Liverpool coming together

Having run so close last season in the Champions League and 25 points behind runaway champions Man City, Jurgen Klopp wasted no time in adding to the already Liverpool bound Naby Keita. Within days of  the Champions League defeat, Brazilian midfielder Fabinho was arriving at Liverpool. Nabil Fakir was next on the radar but issues arose and despite him appearing to have a number and give an interview in for Liverpool, the deal didn’t complete. Talk goes on regarding whether he will still come to Anfield before the transfer window ends.

The Champions League blunders by Lorius Karius were still in the minds of the Liverpool fans but it seemed that Klopp was still backing the young German. It turned out that he had suffered concussion after a collision with Ramos during the final against Real Madrid. This saw a split between many fans. Some believing it and some claiming it was a cover up. This of course would be a cover up that included the legendary  Franz Beckenbauer, who had got in touch with Jurgen Klopp to inform him of the news.

There  was no talk of a new keeper coming in and and Klopp was  going along the line that the young German was  going into the season as number one. That was until a pre season friendly blunder gave Tranmere Rovers a goal. Whether he was bluffing who knows, but all of sudden Liverpool were doing business with Roma again and in for Allison Becker. The Brazilian cost just shy of £70 million. It probably didn’t help in cost because of the bargain price of Mo Salah, whose price rocketed no end. Some fans baulked at the price but these days you just have to spend money to get quality.

Karius looks certain to be demoted to number two, which will only signal the end of The signing will no doubt see the end of Simon Mignolet’s time at Anfield. Allison’s arrival has already seen the end of Danny Ward who has joined Leicester City for £12.5 million.

The Welsh goalkeeper looked certain to have a chance of breaking into the first team on a regular basis, having performed well on loan at Huddersfield and with Karius’ blunders, but rather than be relegated to fighting for a spot, Leicester City came in with a £12.5 million bid and Ward was on his way.

Liverpool probably need to get another centre back, that is if they intend to use Gomez at right back.  This being the fact that Lovren can be all over the place and Matip seems to be a bit injury prone of recent. I guess we will have to wait and see.

As he enters his final year of his current deal, Daniel Sturridge looks certain to get one final opportunity to resurrect his career Anfield career. He had spent the second half of last season on loan to West Brom but had picked up an injury after managing just 6 games for the Baggies. A good pre season though has seemingly boosted the former Man City and Chelsea player. Klopp of course will need as many attacking options especially after the Champions League final that saw the early departure of Salah, replaced by a not so fully fit Adam Lallana. One player acquired in that attacking role is Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City, who were relegated last season.

So as the start of the season gets closer along with the end of the transfer window, Liverpool fans can have a genuine amount of enthusiasm for the coming season. A trophy is a must for the Reds this season, every fan wants the league ahead of anything else and this season will certainly not see a repeat of City’s impressive run and points haul.

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FA Premier League Predictions – Week 35

It was rescheduled fixtures this week, so less fixtures although it seems that the BBC decided that the Burnley and Leicester midweek games would be week 35 and not 34, but hey ho. The four fixtures saw 1 correct result out of fout as Brighton and Spurs played out a 1-1 draw and not the 2-2 that I had predicted. United took all three points. Chelsea beat Burnley whilst Leicester and Southampton played out a draw. This week Im hoping normal service resumed.

  1.                   Arsenal 2-1 West Ham.         Arsenal closer to Europa League
  2.                   Everton 1-2 Newcastle Utd. Toon win eases pressurE
  3.                 Man City 3-0 Swansea City.    Man City post title win
  4.               Stoke City 1-2 Burnley.              Stoke City close to the drop
  5.                 Watford 2-0 Crystal Palace.    Palace lose, but should be safe
  6.            West Brom 1-3 Liverpool. Reds  Win ahead of Roma game

(Burnley and Leicester midweek fixtures were included in Week 34 but according to BBC Lawro predictions, were part of week 35)

Some key games taking place mostly affecting the teams at the bottom. Having beaten Man Utd at Old Trafford, West Brom host Liverpool, hoping that the Reds will be fully focused on the Champions League semi final at home to Roma. They will need another win to keep up the slim hope of survival. Unfortunately, the Reds will still be focused on the league and securing a win to ensure they stay in the top four. A temporary reprieve for the Baggies may in the fact that Swansea City travel to newly crowned champions Man City. The hosts should win this one and prolong West Brom’s woes even further.

Stoke City’s hope of survival look certain to take a hit as they will lose to Burnley who bounce back from defeat against Chelsea. Im not sure many Arsenal fans will be sad to see them go should they go down.

Palace travel to the unpredictable Watford and will find themselves up against it, but other results will mean that Palace should come the last game, be safe in the Premier League.

Enjoy the weekend and good luck to all

FA Premier League Predictions – Week 33

As the weeks pass and the games wither down, the the only thing that many of the fans have to look forward to is finishing as high as possible or avoiding the drop. The Premier League title race is all but over unless Man City do the best footballing equivalent of Devon Loch. For the non horse racing fans or any international readers, Devon Loch was horse that was destined to win the 1956 Grand National, but lost after he jumped for no apparent reason.

At course at the other end in the grand battle for survival. At the moment seven points separate Brighton in14th and Stoke in 19th but to be honest it would you would be very surprised to see the Seagulls caught up in the relegation battle. The battle for survival looks to be between Crystal Palace, Southampton, Huddersfield, West Ham and Swansea. I would expect the Swans to escape.

Anyway relegation talk can be saved for another post. Last weeks predictions came out reasonably well as I chalked up 6 correct results out of 10. No correct scores last round, but some close calls.  Hopefully this week will prove to be better. Im expecting victories for Liverpool and Man City despite their Champions League ding dong, wins for Tottenham,Arsenal and Bournemouth, which will have a knock on effect in the relegation battle.  A heavy defeat for Stoke and it’s virtually Premier League over for the Potteries club. A pasting for the Saints wont do them any good as their goal difference takes a pounding. Small hope can be seen as Huddersfield and West Ham both draw.

It looks to be an eventful weekend and who knows I might get a perfect ten…ten of what who knows but preferably not ten incorrect predictions.

  1.                                                       Arsenal 4-0  Southampton  Saints in trouble
  2.                                            Bournemouth 2-1  Crystal P          Eagles in South coast gloom
  3.                                                    Brighton  1-1 Huddersfield   Seagulls looking safe
  4.                                                      Chelsea  1-1 West Ham        Hammers take point
  5.                                                       Everton 0-1  Liverpool        Reds take Merseyside win
  6.                                           Leicester City  2-2 Newcastle Utd Honours even at City
  7.                                                    Man City  2-1 Man Utd            City win to take title
  8.                                                  Stoke City  0-5 Tottenham       Misery for Stoke
  9.                                                     Watford  2-2 Burnley            4 goal thriller at Watford
  10.                                                West Brom  0-2 Swansea City  Pardew gone but still lose

FA Premier League Predictions – Week 26

Well, week 25 was a midweek round to forget as only I only managed one correct score and one correct result. I mean given the fixtures for the midweek, I would have expected a few more correct results if not scores. It didn’t help that four of the midweek games would finish as draws considering the teams involved. I mean Stoke and Watford playing out a goalless draw. Would never have expected that one. I had predicted a 2-2 draw between Spurs and Man Utd but saw a 2-0 Spurs win whilst Chelsea went awol and lost 3-0 at the Bridge.

Anyway I would like to think that week 26 will be better, well it can’t get any worse….actually it probably could. Some big games this weekend as Liverpool host Spurs, the Swans looking to build their relegation escape with a trip to Leicester  with other ties featuring fellow strugglers West Brom face Southampton. So lets see how I get on this weekend.

  1.                                      Arsenal   2-1    Everton          Much needed win for Arsenal
  2.                                      Burnley  1-3    Man City         City move another step closer
  3.                           Bournemouth  2-0    Stoke City        Cherries on the charge
  4.                                    Brighton   1-2    West Ham       Crucial win for Hammer
  5.                           Crystal Palace   2-1   Newcastle        Eagles bag the points
  6.                            Leicester City   2-2  Swansea           Honours even
  7.                                   Liverpool   2-1   Tottenham      Liverpool dent Spurs
  8.                                     Man Utd   2-0   Huddersfield   Man Utd return to winning ways
  9.                                      Watford   1-1   Chelsea            Watford take point, woes for Conte
  10.                                 West Brom   2-1   Southampton  Baggies win, Saints struggling

 

An interesting mix of results which I hope will bring good fortune this week. It’s a good job I don’t bet on the games.

Not long left – Transfer Deadline Day

So it’s that time again, yes the Transfer window deadline is tomorrow (Thursday) and despite the window open since early July, there is always excitement for some come 31st August or the 1st/2nd September if the last day of August falls on a weekend. There have been a fair few transfers to say the least including the record breaking Neymar deal, which of course set up a transfer fallout. I’m sure there are a few managers though who will be glad to see 23:00 hours tomorrow night.

Some fans will be anxiously checking the BBC or Sky transfer pages as well as keeping an eye on the Sky Sports Deadline day show that will be running throughout the day.

Arsenal fans will be hoping and praying for some transfer movement. So far Alexandre Lacazette appears to be the only incoming player whilst a number of players seem to be departing the Emirates stadium. Given their performance on Sunday, many of the Arsenal fans will be hoping that Wenger is going to be surprising them with some transfer deals that don’t feature players departing. With the likelihood of over £40 million added to the transfer, it cannot be said that there isn’t any money to spend on signings.

Conte will be hoping that he can strengthen the squad further especially with having to find someone to replace Matic, who was sold to Manchester United. One player who could be heading to the Bridge is Danny Drinkwater. The Leicester City player has also asked to leave the club. Leicester wont want to sell and if they do, it will be no doubt have to be the best part of £40 million as reported in the media.

Liverpool will be hoping to complete the Oxlade Chamberlain deal before the deadline and given the player’s preference being towards Anfield. The club had also been linked with Thomas Lemar of Monaco, who is rated at £75 million. It will be interesting to see where that option goes if the Ox moves to Anfield. The Virgil Van Dijk saga could come to ahead come tomorrow. The long running transfer story saw Liverpool chasing then apologising and then the Dutch player wanting to leave by putting in a transfer request. Will he stay or will he go and if he does, will it be Liverpool, given interest from Arsenal and Chelsea.

Another saga at Anfield is the Philipe Coutinho saga. Barcelona have put in several bids only each time to be rebuffed by FSG and the Brazilian had not featured in the season due to a back injury. Whether this was genuine who knows, but on international duty, the youngster was cleared to play.

Divock Origi looks certain to head out on loan looking for first team football in a pre World Cup season. German club Wolfsburg look his likely destination.

Man Utd I imagine will have a quiet deadline day having brought in several players including the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Manchester club have started well, although have yet to be really tested and Lindelof has yet to really feature, which would be a concern given the £31 million they spent. Januzaj and Rooney were the notable departures from Old Trafford.

Last seasons runners up Tottenham, have been relatively quiet so far. Only two players in so far by the name of Paulo Gazzaniga and Juan Foyth. Serge Aurier is a player though that could be heading to Tottenham from PSG for £23 million especially with his work permit being approved.

Crystal Palace go into the deadline day looking to strengthen their squad. They have had a nightmare start to the season. The South East London club will be hoping to sign Liverpool defender Mamadou Sahko. They have had a number of bids rejected by the Anfield club who would be prepared it seems to sell for £30 million. The fans hoping for the club to up their bid.

Will Everton make any further changes. They have been busy spending, but have also been spending over £100 million although £75 million would have that covered by the Lukaku transfer. They have spent £20 million plus on a number of players including Michael Keane from Burnley, Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea for £45 million whilst Wayne Rooney returned on a free transfer.

The other side is the question of Ross Barkley, will he stay or will he leave. He has been linked with a departure and despite his current injury, it is surely only a matter of time before the midfielder heads out of Goodison, with Chelsea being a favourite.

Whatever happens tomorrow, some fans will be no doubt be gripped and glued to their phones or tablets more happier than others whilst some might see their coming season imploding on the lack of transfer activity.

Premier League -Week Nine

Another week in the Premier League is done and things are looking very close indeed so far. A single point separates teams from 1st to fifth and five more between leaders Man City and Everton. Not for a while have we seen teams so close after nine games.

Spurs went to Bournemouth looking to win and put themselves top after the lunch time kickoff, but they were held to a goalless draw by a home side looking difficult to beat at the Vitality stadium. Both sides had chances as well as testing the opposing goalkeepers. Lloris had to lively as he did well to keep out Charlie Daniels opportunity. Spurs themselve were unlucky not to break the deadlock as they tried and tried. Spurs  were also considered fortunate to not end up finishing with ten men after Sissoko’s elbow to Harry Arter’s face was missed by the referee.

As the game ended, Spurs would now hope that teams around them would drop points so they wouldnt drop away.

Arsenal found themselves cursing the inability to break through a difficult Middlesbrough who claimed a rare clean sheet in London. I guess Arsenal fans may have gone into the game with a healthy confidence following their European escapades, but it seemed a typical opposite.  They seem to barely test Victor Valdes in the Boro goal, but the home fans could be grateful for an alert Petr Cech. His saves kept the game level and a slightly better birthday for Arsene Wenger had they lost. Thanks to Cech, the only thing lost was a six game winning streak.

Everton found to their cost that having all the possession doesn’t bring the points if you dont convert the chances. They looked like securing a point at Turf Moor but with only eight shots out of twenty on target, it wasnt too be as Bolasie’s equaliser was too be for nothing as Scott Arfield bagged a 90th minute winner. It was the home sides third win of the season and second over Merseyside opposition.

When Liverpool kicked off on the Saturday tea time, they looked to get three points and secure top spot by scoring two goals or more goals against West Brom. The Baggies were never going to a rollover having previously come close to ending Tottenham’s unbeaten run. For the home side, the reds were graced with Coutinho,Firminho and Mane in the mix. It was a Firminho with a sweet cross that saw Mane on the end of it to give the Reds a deserved lead. The home side then went 2-0 up ten minutes before half time when Brazilian wonderkid Coutinho netted home. This scoreline would have sent Liverpool top, but a poorly defended corner allowed McAuley to pull one back. Visions of last seasons 2-2 draw may have caught the minds of Liverpool fans, but they were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the Reds held out to win 2-1 and take their unbeaten run to nine games.

Having taken a point at Anfield, Mourinho was now taking his first visit to Stamford Bridge since his time with Inter Milan. A victory for either side would keep them within touch of the top four. A big enough win for Chelsea could see them overtake Spurs, whilst a victory for Mourinho’s men would see them leapfrog Chelsea and move to within three points of City, Arsenal and Liverpool. A good start was needed by either side and it was the hosts who struck first. Defensive errors allowed Pedro to get through the back line and send the ball home. The game would get no better for United as a poorly cleared set piece saw Gary Cahill strike home.

Chelsea did ride some luck when a high tackle by David Luiz was only met with a yellow card. With them being 2-0 up it may have not affected the overall result, but it may have kept a lower scoreline. Arsenal fans watching the game may have felt a tad peeved at the card considering Granit Xhaka was given his marching orders against Swansea City for a lesser offence. Alas for United there were still goals to come. Eden Hazard struck from fifteen yards and Kante finished the rout eight minutes later. Having started so brightly, it is puzzling to see how United have had a little wobble.

At the other end of the table it’s looking bleak for Sunderland. A measly two points from twenty seven is not what any Mackem wants to see and especially not David Moyes.  I wonder if he regrets ever leaving Everton for Manchester United. The North West club who find themselves one point worse off than this time last season, travelled to West Ham who themselves also had a poor start to the season. It looked like it would finish with teams taking a point each, but a winner deep into second half stoppage time condemned the visitors to another defeat. They escaped last season but sadly for them it appears that time has run out.

It doesnt fair any better for Swansea who are one place above. The opening day win seems a distant memory and relegation looks certain to rear its ugly head for the Welsh club. Five points behind on what they were last season where they recovered to finish 12th doesnt look like happening any time soon. Close results against Liverpool and Arsenal could show promise but they may have a chance to take a step forward on Monday night when they play Stoke City. If they dont take a chance then it will definitely be good night Swansea.

Mignolet at the last chance saloon?

Last season was a season that the Belgian international Simon Mignolet would like to forget, the error prone keeper cost Liverpool 15 points that would have seen them in the top four and even second spot. The problem for Liverpool was that there was no real competition for Mignolet although when Ward came back from loan, he showed that he could do well to put pressure on the Belgian. The indifferent form didnt stop manager Jurgen Klopp from offering him a new five year deal. This brought some mixed reaction from the fans, mostly concerned reaction as it seemed strange to reward a keeper who more than likely cost them a top four finish and a place in the Champions League.

The decision to offer the Belgian a new deal would either be one questionable decision by Klopp, or some long term thinking in seeing im have value in a possible future transfer. It could very well be the latter as German youngster Lorius Karius was signed towards the end of May. He gave a relatively decent performance during pre season as Mignolet was given extra time off from playing in Euro 2016. Karius had been convinced by Klopp not to go to the Olympics, which signalled that the former Mainz keeper would start the season between the sticks. Whilst the Reds only faced the likes of Fleetwood Town, Wigan and Huddersfield, he had kept clean sheets until the Chelsea game. The game against the Blues would be his last for a while as he would break his hand.

Mignolet will be hoping his appearance in the opening games of the season will be error free and preferably clean sheets.  Visits to Arsenal, Burnley, Tottenham and Chelsea in amongst an opening run of fixtures that also sees a home time against defending champions Leicester. The pressure and focus is on Mignolet and any unforced errors will certain be tallied up by Reds fans up and down the country. With no European football for the club, there are plenty advantages for Liverpool and Mignolet will hope to be helping to spearhead that venture.

If come Christmas and the New Year we see Mignolet’s errors are mounting once more then the bell surely has to toll. Should the second half of the season be a nightmare of proportions for the keeper I can only imagine that Klopp will be opting to cash in on the Belgian international.