Could Liverpool really be denied the Premier League title over Coronavirus?

These are strange times we are living in, it almost feels like a science fiction movie, streets are emptying as are shops, and all of a sudden there is panic in places as the coronavirus hits. All of this has led to football being suspended in many countries including England and that could hit league leaders Liverpool hard.

In a season where no other club was going to catch them, Liverpool could be denied winning their first league title since 1990 by the virus instead. For now the league is taking a 2 week break but there are mutterings that it will need to take at least a 5 week break, and there are 10 games still to be played.

Karren Brady vice chairman of West Ham has come out and said that this season should be null and void, but is that a realistic option? On one hand she could have a point if the season can’t be finished and the cut off deadline would have to be sometime in July. On the other hand one has to wonder if she simply has her own club at heart who are just above the relegation zone. Whilst a null and void league would be a huge blow to Liverpool, it would also affect the teams in the Championship who have worked so hard to try and gain promotion, then again an act of God that no one could have predicted has intervened.

How realistic is it that after being by far the best team in the league and having an incredible 25 point lead that it could mean nothing? The good news for Liverpool is that UEFA are set to postpone the European championships until 2021, so that does free up the summer. With clubs mostly being able to play 2 games a week, there would then be plenty of time to finish the season, but of course that all depends on how long restrictions will apply for.

There have been suggestions in some countries that the peak of the virus could extend until June, and if the seasons resume say in the middle of June, that could be fine for the leagues to restart. Instead of having pointless pre- season tournaments we can get the league sorted out.

Anyone declaring a league season to be null and void really needs to check themselves because it feels like the people saying it are doing so through self interest. Would Brady be declaring such a statement if West Ham were top of the league?

It would surely be an odd moment in football if the league was voided and a huge twist and such a painful sucker punch for Liverpool. Let’s hope though that football and general life can get back on track as soon as possible.

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Liverpool finally lose in what has been a tough week for the European champions

It took 44 league games but Liverpool have finally been beaten in the Premier League. Not many people would have predicted that it would be Watford who were in 19th place that would inflict Liverpool’s first defeat since January 2019.

It has been a miserable few days for Liverpool who not only lost in the league but were then knocked out of the FA Cup last night against Chelsea going down 2-0. So they have let in 5 goals in two matches and manager Jurgen Klopp will be concerned. Next up they will play Bournemouth at home and if they were to drop points in that game Klopp will need to be afraid. After that they have a mammoth task of trying to overcome Atletico Madrid in the 2nd leg of their Champions League game. The Spanish side hold a 1-0 lead, though that 2nd leg is at Anfield and every follower of football knows that Anfield is quite a daunting place for any side on a European night.

Liverpool of course have been fantastic this season, and have been actually for the past two years now. But no one can deny the fact that this has been a bad period for the club. One such person who did seem to be in denial was Klopp, coming out with words like ”not really” in suggestion that the clubs form had slipped. Was he hurting inside really? Only time and a biography will answer that one. But the whole of the team must have been devastated at finally losing a game. The objective of winning the league is more or less done, being 22 points in the lead. At best the gap could be cut with a loss of form, but Liverpool could still easily win the league and do it by 10 points clear in the end anyway.

The objective was too remain undefeated for the season. No one was publicly saying it but of course it was. Liverpool would have become only the 3rd team in the history of the top tier in England to have done it, and they were so close too. In defeat to Watford they also lost out on beating the all time English record for most wins in a row. With 18 they needed one more, but alas that went too.

If Liverpool do go out of the Champions League- as champions it would be a blow, but let’s be honest this season was all about winning the league title for the first time since 1990, and that objective is streets ahead and well on target. But what one senses with the club now is what has happened to super giants like PSG and Bayern in the last few seasons who have gone unbeaten for six months, only to lose 1 game and have the season unravel to a damp squib by the end of it.

The fact that it has been so long since Liverpool won the league title will be their saving grace this year though, it really is all that matters to the club, city and fans.

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Premier League: Player of the Week: Mohamed Salah

There was only one game in the Premier League in the week because last weekend the FA Cup 4th round took over domestic proceedings. The featured game was between West Ham and Liverpool, with both clubs having a game in hand because of December’s World Club Cup scheduling meaning that Liverpool were away.

The game was tipped to be in favour of Liverpool and unsurprisingly it was. David Moyes selected five players at the back as his intention was to frustrate the visitors and maybe sneak a counter goal or just draw the game. With half time closing in it did look like Moyes’ plan was working with Liverpool having all of the domination and yet the score was 0-0.

However with the pace going up another level the inevitable happened. If Liverpool were not going to score from open play then they were going to force mistakes and they were awarded a penalty. Now this was an important moment for Mohamed Salah. One of the finest and deadliest strikers in Europe is not having the vintage season that was predicted of him. In short he needed this goal.

He stood up and wanted to take it and slotted it home. The cheers from the Liverpool fans were loud not only because their unbeaten side had found a goal but also for Salah, and the hope will be that he will start to score more regularly now.

Of course it’s not all doom and gloom for the striker who does have 12 goals this season. Also he has assisted in a further 6 goals, meaning that he has contributed 18 of Liverpool’s 56 league goals so far. That is about 35% of every goal this season, pretty impressive.

Salah would cost you 15m based on his two previous brilliant seasons but he does have 79 points so far and believe it or not that places him 2nd in the fantasy rankings of all players in the major European leagues combined. An added bonus is that he hardly picks up bookings and he has just 1 yellow card so far this season.

It wasn’t just his penalty goal though that made Salah the difference in midweek. His work rate is second to none and he run the Hammers defence ragged at times, he is always looking for a creative space and he played to his strengths. His pace is simply electrifying. That is why in local press in Liverpool he was easily voted man of the match. Liverpool will be hoping that with the title run in and the Champions League restarting that the player is only now just finding his best form of the season.

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FA Cup: Game of the Weekend: Shrewsbury 2-2 Liverpool

Nobody would have expected the European and club world champions to have many problems when they were drawn against Shrewsbury in the 4th round of the FA Cup. Liverpool were expected to win comfortably against the League one side playing in the third tier, but the match ended in a 4 goal thriller as the underdogs drew the game 2-2 and forced a replay.

Liverpool did not start with their strongest team which seems par for the course for Klopp and domestic cup competitions. However there were still some recognisable faces on the pitch in the form of Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi, Fabinho and Adrian was in goal. Liverpool opted to play a 4-3-3 whilst the home team had a slightly daring 3-5-2 wanting to try and pack the midfield out. It was risque to see the team happy to play 2 up front and just 3 at the back against the Reds.

The away side dominated possession and it was no surprise that they took the lead within 15 minutes through Curtis Jones who had stunned Everton in the 3rd round. Scoring so early it felt like Liverpool could 5 or 6 goals, but to their credit Shrewsbury held firm and the half time score read as 0-1.

As the 2nd half got under way Shrewsbury would have had the belief that they were still in the game but just a minute after the whistle they found themselves 2-0 down and practically out of the cup. To add insult to the wounds it was an own goal converted by defender Donald Love. Well no home fan was loving this.

But Shrewsbury found a way back, which was handed to them by one of Liverpool’s youngsters Yasser Larouci his foul giving away a penalty. Jason Cummings made no mistake and slotted home- suddenly there was belief that this game was not dead. Ten minutes later the stadium erupted like it had not done so before when Cummings ran through and took a shot, now it was 2-2 and the atmosphere in the stadium was simply electric.

Jurgen Klopp looked like someone who had been told that Christmas had been banned for the rest of his life. Distraught, angry on the touchline he played his ace cards. On came quality, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain but for the final ten minutes Liverpool could not find a breakthrough and the game ended 2-2.

It was a shock result even if we consider that Liverpool did not start their strongest team and the clubs will meet again in a weeks time.

But there will be a bigger fall out from this as Klopp desperately wanted to win this game and has announced that not only will he field a complete second string side at Anfield he will also not be there to coach the team. This is because there is a gap week in the Premier League and players and coaches have taken pre-arranged holidays.

This is great news for Shrewsbury though, who now have a chance to reach the 5th round of the FA Cup. You would think that any neutral will be willing them on to do it now.

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Why Jurgen Klopp is 100% wrong about the FA Cup

At the very moment that Jason Cummings scored his 2nd goal and Shrewsbury’s equaliser against Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th round the Reds manager may well have been thinking about his wife and his holidays. Earlier in the game Klopp saw that his team were cruising 2-0 up, this game looked dead. Except it wasn’t, Shrewsbury tore up the rule book, came back and now a replay will be played. But there is a problem.

That problem lies in the fact that the replay must take place in the scheduled Premier League break at the beginning of next month and Klopp evidently has other plans. The German said: “We intend to honour the original idea of the break, we have respect for the players’ welfare and they need this time off. We got a letter from the authorities in April last year asking us not to organise anything during the week of the break and we haven’t. We have given the players the time off, and some are going away. They will still be keeping fit, but they do not have to play football that week and they do not have to come in to Melwood.”

Firstly Liverpool did indeed get a letter from the FA requesting that certain games are not played during the break, those are money making friendly matches and not competitive games, that he did not clearly point out.

Klopp will play a youth side it seems, the same that played against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup and were destroyed. So secondly Klopp simply doesn’t want to be in the FA Cup, his total lack of regard for the competition is a little staggering. Yes the league title is more important but the club do have a 16 point lead at the top with a game in hand. The Champions League doesn’t kick off for almost another month and in short Liverpool could have started the replay with a strong squad.

Having said that Klopp rings the changes when it comes to cup matches and he has promised players time off, that is acceptable in a way, so they come back refreshed. However the sticking point here seems to be that he will not oversee the replay. Instead he intends to honour the break. Now giving your players that time off is one thing, but really, does anyone want to see the manager doing the same thing? Really? Don’t lose youngsters want to look over in the dugout and see Klopp there?

Last month he couldn’t be there against Aston Villa and neither could the first team who were playing in the World Club Cup, this time the excuse is holidays. But for Klopp being absent it just leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Liverpool have been non existent and to a case very disrespectful of the domestic cups. And yet took FIFA’s World Club Cup seriously, it has prestige maybe only in the clubs trophy room.

Klopp is one of the most likeable managers out there right now, but his likeability slipped a little this week.

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Liverpool are so far out in front other Premier League teams are now just living in hope

Even when they are not playing their best game, and the ball isn’t falling where they want it to be, Liverpool find a way. It happened last night and it will probably happen when they face West Ham in five days time. Liverpool win games, and no one, at least in the Premier League, can stop them.

Witness how Liverpool were pegged back against Wolves in their last game this week. Pegged back and Liverpool games do not go hand in hand, and this was a strange occurrence. How fitting was it to see firstly that Jordan Henderson had opened the scoring for the Reds. Henderson has been absolutely brilliant especially this season for the club and it felt only fitting that for once the club captain would be on guard to get the goal, a possible winning one and see his team march on to the title with yet another win.

But Wolves would not be contained. They prodded and probed and one could feel that there was a goal in them. When it came in the 2nd half it didn’t feel like a surprise and it was scored by Raul Jimenez, who is on hot form. It was Jimenez that sunk the Saints that are Southampton last weekend scoring 2 goals when his side were 2-0 down and they eventually won 3-2. Wolves fighting spirit is why the English media pundit Charlie Nicolas claimed this week that Wolves would be the first Premier League side in the league to beat Liverpool this season (Aston Villa have already achieved this feat in the Carabao Cup).

Wolves put in a good showing and the match looked set at least to finish 1-1. What an achievement this would have been for the home side and the headlines were ready to be written by the waiting press. Wolves were coming very close to taking points from Liverpool, only the second team to do so, after Manchester United. And then Roberto Firmino erased those columns, and changed history and scored a cracking goal which won Liverpool the game 2-1. It was all over. And that is Liverpool in a nutshell. If Mohamed Salah is struggling, Sadio Mane will score, if Mane is struggling there is Firmino, who has been absolutely brilliant this season and will surely make anyone’s European side of the year. His importance cannot be underestimated.

What one could sense from last night though is how teams in England are resigned to the fact that the league title is Liverpool’s. Let’s face it we’ve known since at least October, we waited for a blip to happen, which hasn’t and doesn’t look like materialising.

No blip, no lack of energy, the machine just keeps on going.

So as a result what has happened and it was evident last night was when Wolves scored or dared, you could say, to score a goal and equalise against the mighty Liverpool. For they have been so utterly dominant that just making the score 1-1 with ten minutes to go would dare to dream. Teams now in the Premier League feel success rests on just taking something from the club. A draw now feels like beating them, and you have to pinch yourself when you see the record so far, 67 points won from a possible 69. It’s Roy of the Rovers stuff for sure, except this is all happening in reality and this side are going to go down in history.

So, it’s now over to West Ham, and no pressure on them. The Hammers need the win too after their 4-1 loss at Leicester and they look like they could be heading for the bottom three faster than a Salah screamer. That game takes place next week on January 29th at London Stadium. But who would bet against Liverpool recording their 23rd win of the league season?

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Premier League: Player of the Week: Alisson

Alisson earned 8 points and is our player of the week in the Premier League.

The Liverpool goalkeeper much like his team has been unbelievable this season, and the Brazilian put in another magnificent display at the weekend. Liverpool were playing a potential difficult game when they came up against old rival Manchester United at Anfield. In the reverse fixture earlier in the season Manchester United had held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw. That draw remains the only blemish on Liverpool’s unbeaten season so far. They have won every other game and have 64 points from a possible 66. We can talk about the quality that Liverpool possess up front, in midfield and in defence but there is no denying that Alisson has been the bedrock of this side.

Against United he made some sterling saves and important ones and rode the storm well. In the end Liverpool won the game 2-0 and got even more bragging rights over one of their greatest rivals. Alisson naturally earned another 7 points as a result, but he got even more as he assisted in his sides last minute goal, a rarity for a goalkeeper. Kicking the ball out, it found striker Mohamed Salah who has been quiet for his standards this season and the Egyptian international made no mistakes in sealing the win. The goal was important for killing off the game, as at 1-0 it was always going to be on a knife edge.

In the fantasy rankings Alisson has 49 points and is ranked as number 1 in the Premier League goalscorers list. He has 10 more points than 2nd placed Kasper Schmeichel. Alisson is good value to add to your team and would cost 10m. From 14 starts this season he has kept 7 clean sheets and so every time he plays Liverpool has a 50% chance of not conceding, and that is an impressive statistic.

Whilst Alisson has picked up no yellow cards he has received a red card this season but that is a rarity for the player. Liverpool have also only conceded 7 goals this season when he has been between the sticks. An early season injury did keep him out for over a month when Adrian filled the position.

If we count all major European leagues Alisson would rank as 5th but this is down to the fact that he missed a chunk of the season through his injury.

Liverpool have two testing games coming up. Both are away and the first is against Wolves tonight. They will finally play their game in hand against West Ham on January 29th and the club has a 13 point lead over 2nd placed Manchester City.

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FA CUP: Game of the weekend: Liverpool v Everton

Once the draw for the 3rd round of the FA Cup was made all attentions were drawn to the Merseyside derby which would pit Liverpool against old rivals Everton. Usually the cup draw which has no seeds can have some eye catching matches but the only real genuine one was this game.

Liverpool were installed as favourites and that came as no surprise given that they are leading the league by 13 points and haven’t lost a single league match in a year. Add to the fact that the game was drawn at Anfield and Everton seemed to have very little chance of winning the game. The Toffeemen have no wins at Anfield since 1999, a generation ago now.

Jurgen Klopp’s team have also been so dominant, Liverpool just simply win games and don’t stop this season and Everton seemed to have no chance in this match. That is until Klopp hinted that he would rest most of his senior players and opt to play the youngsters. Suddenly Everton had vested interest because the last time Klopp chose the youngsters was in the Carabao Cup last month when they lost to Aston Villa 4-0, suddenly there was hope, or that is supposed to be how the script would run.

However whilst Everton started brightly and exposed this young Liverpool side, Adrian in goal, he who once played for West Ham made some crucial saves. At half time it was 0-0 and the signs started to look predictable for Everton. Cast an eye to the bench of Liverpool who had both Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane ready to come on and work their magic. In the end neither player was needed.

Curtis Jones scored a peach of a goal curling the ball into the top corner to put Liverpool in front after sustained pressure and that continued even after the goal went in. The Liverpool reserves were now fully on top of this game against a proper Everton side and they weren’t about to give up a 20 year undefeated record here against their rivals. They were simply better and yet they shouldn’t have been. For Everton is it now something very psychological as to why they keep under performing against Liverpool, even their youngsters? True there were four fringe senior players on the field for the Reds, but this was all about youth.

Klopp did give a start to Divock Origi which was the right choice given that the player has an uncanny ability to score against Everton, he has downed the team with goals in the last two meetings.

The match ended 1-0 to Liverpool and Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti looked devastated, because this was a game that the club should have won. That’s the season over for Everton now whilst for their rivals it is just beginning, they could win a unique treble and go unbeaten in the league. Their grounds might be next to each other but their ambitions are light years apart.

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This is how Liverpool could blow the Premier League title

Liverpool are currently on course to be the best ever Premier League winning side and after going a whole year without defeat Jurgen Klopps side look simply unbeatable. But is there a chance that Liverpool could blow this Premier League title?

First let’s get back to reality and look at the facts. This is a club who have lost just 1 game in the league in over 60 matches. They have a 13 point lead in the league and also have a game in hand to play over 2nd placed Leicester. Some believe that as brilliant as Leicester have been this season that current champions Manchester City are the team to back to stun Liverpool. They are a point behind Leicester and so one could say that Liverpool have a 14 point lead plus the extra game which, in theory could make that a 17 point lead. That extra game to be played is against West Ham who have struggled this season.

This weekend Liverpool will play a resurgent Everton in the FA Cup. The Reds will be at home and will start as favourites although Klopp has admitted he will rest some of his players. That game really could go either way, although Liverpool have got the better of Everton in recent games. But if they were to lose this match against their fierce rivals could it open the door to doubt?

Six days after the FA Cup match Liverpool will travel to London to play Tottenham. Now looking at this game a month ago you could think this would have been a very tricky fixture, playing a team who had appointed Jose Mourinho and were scoring goals, there was a feel good factor about the club. Since then Tottenham have started to lose games and have also lost striker Harry Kane to injury. Still could Mourinho set up his team tactically to at least get a point from Liverpool? It’s very possible.

Next Liverpool will face Manchester United the only team thus far to take points from the Reds when the teams drew earlier this season at Old Trafford. This will always be a tough match but United are still blowing hot and cold, witness their recent defeat at Arsenal for evidence of that. The game in hand really is the key and it is against West Ham away. The Hammers have David Moyes as their new manager an ex-Everton manager and he would surely love to strike a blow to Liverpool.

But when we look at February we are looking at a potential easy month for Liverpool. They have matches against the likes of Southampton, Norwich, Watford and West Ham again. True these teams have shown some fight lately but surely Liverpool will be too strong for them. Although they will be playing again in the Champions League which could force Klopp to make some changes.

In March Carlo Ancelotti will experience his first derby at home when Liverpool visit Goodison Park and it these matches that will matter for the title. If Everton can upset them, a few weeks later they will travel to Manchester City and we could be looking at two defeats in a couple of weeks. Remember Liverpool are unbeaten and going for an unbeaten season. If they start losing games it is obvious that their confidence is going to take a knock.

The season for Liverpool ends with 3 potentially difficult games- away to Arsenal, at home to Chelsea and away to Newcastle.

It really would take quite a major collapse from Liverpool and they would need to start dropping points this month to see any type of hope for Manchester City. But it is very possible that once they start to lose one game others could follow even unlikely ones. So yes maybe it is possible that being 14 points in front of Manchester City simply isn’t enough but at the same time it would mean that City would have to win all of their remaining games. Of course City just did that last season, but this season they have looked very vunerable and it looks like they are focusing on the Champions League now.

If Liverpool did blow this title though, surely it would be the biggest meltdown of all time in a major league?

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Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp’s success is eating away at Pep Guardiola

Think of who has been the best manager of the decade in Europe and you will probably say Pep Guardiola. And you wouldn’t be wrong. The Spaniard has led Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City to success and has won 22 trophies this decade alone. He is undeniably the best manager football has had this decade, and yet there is something missing from his time at Manchester City just like there was at Bayern Munich.

That something of course is the Champions League- it is a trophy that Guardiola sees as validation that his team are the strongest and yet it is a trophy that he hasn’t won since 2011 with Barcelona.

Just before Guardiola came to manage Bayern Munich they were the European champions but he couldn’t replicate that and with Manchester City is has been much the same, only being able to reach a semi-final and mostly otherwise failing in the knock out rounds. City have simply never came close to winning the competition. There are reports that Guardiola could quit the club this summer but they remain just that but it does seem possible that he could leave the club by 2021, he simply doesn’t stay around for long periods and by then he would have been at City for five years.

It is total irony when you think about it that Manchester City are champions of England. Because it is the one thing that Liverpool may just have traded City as they won the Champions League last season beating Tottenham in the final who knocked out City in one of the classic games of European football in the modern era.

Guardiola was well under the assumption that his presence in England would take precedence when he joined up with City and that the club would rule all. He wasn’t silly enough to think it would just happen of course, but with his winning mentality, work rate and the budget that the club have he would have been forgiven for thinking this City project would have been Barcelona mark 2. And yet in the four seasons that he has taken charge of City (by the end of this one) he would have won 2 league titles. This by all means is still a great record but one senses for a man who once won 6 trophies in a single season with Barcelona he would have expected more success at City.

As it is he looks over his shoulder and there is a massive rival, an historic English team who have resurfaced and it is not the expected one, Manchester United but Liverpool who under Jurgen Klopp have looked simply unbeatable. Klopp’s Liverpool have put City and Guardiola to the sword many times most infamously in the semi final of the 2018 Champions League where Liverpool scored close to a cricket score.

Of course the irony is that City were the last team in the Premier League to beat Liverpool which happened one year ago and led City to an incredible league title win finishing on 98 points to Liverpool’s 97. And more irony is that it is how much Guardiola has raised the bar which has encouraged Klopp to follow suit with Liverpool and raise it even further.

It is Klopp who has that Champions League medal that Guardiola wants so much with his debutante City side and it is Klopp who raised it up again leading his Liverpool side to the World Club Cup, another trophy Guardiola hasn’t seen since 2011.

So both managers are holding trophies the other one wants, but it’s not even as simple as that when you look at the current league table and see that Klopp and Liverpool are going to wrap up the league title. Currently having a 10 point gap over Leicester in 2nd but having 2 games in hand, that could be 16. The league looks Liverpool’s to lose and the Reds are certainly marching on.

Liverpool are claiming to be the number 1 team in England and Europe and there doesn’t seem like there is much Guardiola can do about it, except of course to win the Champions League this season, that is.

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