Where Will Liverpool Finish in the Premier League?

Liverpool find themselves in the heat of a top-four race for Champions League football next-season – but how likely are they to achieve the feat?

Liverpool have (and have had) a generous run-in, with only West Ham (A) and Middlesbrough (H) left to go, which should be a comfortable six points.

However, as mentioned in prior posts Liverpool’s weakness is fighting for the wins against lower league opposition, which means there is a high chance Liverpool walk away with only three, maybe even two points from the last two fixtures.

Comparing the final fixtures of the season amongst Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United:

  • Arsenal – Southampton (A), Stoke (A), Sunderland (H) and Everton (H)
  • City – Leicester (H), West Brom (H) and Watford (A)
  • United – Tottenham (A), Southampton (A) and Crystal Palace (H)
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We can see that Liverpool have a favourable finish to the season, with United expected to drop points at Tottenham and Arsenal bound to drop points somewhere along the process.

City could also be seen as having a kind run-in however all three teams are of similar quality, and I doubt they will reap a full nine points but should get at least six.

Judging by these fixtures alone, I believe Liverpool will finish 4th, behind Manchester City.

United will drop points at Tottenham and focus on the Europa League (for which the prize is Champions League qualification) therefore rest key players and potentially drop points.

Also although the fixtures are somewhat kind to Arsenal, chances of them winning all four fixtures are unlikely and if they do, all Liverpool will need is four points from the two games as they have a favourable (+5) goal difference.

Should Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League, it’ll be upsetting for Liverpool because at the start of the season, they were title-contenders and if it weren’t for a truly poor January, they could still have been up there.

Elliot Lee

YNWA

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Liverpool – Is Ryan Bertrand The Eighth Saint?

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As well as Virgil van Dijk being heavily linked to Liverpool, Ryan Bertrand has become one of Liverpool’s top transfer targets this season.

Liverpool’s problems at left-back have been going on what feels like an age, with James Milner performing well in his new position this season, however he isn’t a long-term option.

Ryan Bertrand was one of the very first Chelsea players to be involved in their ‘revolving-door’ youth policy, and he was sold to Southampton for £11m in 2015.

Bertrand’s an energetic left-back who can get up and down the left-flank with ease, as well as committing to his defensive duties.

With Liverpool having secured European football next season, Liverpool have to sign a left-back in order to add depth and quality to the shaky defence.

Fortunately, Bertrand has Champions League pedigree, and started as a left-winger for Chelsea, as they beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz in 2011/12 Champions League final – meaning he has the same number of Champions League medals than the entirety of Liverpool’s squad (Daniel Sturbridge was in the same side).

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Bertrand has helped the current Southampton side concrete their status as a Premier League quality team as they qualified for the Europa League ahead of the 2016/17 season.

In my opinion, Bertrand would be a good signing. He would improve The Reds’ defence however at the opportunity cost of a reliable James Milner, who (because of his age and Liverpool’s quantity of centre-midfielders) may see the exit door if the transfer materialises.

If Bertrand signs at the same time as Virgil van Dijk (who is heavily linked to Liverpool), Liverpool could potentially secure the leak across the back four.

A negative of the transfer is that it furthers the view that Liverpool only sign Southampton players, with Liverpool signing five Southampton players for a total of £98m in the past two summer transfer windows.

I think the signing of Ryan Bertrand would be good for the Reds… but there are other, better options such as Sead Kolasinac, Jetro Willems and Jose Gaya.

Elliot Lee

YNWA

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If I Were Klopp – Summer Transfers

Liverpool need to bulk up in the transfer window, due to qualifying for European Competition it means Liverpool need more depth.

I’m certain Klopp will further bleed youngsters into the first-team next season, however they will not have the quality or time to adapt to the Premier League and therefore signings need to be made.

Liverpool have had problems at left-back since we let John Arne Riise go to Roma, with Fabio Aurelio, Paul Konchesky (yeah…. him), Jose Enrique and Alberto Moreno all failing to protect the left flank.

Jon Flanagan had a good stint at left-back in the 2013/14 season however his injuries have hampered his development and has had a relatively stagnant season at Burnley. James Milner has also performed very well this season, but he is not a long-term option.

Therefore I feel we should sign Sead Kolasinac, as he is tall, strong and has adapted to the German game well, so Klopp can help teach him and to enhance his skills in the Premier League, as a man of his body set is designed for it. Kolasinac is available on a free as well, meaning he is a very financially capable deal.

Sead Kolasinac

In terms of forwards, Liverpool have Sadio Mane, Philipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi and Ben Woodburn who can play up top, however Woodburn may not be ready for the heights of European competition.

Liverpool added Mane this season which gave us a new element but, I feel if Liverpool could sign Douglas Costa, it adds multiple layers to the team.

Douglas Costa recently got Liverpool fans excited by tweeting “Philippe Coutinho, Douglas Costa and Roberto Firmino, I can already envision the best attack in Europe in 17/18”.

Costa would give us cover for left-wing, add even more pace and if you put Costa LW and Mane RW, we could put Origi up top and use him as a target man, adding another route to score if our typical gegenpressing style isn’t working mid-game.

Costa would not come cheap and Liverpool could only secure him if we get Champions League football, but Costa would not tweet what he has without reason.

Douglas Costa

Finally, unfortunately Liverpool may have to sell players who are dead weight, either for the good of the team or to balance the books.

Daniel Sturridge has lacked pace and his innate finishing ability hasn’t proven itself this season, 28 years old in September, cash-in on him whilst we can.

Mamadou Sakho was one of my favourite Liverpool players, however when he disobeyed Klopp I sided with the German, and Sakho’s celebration with Benteke in the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace has put the final nail in the coffin of his Liverpool career.

Lucas Leiva has been a magnificent servant to the club for 10 years now and has become a cult hero, and his experience next year in Europe may be vital, but he can’t see that he has much future at the club. I don’t want to sell him, but it may be the best for him as a player.

I wouldn’t sell or buy any keepers, I feel Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius have healthy competition and believe they both have something to offer Liverpool.

I would actually keep Moreno, as he is great for morale and is still not a bad back-up option from left-back- he could work in the Europa League however if Liverpool get Champions League, he’s certainly not up to scratch.

Overall, if Klopp were to make these signings I would be ecstatic, however I’m certain no matter who he signs, The Kop will have faith in him… it feels like every transfer he makes he’s two steps ahead of everyone else.

Elliot Lee

YNWA

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Liverpool vs Southampton Preview

Sunday 7th May 2017 | Anfield | 13:30

Jürgen Klopp insists Liverpool “have no issue with Anfield, we love it, we love playing there” after their last result at Anfield ended in a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal palace.

“Against Crystal Palace, everybody saw the game, we made these two mistakes. But it’s not about being at Anfield or being somewhere, it was the moment.

“The plan is for Sunday that we can use Anfield.”

Last time out Liverpool secured a 0-1 victory against Watford, thanks to a spectacular Emre Can overhead kick.

A win would further Liverpool’s top-four credentials and would take Liverpool back to the Champions League for only the 2nd time in 7 years.

When questioned on his thoughts about the Champions League, Klopp said “I think we should win the next game, that’s what I am pretty sure about.

“It cannot be our job to count points, our job is to get them, and everyone else can count them and see where it leads to.

“There is absolutely no club in the top spots who can waste points in the next match day: not Chelsea, not Tottenham, not Liverpool, City, United or Arsenal.”

Coutinho Firmino

In terms of injuries, The Reds could see April Player of the Month Philippe Coutinho returning to the starting line-up; however Ings and Mane are still some way off recovery.

The reverse fixture of this game finish 0-0 at St Mary’s, however Liverpool suffered two 1-0 defeats in the League Cup semi-final to The Saints so The Reds will want to get revenge.

Klopp shrugged off the importance of the reverse fixture, saying “In all of our analysis that we do we don’t watch the games we played against Southampton, we watch the last three games they played”.

History is in favour of Southampton, as they’ve won three of the last six games however at Anfield, with a strong squad, Liverpool will certainly be the favourites.

Klopp has hinted Liverpool will excel not just only on Sunday, but in the remaining games after that, saying “I like this kind of pressure; it’s the best kind of pressure you can have, fighting for something really special.”

The Saints will have to be strong, as Liverpool score more goals, take more shots, take more corners, hold more possession and have greater pass accuracy than their counter-parts.

FACT: Southampton have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 matches against Liverpool in all competitions.

PREDICTION: Liverpool 2-1 Southampton.

Elliot Lee

YNWA

Sturridge and Clyne

References:

https://www.whoscored.com/Matches/1080874/Preview/England-Premier-League-2016-2017-Liverpool-Southampton

Florian Thauvin – The Secret Weapon Newcastle Already Have

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Newcastle have already secured their return to the Premier League ahead of the 2016/17 season however, their best player doesn’t even play for them.

Florian Thauvin arrived at St James’ Park in the summer of 2015 for a fee in the region of £12-15m, and endured a torrid first season with the magpies.

Thauvin only managed 13 appearances in black-and-white in the 2015/16 season, transferring to Marseille (who previously owned him) in January 2016.

The Frenchman came back to England in the summer of last year only to return from whence he came, and has been at Marseille on loan this season.

Since his return to France, Thauvin has been nothing short of sensational and has marvelled in a mediocre Marseille season, as they rest in 6th in Ligue 1.

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Thauvin has scored 12 goals and made 7 assists in 23 games being deployed as a right-winger and has won 9 Man of the Match medals in 33 games.

To accompany this, Thauvin also has 2.5 shots per game, 1.6 key passes per game and completes 2.5 dribbles per game, and is second in Marseille’s top-performer charts, behind a certain Dimitri Payet.

Something Newcastle fans won’t want to see is that Thauvin is apparently hell-bent on returning to Marseille permanently in summer.

Thauvin has said “No doubt, I’ll be at Marseille next season” after claiming the move had a clause which meant that after three games played, Marseille have to pay a mandatory fee for the forward.

A quick, left footed winger with a box of tricks Houdini that would cherish, Thauvin would add another layer to an already strong Newcastle side.

Whether Newcastle will/can keep him for next year, it is fairly safe to say that Newcastle may need him next year to kepe them in the Premier League.

Elliot Lee

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References:

https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/florian-thauvin/profil/spieler/184892

https://www.whoscored.com/Players/99143/Show/Florian-Thauvin

http://www.skysports.com/football/news/11678/10809522/newcastle-winger-florian-thauvin-claims-he-will-make-marseille-loan-move-permanent

 

Kenny Dalglish – The Legend That Stands Out

Yesterday, Liverpool announced that the Centenary Stand at Anfield will be renamed to the Kenny Dalglish Stand following nearly a four-decade love-affair with The Reds.

The solitary Scottish player to be selected in the FIFA 100, Dalglish was signed by Bob Paisley in 1977 to replace Kevin Keegan and more than pulled his weight.

Dalglish scored 172 goals in 515 appearances for Liverpool and in 1985 he became player-manager – and won the domestic double that season with an FA Cup final win over Everton.

Dalglish left Liverpool in 1991, nearly two years after the Hillsborough disaster, with 19 trophies ( 8 league titles and 3 European Cups to name a few) to his name as both a player and a manager.

When Liverpool where in a crisis, ‘King Kenny’ returned to the helm to control the unstable side. After Rafa Benitez’s sacking an uninspiring Roy Hodgson took charge and if he were still at the club today, I wouldn’t go as far to say Liverpool may be near the tail-end of the Premier League.

Dalgish returned and won the 2012 League Cup – Liverpool’s only piece of silverware in the past 12 seasons.

Kenny Dalglish 2

However, Dalglish was on the wrong of the Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra controversy and stood by the Uruguayan – who he signed – and was forced to apologise by the owners.

Unfortunately by the end of 2011/12 season, despite getting The Reds into an FA Cup final, he was dismissed by the owners.

Despite being a legendary player and manager, Dalglish is remembered for his reaction in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster.

Dalglish attended many of the Funerals of the 96, even attending four in one day, and his reaction prompted a large quantity of fans calling for the Queen to knight Dalglish to Sir Kenny Dalglish.

Dalglish has been a terrific servant to Liverpool, and will always be regarded in our highest regard, due to his compassion, benevolence and for understanding football like no other.

Elliot Lee

YNWA

Kenny Dalglish

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39798739

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-13090654

https://dugout.com/liverpoolfc/anfield-stand-renamed-to-honour-dalglish

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_100

Francesco Totti – Il Gladiatore Ritirarsi

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Earlier today, Roma announced that long-serving captain, Francesco Totti, will retire at the end of the season.

A legend of the game, Totti has played for European greats, Roma, for 24 years and has stayed loyal to Il Giallorossi despite interest from Real Madrid throughout his career.

‘The King of Rome’ made his debut on the 16th of March 1993, aged a mere 16 years old, as Roma dispatched Brescia 2-0.

Totti has been a mainstay in Roma’s side for years, only fading away during the 2010/2011 season, when injuries began to play their part in his career. 67% of Totti’s games missed due to injury occurred after the 2010/11 season*.

Totti is the last remaining player from the Roma side that won the Scudetto in the 2000/2001 season, only the third Italian top-flight title Roma have ever won, with a team featuring legends like Gabriel Batitstuta and Cafu.

Totti captained the title-winning team whilst under the stewardship of Fabio Capello.

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Totti has captained Roma for 18-and-a-half years, after taking the armband in late October 1998 and has seen players like Vincenzo Montella, Hidetoshi Nakata and Antonio Cassano develop.

Totti finishes his career with an exemplary record, scoring 250 goals in 616 games coming from the left-wing (later as a second striker), as well as scoring 9 goals in 59 games for the Italian national team, starting the 2006 World Cup final.

Totti has made no attempt to hide his loyalty:

“Because I grew up playing for Roma and I want to die playing for Roma, because I have always been a Roma fan!”

Totti – in my opinion – has hung up his boots at the right time, as he is past his peak and can immediately go into the backroom staff and develop as a coach.

Grazie Totti!

*stats started being recorded start of 2007/08 season.

35 players born after Totti’s debut:

https://elliotleeblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/35-players-born-after-francesco-tottis-debut/

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References:

https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/francesco-totti/verletzungen/spieler/5958

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_FIFA_World_Cup_Final

http://www.101greatgoals.com/top-stories/francesco-totti-made-debut-roma-video/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Totti#1999.E2.80.932004:_The_Scudetto_as_a_playmaker

https://www.whoscored.com/Players/183/Show/Francesco-Totti

http://www.espnfc.co.uk/player/10293/francesco-totti

http://www.soccerbase.com/players/player.sd?player_id=15905

https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/francesco-totti/profil/spieler/5958

http://www.squawka.com/players/francesco-totti/stats#performance-score#roma-(current)#italian-serie-a#21#season-2016/2017#717#all-matches#1-34#by-match

http://int.soccerway.com/players/francesco-totti/92/

http://www.asroma.com/en/teams/players-and-staff/francesco-totti

 

 

 

35 Players born AFTER Francesco Totti’s debut

Earlier today, Roma confirmed that legend Francesco Totti will retire at the end of the season. As a tribute, here’s a list of players born AFTER his debut (March 16th 1993):

Kylian Mbappe (Monaco) –  20 December 1998 (age 18 years)

Gabriel Jesus (Man City) – 3 April 1997 (age 20 years)

Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan) –  25 February 1999 (age 18 years)

Christian Pulisic (Dortmund) – 18 September 1998 (age 18 years)

Harry Kane (Tottenham) – 28 July 1993 (age 23 years)

Dele Alli (Tottenham) – 11 April 1996 (age 21 years)

Paulo Dybala (Juventus) – 15 November 1993 (age 23 years)

Dybala

Renato Sanches (Bayern) – 18 August 1997 (age 19 years)

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) – 31 October 1997 (age 19 years)

Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund) – 15 May 1997 (age 19 years)

Kinglsey Coman (Bayern) – 13 June 1996 (age 20 years)

Marco Asensio (Real Madrid) – 21 January 1996 (age 21 years)

Anthony Martial (Manchester United) – 5 December 1995 (age 21 years)

Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) – 6 March 1996 (age 21 years)

Werner

Luke Shaw (Manchester United) – 12 July 1995 (age 21 years)

Hector Bellerin (Arsenal) – 19 March 1995 (age 22 years)

Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico) – 20 January 1995 (age 22 years)

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) – 8 December 1994 (age 22 years)

John Stones (Manchester City) – 28 May 1994 (age 22 years)

Marquinhos (PSG) – 14 May 1994 (age 22 years)

Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid) – 6 May 1994 (age 22 years)

Kovacic

Eric Bailly (Manchester United) – 12 April 1994 (age 23 years)

Gerard Deulofeu (Everton/AC Milan) – 13 March 1994 (age 23 years)

Eric Dier (Tottenham) – 15 January 1994 (age 23 years)

Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – 13 May 1993 (age 23 years)

Julian Draxler (PSG) – 20 September 1993 (age 23 years)

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (Atletico) – 4 September 1993 (age 23 years)

Andre Gomes (Barcelona) – 30 July 1993 (age 23 years)

Andre Gomes

Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) – 25 April 1993 (age 24 years)

Aymeric Laporte (Bilbao) – 27 May 1994 (age 22 years)

Jonathan Tah (Leverkusen) – 11 February 1996 (age 21 years)

Bernardo Silva (Monaco) – 10 August 1994 (age 22 years)

Alen Halilovic (Hamburg) – 18 June 1996 (age 20 years)

Kasper Dolberg (Ajax) – 6 October 1997 (age 19 years)

Emre Can (Liverpool) – 12 January 1994 (age 23 years)

Emre Can

It should also be said Paul Pogba (Manchester United) was only one day old.

Elliot Lee

 

 

Liverpool in the Champions League – help or hindrance?

Liverpool are leading the fight in a four-way race for two spots in the Champions League, but what could this mean for Liverpool?

Here’s a list of my Pro’s and Con’s:

Pro’s:

  • It will help Liverpool to sign star players this summer for the first time since Fernando Torres, arguably our last star signing.
  • It will help negotiating the contracts of current players at the club, as all good players want to compete in the Champions League, the best cup competition in club football.
  • It means that they will be on TV every week, which is good because it means fans have a greater chance of watching them and because it should have positive financial implications for Liverpool.
  • The increased air time on TV adds to potential marketing opportunities for Liverpool, who can expand their brand across the world.

CL

Con’s:

  • It means Liverpool will be forced to spend money and sign players in order to increase depth in the squad as well as improve the average quality of players as the Champions League is the best competition to compete in in the world.
  • It adds at least 6 (8 if we come 4th in the table) extra fixtures to the season, meaning that players could become fatigued, especially if you consider Klopp’s gegenpressing system.
  • History shows (Leicester City 15/16, Chelsea 16/17, Liverpool 13/14) that Champions League hinders performance in the Premier League, meaning if Liverpool want to challenge for the title they should not be in the Champions League
  • The Champions League means players would go across Europe and that travel (i.e. to Rostov/Shakhtar) could tire players.

Overall I believe the Champions League is where Liverpool belongs, as much of its rich history stems from victories from the late 70s, early 80s and for Liverpool to be back there, would be amazing from a fans point-of-view.

Elliot Lee

YNWA

Henderson CL

Watford vs Liverpool – Liverpool can’t leave their fate in other teams’ hands.

Liverpool’s 0-1 victory last night, thanks to an Emre Can wonder-goal, projects Liverpool into pole position to gain Champions League football, in the battle against Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United, although there may be a dark undertone in the story.

At the start of the weekend, Liverpool were one point above City, two points above United and six points ahead of Arsenal, with City and United having one game in hand and Arsenal two. This meant that if they all won their games in hand, chances are Liverpool would drop to 5th on goal difference.

Saturday’s fixture came and they completely changed the outlook of most Liverpool fans. Manchester United drew at home against relegation-threatened Swansea and Manchester City drew at the Riverside, with relegation-bound Middlesbrough. Then it all came together with Tottenham beating Arsenal 2-0 at home, meaning Liverpool remained in 3rd on goal difference.

If Liverpool had beaten Crystal Palace a week earlier, Liverpool fans would be confident that they were going to get Champions League football, however the loss threw a spanner in the works and a team that had won 5 out of 7 games beforehand, were  in doubt they could dispatch a Watford side that they beat 6-1 only a few months ago.

While it’s great short-term to win the game,Liverpool must stop leaving their fate in others’ hands. The last  time we did that was in the 2013/14 season, with Liverpool 5 points clear of the title with three games to go, all of a sudden on the last day they were dependent on Manchester City losing.

Liverpool’s Achilles heel this season has been seeing off weaker teams and this is why they’ll never have control over their own future, as inconsistencies lead to uncertainties, which leads to doubt and as a result a lack in morale and the opportunity to form to change negatively, which is what happened in January.

Liverpool’s next game is next Sunday, at home to Southampton, who have nothing to play for. If The Reds can win then fans can get excited about the prospect of Champions League football, a feat they may not have thought possible at the start of the season.

Elliot Lee

Emre

YNWA