had already been confirmed for the game along with player-manager Ian Rush and captain Robbie Fowler, as well as Xabi Alonso.
But the club have now revealed the full 21-man squad for the Liverpool Legends against Bayern:Liverpool Legends Squad vs. Bayern Munich
1 – Jerzy Dudek
1 – David James
3 – Bjorn Tore Kvarme
4 – Jason McAteer
5 – Daniel Agger
6 – Phil Babb
6 – John Arne Riise
7 – Steve McManaman
8 – John Aldridge
8 – Steven Gerrard
9 – Ian Rush (player-manager)
9 – Robbie Fowler (captain)
10 – Luis Garcia
10 – Michael Owen
11 – Vladimir Smicer
14 – Xabi Alonso
15 – Patrik Berger
16 – Dietmar Hamann
18 – Dirk Kuyt
21 – Gary McAllister
23 – Jamie Carragher
This features a host of well-known faces playing in their familiar squad numbers, and ensures a quality contest on Merseyside this weekend despite the international break.
The majority of Rush’s squad have already turned out for the Legends in the past, but the inclusion of Kuyt and Alonso among others is a major coup.
Alonso will play 45 minutes for both sides, having won major honours with both Liverpool and Bayern during an illustrious career that came to an end last summer.
Kuyt also called time on his playing days after the 2016/17 campaign, after his final-day hat-trick sealed Feyenoord their first Eredivisie title since 1999.
They are likely to be among the fitter players at Rush’s disposal, against a Bayern side that will include Hans-Jorg Butt, Lothar Matthaus, Bixente Lizarazu, Sammy Kuffour, Ze Roberto, Owen Hargreaves, Giovane Elber, Luca Toni and Roy Makaay.
The Liverpool Legends’ last game came at home to Real Madrid a year ago, when Fowler, Gerrard, Michael Owen and John Aldridge sealed a 4-3 win, with the No. 8 running the show.
Tickets for Liverpool Legends vs. Bayern Munich Legends are still available but are in very limited supply (Anfield Road End and upper Main Stand), and you can purchase here.
You can watch the match for free, live on the official LFC Facebook page, LFCTV GO, Sky channel 429 and Virgin Media channel 544 (3pm GMT kickoff).
Money raised from the charity game will help to fund a variety of projects for the LFC Foundation and charity partners.
Andrew Robertson wasn’t the glamorous left-back many dreamed of Liverpool signing last summer, but he continues to excel at his new club.
In an era of Football Manager, FIFA and access to watching football all over the world, many like to think they’re experts on every player and every league.
All it takes is to watch about 90 seconds of ‘best bits’ from a player the Reds have been linked with on YouTube, and suddenly you’re as knowledgeable as one of the club’s chief scouts.
Because of this, when Liverpool were hotly tipped to be signing Robertson last summer, an element of snobbery surrounded the news.
Why were Liverpool buying a Scottish left-back who had just been relegated with Hull City?
Why wasn’t Jurgen Klopp signing one of those lads with a more exotic name, with more European pedigree and with a better highlights reel?
Robertson was always the preferred choice, but the £8 million fee was never going to catch the eye in the manner Benjamin Mendy’s £52 million switch to Man City did, for example.
The Scot is proving to be a revelation, though, and at a time when Mohamed Salah‘s truly astonishing form is seeing him rightly labelled the bargain of the season, Robertson is not far behind.Robbo The Revelation
Not many players are named Man of the Match on their Liverpool debut, but Robertson added that to his CV immediately back in August.
Robertson was actually struggling for playing time early on, due to acclimatising to Klopp’s tactics and also the much-improved form of Alberto Moreno, who merited being first choice.
Only three starts had come his way by the time December arrived, and in an interview with the Mail‘s Dominic King, he admits he spoke to Klopp about this lack of game time:
“I wasn’t ever going in to say, ‘Why am I not playing?’ or ‘I’m better than him!’.
“It wasn’t as if I was going in to rant and rave. I just said, ‘What can I do to get closer to this team and in your thoughts for a matchday?’ So he told me, honestly.
“He knew it was tough for me. He doesn’t like telling you he’s made the decision that you’re not in his squad. I promise you I felt a lot better coming out than I did going in.
“I came out and thought, ‘That’s it! That’s the chat I needed’. I knew then what I had to do. I used it as motivation to get better and put the time in training so, when a chance came, I’d be the most prepared I could be to go and take it.”
As fate would have it, injury to Moreno allowed him an extended run, and he has never looked back.
The level that the amiable 24-year-old has consistently found has exceeded expectations, and he has brought a slickness and dependability to Liverpool’s play that Moreno doesn’t quite possess, despite his upturn in fortunes.
In fact, few left-backs in the Premier League have impressed more this season, both in a defensive and an attacking sense.
Robertson has registered three assists, with the most recent of those a beautiful cross for Salah in Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford.
In terms of out-and-out left-backs, no other player has assisted more in 2017/18, with Aaron Cresswell (six), Ben Davies (five) and Sead Kolasinac (four) adopting wing-back roles for their respective clubs.
Nineteen chances have also been created for team-mates in Robertson’s 18 league appearances, with his devilish final ball improving all the time.
At the other end, not a single key defensive error has been made, and his focus and tenacity in that area has made a mockery of those who feel he can be got at.
Statistics will never fully do a player of Robertson’s ilk justice, however.
His personality and intelligence are arguably more prominent than anything, and there is an old-school feel about him that screams ‘Liverpool player’.Great Character
Footballers are generally cut off from reality, considering the vast wealth and celebrity that comes their way.
Every now and then, though, a player comes along that feels like he could be your best mate—someone whose feet seem firmly grounded and whose morals are sound.
Robertson fits that bill to perfection, and his likeable, down-to-earth character has made him an instant crowd favourite.
Every interview he conducts is done with poise and warmth, and perhaps most importantly, he gets exactly what playing for Liverpool means.
He knows how to get the fans on his side, as his memorable one-man press against City in January showed, and his off-field attitude is worthy of great praise.
The recent letter he penned to a seven-year-old fan was a tremendous gesture that required genuine effort—the supporter had given his pocket money to Fans Supporting Foodbanks, and was rewarded with Robertson’s note and a signed Roberto Firmino shirt—and it again highlighted what an admirable role model he is.
Klopp doesn’t just sign excellent footballers, he signs decent human beings, and Robertson couldn’t be a better symbol of this.
He is thought to have become one of the most popular players in the dressing room, and it is very easy to see why.Big Future
Former Newcastle United winger Hatem Ben Arfa isn’t somebody Liverpool supporters would naturally listen to, but some quotes earlier in the year demanded attention.
Discussing his forgettable spell at Hull, the Frenchman launched into a brutally honest attack on his former team-mates, barring one individual.
“In fairness, they’re just not very good. It’s a team with Alex Bruce in it, after all,” Ben Arfa told journalist Julien Laurens.
“But there’s one who can be super, super good, and that’s Andy Robertson.”
Ben Arfa may typify the archetypal prima donna footballer—the anti-Robertson, in many ways—but he is someone who knows a top player when he sees one, having represented France, PSG, Lyon and Marseille.
Robertson obviously stood out from the crowd, both in terms of talent and aptitude, and other clubs will be ruing not expressing the interest Liverpool did.
At 24, he should only go from strength to strength over the next three or four years, and he may well have solved a left-back issue that has existed at Anfield for a very long time.
John Arne Riise is underappreciated but was far from perfect; Fabio Aurelio was brilliant but rarely fit; Jose Enrique started well but turned into a disaster, and there are still lingering doubts surrounding Moreno.
We won’t even get started on Paul Konchesky.
There is absolutely nothing to dislike about Robertson, whether it be on or off the pitch, and he is going to be a key man during the Klopp era.
His pace, drive, attitude and quality have already added so much to a Reds team really hitting their stride, and it will be fascinating to see what level he can reach.
Fortunately, the manager, the scouts and everyone who played a part in signing him did more than a bit of YouTube observing.
Steven Gerrard returns to Liverpool’s Melwood training ground and bumps into some familiar faces along the way.
Having spent over 15 years at Melwood as a player, the Reds’ Under-18s coach returns to the place that will always be special to him.
The iconic midfielder chats with manager Jurgen Klopp about life at Melwood and finds out how the manager has settled into life at the training ground.
There’s insight into Klopp’s first day at the club when he met all the staff and asked his new squad if they knew the names of individual staff members – something the manager is keen to ensure for a family feel.
A nice glimpse into Melwood life; from the manager’s office to the famous Carol and Caroline in the canteen.
We round up the latest Liverpool FC news and transfer rumours, as most of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad begin preparations with their national teams.
Mohamed Salah‘s world-class performance in Saturday’s 5-0 mauling has garnered considerable attention and, unsurprisingly, speculation over his long-term future.
Though he is only in his debut campaign with the Reds, precedent with the sales of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho have prompted fears of an imminent departure.
The aim is to “ensure Liverpool is an ultimate destination for players rather than a stepping-stone club,” with their improved finances aiding this effort.
Furthermore, ESPN have quashed claims Salah has a release clause in his current contract.Injury No Problem for Can
The withdrawal of Emre Can after just 27 minutes on the field at the weekend caused concerns over a possible spell on the sidelines.
But Klopp insisted after the game that his back problem was not “too serious,” and this is seemingly the case, with Can joining his Germany team-mates for the international break.
The 24-year-old took to Instagram on Tuesday in anticipation, with Joachim Low’s side set to take on Spain and Brazil in two showcase friendlies.
And speaking to German outlet Sport1 ahead of the games, Can spoke of his enjoyment in working under Klopp at Liverpool.
“I’ve developed a lot under Jurgen Klopp. I am very grateful to him, and it is a lot of fun to work with him,” he said.Robertson’s Commendable Take on Scotland Captaincy
An increasingly popular figure on the terraces at Anfield, Andrew Robertson has linked up with the Scotland squad for this month’s friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary.
With Scott Brown announcing his retirement from international football Robertson is in contention for the captain’s armband, but addressing the possibility the left-back remained admirably reserved.
“If you ask any of the boys if they’d like to captain Scotland or whatever country they are from then I don’t think anyone would turn their noses up at it,” he said.
“Maybe the press have thought of having another chance of making it me versus [Kieran Tierney] but there are plenty of candidates in there.
“I’ve been in the squad with the experienced lads and there are a lot of leaders in there. When Broonie was here there was more than one leader.
“But he was a fantastic captain for a number of years and we were lucky. He led by example and did a terrific job so whoever gets it will have big boots to fill.”Trent Given Chance to Impress Southgate
Such is the depth England enjoy at right-back at present it was hardly noted that Nathaniel Clyne missed out on Gareth Southgate’s latest squad, regardless of his lack of game time.
In Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Joe Gomez, the Three Lions have a wealth of excellent options, but Southgate is clearly looking even further into the future too.
Joining training at St George’s Park on Tuesday was Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the 19-year-old swelling the numbers as England prepare to take on the Netherlands and Italy.
But his involvement in the senior setup indicates that Southgate is aware of his talents, with his progress under Klopp this season key.Giggs’ Comments Give Woodburn & Wilson Hope
Danny Ward was unable to travel due to issues obtaining a visa, but with Ryan Giggs including the Reds’ two young Welsh stars he gave a clear nod to his long-term plans.
“Young players can give you inspiration. All of a sudden you go from getting a little bit of time on the ball to having to up your game,” he explained.
“You can’t take two or three touches because they are on you, they are aggressive, and you are looking over your shoulder.
“You’re suddenly thinking ‘he is after my position’, so you need to raise your game.
“That is what I want to emulate, that competitiveness in training we had at Manchester United.”Ndidi Move Claims Extinguished?
Finally, with suggestions Liverpool had approached Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi emerging on Sunday evening, follow-up reports are varied.
But All Nigeria Soccer cite a source supposedly close to the 21-year-old claiming that a move is off the cards.
“Liverpool have not contacted him about joining the club.”
The Three Lions will play Ronald Koeman’s side in Amsterdam on Friday night, before returning to Wembley to take on Italy on March 27.
Gareth Southgate has called up four Liverpool players for the two friendlies, but with Adam Lallana still working his way towards full fitness he has remained in the gym.
But Gomez, Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain took part in an energetic session at St George’s Park on Monday, and were joined by Trent Alexander-Arnold the following day.
Alexander-Arnold is currently set to remain with the U21s squad for their clashes with Romania and Ukraine, but his inclusion is a positive sign.
Spirits are clearly high in the England camp, with competition among Southgate’s ranks rife as a host of peripheral figures bid for a place in the squad for the World Cup.
England have been drawn in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama, and all four of the Liverpool players in this month’s squad can hope to make the plane to Russia.
Henderson is seemingly in contention for the captaincy, vying with Joe Hart, Eric Dier and Harry Kane.
Though he was omitted from the squad for November’s 0-0 draws with Germany and Brazil, Oxlade-Chamberlain is now likely to be part of Southgate’s World Cup selection due to his club form.
Lallana’s lack of game time at Liverpool seems to have done no damage to his hopes, while Gomez is looking to force his way into the senior setup on a regular basis.
It has been a strong last five matches for Liverpool, but which individual has stood out the most? We take another look at the form guide.
Having again looked back through our Player Ratings archive, as we did last month, we have discovered who Liverpool’s best players have been in the last five games: Watford (H), Man United (A), Porto (H), Newcastle United (H) and West Ham (H).
Here are the top five…
(NB: Players must have featured in at least three of the five games to be in contention.)5. Sadio Mane – 6.8 (out of 10)
Sadio Mane may not have hit the heights of last season, but he is still contributing heavily, both in terms of numbers and all-round impact.
The freakish form of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino has also made him look less effective than he actually is, and recent ratings suggest that he has been Liverpool’s fifth-best performer since the visit of West Ham.
He was very effective in the two routine home league wins against David Moyes’ side (7/10) and Newcastle (8/10), scoring in both games, and despite a minor dip he returned to form against Watford (7.5/10).
The only disappointing display was at United (5/10), when his touch seemed to evade him.4. Virgil van Dijk – 6.87
As each match passes, the more imperious Virgil van Dijk looks, with Liverpool’s record signing appearing every bit a £75 million centre-back.
The last month has been highly impressive for the large part, although he hasn’t been tested a huge amount.
Were it not for Salah doing his best Lionel Messi impression, we would be talking even more about the genius of Firmino this season.
The 26-year-old is playing comfortably the best football of his career, and his influence and importance to Liverpool is truly enormous.
Firmino’s magic has been on show in the last five matches, with his lowest rating a six out of 10 in the bordering on dead-rubber against Porto.
Twenty-three goals, 13 assists and so much more.=1. Andrew Robertson – 7.75
If ever you wanted to realise how good Andrew Robertson has been for Liverpool, you only have to look at the consistency of his ratings.
The Scot topped the pile this time last month, and incredibly he has matched the phenomenal Salah since the 4-1 victory over West Ham.
Nobody was expecting Robertson to be this good, but he is offering vast amounts both going forward and defensively.
Two nine-out-of-10 performances against the Hammers and the Hornets caught the eye in particular, but he was steady in the matches against Newcastle (7/10) and United (6/10) too.
Klopp’s found a gem in Robertson.=1. Mohamed Salah – 7.75
What more can you say about this man?
Salah is producing one of the all-time great individual seasons at Anfield, finding the net 36 times in 41 games, proving unplayable most weeks.
He has showed no sign of slowing up in the last month, with West Ham (7.5/10) and Newcastle (8.5/10) initially feeling his goalscoring wrath on Merseyside.
The Egyptian was thwarted by United (5/10), in what was one of his more disappointing games for Liverpool, but he roared back in remarkable fashion at Anfield.
Salah’s four goals at home to Watford brought back memories of Luis Suarez against Norwich City in 2013/14, and the Hornets’ defence were powerless to stop him.
It was footballing genius on show, and it deservedly earned him a perfect 10-out-of-10 rating.
Without it, Robertson would have been No. 1 again!
Mohamed Salah has proved himself the real deal since joining Liverpool from Roma, winning over even the most skeptical of fans, writes Gareth Bell.
Last weekend I had an epiphany: Mohamed Salah is an extremely good football player.
I appreciate this is a conclusion most reasonable people will have arrived at some time ago, but for a good portion of this season I have watched him slink and slide his way to 36 goals with an unwarranted dose of cynicism.
There was something about him—his demeanour on the pitch, his seeming ambivalence to the magic he was conjuring—which just didn’t sit right.
He didn’t seem to believe he was that good, ergo neither did I. That is, until Sunday morning.
Maybe it was the haze of a hangover, maybe it was the fact I was rewatching Match of the Day for the third time, but somewhere between him chopping back onto his right foot and Miguel Britos’ arse hitting the Anfield turf, a wave of realisation came over me.
This isn’t a player who doesn’t believe in his own ability. This is a player so sure of his own ability that the details don’t matter.
This is the ringer who turns up on a Sunday morning, borrows a pair of boots, scores the winner and is never seen again.
This is the lad in work who smiles politely at tales of your Sunday League exploits, only for you to later find out he made over 300 pro appearances and was capped at U19 level.
This is a man so unfathomably good at what he does, that it has become what he is. Salah is an enigma. Salah is modesty. Salah is goals.
Over the past decade, Liverpool’s revolving door has seen a steady stream of world-class performers pass through. The two with whom Salah’s impact is most-easily comparable are Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez.
All three reached 30 goals in a single season. All three quickly heard their names booming from the Kop. All three have cemented their place in Anfield folklore for decades to come.
Two of three left the club in acrimonious circumstances—let’s hope that’s where the similarities end.
But there is one glaring disparity between the two former players and the Kop’s current hero. At times, Torres and Suarez seemed to succeed on sheer force of character alone.
Nando’s fierce athleticism reduced formidable defenders to rubble (hiya Nemanja!). Suarez played with such a maelstrom of animal aggression that teams were beaten before they set foot on the pitch (hiya Norwich!).
In short, they both tried really hard. Salah, well, he’s different.
Never have I witnessed a player so ruthless yet so bashful—tying defenders’ legs in knots, comforting them with a wry smile and hug afterwards.
His apology to Orestis Karnezis after Saturday’s haul wasn’t patronising, it was the gesture of a man who doesn’t know how to patronise.
He is confidence without arrogance, talent without pretence, success without trying.
I’ve always had a preference for blood-and-thunder football, the type that lauds the trier over the chancer, rolled-up sleeves over rolled-down socks.
I like my players with mud on their knees and a furrow in their brow.
There are a few notable exceptions to this—the likes of Graeme Souness, for example—who managed to traverse the two with an iron-fist-in-velvet-glove eminence.
Salah is all velvet glove, and I now realise how misguided I’ve been.
His current form can’t go on forever, and there will inevitably come a time when his golden touch escapes him.
When that time comes, I hope fans and pundits alike afford him the same good grace as he’s shown his vanquished opponents, and remember fondly this patch as purple as the bins in the alleys of L4.
Long live the King of Egypt.
Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards is said to have been the driving force behind signing Mohamed Salah instead of Julian Brandt last summer.
It is difficult to fathom now how the Reds’ season would have panned out if they had not sealed a £36.9 million deal with AS Roma to bring Salah to Anfield.
The Egyptian has scored 36 goals in 41 games for the club, the most of any player in their debut season on Merseyside, surpassing Fernando Torres with his four-goal haul against Watford.
And now the Telegraph report that the Reds will reject all approaches from the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona next summer.
But if Jurgen Klopp were to have had his way, Salah may not even have been wearing a Liverpool shirt, according to German journalist Rafa Honigstein.
“It’s a real advert for the job of the sporting director Michael Edwards,” Honigstein explained on The Totally Football Show podcast.
“[He] had been getting a lot of criticism in Liverpool for some of the decisions that they’ve made over the last few years.
“This is one where Klopp has just stepped aside and said ‘I didn’t really want Salah, but he convinced me to take him’.
“They were going for Julian Brandt, who is very talented but it’s inconceivable what the season would have looked like if it had been Brandt instead of Salah.
“Brandt has been OK, but hasn’t turned into one of the best strikers overnight, the way that Salah has.”
Though the same was said of Salah by some pundits on his switch to Liverpool, it is highly unlikely Brandt would have slotted in and performed to such a high standard as quickly.
Given Salah is now being spoken of in the company of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo it is, as Honigstein suggests, inconceivable that Brandt would have had the same impact.
Brandt has scored nine and assisted six in 31 games for Bayer Leverkusen this season, largely coming in from the left wing, which is just one goal and an assist more than Naby Keita for RB Leipzig.
The likelihood is that if Brandt was signed instead of Salah, Sadio Mane would have kept his place on the right flank, with the Senegalese the Reds’ key man last term.
But now Klopp has both Mane and Salah alongside Roberto Firmino, and the manager seemingly has the oft-criticised Edwards to thank.
If anything, this serves to further highlight how laughable Neil Ashton and the Mail‘s hack job on the then-head of technical performance back in 2015 was.
Robertson is now firmly cemented as the Reds’ first-choice left-back, but his first months on Merseyside were largely spent on the bench or even out of the squad.
From August to November he made three appearances, with another five games spent as an unused substitute, before taking up a regular berth in December due to Moreno’s ankle injury.
Just five outings into his first prolonged run in the side Robertson was subject to scathing criticism from Sky Sports’ Gary Neville.
The 24-year-old clearly proved Neville wrong, with the ex-England full-back admitting earlier this month that he “has done better than I ever imagined he would.”
Speaking to the Mail ahead of Scotland’s friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary this month, Robertson gave his take on the situation.
“Maybe he hadn’t seen me play enough. Maybe he just thought ‘it’s a signing from Hull’,” he said.
“I don’t know what his thought process was but it’s one man’s opinion. If he thought I wasn’t good enough, no problem.
“But these are the people I want to try to prove wrong. You want to make your fans and your family proud, but it’s the people who doubt you who motivate you more.
“I’m quite good at dealing with it. I was confident in my ability that if I could get a run of big games, I would build on it.”
This is exactly the type of mentality Robertson needed to take on moving from Hull to Liverpool in July, as arguably the most low-key signing of the Reds’ summer.
Neville’s initial reservations were shared by some supporters on Robertson’s switch to Anfield, after leaving a relegated Hull side.
But, just as he did after being released from Celtic at youth level, the left-back has fought against perception and proved himself as the right option.
Lucas Leiva found himself stagnating in the final season of his Liverpool career, but has since reinvented his game with Lazio in Serie A.
Lucas spent 10 years on Merseyside before departing for Rome last summer in a £5 million deal, with Jurgen Klopp having struggled to provide him regular game time.
Since joining Lazio, the Brazilian has made 39 appearances for the Italian outfit, including 36 as a starter, missing only two league games so far due to injury and suspension.
He is close to doubling his minutes tally from last season, rising from 1,778 with the Reds last term to 3,056 so far in 2017/18.
And liberated in a more free-roaming midfield role under Simone Inzaghi, Lucas has now matched his best-ever goal record for a single season at Liverpool, with three.
Two of those have come in the past two games, with another ex-Red, Luis Alberto, providing the assist for both.
His first effort in this impressive back-to-back scoring run came away to Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League, rising highest to head home from Alberto’s in-swinging corner in a 2-0 victory.
This sealed Lazio’s place in the quarter-finals, where a two-legged clash with Red Bull Salzburg awaits.
Three days after his goal at the NSK Olimpiyski, Lucas was on target again as i Biancocelesti drew 1-1 at home to Bologna in Serie A:
With Alberto spotting Lucas’ run off the shoulder of the Bologna defence, the Spaniard picked out his older counterpart with a perfectly weighted through pass.
Lucas collected the ball on the turn with his left, dummied a shot to shift onto his right before firing home beyond Antonio Mirante to secure a vital equaliser.
This draw helped Lazio keep up with the rest of the pack in the race for a top-four finish, with a place in next season’s Champions League in sight.
Given his perception as past his best at Liverpool, this is a welcome revival for Lucas in Rome, with both he and Alberto proving that there is life after Anfield with a well-placed move.
Lucas’ form could see him improve on his three-goal tally before the season’s end, and at just 31 he can hope to contribute to Lazio’s cause long into the future.
Along with his trio of strikes, Lucas has also registered six assists so far this campaign, more than in any single season for the Reds, with his highest being five in 2009/10.
Incredibly, Lucas’ three goals and six assists for Lazio is more than he produced in the previous six seasons for Liverpool, scoring one and assisting six between 2011/12 and 2016/17.
On his exit last summer, Klopp vowed that “the door is always open” for Lucas at his old club, with a view to overseeing a move into coaching in the future.
But his performances for Lazio suggest he is a long way off retirement just yet.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a statistical look at Salah’s season.Esteemed Company
Salah needs only two more Premier League goals to reach 30 for the season.
The feat has been achieved only nine times before in the Premier League era, by seven different players—and three of those came in 42-game seasons in the days when there were 22 teams in the top flight.Outscoring Drogba?
Salah’s next goal will take him level with Didier Drogba for the most prolific Premier League season by an African player.
Drogba scored 29 for Chelsea in 2009/10.Reds’ Greatest Debutant
With his four goals against Watford, Salah overtook Fernando Torres’ record for the most goals in a debut season with Liverpool—he now has 36 in all competitions, to Torres’ 33 in 2007/08.A Rare Hat-Trick
Despite Salah’s prolific season, Saturday was his first Liverpool hat-trick.Four-Goal Hero
He became only the fourth Liverpool player to score four goals in a Premier League game.
Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen achieved the feat twice apiece, and Luis Suarez was the most recent to do so against Norwich in December 2013.Embarrassing the Competition
He has scored 23 goals with his left foot alone.
As we head into international week there has still been plenty to discuss about all things Liverpool FC; here’s the best of Monday’s news stories.
Liverpool are rumoured to have approached Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi.
The combative midfielder has impressed at the Foxes as a replacement for N’Golo Kante and the Reds will be looking to sign him in the summer.
Ndidi joined Leicester from Genk for around £15 million in January 2017, signing a five-and-a-half-year deal at the time.Gini names De Bruyne as Salah’s POTY rival
Gini Wijnaldum says he hasn’t yet made his vote for the Premier League player of the year award—but since he cannot vote for team-mate Mohamed Salah, believes Kevin de Bruyne would be a worthy choice.
ESPN report the Dutch midfielder suggesting Harry Kane’s goals also make him a candidate.
“Mo Salah has had a wonderful year, the same with Kevin De Bruyne. Mo has scored a lot of goals, De Bruyne has scored a lot of goals and given a lot of assists.
“They are both very important for their team, so it’s fair enough that one of those two would win it.
“I think Harry Kane could win it also. He has a lot goals this season.”
Think tactical voting, Gini—go for someone who doesn’t have a chance. Michael Keane, maybe.Klavan rues injury timing
The Estonian defender has spoken about his battle for fitness and gametime, having also succumbed to illness after the turn of the year.
“I was injured at precisely the moment the world’s most expensive defender arrived,” he explained, per Soccernet.
“I was ill for a virus with four days in bed…I probably should have kept back a little bit. I pulled a thigh muscle, the last muscle injury I had was probably 2013 or 2014.
“Everything is ok now. I have to wait until the opportunity comes, I’m not the decision maker.”
Klavan should see game time for Estonia on international duty, when they face Armenia and Georgia.No bid for Alisson, says Monchi
Liverpool have often been linked with a move for AS Roma goalkeeper this season, but Loris Karius‘ recent form has seen such talk die down somewhat.
Instead it has been Real Madrid who have been linked with the Brazilian stopper, rated at around €70 million.
But Roma sporting director Monchi has now moved to stop rumours, according to Sport Mediaset.
“Interest of Real Madrid? We do not have the fear of losing him, Alisson is happy to be here and we are happy with him.
“What we read in the newspapers is not always true, we do not know of any offer. I talk to him every week, he’s happy and wants to do important things here in Rome.”We feel for you, Miguel
“I did a lot of mistakes and I want to forget this game as quickly as possibly and to prepare for the next game at home for three points,” he told his club website.
“Salah is very strong player, very quick, he played on my side and today we defended with a five-three and he was always wider on my side.
“I’m very tired, like I said before maybe the first two or three sprints after that I was in a rush, I needed to breathe, the intensity of the match was very high, because they started very strong, pressing us higher and it was very, very difficult for me today.”
You’re undoubtedly not the only one to feel that way after trying to stop Mo, Miguel!
Jurgen Klopp is notoriously demanding of his players in both a physical and tactical sense—so could it lead naturally to the end of the line for some this summer?
Liverpool have been oft-praised this season for their fast-flowing football, the quick transitions from defensive set-up to being on the front foot.
The attacking triumvirate is lethal once possession is won, and the defence has improved markedly since the turn of the year, too.
And much of it is down to off-the-ball work, positional intelligence and a predatory instinct—or instruction, perhaps—to hunt down the opposition as quickly as possible.
Klopp demands his team be aggressive out of possession, with the forwards tracking back to challenge the opposition before they can even begin to construct attacks of their own. Roberto Firmino, of course, is the perfect Klopp player: technically superb, but relentless in his work rate.
It’s a big part of the reason which saw Daniel Sturridge fail to get game time on a regular basis, and it’s hard to see the English striker ever getting a frequent starting role as a result.
Through no real fault of his own, his body simply cannot cope with what Klopp asks of him, even aside from the fact that most of his career he’s been a forward-thinking attacker, now asked to adapt.
Sturridge isn’t the only one.
Every month, it seems, a handful of players on the books at L4 pick up knocks, strains and other minor injuries to leave them sidelined once more.
Dejan Lovren has been a regular absentee this term once more: not for long, sometimes only a game at a time, but it happens half a dozen times a season. Last year was a similar story, with the Croatian seemingly suffering more minor niggles than can be expected for most centre-backs.
In midfield, two names stand out in this regard.
The former’s case has already been looked at, with This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson wondering whether his career has reached a natural peak.
But even though Lallana has had struggles and missed much of this term, Henderson is arguably more of a worry.
He plays a key role in the team, with far less depth than the positions Lallana takes up, and of course is still the team’s skipper.
But his constant injury problems mean he’s only available to Klopp half the time—almost literally.
Across the last three league campaigns—2015/16, 16/17 and this almost complete 17/18 season—Henderson has played just 52 per cent of available minutes.
He’s had thigh and hamstring problems again this year, after missing February onward last term with a foot injury.
The 15/16 campaign was worst for Henderson—he played just 37 per cent of league minutes that term—who suffered a broken foot bone and a knee ligament complaint.
There are others in the squad who have fitness question marks, it should be noted.
But that quartet has played a big role—up until Sturridge’s loan to West Brom—across Klopp’s tenure and he needs a squad which is capable of remaining fighting fit to perform regularly as he wants the team to.
Of course the odd injury-prone player can be carried. If an addition is made in holding midfield, even with Emre Can‘s seemingly imminent departure, perhaps Henderson’s absences won’t be keenly felt.
Certainly, there are more leaders in the side now to ensure the armband is worn with distinction.
But a regular centre-back? A rare playmaker in a workman-like, industrious midfield?
It’s time to ensure that these roles are available to Klopp when the summer transfer business is conducted by the club.
The manager has performed wonders in structuring a team which can play against the best and be confident of winning, and that will continue this summer with Naby Keita‘s arrival. A few finishing touches are needed, then it’s about beefing up the edges.
Squad depth is vital, but it only helps when the secondary players are fit themselves.
That, as much as any debate over who deserves to be on the pitch each weekend, could dictate a couple of summer exits from Anfield from those who cannot quite cope with the workload on a regular enough basis.
The award is presented by European Sports Media (ESM) to the top-ranked goalscorer in the continent, with a higher weighting given to goals in UEFA’s top five leagues—the Premier League, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the top 10.1. Mohamed Salah
The Egypt forward has found the net in 20 of his 30 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, hitting multiple goals on six occasions including Saturday’s four-goal haul.2. Lionel Messi
Last season’s winner is Salah’s closest challenger this time around after netting his 25th of the LaLiga season in Sunday’s win over Athletic Bilbao.3. Ciro Immobile
The next three players are tied on 24 goals but the Italy international has reached the mark in fewer appearances, 26, than Cavani or Kane.
He scored three against AC Milan in September and four against SPAL in January to better his 23 league goals from last season.4. Edinson Cavani
Club: Paris St Germain
The summer signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could have left Cavani out in the cold and there were reports of an early-season falling-out with the Brazil star over penalty duties, but Cavani has once again been front and centre to back up his 35-goal Ligue 1 campaign last time out.5. Harry Kane
The Spurs and England striker has won the Premier League’s Golden Boot for the last two seasons and was in contention to add the continental equivalent this time around until an ankle injury against Bournemouth dented his hopes.6. Jonas
The top-scoring player on this list, though his goals have come in the Portuguese Liga where a lower UEFA co-efficient means he earns only 1.5 points per goal, rather than two for goals in the ‘big five’ leagues.7. Robert Lewandowski
Club: Bayern Munich
Bayern’s Poland international has been a fixture on the list in recent seasons and a hat-trick against Hamburg took him to 100 Bundesliga goals for the club.
He also scored in his first 11 home league games of the season, equalling a German record set by his coach Jupp Heynckes 45 years ago.8. Cristiano Ronaldo
Club: Real Madrid
The Portugal forward’s continuing dominance was being questioned amid a slow start to the La Liga season for himself and Real.
He has answered in style and after scoring four against Girona on Sunday, he has 14 goals in his last six league games.
He has scored in every Champions League appearance this season for good measure.9. Mauro Icardi
Club: Inter Milan
Like Salah and Ronaldo, Icardi scored four this weekend to join the Portuguese in breaking back into the top 10.
Three more in the remainder of the Serie A season would make it his most prolific league campaign to date.10. Sergio Aguero
Club: Man City
The Argentinian edges out Barcelona’s Luis Suarez for the final spot in the top 10 by virtue of having played fewer games.
En route to 21 goals he has become City’s all-time record scorer and is one away from his 200th for the club.