Time for change before Reds face Chelsea test

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After Liverpool’s shock defeat to Southampton, not so “Rosy Reds”, need rehabilitation before a crunch clash against Chelsea on Tuesday night, writes Sam May.

So just what is going wrong?

It is clear to see that the team is jaded and fatigue is starting to set in. Jürgen Klopp’s gegenpress style was perfectly suited in the Bundesliga as his charges enjoyed a winter break, to recharge tired minds and aching limbs – not so in the Premier League. He is now learning the hard way. This league has no such luxury as a winter break and is completely unforgiving as Klopp and his team are finding out.

January has proved a month too far for Liverpool, which has seen them exit the English Football League Cup and in danger of conceding their top four birth. What needs to change? Within his team selection, he is basically playing three who all do the same holding midfield job, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum. You only need one, and that player should be team captain Henderson.

This frees up an attacking option on the left, which would also balance up the midfield. The naturally left footed Alberto Moreno should play wide left wing-back, as he does have a flare for going to the byline to cut dangerous balls back or balls into the box. This would work as long as there is a solid left back behind. This would suit James Milner, as he wouldn’t have to attack.

Adam Lallana could then push forward and act as the central attacking midfielder or on the right in Sadio Mané’s absence. At the back, both Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan must be replaced, by the solid Joel Matip and young and impressive Joe Gomez – who has shown maturity and great composure. It is also looking likely that 18-year-old Trent Alexander Arnold will challenge Nathaniel Clyne, as competition for places hots up.

Lack of squad depth is proving a problem. Klopp has what he has, but perhaps it is time to find out who can and can’t step up to the first-team, as faces arriving in January are highly unlikely.

With the above changes it would give the team new belief and a fighting chance of a much needed win against Chelsea on Tuesday night.

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Llorente brace sets-up Swans victory

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Reds slump as bottom club Swansea City serenely secure a 3-2 win and first Premier League win at Anfield, writes Sam May.

A disastrous and embarrassing Liverpool display coupled with an organised and brave Swansea approach saw the bottom club take all three points and lift themselves off the bottom of the table, at a subdued Anfield. A horror show to say the least from the home side and title hopes dented.

The Reds only had themselves to blame.
Klopp set up without Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi, preferring the Brazilian pair of Roberto Firmino and Phillippe Coutinho assisted by Adam Lallana up front. The first half was woeful from Liverpool.

You win nothing without an end product and not a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes spoke volumes.

The Reds crab-like (sideways and backwards) play from Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson was matched by the ineffectual touchline play of James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne. Swans hit an outside Kop post through a deflected Tom Carrol cross, but even this didn’t give warning of what was to come.

Within five minutes of the restart Llorente poked home from a badly defended corner. Ten minutes later he scored a second as he rose to meet a sumptuous cross from new man Carrol. The shock was on.

Firmino then powerfully headed in a Milner cross and 10 minutes later he chested down a cross in the box and half volleyed left footed past a diving Łukasz Fabiański. The Kop smelled a victory but nobody told Swansea.

Back they came and Gylfi Sigurðsson gladly accepted Ragnar Klavan’s sideway panic of a clearance to calmly slot past Simon Mignolet.

Sturridge and Origi were sent on to rescue the Reds – but were ineffectual. In the dying seconds Joël Matip was sent on as a desperate centre forward to no avail. The last time we saw this was the Hodgson era.

Jürgen Klopp was surprising by his touch line absence of histrionics as he also reflected his team abject display. Southampton come to Anfield holding a one goal advantage in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.

They thought it may not be enough – on this Liverpool display it surely is.

Is Turkish football about to have its own fairytale? Just like last season’s Premier League

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From crowds of 100 to top of the Süper Lig, high-flying underdogs İstanbul Başakşehir have taken Turkish football by surprise and have been a revelation, writes Sam May.

RB Leipzig are hitting the headlines in Germany and Nice in France, whilst ‘little Leicester City’, Başakşehir, are leading the way in Turkey.

Every year Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe or Galatasaray, the country’s main football institutions and Istanbul giants, usually claim the title. Despite Buraspor winning the league the 2009-10 season, it has always been the “Big Three”, in particular Galatasaray who have 20 titles, Fenerbahçe 19 titles, and Beşiktaş with 14 league triumphs, who usually hit the headlines at the end of the season.

It is a remarkable rise for a club that until recently struggled to attract crowds in three figures to matches at their 17,800-capacity Başakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium. There lack of support is down to the fact they are a young club and are based in a newly constructed area of Istanbul, but are starting to gather a student fan base.

They are a club on the rise, and soon could be the most fashionable club on Turkish soil. The club has beaten both Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe this season.

Both Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe have spent large amounts of money to employ the services of former English Premier League stars like Didier Drogba (now with Montreal Impact), Nigel de Jong, Lukas Podolski, as well as the Dutch maestro Wesley Sneijder, Martin Škrtel, Nani and Robin Van Persie. You can perhaps say that these players are past there best, but all have made a positive contribution in Turkey.

Is there a shock on the cards this season? Başakşehir are been talked about serious candidates to win the title. Following promotion in 2013/14, they have finished fourth place the last two seasons.

Having beat Fenerbahce and Galatasaray this season and drawn against Beşiktaş, they have been compared to Leicester’s remarkable story in 2015/16. There major strengths in the team are organisation, teamwork and ruthlessness on the break.

Cengiz Ünder – a £600,000 acquisition from Altinordu, has shone down the wing just like Riyad Mahrez. Their manager Abdullah Avci has also drawn comparison with Leicester’s Claudio Ranieri due to his management style.

Formed in 1990, Başakşehir sitting at the top of the table is remarkable, but the fact they sit there with low attendances, which just 2,000 or so fans at home games, makes things even sweeter. The players play with freedom, which of course makes them more relaxed to express themselves and show what they can.

Former Newcastle United midfielder Emre Belözoğlu, 36, is playing a huge part in the side, despite niggling injuries he picks up. He still has moments of technical class, but also add that experience in the side, which gives the Turkish underdogs an advantage.

Başakşehir’s bubble could burst. However, if the team continues to show togetherness, mental strength and the ability to recover quickly and calmly, the fairy tale, could become a reality. The fact they can beat the country’s super powers means setbacks are unlikely.

For a team that spent just £1.2 million last summer, it would be great to see them claim the trophy ahead of their decorated Istanbul neighbours.

Why Liverpool should sign Dimitri Payet this January

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The talented Frenchman is expected to depart the Hammers and Liverpool should act fast to secure his services, writes Sam May.

West Ham’s best talent and free kick specialist would be the perfect option for the Anfield club, having lost Sadio Mané to the African Cup of Nations.

It was clear to see that Liverpool were totally lacking creativity and threat in the final third against Southampton in the EFL semifinal first leg at St. Mary’s and the Reds need a replacement. The Reds are not a one-man team, but the Senegalese international brings a different dimension to their attacking play and it was obviously missed.

Results and performances have been off the mark in the last month and with Daniel Sturridge struggling to make any sort of impact in filling the void, the Reds need to look elsewhere.

Payet, 29, could be the man to fill Mané’s shoes. He would offer that cutting edge and ability to stretch defence’s which Liverpool have lost following the short term departure of the former Southampton star.

Marseille are however, keen to sign their former star man, who they sold to West Ham for £10.7 million in 2015. American billionaire Frank McCourt, owner of Marseille is hoping to build a team to rival PSG and is hoping to make Payet the first key piece in this objective.

The French international is understood to be valued at around £35m, so is he a risk worth taking?

PFA Fans’ Player of the year last season, scoring 15 goals and providing 17 assists in 44 appearances during his debut campaign in England, there is no questioning Payet’s talent. A star for Les Bleues at Euro 2016.

He won’t just offer Klopp’s side experience due to his age, but Premier League experience also. The Reds have been linked with moves for Julian Brandt and Christian Pulisic, but both with a no Premier League experience, and it looks like no nearer a move for either.

It is clear West Ham are struggling this campaign, but Payet has managed three goals and eight assists. He would also ease the burden on Philippe Coutinho. Klopp needs a fix to stay in touch with Chelsea. He is the man Liverpool should look to sign to assist in their pursuit of a first Premier League title.

Meet the ‘next Jamie Vardy’ Crystal Palace are keen to sign

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New Eagles boss Sam Allardyce is considering a £500,00 bid for Motherwell sensation Louise Moult, in the hope of turning him into the next Jamie Vardy, writes Sam May.

The former Three Lions boss, who replaced Alan Pardew last month, has watched the former Stoke youth player on a number of occasions. He was released by the Potters at the age of 18 and has gone on to resurrect his career.

Moult, 24, was previously playing for non-league side Nuneaton three seasons, before signing for Wrexham and then joining Motherwell for £150,000. After failing to make the grade at both Stoke, Northampton and Halifax, he went onto work as a builder’s labourer, but his dream of becoming a pro became a reality in 2015.

Since joining the Scottish Premiership side, Moult has netted 28 times in 59 appearances for Mark McGhee’s side, including 11 this season. Cardiff, Derby, Burton and Rotherham have all expressed an interest in the prolific striker who was born in Burslem, Stoke, but Palace are said to be winning the race to sign him.

Ahead of the 2016–17 season, Moult he had been playing with a groin injury. Following an away match against Annan Athletic in the Scottish League Cup on July 23 2016, in which he scored twice in a 3–1 win, Moult underwent surgery. He scored on his return as Motherwell drew 1–1 away to Ross County on September 10 2016. Later, he scored four times as Motherwell won 4–2 against Hamilton Academical in the Lanarkshire derby.

Allardyce is set to take a gamble on the forward in hope Moult can make a similar impact in the top flight to Vardy, who spent years in the non-league game. Being a versatile player he can play in centre midfield or as a secondary striker, not just as a centre forward.

He has a contract with Motherwell until June 30 2018.

Emil Forsberg: Red Bull Leipzig revelation linked with Liverpool

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The Swede would be a great addition to Jürgen Klopp’s team as the Reds look to spend this January, writes Sam May.

Forsberg’s agent Hasan Cetinkaya has suggested his client could swap the Bundesliga for the Premier League, with both the Merseysiders and Leicester interested in his services. It comes after the Reds were rebuffed in their attempts to persuade Christian Pulisic to make the move to Anfield.

His rise has been remarkable and he helped his team to second place in the Bundesliga, three points behind Bayern Munich, nine points ahead of Borussia Dortmund who sit in sixth. Leipzig are the most hated club in Germany but one of the most exciting in Europe and the 25-year-old has played a huge part.

He would be the perfect addition with Sadio Mané set to depart to the AFCON with Senegal. Having scored five goals and made nine assists in 16 appearances, Forsberg is the man Liverpool need.

Like many Liverpool players, Forsberg creates space to exploit in. Work rate and desire is a key element to his game and this is an important trait of Klopp’s. The attacker is good at showing calmness and composure to thread perfectly weighted ball’s through. So far this season, he has averaged 1.4 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per 90 minutes.

There has also been subject of interest from Everton, with Ronald Koeman also keen on securing his services as he looks to re-build. Valued at £20 million, Forsberg has a contract with the German outfit until 2021. He is versatile, hardworking, a clear goal threat and at 25 he still has time to develop and grow.

He is able to play in the No. 10 role even though he is primarily a winger. At Leipzig, the wide players do move further in field to support the centre midfielders – the perfect addition for ‘Klopp’s Red Army’.