Are Liverpool right to be angry with Jordan Pickford and Richarlison after fiery Everton clash?

Liverpool were furious after their derby clash with Everton at the weekend as the Toffeemen seemed to dish it out on Liverpool’s players as the two teams drew 2-2. But should Liverpool hold resentment for what happened and are they justified? If so should Everton be reprimanded and face any FA action?

It all started when a high ball was contested by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk who had come surging forward looking for the loose ball. Pickford went into van Dijk who went down in pain and tried to continue but couldn’t. There were screams for a penalty since the incident happened in the area but that was rendered obsolete given that van Dijk had been offside. But should Pickford have been punished for his challenge?

Though thoughtless and controversial Pickford was looking up at the high ball and not at Van Dijk and that is why despite the outcome it would have been harsh to have sent off Pickford which would have been the initial reaction- but the officials decided to do nothing and again that feels wrong. There didn’t seem to be any intent but to have let off Pickford completely didn’t make any sense. The player should have been booked and talked too. After all it was a reckless challenge. Even after the game the FA did want to review the incident but couldn’t because their own rules state that if the referee didn’t bring it up during the game then there is nothing that can be done.

Sadly for Van Dijk he has damaged his knee and cruciate ligaments and could miss the rest of the season which would be a huge blow to Liverpool. Though the best case scenario is that the player could be back as early as February. Still what  a miss for the champions.

Whilst the Pickford incident grabbed all of the headlines perhaps it should have been Richarlison’s tackle on Liverpool’s new signing Thiago Alcantara later in the game that did. It was a badly mistimed moment from the Brazilian which saw his studs slam straight into Thiago’s shin and could have meant the end of the ex Bayern Munich players season. It was that bad. Gladly justice was served on this occasion and Richarlison was shown a straight red card, he will miss the next 3 games which will be a blow for Everton and he has let his team mates down.

The good news for Thiago is that he has escaped serious injury, and officially has a knock and will be assessed for the clubs up coming games, for him he somehow escaped serious injury.

But the fall out of what has happened looks like it will linger for much of the season. Whilst both clubs do have a rivalry it seems to be much more intense this season given how well Everton have started the season, and after this game they remain top of the league. It also seems that the blue half of Merseyside are not exactly happy that Liverpool are finally champions after having to wait 30 years and herein lies Everton’s response; to start this season as well as they can, and it certainly is the clubs best start to a season in a generation.

There is a determination for the club to make an impact and they are fed up of being in Liverpool’s shadow and seeing the red half of the city not only win the league but also last year’s Champions League. Enough is enough, and we saw that Everton are trying their best to compete with Liverpool on the field. How many times for example would we have seen the club crumble when going a goal behind and so early on against their neighbours? And Everton came back twice to do that.

The downside to Everton though is their aggression. Of course derby games have always had that added spice and passion but there is also a line that shouldn’t be broken. No players should be missing of the season because adrenalin is running high and because of that Liverpool do have a point in being angry with Everton and the fires do seem to have been stoked.

Liverpool will not remain quiet about what has happened at the weekend and that is fair enough. But football isn’t just a physical game but a psychological one and the Reds wil keep up their fury until the teams meet again later in the season. By going all out that they were the victims in the first game they may end up getting the sympathy vote in the second if Everton step out of line.

As it stands Everton got away it when you also include that Liverpool appeared to have scored a winning goal and yet it was ruled offside. That just rubbed the salt into Liverpool’s wounds some more.

Roll on when the clubs meet again, it should be very interesting indeed.

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Premier League Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 1

The new English Premier League season kicked off last weekend with defending champions Liverpool starting in a 4-3 thriller over newly-promoted Leeds United. The weekend started with Manchester City and Manchester United, who were given an extra week’s rest due to their involvement in European campaigns abroad last month.

With eight games played here’s a look at the players who made a real difference over the weekend. Did you have them in your team? Do you have them this weekend maybe?

Goalkeeper: Vicente Guaita (Crystal Palace) – 7pts
Six goalkeepers started the new season with a clean sheet and one of the biggest surprises was Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win at home to Southampton. Vicente Guaita made a couple of important stages towards the end to maintain his shut out and three points for Roy Hodgson’s side.

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Liverpool are Premier League champions but who were their best players this season?

Finally after 30 years Liverpool are the champions of England after Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 last night. It meant that City could no longer catch Liverpool. Of course in reality with such a huge lead in the league it was always going to be a matter of time before Liverpool won the title, but the joy has been immense in and around the city of Liverpool.

The players and manager Jurgen Klopp have been stunned and emotional and who could blame them after the club have had to wait so long to see a league title. So far Liverpool have lost just 1 game this season and one game in the last 18 months in the league. It has been simply incredible and they could still beat Manchester City’s record haul of 100 points also.

As it stands Liverpool are the World, European and domestic champions, and not even Covid-19 which threatened to ruin their title run in could stop them. Congratulations to Liverpool and with Klopp as manager one could think that this could be the beginning of a dominating era for the club.

But who has stood out for them this season? Who has made that all important difference? Below we look at the 5 best players according to euro fantasy league’s rankings:

5) Andrew Robertson 80pts

Robertson is probably seen as the unsung hero, but he has been superb in defence for the last two seasons now and is indispensable for the club. He has been a part of a team that has kept 13 clean sheets and he has also assisted in 8 goals.

4) Virgil van Dijk 83pts

One of the truly best defenders in the world and only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo stopped him from capturing the best player awards. Confident, commanding he is like a rock and has really rose to his challenge in the back four. He has been involved in 5 goals and has helped keep 14 clean sheets. A towering presence.

3) Sadio Mane 94pts

Sadio Mane is a perfect example of a player that just gets better and better with every passing season. He is so competitive and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Not only has he scored 15 goals this season but has also assisted in another 7. A growing legend at the club.

2) Trent Alexander-Arnold 98pts

Proven to be perhaps the best defender this season for Liverpool, Still so young his best years are in front of him and yet he is a champion everywhere. He has kept 14 clean sheets and assisted in an incredible 12 goals- the most of any Liverpool player so far this season.

1) Mohamed Salah 107pts

Out in front is the Egyptian international. If some players are said to get better like a fine wine, then Salah is like the most expensive and elegant Champagne on the market. The striker is full of speed and his goals are simply magnificent, a world class player who has gotten better under Klopp. He has scored 17 goals this season and assisted in 7. That means he has been involved in 24 league goals for Liverpool from the 70 they have scored. That works out at almost a 35% contribution. Impressive.

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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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Football turns back time as Lionel Messi wins The Best Fifa Award

Lionel Messi has won ‘The Best’ Fifa award ahead of Virgil van dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo and it feels as though the clock has been turned back.

This isn’t to say that Messi didn’t deserve it, because technically he is far and away the best player in the world, but it had been a few years since Messi had picked up any type of best footballer award and it will be very welcome to him that he has been recognised once more.

Messi was brilliant in the league as usual as Barcelona won another title and in all competitions he scored over 50 goals, which for his age and consistency is just simply breathtaking.

There would be disappointments for him of course. Namely the Champions League where it was clear that Barcelona threw away the chance to win it. Having a superb run into the semi final 2nd leg and leading Liverpool 3-0, they disintegrated at Anfield and lost 4-0 to lose 4-3 on aggregate. Had they kept their shape and nerve surely they would have beaten Tottenham in the final?

In the Copa del Rey, Barcelona were shocked and beaten in the final and the Copa America ended yet again in misery for him. But Messi for the first time in a few years has been recognised for his consistency in the past season, and that should be applauded.

Liverpool’s Virgil van dijk might feel aggreived along with betting punters as he was 1/5 to win the award, and his name did seem on it. Van dijk was instrumental in Liverpool’s Champions League win and the club came 2nd with 97 points in the Premier League too Manchester City. He had a wonderful season no doubt.

Missing from the gala event in Italy was Cristiano Ronaldo and given that he now plays in the country one has to wonder if information slipped out to the Juventus hit man that he wasn’t going to win the award, and so stayed away. If so this should be a story given that betting is permitted on the event, but it will probably go mostly unnoticed.

Ronaldo would have felt upset and after winning the league with Juventus and the UEFA Nations League with Portugal he might just have a point. Are UEFA declaring that the Nations League isn’t really that important after all? If it had been the Euro’s surely that would have been enough for Ronaldo to win the award.

What can be agreed at the end of the day is that the whittled down nominees are all great players and deserved to win, there can only be one and as good as he is maybe Messi’s victory has come as a surprise to some.

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Virgil van dijk is the favourite to win world player of the year- but does he deserve it?

The FIFA world player of the year now known as the childish title of ‘The Best’ has been announced. The nominated players have been whittled down to 3 players, 2 attackers and one defender. Liverpool’s Virgil van dijk is the favourite to scoop the award and he will have to fend off competition from the usual suspects in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but who out of the three of them deserve the award, and does van dijk deserve it overall anyway?

Messi and Ronaldo seem to have won the award more than me and you have had hot dinners. This year was partly successful for both. Messi won the league with Barcelona and scored 36 goals in the league, his 4th best record and 51 goals in all competitions. He had some wonderful memorable games both in the league and the Champions League, but ultimately Barca came undone, their fall from grace against Liverpool will live in the memory for some time, 3-0 up in the first leg they went to Anfield and lost 4-0. All of this plays against Messi’s greatness, and it’s fair to say that even though he is the best player in the world techincally, in 2019 this wasn’t his best year.

Ronaldo made the switch to Serie A to play for Juventus and the old lady as they are known romped home to an 8th Italian title in a row. Ronado helped that cause and was a major factor. He scored 21 goals in the league, which was good for Italy but still his lowest league total in 10 years. He boosted his chances of winning this competition when Portugal won the first ever UEFA Nations League beating the Netherlands in the final. But there would still be disappointment as Juventus mainly brought in Ronaldo to win their first Champions League since 1996, he was not able to achieve that as Juventus were knocked out in the quarter finals against a young Ajax side.

And now to Virgil van dijk who was utterly brilliant for Liverpool last season, not only did he defend in a world class manner he also knew how to pop up and score the odd goal too. Liverpool won the Champions League and came 2nd in the league, only by 1 point as 97 points and losing just 1 game all season was not good enough to beat Manchester City in a quite epic battle.

Liverpool conceded just 22 goals in the league last season which was the best defensive record in the top tier. Out of the 3 players chosen for the award it seems clear that van dijk deserves it, just over Ronaldo. But let’s look more into this, and wonder if FIFA have got the top 3 players chosen wrong and why is van dijk being chosen out of the Liverpool’s other defenders?

When we look at the Fantasy statistics from last season, the three chosen should have been Lionel Messi, Dusan Tadic and Mohamed Salah, with Messi winning. Although one must remember that these points are based on league form only. Virgil van dijk on league form only would have finished in 13th place. Though it should be noted he was No.1. in the category of defenders.

van dijk finished with 119 points whilst his team mate and defender Andrew Robertson finished with 118 points, and yet both had 21 clean sheets and Robertson had an incredible 11 assists to van dijk’s 2, although van dijk garnered a lot of points from scoring 4 goals. Still the case for Robertson to be included as one of the nominee’s in player of the year is strong, and one can wonder with all validity why he wasn’t.

We could go one better and wonder why Liverpool goal keeper Alisson wasn’t included. He got more points than van dijk last season and was surely instrumental in Liverpool’s fantastic league run and Champions League win. Given it was his debut season with the Reds he was superb and kept 21 clean sheets. Does he get punished because he didn’t score enough goals? That sounds as silly as it seems.

Anyway van dijk has been chosen to represent the Liverpool team and he probably does deserve the award. He has been more consistent and will be a top player for a good 5-6 years yet. Even Messi and Ronaldo won’t be able to stop him winning the award this year.

 

Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker picked up another Premier League winner’s medal when his side held off the challenge of Liverpool to win the title by one point back in May.

Walker was also the fourth-highest scoring defender in EPL fantasy football for the season with 89 points from his 33 appearances (30 starts).

Aymeric Laporte was the only City defender ahead of Walker. Laporte earned 100 points in 2018/19.

Liverpool’s trio of Virgil van Dijk (119 points), Andrew Robertson (118) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (102) were first, second, and third respectively. Continue reading

Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Aymeric Laporte

Aymeric Laporte

Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte was the highest-scoring non-Liverpool defender in fantasy EPL last season.

The 25-year-old French centre-back joined Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team in January 2018 for €65 million from LaLiga’s Athletic Bilbao.

Since then, he has gone on to be recognised as one of the best defenders in the English Premier League with his consistent performances at the heart of the City backline.

At just 6.5 million, Laporte was a bargain for EPL fantasy managers last season. After impressing so well, his price is likely to increase before the 2019/20 campaign gets underway. Continue reading

Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Hard as it may be to believe, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold (TAA) is still only 20-years-old.

The right-back has already played in two Champions League finals, a World Cup, and been involved in an epic Premier League title race.

TAA was the third-highest scoring defender in 2018/19′s fantasy EPL game, just behind his Reds teammates – Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson.

He managed to accumulate 102 EPL fantasy football points from just 27 starts and two substitute appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side. Continue reading

The case for Virgil van Dijk to win the Ballon D’or

Van Dijk Liverpool Ballon D'or

Such has been the dominance enjoyed by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon D’Or over the past decade, the notion that any player other than the two could win it is often scoffed at. Virgil van Dijk, however, is not receiving such treatment.

Fresh from Champions League glory, the Dutchman finds himself at the front of an altogether different competition. Van Dijk is currently the bookmakers favourite to win the Ballon d’Or. He’s ahead of the aforementioned Messi and Ronaldo, as well as Kylian Mbappe, Liverpool teammates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and Raheem Sterling.

In fact, he’s the only defender on the list with odds shorter than 100/1, with Marcelo and Diego Godin the next on the list. Continue reading