Tag Archives: Diogo Jota

Man City vs Liverpool Preview

Champions Liverpool travel to the Etihad on Sunday to take on Manchester City in a mouthwatering test of both sides’ title credentials.

Liverpool currently sit top of the table on sixteen points after last weekend’s hard fought 2-1 victory over West Ham. City meanwhile, are down in 10th with eleven points having played a game less than the Reds, but having already dropped points against Leeds,West Ham and Leicester.

A win for Liverpool against City would see them open up an eight point lead over their rivals and would secure their first win at the Etihad in a domestic game in five years.

Team News

Nat Phillips picked up the man of the match award for his performance on his Premier League debut against the Hammers, but the 23 year old is set to drop down to the bench as Klopp has the experienced Joel Matip available again after injury.

The Cameroon defender has been absent since picking up a knock in last month’s ill-tempered Merseyside derby, but Klopp confirmed in his press conference that Matip had returned to training this week and it is therefore likely he will partner Joe Gomez at centre back.

One man who is still working his way back to fitness after the Everton game is new signing Thiago. He sustained a knee injury in the 2-2 draw after Richarlison’s lunging tackle on him, and although he played the full 90 minutes the Spain international has sat out their past five games.

He was spotted at Melwood this week doing some individual training and Klopp has assured fans that the injury is not a serious one, but he will again be missing for the trip to Manchester, the manager told the media today.

Virgil Van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are longstanding absentees whilst Fabinho is also ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Liverpool warmed up for this weekend’s crunch trip in ideal fashion, thumping Atalanta 5-0 in Bergamo midweek in the Champions League with the man of the moment Diogo Jota netting a hat-trick.

He has now scored seven goals in just ten games in all competitions from Wolves and his performances have given Klopp a selection headache going into Sunday’s game.

On current form, the Portuguese international must start, especially when you consider he has more goals for Liverpool than Roberto Firmino has this year despite plying far less minutes.

The Brazilian has been a key cog in Jurgen Klopp’s front three for the past few seasons but his form at the end of last year and the start of this season has tailed off alarmingly.

He looks a shadow of his former self and given that Liverpool are likely to struggle at the back with the absence of Van Dijk, attack may be the best form of defence for the Reds and the inclusion of Jota adds to their attacking prowess alongside Salah and Mané who are still scoring goals.

Liverpool have responded well since their 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Aston Villa, winning their last five games in all competitions to bolster their quest to regain the Premier League title.

Sunday’s trip provides the sternest challenge yet, with Pep Guardiola’s men dispatching the Reds 4-0 on their last visit to Manchester after the restart. The Citizens are currently on an eight game unbeaten run in all competitions and have defeated Liverpool at the Etihad in each of the last three seasons. They will be hoping to make it four to kickstart their title charge this campaign.

City will be without striker Sergio Agüero for Sunday’s game. The Argentine has been nursing a hamstring issue since the draw with West Ham and has missed last three games. There was hope that he could feature from the bench against the Reds, but the game has come too soon and Guardiola confirmed in his press conference that he will be missing. His full return is expected after the international break.

They are still unable to call upon Fernandinho, who was forced off against Porto in the Champions League opener with a leg injury and Benjamin Mendy who is suffering from a muscle problem. Both players are eyeing up City’s game against Tottenham after the international break for their return.

City also enjoyed a comfortable Champions League win during the week, putting three past Olympiakos without reply. Gabriel Jesus marked his return to action with a goal whilst Phil Foden and Ferran Torres also impressed in that game.

Jesus should come in from the start against Liverpool to give City a focal point up top which they have lacked in his and Augero’s absence. Who he will replace is anyone’s guess given Guardiola’s constant rotation, the most likely candidate being Torres, allowing Sterling to move back out to the wing with Mahrez on the other side.

The City boss is also likely to revert to the back four who started last weekend’s victory over Sheffield United with Laporte, Dias and Cancelo coming in for Ake, Stones and Zinchenko who started midweek and Kyle Walker retaining his place.

Rodri will also be restored to the starting eleven alongside De Bruyne and Gundogan in midfield as the Citizens look to add some steel to thwart Liverpool’s devastating counter attacks. Foden is set to provide a spark from the bench if called upon alongside Bernardo Silva and the aforementioned Torres.

Key Battles

There are a number of intriguing match ups to watch out for in the game. Joao Cancelo up against Mo Salah will be one of them. The Egyptian has started the campaign like a house on fire, clinically scoring seven goals in seven games.

Cancelo, a right back by nature, has found his feet on the left side of Guardiola’s defence this season and has impressed going forward, but he will need to be switched on defensively to cope with Salah’s strength and direct running as well as Alexander-Arnold’s overlaps on the right flank.

Henderson against De Bruyne will see another battle between last year’s two outstanding players in the league. In the absence of Fabinho, captain Henderson has reverted to a deeper lying role and he will be tasked with picking up the Belgian De Bruyne and stop him from spraying passes out wide and from darting late into the box to get on the end of crosses.

Similarly De Bruyne will be keen to prevent Henderson having the time and space to launch Liverpool’s counter attacks when City are in transition.

Another key tussle will be Jesus up against Joe Gomez. The Brazilian starts City’s press from the front and will be alert to pounce on any little mistake from the England defender when attempting to play out from the back.

He’s also very comfortable taking players on one vs one and Gomez will have stand tall and marshal him in these scenarios, avoiding diving in as Jesus will take it past him punish him.

Gomez is one of the quickest centre backs in the league however, so will have no qualms about catching Jesus if he makes a run in behind.

Managers’ View

Guardiola is under no illusion of how difficult a game this will be considering City’s inconsistent start to the season, telling reporters, “ When you play against teams like Liverpool you always have moments where you have to suffer. We know it, we have to do it and try to use our strength as much a possible.”

He played down the notion that the game is season defining, however, comparing the fixture to the race for the Presidency in the USA, stating:

“It is an important game but, like the presidential elections in the USA, all the votes must be counted – there are a lot of points to play for.”

His opposite number Klopp echoed these sentiments, telling the media that Sunday’s game will be:

“The most difficult game in the world of football.

Klopp continued:

“It’s a very difficult game, hopefully for both teams. So many things are different this year, nothing can be compared with last year or the year before. I enjoy these kind of games, I enjoy the preparation, but it doesn’t make it easier, it’s just a really tough task.”

Prediction: Man City 1-2 Liverpool

Given the weaknesses in both back lines it is hard to see either side keeping a clean sheet. Chances are likely to be in abundance on Sunday as a result, and it should be the case of whoever is most clinical will take home all three points.

Liverpool have made a knack of scoring crucial goals and grinding out important wins even if they aren’t playing well, and it seems hard to overlook them edging this one if their front three have their shooting boots on.

City will cause them problems going the other way and Robertson and Alexander-Arnold will have to put in a shift defensively to prevent Sterling and Mahrez from wrecking havoc out wide.

It is sure to be a great game of football and you can watch all the action on Sky Sports with the game kicking off at 4:30 pm.

Who has impressed in the EFL Championship so far?

The latest episode of the writers podcast features writer and Cardiff City fan Martin Townley.

We discuss his opinion on which sides have impressed in the EFL Championship so far as well as what he has made of the start to the Premier League season.

Link to the Writers Podcast below: https://soundcloud.com/adam-stephens-425096853/24-7-football-episode-8

In addition, we are also proud to announce that we have been ranked by Feedspot in their Top 40 UK Football Blogs

TOP FIVE PREMIER LEAGUE TRANSFERS

Following the closure, or ‘slamming’ of the transfer window late on Monday night for Premier League clubs wishing to buy from abroad, the time is nigh to pick the top five transfers from the bizarre summer of 2020.

Many may have expected a curbed spending prior to the window given the financial landscape and without the prospect of full stadiums on the horizon, although top flight clubs still spent in excess of £1 billion – remarkable.

Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur

The Welsh star has returned to the place that first brought him to the attention of the world in Tottenham Hotspur having spent a strange last 18 months in Madrid.

Bale, who is now 31 years old left north London for Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 for a reported £85.3 million fee and enjoy a largely successful spell, including multiple La Liga and Champions League successes. Most of which the athletic forward was an integral part of.

However the last two seasons in particular have seen the Welshman take up a watching brief, perhaps owing to injury and a fallout with the powers that be.

Bale has now resigned for Spurs on loan and despite not playing since his return due to injury, fans across the land will be excited to see the man who was once heralded as amongst the world’s elite playing football again.

Thiago Alcantara – Liverpool

Perhaps the most talked about move of the summer finally came to fruition as defending Premier League champions spent just over £20 million to land their man from Bayern Munich.

The Spaniard has only made one fleeting second half appearance against Chelsea thus far, having since tested positive for Covid-19.

However that 45 minutes and his previous form is enough to convince Reds fans and many others the 29 year old will add plenty of quality to an already packed Liverpool midfield.

The multiple trophy winner has an eye for a pass and dictates plenty of matches and will perhaps provide additional threat to the best team in the land.

James Rodriguez – Everton

Another who hasn’t played a massive amount of football in recent times, however the Columbian forward has certainly hit the ground running in an Everton shirt as the Blues have got off to the perfect start in the Premier League.

The 2012 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot winner has been in dazzling form since his arrival and linking back up with Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Having signed from Real Madrid with plenty of pedigree, the 29 year old has certainly delivered up to now. With sterner tests to come including the Merseyside derby after the international break – Everton fans will be praying long may it continue.

Thomas Partey – Arsenal

A deadline day arrival at the Emirates after the Gunners had toyed with the idea of the move for some weeks.

Eventually Arsenal met the release clause for the midfielder after much conjecture and perhaps looking at other targets including Houssem Aouar and Jorginho from Chelsea.

The 27 year old arrived on a £45 million deal from Atletico Madrid after suffering a disappointing time in the Spanish capital. Partey is a combative midfielder with lots of ability, who impressed across the two legs in the Champions League quarter finals last season against Liverpool.

Arsenal fans will be looking forward to seeing their new man in action after the international break.

Kai Havertz – Chelsea

The biggest monetary move in the window, Chelsea who were extra busy this summer in terms of incomings, confirmed the signing of one of the hottest properties in European football from Bayer Leverkusen.

Havertz signed for a deal rising up to £71 million and has enjoyed a reasonable start to life in the Premier League without setting the world alight.

The Blues, and Frank Lampard will want and perhaps expect more from the 21 year old, but given time it is extremely likely the Germany international will deliver.

Honourable Mentions

Diogo Jota’s move from Wolves to Liverpool adds additional strength in depth for the champions.

Manchester United landed superstar Edison Cavani on a free on the final day of the window, the Uruguayan has lots of experience and has certainly delivered at the top level.

Domestic Opportunities

Whilst the option to sign from foreign clubs has now ended, Premier League clubs can still sign players from within the UK and there are plenty of possibilities.

Said Benrahma of Brentford is perhaps the most likely to make a move to the top flight, with Crystal Palace and plenty of others reportedly interested in the Algerian forward.

Huddersfield Town striker Karlan Grant is another who has attracted top flight interest.

Premier League clubs would be wise to realistically consider Championship players with the likes of Eberchi Eze and Ollie Watkins both making the step up this term, with success.

Aston Villa v Liverpool: preview

Aston Villa face Liverpool late on Sunday at Villa Park in the Premier League with both sides looking to maintain their 100% starts to the league campaign.

Both sides did lose their respective Carabao Cup clashes this week and will be desperate to bounce back with a victory in this one. Villa were eliminated by Championship side Stoke City, whilst Liverpool lost to Arsenal on penalties after a 0-0 draw in 90 minutes.

Aston Villa

The hosts have made a number of signings this summer that seem to be having the desired affect on the squad as Dean Smith’s side have won back to back top-flight matches after maintaining their status by the skin of their teeth last season.

Ollie Watkins and Emi Martinez have both hit the ground running, and have been joined this week by former Everton midfielder Ross Barkley – who has joined on loan from Chelsea for the season.

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s outfit have won all three of their matches so far this term in their pursuit of retaining their Premier League crown. The champions have beaten Arsenal and Chelsea thus far and will be hopeful of continuing their good form.

Despite winning the title at a canter, Liverpool have added Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas to their squad. However, both Thiago and Tsimikas re expected to miss this clash.

Last Season’s Meetings

The Reds won both meetings between the two sides last term in the league with late drama in this exact fixture back in November last year.

Trailing to a Trezeguet goal to nil with just minutes remaining Andy Roberson headed the champions elect level before Sadio Mane’s front post glancing header found its way into the net, and with it the away end erupted – something that sadly wont be possible on Sunday.

The meeting at Anfield was far more straight forward for Liverpool as another strike from Mane was added to late on by Curtis Jones to earn Klopp’s side a 2-0 victory.

Likely Lineups

Despite the signing of Barkley this week, the scouser may have to wait for his debut but may yet feature off the bench.

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Luiz, McGinn, Hourihane, Trezeguet, Grealish, Watkins

Liverpool will be without the aforementioned Thiago and Tsimikas as well as captain Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and perhaps both Xherdan Shaqiri and Rhian Brewster who are both edging towards transfers away from the club.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexnader-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum, Salah, Mane, Firmino

Prediction

Despite their strong start this is by far the sternest test of the season for Dean Smith’s men and could well be a step to far in their 100% record.

Klopp’s side will know if they can maintain their relentless form, with their main rivals dropping points they could create another early lead.

Aston Villa 1-3 Liverpool

Who can Challenge Liverpool for the title?

Our latest edition of the 24-7 Football Podcast features writer and Liverpool fan Daniel Clubbe.

In this episode we discuss who can stop Jurgen Klopp’s side from winning the Premier League again, Everton’s impressive start to the season, the latest handball controversies and more….

Link to the Podcast here : https://soundcloud.com/adam-stephens-425096853/24-7-football-episode-6