‘Penalty decision was correct’ says Gallagher


Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has backed the decision to award Everton a penalty in the Merseyside derby.

Craig Pawson punished Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren for a push on Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin late on in the game.

Former England international Wayne Rooney converted the spot kick to make the score 1-1 and earned his side a point.

And Gallagher has praised the performance of Pawson and said that he made the right call in penalising Lovren and awarding it.

“I think it is a penalty.” he told Sky Sports.

It’s reminiscent of the penalty Aaron Ramsey got against Burnley a few weeks ago.

“It’s not the biggest push in the world but if you put your arms on the back like that, the referee is bound to give a penalty, and he was correct to do so.

“It was another quality performance in a big derby, this time from referee Craig Pawson.” he finished.

Liverpool supporters are split over whether the decision was correct or not, with some pointing the finger at Lovren and others Pawson.

Klopp ‘underestimated’ the derby match


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been criticised for his decision to field a weakened side in the derby match.

Former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson has said that he feels the German “didn’t understand how big a game it was” when he dropped key players to the bench.

Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino were left out after starring in the 7-0 win over Spartak Moscow last week.

And that has not met with the approval of Thompson, who was also an assistant manager at the club to former boss Gerard Houllier, before becoming a pundit.

“We, as Liverpool fans, have moaned about the rotation for a few weeks and it has come off previously, but this is a derby game. You play your best team in the derby.” he told Sky Sports.

“That selection worried me that he didn’t understand how big a game it was. He’s gone with a team to beat a mid-table team rather than win a derby game.

“If it was Manchester United he would have played a full-strength side, so it was maybe a bit of complacency as well as the rotation.

“It’s always a risk rotating and for this game I just can’t get my head around it as a Liverpool fan. I know it was important to him but we’ve all been fans for our lives.

“We knew they would park three buses and we needed that bit of craft which Coutinho brings. I’d have also kept Mohamed Salah on.

“He got his fingers burnt last January when he failed to rotate enough. But you see he’s now made twenty changes more than any club so maybe he has taken that too far.” he continued.

Many supporters will feel much the same frustration, which was also evident for Klopp when he was interviewed after the game – and Thompson could understand that from his own experience.

“I’ve been there, it’s frustration and anger. His team had so much possession but Jordan Pickford wasn’t really worked.” he added.

“I can understand and he did apologise but I don’t think he’s had a good look at it because he wouldn’t have treated the reporters that way.

“Yes it was very harsh and the referee couldn’t wait to point to the spot but it is one of them we see given.

“He’s big enough, strong enough and good enough to handle this and anyone calling for him to be sacked needs to see that he’s one of the best in the world.” he finished.

Fenerbahce looking to sign Grujic


Fenerbahce are hoping to sign Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic.

That’s according to reports in Turkey from Turkish Football and Sporx, who are claiming that they will make an offer for him next month.

They are stating that the SuperLig club will offer to sign him on loan for eighteen months, for a fee, with an agreement to sign him permanently included in the deal.

Grujic has struggled to make much of an impact at Anfield despite some impressive performances in preseason friendlies since his arrival.

The Serbian international joined the club from Red Star Belgrade in a deal worth around £5m, which was agreed in January 2016 before he arrived the following Summer.

There has been plenty of speculation that he will be loaned to an English club to help his development in the country, with Huddersfield Town mentioned.

Manager Jurgen Klopp has not given the teenager many opportunities to show what he can do for the first-team and a loan move away looks like the best idea for all parties.

The chance to play regularly for a top Turkish club could well appeal to the nineteen year old more than a temporary switch to another English side.

‘Coutinho set to stay’ says Balague


Liverpool are not planning to let Philippe Coutinho join Barcelona in January.

That is according to Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague, who is part of their Spanish football coverage team.

“Liverpool’s stance is the same, meaning right now they don’t want to negotiate with Barcelona.” he said.

“They are not sitting down with Barcelona and are not setting a price for him.

“In the summer, it will be a different story, but they have no intention of selling him right now.” he finished.

It will come a relief to supporters that Coutinho will be going nowhere in January, if Balague’s claim is accurate, but many do not want to see him go at the end of the season.

The Catalan club had three offers turned down back in the Summer as Liverpool refused to even enter negotiations over a move for the Brazil international.

He handed in a transfer request to try and force through a switch to the Camp Nou, but the club immediately rejected it and told him that he would be staying.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain are continuing to monitor Coutinho, but his preference is believed to be a transfer to join Luis Suarez at Barcelona.

Liverpool face Porto in Champions League


Liverpool have been drawn to face FC Porto in the first knockout round of the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp will take his side to Portugal for the first leg on 14th February for a Valentines Day showdown and the return leg will be played at Anfield on 6th March.

And the German is pleased to have the home leg after the trip to face the Primeira Liga runners-up.

“It’s just good that we now know it.” he told Liverpoolfc.com

“Last Wednesday, when we knew we were still involved, that was our big dream: we didn’t care who we would get. It was clear it would be a strong side.

“Porto are a strong side, first in the Portuguese league and always good. This year again they’re a difficult side to play.

“They came through in a difficult group; they kept Leipzig – a really good side in Germany – behind them.

“It will be interesting. It’s good that we have the first game at Porto, the weather is better there in February! Then in March we meet them at Anfield.

“We are really looking forward to it.” he finished.

Don’t rotate against rivals


Jurgen Klopp has been commended for his rotation and player management of late and rightly so in certain cases. But his decisions to rest players in the home games against Chelsea and Everton were wrong.

Yes, the goals we conceded against both were soft. Yes, we had chances to finish Everton off at 1-0. But had Klopp put out stronger sides in these games we may well have been further ahead by the time we conceded frustrating equalisers. Nobody could argue that Everton deserved a point, but they went away with one because we contrived to shoot ourselves in the foot again.

The game against Spartak Moscow was a bigger priority than the Merseyside derby, but we were out of sight quickly in that game. The Russians were never coming back and the opportunity to rest key players was there. Klopp could easily have taken three of the front four off at half-time and we would surely have run out comfortable winners. Then Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho would have been more able to start the game against Everton. The decision to rest players against rivals in big matches is a strange one and you don’t tend to see rivals doing it. Neither Manchester United nor Manchester City left key men on the bench for their derby and you’d be staggered if they did. The only one that could be pointed to is Pep Guardiola leaving Sergio Aguero out. But given his form and the obvious quality of Gabriel Jesus it can be seen as a tactical decision.

Klopp has clearly decided that after seeing his players burn out in January last year, along with all the injuries, that he would make more changes this season to make up for it. Klopp has gone from one extreme to another. He had a Winter break in Germany and it has taken him a full season here to get around the idea of not having that chance to recharge tired bodies. He has had quite the opposite, in fact, with four more league games over the course of the season and a congested festive period. But where I feel he is being overly cautious is the quantity of changes he has been making. He has made comfortably the most alterations to his team so far this season and I don’t think it was necessary in these two matches. You can go away to the likes of Stoke and Brighton with a weakened side and still win, but in tight games against rivals you need your best team playing. The Everton game wasn’t tight in terms of anything other than the score line, but we were punished for not taking our chances. Had we played our best available side it is conceivable to think that we would have created, and most likely scored, more clear cut chances.

Some will point the finger at the players for the results rather than the manager. I think it’s a combination of each. Klopp can’t be held responsible for his men not taking their chances, but he picks the team and that impacts the number of clear cut chances we will make and take. You would not expect Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to create as many as Coutinho and nor would you back Dominic Solanke to score as many as Firmino. It’s clear that better players will make and take more goal scoring opportunities than those limited to peripheral roles.

It is of course easy to look back in hindsight and criticise the team and manager when things have gone wrong. But Klopp should have learned from the Chelsea game and not gone into the Everton match with five changes to his side from the XI that hammered Spartak. It took away the momentum and meant that instead of carrying that form into the game, the two Brazilians were called for from the bench. It also meant that Mohamed Salah was withdrawn to allow Firmino to come on. Not ideal when Everton later pulled level. These situations could also be avoided by replacing the liability that is Dejan Lovren. The Croatia international always seems to have a bad moment or game immediately after talking himself up in the media. He was patting himself on the back for his performances since his nightmare against Spurs at Wembley in October. And then he shows the kind of naivety that he said he could help younger players avoid by giving Dominic Calvert-Lewin the chance to throw himself to the turf to win his side a penalty and a point.

Our form as a team has certainly improved after a mixed start to the season. But things could be better had we sent out stronger sides against these two teams. We will never know for certain, but it’s hard to believe that the side that battered Spartak Moscow wouldn’t have beaten Everton too.

And isn’t the point of rotation to keep your key players fresh for the big games?

Moreno set for spell on sidelines


Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno looks set to miss the festive period.

The Spain international suffered an injury that forced him off during the first-half of the emphatic 7-0 victory over Spartak Moscow in the Champions League at Anfield on Wednesday night.

And manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that the club do not know the extent of the damage he suffered and there has been no exact timescale placed on his absence just yet.

“We need to have further assessment. So far it could be everything.” he said.

“I cannot say much about it. It’s a very rare thing. So far the specialists aren’t sure.

“But if it’s in a week or so or a little bit longer so we have to wait for that.

“There’s a little damage around the tendons.” he finished.

Summer signing Andrew Robertson will battle it out with midfielder James Milner to cover the former Sevilla man’s absence in the coming weeks – starting with the visit of Everton on Sunday.

Merseyside derby at risk of postponement


The Merseyside derby could be postponed on Sunday.

That’s because of a risk of serious weather that could see the game called off due to safety concerns for supporters and players alike.

The Met office claim that up to eight inches of snow could fall on Sunday morning across the north-west, which could cause serious issues for both this derby and the Manchester derby too.

At present it seems unlikely that the game will be postponed, but talks are likely to have with the local authorities over the weather and any subsequent safety concerns.

There is currently an amber warning over the expected snowfall and temperatures ahead of Sunday and fans are advised to wrap up warm and take precautions with their choice of footwear and clothing.

It would be a real shame if the game was postponed given the hype around the first Merseyside derby of the season coupled with Liverpool’s form going into the match.

The return to Everton of Wayne Rooney and the appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager at Goodison Park has added extra spice to the occasion and both sets of supporters are relishing what promises to be a hard-fought fixture.

Messi wants Coutinho at Barcelona


Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi is happy for the Spanish club to sign Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho.

This according to a report by Diario Gol, in which it is claimed that the Argentina international is putting his opinion forward on the transfer plans of the Catalans.

Manager Ernesto Valverde is keen to sign Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann, either Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte or Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez and Coutinho.

Messi is said to be happy with Laporte or Martinez arriving as a replacement for his compatriot, and former Liverpool man, Javier Mascherano when he leaves the Camp Nou at the end of the season.

But he is not keen on the idea of French superstar Griezmann being signed to replace another Liverpool star in the shape of Uruguay international Luis Suarez.

The former Ajax man has come under fire this season for his diminished goal return, but Messi does not want to see him sidelined in favour of a move for Griezmann.

He has given the green light for the club to make a renewed attempt to prise Coutinho away from Anfield, however.

Hodgson denies contact over Ings loan


Crystal Palace and West Ham United have been linked as potential destinations for Liverpool striker Danny Ings.

The former Burnley man could be allowed to make a loan move away from Anfield for the second half of the campaign during the January transfer window and a report by The Guardian claim the two Premier League sides could be preparing bids.

But Eagles boss, and former Liverpool manager, Roy Hodgson has denied that he is readying an offer to take the Englishman to Selhurst Park next month and says he does not know where the speculation has come from.

“I don’t know” he replied when asked about the rumours at his press conference.

“I was told that today and I’m always amazed that stories can be printed as fact without being checked out. We haven’t talked about Danny Ings coming here on loan with anybody.

“I don’t quite understand how stories appear without checking it out first. It’s not coming from me. I like Danny Ings of course, but I like lots of players.

“We have absolutely no idea about his situation, I don’t know how well he has recovered from his injury.

“I don’t know what Liverpool’s situation regarding him is. There would be an awful lot of questions to answer before that happens.

“At the moment we are nowhere near that level of discussion with either Danny Ings or anybody else.” he finished.

It is highly unlikely that he would reject the opportunity to add Ings to his squad next month, but the forward is likely to have plenty of offers should manager Jurgen Klopp make him available.