Will Liverpool get past Napoli?

NAPLES, ITALY - OCTOBER 03: Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during the Group C match of the UEFA Champions League between SSC Napoli and Liverpool at Stadio San Paolo on October 3, 2018 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Liverpool have still got one last chance to qualify from the Champions League group stage.

Serie A side Napoli arrive at Anfield tonight knowing that they will progress at the expense of their hosts as long as they avoid defeat – or even if they lose 2-1 or by similar scorelines thanks to the complex permutations. Their manager, Carlo Ancelotti, has played down the task that faces his men and recently said that an away day against Atalanta would be more of a challenge for them. But is he right?

Liverpool may well have been poor away from home so far in the competition, with three defeats on their travels, but Paris Saint Germain and Red Star Belgrade have both been beaten at Anfield and manager Jurgen Klopp will he hoping to make it three from three to ensure his side progresses to the knockout phase. He will he keen to go one better than last season – when his team went all the way to the final in Kiev, where they were defeated by Real Madrid.

Napoli are unbeaten so far in the group and beat Liverpool thanks to a 1-0 victory in Italy earlier on in the season – which was snatched thanks to a very late goal by Lorenzo Insigne. The Reds put in a very underwhelming performance that night and are expected to rise to the occasion in front of a roaring atmosphere at Anfield tonight.

Anfield is famous for providing colourful and loud backdrops for European nights under the lights and the supporters will be expected to provide nothing less when the gates open ahead of kick-off. Banners, scarves and flags will be unfurled to help give the players the extra lift they can always depend on as they look to claim the priceless win to qualify for the last sixteen.

The attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane will be expected to fire Liverpool on with the backing behind them from the likes of Andrew Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson Becker. Klopp has built a strong squad which should be getting to the latter stages of this competition and would represent failure should they not make it out this group – despite having to face the quality of Paris Saint Germain and Napoli.

There has been plenty of speculation that the German will select a midfield field comprising Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum – which has been met with mixed responses by fans. But those who are unhappy with the prospect of the trio starting tonight should look back to the visit of Roma in the semi-final first leg last season. Wijnaldum came off the bench after just over fifteen minutes to replace the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the Reds won 5-2.

If you think that Klopp will get his team over the line and into the next round, you can bet on Liverpool with winningsportsbets.co.uk and make a few quid should they pull of another great escape in European competition at Anfield. Should any fans or the players themselves need any inspiration or motivation for the game, they need look no further than the last group phase game in 2005 against Olympiakos. Liverpool needed to win that game by two clear goals and went behind shortly before the break when Rivaldo scored a free-kick. But three goals, including a Steven Gerrard thunderbolt, won it for Rafa Benitez’s side and they famously went on to win the competition that season.

Who would bet against that happening again this season if Liverpool get through the game tonight?

The abuse of Raheem Sterling needs to end


The abuse of former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has gone way too far – regardless of whether the Chelsea fans were racially attacking him or not on Saturday evening at Stamford Bridge.

He is a young, successful and confident black man and some people just cannot accept that. It seems to be a stereotypical type of middle aged white man that is most troubled by his success, along with the likes of Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton, and they appear to see it as some sort of social injustice. It isn’t. It is representative of how diverse and multicultural Britain is and how opportunities to succeed are opening up more and more for people of ethnic minority. But these racists cannot handle that and it seems the far right are having one last go at bringing back white supremacy.

Footballers of Asian descent are still struggling to make the breakthrough into the professional game and homophobia still runs rife in the sport. Things need to move on, but these bigoted white men still hound and terrify the gay players in the game and they do not feel able to come out and be who they are. It’s a shameful state of affairs given how far society in general has moved on and things need to change. Some former players have come out following retirement and have offered to advocate for and support others to be the first to make that stand. But nobody has come forward through fear of the response they will get from the stands. It’s beyond sad – it’s appalling.

A Spurs supporter was arrested after he threw a banana skin at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last week. It was an utterly shameful act by a fan of a club whose supporters should know all about being abused for being a minority. He needs to be named, shamed, banned and disowned by Spurs and their supporters. It was a disgraceful and abhorrent act that has no place in the game whatsoever. The men who stood at the front of the stand at Stamford Bridge and unleashed a torrent of aggressive abuse towards Sterling as he collected the ball from in front of them are also a disgrace to themselves, their families, their club, their city and society in general – regardless of whether there was racial abuse. Their basic behaviour was unacceptable. Middle aged men conducting themselves like that towards a man playing football is disgraceful. By all means they should support their team and can boo and jeer the opposition, but they went so far past the line with their conduct on Saturday evening even before the potential issue of racism is addressed. What is that makes them think they have the right to treat another human being in that manner? Would they do it in the street? I would hope not.

A key moment for Sterling appears to be the manner in which he went about leaving Liverpool. He was accused of being a snake and a money grabber by a lot of fans when he decided to leave Anfield to join Manchester City in 2015. Forgiveness seems unlikely with plenty of supporters at the club for the way he, and his agent Aidy Ward, went about forcing the move to The Etihad. But how different was it to Fernando Torres pushing for a switch to Chelsea? Both left a team that was nowhere near matching their ambitions and neither was a player who had grown up as a Liverpool fan. The Spaniard had spent longer at the club and scored more goals, but he ultimately left with nothing to show for his efforts. He went on to win the Champions League with Chelsea. Sterling has won the Premier League with City. Liverpool have won nothing since he left. So is he justified in his choice? Many fans will be so blinkered by the feeling of betrayal that they will be adamant that he was not.

I personally have no issue with a bit of banter and having a pantomime style bit of fun when it comes to the the likes of Sterling and Torres. I don’t see an issue with booing them or jeering when they make a poor pass or miss a shot. It’s part and parcel of the game. But personal abuse on the level we have seen of Sterling goes too far. He decided to leave a football club to join another. That’s all he did. I’m sure many fans reading this will have left a job to go and work for someone else in their life. Should their old company or employer start calling them a snake and giving them vile abuse on social media? They wouldn’t think so.

I’ve not seen or heard racist abuse towards Sterling from Liverpool fans and I hope to never see or hear such a thing. Our fan base should know better given the way John Barnes was treated when he was at the club. He had banana skins chucked from the stands when he played. There are plenty of parallels between him and Sterling. Both were born in Jamaica and went on to play for Liverpool and England. And the pair of them have each been given a very hard time for their performances for the Three Lions. Neither have ever been given the kind of breathing space that white British born players have had from fans or the media. It’s worrying that thirty plus years since Barnes made his England debut we are again seeing the same pattern of behaviour towards Sterling. The media should take a lot of the blame for that.

The difference is how other young black England internationals such as Marcus Rashford, Kyle Walker, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold are treated is stark as well. Sterling isn’t given the same kind of support or patience as any of them. Is it because they live quieter private lives? It might well be. Walker agitated for a move away from Spurs to join City for essentially the exact same reasons Sterling did. He gets his fair share of stick from Tottenham supporters, but his treatment in the media is nothing like Sterling. Is it because he was born in England? Is it because he is perceived to have a quieter and less flashy personal life? Perhaps.

Chelsea have had previous issues with racism and anti-semitism. This is the latest in a series of problems they have had with some of their supporters accused of abusing rivals based on creed or religion. It’s a staggering indictment on the city of London as well. It is the most diverse and multicultural place in the world. These fans should be used to seeing a plethora of ethnicities and religions. They should be used to hearing a tapestry of languages and accents. The football club they purport to support was one of the first to start bringing in players from all over the world. They were the first club to select a starting eleven with no British players when Italian manager Gianluca Vialli sent out his team to take on Southampton on Boxing Day in 1999. It’s double standards and hypocrisy to target rival players for their nationality or ethnicity.

It’s also utterly disgusting and has no place in football or modern society.

Is Lallana on borrowed time at Anfield?

Red Star Belgrade's Comorian forward El Fardou Nabouhane (L) and Red Star Belgrade's Montenegrin defender Filip Stojkovic (R) vie for the ball with Liverpool's English midfielder Adam Lallana (C) during the UEFA Champions League Group C second-leg football match between Red Star Belgrade and Liverpool FC at the Rajko Mitic Stadium in Belgrade on November 6, 2018. (Photo by Pedja Milosavljevic / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDJA MILOSAVLJEVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Adam Lallana is facing a race to prove that he can have a future at the club beyond the end of the season. The England international has had an injury hit year or two as is looking like the forgotten man at Anfield.

After Jurgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers, the manager who brought Lallana to the club from Southampton, the attacking midfielder looked like one of the players who understood what the German wanted from his players most. He moved from a wide attacking role, a position which did not suit him, to a deeper midfield position which allowed him to influence the game more with his pressing and ability to keep hold of possession. He quickly became one of Klopp’s most trusted and called upon players.

But things changed when he picked up an injury against Atletico Madrid in a preseason friendly. He missed a big chunk of the 2017/18 campaign, which was a very promising one for the Liverpool squad. He managed to regain fitness in time to come off the bench in the Champions League final after Mohamed Salah was injured in the first-half. But he looked way off the pace and couldn’t have any positive impact on the game. It was a microcosm for many supporters of where Lallana stood at that point and some felt that he needed to be moved on this past Summer.

He has had an injury plagued start to this season as well, with niggly issues limiting him to starts against Cardiff City in the Premier League and Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League. He came close to scoring against the Welsh side with a headed chance cleared off the line, but his performance against the Serbians was much-maligned by many fans. He struggled to have much impact, aside from helping to create a clear cut chance for Daniel Sturridge in the first-half, and looked too slow and laboured in the main. He was criticised for holding on to the ball for too long by some, while there were others who were more sympathetic to the imbalance between patience and his lack of match action.

Lallana will turn thirty-one in May and will need to prove his worth to the team if he wants to see his situation develop into something similar to that of James Milner, for example. The first thing he needs to do is maintain fitness, so that he can be available from the bench or to start when Klopp wants to rotate his options in busy periods – such as the upcoming congested festive fixture list.

Liverpool are not currently resplendent with attacking midfield options in the squad, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s directness missing thanks to the injury he suffered against Roma last season and Harry Wilson being unproven and out on loan at Championship side Derby County. Lallana has a great opportunity to challenge for a role in the side to link up the midfield and attack – something which has been an issue for the team so far this season. But all the time he is struggling to regain full fitness and match sharpness, he represents a gamble and is unlikely to be afforded many chances to show what he can do.

The signing of Xherdan Shaqiri won’t have helped the former Southampton man’s situation in the squad. The Swiss international has got better and better as he’s been given opportunities to adjust to the way Liverpool are setup to play this season. He is scoring goals and linking up well with his new team-mates. The return to fitness of Naby Keita is also likely to restrict Lallana’s chances to get into the side as well, with the Guinea international showing more of what he can do with a man of the match performance against Burnley this week.

The news that Wilson is unlikely to be recalled from his loan spell in January is likely to come as a relief to Lallana. The Wales international has been in fine form for Frank Lampard’s side and has got a lot of fans excited about what he could bring to the side if he were to come back in the new year. But the decision to leave him where he is will only delay the inevitible – he will return to Anfield next Summer and is likely to have earnt the chance to be given an opportunity in the first-team next season. That could leave Lallana’s future in serious jeopardy if he is unable to start playing more in the second half of the campaign.

There are still Liverpool supporters who believe that he can reclaim a place in the side once he gets back to fitness, but their number is dwindling and the strong faith placed in him by Klopp has to be decreasing over time as well. It’s going to be make or break for Lallana in the first part of next year – or he could see his future elsewhere in the 2019/20 season.

Can Clyne come back in from the cold?

WATFORD, ENGLAND - MAY 01: Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool arrives prior to kickoff during the Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road on May 1, 2017 in Watford, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Nathaniel Clyne has become a forgotten member of the Liverpool squad. The England international has barely featured since returning from the back injury that ruled him out for most of last season. He managed to make five appearances last season, but has faded into obscurity since. And a few Reds are beginning to ask why that might be.

Clyne has been at Anfield since the Summer of 2015, when the club paid Southampton a reasonable fee of £12.5m to make him a part of Brendan Rodgers’ squad. He didn’t play under the man who signed him for long, with the Northern Irishman being sacked a couple of months later. But Jurgen Klopp kept him in the side and he was a regular for the first his first two seasons at the club before suffering that back injury during the Summer of 2017.

While he was working on regaining fitness last year, he had to watch on as young English duo Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold rotated his right-back position in the side, with both going on to get international recognition for their fine form at club level. Clyne missed out on the World Cup and was an unsued substitute in the Champions League final as Liverpool went down 3-1 to Real Madrid in Kiev. He will feel that a lot has happened while he has been getting himself back to fitness – and he’s missed out.

So far this season, he has been limited to one start and two appearances on the bench for the first-team. The start came in the 2-1 League Cup defeat against Chelsea at Anfield back in September – which meant that further chances in the competition for him this season were gone. He was an unused substitute against West Ham for the season opener in the Premier League and didn’t reappear until the 3-0 win at Watford last month. Things are not looking good for his prospects at Anfield.

And other clubs are taking note of his situation, with the likes of Fulham and West Ham reported to be keen on trying to convince Liverpool to part with Clyne when the transfer window opens next month. It is unlikely that Klopp will allow the defender to make an exit midway through the season, especially since Gomez is going to be out for up to six weeks following his fractured leg injury suffered against Burnley. It leaves Trent Alexander-Arnold as the only fit right-back in the squad, although Brazil international Fabinho has shown that he can fill in there. But having a player of Clyne’s quality and experience in reserve can only be seen as a good thing and he may yet be called upon to take the pressure off young Alexander-Arnold over the busy festive period.

Quite why Clyne has been frozen out by Klopp is a matter for debate and discussion. Many feel that the German has taken the opportunity to move him out of the picture while he was injured having become unsatisfied with his performances. Clyne is a solid, all-round full-back. He has reasonable pace, energy and technical ability and will always give his all on the pitch when called upon. But he doesn’t offer enough going forward. He only got one goal and two assists across his first two seasons at Anfield, when he was a regular, and that isn’t enough in a system where the full-backs have plenty of attacking licence. His crossing is an area in serious need of improvement, with many promising attacks broken down with a poor ball into the box by the defender during his time in the side.

It looks increasingly likely that he will leave the club during 2019, but January doesn’t look to be the right time for that to happen. His value isn’t going to dramatically drop from then to the end of the season and he could prove valuable if we have further injury issues in his position. He is also able to play left-back, if desperately needed to, and that could prove useful should Robertson and Moreno both be absent for any games. Klopp has recognised the need to add depth to his squad, especially if he wants to push Manchester City all the way in the title race, and letting a player in Clyne’s situation go in the new year could prove foolish.

When the campaign is over and the Summer transfer market kicks into life, there will be plenty of interest from other Premier League clubs in Clyne and he will have his pick from at least two or three. He will just have to sit tight until then and do his best if called upon.

How have the players done so far this season?


The season is now four months in and we are about to hit the busy festive period, which can prove to be make or break for a lot of aspirations in the game. So it seems a good opportunity to take stock and look at how the squad have fared so far during the campaign.

Brazil international Alisson Becker arrived at the club during the Summer for what was a world record fee at the time after Liverpool agreed a deal with Italian club AS Roma. He has been absolutely superb in the main. Rival fans were rubbing their hands together after his error in possession against Leicester City followed up a near miss at Anfield against Brighton – but he learned his lesson very quickly and has been immaculate with the ball at his feet since. He’s conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League so far this season and has the best save percentage. His quick thinking has helped lead to goals against Fulham, Everton and Burnley recently and that only adds to his value to the team. Nobody is talking about how much he cost anymore and he is very much in the mix when talking about not only the best goalkeepers in the country, but in the world. He’s exactly what we’ve needed since Pepe Reina lost his best form and left the club. A+

Another player who cost a world record fee, which still stands, when he signed is central defender Virgil Van Dijk. The Dutch international skipper has put down a serious claim to be considered the best in the business since arriving at Anfield in January this year in a £75m deal from Southampton. Some onlookers were staggered by the kind of fee Jurgen Klopp was prepared to shell out to bring him to Merseyside, but few are still querying that now. Van Dijk has composure, leadership, power, pace, aerial ability and can ping a pass forward with casual ease. He has been a major catalyst in the defensive improvements that have seen Liverpool become a title contender this season and is the defensive organiser we’ve missed since Jamie Carragher called it quits in 2013. The only criticism which could be levelled at him is that he doesn’t score enough goals given his physique and presence in the opposition box, but he more than makes up for that with the tasks in his remit. A+

England international Joe Gomez has come of age in 2018. The former Charlton Athletic defender has come into the side to play centrally alongside Van Dijk and few have questioned why he is getting picked ahead of Dejan Lovren. He has shown composure, confidence and a calmness which has been missing from a string of defenders charged with playing in the middle of the Liverpool defence. The injury he has suffered in the 3-1 victory over Burnley this week could be a real blow to the side. Gomez has formed a partnership with Van Dijk which is developing alongside their friendship off the pitch. Hopefully he can make a quick recovery and continue setting about becoming the best English centre-back around. A

Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is also an emerging England international, has had a breakthrough year in 2018. He not only played his way into the Liverpool side last season, but also managed to snatch himself a place on the plane to the World Cup as part of Gareth Southgate’s squad. He recently found the net for both club and country and is quickly developing into one of the most promising talents Anfield has seen over the past fifteen years or so. Needs to work on his crossing and corners, but his set piece strike against Watford showed that he can place a dead ball well. Is still young and has plenty of developing to do, but looks solid as the first-choice option on the right-hand side of the back four. B+

It has been a year of mixed emotions for Croatia international Dejan Lovren, having played in and lost both the Champions League and World Cup finals. He looked to be forging a promising partnership alongside Van Dijk after the Dutchman’s arrival midway through last season, but he started the campaign injured and has been unable to reclaim his place from Gomez. Is a very good option to have as third choice in the squad and will be looking to stake his claim to be upgraded back up to regular status during the absence of the young defender over the festive period. Seemed to blossom playing alongside a more composed and authoritative defender in Van Dijk and could focus more on his own game. He hasn’t let the side down when he’s been called upon and remains as determined to succeed as ever. B

Scotland international captain Andrew Robertson is quietly going about installing himself as the best left-back in the Premier League. His tireless energy and endless work-rate have seen him cement his place in the side. He works well in tandem with left-sided forward Sadio Mane and the two have doubled up to terrorise opposition defences since he broke into the side midway through the 2017/18 campaign following a gentle integration after his arrival from relegated Hull City. Looks increasingly more a steal at around £8m with each passing game and has become one of, if not the, most consistent performers in Jurgen Klopp’s squad. A

Former Schalke defender Joel Matip looks to be fourth in the queue for regular football at the heart of the Liverpool defence as things stand. Is an able footballer, but often looks a touch lightweight for the rigours of Premier League action. Can be a little too hesitant and lacking in assertiveness, which could potentially be due to a rustiness thanks to the inconsistency of his appearances. Few could argue, however, that having a player who was previously considered one of the best centre-backs in the Bundesliga before his arrival at Anfield in 2016 as fourth choice is a good thing. Grabbed himself a goal in the 3-0 win over Southampton in September and has stated his desire to ignore interest in January in order to stay and fight for his place. He will hope that the absence of Gomez through injury will present opportunities for him to show what he can do. He will want to perform better than he did against Red Star Belgrade recently though. B-

It looks like the much-maligned Alberto Moreno will finally be leaving the club when the contract he signed upon his arrival from Sevilla back in 2014 expires at the end of the campaign. He has been used more sparingly by Klopp as time has gone on, but his determination to give it all he’s got and not let anyone down remains in tact. Moreno seems so focused on giving it 100% that his attention and concentration can move away from the game and see him caught out of position at times. Had a fairly poor game at home against Chelsea in the defeat which saw the club exit the League Cup back in September, but didn’t let the team down against Cardiff City or Burnley when called upon. Will not be short of offers from his homeland when he comes to choose who he will join on a free transfer at the end of the season. C+

The future does not look bright for Nathaniel Clyne when it comes to his prospects of staying at Anfield beyond the end of the campaign. The England international right-back had a long spell out injured before returning earlier this year to find Alexander-Arnold and Gomez rotating his position in the side. He’s been unable to win it back, having barely played, and looks nailed on to be leaving Liverpool in 2019. He won’t be short of offers from other Premier League clubs, with a few believed to be lining up offers to try and tempt the club in to letting him go in January. His experience could prove useful while Gomez is out injured over Christmas as he would offer some respite for Alexander-Arnold as the fixtures pile up. Klopp is unlikely to want to let him go halfway through the season, but is likely to allow it when the campaign is over. D

Captain Jordan Henderson is unlikely to have seen so much competition for places in the Liverpool midfield since his arrival at Anfield back in 2011. He has faced plenty of scrutiny over his spot in the side since taking the captaincy back in 2015 when Steven Gerrard left and has a fight on his hands to keep hold of his number 6 role in the team. The arrival of Brazil international Fabinho and emergence of Georginio Wijnaldum as a genuine option for the deep-lying position means that he is under pressure to perform consistently or he will face being rotated or dropped to the bench. Klopp has always rated him and recently gave him further backing as skipper when announcing that the squad had voted over who should be third and fourth vice-captains. Injuries and suspension have seen him come in and out of the side this season, which has meant a struggle to maintain consistency. Will be very keen to show what he can do over the second half of the campaign. B-

Former England international James Milner has continued to be a trusted lieutenant for Klopp. His workrate continues to be staggeringly high for a player of his age and he offers a calmness from the penalty spot lacking in some of the attacking players further up the pitch. Loves to get stuck in, which makes him a great option for battles of attrition against the likes of Burnley on a wet Wednesday night in December. He too faces more competition for a place in the team than he’s been used to at Anfield, but will treat it the same as he does any other challenge – with belief and gusto. B+

Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum continues to be one of Klopp’s most used players this season. There are fans who question what he brings to the team, with plenty of performances that some perceive to be quiet. But his effectiveness can be seen by those who dig a little deeper than surface level. The former Newcastle United midfielder is never going to a prolific goalscorer and he doesn’t have the defensive prowess of a player like Javier Mascherano, but his recycling of the ball and neat passing make him a very proficient element of the midfield. He offers versatility as well, which can prove useful when tactical switches are required to adapt during a game. B+

There was plenty of hype, most of which was justified, when Naby Keita finally arrived at the club following a long wait after the deal was agreed with RB Leipzig during the Summer of 2017. Many thought he was going to hit the ground running following his impressive debut in the 4-0 win over West Ham on the opening weekend of the season. A few bright moments against Crystal Palace only increased the expectation that Liverpool now had a roving box to box midfielder to link the departments of the side together. But he had a quiet spell, with injuries helping to block his progress, before again showing what convinced Klopp to wait over a year and spend a fairly big fee on his services against Burnley this week. He put in a man of the match performances and has got fans excited that he is about to start showing his best form. B-

Brazil international Fabinho has had to be a patient man so far this season. He has been slowly integrated into the side and has not been given the chance to start a series of games as yet. Some very encouraging performances against Red Star Belgrade, Cardiff City and Everton have made people question why he isn’t being given the chance to show what is capable of over an extended period. But others will point to the Arsenal game as an example of why Klopp has been gentle with the introduction of the man he signed from AS Monaco shortly after the Champions League final in May. Fabinho has offered defensive protection in midfield, with his interceptions and tackles often sparking attacks. He is likely to be used more frequently as the season progresses if he continues his adaptation to the system as he has so far. B

Before some long spells out injured, Adam Lallana was one of Klopp’s most trusted players. But things have changed a lot for the England international and he now faces a serious battle to get back into the Liverpool side. The lack of creative midfielders in the squad should be a positive factor for the former Southampton man, but he has struggled to get going and is starting to look like someone who the team has left behind during his absences. While some fans have been patient and forgiven some underwhelming performances, others have been quick to point out that Lallana looks too slow and laboured in possession for the way the team plays. Talk of Christian Pulisic being a transfer target and the progress shown by Harry Wilson on loan at Championship side Derby County will not be doing his long-term prospects any favours. D

And nor will the Summer signing of Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City. The former Basel, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan man has come close to moving to Anfield so many times in the past that he must have thought the boat had sailed on his chances of being a Red. But he finally got his chance when his old club were relegated from the Premier League last season and has looked an absolute bargain at £13m odd. He has managed to score three goals so far and has chipped in a couple of assists too. Looks our most dangerous attacking midfielder by a country mile and has provided the link between the midfield and attack so sorely missing on several occasions since Philippe Coutinho left in January and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got injured. Shaqiri could have shown frustration with his lack of game time earlier on in the season, and some would have expected it of him given his reputation, but he has kept being positive and is seeing the benefits. He is getting more comfortable in the side with each appearance and will be a key player for us going into the second half of the season. A-

A lot of football fans were predicting that Mohamed Salah would be unable to carry the explosive form of his first season as a Liverpool player over into his second campaign at the club. Some will feel that they were right to predict that, as his prolific form in front of goal has slowed down this season. But others will point to the setback of the shoulder injury suffered in the Champions League final being followed up by premature return to action for Egypt at the World Cup. He’s still managed to find the back of the net nine times in twenty-one appearances so far this season, but does need to step up somewhat in the bigger games. Is finding his feet in the more calm system being deployed this season and faces the problem of being doubled up on by opposition defenders. Could also benefit from more form from his attacking colleagues. B+

Former Southampton winger Sadio Mane started the season well. He was scoring regularly and looked to have carried his sparkling form over from last season. But things slowed down a little for the Senegal international and he has been in generally mixed form over the past couple of months. He has managed to score seven goals in eighteen appearances so far this season, which perhaps indicates that the standards set last season are perhaps too high a demand to be replicated. His agreeing to sign a contract extension is a big positive and he now joins Salah and Firmino in being committed to Anfield long-term. Is still finding goalscoring positions regularly, but has left his shooting boots in the changing room on a few occasions – most notably against Everton at the weekend, when he could easily have had a hat-trick. If he, and his strike partners, can spark into life in the second half of the season then we could really push Manchester City all the way. B+

Forward Roberto Firmino has struggled to carry over his the form that saw him notch twenty-seven goals in all competitions last season. He has looked a lot more quiet and there are concerns that the Brazil international is jaded after such an energy-sapping 2017/18 campaign, with some claiming he is suffering with a World Cup hangover. Has managed to score just six goals so far this season and isn’t showing the same level of selflessness that saw him become so integral to the side last season. His workrate and determination were key to Salah and Mane last season and the three of them having found quite the same level of understanding yet this season. B-

The return to fitness of Daniel Sturridge was greeted by joy from a lot of Liverpool supporters – and his goalscoring form in preseason only served to fire up the coals further. He came off the bench to instantly get his name on the scoresheet against West Ham in the opening game of the season and that saw expectations grow in the stands. Goals against Paris Saint Germain and Chelsea have shown his worth to the squad and he has seemingly moved into the role of super sub off the back of his wonder strike at Stamford Bridge. Things were dampened by a dire first-half showing against Red Star Belgrade, in which he missed a sitter, and he is not under quite the same level of expectation now. Is a handy option to have on the bench at present, but his big wages won’t be on offer next Summer should the club decide to try and extend his stay. B

Belgian international Divock Origi looked nailed on to leave Anfield in the Summer after a relatively disappointing loan season with VfL Wolfsburg last year. But he has worked really hard in training and spoken positively about his desire to make the most of his return to the club this season. Many will feel that there was poetic justice in his late winner against Everton after a nasty foul by their former defender Ramiro Funes Mori ended his 2015/16 campaign. He didn’t really seize his moment against Burnley when handed a rare start, but has shown that he at least offers something as a squad player going into the business end of the campaign. C+

Things looked to be a bit more bright for Dominic Solanke after he finally notched his first goal for the club in the last Premier League fixture of last season against Brighton at Anfield in May. But he has struggled to even get on to the bench much of the time this season and a loan move in January looks his only realistic option of playing regular football during the current campaign. D

Diouf says he regrets Liverpool move

LIVERPOOL - DECEMBER 4: El Hadji Diouf of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the winning penalty during the Liverpool v Ipswich Town Worthington Cup, Fourth Round match at Anfield on December 4, 2002 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Liverpool flop El-Hadji Diouf has claimed that he turned down moves to Manchester United and Barcelona to join the club.

The former Senegal international, who disgraced both himself and the club during his spell at Anfield, said that he regrets ever pulling on the red shirt during his career.

“I can say today that the shirt that I regret wearing the most was Liverpool’s.” he told RMC Sport.

“Because if I were to do that part of my career again, I would have gone to FC Barcelona or Manchester United.

“At the time, they wanted me too.” he added.

Liverpool supporters will wish that he had accepted an offer from rivals Manchester United and gone on to be the same player there that he was at Anfield.

He is one of, if not the, most disliked former Liverpool players with supporters and has had public feuds with both Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher since leaving the club.

Few would welcome him back any time.

Brewster still a way off making return


Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster isn’t close to making a return to action.

That’s the news from Reds boss Jurgen Klopp – who was asked about the teenager during his press conference ahead of the midweek trip to take on Burnley in the Premier League.

“Not that close that we have to talk about it now.” he said.

“He is here, around, he is our boy and gets the best treatment he can get and all that stuff, but it is not that he will start tomorrow or next week.

“There is still a lot of work to do.” he finished.

The England youth international is expected to make his competitive first-team debut for the club this season after agreeing terms on a professional contract over the Summer.

But he is going to have to wait until the second half of the campaign by the look of things, with his appearance on the bench against Crystal Palace last year still the closest he has come to making a breakthrough.

Klopp talks about form of Firmino

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino reacts during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 2, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / 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. / (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says that “everything will be fine” with Roberto Firmino.

The Brazil international has not carried his form from last season into the current campaign and there has been plenty of speculation that he is suffering from a World Cup hangover.

But his boss does not think that there is anything wrong with his number 9 and expects him to get back to his best before too long.

“It’s absolutely OK.” he said.

“It’s not that he plays his best football in each segment of the game but he is just an important player.

“That’s how it is with a player’s career, you have these moments where you fly and you cannot really explain it and other moments where you have to work a bit harder to come again in the moment where you fly. That’s exactly the case for him.

“It’s nothing to worry about or anything. It’s just a normal football season. We all have to go through these little holes or whatever and then everything will be fine again, especially with him because his attitude is absolutely phenomenal.

“That makes it easier for him, he will never stop.

“That’s good, so everything will be fine.” he finished.

The former Hoffenheim forward has scored five goals in twenty appearances so far this season.

Klopp gives injury update ahead of Burnley clash

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp (centre right) embraces Liverpool's Scottish defender Andrew Robertson on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 2, 2018. - Liverpool won the game 1-0. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / 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. / (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says that Sadio Mane and Andrew Robertson will need to be monitored ahead of the trip to play Burnley.

The German will take his squad to Turf Moor on Wednesday evening in the next round of Premier League fixtures fresh after Sunday’s 1-0 win over Everton in the Merseyside derby.

But he might have to do it without Senegal international Mane thanks to an “awful cut on his foot” picked up in the feisty clash at Anfield at the weekend.

“Sadio and Robbo we need to have another look at today.” he said at his press conference.

“Sadio really had an awful cut on his foot. It needed to be stitched; he is OK but walking around here now in flip-flops and you don’t play in flip-flops!

“That means in this moment he is not ready, but we will see later.

“With Robbo it is not that serious as with Sadio, but we need to have a look.” he finished.

Liverpool supporters will hope that the duo can make it back to fitness in time for the game.

Fabinho not looking past Burnley test

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Gylfi Sigurdsson of Everton runs with the ball under pressure from Fabinho of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC at Anfield on December 2, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho is preparing himself for a “difficult” time against Burnley.

The Brazilian will be making his first trip to Turf Moor and says that his team-mates have told him that Sean Dyche’s side are not one to be taken lightly – especially on their own patch.

“When you’ve got a lot of fixtures in a short space of time after each game, whatever the result was, you have to immediately start preparing for the next game.” he told Liverpoolfc.com

“That’s what we’re doing: the result against Everton was great, another three points, we’re still fighting for first place, but now we’ve got an important, difficult game against Burnley. We’re going to work hard and focus on this game.

“The players mention that it’s a difficult place to play. But even before I came here, I knew Burnley as a tough, physical team who were very difficult to beat at home.

“But that’s what it’s like in the Premier League, especially away from home. We’ll work on that, study their team to be prepared for Wednesday.” he added.

The former Monaco man went on to speak about the raft of tough game the squad face in what promises to be a very busy and important month as they look to make strides forward at home and abroad.

“We know it’ll be a really tough month.” he continued.

“We have eight games this month, we are prepared for this run of fixtures, important games against big sides.

“We’ve got the Champions League game which will determine our future in the competition and in the Premier League it’s an opportunity to stay at the top and open up a gap on the teams behind us.

“We know that recovery time will be short, we need to recover well after each game. We have everything we need to do that here at the club, the squad are prepared.

“The coach says that he’s going to need all of us available, so we aim to be prepared.

“We’re used to playing two to three games a week. Yes, we’ve got a tough run of games coming, but that can’t be an excuse.

“We need to be focused and prepared.” he finished.

Liverpool face a trip south to take on an impressive Bournemouth side before a key double header at Anfield against Napoli and Manchester United next week.