Coutinho to Barca? Three reasons why Liverpool need to stand firm

Philippe Coutinho’s future at Liverpool has been cast into doubt as Barcelona are ready to splash the cash on the Brazilian. The La Liga giants have already had a £72 million bid rejected, but they’ll do whatever they can to bring Coutinho to Barca this summer.

An improved £80 million bid is being lined up, according to the Daily Mirror, so this could well be a transfer saga that lasts for the remainder of the window.

Barcelona have long been admirers of Coutinho. Many feel he is the perfect man to replace Andres Iniesta at the Nou Camp. But it’s Neymar’s potential world-record move to PSG that has accelerated the chase for the Liverpool playmaker.

Paris Saint-Germain are seemingly set to trigger Neymar’s £196m release clause, shattering the transfer record by £107m. That would leave Barcelona with a big void to fill in their squad, but a lot of money to fill it with.

But no matter what, Liverpool won’t want to lose their star attacker. Here are three reasons Liverpool need to hold on to Coutinho this summer:

1. ‘Not a selling club’

The club have insisted they are “not a selling club” and won’t be forced to sell. Jurgen Klopp made that very clear after news of the initial bid surfaced. He spoke directly to Coutinho about the issue during the team’s preseason tour at the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong, and he believes the Reds have no reason to part ways with the Brazilian.

It’s now crucial for Liverpool to stand by that statement. Their fans will be concerned with interest from a club as big as Barca. But if Liverpool want to continue improving, as they have made clear, they must stand by their word.

2. A worrying trend following big sales

Liverpool’s three biggest sales in club history are Fernando Torres, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez. All three were sold over the past seven seasons, but the Reds have tended to struggle after losing key men.

In Torres’s final season at Anfield, Liverpool finished 6th. The following season, they finish 8th. In Luis Suarez’s final season at the club, Liverpool hand one hand on the 2013/14 Premier League title before a late collapse saw them finish runners-up. After he left for Barcelona in the summer of 2014, Liverpool went on to finish 6th. That was in Raheem Sterling’s final season. Then, after he departed for Man City Liverpool ended up finishing 8th in the first season without him.

The trend is that Liverpool have worse seasons after losing star players. Yes, that will be the case for most clubs. Yes, it’s difficult to build once a star man has left. But some clubs cope, Liverpool have so far proven they cannot. Losing Coutinho to Barca would be potentially disastrous for what Klopp is building.

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3. Irreplaceable

The reason the Coutinho to Barca rumours have picked up so much pace is because there are arguably very few, if any suitable replacements for Neymar at the Nou Camp. Coutinho is excellent on the ball. He is highly versatile. He has the ability to beat a man with ease. And he is as good at finding the back of the net as he is a teammate. Barcelona know that he would be well suited to replacing the goals and assists Neymar provides.

So if Liverpool were to sell, there is no obvious answer as to who they’d bring in as his replacement. Yes, they’d have a big stack of cash to spend. But given the inflated prices during the current transfer window, Liverpool would likely have to settle for someone a lot less talented that Coutinho if they needed to replace him.

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Do Liverpool hold the key in Hazard’s Chelsea departure with attempt to sign €80m Madrid star?

Liverpool could potentially play a key role in Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea at the end of the season as they are reportedly interested in signing Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez, so long as they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The Colombian has been in and out of the Madrid side since joining for a whopping €80 million in 2014, but Los Blancos may well entertain offers for him this summer in a bid to fund a potential world-record transfer for Hazard.

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It’s no secret the Chelsea man is wanted by Real. Many have dubbed him a ‘Real Madrid sort of player’ and with the current state of the transfer market in mind this could be the first fee to reach over £100m.

Madrid have broken transfer records to land Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and are unlikely to hesitate doing the same thing to bring Hazard to the Bernabeu this summer.

Chelsea are not a club renowned for selling their top players but have been making a name for themselves with the business they’ve been doing over the last few seasons in terms of selling stars they no longer need for big money. While Hazard certainly doesn’t fall into that category it shows if the right price is offered they could agree to sell him.

An offer of the sort of value that is being spoken about would no doubt be tempting for any club, no matter how good the player is and it would provide Chelsea with the purchasing power to sign a like-for-like replacement and potentially break even.

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Jurgen Klopp looks set to be preparing for the possibility of life after Philippe Coutinho, who is heavily tipped for a move to Barcelona in the coming months, so the potential purchase of Rodriguez would almost definitely have a knock-on effect across Europe.

One thing is for sure, if Real Madrid want Hazard they will do everything possible to get him. They’ve got a history of splashing huge amounts of cash on players and would no doubt be willing to spend whatever it takes to get their man, even if they were to keep hold of Rodriguez.

Will Rodriguez join Liverpool? Is Hazard on his way out of Chelsea?

Jurgen Klopp needs to sign this goalkeeper and centre-back for Liverpool this summer

Liverpool continued their impressive record against sides in the top half of the Premier League at the weekend with their draw away at Manchester City, but their inconsistent form throughout the season has threatened their chances of finishing in the top four. Fans and pundits alike have called for Jurgen Klopp to tighten up his defence by signing a new goalkeeper and world-class defender in the summer. Are these two players the ideal fit for the Reds?

Joe Hart

The England international has found himself exiled from Pep Guardiola’s plans and it seems unlikely he will feature for City in the future. A whole host of clubs will be battling it out to sign the experienced Premier League winner but Liverpool need him more than most.

Hart’s winning mentality and consistent outstanding performances at the highest level will give the Liverpool defence more confidence. He has had – and has overcome – critics in the past and his own self-belief is exactly what makes him a top ‘keeper. Hart dominates his penalty area and commands his defenders into the position he wants them. A leader on and off the field would no doubt push Liverpool in the right direction.

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Kostas Manolas

The Roma centre-back is making a name for himself in one of the toughest defences in Europe. The Italian side have conceded just 26 goals in 29 Serie A games this season and Manolas is being linked with a move to many of Europe’s elite clubs in the coming months. Liverpool are reported to be interested in his services and he would certainly add some steel to their defence.

Klopp’s defence is lacking a leader and Manolas has captaincy potential. At just 25 he has the best part of eight years to play at the top and by signing him Liverpool would have no trouble attracting other players who would love the chance to form a formidable centre-back partnership with the Greek international.

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Will Liverpool sign Hart and Manolas? Who would you like to see Klopp bring in to improve his defence in the summer?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Liverpool

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Friday, September 16 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: Chelsea 5/4 – Draw 5/2 – Liverpool 2/1

Match Preview

Chelsea welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge on Friday night in a game that is one you usually do not want to miss.

Chelsea come into this one having drawn in their controversial game against Swansea. Regardless of what happened in that tie, Chelsea should not have allowed their opponents back into the game.

Despite drawing 2-2, there were a lot of positives for Chelsea. They created a huge amount of chances and a number of their players are relishing life under Antonio Conte.

This is arguably Chelsea’s toughest tie of the season so far and they are welcoming a Liverpool side who have been scoring freely.

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Liverpool come into this one having demolished Leicester 4-1 last weekend. Jurgen Klopp’s side looked dangerous in the final third but conceded through a shocking defensive error.

Although Liverpool have scored nine goals in the Premier League this season, they have conceded seven. This will be a concern for Klopp as they face a Chelsea side who have averaged at least two goals a game in their opening four league games.

Liverpool won their last Premier League visit to Stamford Bridge but know they are facing a very different Chelsea side this time around.

This game has the makings of a cracker. In their eight matches combined this season, Liverpool and Chelsea have overseen 29 goals scored/conceded.

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Team News

Chelsea have two injury concerns heading into this tie. Kurt Zouma remains out and captain John Terry is unavailable after rolling his ankle late on against Swansea, which is a huge blow for Chelsea. David Luiz is in line to make his second Chelsea debut in Terry’s absence.

Liverpool are expected to be without Emre Can, while Mamadou Sakho and Joseph Gomez are both doubts.

Key Points

Chelsea’s form: W/W/W/D

Liverpool’s form: W/L/D/W

Key Stat: Home form – Chelsea are unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 games at Stamford Bridge.

Key Player: Diego Costa – The controversial Spaniard has netted in every game in the Premier League so far this season. He looks to be at his confident best and he’ll be looking to cause havoc to a Liverpool defence that has looked suspect at times in their opening four league games.

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Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool – Both of these sides have been playing in incredibly intense, end-to-end games this season and at some point the pace is bound to drop slightly. Chelsea could well have a slightly more cautious approach considering how their second half unfolded against Swansea, while Liverpool will not want to give Chelsea as many opportunities as they have to opponents so far this season.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Leicester City

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs. Leicester City

Venue: Anfield – Saturday, September 10 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 8/13 – Draw 3/1 – Leicester 17/4

Match Preview

Liverpool welcome reigning Premier League champions Leicester City to Anfield on Saturday evening in a tie that has the makings of one not to miss. 

Jurgen Klopp will be expecting more from his side than they have already shown this season. They’re sitting 11th on four points.

Liverpool come into this one having picked up a point in their 1-1 draw with Spurs, a game they looked like they could have gone on to win, but a solid result nonetheless.

This will be test for Liverpool but they will fancy their chances, they are unbeaten in their last eight home games and have a strong record against Leicester at Anfield.

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Leicester have had a solid start to their title defence but unsurprisingly look a little off the pace compared to the big-spenders in the transfer window.

Claudio Ranieri’s side come into this one having picked up a convincing win over Swansea at home and will want to get on a run of form now.

Leicester’s response to losing their opener has been impressive and they have looked more like the side that won the league in their last two games.

This is going to be a tough season for Leicester but they know what they’re capable of and will not be fearing travelling to any side.

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Team News

Liverpool are expecting to be without Emre Can, Joe Gomez and Mamadou Sakho for this tie.

Leicester City have just two injury concerns ahead of this tie as Jeffrey Schlupp and Nampalys Mendy are both expected to remain out.

Key Points

Liverpool’s form: W/L/D

Leicester City’s form: L/D/W

Key Stat: Liverpool are unbeaten at home to Leicester in the last five meetings between the sides at Anfield. 

Key Player: Phillippe Coutinho – The Liverpool playmaker will be looking to unlock a solid Leicester defence. As we know, he likes a long-range effort so we can expect to see him take on any opportunity he feels is worth trying.

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Score Prediction

Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City – Neither side will make this easy for the other. Liverpool have been impressive at home but being under pressure suits Leicester and they will be looking forward to counter-attacking a defence who have looked vulnerable so far this season.

Weekend focus: Arsenal, Hull & Spurs – what to expect

We’re closing in on another action packed round of Premier League fixtures. The ‘weekend focus’ series picks three games and looks at what to expect. This time around we’re looking at Arsenal‘s trip to Watford, whether Hull City can keep their run going and if Tottenham Hotspur can overturn Liverpool at White Hart Lane.

Pressure on Arsene Wenger: 

Arsenal have picked up just one point from a possible six so far and their trip to Watford on Saturday afternoon isn’t going to be an easy one.

The Gunners have drawn their last four away games in the Premier League.

Arsenal managed just four shots on target in their game against Leicester last time out, their defensive performance was much better than their opener but they looked sluggish and out of ideas in the final third.

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Verdict: The pressure will pile on Wenger if they fail to win again. He will have just under five days left to make any signings by the time they have played on Saturday.

Can Hull remain 100%?

Hull City have stunned pundits and fans alike with their opening two performances of the season, winning both games. They’re one of only four clubs to have a 100% record in the league so far.

The Tigers haven’t beaten United in eight attempts in the Premier League, losing seven and drawing one, so this is going to be a big ask.

The last meeting between these two was a 0-0 draw, a result Hull would settle for in this one. However this tie ends up they’ve had a great start to the season and they’ll be full of confidence.

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Verdict: Hull to find this a very difficult tie against a United side who will be expecting to take all three points. 100% record to come to an end.

Will Spurs put an end to their winless run against Liverpool?

Tottenham Hotspur haven’t beaten Liverpool in the last seven meetings between the sides in the Premier League, conceding 19 goals along the way.

Harry Kane has never scored a Premier League goal in August in nine games but he’ll be feeling confident of facing Simon Mignolet – the Liverpool ‘keeper has conceded the last five shots he has faced.

Spurs have lost just one of their last nine home games in the league, picking up 20 points along the way, they’ll be itching to bring that winless run to an end.

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Verdict: Spurs have lacked cutting edge in the final third in their opening two games, while Liverpool have been conceding goals they have also scored nine in all competitions. Draw.

What do you think will happen in these three games?

Weekend recap: United impress, what do Arsenal and Liverpool lack?

The second Premier League weekend of the season has passed with some surprising results. So here are our top three picks. 

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United impress:

Manchester United played out the first Friday night football of the season at home to Southampton. Although possession favoured the visitors early on, United dominated on the most part. They barely got out of second gear and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s two goals showed exactly why he was signed. Paul Pogba looked comfortable on his second debut.

But for some hesitation in decision making in the final third, United could have easily scored two or three more. Southampton had a couple of decent half chances as they broke through United’s defence, something Mourinho will be looking to iron out in training this week.

A relatively easy win with United looking the part.

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More calls for Arsene to spend as Arsenal held:

An all too familiar story for Arsenal fans in this one. They struggled throughout to break down a resilient Leicester and any chances that presented themselves were not taken. Leicester felt they should have had a penalty late on and they had a case.

The return of Laurent Koscielny was welcomed by the Gunners and Petr Cech showed his class once again, but Arsenal are already five points behind the Premier League leaders.

Wenger still needs a centre back and centre forward.

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Klopp’s Liverpool stunned by Burnley:

The shock result of the weekend was undoubtedly Liverpool‘s 2-0 away defeat to newly promoted Burnley. Jurgen Klopp’s side had 26 shots but failed to breach the Burnley backline.

This could well be a one off for Liverpool, they had plenty of chances and 81% possession but it was just ‘one of those games’ – they impressed offensively in their opener but have already shipped in five goals.

Liverpool need to tighten up at the back and take their chances but it is not the time to panic.

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Who impressed you the most this weekend? Should Arsenal and Liverpool be looking to make signings?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Chelsea

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Venue: Anfield – Wednesday, April 20 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 19/20 – Draw 11/4 – Chelsea 13/5

Match Preview

Liverpool welcome Chelsea to Anfield on Wednesday night in the penultimate game of the Premier League season for both sides.

The Reds come into this one off the back of their 2-0 home win against Watford which ended a run of two games without a victory.

Jurgen Klopp will have eyes on next week’s Europa League final against Sevilla so may rest players but he will be itching for his side to finish the season in the highest position possible, which could potentially be 5th if results go their way. 

Liverpool have only lost one of their last 12 home games in the Premier League and are unbeaten in their last seven at Anfield. They have scored 18 goals in those seven games.

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Chelsea’s dismal season took another low blow at the weekend as they twice threw away the lead against Sunderland.

Guus Hiddink’s time as interim manager is coming to an end and he has watched Chelsea struggle in recent weeks as they have won just two of their last eight league games.

Chelsea are unbeaten at Anfield in their last four visits, winning two and drawing two, but given their current form and the way their season has gone, it wouldn’t be a surprise if that run came to an end here.

The Blues have already lost to Liverpool this season, the reverse fixture ending in a 3-1 loss in one of Klopp’s first games as manager. Chelsea could potentially finish as low as 13th if results go against them so they need to finish the season with as much dignity as possible and rebuild ahead of the next campaign.

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Team News

Liverpool have five injury concerns as Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Danny Ings, Divock Origi and Jordan Rossiter are all out. Mamadou Sakho is still suspended following the ongoing investigation after his failed blood test.

Chelsea have just three injury concerns. Loic Remy and Kurt Zouma are expected to be out while Pedro is a doubt after he missed the trip to Sunderland. John Terry is serving the first of his two-match ban following his sending off at the weekend in what looks to be a bitter end to his Chelsea career.

Key Points

Liverpool’s last five: W/W/D/L/W

Chelsea’s last five: L/L/W/D/L

Key Stat: Fast start – The opening goal of this fixture has been scored within the first ten minutes in four of the last five meetings in the Premier League. 

Key Player: Daniel Sturridge – The Englishman has scored eight goals in a season riddled with injuries. He will want to get one over on his former club and impress Klopp in the hope of securing a starting position for the Europa League final.

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Score Prediction

Liverpool 3-1 Chelsea – Liverpool have been scoring freely at home and face a Chelsea side who will be willing the season to end. Klopp may rest some players but will be fielding a team to win this game and he will expect nothing less in a tie which usually has plenty of action. 

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Everton

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs. Everton

Venue: Anfield – Wednesday, April 20 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 4/6 – Draw 3/1 – Everton 19/5

Match Preview

Liverpool welcome Everton to Anfield on Wednesday night in the Premier League for a midweek Merseyside Derby.

The home side have been on a fine run of form of late and come into this tie unbeaten in their last three league outings.

Liverpool won 2-1 away at Bournemouth last weekend and a win in this fixture could see them move up the table into 6th. Jurgen Klopp will be pleased with the progression his side are making and he will be hoping to end the season in the strongest form possible to build a foundation for Liverpool to mount a top four challenge next campaign. 

There have been six draws in the last seven Merseyside Derby clashes, but Liverpool will be feeling confident they can break that trend heading into this tie. 

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Everton are stuck in a rut of form. They haven’t won any of their last six Premier League games, losing twice and drawing in each of their last three.

There is plenty of room for improvement for Roberto Martinez’s side and a win here would certainly be the lift they are looking for as the season nears its end.

Everton’s last league visit to Anfield ended in a 1-1 draw, a scoreline they would probably be satisfied with heading into this tie given the differing form between the two sides.

The Toffees are sitting in 11th on 41 points and they will want to ensure they can get back into form as only two points separate them and 16th place at this stage.

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Team News

Liverpool have seven injury concerns heading into this tie. Christian Benteke, Emre Can, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson and Danny Ings are all expected to miss out, while Divock Origi and Kolo Toure are both doubts.

Everton have one less injury concern. Leighton Baines, Tom Cleverley, Seamus Coleman, Tony Hibbert and Aaron Lennon are all doubtful, while Phil Jagielka remains out.

Key Points

Liverpool’s last five: W/L/D/W/W

Everton’s last five: L/L/D/D/D

Key Stat: Everton have failed to win in any of their last six Premier League outings and have only scored twice in their last five games. 

Key Player: Roberto Firmino – The Liverpool forward has netted nine goals this season, including his side’s opener last weekend and will look to light up the Merseyside Derby at Anfield here.

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Score Prediction

Liverpool 3-1 Everton – Liverpool to continue their run of form and overpower a struggling Everton side in front of the home crowd. It’s been a tough season for Everton, who have underachieved given their squad strength but Liverpool will likely add to their woes with a comfortable victory on Wednesday night.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Venue: Anfield – Saturday, April 2 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 6/4 – Draw 12/5 – Tottenham 7/4

Match Preview

Liverpool welcome Premier League title chasers Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield this weekend in a game which is usually packed full of action. 

Jurgen Klopp’s side suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to Southampton before the international break after having a comfortable 2-0 advantage.

European football is still on the agenda for Liverpool, they sit 9th but are only six points off the top four, we can expect plenty of changes to the table during the run-in to the end of the season.

Liverpool have scored 18 goals and are unbeaten against Tottenham in the last six meetings between the sides.

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Tottenham are still within a shout of winning the league, they are five points off top spot so they must ensure they win every game until the end of the season to do everything they can to challenge for the title.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side look destined for a top four finish now barring an unthinkable run of poor form, Spurs fans would have been more than happy with their side securing Champions League football at the start of the season.

Tottenham secured a convincing 3-0 win over Bournemouth before the international break. They started that game incredibly well, scoring within a minute, if they can start this game in similar fashion they will no doubt cause Liverpool problems.

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Team News

Liverpool have six injury concerns coming into this tie. Christian Benteke, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Rossiter are all out, while Roberto Firmino is a doubt.

Tottenham have a shorter injury list, with just four players who could miss out. Nabil Bentaleb and Clinton N’Jie are both expected to be out, while Jan Vertonghen and Erik Lamela are both doubts.

Key Points

Liverpool’s last five: D/W/W/W/L

Tottenham’s last five: W/L/D/W/W

Key Stat: Liverpool are unbeaten in 15 of their last 16 home games against Spurs in all competitions. 

Key Player: Harry Kane – The Spurs goal machine has netted 21 in the league this season and scored a stunner for England to spark their comeback against Germany in the international break, he is in great form and will be looking to cause Liverpool problems this weekend.

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Score Prediction

Liverpool 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur – Tottenham to just edge it and put a winless run of six games against Liverpool behind them. If Spurs are to lose in this one they could find themselves completely out of the race for the title, so there is added pressure on Pochettino’s side to perform here.