Liverpool Set New Club Record, Extend Unbeaten Home Run To 64 Matches

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 22, 2020. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP
Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 22, 2020. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

 

Liverpool shrugged off an injury crisis to move level on points with Tottenham at the top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Leicester to set a new club record of 64 unbeaten league games at Anfield.

The champions were without the injured Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while top scorer Mohamed Salah was absent due to a positive coronavirus test.

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Barren Draw With Leeds Takes Arteta’s Team To 11th On The Table

Yet, Jurgen Klopp’s men were still imperious in easing past a Leicester side that had started the weekend on top of the table.

The Foxes did not do themselves any favours when Jonny Evans turned James Milner’s corner into his own net to reward Liverpool’s bright start.

Diogo Jota then became the first ever Liverpool player to score in his first four home league games with a downward header from Andy Robertson’s cross.

File photo: Liverpool’s Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara (C) warms up before the English Premier League football match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP).

 

Only a combination of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and the woodwork kept Liverpool from a repeat of the 4-0 thrashing they dished out to Leicester when the sides last met in December.

READ ALSO: Tottenham Show Title Credentials Against Toothless Man City

But Robert Firmino then rounded off a fine night for the champions with a towering header from another Milner corner six minutes from time.

“Playing them like that tonight, I do not take for granted,” said Klopp. “The boys were on fire.”

AFP

Liverpool Brush Aside Leicester Despite Major Absences

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 22, 2020. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP
Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 22, 2020. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

Liverpool were not derailed by an injury crisis as Jurgen Klopp’s men produced a dominant display to beat Leicester 3-0 and move level on points with Premier League leaders Tottenham.

Klopp was missing seven first-team regulars through injury and top scorer Mohamed Salah due to a positive coronavirus test, but Liverpool still swept aside a Leicester team who had started the weekend on top of the table.

Jonny Evans’s own goal was just reward for the Reds’ bright start before Diogo Jota set a record-breaking start to life at Anfield.

The Portuguese international became the first Liverpool player to score in his first four home league games when he headed home Andy Robertson’s inch-perfect cross.

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Barren Draw With Leeds Takes Arteta’s Team To 11th On The Table

Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal kept the score down as he made a series of second-half saves, notably from Sadio Mane and Jota, while Evans had a lucky escape as the post prevented him from scoring a second own goal.

Roberto Firmino thought he had been denied just his third league goal in 24 games when the Brazilian’s shot came back off the post and his follow-up was cleared by Marc Albrighton with just 10 millimetres of the ball not over the line.

But Firmino rounded off a brilliant team performance by rising highest to meet James Milner’s corner.

Another muscle injury suffered by Naby Keita was the only negative for Klopp on a night when his side showed they will not give up their title easily despite losing centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for the rest of the season.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has now lost all three meetings against his former club and just like the previous meeting between the sides, which Liverpool won 4-0 in December, the Foxes were shown the gulf they have to bridge to become title contenders.

Harvey Barnes wasted one big opportunity for the visitors when he sliced wide Jamie Vardy’s cross at 1-0.

But the end to a six-game winning run sees Leicester fall back to fourth, two points off the top.

Liverpool paid tribute to former goalkeeper Ray Clemence, who died aged 72 after a long battle with prostate cancer this week, before kick-off.

Alisson Becker wore a replica of Clemence’s jersey from the 1981 European Cup final win over Real Madrid in the warm-up, while his former teammates Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush paid their respects from the stands.

And two of Liverpool’s greatest ever players also got the chance to show their appreciation to the current crop, who surpassed a club record they set between 1978 and 1981, as Klopp’s men are now unbeaten in 64 league games at Anfield stretching back to April 2017.

 

AFP

World Cup Qualifier: Brazil Struggle To Beat Venezuela Without Neymar

Players of Brazil gather before the start of their closed-door 2022 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier football match against Venezuela at Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 13, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / POOL / AFP

 

Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino scored the crucial goal as Brazil laboured to a 1-0 win over a well organized but limited Venezuela in their World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Firmino broke the deadlock on 66 minutes in Sao Paulo, poaching a goal after Venezuelan defender Darwin Machis’ attempt to clear an Everton Ribeiro cross fell to him a few yards out.

Firmino’s 16th goal in 47 appearances for the Selecao was enough to maintain their 100 per cent record in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Brazil have already beaten Bolivia (5-0) and Peru (4-2) and top the South American qualifying table with Argentina second.

Venezuela, who lost their first two qualifiers, were set up to contain and held the Brazilians scoreless at half time in the deserted Morumbi stadium.

The hosts missed the injured Neymar’s creativity in midfield, but even with an attack sporting Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison, they could find no way through the mass Venezuelan defence in the first half.

Richarlison did have the ball in the net early on but the Everton striker’s celebrations were cut short when Firmino was adjudged to have been narrowly offside in the buildup.

Players of Brazil gather before the start of their closed-door 2022 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier football match against Venezuela at Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 13, 2020. FERNANDO BIZERRA / POOL / AFP

 

For all Brazil’s pressing, Wuilker Farinez had little enough to do in the Venezuela goal, but the keeper made a flying save to beat away a bouncing shot from Firmino just before the half-hour, the Liverpool striker heading the resulting corner well wide.

With 75 per cent possession but short of ideas in attack, most of Brazil’s threat came from the left and it was from there they worked their best chance on 32 minutes, Atletico Madrid’s Renan Lodi whipping in a cross that Gabriel Jesus and then Richarlison, at full stretch, failed to turn in to a gaping goal.

Venezuela’s only threat came from a break up the left wing by Yeferson Soteldo, whose cross for Salomon Rondon was hacked away by Marquinhos.

Rondon, formerly of West Bromwich Albion and now plying his trade for Chinese Super Lague club Dalian Professional, otherwise cut an isolated figure when not busy with defensive duties.

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson, who hardly touched the ball during the whole match, reacted quickly to scramble the ball away when Rondon briefly threatened the Brazil goal at the death.

Venezuela’s Corinthians star Romulo Otero wasted Venezuela’s only other real chance when he fired a 25-meter free kick over Ederson’s bar in injury time.

A worried Brazilian coach Tite will have seen how sorely his side missed Neymar’s invention.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, who suffered a thigh injury in a Champions League match last month, is also set to miss Tuesday’s match with Uruguay in Montevideo.

Venezuela host a resurgent Chile in Caracas on Tuesday.

Jose Peseiro’s side are likely to maintain their uncomfortable record of being the only South American team never to qualify for a World Cup.

AFP

Man City, Liverpool’s Vulnerabilities Promise Wide Open Title Race

AFP PHOTO

 

For the past three years, Manchester City and Liverpool have dominated the Premier League to an extent never seen before in English football.

But after three seasons in which the title winner has averaged 99 points, neither side carries the same fear factor in an unpredictable campaign that offers a series of challengers hope of winning the league.

Defending champions Liverpool still head to City on Sunday in second place, trailing surprise leaders Southampton only by goal difference.

But Jurgen Klopp’s men have already dropped more points in seven games than they did in their opening 27 in romping to the title last season.

Of more lasting damage to their title credentials, the Reds have also lost the towering presence of defender Virgil van Dijk for what looks set to be the lion’s share of the season.

Even when the giant Dutchman was still present, Liverpool suffered a historic 7-2 humiliation to Aston Villa a month ago that leaves them with still the worst defensive record in the league.

“So many things are different this year,” said Klopp on Friday in a season where a packed schedule and empty stadiums appear to be levelling the playing field.

“Nothing is to compare with last year. Nothing is to compare with the year before.

“We just have to make sure we get through very intense periods, line up the fittest players and play the best football we can. In this case, it is against Man City, which is obviously one of the most difficult games to play in the world.”

Fitness issues have also contributed to City’s shaky start.

After a two-week-long pre-season due to their Champions League commitments in August, Pep Guardiola’s men won just two of their opening five league games, including a 5-2 thrashing at home to Leicester.

Injuries to Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have left City often without a natural striker, while Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan also missed matches due to positive coronavirus tests.

City start the weekend down in 10th, albeit just five points off Liverpool and with a game in hand.

– Too early to call –

Both have steadied the ship in recent weeks and remain bookies favourites to fight for the title.

But they face stiff competition with Chelsea and Tottenham significantly strengthening for a title challenge, while Guardiola warned of the threat posed by Leicester and Arsenal.

“They (Liverpool) are the biggest favourite, but I think what happened with the pandemic this season is different, so I see other teams really strong,” said Guardiola.

Yet, the mutual respect between the two managers mean they continue to see each other as the biggest threat for the title.

Guardiola admitted earlier this year that Klopp’s Liverpool are “the toughest rival I have faced in my career.”

But City have never lost at home to Liverpool in the league since the Catalan arrived in Manchester, including a 4-0 thrashing of the newly-crowned champions when they last met in July.

Clashes between the two have gone a long way to settling the destiny of the title in recent years. After an uncertain start to the season, City’s 5-0 triumph over a 10-man Liverpool in September 2017 was the second of an 18-match winning run that catapulted them towards a record 100 Premier League points.

A thrilling 2-1 win for Guardiola’s side in January 2019 was Liverpool’s only defeat of the season in which they still missed out on the title despite amassing 97 points.

Last season it was Liverpool’s 3-1 success early in the campaign that opened up a nine-point lead between the sides that City never recovered from.

This time, though, Guardiola believes it is too early to make conclusions this time, much like another battle for power this week.

“It’s an important game, but as the presidential elections in the United States of America, all the votes must be counted,” he said on Friday. “There are a lot of points to play (for).”

-AFP

Full EPL Fixtures: Man City Face Liverpool Showdown, Solskjaer Under Fire

premier-league-fixtures-today
 Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

Manchester City’s bid to regain the Premier League title faces a defining moment against leaders Liverpool this weekend, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fights to silence the critics as troubled Manchester United take on Everton.

City are already five points behind Liverpool, albeit with a game in hand, and cannot afford to lose to the champions at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side have allowed Liverpool to steal a march on them after winning just three of their first six league games.

Although City have won five of their last six games in all competitions, including a midweek Champions League success against Olympiakos, they remain some way short of their peak form.

Hampered by Sergio Aguero’s recurring injury problems, City have lacked a cutting edge at times.

Guardiola can take heart from the return to fitness of Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, who came off the bench to score against Olympiakos.

Acknowledging the significance of the Liverpool match to City’s title hopes, Jesus said: “It’s a very important game for us. It’s a direct confrontation against the leader of the table.

“We need to be very focused, especially playing at home. We need to play our way and try to win the game. We need to win those three points if we want to aspire to win the Premier League again.”

While City have made a spluttering start, Liverpool appear back to their best despite the absence of key defender Virgil van Dijk.

Klopp has been forced to alternate between inexperienced youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips as Joe Gomez’s partner in central defence, but the Liverpool machine is still running smoothly.

Jurgen Klopp’s team have won five games in all competitions and conceded just two goals since Van Dijk suffered the serious knee injury that is likely to rule him out for the rest of the season.

Liverpool, one point clear of second placed Leicester, crushed Atalanta 5-0 in the Champions League in midweek thanks to in-form Diogo Jota’s hat-trick.

“We are not a team of only one player. The last weeks have been difficult times because we have lost some important players in our team, but now we have many coming back as well,” Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker said.

– Under pressure –
Meanwhile, Manchester United’s dismal start to the season has left Solskjaer in danger of the sack.

After two successive losses, another damaging defeat at Everton would put the Norwegian under intense pressure amid reports United’s board have made contact with representatives of former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

United’s shock 2-1 defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on Wednesday was an especially embarrassing night for Solskjaer as his team’s defensive frailties came back to haunt him yet again.

Beaten by Arsenal in the league last weekend, United are off to their worst start at home since 1972, so Solskjaer might welcome an away game against an Everton side who have lost their last two games.

But Solskjaer, whose side sit just four points above the relegation zone, will know the forthcoming international break potentially presents an opportunity for his dismissal if he doesn’t inspire a win against Everton.

United, losers in three of their six league games, have not been beaten in four of their first seven in a league campaign since 1989-90.

“I decline to comment on such a thing. Of course, it’s early on and opinions are out there all the time. You’ve got to stay strong,” Solskjaer said after the shambles in Istanbul.

“I’m employed by the club to do a job and I do that to the best of my ability with my staff.”

Elsewhere this weekend, if Liverpool drop points against City, then Leicester, who host Wolves, or Tottenham, who travel to West Bromwich Albion, could seize first place.

Fixtures (all times GMT):

Friday

Brighton v Burnley (1730), Southampton v Newcastle (2000)

Saturday

Everton v Manchester United (1230), Crystal Palace v Leeds (1500), Chelsea v Sheffield United (1730), West Ham v Fulham (2000)

Sunday

West Brom v Tottenham (1200), Leicester v Wolves (1400), Manchester City v Liverpool (1630), Arsenal v Aston Villa (1915)

Liverpool Becomes UK’s First City To Conduct COVID-19 Trial Testing

A worker wearing a high-vis jacket photographs the information on the swab provided by a member of the public at the long-established testing facility for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Liverpool on November 6, 2020.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Liverpool on Friday began England’s first city-wide trial of coronavirus testing in an attempt to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed during the country’s second wave of the pandemic.

All of the northwestern city’s 500,000 residents as well as people working there will be offered repeat tests, even if asymptomatic, under the pilot, which will initially run for two weeks.

Liverpool last month became the first region to enter the most severe tier of regional lockdown as it battled a spike in cases, followed by the nearby city of Manchester.

A month-long nationwide lockdown came into force on Thursday as cases began to spiral in all parts of England.

Britain is already grappling with the worst toll in Europe with over 48,000 dead after testing positive for the disease.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said the pilot could save lives and “get the city out of tier three restrictions”.

Matthew Ashton, the city’s director of public health, told the BBC the pilot could last longer, saying they “want to make sure it is long enough for us to be able to see the impact”.

“The point of this is to get the city tested,” he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the kind of cheap new tests being deployed in Liverpool “can be a massive and possibly decisive use to us in this country in defeating the virus”.

The tests involve swabs and new “lateral flow” tests, akin to pregnancy tests, which can provide a result within 20 minutes.

New testing sites have been set up across the city, in schools, universities, offices and care homes, with the help of around 2,000 military personnel.

-AFP

Liverpool Crush Atalanta 5-0 In Champions League

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions league football match Atalanta Bergamo vs Liverpool, on November 3, 2020 at the Atalanta stadium in Bergamo.  AFP

 

Diogo Jota scored a hat-trick as Liverpool demolished Atalanta 5-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday to secure a third win in as many matches in Group D.

Portugal forward Jota struck twice in the first half in Bergamo before Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane added goals early in the second period. Jota completed his treble on 54 minutes.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have a maximum of nine points and are five clear of both Atalanta and Ajax, who won 2-1 at Danish champions Midtjylland.

AFP

Jota Caps Liverpool Fightback As Man City, Chelsea Win

Liverpool’s Portuguese striker Diogo Jota (C) runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on October 31, 2020. (Photo by Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP)

 

Diogo Jota capped Liverpool’s dramatic fightback as the Premier League champions beat West Ham 2-1 to move three points clear at the top, while Manchester City and Chelsea both won to keep in touch with the leaders on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were rocked by Pablo Fornals’ early strike at Anfield as the West Ham midfielder punished a poor header from Joe Gomez in the 10th minute.

The Reds drew level in the 42nd minute when Mohamed Salah was fouled by Arthur Masuaku and the Egyptians stepped up to convert the penalty for his eighth goal of the season.

Liverpool thought they had claimed the lead with just over 10 minutes remaining when substitute Jota turned in a loose ball.

Jota had pounced after Lukasz Fabianski saved Sadio Mane’s shot but after a lengthy delay that saw referee Kevin Friend make use of the pitchside monitor, the goal was ruled out for a foul by the Senegal winger.

In the 85th minute, Jota ran onto Xherdan Shaqiri’s pass to score his fourth goal since joining from Wolves in September.

 

Liverpool’s Portuguese striker Diogo Jota celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 31, 2020. – Liverpool won the game 2-1. (Photo by PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /

It was Liverpool’s fourth successive victory since influential defender Virgil van Dijk was sidelined for several months with a serious knee injury suffered against Everton.

Despite their defensive issues this term, Liverpool have opened up a three-point lead over second placed Everton, with their Merseyside rivals in action at Newcastle on Sunday.

“It’s not about shining, or flying, or whatever, it’s about hard work. That was absolutely necessary against this opponent,” Klopp said after Liverpool equalled their club record of 63 home league games unbeaten.

“We had a lot of good football, not 500 chances or whatever but enough. I want to see us dig in and we did that, and I’m so happy.”

While Liverpool were completing their win, government officials confirmed the Premier League could continue despite a new national lockdown that will last until at least December.

“The world is in a difficult place and we are happy to be allowed to play football,” Klopp said.

Title rivals City have yet to hit the free-scoring form of Pep Guardiola’s side at their best, as for the third consecutive league game they were held to a solitary goal.

But Kyle Walker’s long-range strike against his former club was good enough to earn a 1-0 win at goal-shy Sheffield United.

It was his first goal for a year in his 100th Premier League appearance for City.

A fourth win in five games in all competition edges City up to eighth, five points behind Liverpool.

And there was another boost for City after the game as Guardiola ruled out a return to Barcelona despite interest from presidential candidates at the Catalan giants to bring the club’s most successful ever coach back to the Camp Nou.

“I said many times, my period as a manager in Barcelona is over,” said Guardiola, whose contract at the Etihad expires at the end of the season.

“I am incredibly happy here, still I have the desire to do well and this is the most important thing.”

– Chelsea hit their stride –
Chelsea are also finding their form after a slow start to the season as Frank Lampard’s men ran out 3-0 winners at Burnley to stretch their unbeaten run to nine games.

Hakim Ziyech was handed his first Premier League start after scoring in a 4-0 Champions League win away to Krasnodar in midweek and the Moroccan’s shot wrong-footed Nick Pope to open the floodgates for the visitors on 26 minutes.

Kurt Zouma’s bullet header then doubled Chelsea’s advantage from Mason Mount’s corner just after the hour mark.

Timo Werner was due to be rested until an injury in the warm-up to Christian Pulisic forced the German international into Lampard’s line-up.

And Werner rounded off an excellent second-half performance from the Blues with a fine finish from Ziyech’s pass.

After much criticism of his side’s defending, Lampard will be equally delighted at a fourth straight clean sheet as Chelsea moved up to fourth place.

Liverpool’s Van Dijk Knee Surgery A Success

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk acknowledges supporters during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Huddersfield at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 26, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Virgil van Dijk has undergone successful knee surgery and will begin rehabilitation, Premier League champions Liverpool said on Friday.

The club would not say how long the 29-year-old central defender would be out.

Van Dijk, who was pivotal in both Liverpool’s Champions League success in 2019 and their title triumph last season, suffered cruciate ligament damage after a tackle from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford earlier this month.

“Virgil van Dijk has undergone surgery on the knee ligament injury he sustained earlier this month,” read a club statement.

“The Liverpool defender’s planned operation took place in London and was conducted successfully.

“Van Dijk will now immediately focus on the beginning of his rehabilitation with the support of the Reds’ medical department.

“No timeframe has been placed on the Dutchman’s return to action.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told his press conference on the eve of their Premier League home game with West Ham that Van Dijk was doing okay.

“This time (after a operation) is always unpleasant,” said Klopp.

“You don’t just wake up and everything is fine, you still feel the surgery. But he’s as good as can be.

“It’s clear to say he is a quick healer. That’s all clear, all these things help.”

The 53-year-old German said it was time to move on even though Liverpool have spoken to referee chief Mike Riley about why VAR was not referred to.

Pickford’s challenge has been labelled as “stupid” by Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum but Klopp drew a line under it.

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I would immediately if it would change anything but it doesn’t,” he said.

“I’m not sure the world is in a place right now where we have to keep this story going.

“Yes we still feel something about it, but nothing that will happen will change that. So I’ve nothing else to say.”

The Dutch international’s absence adds to Liverpool’s problems in central defence.

Joel Matip has missed the last three games injured and makeshift centreback Fabinho limped off in the first half of Tuesday’s Champions League match against Midtjylland with what is believed to be hamstring injury.

“Fab (Fabinho) is not in, he has a little injury,” said Klopp.

“He’s out for the weekend and slightly longer but all the others are in contention.”

Klopp said that  rather than letting the increasing number of injured players get to him he embraces the problem.

“Do I see the challenge in the situation? Yes,” said Klopp.

“Do I see it as an opportunity? Yes.

“But still we play games every three days and this will stay a challenge.

“I am fine, we are fine. We will deal with the situation and make the best of it. That’s the plan.”

Champions League: Salah, Jota Score As Liverpool Edge Past Midtjylland

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions league Group D football match between Liverpool and Midtjylland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 27, 2020.  AFP

 

Lacklustre Liverpool beat Midtjylland 2-0 on Tuesday to make it two wins out of two in the Champions League but their defensive problems mounted as Fabinho limped off injured.

The Premier League champions were toothless in the first half but finally clicked 10 minutes after the break when the impressive Trent Alexander-Arnold set up Diogo Jota for a tap-in.

A late penalty scored by substitute Mohamed Salah gave the scoreline unwarranted gloss.

The manager left his first-choice attack of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench against the Danes, giving his second string a chance to shine.

But Liverpool, lacking urgency and fluency at an empty Anfield, struggled to break down the hard-working visitors, who lost their Champions League opener to Atalanta 4-0.

The opening could have been worse for Klopp’s men.

Midtjylland had a chance to take a shock lead in the opening minutes when a long clip down the middle sent Anders Dreyer in on goal and Alisson Becker had to make a smart save.

Liverpool, who beat Ajax away in their Champions League opener, hogged possession but struggled to create clear chances in the early stages.

Most of what little threat there was in the first half came from full-back Alexander-Arnold, who produced a cross which Takumi Minamino failed to connect with.

Alexander-Arnold then danced through the Midtjylland defence midway through the opening period but failed to find the Japan international.

But Klopp’s problems became a lot more serious just before the half-hour, when Fabinho, filling in alongside Joe Gomez in central defence, limped off with an apparent hamstring injury.

Klopp is already coming to terms with the absence of central defensive lynchpin Virgil van Dijk, who could be out for the whole season.

As half-time approached, Alexander-Arnold drilled another cross to Minamo, who headed wide.

But Liverpool failed to register a single first-half shot on target for the first time in 51 home games in all competitions, since October 2018.

Gini Wijnaldum replaced captain Jordan Henderson at half-time and after a few minutes Klopp ordered Salah and Mane to warm up on the sidelines.

The breakthrough finally came when Alexander-Arnold received the ball on the right and exchanged passes with Xherdan Shaqiri before crossing for Jota to finish from close range.

It was Liverpool’s 10,000th goal in all competitions, 128 years after their first, netted by Jock Smith in September 1892.

Salah and Mane came on just after the hour mark for Minamino and the disappointing Divock Origi but Liverpool still struggled for rhythm.

Firmino missed a clear chance for Liverpool in the closing minutes after yet more good work from Alexander-Arnold.

They almost paid the price immediately but Dreyer could only find the side-netting after drifting past Gomez.

Liverpool escaped and Salah won the penalty which he converted.

AFP

Liverpool Denied Derby Win By VAR As Chelsea Held In Six-Goal Thriller

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (C) warms up before the English Premier League football match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP) 

 

Liverpool were denied a cathartic victory against Premier League leaders Everton by VAR and Chelsea drew 3-3 with Southampton on another day of breathless drama in the English top-flight on Saturday.

Manchester City beat Arsenal 1-0 as Pep Guardiola got the better of former assistant Mikel Arteta, while misfiring Manchester United prepared to take on Newcastle in the late kick-off.

Jurgen Klopp’s champions were desperate to atone for their 7-2 mauling against Aston Villa before the international break but were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw after Jordan Henderson’s late strike was chalked off for offside.

Everton, who have not beaten Liverpool since 2010, remain three points clear of their Merseyside rivals at the top of the table after a number of controversial calls went their way at Goodison Park.

But Klopp was mystified that Henderson’s potential winner in added time against 10-man Everton was ruled out for a barely perceptible offside decision against Sadio Mane.

He was also at a loss to explain how Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had not been dismissed and had not conceded an early penalty for a knee-high challenge on Virgil van Dijk.

“There were a number of big moments in the game,” said a baffled Klopp. “The only situation I saw back is the Henderson goal and I didn’t see offside. The picture I saw is no offside, but it was offside because somebody decided it.”

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with his side’s performance, even though they were denied a fifth straight Premier League win.

“We competed with them,” he said. “We were 1-0 down and equalised, 2-1 down and equalised. It was a good test and I have a good feeling.

“To know we can compete with the champions of the last season it gives us more confidence for the future.”

Sadio Mane, who missed the Villa Park mauling after testing positive for coronavirus, put Liverpool ahead in the third minute.

But the pivotal moment in the match came when Van Dijk was on the receiving end of a dangerous late lunge from Pickford inside the box minutes later.

However, no penalty was awarded after a VAR review because Van Dijk had been marginally offside and Pickford was lucky to avoid a red card.

The Dutchman was substituted and his towering presence was missed at the other end as Michael Keane equalised in the 19th minute.

Mohamed Salah put Liverpool back in front 18 minutes from time but Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted his 10th goal of the season to pull Everton level again.

Richarlison was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Thiago Alcantara in the 90th minute and Everton were grateful for the intervention of VAR in the final seconds.

 

Liverpool’s Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara (C) warms up before the English Premier League football match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP) 

 

Chelsea drama

Chelsea looked to be in total control after cruising into a 2-0 lead against Southampton at Stamford Bridge, courtesy of new signing Timo Werner’s first Premier League goals.

But a goal from Danny Ings shortly before half-time and a second-half strike from Che Adams wiped out their lead.

Frank Lampard’s side rallied immediately to regain the lead, Werner teeing up Kai Havertz for a neat dinked finish to make it 3-2.

But Southampton were not to be denied and Jannik Vestergaard bludgeoned home an added-time equaliser for Saints from a free-kick that Chelsea failed to clear.

Lampard said his side had to tighten up at the back after conceding three goals for the second time this season.

“We are seeing lots of goals across the league and no manager is happy” he said.

“I don’t know why it is. There are attacking players in this league and maybe pre-season and lack of working time plays a part. But we have to get better at it.”

City returned to winning ways after an indifferent start to the season, courtesy of a first-half goal from Raheem Sterling.

Aguero drove forward and fed Phil Foden on the left, with the England midfielder cutting in to shoot. Bernd Leno could only parry his effort, which fell kindly for Sterling to sidefoot home.

 

 

 

-AFP

Shaqiri Joins List Of Liverpool Players To Test Positive For COVID-19

Liverpool’s Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Cardiff City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 27, 2018.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Switzerland forward Xherdan Shaqiri has joined Liverpool team-mates Thiago Alcantara and Sadio Mane in contracting coronavirus, the Swiss football federation announced on Tuesday.

Shaqiri had joined up with the national set-up at the start of the week hoping to make his first appearance for his country since June 2019, but will now be quarantined.

He will miss Wednesday’s friendly with Croatia as well as the Nations League fixtures in Spain on Saturday and in Germany on October 13.

On Friday, Premier League champions Liverpool announced Senegal forward Mane had tested positive for Covid-19 four days after the club said new signing Thiago had the virus.

Mane and Thiago missed Sunday’s 7-2 humiliation at Aston Villa due to the virus while Shaqiri did not play either.

-AFP