Premier League Preview: Liverpool v West Brom

The Reds squad is still blighted by injuries as 2020 comes to an end with Diogo Jota, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez all out for the foreseeable.

Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara is back in training following a knee injury with Klopp confident he should see some action in this one.

As for The Baggies, life back in the West Midlands started with defeat for Allardyce as they were brushed off by Aston Villa last time out.

Skipper Jake Livermore begins a three-match ban after being sent off in that one with Matheus Pereira back in contention following his own time on the naughty step.

Add with Big Sam looking to get his new squad right back to basics in the weeks to come, veteran war horse Branislav Ivanovic could also come back in.

And it’s all set to go at Anfield with a 4.30pm Kick Off.

No return in 2020 for Liverpool midfielder Thiago

The Spain international has not played since last month’s Merseyside derby when he was injured in a tackle which saw Everton forward Richarlison sent off.

While he has trained on a couple of occasions, the new signing is not currently ready to join in sessions and the PA news agency understands it will be early January before he is fit to play.

However, there has been no setback and no surgery is required but it has meant Thiago has played just 45 minutes at Chelsea and 90 minutes against Everton.

“Thiago we have to maybe clarify it a little bit,” said manager Jurgen Klopp.

“On that day when Thiago got injured in that challenge in the Everton game, there was another bad injury (to Virgil van Dijk) and after the scans it was like one was really bad news and the other one was really good news because nothing was broken, nothing was ruptured and stuff like this.

“But, as we realise now, it was still a massive impact on the knee. The problem is in a situation like that, nothing is ruptured and nothing is broken and that means everybody thinks, ‘OK, you can go after a few days’, but the impact on the leg was that big that it is still not OK.

“It is not massive and he trains from time to time, not in the moment because we just have to realise that we have to go a few further steps.

“I can’t say exactly when he will be fine, but it will take a few weeks still with Thiago.”

Klopp will again have to juggle his limited resources – midfielder Naby Keita has a chance of being fit but Trent Alexander-Arnold is still a little way from being ready – for the Champions League visit of Ajax.

A draw will be enough for Liverpool to qualify for the knockout stage, by virtue of a better head-to-head against both the Dutch side and Atalanta, and mean next month’s match against Midtjylland will be of less significance and Klopp could rest players.

“I actually don’t see it in that perspective. That would mean I could count on the points already,” said Klopp.

“We deal with the situation how it is. Three points would be great, absolutely great, and it is so clear it would help us massively but I didn’t think I’d have to mention it.

“It is an important game against a really good team, that’s the way we want to approach it.”

The club will this week submit a planning application to Liverpool City Council for the proposed expansion of its Anfield Road Stand.

Plans for the submission – to increase capacity by 7,000 to over 61,000 – were paused in spring this year due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the application, the club is also seeking permanent permission to hold concerts and major events at the Stadium.

Premier League Preview: Liverpool v Leicester City

Jurgen Klopp is already without both of his first-choice centre backs after Joe Gomez joined Virgil Van Dijk on the sidelines.

Skipper Jordan Henderson is also out, after picking up a groin injury on international duty, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and
Mo Salah also missing from a depleted Reds side.

James Milner is expected to fill in for Trent at right back, with Fabinho moving back into defence in place of Gomez.

However, despite the mounting injury list for Klopp, Thiago Alcantara and Andy Robertson have both been passed fit to return.

For the Foxes, Rodgers also has issues in defence, with right backs Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne ruled out.

Wesley Fofana should be OK to start at centre back, meaning Rodgers could name an unchanged starting line up from their win against Wolves last time out.

And it’s all set up for a 7.15pm kick off tomorrow night at Anfield.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v Liverpool

Both sides have lost just once in Premier League action this season, but Jurgen Klopp’s defending champions have a four-point lead over City.

Pep Guardiola has already confirmed Sergio Aguero will miss out against the Reds, with Fernandinho and Benjamin Mendy joining him on the sidelines.

Those injuries will force Guardiola’s hand in terms of selection tomorrow, but he is expected to make changes from their Champions League win over Olympiakos.

Rodri and Riyad Mahrez are both expected to return with Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres set to drop out.

As for Liverpool, Klopp remains short of options at centre back, meaning Rhys Williams could continue alongside Joe Gomez ahead of Joel Matip.

Thiago Alcantara is out with a knee problem with ex City man James Milner expected to fill in.

And man of the moment Diogo Jota is line to edge out Roberto Firmino in the starting eleven.

And kick-off is 4.30pm on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool without 3 key players for Champions League clash

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was not giving too much away regarding the timescales for their returns from injury but did reveal at his pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Group D game that the trio would miss out against the Danish club.

Asked if they would be fit, Klopp said: “I don’t think so. It’s still what I said last week, we look day by day, but it looks like we’ll need a few more days.

“So for tomorrow night, they will probably not be ready.”

Defender Matip has been out since sustaining a knock in the Merseyside derby on October 17 while Thiago (knee) was injured towards the end of the game at Goodison Park.

Fellow midfielder Keita, back in training after testing negative for coronavirus, has not played since coming off at half-time in the 7-2 hammering by Aston Villa just before the international break.

Tuesday’s clash at Anfield will be the first time the two clubs have ever met in a competitive fixture.

The game sees six-time winners of the competition Liverpool host a club who were only founded in 1999 and are making their first appearance in the Champions League.

It has been billed as David against Goliath by some of the media in Denmark, but Klopp does not see it that way.

“We don’t see Midtjylland as a small club, we see Midtjylland as a proper challenger in this group,” he said.

“No-one is part of the Champions League because they are nice cities, they are in the Champions League because they earned the right the year before.

“There are no small teams in the Champions League, there are only teams who show how big they are on the pitch, not in the press conferences before games.”

Last season, Liverpool, as defending champions, were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by Atletico Madrid and forced to watch the finale of the competition from their summer training camp.

Klopp is keen to avoid another early exit this time around and is ready to resume the club’s love affair with the competition.

“It should not happen again, of course, but that is far away. We played a really good game against Atletico, but people tend to forget that when you lose,” said Klopp.

“We love the competition even though we got knocked out early. It is Liverpool in the Champions League at Anfield again tomorrow, even though there is no crowd, and it is a competition we love. I hope we showed that last week too.

“There are no guarantees but plenty of opportunities and we like opportunities, so let’s see where we go.”

Klopp fumes at Everton derby tactics

Van Dijk’s knee injury is a huge blow to their long-term hopes of defending the Premier League title and going deep in Europe again and the manner of his injury still rankles within the Reds squad.

His Holland team-mate Wijnaldum said Jordan Pickford’s high challenge was “stupid” and that Everton “take it way too far in the games we play against them”.

“We know it is a derby and everyone wants to win so sometimes you go a little bit over the top but it was too much,” said the Dutchman.

“The tackle from Richarlison on Thiago was also a nasty one.

“Accidents can always happen in football, you can be unlucky with a tackle and injure someone but the way they were doing it is completely unacceptable.”

Klopp said both challenges were “difficult to accept”.

“Injuries happen in football, very often in challenges but often both players just try to play the ball,” he said.

“That was not the case in these two challenges and it makes it so different and difficult to take.”

Pundits have already started to write off Liverpool’s season without Van Dijk but that has only angered Klopp more.

His mood was not helped by the fact he will have to pair midfielder Fabinho alongside Joe Gomez at centre-back as Joel Matip did not travel as a precaution after also sustaining a knock on Saturday.

“I am old enough. I know how the world is. I know what people do. A lot of people speak before they think,” he said.

“We have a situation. We are here without Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip and we will still give it a try. What can we do now?

“People can say what they want, it is a free world, but three weeks ago, they said we would run away (with the league).

“Now, three weeks later, we are not even in contention for anything any more. That’s football. That’s the world right now. We cannot be that excited. We have to stay calm.

“Why should I think the boys cannot deal with the situation? But the number of questions you ask suggests you think we will all struggle with it.

“So we have to prove you wrong? I am not even interested in proving you wrong. I am only interested in the best for Liverpool and for my players.

“Hopefully the results in the next few weeks will calm you all slightly down but I cannot promise it.”

Premier League: Everton v Liverpool

Carlo Ancelotti’s league leaders will go into the game with an added air of confidence, despite the fact they haven’t beaten their cross-city rivals in ten years.

The form of Dominic Calvert-Lewin in front of goal has been key to the Toffees hot start, with the young English striker currently the top scorer across Europe’s top five leagues.

Calvert Lewin’s 10 strikes in seven games for club and country includes two hattricks in Everton colours, and he’ll be hoping to add to his tally against a Liverpool side who shipped 7 goals last time out.

The Reds’ 7-2 humbling by Aston Villa has led many Evertonians to feel this is the best opportunity to beat Jurgen Klopp’s side in a decade.

However, Liverpool have made a habit of bouncing back from poor results in recent times, and they’ll love nothing more than to get back to winning ways at Goodison.

Everton’s summer addition of James Rodriguez has been inspired, whereas Liverpool fans are yet to see too much of their marquee summer signing Thiago Alcantara due to injury.

There are positives on both sides of Stanley Park on the injury front, as Liverpool’s Thiago and Everton counterpart Allan are expected to have recovered from their respective knocks in time for the game.

Sadio Mane will also return to the fold to increase Jurgen Klopp’s firepower, and Mo Salah is looking to become the 17th different Liverpool player to score 100 goals for the club – the Egyptian is currently perched on 99 strikes in 158 games – in line to be the third-fastest to achieve the feat.

Carlo Ancelotti is waiting to learn the severity of Lucas Digne’s injury though, after suffering with knee trouble in France’s game with Croatia on Wednesday.

Liverpool’s problems at the back against Aston Villa may prompt a change, with Joel Matip in contention for a start.

However, goalkeeper Allison remains out so the shaky Adrian will likely retain his place between the sticks.

The last time Everton won their opening 5 league games of the season was 51 seasons ago in 1969-70, a campaign where they would eventually go on to clinch the title.

Remarkably, the last time Everton won all 8 of their opening fixtures in a season was in 1894-95, so you could even argue the club are in the best winning form in their modern history.

Although, the last time Liverpool went in to a Merseyside Derby with Everton sitting top was in 1989, a year where they went on to secure the crown – incidentally, their most recent for 30 years before last season.

It’s all set up to be a cracker, with the game kicking off at 1230 on Saturday, 17th October.

Premier League Preview: Liverpool v Arsenal

The Reds have looked impressive as Jurgen Klopp’s side gear up for their title defence, with wins over Leeds and Chelsea in the opening two weeks.

Klopp’s main fitness concern is over skipper Jordan Henderson after he went off injured against Chelsea.
If he misses out, Thiago Alcantara will make his Anfield debut, with Fabinho set to fill in for Joe Gomez at centre back.

For Arsenal, Mikel Arteta will be pleased with back to back wins to start the season, but a trip to Liverpool will present a real test for his side.

With Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi and Kieran Tierney all still sidelined, Arteta will stick with Gabriel, Rob Holding and Saed Kolasinac in defence.

However, the Spaniard could be open to switching up his attack options, with the on-form Eddie Nketiah banging on the doo for a starting spot.

And it will be a late one for Klopp and Arteta on Monday night, with an 8pm kick at Anfield.

Liverpool inch closer to Thiago Alcantara transfer

The PA news agency understands the Premier League champions have now begun discussions with the Champions League winners after being heavily linked with the Spain playmaker throughout the summer.

It is understood the Reds would pay an initial fee of £20million for the midfielder, who has one year remaining on his contract at Bayern, with more to follow in add-ons.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had previously tried to play down the speculation.

“It is nice that we are linked with him but that is pretty much all, really,” The German said last week.

That came amid claims a potential move for the 29-year-old was being held up by uncertainty over the future of Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

The Dutchman, who is in the final year of his contract at Anfield, has been linked with Barcelona.

Liverpool, however, have decided to make their move for Thiago now, with the issue not appearing dependent on whether Wijnaldum leaves the club or not.

Thiago would be Liverpool’s second addition of the summer after the signing of Greece left-back Kostas Tsimikas.

Thiago joined Bayern from Barca in 2013 and was in the side that won the Champions League last month.

Liverpool handed Thiago transfer boost

The Reds have been heavily linked with the 29-year-old, who won the Champions League with Bayern on Sunday following a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon.

Reports in The Athletic claim the Bundesliga champions are willing to accept offers in the region of £27m for the player, rather than £36m as initially suggested.

Thiago is out of contract at the German club next summer and it’s understood that Bayern would rather cash in on the Spain international now than allow him to leave on a free.

This opens up a window of opportunity for Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp’s side said to be preparing an offer in the coming weeks.

Alcantara falls outside of the Reds’ usual transfer strategy, being slightly older than a typical Anfield signing – however, clubs might not be able to afford to be picky with the uncertainties surrounding the impact of coronavirus on football finances.

Thiago has an unusual backstory – having been born in Italy, his father Marzinho played for the Brazil national side, whilst the player himself has chosen to represent Spain in the international arena.