Next month is huge for Everton and Marco Silva in the Premier League

Everton claimed their first victory in five matches at the weekend as they beat West Ham 2-0 at home in a match which has effectively saved manager Marco Silva’s job. The win also took the Toffeemen out of the relegation zone but the club are far from out of the woods.

It has been a difficult period for Silva as Everton manager, and one could say that the Portuguese has had 3 good months with the club from the last 12- that hasn’t been good enough and under Silva so far Everton have not taken strides forward. The hope for the club after victory at the weekend is that they can build on this and move further up the table and perhaps challenge for a European spot. Will that be possible, or are Everton still in free fall?

Everton’s next game is against Brighton next weekend and on paper that looks like 3 points for the club, but it is away from home where Everton have really struggled.

Win, lose or draw that match will not affect Silva’s future with the club, instead attentions will turn to November, in what could be a massive turning point for the club. Let’s look at the fixtures in detail:

v Tottenham (Home)- How Everton would love to play Tottenham right now! The London club are in free fall and experiencing a crisis, with Everton at home and controlling the pace of the game like they did against West Ham, there would be every hope of 3 points against a side who on paper are superior to Everton. This game though doesn’t take place for another 2 weeks, that’s a long time in football and by then Tottenham could be back on track, and this game could be much harder to get points from.

v Southampton (Away) The Saints have really struggled this season and are in 17th place with no wins in their last 4 games. The club have the worst home record in the league and whilst their games have been close, Everton could fancy their chances in this one.

v Norwich (Home) Everton have won 3 games at home from 5 and one would expect a victory here. The problem is that they have already lost at home to a promoted side in Sheffield United. Norwich are looking poor though and one would expect Everton to get a win here.

With some Carabao Cup matches in between if Everton can go far in that, they could also get at least 7 points from the 9 available in November, Silva should be looking at his job being secure at least for now. It is a huge month for Everton because in December they have an incredibly tough fixture list where they don’t look like getting many points from, those matches include Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester, that is why the club need to pick up points in November. Watch this space.

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Man Utd v Liverpool; The three key battles to look out for

Ahead of gameweek nine, Manchester United sit embarrassingly in the both half of the table in 13th place and will be taking on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who are looking to extend their lead at the top of the league as both sides will take on one another in the Sunday afternoon fixture at Old Trafford.

Without a doubt, both clubs will be aiming to make statement of their own whilst looking to earn bragging rights, in a match that will surely be watched by nearly every football fan around the world. The Red Devils have had a really good record in this feisty fixture over the last ten years or so, whilst the red side of Merseyside have surprisingly not won at Old Trafford in the league since 2014.

It’s time to look at the three vital battles that could help to decide the fate of this huge fixture…

Daniel James vs Trent Alexander-Arnold

Since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the permanent manager of the club, Daniel James has been the one attacking player that has been a constant threat for the side, through his intelligent dribbling and direct style of play. With Anthony Martial unlikely to be placed straight back into the team after coming back from injury, the hopes of the United supporters and Solskjaer himself will be in the hands of the speedy Welshman.

James will be in for a close and tight encounter with Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is seen as one of Liverpool’s key creators from the flanks as well as one of the best right-backs in the league and in Europe. The 21-year-old has played a crucial role in helping the side to have the best defensive record in the league, whilst also being seen as the main man when it comes to taking set-pieces.  

Sadio Mane vs Aaron Wan-Bissaka

It’s no secret that Liverpool’s most deadly and influential player in the final third of the pitch is none other than Sadio Mane at the moment, an individual who has an incredible burst of pace as well as the ability to take on two to three players with ease when required. If he can find the urge and desire, he normally shows when his side need him the most, he could definitely help his team to win their first ever Premier League title whilst potentially contend for the Player of the Year award.

Mane has been offering the ideal mixture of electric spark and directness from the left flank, making him the world class attacking outlet he was dreaming of becoming since his early days at Southampton. He will be up against Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has recently returned from injury and is well-known for his defensive contributions, completing a number of interceptions and tackles on a weekly basis, making him the perfect full-back that United need on both sides of the pitch.

Scott McTominay vs Jordan Henderson

Given the lack of midfield options that Solskjaer has available, as well as Paul Pogba being on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, it means that Scott McTominay has to step up and be the main man for the midfield and for the team. For sure, he may not be a talented player or technically gifted like the others, but through his aerial ability, physicality and hard work on and off the ball, it may be just enough to get his team-mates going and produce a possible shocker over long-term rivals Liverpool.

Meanwhile for Liverpool, Jordan Henderson will be potentially utilised as a box-to-box midfielder and will be hoping that his leadership, types of passing and incredible work rate will help his team to go on to win the fixture. The 29-year-old has time and time again proved himself, to be an important player within Jurgen Klopp’s system, even when he came under a huge amount of criticism from his own supporters and the English media, which has helped him to become the player he is today.

6 classic Manchester United vs Liverpool matches from the Premier League era

Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool (2009)

Liverpool headed to Old Trafford in March 2009 knowing that anything other than victory would in effect rule them out of the Premier League title race. Indeed, a Manchester United win would move them seven points clear of their fierce rivals, and Alex Ferguson’s men would also have a game in hand and the chance to extend their advantage to 10 points.

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What will come next for Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool?

There has been a lot of talk over Jurgen Klopp’s future of late. The German has led Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table, holding an eight point lead over defending champions Manchester City. The Reds have still to even get their hands on the trophy – it’s not even Christmas yet – but there has been some speculation over what Klopp might want from his career next.

Every so often there are links made to clubs like Real Madrid. Club president Florentino Perez is believed to be a fan of the German coach, but then who isn’t right now? Klopp, along with Pep Guardiola, is setting the zeitgeist for the current era of the sport at the top level. It’s natural that he should be a man in-demand.

It was recently revealed that Borussia Dortmund offered Klopp the chance to return to the Westfalenstadion in the summer of 2018 after their former coach had suffered defeat in the Champions League final to Real Madrid. They never really stood a chance of luring him from Liverpool, but the fact they even tried underlines that Klopp isn’t exactly rooted to the core of the earth on Merseyside.

Now, it has been suggested that Klopp could take over from Joachim Low after the 2022 World Cup is over. His Liverpool contract would be expired by such a time and the winter World Cup means Klopp could also factor in a short break from the game before moving into his next job.

“I really can not say. I do not know if I would like to. Now, as of today, I do not feel like it,” Klopp responded when asked whether this would be something he would consider. “Stand up now, I’m totally happy with what I do and that’s important in the whole story. I also could not say one hundred percent if I was the right one [to replace Low]. If the question ever arises, I would think about it, but not now.”

Liverpool have still to even reach their peak under Klopp, but they must consider what might come next just as the man himself seems to be. There’s no immediate prospect of the German leaving Anfield to take over as Real Madrid or Germany boss. He will see the job through. But planning must start taking place now.

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Have we all underestimated Joel Matip’s quality?

Three goals to the good and cruising, Liverpool had very little to worry about especially with Virgil Van Dijk, the supposed best centre back of his generation, on the pitch. Within 21 minutes, though, the Anfield side had been pegged back to 3-3 by Red Bull Salzburg. Van Dijk had been at fault for at least one of the three goals conceded.

This, of course, was something of a freak event. Van Dijk is indeed the best defender in the European game right now. That he would have such a dismal second half performance against a team a side of Liverpool’s calibre should have seen off with ease was utterly unpredictable.

It raised questions of whether Van Dijk’s usual centre back partner, who was missing through injury for this match, had been underestimated all this time. Joel Matip has been the Dutchman’s partner for the best part of a year, but alongside Joe Gomez Liverpool looked much more vulnerable in defence.

Matip has long been viewed as the lesser of Liverpool’s two centre backs. In fact, some have even identified the German as a weak link in Jurgen Klopp’s team, a component to be exposed. Many have argued that the Anfield side should go back into the transfer window to sign a better, more accomplished replacement.

It’s true that Matip doesn’t always cut the most composed figure at the back for the Reds. His languid, gangly isn’t the most natural of fits for Klopp’s otherwise stylish side. However, it would seem that he has forged an understanding with Van Dijk at the back that gives the Reds their steadiest basis.

Gomez has a higher ceiling than Matip. Indeed, the young England international will most likely surpass the German at one point or another. But with Liverpool currently embarking on their most significant league season in a generation, Klopp doesn’t have time for much experimentation and Matip is his second best central defender.

Much has been made of the way Van Dijk has steadied the Liverpool defence and those around him since his arrival from Southampton 18 months ago. But on the basis of what happened on Wednesday night in the Champions League, Matip has a similar sort of calming effect on his team and on Van Dijk. Their partnership has become a mutually beneficial one and the Reds need the German back from injury as soon as possible.

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Alisson injury has underlined Liverpool’s strength under Jurgen Klopp

When Alisson Becker was withdrawn through injury midway through Liverpool’s opening game of the Premier League season against Norwich City a sense of dread set in around Anfield. The Brazilian goalkeeper was key to the Reds’ success the season before, providing a sense of stability that had been so desperately lacking before his arrival. Everyone remembers Loris Karius’ performance in the 2018 Champions League final.

Indeed, Alisson’s early season injury was seen as a big blow to Liverpool and their chances of winning a first Premier League title. Adrian was thrown into the first team just weeks after he was signed as a free agent during the summer and there were some initial signs of shakiness from the deputy. Since then, however, the dread has ebbed away.

Liverpool have barely missed Alisson. The Brazilian might have helped his team to one or two more clean sheets, particularly in the Champions League group stage defeat suffered away to Napoli, but the Anfield side currently sit top of the Premier League table, five points clear of defending champions Manchester City, with six wins from their opening six fixtures.

Alisson could make a return to first team action this weekend with Jurgen Klopp’s side taking on Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon. However, in his absence Liverpool’s strength was underlined. While Man City have struggled without Aymeric Laporte, with the Frenchman ruled out for five to six months through injury, Liverpool absorbed the injury to their starting goalkeeper.

Liverpool’s depth has been questioned. It’s true that City have greater options from front to back, left to right. Pep Guardiola has the likes of Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden in reserve, Klopp has players of a lower calibre. But it might just be the case that Klopp’s philosophy as a coach and the way it keeps his team playing in the same manner no matter who is on the pitch is sustaining them.

City over the past two seasons set a new precedent at the top of the Premier League table. Guardiola’s side might well be the best team in the division’s history. But Liverpool have started extremely strongly and it’s difficult to envisage where they might stumble. While many feared that Alisson’s injury would expose any weaknesses they had, it actually served only to highlight and demonstrate just how strong they are.

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More Premier League action coming up? Check out our match previews here!

Round seven of the English Premier League season takes place this weekend.

Here’s a look at all the upcoming fixtures this weekend.

Sheffield United v Liverpool

Key men: John Egan (Sheffield United); Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

Prediction: Sheffield United 0 – 2 Liverpool Continue reading

Liverpool can’t get comfy… they have defensive problems too

Five games played, five points clear at the top of the table… Jurgen Klopp must be privately smug about Liverpool’s start to the 2019/20 Premier League season. The German must have watched with a trademark Cheshire Cat grin painted across his face as defending champions Manchester City suffered a shock loss in East Anglia last weekend.

However, that grin might have been wiped away by what Liverpool suffered themselves in Italy on Tuesday night, with Napoli exposing the defensive vulnerabilities of Klopp’s team to claim a 2-0 victory on opening night of the new Champions League campaign.

In isolation, the defeat to Napoli is nothing to worry too much about. Carlo Ancelotti’s team also beat Liverpool in the Champions League group stages last season and it didn’t stop the Reds from going on to win a sixth European crown. But the result and performance must serve as a warning to Klopp and his players.

Indeed, Liverpool can’t afford to get comfy in their current position. They might have won their opening five Premier League fixtures, but there have been signs in their performances over the past few weeks that defensive vulnerabilities are starting to creep into their game. The lapses made against Napoli didn’t come completely out of the blue.

Norwich City troubled Liverpool on opening night of the 2019/20 Premier League before they toppled Man City a month later. The 4-1 scoreline somewhat flattened the Anfield side. Southampton also gave Liverpool something to think about and perhaps should have taken points off last season’s Premier League runners up. Even Newcastle United manager to take the lead against the Reds on Saturday before eventually succumbing to defeat. They could have scored a second as well.

For all that Liverpool’s attacking potency makes them the team they are, it was their defensive record that last season provided a basis for a challenge both in the Premier League and Champions League. Virgil Van Dijk has made a profound impact since arriving at Anfield from Southampton 18 months ago.

But cracks are starting to appear in that basis. So far, Liverpool have been able to absorb this, as demonstrated by their current position at the top of the Premier League table. But Klopp must recognise the recent shortcomings of his team, what the defeat to Napoli signified and how Man City’s troubles could also afflict them.

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Liverpool and Chelsea are shot down in Champions League openers

The Champions League is back and the premier competition in European football wasn’t without its surprises.

First Liverpool, and the current European champions were beaten 2-0 by Italians Napoli, signalling a poor start from Jurgen Klopp’s team in their title defence. The biggest worry for Klopp will be that his side always looked second best and credit to Napoli who played brillantly and made the unstoppable looking Reds side look very normal in this competition.

Still write Liverpool off at your peril, everyone knows how strong they are at Anfield and with the likes of Red Bull Salzburg and Genk in their group they should be more than fine. However notice needs to be given to Salzburg who smashed Genk 6-2. They had scored five of those goals in the first half. Also Napoli do not travel historically well and so this group is still obtainable for Liverpool.

The more disappointing result of the night for English teams would have been Chelsea, who at Stamford Bridge, lost 1-0 to Valencia. In years gone by this type of fixture would have been won a canter for the Blues, and problems still persist with the club with Frank Lampard in charge. They are playing some good football of course but not getting the results desired.

Chelsea could face an uphill struggle now with the likes of Ajax and Lille also in their group. Ajax who so impressed last season beat Lille 3-0 even though they have lost the core of what made them a great side, it is clear that their objectives will be to at least get to the knockout rounds.

Barcelona drew against Borussia Dortmund with the final score ending 0-0, but Barca will be more than happy with that at a very difficult ground. This is multiplied when we consider that ter Stegen saved a penalty from Dortmund and that Lionel Messi finally returned this season. The Argentine came off the bench in the 2nd half and Barcelona will be very happy about this development with La Liga looming at the weekend.

Inter Milan were very lucky to draw 1-1 with Slavia Prague. A last minute injury time goal by Nicolo Barella sealed a point at San Siro, a defeat would have been a big shock for the Italians.

Whilst it is just the first games of the competition there is a feeling that this edition could be wide open. Could a non big traditional team win it? The last one to do so was arguably Porto in 2004, still one has to remember that they one of the biggest teams in Portugal and had won the competition before in 1987. Another club that won it and shocked was Borussia Dortmund back in 1997. Maybe 2020 could see a change from the usual teams getting to the final and winning it?

Simon Mignolet’s comments underline importance of Liverpool’s next investment

There are few facilities in English football as historic as Melwood. It was on the pitches of Liverpool’s training ground that the great Bill Shankly introduced and refined the ‘pass and move, keep it simple’ philosophy that came to define his legend at the club.

It was here that Gerard Houllier set about bringing Liverpool into the 21st century, where Rafael Benitez persuaded Fernando Torres to make the move to Merseyside from Spain after showing him all the depictions of history on the walls and where Jurgen Klopp has educated his players over the past few years.

But Melwood has fallen behind the standards expected of a Premier League training ground over the past decade or so. Compare the facilities there to what Manchester City have at the Etihad Campus or what Tottenham have at Spurs Lodge. It’s no longer at the cutting edge of the sport.

Simon Mignolet was quick to outline this when talking about how the facilities of his new club Club Brugge measure up. “This is better than Melwood, the training ground of Liverpool, better than that of Sunderland and the training complex of the Red Devils in Tubize,” he said. “There is really nothing missing here.

“If you are present somewhere every day as a player, the defects quickly come to light. In Liverpool there was no swimming pool, in Sunderland, for example, no hotel rooms. Everything is there to get better as a player.”

Of course, Liverpool know this. They are currently in the process of leaving Melwood, with a new £50 million training ground under construction in Kirby. Mignolet’s comments underline just how important this investment will be for the club, further accelerating their growth and development over the past few years.

The new training facility will help Liverpool attract an even higher calibre of player in the transfer market and should, in theory, aid their development of young players through their academy, although City’s sprawling Etihad Campus hasn’t exactly forged a route into the first team for their youngsters.

Under FSG, almost every area of Liverpool has been modernised. There will therefore be certain symbolism to the opening of the new training ground in Kirby when it is finished. It represents one of the final big investments left for them to make in the club. But in the end, the money spent on these facilities should at some point have an impact on the pitch.

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