Hello and welcome to the Liverpool ECHO's Monday live Reds blog for all your very latest Liverpool news, rumours and transfer gossip during the January window.
We will be bringing you speculation on Kylian Mbappe and others, plus more reaction to the win over Spurs.
Chief Liverpool writer Ian Doyle and correspondent Paul Gorst are also on hand to provide live updates from each of Jurgen Klopp's Premier League and Champions League press conferences - as well as team news, commentary and analysis from every game home and away.
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Reds backed to go ton up
Having won 20 of their 21 games in the Premier League this season, Sporting Index predict Liverpool will match Manchester City’s record league points haul on their way to winning their first Premier League title.
They expect Jurgen Klopp’s runaway leaders to accrue 100 points this season, the joint-highest in Premier League history, and in doing so surpassing the club’s record of 97 points, which they achieved last term.
Sporting Index expect a landslide title victory, with the Reds predicted to be crowned league champions for the first time in 30 years by a staggering 15-point margin, just shy of the record-winning gap of 19 which was set by City in 2017-18.
Neville Burdock, head of trading at Sporting Index, said:
“There is a sense of invincibility around Liverpool in the Premier League at the moment and their 14-point gap at the top shows how dominant they’ve been domestically so far this season.
“They are breaking records left, right and centre and while we don’t expect them to surpass the Premier League points record, we think they’ll match the 100 points Manchester City achieved in 2017-18.”
Kompany sends warning to Liverpool and explains City's problem in title race
Vincent Kompany has claimed that his former side Manchester City are still in the Premier League title race, despite trailing leaders Liverpool by 14 points.
The Belgian, speaking at the Football Writers’ Association tribute night, said:
“I never say it’s over with City [Premier League title race]. It’s impossible to say.
“But it is not in the hands of Manchester City and that’s unfortunate but there is so many things to look forward to.”
Why former Red Babel has joined Ajax for the third time
Ajax completed the loan signing of Galatasaray’s former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel over the weekend.
Squawka look at why the Amsterdam club might have gone in for the 33-year-old again as he starts his third stint with the Eredivisie side.
Ajax struggled after losing both wingers David Neres and Quincy Promes to respective injuries towards the end of 2019.
They saw their championship lead reduced from six points to none before going back up to three points ahead of the league’s resumption this weekend.
Zakaria Labyad, who stepped up in their absence, is now firmly in the physio room, leaving boss Ten Hag demanding ample cover on the flanks which Babel certainly provides.
He’s not expected to march into Ajax’s starting line-up as both Neres and Promes are available for selection, but if they were to endure a similar crisis on the wings then Ten Hag can be more confident a slump – such as that which they previously experienced – can be prevented.
Alisson on why Firmino offers much more than goals
Roberto Firmino’s goal secured Liverpool’s 20th win in 21 Premier League games on Saturday evening at Tottenham Hotspur, the corresponding fixture in which he suffered his nasty eye injury last season.
However, his fellow Brazil international Alisson, points out that there’s much more to his compatriot’s play for the Reds than goals alone.
He told liverpoolfc.com:
“Bobby is one of the most important players in our team – and we have a lot. I think everybody is important but Bobby not only scores when we need him, he makes the team play, he drops to play from behind.
“This is a good thing and it is something that he likes to do, he likes to help, and I’m really happy that he scored because a striker needs to score to stay confident and he is helping us with the goals.”
Souness' Aguero claim with Reds
Interesting how Liverpool keep on winning but we also keep hearing about all these players at other clubs who would supposedly get into their team.
Perhaps less controversial than the Jack Grealish shout earlier but former Reds captain and manager Graeme Souness reckons that Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero would break up Jurgen Klopp’s fabled front three if he ever came to Anfield.
After watching the Argentinian bag a hat-trick in City’s 6-1 romp at Aston Villa, Souness told Sky Sports:
“Who would not take him? Real Madrid would, Barcelona would. You’re thinking Liverpool would, he’d get in that front three as well.
“I don’t think there is any team in the world he would not get in.”
No one player has ever transformed a team like Van Dijk has with Reds
That’s the view of former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp.
Writing in the Daily Mail, he said:
The names in that great Liverpool team of 1987-88 roll off the tongue.
John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, John Aldridge, Alan Hansen, Ray Houghton and so on. They went unbeaten in their opening 29 league games and became champions of England.
The Liverpool team of 2019-20 are on their way to clinching that title, too, and their success has been built from the back. They’ve got a safe pair of hands in Alisson, two fearless full backs in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, then at the centre of this operation they’ve got him. Mr Virgil van Dijk. Anyone could play alongside the Dutchman in defence and they’d look good. I’ve never known one player to transform a team the way he has.
In 30 years’ time, his will be one of the first names that rolls off our tongues too.
Tottenham, 30 points. Liverpool, 61, and with a game in hand. To think that, only two years ago, Spurs finished two points ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s side is remarkable.
Tottenham may have the greatest stadium in the world but Liverpool now arguably have the best team in the world.
Grealish would 'walk into' Liverpool's midfield
So says Andy Gray in what sounds like a rather bold claim.
The Scot told beIN SPORTS - via HITC:
“I know he’s a Villa fan, his family are all Villa fans, he loves the club and he loves being captain.
“But Jack’s 24 now and I think there is a decision coming at the end of this season. And I hate to say it, but I don’t think he’ll be there in August.
“If I was a coach of any of the top-six, and I include Liverpool in this, he would make the team better.
“He is, in my opinion, better than any of Liverpool’s midfield players. I think is better than Keita. I think he’s better than Wijnaldum.
“I think he’d get into the City side. He’s much better than Foden. I just think he’s that good. “
Manchester United set to suffer Liverpool transfer blow with Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United’s chances of signing Bruno Fernandes in time for him to make his debut against Liverpool in a crunch Premier League clash this weekend have hit a snag - because Sporting want to keep him for their Lisbon derby against Benfica report the Express.
United’s hopes of getting Fernandes in through the door quickly, and possibly in time to face Liverpool this weekend, have hit a snag.
That’s because transfer insider Duncan Castles, of the Reach PLC Transfer Window Podcast, reports that Sporting are keen to keep their skipper for their visit of neighbours Benfica on Friday night (9.15pm).
That would therefore make it until Saturday at the earliest that United could fly Fernandes to Manchester and have him complete the formalities of a move to the Premier League, with the trip to Liverpool coming just 24 hours later and making it extremely unlikely he would be in the 18-man squad headed to Merseyside.
Van Dijk knew to avert a crisis he'd have to get his shorts dirty
So says Garth Crooks when picking both Virgil van Dijk and Roberto Firmino in his Premier League team of the week for BBC Sport.
“Dele Alli had roasted Joe Gomez and seemed to be bearing down on Liverpool’s goal - but that was to reckon without this Dutch colossus.
“Van Dijk weighs up the situation and realises in order to avert the crisis he is going to have to get his shorts dirty.
“It’s rare for the Netherlands defender to have to go to ground but the situation called for it.
“The tackle was beautifully timed, with the man bun still intact, the shorts slightly ruffled but no lasting damage to the image or brand. Job done. Clean sheet. Liverpool march on.”
Firmino meanwhile found himself picked in central midfield alongside Kevin De Bruyne in a rather cavalier 3-4-3 formation from Crooks.
On the Brazilian he said:
“Spurs deserved something from this match but got nothing, thanks to Roberto Firmino’s Exocet missile.
“If his left is his weaker foot, I can’t imagine how sweetly he strikes the ball with his right.
“The Brazil international usually plays up front but his work-rate and - for such a gifted player - his surprising physicality mean he could handle a midfield role in my team.
“He’s been in hot form since he scored the winner in the Club World Club final and, clearly, so are Liverpool, who look unstoppable at the moment.”
Why Klopp is Reds fearsome driving force
Just over four years ago, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool reign began at Tottenham Hotspur and following their latest visit to the North London club, Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail has lauded the Reds boss, declaring that no team hits this height of physical and mental commitment without a fearsome driving force.
When he arrived in England with his plan for heavy metal football — a phrase he now hates, by the way — it was said it could not be done.
That Klopp’s favoured intensity could work in Germany, with 34 league games, one domestic cup and a defined winter break, but would kill players conforming to an English schedule. His team would, to use Mourinho’s word, collapse; by the end of the season they would hit a wall.
Yet this is an unbeaten league run that has now lasted 38 games — a Premier League campaign. It is the biggest points total after 21 games of any club competing in a major European league at any time in history.
And still no casualties. Still no wall. Maybe it is coming. But the gap at the top might make it an irrelevance, even if it does.
‘I said to the boys today that they looked a little bit too exhausted in this game, but we are humans and humans are weak,’ Klopp admitted. ‘Then, later, we are sat in the dressing room and everybody is still alive and still breathing, so there is still more to come and that is what we ask of ourselves.’
And that is why he is calm. Not complacent, not whistling a happy tune, not lighting cigars and putting his feet on the desk. Just a man who knows his path, his men, and what they are about. He probably knows where it ends, too. That’s a good place to be.
Klopp declared better than Ferguson
After scooping Liverpool’s sixth European Cup last year, Jurgen Klopp is now closing in on his first Premier League title.
Although that would still leave him someway behind Alex Ferguson, who steered the Reds bitter rivals Manchester United to some 13 such crowns, the Kop boss has been ranked ahead of the Old Trafford legend by another former Premier League manager.
Neil Warnock was asked to rank his top five Premier League managers of all-time and in reverse order went for -
5. Jose Mourinho
4. Sir Alex Ferguson
3. Jurgen Klopp
2. Pep Guardiola
1. Arsene Wenger
He told talkSPORT:
“I just think he was in an era where it was man management, it wasn’t all this stuff with the back staff and the back rooms and everything, it was man management - and Alex was probably the best at that.
“I might be completely different to anyone else, but I would pick Arsene Wenger as number one, only because he changed the whole outlook on modern football.
“I think Klopp is just beginning. He will definitely get even better...His outlook and everything that he’s done at the club and its future with the kids and all that, I think he’s got another ten years coming forwards.”
Guardiola admits there are 'many reasons' why City aren't challenging Reds for title
Over the previous two seasons, Manchester City have accumulated a staggering 198 Premier League points.
Of course last term they were nip and tuck with Liverpool for the entire campaign and even a club record 97-point haul from Jurgen Klopp’s side still left them a point shy of an elusive first Premier League crown.
However, as the Reds motor on with now 20 wins from their opening 21 games and seemingly disappear into the sunset when it comes to the chasing pack trying to deny them the title, City have stuttered badly.
Despite returning to form with an emphatic 6-1 win at Aston Villa yesterday, Pep Guardiola, whose team remain 14 points adrift of the leaders, admits there are numerous factors that have left his expensively-assembled squad second best.
Asked if the convincing victory had given him hope of catching Liverpool, he said:
“Forget about it. We would have liked to fight against them but we could not, for many reasons.”
Hello everyone and welcome to Monday’s live blog.
Chris will be checking in soon with the latest updates.
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