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Liverpool End Van Dijk Pursuit

Liverpool have officially withdrawn themselves from the race for heavily saught after, Virgil Van Dijk.

This comes after weeks of reports linking the Reds to the Dutch centre back.

The club released the following statement:

“We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk.

We respect Southampton’s position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player. ”

Jurgen Klopp’s interest in the player has become apparent in recent weeks, with it being rumoured that secret discussions had been made with Klopp and Van Dijk in association with a move to Merseyside.

It was also reported recently that Van Dijk himself had declared Liverpool his number one destination,  leaving the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City heavy hearted.

But, Southampton reacted negatively to stories liking their key man away from St Mary’s and reported Liverpool to the Premier League over the way the speculation has been reported.

They allege that they haven’t had any real idea over what the situation is- stating that they hadn’t received any contact from Jürgen Klopp or any club representative.

This is a major blow for the Reds in the transfer market, as the former Celtic defender would have been a terrific acquisition.

Tom Cavilla.

Posted in Uncategorized

Premier League 2016/17: Season Review – Places 11-20

 

11th- West Ham

The surprise success of West Brom and  Bournemouth , is not fitting for 11th placed, West Ham; who following their move to the Olympic stadium have had limited success. After Dimitri Payet fired the Hammers up the table to 8th place last season- things were looking on the up; especially added with the transition to their new stadium.

However, Slaven Bilic lost the services of key man, Payet, in the January transfer window, this misery was compounded by poor performances, particularly at home. The move from the Boleyn stadium has not gone to plan; they will be hoping for better next time around.

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12th- Leicester

Champions; Leicester, could not repeat history- and instead finished mid table. Things could have been much worse than this however, with the Foxes’ lingering over the drop zone near Christmas.

Cult hero of last season, Claudio Ranieri, was shown the door, much to the disbelief of the Leicester fans. Craig Shakespeare managed to turn things around, with a strong feeling of player power associated with the resurgence.

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Jamie Vardy managed to find his scoring boots and scored seven goals in his last 13 games to make sure of Premier League safety.

13th- Stoke

Stoke ended up in 13th place, in what was an underwhelming season for the Potters.

They started the season horrifically, with talk of relegation a serious likelihood. They managed to pick themselves up however, and progressed up the table.

Signings at the club had mixed success.  Summer signing, Ramadan Sobhi, failed to make his mark in the team, and likewise, January addition, Saido Berahino didn’t prove himself, following his £13 million move.  Fellow January signing, Lee Grant, proved to be a hit though, filling in for the injured Jack Butland in goal.

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With the talent in their squad with the likes of: Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic,  and Joe Allen, you would expect more from them. The same can also be said for the team who finished one place worse off than them, Crystal Palace.

14th- Crystal Palace:

Perched in 14th position, the Eagles survived, but made it extremely complex, pulling off wins away at Liverpool, Chelsea, and a home win against Arsenal to beat the drop.

Mamadou Sakho’s loan move was pivotal in the survival of the club, in his first five games, Palace kept five clean sheets. It will be a major benefit if they are able to sign the Frenchman on a permanent basis next season. But, with talent such as: Wiflried Zaha, Christian Benteke, Yohan Cabaye, and Andros Townsend, you would expect much better.

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15th- Swansea:

Swansea pulled off a miracle to land 15th place. Having already parted with two managers before January following Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley’s departures, when Paul Clement took to the hot seat there was not a lot of hope and belief they could survive, as he took over with them rooted to the bottom of the table.

The Englishman performed heroics, with an impressive win at Liverpool setting the tone early on in his tenure. This was followed by beating their Merseyside rivals- Everton, at home, combined with collecting  a point at Old Trafford and  thus enabling them to pick themselves up.

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This unlikely revival was powered by Spanish striker, Fernando Llorente, who bagged 13 goals for Swans, Gylfi Sigurdsson was also imperative to the team, the Icelandic midfielder providing both goals and assists in an abundance.

16th- Burnley

Burnley can be pleased with 16th place- at one stage it even looked like they may finish even higher. Nonetheless, it was still a campaign to make fans of the Lancashire side, proud.

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Having been sent straight back down to the Championship on their previous two ventures to the pinnacle of English football, this season they guaranteed that history wouldn’t repeat itself. Staying up was the only thing on their agenda. Their home form was the overriding factor for their success, boasting the ninth best home record and collecting only one fewer point than Manchester United at home.

 

17th- Watford

It was a drowsy and dismal season for Watford. On their return to the dizzy heights of the Premier League last season, they handled it in supreme fashion, finishing impressively in 12th place. But, this time they found themselves slumped one place above the drop zone.

The peculiar decision to part company with Quique Sanchez Flores after such unprecedented success appeared to have cost them this year. The Hornets announced Walter Mazzari, who won the Champions League whilst at Inter Milan, as their new manager.

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His inability to speak English is rumoured to have caused uncertainty and a lack of communication between himself and the players. The deadly goal scoring partnership of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo of last season, was torn in half as Ighalo sought pastures new; taking up a big money to China. Watford ended the season with a 5-0 drubbing; at the hands of Manchester City.

18th- Hull City

Hull City, who were making a re-appearance in the league following promotion, occupied the first of the three relegation positions. Having started the season with essentially half a team, with the amount of players who were injured, compounded by a lack of summer signings, the Tigers were tipped from the off to be sent packing, many envisaged them finishing bottom.

The doubters looked to be left choking on their words as they started superbly, that brilliant August month was not repeated however, and the remaining months were anything but superb, quite the opposite.

As manager Mike Phelan exited the club, Olympiakos coach, Marco Silva, was the man to enter the fray and attempt to keep the club afloat. His spell was actually fairly successful, the record which he possessed in Greece, of not losing a home game was extended to 41 games at Hull, but was ended when Sunderland pulled off a surprise victory at the KCOM stadium.

As they reached the home stretch, there was not enough fight left in the team. The final day of the season provided one last sucker punch as Spurs inflicted a ridiculous 7-1 romping.

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19th- Middlesbrough 

Another promoted team were sent back where they came from, as Middlesbrough endured a torrid season, in which they only mustered a measly 27 goals all season, Spurs managed half of this amount in just their last two matches.

Of course, every team needs goals in order to succeed, and this is where all their problems lay this season. Their summer signings were far superior to that of fellow strugglers, Hull City.  The additions of  the experienced Alvaro Negredo, Victor Valdes, and Antonio Barragan,  meant people held high hopes for Boro.

This was short lived however, there was not any particular moments in the season where they looked impressive or like they could win a match.  The sacking of Aitor Karanka didn’t resolve any of the problems, goals still struggled to follow after Steve Agnew took charge.

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20th- Sunderland

Last and most certainly least, Sunderland.

It was nothing short of a disaster.

Having pulled off the unthinkable the last few seasons and surfacing against the odds every year, it was finally time for the Black Cats to be taken under as their luck finally ran out.

They were poor for the most part of the season, with very little for fans to get excited about.

David Moyes was the chosen one to take over from the good work Sam Allardyce had done the previous season to keep them up. But, Moyes couldn’t fulfill this task and has since announced his resignation.

The glimmer of hope all season for Sunderland, was veteran striker, Jermain Defoe, who scored 14 goals and rescued them a number of times. Aside from him, there was little room for praise.

Sunderland looked so out of depth at times, like many; I am unsure if they will even survive the Championship. They have looked so poor this season, back to back relegation’s seems highly probable, and wouldn’t be the first time it has happened either.

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As another Premier League season draws to a close, we can take a minute to absorb all the glory and drama, reflect on the highs and lows, and appreciate the true beauty of the league we are so privileged to watch.

A season which saw last year’s champions finish 12th this time, and the occupants of 10th, win the league this time around.

Next season promises to contain thrills, spills and the unknown, who would dare predict who the victors will be, because with this league; you never know.

 

Tom Cavilla.

Posted in Football, premier league, Uncategorized

Klopp Urges Fans To Create ‘Special Atmosphere’ Ahead of Southampton Clash

“Our plan for Sunday is to use Anfield”, said Klopp.

Liverpool go into their match against Southampton on Sunday having not beaten the Saints on three occasions this season.

The first affair between the sides was a hard fought stalemate at St Mary’s in the league, the second and third ties were the first and second leg of the EFL Cup semi-finals. Southampton won both matches 1-0.

Despite having no luck against them this campaign, Klopp spoke of his admiration for the south coast side: “I like watching them a lot. Only 41 points this season!? I couldn’t believe it. ”

But, the German manager was more fixated on trying to conjure up the best possible atmosphere to rally the players on, one step closer to securing a top four finish.

“For some teams it is a nervy situation (Coming to Anfield) where they are thinking hopefully, hopefully, hopefully!

“But we need to be brave. We need to enjoy the game; we need to defend very seriously, and if possible, to use the crowd.

“We have these important games, two of them are at home, and I hope we can be in our best shape for them.”

When questioned about the crowd not always being at their best at home games, Klopp responded:

“It’s not up to me to expect something; it’s only about how it could be.

“I understand people are getting nervous in different situations and are not happy for example with this or that pass.

“The atmosphere is always really good, but we all know we had a few fantastic ones, a few outstanding, and a few normal, but it’s Anfield, it’s always really more than good.

“What we are going for is for ‘Liverpool’ , not for the players, not for the board, not for the manager, not for the coaches ; it’s for Liverpool- for all of us, the whole family, so we should try to do it together.”

The Reds’ home form has been poor as of late, which has caused the nervousness and uncertainty of fans to cascade into the atmosphere, to some degree.

Last time out at home featured a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, largely at the hands of former player, Christian Benteke, who came back to haunt his old team-mates.

The game previous to this at Anfield was also deeply frustrating, as Josh King rescued a share of the spoils for Bournemouth, in the dying embers to make the end result 2-2.

” We have no issue with Anfield. It’s about how we are in that moment.” Klopp added.

“I think we all can improve, and we should try to do this and not think about what happened in the last few weeks or months, because it doesn’t help.

“The only thing that helps is if we are at our best on Sunday at 1:30pm, until the final whistle.”

Liverpool’s quest for the top four was monumentally reinvigorated last weekend as both Manchester clubs, and Arsenal dropped points.

Due to this, the pressure on Klopp’s side has somewhat reduced, following their 1-0 victory at Watford on Monday night.

However, Klopp stated that:

” It’s the best pressure you can have- fighting for something important.

“If you are fighting for the top spots you have to pretty much win every game, that’s how it is.

“I think we should win the next game. But, our job is to get results, not count on them.

“No club has the opportunity to rest. We all have to fight with all we have and that makes this league so exciting.

“You have this battle, the relegation battle, and there is a lot to go for in this league.

“We focus on our ways but it is difficult enough without thinking about the other games.

“We are in it – that’s positive – but to stay in it we have to win.”

By Tom Cavilla.

 

Posted in Football, premier league, Uncategorized

Emre Can Contract Talks Stall But Klopp Still Adamant He Will Stay

News of German midfielder, Emre Can, putting pen to paper on a new deal at the club are still ongoing. But, Klopp is remaining positive about the situation.

Can, who has just under a year left on his contract is yet to sign a new deal, creating a lot of speculation over his future at the club.

“After his bicycle kick, everyone wants him to stay I’m sure”, said Klopp.

Klopp himself appears a big fan of the box-to-box midfielder and made his views clear on the German international.

“There’s no secret of how much I like Emre- and how much he likes the club too. It is two partners with big respect for each other.

“We are in talks with him, but there is no pressure for him.

“If we can keep good players that makes sense for good development and he is one of those good players.”

The former Bayern Munich midfielder came under harsh criticism earlier in the season, with some fans calling for him to be removed from the team.

However, in the last month, any doubts fans had were eradicated, as he has put together a string of impressive performances and has certainly played his part.

The high points for Can include: The match against Burnley at Anfield in March, where his long range strike sealed the three points, and of course, his mind-blowing, acrobatic, bicycle kick against Watford on Monday night; which Klopp joked he had “Watched on the Ipad about 250 times”.

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That goal saw the Reds head back to Merseyside in a buoyant mood and now puts them in a glorious position to reach their ambition of finishing in the illustrious top four.

The 23 year old has been at the club since July 2014, and has scored a total of five goals in the league this season, as well as grabbing two assists along the way.

By Tom Cavilla.

Posted in Football, premier league, Uncategorized

Injury Worries For Reds Ahead Of Tottenham Clash

Jürgen Klopp has today said in his press conference that there are injury worries over Adam Lallana, Ragnar Klavan, and also Dejan Lovren for tomorrow’s match against Tottenham.

He said: “We are not 100% sure if Dejan Lovren can train today , but we still have hope that it’s possible”.  Lovren who has established himself as Liverpool’s first choice centre half alongside Joel Matip this season will be a big miss as he has had a remarkable turnaround from last season which has seen him improve massively.

Adam Lallana is also a doubt for tomorrow, Klopp said : “ Adam Lallana was out for two days with an Achilles injury. “  This is a big worry for the Reds as Lallana who is set to sign a new four year deal at the club has also been monumental this season with 7 goal and 7 assists to his name.

Finally, Ragnar Klavan is also a doubt. The German manager stated that : “Klavan had a bacterial infection, and spent six days in bed, yesterday he felt much better  and was involved in training today, but we will have to see what we can do with him.”

If this is the case, Liverpool will be short of options at the back again.  Last weekend’s defeat at Hull saw Lucas play a makeshift appearance at the back alongside Matip. It is likely that this will be the same defensive centre back pairing for the visit of Mauricio’s Pochettino’s men.

By Tom Cavilla, 18 years old.

Posted in Football, premier league, Uncategorized

Why Liverpool’s Defeat To Swansea Exemplified The Ruthless Nature Of The Premier League

If you had asked most people before the Liverpool vs Swansea match what the outcome would be, I’m sure it would have been resoundingly in Jürgen Klopp’s men favour.

This is not the way it panned out though.

Joint 2nd in the league, on par with Spurs, at home to bottom of the league, unbeaten at Anfield for over a year , it seemed only a win for the Reds was probable.

However, this shock result demonstrated yet again the mesmerising unpredictably of the English game, that leaves fans pondering in anticipation week in week out.

The first half was a poor state of affairs, next to no chances for both sides, each struggling to find some inspiration. Even with Philippe Coutinho back and starting for the home side Klopp’s men were struggling and had little invention to attack.

Swansea were playing some nice football and appeared to be pulling off their game plan, but couldn’t really induce any goal scoring opportunities.

As the referee; Kevin Friend sounded his whistle for the end of the first half there were disgruntlements from the home supporters who watched on bemused with what was going on. They have become so accustomed to rampant and ruthless demolitions of sides in recent times under Klopp, often blowing teams out of the water before the half  hour mark.

Today was a different story though.

As the sides came out for the second half, Swansea looked rejuvenated, hungry, and determined to get something out of the game, this was effectively portrayed when former Sevilla striker, Fernando Llorente struck first blood, and sent the Swans into the lead. Poor defensive work from the corner by Liverpool enabled the Spaniard to poke the ball in from close range, a classic poachers goal.

Minutes later, it was double delight for the striker as he netted a brace. This time a superb ball from new signing Tom Carroll was inch perfect for the aerial threat of Llorente to capitalise, it was a bullet header and left Simon Mignolet hopeless, a 2-0 lead for the away side, left the home supporters desolate and discomforted.

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The Reds fought back though, just as Llorente bagged himself a brace, Roberto Firmino matched this with a double of his own. Two goals in quick succession saw Liverpool eradicate the lead  Paul Clement’s side had impressively obtained. The home fans then started to believe they could go on to win this game, the home fans erupted into voice and tried to inspire the players to wrap the game up.

Momentum was now on their side.

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But, this is the Premier League, a league filled with shocks and surprises. Swansea scored the third goal and decisive goal with just over 10 minutes to go. Gylfi Sigurdsson rode his luck and was in the right place at the right time as an attempted Ragnar Klavan clearance  landed perfectly at the feet of the Icelandic international, where he then finished well.

This dashed any chances of a home win, and left Liverpool’s unbeaten home record in pieces. For Swansea, this was a shock win, they haven’t won at Anfield in over 50 years, however for Liverpool it had an air of familiarity to it.

Burnley, Bournemouth, Sunderland, Swansea. 

Teams they should be brushing aside to be potential league winners, but instead struggled and stumbled against. It’s back to the drawing board for Jürgen Klopp with a number of games upcoming which are set to define the season, and it’s onwards and upwards for Swansea who will now look to strengthen their survival bid.

Liverpool’s title hopes now remain in the balance, with a game against Chelsea at home next week set to be the pivotal match of the season.

Sadio Mane was sorely missed again today for Liverpool, as he continues to score for Senegal in the African Cup Of Nations ; Liverpool continue to lack drive and penetration. As bad as it may sound, I’m sure most Liverpool fans are pleading for Mane’s Senegal to be knocked out, as his departure has seen Liverpool’s red hot form jet off with him.

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This match was another reminder of the cruel and menacing Premier League, If you’re not at your best, you will get punished, whether it is top of the league you’re playing, or bottom of the league. In what can only be described as the greatest league in the world in terms of competitiveness, the Premier league has conjured up yet another curve-ball to take high flying teams and send them crashing back down into reality.

This is the Premier League.  

By Tom Cavilla, 18 years old

Posted in Football, premier league, Uncategorized

Mignolet vs Karius: Klopp’s dilemma

When Liverpool snapped up Loris Karius from Klopp’s former club, Mainz, for just £4.5 million in the summer it seemed a terrific acquisition, backed up the fact that he was voted the second best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga last season, only behind Manuel Neuer.

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After countless poor performances from Simon Mignolet, Reds fans were jumping for joy when they appeared to sign a red hot shot- stopper.

It hasn’t quite worked out the way Jürgen Klopp had envisaged however. 

Liverpool supporters were granted their wish, as it became apparent that the former Mainz keeper was going to enter the fray and take the place in goal ahead of Mignolet, with many pleading for the Belgian international to be removed as soon as possible. The tables have turned now though as they are now demanding for him to replace the out of form German, ironically.

Karius has only played on ten occasions this season in the league, with not much to do in his first few games. But, as time progressed, he had more and more to do on each outing, and as the pressure mounted, he crumbled.

Kicking the ball out of play by accident, spilling shots, poor positioning, lack of authority in goal, not saving easy shots. etc, all things Liverpool fans had become accustomed to under Mignolet, who was so brutally criticised. German players are renowned for being reliable and efficient, Karius was not doing this claim any justice however.

At such a young age of 23, many have shown empathy for Karius, saying he will turn things around, some have been less remorseful.
Most notably: The Neville brothers.

After Gary Neville heavily criticised the keeper post-match vs Bournemouth on Sky Sports, the German international fought back in an interview that was pre planned before his dismal Bournemouth display, where he replied “I don’t need to listen to a failed manager”. Gary’s brother, Phil, obviously was offended by those remarks by Karius as he added fuel to the fire, sending a message to the goalkeeper whilst on Match of the Day.

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“When you’re a young player, you do your training, you work as hard as you can, play on a Saturday and you say nothing to no one! Keep your mouth shut and do your job!”

Another man to have his say on things is of course the man who signed him, Klopp.

Klopp was frustrated by the comments made, and defended his goalkeeper by reiterating his belief in playing him ahead of the more experienced Mignolet. He appeared to have a change of tone although, as he reverted back to playing the former Sunderland keeper for the game against Middlesbrough, which turned out to be a success, a 3-0 win secured , but more importantly; a rare clean sheet.

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Many people have spotted a similarity between Karius and David De Gea as the Spaniard endured a torrid first season, but has since sparked a meteoric rise, which has seen him become arguably the best keeper in the league and perhaps in the world.

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Was this due to Manchester United’s patience and faith to stick by the keeper, instead of throwing him overboard? Is this an approach Klopp will adhere to?

De Gea was dropped for a few games after a spell of poor from in his early Manchester United career and was replaced by Anders Lindegaard, but found his way back into the side. He has now gone on to win player of the year for the last three consecutive years for the Red Devils, the first player to achieve this accolade.

Mignolet himself has not been anywhere near up the level of De Gea has and he is now in his fourth season with the club. Do you stick with the experience of Mignolet but expect mistakes to be made? Or does Klopp put his confidence into the youngster to turn things around?

With the Reds trying to mount another title challenge following the agonisingly close 2013/14 season , a good keeper is imperative to this ambition. In my opinion, neither keeper fit the bill for a team wanting to win the league. Both keepers are unreliable and neither has shown signs of guiding Liverpool to the summit. This may be harsh on Karius as he has only just arrived, but I am not convinced.

Mignolet shows signs of being a good keeper; however, there is no fine margin between ‘good’ and ‘brilliant’.

Klopp made the correct call by dropping the under fire Karius for Wednesday night’s game, I would personally stick with Mignolet for the foreseeable future.

You do question why Klopp did not secure the services of Joe Hart who is now at Torino in Italy, with not many other options available Liverpool will have to stick with their guns for now. A good replacement would be Jack Butland, who has been consistently strong for Stoke.

Klopp will have to rely on his lethal and dynamic attack to be firing on all cylinders, to cancel out goals conceded by his keeper, this is a similar situation to the season where Liverpool threw the league away 2 years ago, the ruthless SAS (Suarez and Sturridge) decimated defences, whereas the back line of the side were being decimated themselves, unable to pull their weight in the same way that the forward trio of Suarez, Sturridge, and Sterling could .

By Tom Cavilla, 18 years old