Liverpool can now win the Premier League without kicking a ball as they destroy Crystal Palace

Liverpool’s latest emphatic win, a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace was the club’s 56th unbeaten game at home in what has been an incredible 18 months for the club. In that time they have lost just once in the league, won the Champions League and are now going for the Premier League title, a trophy they have not won since 1990.

Goals from Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Sadio Mane and the unlikely opener by defender Trent Alexander-Arnold set the tone of the game. Indeed it was 2-0 to the Reds going in at half time.

It was a great response by the champions-elect who put in a lacklustre performance against city rivals Everton on Sunday when the two teams could only draw 0-0 in a drab game for everyone involved. But the victory over Palace and the way it was achieved would have been welcomed by manager Jurgen Klopp. Klopp would rightly be concerned about getting the right results giving that there are no fans present, and the fact that the Kop fans really are like the twelfth man on match days.

Palace have come to Anfield in the past and been the thorn in the side of Liverpool, and indeed they were the last team to beat Liverpool at Anfield in the league, so Klopp would have been aware of that. Of course no one is suggesting that Liverpool could lose the title being 20 points clear, which is now 23 but this is about getting it wrapped up as soon as possible. No one at the club wants this one to drag.

So how it stands now is that by tonight Liverpool could be the champions of England for the first time since 1990. The reason is Manchester City, the current champions are playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. If City lose or even draw then that’s it the title is Liverpool’s. City need to win to have a stay of execution. But winning at Chelsea and with the way the club have been playing is going to be easier said than done.

If City do beat Chelsea it would be a great result for them and they have started the restarted season so well, scoring 8 goals and conceding 0 in their opening two games. It would also be a blow to the Blues as Manchester United are chasing them for that last Champions League place.

A Manchester City win would also mean a mouth watering game next week because it would be Manchester City against Liverpool. The Reds could seal the title at the champions, and that would be very interesting indeed.

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Why would Mohamed Salah want to leave Liverpool?

There was a time not so long ago when Liverpool couldn’t keep their best players when the big clubs, namely the two Spanish giants, came calling. It happened when Barcelona came calling for Luis Suarez and again when they identified Philippe Coutinho as their top target last January. It even happened as long ago as the early 2000s when Michael Owen was lured to Real Madrid.

A lot has changed since then. Liverpool are European champions after winning their sixth Champions League title earlier this month. Not for decades have things been so bright at Anfield, with Jurgen Klopp taking the Reds back to the top of the sport after a long, long time in the wilderness.

Mohamed Salah

And yet there are still reports that Mohamed Salah, Liverpool’s best player and top goalscorer, is planning a move to Real Madrid, not this summer but the next. The Egyptian is currently under contract until 2023 only signing a new deal with the Anfield club last summer. Liverpool don’t need to sell him.

These reports that Liverpool chiefs have been made aware of Salah’s intentions and are making plans to try and persuade the forward to stay for the long term. But why would he want to leave in the first place? Are Real Madrid really a more attractive proposition than Real Madrid are right now?

The Spanish capital will always be attractive to elite level football players, but Klopp has built something special at Liverpool. They will be at the top of the English and European game for years to come and what’s more, despite their Champions League win this season there is still a sense of unfinished business after their failure to clinch a first ever Premier League title.

Salah is a central part of what Klopp has built. Would he be as integral to things at Real Madrid? Players, even superstars like the Egyptian, are treated as disposal at the Santiago Bernabeu. Just ask Gareth Bale about how difficult it is to satisfy the notoriously difficult Madrid fanbase and media.

Real Madrid isn’t even necessarily a place where Salah would clean up in terms of silverware. They have won just two league titles in the past 11 years compared to the eight Barcelona have swept in the same timeframe. While Liverpool got their hands on the biggest trophy in club football this season, Real Madrid ended up with nothing.

Football moves in cycles and right now Liverpool are at the very least on an equal footing to Real Madrid in the food chain. Not so long ago, Salah’s desire to move to Spain would have been understandable. No longer, though.

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Which Premier League star will win World Player of the Year next?

Kevin De Bruyne

The Premier League is considered to be the best domestic league in the world, so it’s alarming that only two players from England’s top flight have won one of football’s most prestigious individual awards since the league’s inception in 1992.

In 2001, Michael Owen was rewarded for his part in Liverpool’s five cup triumphs, plus his hat-trick in England’s 5-1 win over Germany in a 2002 World Cup qualifier, with that year’s Ballon d’Or.

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EPL Fantasy Predictions: Matchweek 5

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Tottenham vs Liverpool Wembley Stadium

This lunchtime kickoff is one you won’t want to miss. While Spurs slipped up against  surprisingly imperious Watford,  Liverpool remained stalwart at the King Power. These kinds of tests away from home prove championship quality, and we think Klopp and the reds are at that level. Salah was Liverpool’s sole scorer against Spurs last season, and this may be a good time to jump on the wagon.

Bournemouth vs Leicester – Vitality Stadium

Two teams commanded by two impressive managers who know how to get results in the Premier League. Chelsea gave nothing away to Bournemouth when the Cherries visited Stamford Bridge before the international break, but we are picking Howe’s men to beat the Foxes who looked uncoordinated in the attack against Liverpool without Jamie Vardy.

Chelsea vs Cardiff – Stamford Bridge

If I were a fantasy Premier League manager I’d be jumping out of my seat to bring in a couple of Sarri’s forwards in for this one-sided looking clash at the Bridge. Pedro is in a good run of scoring form, while Hazard netted for Belgium against Scotland during the break.

Huddersfield vs Crystal Palace – John Smith’s Stadium

Huddersfield did very well to get a point at Goodison Park last matchweek, but Crystal Palace will know they absolutely need to start picking up points sooner or later. We are looking at the height of Crystal Palace to make the difference and snatch a draw from a set piece.

Manchester City vs Fulham – Etihad Stadium

If you’re asking us to pick Fulham over the champions, it’s a real shout. But Wolves held the stellar Citizens attack at bay earlier in the season, and Fulham have shown more in an attacking sense. – especially with Mitrovic’s double for Serbia over the break. We are still going with Pep, singling out Mr. Aguero to continue his good run of form.

Newcastle vs Arsenal – Saint James’ Park

With defense proving as optional as ever under Emery’s brief tenure, Newcastle will feel they could really upset the oddsmakers when the Gunners visit Tyneside. Solomon Rondon will by drooling at the chance to have the home crowd behind him as he runs at the shaky pairing of Mustafi and Sokratis.

Watford vs Manchester United – Vicarage Road

We like Holebas and Pereyra in this one, but goals are coming from everywhere amongst the Watford ranks these days. United meanwhile have had to rely thoroughly on Lukaku. The big Belgian has only 16 in 68 games against the top six, and since Watford have already beaten a top six club, we feel this will be a draw, with Mourinho shutting up shop as he is want to do away from home.

Wolves vs Burnley – Molineux

Nunu Espirito Santo is doing his best to make Molineux a fortress in his first EPL season, and we think this is a good opportunity to nab some clean sheet points from the Wolves defense and GK as Burnley are tied for the second fewest goals scored.

Everton vs West Ham – Goodison Park

Away at Everton will be a difficult place for Manuel Pellegrini to try and affect some positive change around the Irons dressing room, so we are going with Everton and backing Theo Walcott to make the difference.

Southampton vs Brighton – Saint Mary’s Stadium

We like Southampton in this South Coast clash, with Danny Ings looking particularly good for his price. He’s already scored with the Saints this season, even after such an enormous spell out with knee injuries at Liverpool.
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Did politics play its part when Modric beat Ronaldo to UEFA player of the year?

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Congratulations to Real Madrid and Croatian player Luka Modric who won the UEFA player of the year, an award now in its 8th year. Modric beat off competition from Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mohamed Saleh who were also shortlisted for the annual prize which took place in Monaco in between the Champions League draw.

Modric can now add this player award to the one he achieved at this summers World Cup in Russia where he was named player of the tournament despite Croatia finishing up as runners-up.

The UEFA player of the year is based on how a player has played in every competition of last season for club and also country, based on trophies Modric of course helped Real Madrid to a 3rd straight Champions League and also was the star of the show in Croatia reaching an unlikely World Cup final. In truth UEFA have awarded a player that the public knew was one of the best in the world several years ago. However it is still wonderful for a player that has had to battle hard to get to where he is now, and is finally being recognised as a world class player as he reaches the twilight of his career.

Having said the above what about Ronaldo, the all conquering Portuguese star that seemingly goes from strength to strength? Was he not fitting of the award once the short list had been named? Ronaldo has previously won the UEFA award a record 3 times and he was tipped as the favourite to collect his fourth trophy. But collect it he couldn’t even if he had won, because, well, Ronaldo did not turn up to the gala event. In doing so one wonders if politics played its part and UEFA wanted their winning player to be present at the awards rather than from a video stream.

When Modric was announced as the winner, Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes said “The game is played inside the four lines and that’s where Cristiano Ronaldo has won. He has scored 15 goals, carrying Real Madrid on his back and winning the Champions League once again.” It is hard to argue with Mendes even if he is going to be predictably biased in his opinion. Ronaldo did score so many goals in the Champions League that he was top scorer last season.

Alas UEFA will claim that Modric had the better World Cup with national team performances being considered. However if that is the case then why was Liverpool’s Saleh short listed when his national team Egypt exited the World Cup at the group stage, despite his superb season for Liverpool on a personal level? We could go one step further and wonder why France’s Kylian Mbappe did not win the award. The forward won a domestic treble with PSG followed by winning the World Cup and scoring in the final.

Quite simply there doesn’t seem to be much consistency in these awards votes. It will be interesting to see if Modric can go one better and win the FIFA World Player of the Year in December, a trophy that has only been won by Ronaldo and Lionel Messi since 2008. If consistency persists Modric should win, if the old guard keeps its way then Ronaldo will get the last laugh. However again it would be a shame if Mbappe even if he is only 19 years old does not get a look in.

 

Why Klopp could rue refusal to replace Coutinho come the end of the season

Liverpool’s surprise defeat to Swansea City on Monday night has, for the first time, exemplified that life without the playmaking exploits of Brazilian international Philippe Coutinho may not be plain sailing for the Merseysiders.

Liverpool v Swansea City - Premier League

Although Klopp still has possession of a number of top names for the forward positions, it is difficult to point to one that has the specific skillset of the little magician during the build-up of attacking movements – especially his consistency when it comes to creating goal scoring opportunities for either himself or his team mates.

Whilst Mo Salah has contributed 18 goals and six assists on his way to 100 points thus far across the season, the loss of such a talented player during a pivotal period of the season represents a significant blow for the side – especially with their rivals either retaining or quickly replacing their star performers. Continue reading