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Trent Alexander-Arnold: 15 Points Is The Objective

Liverpool Training Session
Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

According to Liverpool’s world-class right back, 5 wins out of 5 is how the lads want to finish out the season.

For a brief moment, it looked like Liverpool just might make a late charge for the last, coveted “Top 4” spot, thereby earning Champions League qualification. Then a couple of disappointing draws left the Merseyside club once again back in the pack, with their own fate out of their hands.

Realistically, Liverpool will have to win out in order to have a chance of finishing in the Top 4, and even then, other teams will have to slip up. It’s a challenge made all the more difficult because of the condensed schedule—thanks in part to the postponed Manchester United match—and the fact that the Reds have not won more than three matches on the trot all season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, for one, thinks that this has to be the objective.

“Things have to go our way and it’s not really in our hands, but we need to put ourselves in a position where if other teams slip up then we’re ready to pounce,” Alexander-Arnold told the club’s official website.

“Looking at certain teams’ fixtures, you’d like to hope they’ll drop points around us and we’ll be ready to slip in there. But we can’t really rest on that, you’ve just got to go for it and hope that it works out.

“All we can do is try to get 15 points out of the five games, that’s what our objective is and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”

Winning all the remaining matches would give Liverpool 69 points, which aside from being “nice,” would give the Reds an outside chance of catching Chelsea or Leicester City.

It would also all but ensure that Liverpool would still end up in the Europa League, and not the Europa Conference League. And sorry, after this year I just can’t with this new ECL shite. This is not the fight we wanted to have to end the season, but it’s where we’ve ended up.

“Even though we probably haven’t come out of it the way we wanted to and we haven’t reached the objectives we wanted to,” Trent continued, “We’ve been able to realize we can get through to the other side if we work together, if we battle through it together as a team, as a unit. And we’ll become better.

“They’re the lessons we’ll learn for next year, that we can do anything together and as a team we’re a really good team.”

Liverpool still have the foundations for a world-class team, capable of competing for any and all silverware in a normal season. This season was not normal, to say the least. Hopefully the Reds can return to some form of normality next year, and get back to their winning ways.

And hopefully those winning ways start tonight against Southampton.

Wijnaldum’s Agent Issues Plea to Bayern Munich Via Podcast

Real Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One
Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Gini’s agent went on a German podcast and asked the Bundesliga giants to give him a call.

We’re all familiar with Gini Wijnaldum’s contract situation at this point. He’s out of contract in the summer. Liverpool wants to resign him. He wants a bigger, longer contract than they’re willing to offer.

It’s been the same story for the entire year. Rumours abound that Barcelona would like to sign him on a free. Ronald Koeman, their current manager, coached the Dutch national team from 2018-20 and it’s not hard to imagine Wijnaldum would join up with his former manager’s outfit. However, this rumour has been around for many months and nothing has come of it.

Though a new story seems to break on the Wijnaldum contract front every few weeks, there’s been very little change in the actual narrative. But Humphry Nijman, the Dutchman’s agent, has given us something new to talk about!

Nijman recently went on the Meine Bayern-Woche podcast for Germany’s SPORT1 to talk about his client’s contract situation. It was there that he issued a plea to Bayern Munich to give him a call.

“Wijnaldum is a free transfer and keeps all options open,” said Nijman. “FC Bayern is a great club. If you are interested in him, please feel free to speak to us.”

That’s certainly one way to court the perennial Bundesliga champions. It’s hard to really know what to even make of an upcoming free agent’s representative stumping for his client on a podcast, but it does seem to point to there not being any real, solid offers on the table for Gini.

And, if there are no concrete offers on the table at the moment, it stands to reason that Wijnaldum playing somewhere other than Liverpool next season might not be a foregone conclusion.

Okoye savors his ninth league clean sheet of the season

Super Eagles goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was between the sticks as Sparta Rotterdam defeated Vitesse Arnhem 3-0 in their Dutch Eredivisie game on Friday.

 

Okoye who remains the undisputed number one for the club kept his ninth clean sheet of the season to help his Sparta Rotterdam improve their position on the table.

 

Mario Engels set up Bryan Smeets for the curtain-raiser in the 37th minute, and the goalscorer turned creator of the second for Lennart Thy in the 76th minute.

 

Another Nigerian youngster Emanuel Emegha completed the rout with ten minutes left on the clock, thanks to assist from Aaron Meijer.

 

The visitors almost pulled a goal back in the 87th minute, but Okoye was at the right place to save Dominik Oroz’s glance header.

 

After the game, an elated Okoye took to his Twitter handle, to express his delight.

 

“Thank you Heavenly Father for an injury-free match, another victory, and another clean sheet.” He wrote

 

The 21-year-old will now be gunning for his 10th clean sheet when Sparta Rotterdam locks horns with FC Utrecht next weekend. Read more …

Iheanacho scores as Leicester City bow to Newcastle at home

Nigerian international Kelechi Iheanacho netted his 16th goal of the season for Leicester City in their premier league match against Newcastle United on Friday.

 

The striker scored late in the game as the Foxes suffered a shocking 2-4 defeat to relegation-threatened Magpies at the King Power stadium.

 

Iheanacho netted the goal in the 87rh minute to reduce the deficit for his side, but it counted for nothing as the visitors held on for a vital win.

 

Iheanacho has now scored the 15th goal in his last 16 appearances, and no player has scored more than him since the beginning of March.

 

Joe Willock took full advantage of a Caglar Soyuncu error to score the opener for Newcastle United (22) before Paul Dummett rose unopposed to double Newcastle’s lead (34).

 

Callum Wilson pounced on a Timothy Castagne mistake to adding to Leicester’s woes (64) before making it 4-0 from an acute angle (74) following a slack backpass from the unnerved Castagne.

 

Marc Albrighton made it 1-4 with a rifled finish (80) before Kelechi Iheanacho managed to score the second consolation (87).

 

The defeat was a big blow to Brendan Rodgers’s side chance of qualifying for the champions league next season, although they seated third on the table but with just two points above in form Chelsea.

 

Leicester City’s last three-game of the campaign is against Manchester United (away), Chelsea (away), and Tottenham (home). Read more …

New signing Jonas Emmanuel vows to be a valuable addition to Kwara United

New signing Jonas Emmanuel is delighted to join Kwara United and has promised to repay the on the pitch when second stanza of the 2020-2021 Nigeria professional league kick off this Sunday.

The young forward joined the Harmony Boys few days ago was officially unveiled as a member of the squad on Friday.

Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) table toppers, Kwara United FC signed the player as part of the club’s reinforcement move to finish the ongoing 2020/2021 season successfully.

In his reaction, the teenage attacking sensation expressed delight on the confidence reposed on him by the handlers of the team for the task ahead, adding that he will stop at nothing to ensure that he repays the trust place on him.

“My appreciation goes to the handlers of this great team for finding me worthy of service,” said Jonas, who has found the back of the net in several friendly games he featured in.

“I also promise to do all within my powers to reciprocate the confidence place in me.

Kwara United FC occupies the top position of the Nigeria Professional Football League table with 36 points from 19 matches.

Thr Abdullahi Biffo’s side will visit Nasarawa United in a Match Day 20 at the Lafia Township Stadium. Read more …

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers explains why Ndidi, others fail to shine against Newcastle

Manager Brendan Rodgers is disappointed with Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, and the rest of the squad following Leicester City’s 4-2 defeat to Newcastle United.

 

Rodgers said his players lost concentration when it matters most and they paid dearly for it as the struggling Newcastle capitalized on shambolic defending to score four goals.

 

Although Kelechi Iheanacho continued his scoring form in the match, the same can’t be said of Ndidi who endured one of his worse nights since joining the club.

 

The defensive midfielder was a shadow of his usual standard and was withdrawn for Ayoze Perez a few minutes into the second half of the match.

 

Joe Willock, Paul Dummett, and Calum Wilson (brace ) all scored for Steve Bruce’s men, while Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho got Leicester City’s consolations.

 

Leicester has now suffered the eighth home league defeat of the season, as fears of another end-of-season collapse grip, the Foxes in their bid to finish in the top four showed signs of materializing.

 

Speaking at the post-match conference, Rodgers blamed the defeat on the loss of concentration but was proud of their second-half spirit.

 

” It’s very easy to analyze as we made so many mistakes. You can’t afford to do that. The goals we conceded were uncharacteristic and it’s a time of the season where you’ve got to be super-concentrated if you are to achieve what you want.”

 

” We lacked concentration and if you do that against good teams, with good players, they’ll punish you. You can get that with young players, and you can see from the first goal that it was a poor mistake.

 

“There were other mistakes, but that’s football. With young players, that will happen. I’ve got a very honest group of players who are very disappointed but we’ll have to regroup and go again on Tuesday.” He said. Read more …

UEFA Announces Sanctions for Nine Super League Clubs

COMBO-FBL-EUR-SUPER-UEFA
Photo by STF/AFP via Getty Images

Liverpool now know the punishments they’ll face from UEFA for their involvement in the attempted breakaway Super League.

Since the collapse of the enormously reviled European Super League, there have been rumblings about potential fines, bans from UEFA competitions, and other sanctions for the clubs that were involved.

Some of the powers that be have spoken of putting the ESL nonsense behind them and moving forward, rather than dwelling on how to punish those who were involved. However, most assumed the breakaway clubs would have to face repercussions of some sort, likely from their domestic Football Association and from UEFA.

The nine clubs who have backed out of the ESL (Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Atlético Madrid) have all agreed to rejoin the fold, and UEFA has now announced what will be required to do so. Here are a few of the highlights.

The requirements are heavy on statements and actions that will force the nine clubs to fully recommit to being a part of UEFA’s club competition system, including rejoining the European Club Association.

While the legal battle over the fact they seemingly signed contracts to join the SL in the first place could be messy, the clubs will have to do everything in their power to terminate any and all involvement in the Super League.

The nine clubs will all contribute to a 15 million Euro fund to benefit youth and grassroots football across Europe.

Starting in 2023-24, the nine clubs will be subject to the withholding of 5% of the revenues they are due to receive for their participation in UEFA club competitions for one season.

Finally, as a way to deter consideration of joining breakaway competitions in the future, the clubs have all agreed to have fines imposed if they seek to play in an unauthorized competition (€100 million) or if they breach any other commitment they have entered into in the Club Commitment Declaration (€50 million).

All told, the nine clubs who have backed out and recommitted to UEFA have gotten off fairly light, especially when ideas like a two-year European ban and hefty fines were being floated around. The reason for this was clear in UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin’s statement.

“I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.

In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit.

The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.

These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football. The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called ‘Super League’ and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently.”

Čeferin is referring to Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus, who have all refused to give up on their hopes of creating a Super League, and are even threatening to pursue all available legal avenues to prevent the nine from backing out.

It remains to be seen if and when they will give up on the foolish venture, but it sounds as though UEFA will not go nearly as easy on them as they have on the nine who admitted their mistake.

Jürgen Klopp Addresses Manchester United Fan Protests

A fan holds up a sign that reads “Joel Glazer stinks off PI$$” as they protest against the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United, before their Premier League match against Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester
A fan holds up a sign that reads “Joel Glazer stinks off PI$$” as they protest against the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United, before their Premier League match against Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester | Photo by Barrington Coombs/PA Images via Getty Images

The Liverpool manager speaks with conditional support, recalling previous comments.

In his pre-match press conference ahead of his side’s match with Southampton at the weekend, manager Jürgen Klopp was asked to speak on the fan protest that caused Liverpool’s last match to be postponed.

Klopp spoke of his reaction as he and the team watched the scenes unfold outside Old Trafford last weekend.

“We saw a few pictures from Old Trafford, we watched a little bit of telly in that time to get an idea about what is going on there. That’s it.

“Am I surprised that these kind of things happen? No, I am an absolute believer in democracy, [it] means I’m happy that people want to tell their opinion, that’s completely fine.”

Klopp did reference his previous comments about pundits’ seeming to stoke the flames of resentment, which had been criticized as being “tone deaf” by the likes of Gary Linekar on Twitter — critiques which likely held more weight before the events at the weekend.

“But I know in situations like that it doesn’t happen too often that nobody gets hurt and that’s why I said a week before I think already, when all the pundits were going and asking for protests and stuff like this, that we all have to be careful and to calm down and to ask for the right things.

“I don’t know exactly what happened there but I heard some policemen got injured and these kind of things should not happen, for sure not. You should not break down the doors and stuff like this.

“To tell your opinion, to tell the world what you think about some things, is completely fine as long as it’s completely peaceful. And it was, as far as I know, not completely peaceful and then it is not right anymore.”

Klopp’s prescience in predicting what might happen if pundits continued fanning flames of resentment seems incredible, though there is no way to know how much of the events at Old Trafford can be attributed to pundits’ urging.

Speaking on how the postponement affects his side, Klopp is more negative, and clarifies that Liverpool were not consulted as part of the decision-making process:

“We were informed about the process but we had nothing to do with it really. Yes, of course, I feel sympathy – it’s not how it should be. But it’s not good for us as well, to be honest.

“I would have preferred to have played the game last week; now we have five games in the last two weeks, so that’s not really cool as well. But it is like it is, nothing to complain about or whatever, it is just the situation.”

Despite his sympathy for the fans’ cause, Klopp finds himself frustrated at the further fitness challenge the Reds must face at the close of the season. For their part, fans will hope the “break” created by the protest will help Liverpool regain their winning form.

Preview: Liverpool vs. Southampton

Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool happily shakes hands with Ralph Hasenhuttl, manager of Southampton, before the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield in the 2019/20 season
Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool happily shakes hands with Ralph Hasenhuttl, manager of Southampton, before the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield in the 2019/20 season. | Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

LIVERPOOL VS. SOUTHAMPTON

| Saturday, May 8th |

Premier League | Anfield

8:15PM GMT/3:15PM EST


Though Southampton have been struggling recently (with two wins in their last five), they did manage a draw against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester last time out despite playing with ten men, coming back from 0-1 down to equalize with a Ward-Prowse penalty on 61’. This mentality is what they’ll want to face Liverpool, who have played a game on repeat of late wherein they start strong, waste chances (managing a goal, usually, when they could have far more) before conceding in the second half.

Liverpool will hope their unexpected break has reset performances, and despite their draw last time out, Southampton might hope the same: in their subsequent three loses they managed to score only one goal, conceding six.

The Saints come into the final two weeks of the season in 15th on 37 points (level on points with Brighton in 14th), though they have a game in hand. While they’re not quite safe from the drop as it stands, their final four games are against Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leeds, and West Ham. Given the mix of quality, this match is not a must-win for Hassenhüttl’s men.

Daniel Ings, their leading scorer (11) remains out for another week, and Ryan Bertrand remains sidelines as well. Oriol Romeu is questionable, and will be assessed late on Friday.

Their attacking sharpness is therefore dented somewhat, though Liverpool will still have to worry about James Ward-Prowse’s set piece magic (7 goals, just one coming from open play), and Che Adams (7 goals scored) has been lively making things tick in the lead-up to goals. Adams will be one to target to stifle the Saints attack, and the Reds will need to be careful to avoid giving up free kicks in dangerous areas.


Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Mané


This might be a chance to see Jürgen Klopp pick his strongest side without managing fitness concerns, as the Manchester United fan protest has given the Reds quite a lengthy breather. The midfield is one to watch: it has seemed as though Klopp has been managing Thiago’s minutes carefully (that he didn’t start either leg against Real Madrid is certainly interesting), but he should get the nod alongside Fabinho and a hopefully refreshed Gini Wijnaldum.

Of course, due to the rescheduling of the very Manchester United game that gave so many players — like Nat Phillips, who has returned to fitness — much-needed rest, Liverpool will now play five games in the last two weeks of the season. As such, the lineup against Southampton may be part of a time management plan aimed to help the side achieve maximum points over this tightly-scheduled period.

Per Klopp’s pre-match press conference, Jordan Henderson is “running outside,” but has not yet returned to full fitness after picking up a groin issue; there is no other new injury news.

Looking at Southampton’s 4-4-2 structure, Klopp notes that the side defend all “predictable” passes well, and press well in the midfield. As a result, his side must be “unpredictable,” “cheeky,” and “brave” to beat Hassenhüttl’s side. This sounds like a Thiago and Bobby Firmino job, but we could see Diogo Jota get some time, either in place of one of the standard front three or in addition, in the changed formation. Given the second half slump that’s happened lately, however, it might be good to have someone clinical off the bench.

Liverpool will aim to remain calm and take advantage of moments when their counter-press does not work out, all while being prepared to handle it when it does.


What the Managers Had to Say

Jurgen Klopp: “[Southampton are] a well-tuned machine, a pressing and counter-pressing machine, so that’s tricky. They are always very lively, it’s all set up in a specific way and everybody knows exactly what he has to do. I think it is a joy to watch Southampton games. Maybe they didn’t win often enough as well, that’s why they are in the position they are, but the football they play is at least always a very lively version of our wonderful game and I like that.”

Ralph Hasenhüttl: “They are still fighting for the Champions League – they have a small chance to go there still – so they have to win against us and we are playing to climb a few positions, so we must be as motivated as they are.”


The Officials

Referee: Kevin Friend Assistants: Simon Beck, Adrian Holmes Fourth official: Andy Madley VAR: Andre Marriner Assistant VAR: Andy Halliday


Kickoff is set for 8:15PM BST/3:15PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.

Klopp Talk: “I’ve Learned A Lot This Season”

Liverpool Training Session
Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

The gaffer also gave updates on injuries ahead of the weekend game.

Ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against Southampton, Jurgen Klopp provided comments on the team’s status in his presser, as well as his views on the events at Old Trafford last weekend.

On the fan protests at Old Trafford that delayed the Liverpool vs. Manchester United fixture:

“We saw a few pictures, watched a little bit of telly to get an idea of what’s going on. Was I surprised these kind of things happened? No, I’m an absolute believer in democracy. When the pundits were asking for protests, I said we need to be careful and calm down. I heard some policeman got injured and that should not happen.”

“To tell the world what you think, that’s completely fine, as long as it’s completely peaceful. As far as I can tell, it was not completely peaceful. After that, then it was not right any more.”

“I have sympathy for them but it’s not good for us either. I would have preferred to play the game last week. But nothing to complain about, it’s just the situation.”

On the team’s injury situation:

“Most of the time in my career I’ve not been the champion, I’ve learned a lot this season and the players too. The plan is that we use our new experience for the future.”

“The injury situation, nothing really new. We have a few bumps and bruises, so late decisions – we have to make late decisions in a few positions until tomorrow.

How is Hendo?

“Hendo, while I am sitting here Hendo is running outside, that’s what I can say. Nothing else. He was not in team training yet and that’s it pretty much.”

But Big Nat is okay?

“Yes, yes, the week helped him for sure. Absolutely. Yes, he was fit yesterday.”

Well, then up the Reds against Southampton!

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