5 managers who can replace Unai Emery at Arsenal

Arsenal had a good summer transfer window in 2019 which raised the expectation levels of the fans. However, Unai Emery hasn’t been able to deliver the performances the fans demand and now his job is under threat. Here are five managers who can replace Emery at Arsenal. 

#5. Marcelino García Toral

Marcelino and Unai Emery have a lot in common. They are both Spanish footballers turned managers who were in charge of both Sevilla and Valencia. However, Marcelino hasn’t won as many trophies as Emery. 

Before Marcelino joined Valencia, the club had finished 12th in the previous two seasons. However, in both the seasons, he was in charge, they finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League. He also won them the Copa del Rey last season before his shock dismissal. 

One of the benefits of appointing Marcelino is that Arsenal can finally play both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in the starting XI without having to play either one of them out of position. The Spaniard uses a 4-4-2 system which is defensively compact and relies on counter-attacks. Also, Nicolas Pepe can operate in the role of Goncalo Guedes at Valencia. 

The 54-year-old’s teams were not high scoring ones but they are defensively sound and that is something Arsenal fans have craved for many years. 

#4. Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta was one of the contenders to replace Arsene Wenger in 2018 but he was probably not given the job due to his lack of experience. However, the Gunners may be willing to take that gamble now that an experienced manager with an impressive resume has struggled to turn things around. 

Arteta spent five years of his playing career at Arsenal before retiring in 2016 and therefore, he knows the club and the fans’ expectations. Also, he has a positive image among the fans and that could afford him more time than most managers to implement his philosophy even if the results don’t go in their favour. 

Post-retirement, the Spaniard has been Manchester City’s assistant manager under Pep Guardiola and has learned from the best. Arteta’s influence at Man City has been widely praised and it is one of the reasons why Guardiola opted against replacing his long-serving assistant Domenec Torrent when he departed for New York City FC in 2018. 

The former Arsenal midfielder has been compared to a young Guardiola for his coaching abilities and it will be interesting to see him in charge of a top club in a manager’s role. 

#3. Jesse Marsch

Jesse Marsch is the current manager of Red Bull Salzburg and he worked at two other football clubs owned by Red Bull before joining the Austrian club as their manager this summer. 

The former United States international started his managerial career as the assistant manager of the US Men’s national football team before a small stint with MLS club Montreal Impact. In 2015, he was appointed New York Red Bulls manager and replaced the most successful coach in the team’s history. In his first season in charge of the Red Bulls, he won them the MLS Supporters’ Shield, won a club-record 18 league games in one season and was named the MLS Coach of the Year. When he left the club in 2018, he had more wins than any manager in the club’s history. 

Marsch spent the 2018/19 season as Ralf Rangnick’s assistant manager at RB Leipzig before joining their sister club in Austria. His Salzburg side is currently undefeated in the league after 12 games with 10 wins and 50 goals scored. 

The Austrian club is also playing the Champions League this season after failing to qualify in the previous eleven seasons. Marsch’s side was drawn in a tough group alongside Liverpool and Napoli but they’ve scored 11 goals in three games including three against the defending European champions at Anfield.

#2. Chris Wilder

There aren’t many quality English managers at the moment but Chris Wilder has the potential to be world-class and win many honours if he’s given the reigns of a top club. 

When Marsch was appointed the manager of his boyhood club Sheffield United in 2016, they were in the League One and in his first season in charge, they were promoted to the Championship with 100 points. In his second season, Sheffield finished a commendable 10th in the Championship before earning a direct promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 2018/19 season. His fantastic work was rewarded with the 2019 LMA Manager of the Year award ahead of Guardiola. 

Wilder’s Sheffield has started the current season brilliantly and even beat Arsenal. They are currently eighth in the table and share the best defensive record in the league with Liverpool and Leicester City. 

The 52-year-old unique tactical system in which ball-playing centre-backs join the attack has received widespread praise and has worked for them in the Premier League. Maybe, it could also work for Arsenal because David Luiz is fantastic with the ball at his feet. 

#1. Massimiliano Allegri

At the moment, there are several top managers without a job including Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho but Wenger’s return is not the way to move forward and Mourinho at Arsenal is unthinkable. 

So, among the free managers, the biggest name Arsenal could appoint is Massimiliano Allegri who is yet to take a job after leaving Juventus in the summer. Allegri has been linked with Real Madrid and AC Milan recently but Arsenal should be able to convince him to join them because of their financial strenght and the allure of the Premier League. 

The Italian won 13 trophies with both Juventus and AC Milan combined and will bring a much needed winning mentality to Arsenal. At Juventus, he had an impressive 70.48 winning percentage! 

5 teams against whom Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the most number of goals

Cristiano Ronaldo recently scored the 700th goal of his career and it goes without saying that he has scored more than one goal against most of the teams he has faced. Unsurprisingly, the five teams against whom he has scored the most are all from Spain and those clubs would have been glad to see him join Juventus. 

#5. FC Barcelona – 18 goals in 31 games

When Cristiano Ronaldo was at Real Madrid, the hype around the El Clasico rose to a different level and he has scored some important goals against Barcelona. 

Ronaldo is second behind Lionel Messi (26) in the all-time leading goalscorers chart in the El Clasico with 18 goals and half of those goals were in La Liga games. He holds the record of scoring in the most number of consecutive El Clasico fixtures (7 goals in 6 games) but he never scored a hat-trick against Barcelona. 

The former Real Madrid man did not score in his first three appearances against Barcelona. In 2010/11, he scored the only goal of the Copa del Rey final and exactly a year later, he scored the winning goal at the Nou Camp in a league fixture. 

#4. Celta Vigo – 20 goals in 13 games

In Ronaldo’s first three seasons in Spain, Celta Vigo were not in the La Liga and yet, he has managed to score 20 goals against them making them his fourth favourite opponent. 

In 2012/13, Celta played Real Madrid four times and Ronaldo scored seven of the nine goals his club scored against them which includes a hat-trick in a Copa del Rey fixture. 

Ronaldo has three hat-tricks against Celta in his career and in his most recent hat-trick against them, he went on to score four goals. 

#3. Getafe – 23 goals in 14 games

Getafe is currently a club in the Europa League but when Cristiano Ronaldo was playing in Spain, they finished in the bottom half of the table more often than not and were even relegated in 2015/16. 

Real Madrid only played Getafe in league competitions when Ronaldo was at the club and in fourteen appearances, he racked up 23 goals which includes three hat-tricks. 

It would have been interesting to see if Ronaldo would have scored at the same rate if he came up against this improved Getafe side. 

#2. Atletico Madrid – 25 goals in 30 games

Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone are renowned for their defensive prowess and yet Ronaldo has somehow tormented them consistently. 

For Real Madrid alone, he has 22 goals against them in 30 appearances which makes him the top scorer in the Madrid derby with five goals more than Alfredo Di Stéfano. 

He has continued his goalscoring form against Atletico with Juventus and scored a hat-trick against them in last season’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16. This was his fourth hat-trick against them of which two have come in the UEFA Champions League. He also has a goal against them in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final. 

#1. Sevilla – 27 goals in 18 games 

Sevilla has established themselves as a top European clubs in recent years as they’ve won three consecutive Europa League titles and qualify for the Champions League regularly. However, Ronaldo has no respect for their reputation and has punished them harshly. 

He has 27 goals against them in only 18 games which gives him an incredible goals to games ratio of 1.5! He has scored 25 of those goals in the La Liga and two have come in the European Supercup fixtures. 

Ronaldo has scored four hat tricks and three braces against Sevilla. Interestingly, he has failed to score against them in five matches which means he scored those 27 goals in only 13 games! 

Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur – 5 talking points from Liverpool’s win at Anfield

Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur - 5 talking points from Liverpool's win at Anfield

Liverpool came back from behind to beat Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield to re-establish their six points lead at the top of the table. Spurs took the lead in the first minute through Harry Kane but two second-half goals from Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah ensured that Liverpool got all three points. Here are the five major talking points from the game. 

#1. Tottenham can rely on Paulo Gazzaniga

Tottenham’s only absentee through injury going into the game against Liverpool was Hugo Lloris but they did not miss France’s World Cup-winning captain against the European Champions. 

Paulo Gazzaniga was arguably Tottenham’s best player against Liverpool and he made them toil for the win. He made 12 saves in the game – which included a double save to deny Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. In addition to keeping the ball out of the net, he helped out his defenders by coming out to claim the dangerous crosses from Liverpool’s fullbacks. 

#2. An incredible home record and a terrifying away record

Liverpool have made Anfield a fortress under Jurgen Klopp and it was always going to be a tough ask for Spurs to even get a draw. Thanks to Salah’s penalty, the Reds extended their unbeaten record at Anfield to 45 games and the win against Spurs was their 12th in a row. 

From Spurs’ point of view, the result put them in the bottom half of the Premier League table but that’s the least of their worries. The North London club are now without an away win in the league, after eleven consecutive matches. Their last away win was against Fulham back in January. 

Pochettino’s side has lost nine of their previous eleven away games and no team has lost more away games in the Premier League in 2019. Interestingly, the two draws they picked up on the road were against Manchester City and Arsenal this season. 

#3. Liverpool’s midfield steps up

Liverpool’s midfield has been under the scanner in recent weeks and their lack of direct involvements in goals was brought up after the draw against Manchester United. 

In the midweek, Klopp dropped both Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. Although Keita and Chamberlain performed admirably against Genk, Klopp reinstated his favourite midfield three on Sunday and they delivered. 

Fabinho was easily the man of the match for the hosts. While Liverpool were pursuing the equalising and go-ahead goal, Fabinho ensured that Spurs didn’t hit them on the counter. He won the ball, shrugged off challenges and rotated the ball constantly so that his side could keep the pressure on Spurs’ defence. 

However, the most telling contribution from the Liverpool midfield came through the Liverpool captain. Henderson has been goal-shy in recent seasons but he scored the goal to put Liverpool back on level terms. It was his first goal at Anfield since December 2015!

#2. Tottenham can take pride in their performance

The Tottenham players and manager have been under a lot of pressure to turn their season around and even though they could not get a favourable result against Liverpool, they can take pride in their performance. 

Spurs took the lead in the very first minute in fortunate circumstances after which they soaked in the pressure and attempted to hit Liverpool on the counter. They had a great chance to go 2-0 up through Son Heung-min but the South Korean rounded Alisson and hit the crossbar from a narrow-angle. If that had gone in, then the game was virtually over. 

After the hosts scored their second, Spurs upped their tempo and strived for another goal even though it was in vain. 

#1. Mentality monsters strike again

Jurgen Klopp has used to term ‘mentality monsters’ to describe the current Liverpool team and that’s an apt name for a side that doesn’t have the words ‘give up’ in its lexicon. 

Even though Liverpool went behind in the first half, they kept their heads up and created a plethora of chances in the first half. Most teams would have been dejected if they had gone in at half-time with a goal down after creating so many chances but Liverpool came back for the second half with more vigour. The win meant that Liverpool are now unbeaten in their last ten home games in which they’ve gone behind and they’ve won the last six of those games. 

This Liverpool side has the right mentality needed to beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to the league title and end their thirty-year long wait. 

Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur – Predicted starting XIs

League leaders Liverpool face an out-of-form Tottenham Hotspur side at Anfield on Sunday. This is the first meeting between the two sides since the UEFA Champions League 2019 final and the visitors will be hoping to get revenge and apply the brakes on Liverpool’s title challenge. 

Liverpool team news and predicted lineup

Liverpool will be looking to get back to winning ways after dropping points for the first time in the league this season to Manchester United in the previous game. Mohamed Salah missed that match due to injury but he returned in the midweek Champions League match, which is a huge boost for the Reds. Against Spurs, Klopp’s preferred front-three should be back in action. 

On the injury front, there is good and bad news for Liverpool ahead of the Spurs clash. Trent Alexander-Arnold missed the UCL match against Genk due to an illness but Jurgen Klopp expects him to be back on Sunday. However, Joel Matip who also missed the match in Belgium still needs assessment. If Matip is not available, then Dejan Lovren will keep his place in the starting XI. 

Klopp also confirmed that Andy Robertson did not pick up an injury against Genk and his substitution was only to give him some much-needed rest. However, Xherdan Shaqiri will not be available as he is still recovering from a calf injury. 

Klopp’s only major selection headache is in midfield. Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain performed admirably against Genk but against Spurs, Klopp might need more experience and grit in midfield. Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum were taken off against Manchester United due to their lacklustre performances and hence at least one of them should be dropped against Spurs. Chances are that Klopp will lineup with Wijanldum and Chamberlain on either side of Fabinho. 

Tottenham Hotspur team news and predicted lineup

For Spurs, the only absentee due to injury is Hugo Lloris who picked up a serious injury against Brighton & Hove Albion on 5 October. 

Mauricio Pochettino’s side has started the league season in poor form and couldn’t beat bottom of the Watford last week at home. However, his side won 5-0 in midweek against Red Star in the Champions League. 

Last season, Liverpool did the double over Spurs in the league before beating them in the Champions League final. Spurs will have to be at the top of their game if they are to beat a Liverpool side that’s undefeated at home in 44 league games and have won their last 11 home games. Also, Spurs’ last win on the road was way back in January and since then, they’ve picked up only two points out of a maximum possible 30. 

Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Erik Lamela were in excellent form against Red Star and Pochettino might be tempted to start the trio at Liverpool. Son’s pace could threaten the Liverpool backline which has looked unusually shaky in recent weeks. 

In midfield, Tanguy Ndombele and Moussa Sissoko are nailed on to start. Pochettino can pick either Christian Eriksen or Dele Alli if he wants a more offensive approach but since it’s an away game, he will most likely start Harry Winks. 

In defence, Danny Rose could come in for Ben Davies who started against Red Star and Serge Aurier will most likely retain his place after an upturn in form. Toby Alderweired is nailed on to start against Liverpool but it remains to be seen if Pochettino will pick Jan Vertonghen or Davinson Sanchez. Pochettino mentioned than Vertonghen was taken off as a precaution in midweek and if that’s the case then Colombian could take Vertonghen’s place in the starting XI. 

Shaw, Martial, and Dembele – 5 highly-rated youngsters who are too injury prone

Top European clubs have shown that they are not afraid to spend heavily to sign highly-rated young players but when these youngsters pick up injuries frequently and that stops them from realising their potential it becomes a problem. Here are five such young stars who are too injury prone for their own good. 

#5. Luke Shaw (Manchester United)

When Manchester United signed Luke Shaw in 2014, it cost them around £30m and it made him the most expensive teenager in football. Shaw had played 67 games for Southampton in the two previous seasons combined and missed just one game through injury. 

Since joining Manchester United he has only played more than 20 matches across all competitions only once in five full seasons. According to Transfermarkt, he has missed 103 games due to injuries since joining United and during this period, he has played only 109 games for the club. 

The 24-year-old has multiple hamstring injuries, foot injuries and ankle injuries among others but his biggest injury was a tibia and fibula fracture which kept him out for nearly 300 days. 

#4. Joe Gomez (Liverpool)

Joe Gomez started the 2018/19 season as Liverpool’s first-choice centre-back and before he picked up a serious injury against Burnley in December 2018, he played the full 90 minutes in eleven Premier League games and in those games, Liverpool conceded only four goals while keeping seven clean sheets. 

The 22-year-old defender is quick, strong, composed, versatile, and excellent with the ball at his feet which means he has all the attributes to be a top defender. However, injuries have prevented him from cementing his place in the Liverpool starting XI. 

Gomez picked up a cruciate ligament injury a few weeks after joining Liverpool and it kept him out for the best part of a season. Overall, in his four full seasons as a Liverpool player, he has missed 97 games through injuries and played just 73 games. 

#3. Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich)

Kingsley Coman is only 23-years-old and he has already won seven league titles in his career. He has won the league title in every season of his professional career and in France, Italy and Spain. 

Although Coman has won a plethora of trophies in his career, injuries have prevented him from realising his full potential. Since joining Bayern Munich in ahead of the 2015/16 season, Coman has suffered 21 injuries which have forced him to miss 65 matches. 

Injuries have not only affected him physically but also mentally. After an injury forced him to miss the 2018 FIFA World Cup he revealed that he would consider early retirement if his injuries recurred. 

“I hope I don’t have to relive what I’ve been through. Enough is enough. I will not accept a third operation – it will mean maybe my foot is not made for this level. I will then lead another life, an anonymous life.” – Coman said in an interview with TF1. 

#2. Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

Like Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial also became the most expensive teenager in the world when he moved to Manchester United in 2015 for £36 million, potentially rising to £58 million. 

Martial hit the ground running at United and scored 17 goals in his debut season for the club but he hasn’t been able to improve that tally because of injuries. 

He has missed only 26 games due to injuries at Manchester United but the frequent injuries stopped him from developing the momentum which could have helped him become an indispensable starter. 

#1. Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

Before joining Barcelona for €105 million, plus a reported €40 million add-ons, Dembele did not miss a single game because of injury at either Rennes or Borussia Dortmund. 

However, in Barcelona, injuries have hampered his development. He has missed 46 games for the Catalan club already and the worrying factor is that most of his injuries are muscle-related which keep recurring. 

This summer, Barcelona signed Antoine Griezmann and one of the reasons why they signed him is because they could no longer rely on Dembele to stay fit for most of the season. Now, the youngster will have to strive to start regularly for Barcelona even if he’s fit. 

Raul, Milner, Pogba, and more – Top 5 free transfers of this decade

Signing a top player on a free transfer is considered a coup. In recent years many superstars have joined top European clubs such as Juventus, Liverpool and Bayern Munich as free agents and left a lasting impression. So, here are the top five free transfers of the last decade. 

#5. Raul Gonzalez (Real Madrid to Schalke, 2010)

When Raul Gonzalez left Real Madrid in 2010 as their all-time leading goalscorer and with sixteen winners’ medal to his name, he had nothing to prove and had lucrative offers to join clubs in the United States, Qatar and Russia. Instead, he joined Bundesliga club Schalke on a two-year deal. 

The Spaniard was 33-years-old at that time but he showed no signs of slowing down as he scored 40 goals and provided 21 assists in only 98 games for the club. 

In his first season at the club, he helped them win the DFB-Pokal, which is the club’s only major honour since 2005, and also played a key role in the club’s run to the semifinal of the Champions League – the only time in their history. In his second and final season with the club, he won the DFL Super Cup and helped them finish third in the league. 

#4. James Milner (Manchester City to Liverpool, 2015)

When Steven Gerrard left Liverpool at the end of the 2014/15 season, the Anfield dressing room needed a leader. Brendan Rodgers convinced James Milner to join the Merseyside club upon the expiry of his contract with Manchester City. 

Milner was named the club’s vice-captain immediately after joining and soon endeared himself to the Liverpool faithful with his professionalism, work rate, and attitude. 

The Englishman has been a key player for the club under Jurgen Klopp and has played in midfield, on the wings, and as a full-back on either side. In fact, he was Liverpool’s first-choice left-back for the entire 2016/17 season. 

Milner has 24 goals and 39 assists for Liverpool in 189 appearances. In 2017/18, he broke the record for most assists (9) in a single Champions League season and in 2019, he won the competition for the first time in his career. 

#3. Paul Pogba (Manchester United to Juventus, 2012)

Paul Pogba splits opinion at Manchester United even though he has been a cut above the rest for a while now. However, there is no debate that Pogba at Juventus was one of the best midfielders in the world. 

The Frenchman left Manchester United in 2012 as a free agent after he was not given enough first-team opportunities by Sir Alex Ferguson. He joined Juventus and went on to win eight trophies in four seasons. 

Pogba played 178 games for the Bianconeri, scored 34 goals and provided 42 assists. While he was a Juventus player, he was named in the FIFPro World XI once and in the Serie A team of the Year thrice. 

#2. Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan to Juventus, 2011)

Juventus are the masters of free transfers and in the 2019 summer transfer window alone, they signed Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot using the same transfer tool. However, their biggest coup was signing Andrea Pirlo after he was released by AC Milan in 2011. 

Milan deemed him surplus to requirements and that was a serious error of judgement on their part which helped Juventus become the powerhouse they are today. 

Pirlo was a Juventus played for four seasons and in that time he won seven trophies including four Serie A titles on the trot. In 2012, he was placed seventh in the Ballon d’Or and he won the Serie A footballer of the year award thrice in succession from 2012 to 2014. 

“When Andrea told me that he was joining us, the first thing I thought was: ‘God exists’.”- Gianluigi Buffon later remarked. 

#1. Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich, 2014)

Bayern Munich signed Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, and Robert Lewandowski in recent years from Borussia Dortmund. While the former two are now back at Dortmund, the Pole remains at Allianz Arena and has arguably been Bayern’s most important player even after five years. 

In the summer of 2013, Dortmund refused to sell Lewandowski to the Bavarian club so the player ran down his contract and joined Bayern on a free transfer a year later. Since joining Bayern Munich, Lewandowski has played 255 games, scored 209 goals, provided 47 assists, won ten trophies and has won several individual honours including three Bundesliga Golden Boots. 

He has started the ongoing season like a man possessed and has already scored 18 goals in only 13 matches.  

 

Honourable mentions: Sami Khedira (Real Madrid to Juventus, 2015), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich to Lazio, 2011), Joel Matip (Schalke to Liverpool, 2016) & Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG to Manchester United, 2016). 

4 feats Leicester City achieved in one match that Manchester United haven’t in a long time

Leicester City broke or equalled several records when they beat Southampton 9-0 in an away match. Several statistics from the Foxes’ massive win when compared to Manchester United’s records over the season or longer puts the 20-time Premier League champions to shame. 

#4. Scored the same number of non-penalty goals as Manchester United have in the league this season

In nine Premier League games this season, Manchester United have scored only ten goals of which they scored four in their first game against Chelsea. 

Out of their ten league goals, two were scored from the spot including one in a 1-0 win against Leicester City. Therefore, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has scored only eight non-penalty goals in the league this season and against Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium, Leicester City scored nine goals of which eight were non-penalty goals. 

#3. Scored more goals than Manchester United have at Old Trafford this season in the league 

Manchester United have played five games at Old Trafford this season in the league and scored just eight goals. Since scoring four past Chelsea on the opening day, United haven’t scored more than one goal in any match across all competitions. 

Solskjaer’s side has managed to score at least one goal in all their home matches this season in all competitions and even then, their overall tally at Old Trafford this season is only ten goals in seven games. They scored eight of those goals in the league in five games. 

Interestingly, United have scored only eight non-penalty goals at Old Trafford this season in all competitions – the same number of non-penalty goals Leicester City scored against Southampton. 

#2. Scored more away goals than Manchester United have in their last 12 away games in all competitions

Since Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain on 6 March, they’ve played twelve matches away from home in all competitions and scored only six goals while conceding nineteen. Leicester scored more goals than that (seven) in one hour against Southampton. 

Also, in their last twelve away games in all competitions, Manchester United have the same number of away wins as Leicester have against Southampton – one!

#1. Scored the same number of Premier League hat-tricks as Manchester United have in the last seven years

Manchester United had some of the greatest strikers in Premier League history which is why their fall from grace is best summed up by the horror of their goalscoring exploits. 

Only Liverpool (39) and Arsenal (39) have more Premier League hat-tricks than Manchester United (32) but one has to go back to April 2013 for United’s last Premier League hat-trick – scored by Robin van Persie against Aston Villa. In the last seven years, there have been only two Premier League hat-tricks by United players and none after the Ferguson era. 

Against Southampton, Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick each for the Foxes to equal Manchester United’s club tally for Premier League hat-tricks in the last seven years. 

Ranking Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool signings from worst to best

Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have signed 21 players and 17 of them are still contracted to the club. Klopp has signed some outstanding players to make the Reds European Champions in only four years but there were a few flops too. So, here are all his signings at the club ranked from worst to best.

#21. Loris Karius

Loris Karius was Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper for a while and yet he ranks below two goalkeepers who never played a competitive game for the first team. Karius will always be remembered for his two horrendous mistakes in the 2018 Champions League final. 

The German is now attempting to rebuild his career at Besiktas on loan from Liverpool. 

#20. Andy Lonergan

Andy Lonergan was signed for free on a short term contract this summer after Alisson Becker picked up an injury in the first Premier League game of the season. The veteran goalkeeper is currently the fourth choice keeper and may never get the chance to play for the club. 

#19. Alex Manninger

Alex Manninger was signed as the third-choice goalkeeper in 2016 and his only appearance for Liverpool was in a preseason friendly against Mainz which his side lost 4-0. He retired from professional football after his only season with the Reds. 

#18. Steven Caulker

Klopp signed Caulker on loan from QPR in January 2016 and played him upfront on a few occasions when Liverpool needed a goal. The loan move was not made permanent and he’s now playing for Alanyaspor in Turkey. 

#17. Sepp van den Berg

Liverpool signed the highly-rated 17-year-old centre-back this summer after beating Bayern Munich to his signature. He is one for the future but Klopp gave him his debut in an EFL Cup match against Milton Keynes Dons. 

#16. Harvey Elliot

Harvey Elliot is the youngest player to feature in a Premier League game and several top European clubs wanted to sign him in the summer but he picked Liverpool because he’s a fan of the club. 

Elliot impressed in the preseason for his new club before putting in a man of the match performance on his club debut against MK Dons in an EFL Cup tie. 

#15. Dominic Solanke

Liverpool signed Dominic Solanke in 2017 after he won the Golden Ball at the FIFA U-20 World Cup which England won. While at Liverpool, he scored once for the club and played once for the England senior team. 

He was sold to Bournemouth in January 2019 and Liverpool made around £16 million in profit. For this reason alone, he ranks above two teenage prospects who are still at Liverpool. 

#14. Marko Grujic

Marko Grjuic was Klopp’s first signing as Liverpool manager in January 2016. The Serb has only made 14 appearances for Liverpool but he has been in impressive form for Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin where he has been on loan since the start of the 2018/19 season. 

Hertha’s previous manager, Pal Dardai, said – “I’ve been at Hertha for 22 years. This isn’t meant as an insult to anyone else, but Marko is by far the best midfielder I’ve seen in my time at the club.” Only time will tell if the 24-year-old has a future at Liverpool. 

#13. Ragnar Klavan

Ragnar Klavan was signed as a backup centre-back option in 2016 and he made 52 appearances for the club in two seasons before joining Cagliari. The Liverpool fans loved his professionalism and attitude even though he was not an exceptional defender. 

#12. Naby Keita

Liverpool fans had to wait for a year to see Naby Keita in the club’s colours and huge things were expected of him. However, injuries have held him back whenever he has shown flashes of the brilliance that prompted Liverpool to spend over £50 million. He’s still only 24-years-old and can become a key player for the Reds in the future. 

#11. Adrian

At the start of August 2019, Adrian was without a club after he was released by West Ham. Two weeks later, he saved the decisive penalty to help Liverpool win the UEFA Super Cup and played frequently for them due to an injury to Alisson Becker. 

#10. Xherdan Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri has the quality to start for most Premier League sides but he has been a squad player at Liverpool. Even then he has six goals and five assists to his name. Liverpool fans adore the Swiss international who scored a brace against archrivals Manchester United last season. 

#9. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Many peopled scoffed at Liverpool for spending £35m on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but he was a key player for the Reds in the second half of the 2017/18 season before an injury kept him out for almost a year. 

The England international is fighting his way back into the starting XI and scored an outstanding brace against Genk in the Champions League. 

#8. Joel Matip

Klopp knew that Liverpool’s backline needed a massive uplift to compete with other top clubs and the first signing he made for that purpose was Joel Matip on a free transfer. 

The former Schalke man struggled with injuries and form in his first two seasons but formed a formidable partnership with Virgil van Dijk last season which helped Liverpool win the Champions League. 

#7. Fabinho

Liverpool announced Fabinho’s signing two days after they lost the Champions League final in 2018 and that alone was enough to raise the spirits of the fans. He took some time to settle in at the club but he’s now an indispensable member of the starting XI. 

#6. Georginio Wijnaldum

Wijnaldum arrived at Liverpool in 2016 from the relegated Newcastle United where he predominantly played as an attacking midfielder or a winger. Klopp moved him deeper into midfield and the Dutchman has thrived in that role. The highlight of his Liverpool career was scoring a brace against Barcelona in the semifinal of the Champions League. 

#5. Alisson Becker

Liverpool signed Alisson for a then world-record fee for a goalkeeper after Karius cost them a Champions League title. Alisson won the Golden Glove in the Premier League and Champions League in his debut season and also broke numerous records. He’s the reigning the Best FIFA Goalkeeper. 

#4. Andrew Robertson

Not many people were convinced when Liverpool signed Andrew Robertson from the relegated Hull City and doubts grew stronger when he couldn’t displace Alberto Moreno in the first half of the 2017/18 season. 

Now, the Scott is arguably the best left-back in the world and an indispensable member of Klopp’s starting XI. Strictly in terms of return on investment, he might be Liverpool’s best signing under Klopp. 

#3. Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane was Klopp’s first high-profile signing as Liverpool manager and the Senegalese man hit the ground running at Liverpool. He has evolved into one of the best players in the world under Klopp and has racked up 68 goals and 24 assists in only 136 appearances. 

#2. Mohamed Salah

When Klopp wanted to sign Julian Brandt from Bayer Leverkusen, Liverpool’s sporting director Michael Edwards and his team of sports analysts convinced the manager that Mohamed Salah is the perfect player to take Liverpool’s attack to greater heights. 

The Egyptian has 78 goals, 33 assists and numerous records to his name after only 117 games in a Liverpool shirt. 

#1. Virgil van Dijk

Klopp wanted to sign Van Dijk in the summer of 2017 but Liverpool was forced to apologise and withdraw their interest after Southampton complained about an illegal approach. 

The Liverpool manager refused to panic and sign another defender. Instead, he waited a few months and signed the Dutchman in January 2017. He’s now the best defender in the world and a front runner for the Ballon d’Or. 

5 players who didn’t deserve to be nominated for the 2019 Ballon d’Or

France football unveiled their 30 candidates for the 2019 Ballon d’Or and the list features most of the players you would expect to be in there based on their performance in the calendar year. However, the inclusion of these five superstars is questionable even though they had a successful year. 

#5. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

If you told someone that two players from Paris Saint-Germain are among the Ballon d’Or candidates and one of them is a Brazilian, chances are that most of them would guess Neymar but it is Marquinhos who made the cut. 

Marquinhos won yet another Ligue 1 title with PSG this year but that’s hardly a notable achievement these days because of the club’s domination in the Ligue 1. However, he did help Brazil win the Copa America this year but was that enough to warrant a place in the final 30? 

The Brazilian’s inclusion comes as a bigger surprise when you realise that Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte was left out. 

#4. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

No club has more players in the final 30 nominees for the 2019 Ballon d’Or than Liverpool. Seven players from the European Champions made the list including all three members of the famous front three, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Trent Alexander-Arnold. For the seventh player, most people would put their bets on Andrew Robertson but the Scott was left out and instead, it’s Georginio Wijnaldum who got in. 

Wijnaldum has been a crucial player for both club and country in 2019. He won the Champions League with Liverpool and reached the final of the UEFA Nations League with the national team. However, his inclusion still raised many eyebrows. 

The 28-year-old has turned up in a few big matches this year but there are still doubts about his consistency which is a major reason why his inclusion is questionable. Besides, other midfielders like Fernandinho and David Silva were left out. 

#3. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

Riyad Mahrez won four trophies in 2019 for both club and country combined and yet he did not deserve to be in the list. 

Mahrez played an important role in Algeria’s African Cup of Nations success but he was not even the best player at the tournament and that award went to his teammate Ismaël Bennacer. 

At club level, Mahrez was left frustrated on the bench quite often because Pep Guardiola prefered the likes of Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. In fact, last season, he started only 14 Premier League games. 

The 28-year-old has started the ongoing season in good form but that certainly doesn’t make up for what happened in the first half of the year. 

#2. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)

The only reason why Hugo Lloris’ inclusion makes any sense is that he is France’s captain and the award is presented by France football. 

Recently, the World Cup winner has been making far too many errors (many of them lead to goals) for a top goalkeeper. Although he captained Spurs to the final of the UEFA Champions League, the club has been in terrible form for most of the calendar year. 

Spurs have started the current season in alarmingly poor form and to make matters worse, Lloris picked up a serious injury while he committed an error leading to a goal against Brighton and Hove Albion. 

#1. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Unlike the FIFA awards, France football has done well to pick most of the players in the final list based on their performance rather than their reputation. I used the word ‘most’ because that’s the only way Kevin De Bruyne’s inclusion can be explained. 

The Belgian has been in fantastic form since the start of the 2019/20 season but people tend to forget that he missed most of the previous season due to injuries. He did not even play 1000 minutes in the Premier League in 2018/19.

Manchester City won all domestic trophies in England in 2019 and both Fernandinho and David Silva played a bigger role than De Bruyne in that success. However, both players missed out this year. 

KRC Genk 1-4 Liverpool – 5 talking points as Reds win a crucial away game

Liverpool returned to winning ways by beating Belgian champions KRC Genk 1-4 courtesy of goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. Here are the five major talking points as the Reds climb to second in their group after an important victory. 

#5. Reds end their poor away form in the group stage

Before the game against Genk, Liverpool’s last away win in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League was against Maribor two years ago. Since then, the defending European Champions played five away games in the group stage and lost four of them including all three away games in last season’s group stage. 

During this two year period, the Reds reached two finals and also beat Bayern Munich, Porto and Manchester City away from home. However, Klopp must have been keen to win away from home in the group stage this year to quickly win their place in the knockout stage. 

Genk was not an easy team to beat and they held Napoli to a 0-0 draw in the second round of the group stage fixtures. However, an early goal helped Liverpool’s cause and eventually won them three points. 

#4. Front three back in form before a tough run of fixtures

Against Manchester United at the weekend, Mohamed Salah was absent due to injury while both Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were unable to influence the result of the game. It was important that the front three found their rhythm as Liverpool play Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester City in their next five fixtures. 

On Wednesday night, Jurgen Klopp reinstated Salah into the starting XI and he assisted Mane’s goal before scoring one himself with a brilliant show of strength. 

Firmino was unusually poor versus Manchester United but he was back to his best against Genk even though he did not even attempt a shot. He picked up the assist for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s second goal and he could have had another assist if Mane finished off the chance he created with a Rabona through ball. 

Klopp will be hoping that his front three can replicate this form in the upcoming tough fixtures. 

#3. Genk has got talent

Genk was home to some modern-day superstars including Kevin De Bruyne, Kalidou Koulibaly, Wilfried Ndidi, Thibaut Courtois, Leon Bailey, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Yannick Carrasco and even Liverpool’s Divock Origi. 

The Belgian club has some fantastic players in their current squad and although they lost 4-1, they played quite well and troubled Liverpool on several instances. 

The Belgian club’s captain, Mbwana Samatta, is a Tanzanian international and was one of the standout players for the club. Some of the other notable players from the squad who could be potential superstars in the future are Sander Berge, Joakim Mæhle and Ianis Hagi. 

#2. The defence should be a concern for Liverpool

Last season, Liverpool’s sturdy defence was a major reason why they won the Champions League and amassed 97 points in the Premier League. This season, the defence has looked shaky and they’ve not kept a clean sheet in the Champions League after three games. 

So far, Liverpool have conceded six goals in Europe in only three games and have conceded seven goals in the Premier League in nine games. To put things into context, they conceded their seventh goal in the Premier League in 2018/19 in only the 17th match of the season! 

Genk was starved of possession against Liverpool and yet the home side troubled the Reds’ defence on several instances. Samatta seemed to have scored what looked like an equalising goal in the first half but it was ruled out for a marginal offside in the buildup.

Eventually, they scored after nicking the ball from Dejan Lovren in a wide area and it highlights why most Liverpool fans don’t trust the Croatian. Klopp will have to figure out what’s going wrong at the back soon as Liverpool enter a crucial part of the season. 

#1. Klopp’s midfield selection pays dividends

Liverpool’s midfield has often been criticized for not scoring enough and that’s a fact. For instance, captain Jordan Henderson only has a goal each in the last three seasons and he is yet to score in the ongoing season. 

Against Manchester United, Klopp started Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum but both players couldn’t make a difference. In the end, they were taken off for Adam Lallana and Naby Keita respectively. Lallana scored the vital goal against United while Keita was involved in the buildup. Oxlade-Chamberlain also impressed as a substitute in that match and Klopp rewarded him and Keita with a starting role against Genk. 

Oxlade-Chamberlain was in red hot form for Liverpool in the knockout stage of the 2017/18 Champions League season before an injury kept him out for the best part of a year. He made his Champions League return against Genk and made a difference in under two minutes with a brilliantly taken goal. He doubled his and Liverpool’s tally in the second half with an even better effort. 

Keita, on the other hand, wasn’t directly involved in a goal but he was quite impressive and became the first player this season to make more than 100 successful passes (110) in a Champions League away game. He also completed three take-ons, won three tackles and made 12 ball recoveries. 

Against Tottenham Hotspur, at the weekend at least one of Keita or Chamberlain has to start in place of Wijnaldum or Henderson. 

Ranking the Top 5 contenders for the Golden Boy award 2019

The Golden Boy award is given to the best player under the age of 21 in a European nation’s top tier. Some all-time greats like Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero have won the award and here the five players with the best chance of winning the prestigious award in 2019. 

#5. Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven)

Four of the top five contenders for the Golden Boy award were straight forward choices but picking the fifth contender was not an easy task but after careful deliberation, the spot went to Donyell Malen of PSV Eindhoven. 

Malen spent his formative years at the academy of Ajax and Arsenal before joining PSV’s academy in 2017 from the North London Club. He spent his first season back in the Netherlands with PSV’s reserve side and only broke into the first team in the 2018/19 season. 

Last season, Malen scored 11 goals in 42 appearances for the Eredivisie club but in the ongoing season, the versatile forward has hit greater heights. He has already scored 16 goals in only 18 games across all competitions. 

The 20-year-old also made his debut for the national team this year against Germany. He came off the bench when the score was 2-2 and went on to score the winning goal for his side. 

#4. Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Bayer Leverkusen have some fantastic young players in their squad at the moment but the most exciting player is undoubtedly Kai Havertz. 

The 20-year-old midfielder had an outstanding 2018/19 season and has carried that form forward into the ongoing season. If he keeps it up, Leverkusen won’t be able to fend off interest from top European clubs for long.

In 2018/19, Havertz scored 20 goals and provided seven assists in 42 games across all competitions from midfield. In the process, he became the highest-scoring teenager in a single Bundesliga season, the second-youngest player of all-time to score 25 Bundesliga goals and he was also runner up to Marco Reus for the German Footballer of the Year award. 

Havertz has made seven appearances for Germany so far and his only goal for the senior team came against Argentina in a recent friendly. 

#3. Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)

Matthijs de Ligt is the most recent winner of the Golden Boy award and he has the opportunity to become the first player ever to win the award more than once. 

De Ligt was in sensational form in 2019 as he helped Ajax win the domestic double and also reach the UEFA Champions League semifinal. He even scored the winning goal for Ajax against Juventus in the quarterfinal. Besides his achievements at the club level, he also helped the national team reach the final of the UEFA Nations League. 

The 20-year-old moved to Juventus in the summer and has formed a potent partnership with Leonardo Bonucci in Georgio Chiellini’s absence. De Ligt’s wonderful year was also rewarded with a place in the FIFPro World XI. 

#2. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

In a league with Real Madrid and Barcelona, Atletico Madrid have the most expensive incoming transfer after they spent €126 million on Joao Felix this summer. 

Felix became a crucial player for Benfica’s senior side only in the second half of the 2018/19 season but he did enough to convince Atletico Madrid to spend a record fee for him. The 19-year-old played 43 games for Benfica last season and scored 20 goals. He helped them win the Premiera Liga and was named the Best Young Player of the Year. 

The Portuguese international has started brightly at his new club and already has three goals and one assist in all competitions. 

#1. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

Jadon Sancho has quickly become one of the most important players at Borussia Dortmund and he is constantly linked with a potential return to the Premier League for a hefty fee. 

Sancho scored 13 goals and provided 19 assists in only 43 games across all competitions in the 2018/19 season. He was the highest assists provider in the Bundesliga last season and he leads the assists chart this season also with five to his name in only seven games. 

The 19-year-old is now a key member of England’s promising side and has two goals and three assists for the Three Lions in only ten appearances. 

Sancho is the most likely candidate to win the award this year and if he does, he will become the third English player to win the award after Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling. 

Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool – 5 talking points

Liverpool salvaged a point against arch rivals Manchester United thanks to a late goal from Adam Lallana after the hosts took the lead amidst controversial circumstances. Here are the five major talking points from an eventful 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. 

#5. A game of two streaks

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford
 

Liverpool travelled to Old Trafford on the back of seventeen consecutive Premier League victories and they could have equalled Manchester City’s Premier League record with a win over Manchester United. However, it wasn’t to be as Marcus Rashford’s first-half goal was enough to hold the league leaders to a draw. 

Although Liverpool’s incredible streak ended, Manchester United kept one of their own going. They’ve not lost a game at Old Trafford in which they led at half-time since losing 1-2 to Ipswich Town in May 1984! Liverpool were buoyed by Adam Lallana’s late equaliser but the home side did enough to see out the draw. 

#4. Liverpool’s poor run at Old Trafford continues

Jurgen Klopp has won away to Manchester City, Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea but he has not beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford in five attempts across all competitions. 

At the home of their biggest rivals, Liverpool have drawn four matches and lost one under Klopp. In those matches, they only scored four goals of which one was an own goal and another one was a penalty. Also, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have never scored at Old Trafford and have two goals between them against Manchester United for Liverpool in all competitions. 

Klopp’s overall record against Manchester United isn’t great either. In ten games, there have been two wins apiece and six draws. Although Klopp has never won at Old Trafford, United have a win at Anfield after Klopp was appointed and that was in Klopp’s first North-West Derby. 

#3. Morale boosting performance from Manchester United

Before the game, Manchester United were one point above the relegation zone while Liverpool were top of the table with a 100% record. In addition, the home side was without several key players including Paul Pogba. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjær needed a positive result against Liverpool to save his job and also to improve the morale of the players and the fans. Many United fans were sceptical of the team’s chances against Liverpool but at the end of the game, most United fans were disappointed with a draw. 

Manchester United stifled Liverpool’s attack brilliantly and didn’t let them create many opportunities. Even though they only got one point, the result will do wonders to the team’s morale. Now, Solskjær has to ensure that his team plays with the same vigour against every opposition. 

#2. Jurgen Klopp needs to reassess his midfield

Since Philippe Coutinho’s departure, Liverpool’s midfield has lacked a creative influence but that issue hasn’t come to fore quite often because the two full-backs create so many goalscoring opportunities. 

Against Manchester United, Liverpool’s fullbacks were not afforded many crossing opportunities and it was up to the midfielders to open up the game. However, they were not up to the task. 

Jordan Henderson was arguably the worst player on the pitch for both sides. He was bereft of ideas and lacked conviction throughout the game. He was rightfully taken off for Adam Lallana who went on to score. 

Klopp’s prefered midfield three is Fabinho, Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum but he needs to alter that trio and try other players. He has Lallana, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner as alternative midfield options. 

#1. VAR in the spotlight again

The introduction of the Video Assistant Referee was necessary and we saw how useful it was at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and in the Champions League last season. Premier League introduced VAR this season but its implementation has been flawed and there have been far too many controversies surrounding it week in week out. 

At Old Trafford, VAR was called into action twice in the first half and both decisions went against Liverpool. After Rashford scored, VAR was called to check a potential foul in the build-up on Divock Origi. The onfield referee, Martin Atkinson, did not call the foul and VAR decided against overturning the referee’s decision. 

Klopp was convinced that the goal would be overturned but it wasn’t and it left him fuming. Even former Manchester United skipper Gary Neville who was commentating for Sky Sports believed it was a foul and the goal would be overturned. 

The second VAR check was for a handball by Sadio Mane before he put the ball in the back of the net. Although the handball was unintentional, according to the new rules, the goal should be disallowed and it was correctly chalked off. That being said, the new handball rule is ridiculous and it needs altering. 

5 players who had normal jobs before becoming footballers

Most footballers who have played in Europe’s major top-flight leagues would have started their professional career at a very young age. However, there are a few stars who had normal jobs before making their mark in the football world.

#5. Rickie Lambert

Previous occupation: Beetroot factory worker

Rickie Lambert’s football journey is something you usually see in movies because it’s nothing short of a fairytale. 

Lambert, a boyhood Liverpool fan, was at the club’s academy but he was released in 1997 before he even became a professional. He had the chance to keep his football career going in England’s lower divisions but he was paid very little when he was playing for Macclesfield Town in the Third Division (now known as League Two). So, Lambert worked at a local beetroot factory where he put lids on jars. 

The Englishman worked his way up the English football tier with different clubs before finally reaching the Premier League with Southampton in 2012. He went on to play for England and on his debut, he came off the bench and scored the winner against Scotland in less than three minutes. In 2014, he also got his dream move to Liverpool. 

#4. Charlie Austin

Previous occupation: Bricklayer

Charlie Austin is best remembered for scoring 18 Premier League goals for a QPR side that finished 20th in the 2014/15 season and only Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and Diego Costa had more league goals than him in that season. 

Austin was released by Reading’s youth academy and he restarted his football career in the ninth tier of England’s football system. During this period, he made a living as a professional bricklayer. 

In 2009, Austin joined League One side Swindon Town and exactly a decade later, he has 34 Premier League goals to his name. 

#3. Jamie Vardy

Previous occupation: Carbon fibre medical splint factory worker

Jamie Vardy was one of the main cast members of Leicester’s inspirational Premier League triumph but he has an inspirational story of his own. 

Like Lambert and Austin, Vardy was also a non-league footballer and had to make ends meet with another job. He worked as a technician making medical splints. 

He only made his professional debut in 2010 but six years later, he was a Premier League winner, England international and also the record holder for scoring in most consecutive Premier League games. 

Now, Vardy has 86 Premier League goals to his name and only needs two more goals to surpass the tally of Dennis Bergkamp. He already has more goals than superstars like Eden Hazard, Fernando Torres, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. 

#2. Peter Schmeichel

Previous occupations: Cleaner, textiles and sales manager at the WWF

Peter Schmeichel started his football career in Denmark’s lower leagues and before he had a professional career he could bank on, he built an impressive resume. 

He started in the textiles business but he quit the job due to safety concerns and worked as a cleaner in care homes before landing a job with the World Wildlife Fund. The Dane originally worked in the organisation’s shops but he was soon promoted to sales manager. Before he joined Brondby and considered football as a career option, he also worked for his father in-law’s flooring firm and an advertising firm. 

From Brondby, Schmeichel moved to Manchester United in 1991 and won fifteen trophies with them. Lest we forget, he also won the UEFA Euro with Denmark in 1992. Not bad, huh? 

#1. Miroslav Klose

Previous occupation: Carpenter

Miroslav Klose is a name even casual football fans are familiar with because of his heroics at the World Cup. In fact, my first memory of the World Cup was his now-iconic celebration against Saudi Arabia at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. 

Before Klose joined Kaiserslautern, where he started his professional career, he was training as an apprentice carpenter. His humble beginnings explain why he remained down to earth despite his fame. 

Klose had a very good club career but very few people will remember him for his exploits at club level and he will always be remembered for scoring the most number of goals at in FIFA World Cups. 

Manchester United vs Liverpool – 5 key battles

An injury-plagued and out of sorts Manchester United host arch-rivals and league leaders Liverpool on Sunday in a game that’s hugely significant for both teams albeit for different reasons. Recent history suggests that the game could be a tight affair and these five key battles could decide the outcome. 

#5. Scott McTominay vs Fabinho

The two defensive midfielders may not come face to face often during the game but they both have an important role to play on Sunday. McTominay and Fabinho have featured in every league game for their respective sides and have been quite influential. In fact, the United man was named the club’s player of the month. 

Both teams have a lot of pace with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James. Hence, the defensive midfielders of both teams will have to bring their ‘A’ game to prevent counter-attacking threats. 

Last season, when Liverpool beat Man Utd at Anfield, Fabinho was the man of the match and Jurgen Klopp will be hoping for a similar outing from the Brazilian. 

#4. Harry Maguire vs Roberto Firmino

Harry Maguire has been a good signing for Manchester United but the team’s overall form hasn’t helped him justify his price tag yet. However, against Liverpool, the England international has the chance to show just how good he is. 

None of Liverpool’s front three has scored at Old Trafford and if Maguire needs to help his side extend that run, then the best way to do that will be to take Roberto Firmino out of the game. 

The front three operate on a different level when Firmino is on song and Maguire will have to figure out how to stop him. However, stopping the Liverpool number nine is not an easy task as he moves around the pitch. 

#3. Daniel James v Trent Alexander-Arnold

The last time Liverpool lost to Manchester United was back in March 2018 and Trent Alexander-Arnold had a game to forget. Marcus Rashford tormented him and scored a brace in a 2-1 win for Sunday’s hosts. 

Liverpool’s full-backs are renowned for the offensive play but this often leaves a lot of space at the back which pacey wingers can exploit on the counter. Daniel James has been in good form for United and Alexander-Arnold will have to be wary of the Welshman’s pace. 

In addition to his duties going forward, James will have to put in a shift at the back because stopping both Mohamed Salah and Alexander-Arnold on Liverpool’s right will be key to the result of the game. 

#2. Ashley Young vs Mohamed Salah

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have scored against Man Utd at Anfield in a Premier League and Europa League game respectively. However, in four appearances, Salah has failed to find the back of the net against United and he will want to put that record to bed. 

In Salah’s first game at Old Trafford in Liverpool colours, Ashley Young famously kept him at bay in a 2-1 win and in his second visit to the ground, the Egyptian was taken off in an eventual 0-0 draw. 

Since Luke Shaw is still out injured, Young will most likely fill in at left-back and face Salah once again. If not, Solskjaer could turn to the erratic Marcos Rojo. Either way, stopping the dangerous Mo Salah will be a tough task. 

#1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer vs Jurgen Klopp

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under huge pressure at the moment after a poor start to the season and a win against Liverpool will give him some breathing space. He had two weeks to prepare for the game and he needs to come up with something really special to beat the league leaders. 

As for Klopp, Manchester United has proved to be his downfall in England. He has never won at Old Trafford in four attempts but three of those games were drawn. In all competitions with Liverpool, he has two wins, two defeats and five draws against United. What’s even worse is that his side failed to score in four of those matches with three of them coming at Anfield. 

Klopp has a fantastic opportunity to break his duck at Old Trafford against an out of form and injury-plagued United side. On the other hand, Solskjaer could turn United’s season around with a morale-boosting win over their archrivals.