Ajax Amsterdam v Liverpool FC: Group D - UEFA Champions League
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Per reports, Liverpool have approached Ajax over defender, Perr Schuurs.

We’re basically at the January transfer window (I had to check three times to make sure that was actually true) so it makes sense that the transfer rumours have already begun. Given Liverpool’s current spate of injuries and the FA’s absolute refusal to do anything about fixture congestion, let’s hope at least a couple of the rumours we’re seeing pan out.

Today’s is from the ever reliable Corriere dello Sport (that’s a joke) about Liverpool’s apparent interest in Ajax defender, Perr Schuurs. Per the reports, Liverpool are not only in talks with the Dutch side, but have already offered £27m for the defender. If you were getting your hopes up, don’t. Per other reports (this time from the Netherlands), while Klopp has been watching the defender, Liverpool have absolutely not made any sort of bid for him. Per the Dutch reports, Klopp has a list of about fifty defenders he’s wading through and Schuurs is just one of the many on that list.

Truth be told, this is one of those rumours that may end up being quite nice if it came true. Schuurs is young and exciting, and more importantly, has yet to sustain injuries in this utterly chaotic year. Liverpool have a chance to decide just how interested they are in him over the other 49 players on the prospective transfers list when Ajax travels to Anfield this Tuesday for the Champions League group stages.

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Everton FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
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The club has donated match-worn shirts to Disasters Emergency Committee’s Coronavirus Appeal.

If it’s not entirely clear (and it may not be if you’re trying to gauge public health based on whether or not spectators are back in stadiums), we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Liverpool’s men’s team have signed and donated shirts worn during their 4-0 victory against Southampton in February 2019 to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Coronavirus Appeal, who are working to raise funds for people living in refugee and displacements camps around the world.

“We would like to extend our thanks to Liverpool FC and their first-team players for their generous donation towards our vital Coronavirus Appeal,” Saleh Saeed from DEC said. “Within refugee camps and makeshift shelters across the world, many people are living in crowded conditions with little food, clean water and medical attention. The money raised from the LFC shirt auction will help provide people who are at extreme risk from coronavirus to access the basic amenities and healthcare that they need in order to protect themselves.”

You can learn more about what the funds are going towards here, and take part in the auction here.

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Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool - Premier League
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While there was yet again VAR controversy, Liverpool only managed two shots on goal

After the final whistle blew against Brighton, there was frustration and fume about VAR yet again from Liverpool fans. Three more VAR decisions went against Liverpool, chalking off two goals for the Reds, and awarding a late penalty decision in favor of Brighton. While those VAR decisions will be rehashed and reanalyzed time and again, what needs to be addressed is just how poor Liverpool were in the attacking end for the second game in a row.

Against Brighton, Liverpool managed a paltry six shots, with only two of those ending on target. With a front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and the red-hot Diogo Jota, those statistics are criminal against a Brighton side that had allowed 15 goals entering the game.

To highlight the issues in Liverpool’s attack against Brighton, let’s compare the game against the Gulls with Liverpool’s game against Leicester City just six days prior. The overall set up for both games was similar enough, so it provides a good comparison in what changed.

First, let’s take a look at where the game was played. Against Leicester City, Liverpool spent a good amount of time in the attacking third, recording almost 24% of all touches (173 of 721) in the attacking zone, and 37 of those touches coming in Leicester City’s box (stats via fbref.com). The team heatmap below, from whoscored.com, shows significant amount of time spent in and around the penalty area by Liverpool players.

Against Brighton, Liverpool had a similar percentage of touches in the attacking third (165 of 663), but only had 12 touches in the Brighton box (stats via fbref.com). Indeed, in the heatmap from whoscored.com, there were barely any Liverpool players in the central area of the box, or even just outside the box in central areas, against Brighton.

So, what changed between these two games? While the attacking players had a similar number of touches, where they had touches changed significantly. Against Leicester City, attacking players were much more involved in the central area around the top of the box, as seen below.

Brighton, however, was able to shunt Liverpool’s attacking players wide. Brighton won almost all of the long balls that came to central areas, and blocked Liverpool into wide areas anytime Liverpool threatened centrally. By not being able to get the ball into dangerous areas, Liverpool were severely limited in the shots they were able to get off.

So why weren’t Liverpool able to get the ball into dangerous areas? For one, Liverpool’s long passing was significantly worse against Brighton, completing just over 60% after completing over 77% of long passes against Leicester City. Those long passes are usually essential to Liverpool’s ability move up the field and then hold the ball in the attacking third. We all have visions of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s long switches and Virgil van Dijk’s driven diagonal balls to Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane. While most other Liverpool players don’t have quite the same ability, players such as Joel Matip, Fabinho, and James Milner were able to connect a significant amount versus Leicester City.

The other part of the equation is Liverpool’s midfield being able to aggressively move up the field to help provide outlets for attackers receiving those long passes, or to help regain possession in the opponents half to keep the ball in attacking positions and keep the pressure on. Against Leicester City, Liverpool fielded a relatively fresh Gini Wijnaldum as the holding midfielder with the all action Curtis Jones and Naby Keita. Those three players were able to set up shop and control the middle third of the field, retaining possession and probe the Leicester City defense to free up room for the attacking players.

Against Brighton, Liverpool fielded an visibly exhausted Wijnaldum and James Milner, both playing their third game in six days, along with an out of position Takumi Minamino. There was a larger gap between the midfield and attack in transition, leading to less support for the attacking players, and fewer opportunities to win the ball back when Liverpool players lost the ball in the attacking third.

At the end of the day, Liverpool were just not able to hold the ball in the attacking third like they usually do, and because of that, not able to recycle possession to allow for attackers to get into dangerous positions. The VAR decisions were absolutely frustrating, but on par with what we have come to expect this season, unfortunately. Ultimately, Liverpool have managed to stay at the top of the table despite the paltry offensive output and dropped points to Brighton.

With only three fit midfielders on the senior team right now, we may see more of the same until some fresh legs can get introduced into the midfield. Of course, adding Trent Alexander-Arnold in when he is fit again should provide a boon in the long passing department. Let’s hope that Liverpool can navigate this dense set of fixtures and get some bodies back.

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Coach Abdul Maikaba has refused to throw in the towel, despite Plateau United’s disappointing 1 – 0 home defeat to Simba SC in the CAF Champions League.

Maikaba saw his team fall to their visitors at the new Jos stadium in the first-leg of the preliminary round on Sunday.

 

Clatous Chama scored the only goal of the the game,  handing the Peace boys a shock defeat at home.

 

On the reasons his side lost, Maikaba said his players still lack match fitness, unlike the their opponents who came into the match after 11 league games.

 

“Good game against Simba SC Tanzania, they play good football, but they are not invincible,” Maikaba tweeted after the game.

 

“They are just few inches ahead of us because they’ve played 11 league games before now.”

 

He however did call on Nigerians to lend their support to the team ahead of the game in Tanzania, next week.

 

“We have done it before. I believe we can do it again winning away from home. We only need your support.

 

“We only need your support and trust. We still have another 90 minutes to decide who’ll move to the next round.”

 

The second match between both side is scheduled for between the 4th and 6th of December at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam.

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Simba SC coach, Sven Vanderbroeck is satisfied with his side’s performance against Plateau United in Jos and has warned the visitors will face an uphill task in their  CAF Champions League second-leg fixture.

Vanderbroeck masterminded his club’s 1 – 0 win over the Nigerian champions at the new Jos stadium on Sunday.

 

The result gives the Tanzanian take the first-leg advantage into the home leg and are favorites to progress.

 

Speaking in his post match presser the Belgian said,“It was a tough game. They are strong and they tried technically to find a goal but I congratulate my players.”

 

“I think we should be very happy with the win. Good results but we haven’t finished yet because next we have another 90 minutes,” he stated.

 

Simba will be hoping to finish off the job when they host Plateau United in the return leg at Dar es Salam next weekend.

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Enyimba Forward Victor Mbaoma has described as ‘exciting’ the feeling of scoring the decisive goal in his side’s victory over FC Rahimo in Burkina Faso.

Mbaoma came off the bench for Tosin Omoyele and he went on to score the only goal of the game from corner kick in the 75th minute.

 

 

The win put Enyimba in commanding position to reach the next round ahead of their return leg in Aba next weekend.

 

‘It was a difficult game because they came out smoking but we thank God. That I was able to make a difference to the outcome was made possible by God,” said the Forward.

 

Mbaoma who is on loan from Remo Stars has however warned that the tie isn’t over yet.

 

“It’s not over yet. I have to be honest because they are a very good team. It is not over yet, we just have to wrap things up in our home on Sunday.”

 

 

Enyimba welcomes FC Rahimo to the Aba Township stadium for the return-leg next weekend.

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Plateau United midfielder, Isah Ndala has apologized to fans following the side’s 1-0 defeat to Simba SC in the CAF Champions League first-leg preliminary round match in Jos.

The Nigerian League champions slumped to not so shocking defeat against a better prepared and fitter Simba SC team, who were pre-match favorites in the tie.

 

Clatous Chama scored the only goal of the game in the 54th minute to leave Plateau United needing at least a 2-0 win in Dar-es-Salaam if they are to stand any chance of passage into next round.

 

“This is not how we envisioned the game to go, but in football we just have to accept whatever result comes our way and pick ourselves up next time around, ” said the Midfielder.

 

On the team’s chances of advancing to the next stage Ndala said the players are still very hopeful of turning the game on its head in Tanzania.

 

“Simba came to Nigeria and got a win, we will also travel to Tanzania to show the world that we are capable of winning anywhere.

 

The return-leg will hold on Saturday 5 at the National Stadium Dares-Salaam.

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Super Eagles striker Paul Onuachu basked in the euphoria of his impressive goal scoring form for KRC Genk after he bagged a brace on Saturday.

Onuachu topped the goal scorer’s chart in the Jupiler league after taken his tally to 12 goals in the 5-1 victory away to Cercle Brugge.

 

“I am really satisfied with those twelve goals, I get an average of almost one goal per game,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws.

 

“But of course you don’t make all those goals alone. My goals were just as much the credit of Junya Ito and Théo Bongonda; I am glad that they each poked one in the net.”

 

Genk are now back in contention for the title as they moved to second in the league table with 28 points from 14 games.

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Head Coach of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma is disappointed with his team’s first leg defeat to Futuro Kings of Equatorial Guinea in the CAF Confederation Cup match on Saturday.

 

The Pride of Rivers suffered a  shocking 2 – 1 defeat in the hand of their hosts at the Estadio De Mongomo Stadium on Saturday evening.

 

In his post-match interview made exclusively available to brila.net by the media department of the club, Coach Eguma said the results wasn’t the reflection of their preparations, but he went on to narrate the factors that worked against his team on the pitch.

 

Eguma said: “Actually the result was an unfortunate one, we prepared very well for this game with the little time frame at our disposal, we trained and participated in some tournaments and we have high hopes after weeks of excellent work.” He told brila.net.

 

“But, the result of the game isn’t a reflection of our work and there are some other issues that affected us, the players tried their best but an avalanche of goals that we missed later affected the team psychologically.”

 

“Within 15 – 20 minutes, we should have scored at least two goals, in fact before the end of the first half, we should have been three or four goals up, but the attackers were so wasteful in front of goal and you can’t afford to waste chances in the match of this magnitudes.” He continued.

 

Apart from missing chances, the experienced coach also disposed of that injury to his first choice goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai and his replacement Ospino Egbe made the team vulnerable.

 

“Again, injury to my goalkeepers affected the team. Afelokhai was injured on the eve of our journey and the only goalkeeper available was Ospino Egbe who also sustained an injury towards the end of the first half.

 

“He collided with an attacker and had a deep cut on his face that left him dizzy.  He later opted out of the second half and we were without a goalkeeper.”

 

“The doctor treated him and we pleaded with him to continue the second half which he did, but almost immediately he conceded the two goals,” he said.

 

Eguma is however optimistic that his team can turn the tie around when they host Futuro Kings for the second leg in Port Harcourt.

 

“Generally, we should have come out with a win, but that’s football. I believe we can beat them here (Port Harcourt) , if we get our strategy right. They are beatable.” He concluded.

 

Rivers United will have the opportunity to turn the tie around when they the Equatorial Guinea side for the second leg next weekend the second leg.

 

The match is scheduled for Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt and the winner of the encounter will qualify for the second preliminary stage of the CAF second elite competition.

 

 

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Defender Ifeanyi Anaemena said his team is not down following their 1-2 loss to Futuro Kings on Saturday, adding, ‘We are going to have a better result in the second leg.’

 

Rivers United must overturn their 1-2 loss if they must advance to the first round of the CAF Confederations Cup.

 

Ifeanyi Anaemena acknowledged his teammates are disappointed but they have what it takes to overturn it in the second leg.

 

“We are not actually down. The game 1-2 and if we can win 1-0 or 2-0 we are going to qualify. So it’s a matter for us to psych ourselves, motivate ourselves, go home and make sure that we get a positive result that will overturn this result that we have here. So we have not lost hope, we are going to get a better result.”

 

Rivers United is host Futuro Kings in the second leg on Sunday, December 6.

 

 

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