Tag Archives: jordan Henderson

ENGLAND v BELGIUM preview

Following Scotland Qualifying for their first major tournament since 1998, England now know that they will face their old rivals at next year’s delayed Euro Championships. Scotland beat Serbia on penalties after Alexander Mitrovic missed the Serb’s final spot-kick to set up an exciting Euro Group Game.

Before then both nations have Nations League business to attend to. England face Belgium away knowing they must win if they are to top their group and repeat the semi-final appearance in 2019. Scotland meanwhile are four points clear at the top of their group with two fixtures remaining meaning promotion to League A is highly likely. England are in the position because of a defeat and draw against Denmark, which under minded their impressive victory against Belgium at Wembley.

Gareth Southgate has announced Jack Grealish will make his first competitive England start after impressing in recent appearances, Grealish is likely to play on the left of a front three and replace Marcus Rashford who withdrew from the squad along with Joe Gomez, and Conor Coady whilst Harry Maguire and Reece James are suspended. This leaves boss Southgate with some tough choices on who lines up in defence. He is likely to stay with a back three with Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, and Michael Keane starting. However, there is a lack of wing-backs available in the squad with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka the only options which may force Southgate to change to a back four. In midfield, I expect to see Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson either as a two or alongside Mason Mount depending on the formation. Harry Kane will return upfront to earn his 50th cap in which he has netted 32 times. Jaden Sancho is the most likely to complete the front three although Phil Foden is an alternative.

Elsewhere there have been mixed fortunes for the Home Nations as Wales are battling with Finland to win Group B4 whilst the Republic Of Ireland are looking to avoid relegation from the same group. The two nations face each other next up before Wales face a group decider against Finland. Northern Ireland lost their Euro play-off final against Slovakia in extra time after equalising late on in the 90 minutes. They are bottom of nations league group B1 and have a huge task to avoid relegation.

Liverpool facing defensive crisis: can they come out on top?

Liverpool, already without talismanic central defender Virgil van Dijk were dealt another huge blow on Tuesday night when Fabinho pulled up, before being forced off with a hamstring problem.

The Brazilian had been deputising, successfully, for the missing Dutchman when he stopped in his tracks whilst defending an FC Midtylland attack in the UEFA Champions League.

Indeed, Reds fans and players alike wait with bated breath for the severity of the injury. It is almost certain they will be without Fabinho for at least the weekends visit of West Ham to Anfield.

Central defender Joel Matip also remains side-lined, leaving Jurgen Klopp with just one senior central defender – Joe Gomez.

So how can the Premier League champions cope with such flimsy numbers? I’ve had a look at the options…

Youngsters

Tuesday night saw 19-year-old Rhys Williams play out the remaining hour, and in doing so the powerful looking teenager looked comfortable as he helped the Reds to a clean sheet.

Williams seems most likely to start on Saturday in the absence of Fabinho, although Nat Phillips will be pushing for a place after he spent the 2019/20 campaign season playing senior football for Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga 2.

Versatility

Fabinho himself was operating out of position when his injury came and there is a chance captain Jordan Henderson could be asked to do the same after playing in the role during the FIFA World Club Cup last term.

Missing Henderson’s influence in midfield, however, may be too much of a blow to Klopp’s side.

Should James Milner, Thiago, Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum all be fit and available, there is certainly scope for Henderson to drop back into centre-half temporarily.

Time

Albeit an obvious huge blow to Liverpool, and indeed their title chances, with an impended international break and with football a little all over the place at the moment, there is hope the Reds could make it to January without suffering too much damage to their hopes.

In January they would at least have the option of signing reinforcements, with many names linked with the club. The likes of Dayot Upamecano, Ben White and Ozan Kabak to name just a few.

In the mean time Klopp, fans and teammates will be hoping Fabinho’s injury isn’t serious, Matip can get run of fitness, and Rhys Williams can deputise successfully. All of this while not dropping too many points along the way, which with a trip to rivals Manchester City on the horizon, may be easier said than done.

Liverpool v Arsenal preview

Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Monday for the first of two clashes inside four days.

The first one will perhaps be seen as the more important fixture as the pair do battle in the Premier League looking to maintain their 100% starts to the 2020/21 campaign.

The two teams meet again on Thursday in the Carabao Cup fourth round in what is likely to be an encounter between tow much changed teams.

The Preview

Mikel Arteta and Jurgen Klopp are becoming regular acquaintances since the Spaniard took charge at the Emirates, with the managers meeting recently in both the league and the Community Shield.

Arteta came out on top of both outings and will be hopeful of his sides’ chances of completing a hat-trick of victories over the champions.

However, Klopp’s Reds were almost back to their imperious best last week as they overcame Chelsea thanks to a Sadio Mane masterclass. Bolstered by the arrivals of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich and Diogo Jota from Wolves in the last fortnight, signings that have only further strengthened the German manager’s options.

Team News

Liverpool will be without their talismanic captain Jordan Henderson who misses the match with a knee injury. They do welcome back Joe Gomez to the reckoning after a short spell in the sidelines.

Arsenal are hopeful of having their own Scottish left-back fit and available as Kieran Tierney recovers from an injury absence. The Gunners do have a host of injuries to squad players.

The Match

Arsenal have had a confidence-boosting few months and will come into this match buoyed by their recent results, however, they should be wary of overplaying as they come up against a side determined to both retain their title as well as attack multiple other honours.

Prediction

Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal

Details

Liverpool v Arsenal, Anfield, Monday 8.00pm, Sky Sports

Community Shield Preview: Can FA Cup winners Arsenal upset Champions Liverpool?

Arsenal take on Liverpool on Saturday in the traditional English football curtain raiser with a noticeable difference this year. For the first time ever the Community Shield will be played behind closed doors.

Although many see the game as a glorified friendly, with silverware on offer and the chance to iron out any withstanding issues from pre season in a competitive fixture, both managers will be using the game to make their final preparations for the upcoming Premier League season, which kicks off on the 12th September.

Factor in new signings and returning loan players looking to stake a claim for a starting berth for the new campaign and it becomes clear that this game will provide more than just a run out for both teams.

Liverpool will hope to go one better than last year, when they were beaten finalists at Wembley, losing out to Man City on penalties. They haven’t won the competition since 2006 and will be looking to add the Shield to the Premier League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup which they won last year.

Jurgen Klopp has almost a full squad available for the game, with two stars missing out through injury. PFA Young Player of the Year Trent Alexander-Arnold has been nursing a minor injury, which forced him to miss the entirety of Liverpool’s pre season training camp and fixtures in Austria.

He is expected to return to full training after the Shield final along with captain Jordan Henderson, who has been out since sustaining a knee injury against Brighton in July. He did travel with the Reds to Austria but completed his own rehabilitation training.

A look at Klopp’s starting eleven for the champions’ final pre season fixture, a 2-2 draw with RB Salzburg, gives a huge indication to the team he is likely to select on Saturday, bar any last minute injuries.

Alisson started in goal with Gomez and Van Dijk at centre back, Andy Robertson at left back and young Welshman Neco Williams deputising for Alexander-Arnold at right back.

A midfield three of Keita, Fabinho and Wijnaldum was deployed along with the attacking trio of Mané, Salah and Firmino, arguably Liverpool’s best XI with the players available.

Van Dijk could be a doubt for the game however, after suffering a nasty cut to the eye which left him bloodied and forced Klopp to withdraw him as a precaution.

One player pushing for a start is Rhian Brewster who has continued his goal scoring exploits for Swansea in the Reds’ pre season fixtures. He netted three in two games, and has impressed Klopp and his coaching staff since returning to Merseyside.

He will likely make an appearance off the bench in the final along with new signing Kostas Tsimikas, who arrived for a £12 million fee earlier in the month. Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliot, Takumi Minamino, James Milner and Adrian should also be named on the bench.

Arsenal meanwhile, will be looking to get their hands on the shield for the first time since 2017 and send out a warning to the league that they will be top four challengers this season.

Mikel Arteta’s men have been preparing for the upcoming campaign at home and played their first friendly on Tuesday, just 24 days after they lifted the FA Cup at Wembley.

They defeated MK Dons 4-1 at the MK Stadium with relative ease as forgotten man Mohamed Elneny opened the scoring and youngsters McGuinness, Nketiah and Nelson also got in on the act.

The Gunners also named a strong starting eleven, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno returning between the sticks after a spell on the sidelines through injury.

Cedric Soares, a permanent acquisition from Southampton started at right back, with William Saliba making his first appearance for Arsenal after spending last season on loan in France with St Etiene.

His centre back partner was Rob Holding who unfortunately scored an own goal whilst Kieran Tierney played left back.

Maitland-Niles, who is linked with a move away from the Emirates started in midfield along with Elneny, Xhaka and Saka, whilst Aubameyang and Nketiah were paired up top.

Reiss Nelson made an impressive cameo from the bench, (which was made up predominantly of youth players) and is pushing to start at the weekend. Nicholas Pepe, new signing Willian and David Luiz weren’t included in the squad, but are likely to be handed starting roles for Saturday’s final.

Héctor Bellerin also missed out against MK Dons but is sure to start if Arsenal opt to play a back four. Chambers, Mustafi, Mari and Martinelli are all still out with injuries.

Lacazette is also set to be named in the squad, but will in all likelihood appear from the bench later in the game. Özil and Guendouzi will miss out, having fallen out of favour under Arteta.

It is the perfect dress rehearsal for the league meeting between the two heavyweights, scheduled to take place just four weeks later on the 26th September.

If previous meetings between these two sides are anything to go by then goals in abundance should be expected.

Liverpool dominated proceedings at Anfield early in the season, beating the Gunners 3-1 at Anfield, before Arsenal got revenge after the restart, defeating the Reds 2-1 at the Emirates, converting the only two real chances they had in the game.

With both teams possessing clinical finishers up top and enjoying quick counterattacks and long periods of possession, it should be a highly intriguing encounter to kick off the 2020-21 campaign.

Liverpool no doubt go into the game as favourites after their terrific season last year, but as the Gunners have shown, they are a match for any top side on their day.

Kick off for this Saturday’s Community Shield Final at Wembley is 4:30 pm and the game is live on BT Sport.

Adam Lallana Signs for Brighton- How will the Englishman Fit in at the Amex?

Adam Lallana completed his highly anticipated switch to the Seagulls on a free transfer on Sunday after the expiration of his Liverpool contract.

The former England international returns to the south coast on a three year deal after previously starring for fellow Premier League outfit Southampton on their rise to the top tier.

He spent six years on Merseyside, arriving in 2014 from the Saints for a fee of £25 million. He went on to make 178 appearances for the club, establishing himself as a key man during Brendan Rodgers tenure and in Klopp’s early years in charge.

Injuries and a flurry of new signings in the summer of 2017 saw his playing time gradually decrease, with Lallana featuring in just 22 games in all competitions this season, none of which have come since the restart.

He did contribute significantly to Liverpool’s Premier League triumph, scoring a crucial late equaliser at Old Trafford against Man United to ensure the Reds came away with a point. He leaves Liverpool having won the Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and the Champions League.

He will be remembered fondly by Liverpool fans as he epitomised everything that Jürgen Klopp wants from a midfielder, a high energy, all action player who can contribute defensively as well as going forward.

Lallana had a host of clubs queuing up for his signature, and he was consistently linked with a reunion with Rodgers at Leicester but he snubbed them in favour of a move to Brighton, who finished 15th this season.

While it seems like a huge step down on paper, swapping Champions League football for a potential relegation battle, there is no doubt that footballing wise, Brighton is a natural fit for Lallana’s talents.

They are going places under Potter, with the former Swansea boss guiding them to their biggest ever points haul (41) since they secured promotion to the Premier League in 2017.

They are a possession based side, playing tidy football which is easy on the eye. Potter has employed a number of different formations this campaign, alternating between playing three and four at the back depending on their opponents.

He encourages forwards and midfielders to press high and in small groups to win back possession, similar to what Lallana was asked to do under Klopp at Liverpool, and something he regularly excelled at.

Lallana’s favoured position is attacking midfield, where he can drive forward with his superb dribbling skills. This helps him to wriggle out of tight spaces and create an opening for himself or a teammate.

With Potter often rotating his starting eleven, Lallana will be competing with Aaron Mooy for the number ten role. He impressed in patches this season but only contributed two goals and two assists in 25 games.

If Lallana is afforded the same amount of playing time, he will be hoping to better the Australian’s tally and be the creative spark Brighton have been crying out for this campaign.

Lallana is versatile, however, another characteristic which Potter admires. He has been deployed as a deep lying playmaker or a ‘number 8’, dictating the game from a more central position.

He can also operate as a winger or on the left or right of a front three, providing Potter with a number of new attacking options to compliment the strike force of Connolly and Maupay.

At 32, Lallana will provide some much needed top flight experience to the Seagulls’ relatively young squad. He went to the 2014 World Cup with England and featured in the 2016 European Championships, as well as playing regular European football at Anfield.

His experience of playing in those high level competitions and of winning trophies has instilled a winning mentality in Lallana, which he will be eager to pass on to those around him at Brighton.

Lallana, has already outlined his ambitions with the club, and playing in a relegation battle is not one of them:

“I won’t be happy with fighting against relegation every year. I’ve experienced that before at Southampton,” he told Brighton’s official website.

He clearly rates Potter and believes that he can take Brighton on a journey like the one which he experienced with Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton, when under the Argentine’s tutelage, the Saints finished eighth, their highest ever finish in the Premier League which granted them access to the Europa League.

“The template is in place and it is about implementing that and working with Graham (Potter), learning new things, improving myself, improving the team and there is no reason why we can’t do that.

“The job Graham has done in changing so many aspects of the way they play and building a culture and environment which makes it possible to move forward, I think it is definitely possible to move up the league.”

His trust in Potter’s philosophy was evidently a huge selling point for Lallana, as he clearly envisages himself in the manager’s system

Lallana, is also a top professional, who trains with the same intensity as he would when playing in a game. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, (a good friend of Lallana’s) in an exclusive interview on LFC TV citied Lallana’s professionalism, and work ethic as some of his key strengths stating:

“Whatever club he goes to, they are getting an amazing player and person.”

Having such a great professional and serial winner around the dressing room will be of great help to those coming through at Brighton and signing him on a free transfer from the Premier League champions is seen as a huge coup from the club, and a statement of intent that the owners are willing to trust in Potter and his style of play.

Lallana could have a similar impact at his new club as Milner did for the youngsters coming through at Liverpool, inspiring the next generation to combine their incredible talent with work hard to keep them grounded and pushing to improve themselves and the team.

Although he will be one of Brighton’s top earners, Lallana has taken a pay cut to join the Seagulls and it is understood that Brighton have not broken their wage structure to secure his signature.

The only worry surrounding Lallana will be his fitness, as the Englishman has missed over 70 games during his time on Merseyside through injury. Given his talent and price, however it is a risk worth taking.

Potter summarised nicely everything that Lallana will bring to Brighton when he told their official website:

“Adam is a really exciting signing for us, someone I am sure the supporters will be really looking forward to seeing play.”

Potter continued:

“To have both his experience and quality out on the pitch will be a great addition for us, and I know he will be an excellent role model for our younger players in the squad.”