West Brom Fightback Steals Spotlight From Salah

Mohamed Salah bagged a record-equalling goal for Liverpool, but a dramatic late equaliser from Salomon Rondon earned West Bromwich Albion a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Rondon rose impressively in the 89th minute, arriving to nod in Chris Brunt’s free-kick and complete Albion’s recovery from a two-goal deficit at the Hawthorns.

But bottom of the table West Brom still look set for relegation from the Premier League as they are eight points from safety with only three games left.

Liverpool remain third, three points behind second-placed Manchester United.

Jurgen Klopp’s side had seemed firmly in control as Salah equalled Ian Rush’s Liverpool record of scoring in 32 different games in a single season and collected his 31st league goal of the campaign, his 41st overall.

Egypt winger Salah tied the Premier League record of most goals in a 38-game campaign, joining Alan Shearer (1995-96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08) and Luis Suarez (2013-14).

He also equalled Suarez’s Liverpool record for most goals in a Premier League season.

Earlier, it was Danny Ings, a player whose Liverpool career has been blighted by injuries since moving from Burnley, who was the centre of attention with his first goal in 930 days.

Ings was preferred to Roberto Firmino, one of five key personnel rested by Klopp with an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg with Roma, and the former England international wasted little time in justifying his manager’s faith.

Sadio Mane worked a short corner with James Milner, crossing into the six-yard area where Georginio Wijnaldum had space to control the ball into the path of Ings who drove home convincingly.

It was Ings’ first goal since scoring against Everton in October 2015, shortly after his move to Anfield, and his celebrations indicated the obvious relief felt by a player who has badly injured the cruciate ligaments in both knees in the intervening years.

Liverpool Unveil Home Jersey For 2018/2019 Season

Liverpool have revealed their home kit for the 2018/2019 season.

The UEFA Champions League semi-finalists announced the new jerseys on their official website on Thursday, becoming the first Premier League club to do so.

The New Balance-designed jersey is still the Liverpool red, but a shade deeper than the current kit with a collar and buttons in front.

“The kit retains the retro styling and rich, deeper red colour scheme in use this term, with a reintroduced two-button polo collar and linear stripes on the front of the shirt inspired by the landmark architecture of the redeveloped Main Stand,” the Liverpool website describes the new shirt.

“Our kit isn’t just something we wear to play – it is part of who we are as a team,” Liverpool captain Henderson told the website.

“We feel immensely proud when pulling on the LFC home shirt, it means more to us than you could even imagine; after all, Liverpool Football Club is like no other. I have no doubt that our fans will love the new kit and will wear it with pride when supporting us this coming season.”

Champions League: Guardiola Promises To Attack Liverpool

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola promised to stick by his playing style by attacking Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, despite admitting he is playing into the hands of his opponent.

Liverpool are the only side to have defeated the runaway leaders City in the Premier League this season in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield in January.

The hosts’ fearsome front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were all on target that day as part of their combined tally of 75 goals this season.

However, Guardiola’s bold brand of attacking football has been accompanied by success everywhere he has gone in a stellar coaching career from Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now at City.

And he believes that is the best way for City to reach just their second ever Champions League semi-final, but the eighth in his nine seasons as a top-flight coach.

“I know the way we play is perfect for Liverpool because they are a team that attack the space unlike any other team in the world, especially Mane, Salah, Firmino, they are so good,” said Guardiola on Tuesday.

“But I feel the best way to win is the way we try to do since we were here.”

No opposing manager has beaten Guardiola more times than Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. In 12 previous meetings, Klopp has six wins to Guardiola’s five.

Klopp was keen to play down the significance of that record, but Guardiola hailed their shared spirit to entertain.

“Both teams try to play. We are the teams that scored the most goals in Premier League this season by far,” added Guardiola.

“I think Jurgen Klopp teams are honest teams that respect what football means. They try to attack and of course we are going to try to (do the same). I’m sure tomorrow is going to be a good game.”

City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne described the sides’ January meeting as a “crazy game” that was “beautiful for the neutral”.

Liverpool Defender Joel Matip Set To Miss Rest Of Season

Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip is set to miss the rest of the season as the club say he is “likely to require an operation on a thigh injury”.

The 26-year-old suffered the injury during the win at Crystal Palace on Saturday but played the whole game.

A Reds statement said “the operation is likely to end” Matip’s “involvement in the remainder” of the campaign.

Liverpool play Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.

The Germany-born, former Cameroon defender has made 25 league appearances this season, scoring once.

Matip’s injury comes after fellow defender Joe Gomez suffered an ankle injury playing for England during the international break.

Midfielder Adam Lallana also suffered an injury against Palace which manager Jurgen Klopp described as “serious”.

Mourinho Must Hold Salah Off.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has the tough task of keeping Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah quiet as Jurgen Klopp’s entertainers roll into town at the weekend hoping to displace the current numer two position holder Manchester United Off their seat.

With Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City virtually  winners of the league, northwest rivals United and Liverpool — the two most successful clubs in the English game — are left fighting for the second place.

United’s impressive fightback from 2-0 down on Monday to defeat Crystal Palace 3-2 maintained their slender two-point lead over Liverpool in the battle for the runners-up spot behind runaway leaders City.

Nemanja Matic bailed out Mourinho’s men with a stunning stoppage-time strike in London but another three points papered over the cracks in the latest in a series of unconvincing performances from United.

“We have to be honest, we have to play better,” Matic admitted once the euphoria of his first United goal died down.

 

“We have to do more if we want to win as Liverpool is a team with great quality.”

The onus will be on Mourinho to take the game to the visitors at Old Trafford on Saturday but the Portuguese manager, criticised for keeping his array of attackers firmly on the leash, is unlikely to risk throwing caution to the wind.

Liverpool had scored 20 goals in their previous seven games before a much-changed side drew 0-0 with Porto in midweek, a result that sealed a place in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in nine years.

With January signing Virgil van Dijk settling in well at the back and Loris Karius impressing in goal, the pieces are falling into place for Klopp’s team, who have lost just once in 20 Premier League games.

But it is their forwards, led by the irrepressible Salah alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, who have scored a combined 68 goals this season, that will give Mourinho sleepless nights.

There was a palpable sensation around Anfield on Tuesday that Liverpool minds were already focused on United, with the free-scoring front three all rested at different spells of the game.

United v Liverpool ‘special’

The match against Liverpool is the first of three games in eight days for United at Old Trafford that will define their season.

Sevilla visit in the last-16 of the Champions League on Tuesday with the tie delicately balanced at 0-0 after the first leg, before in-form Brighton head north for an FA Cup quarter-final.

Mourinho conceded recently “to play Liverpool has a special meaning” for United, so reserving his stars’ energies for midweek is out of the question.

However, he does have a big decision to make over whether to persist with Alexis Sanchez on the left side of United’s attack, with the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in his armoury.

The Chilean has scored just once since moving from Arsenal in January.

Elsewhere, Chelsea need to bounce back from four defeats in five league games if they are to retain any realistic hope of a top-four finish when they host struggling Palace and Tottenham must pick themselves up after being dumped out of the Champions League by Juventus at Bournemouth.

A heavily-rotated City side were also beaten for just the fourth time this season by Basel in Europe in midweek, but still progressed to the quarter-finals and can move to within three wins of mathematically sealing the title when they visit Stoke on Monday.

Arsenal, trailing fourth-placed Spurs by 13 points, look to have blown their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League but Arsene Wenger will be desperate to reverse an alarming slump when Watford visit the Emirates.

Premier League: Liverpool Vow To Spend After Declaring Profit.

Liverpool have promised to support boss Jurgen Klopp in the transfer market after their accounts returned to profit with a £39 million ($53 million, 44 million euros) surplus recorded in the latest financial results.

The Reds ran into a loss of  £21 million for the year ending May 2016, but they profited from a £30 million increase in media revenue from the first year of the new three-season Premier League broadcast deal.

Liverpool’s commercial revenue rose by £20 million thanks to 12 new sponsorship collaborations.

A first season for Anfield’s expanded Main Stand saw match day revenue increase by £12 million to £74 million mainly as a result of increased hospitality sales.

Liverpool’s overall revenue for the financial year to May 31, 2017 increased by £62 million to £364 million – a sharp rise of 20.5 percent.

The figures do not take into account Liverpool’s combined spend of £80 million on Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andrew Robertson last year.

Virgil van Dijk’s £75 million arrival from Southampton and Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million sale to Barcelona — both deals happened in January — are also not included.

Although bank debt rose from £22 million to £67 million through spending on capital infrastructure and player recruitment, Klopp will be allowed to make more new signings when the transfer window reopens at the end of the season.

“Performance on the pitch and the reinvestment in our squad is always a priority and following the club’s record signing last month we will look to invest again in the summer,” Liverpool’s chief operating officer Andy Hughes said.

“Progress on and off the pitch is critical to the growth of this football club – we all want success and everything we’re doing is geared toward fulfilling our football ambitions.”

Meanwhile, figures up to November 30, 2017 show that Arsenal Holdings plc now has cash reserves of £137.6million – up £37.1 million on their 2016 results.

However, Arsenal’s football turnover decreased £23.4 million after they failed to qualify for the Champions League and are instead competing in the less lucrative Europa League this season.

Liverpool Demolishes Fc Porto As Mane Hits Hatrick

Sadio Mane had a fantastic hatrick after trashing Fc Porto 0-5 at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday  in the first leg of the  round of  16 game.

Mane opened the score sheet before Mohamed Salah’s fantastic  finish for his 30th goal of the season quickly made it 0-2

The Senegalese forward  brilliantly slotted in his second for the night with Roberto Firmino adding his name to the scoresheet with 20 minutes to play, after Mane’s again added his third goal and his first Hatrick in the European Champions League.

“It was important to play as a team and we did, we played great football from the beginning,” Mane told BT Sport.

“We created so many chances and we scored five. It was well deserved.”

Playing in the last 16 of the competition for the first time in nine years, Liverpool are now all but certain to reach the quarter-finals ahead of the second leg at Anfield on March 6.

Jurgen Klopp’s men had scored 23 goals in the group stage and continued that scintillating form in Portugal to become the top-scorers in this season’s competition, while the defensive frailties that have plagued them at times this season never resurfaced as Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk put in accomplished displays at the back.

“I saw a lot of fantastic performances tonight. The result is only possible if they are all spot on,” said Klopp.

“Of course, Sadio is man of the match, three fantastic goals, but they all did well and that is the only way to be successful.”

Sergio Conceicao’s deflated Porto will now turn their attentions back to domestic matters, where they hold a two-point lead in the league and are in the Cup semi-finals.

Roared on by the home fans, Porto started brightly and Brazilian midfielder Otavio was denied an early goal by a last-ditch tackle from Lovren.

But it didn’t take Liverpool long to grow into the game, as left-back Andrew Robertson fired over on his Champions League debut and Ivan Marcano’s brave block prevented Firmino from heading in.

But the five-time European champions were gifted the lead in the 25th minute as Porto goalkeeper Jose Sa, who has replaced former Real Madrid great Iker Casillas this season, allowed Mane’s tame strike to squirm underneath his body and into the net.

Mane has been overshadowed so far this term by the blistering performances of Firmino and Salah, but the Senegalese forward’s first goal in six games was his fourth in the Champions League.

Liverpool took total control of the tie just four minutes later as Salah scored in style.

James Milner’s strike crashed into the post, but the Egyptian star was on hand to flick the ball over the onrushing Sa with a magnificent piece of skill and slot into the net.

The visitors were utterly dominant, but Tiquinho Soares, playing in place of the injured Vincent Aboubakar, fired narrowly wide for Porto on the stroke of half-time.

Porto had plenty of the ball but were always vulnerable to Liverpool’s waves of rapid counter-attacks, and Mane made it three shortly after the restart.

The away side cut the Portuguese league leaders to shreds with a series of first-time flicks and passes, and after Firmino was denied by Sa, Mane was on hand to tap in the rebound.

The visitors’ relentless pressure meant another goal was almost inevitable, and it arrived when Milner picked out Firmino from a posse of unmarked Liverpool shirts in the centre to slot home his seventh Champions League goal of the campaign.

The English outfit still weren’t finished, though, as Mane’s long-range effort flew past Sa with five minutes remaining to round off the procession in fine fashion.

Flanagan Sentenced For Assault

Liverpool defender John Flanagan was sentenced to rehabilitation and 40 hours of unpaid work on Wednesday, having pleaded guilty to attacking his girlfriend.

The 25-year-old full-back admitted an offence of common assault by beating at a hearing on January 2.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that he kicked his partner Rachael Wall in a central street in the northwest English city in the early hours of December 22.

District judge Wendy Lloyd sentenced Flanagan to a 12-month community order, which includes 15 rehabilitation activity days, 40 hours of unpaid work, £85 court costs ($117, 96 euros) and an £85 victim surcharge.

“You are, of course, a young man of previous good character and therefore it’s undoubtedly sad that you have brought yourself here by your behaviour,” she said.

“It was a matter of this lady going to the floor twice and you used your foot on her on one occasion.”

The court saw security camera footage which showed Flanagan hitting his girlfriend before pushing her against a wall twice and then kicking her.

His lawyer Lionel Grieg told the court: “He deeply regrets his behaviour and there is genuine remorse.

“They are back together and working very hard at the relationship.”

Liverpool-born Flanagan has made more than 50 first-team appearances for the Reds since making his debut aged 18.

He has captained Liverpool and made an appearance for England as a substitute in 2014.

Flanagan spent last season on loan at Burnley after 20 months out due to knee surgery.

He has featured only once for Liverpool this season.

© AFP

Coutinho Inspires Liverpool Rout Against Swansea

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho underlined his importance to the Reds ahead of the transfer window with a fine individual display in a comfortable 5-0 win over Premier League strugglers Swansea City on Tuesday.

The Brazil international scored his 12th goal of the season with a fine curling effort and provided an assist for compatriot Roberto Firmino.

Coutinho, who was strongly linked with a move to Barcelona in the build-up to the season, has enjoyed his most prolific goalscoring month in a Liverpool shirt, finding the net seven times in December.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s determination saw him score Liverpool’s third after half-time before Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finished from close range.

Liverpool’s victory ensured they remain in the thick of the battle for the Champions
League places in fourth spot — five points behind second-placed Manchester United.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had made four changes from the side that drew 3-3 against Arsenal.

Joel Matip and Alexander-Arnold came into the defence, while Georginio Wijnaldum and Oxlade-Chamberlain both started in midfield.

It did not take Liverpool long to assert their authority against the Premier League’s bottom club.

The tireless Firmino dispossessed Jordan Ayew in midfield and rolled the ball into the path of Mohamed Salah who in turn fed Coutinho just outside the penalty area.

Coutinho, restored to an advanced role in Liverpool’s attacking triumvirate, cut inside onto his right foot and curled a sumptuous shot into the top right corner of the net, which Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski could only stand and admire.

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who retained his place despite a high-profile blunder against Arsenal, was called into action shortly afterwards.

A deep cross picked out Ayew at the back post and the Swansea striker’s header brought a smart save out of the Belgium international.

With the atmosphere at Anfield flat and Swansea happy to pack men behind the ball, the remainder of the first half lacked any real intensity.

Liverpool continued to pose the greater threat with Emre Can, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Firmino all trying their luck from distance to no avail.

The Reds squandered a golden chance to add to their advantage on the stroke of half-time when Salah nabbed the ball in midfield and put Firmino through on goal, only for the Liverpool forward to drag his shot wide.

AFP

Tensions Mount As Klopp Eyes Euro Boost

Assailed by mounting criticism from frustrated fans, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp needs to mastermind a sustained challenge in the Champions League to keep the doubters at bay.

With Liverpool lagging 12 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City despite Saturday’s 3-0 win over Huddersfield, Klopp could be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief that Slovenian minnows Maribor are the next visitors to Anfield on Wednesday.

Having failed to win a trophy in his two-year reign and already out of the League Cup, Klopp has had to face some awkward questions as Liverpool struggle to get back on track after a spluttering start to the season.

The knives were out for Klopp following the recent 4-1 thrashing at Tottenham, with pundits and fans suggesting Liverpool are no better off than when the German’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers was in charge.

It must have been especially worrying for Klopp that victory against Huddersfield was played in a muted atmosphere punctuated by moans from the tetchy Anfield crowd.

Given Liverpool’s rich history — which includes 18 English titles and five European Cups — Klopp fears his club’s supporters now have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in a football world far different than the club’s heyday.

Liverpool’s net spends of £54 million ($71 million, 61 million euros) in the last transfer window was dwarfed by the sums splashed out by title rivals Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea.

“The problem is here, the moment things don’t work out, we get compared with the past,” Klopp complained.

“They wreck the confidence of the players when they say things like, ‘You are not good enough’. It’s a problem.”

Against that difficult backdrop, Klopp might find a long run in the Champions League — a competition that stirs the emotions of Reds fans like no other — is his best chance of changing the mood music at Anfield.

Liverpool is well placed to qualify for the last 16 after taking five points from their first three matches.

Home truths
A 7-0 demolition of Maribor in their previous fixture took them to the top of Group E, also featuring Sevilla and Spartak Moscow.

But to make an impact in the latter stages of a tournament Liverpool last won in 2005, Klopp, who took Dortmund to the Champions League final in 2013, must solve a couple of pressing problems.

For much of his reign, the 50-year-old has been hamstrung by his failure to plug the leaks in Liverpool’s defense.

The Reds have been breached with alarming regularity again this season and have already conceded 16 times in the league — three more than any other team in the top six.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep Klopp awake at night, the German has also been frustrated by Liverpool’s issues at the other end, where his richly gifted forwards have repeatedly spurned chances to kill off opponents.

Aware that Liverpool’s season was in danger of spiraling out of control, Klopp responded by delivering a few home truths to his players ahead of the Huddersfield game.

“Against Tottenham, we made mistakes and got criticised. This is what it means to be at a big club,” Liverpool defender Joel Matip said.

“We know we did it wrong and he (Klopp) didn’t hold back, he said it directly. You have to speak about these things honestly and that’s what he did.

“He said it was not good enough, he spoke very honestly about the things that have to change.”

Klopp’s blast inspired Liverpool’s first win in four league games, but whether that helps turn the jeers back to cheers remains to be seen.

 

Source: AFP

Messi Rates Ozil Ahead Of Coutinho

Barcelona ace Leo Messi rates Arsenal attacker Mesut Ozil ahead of Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

Both attackers have been linked with Barca ahead of the January market.

And Don Balon says Messi has told Barca chiefs to consider signing Ozil next summer instead of Philippe Coutinho.

Messi feels Ozil would be a smarter buy compared to the Liverpool playmaker.

The German is off contract in June and still to settle on new terms with the Gunners.

Liverpool, meanwhile, rejected three bids from Barca in the summer for Coutinho, 25, and rate him at €200m.