James Milner

Alexander-Arnold drives Liverpool thrashing of Leicester City

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Trent Alexander-Arnold had a goal and two assists as Liverpool wore down sloppy Leicester City 4-0 at the King Power Stadium on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Firmino scored twice to join James Milner on the score sheet as Liverpool moved 13 points clear of the second place Foxes, who’ve played one more match. The Reds are 14 ahead of Man City.


[ MORE: JPW’s Three Things ]


Notes from an onslaught

1. Alexander-Arnold at full bandwidth: Twenty-one years old and oozing with class, Liverpool’s English right back was nearly impeccable on Thursday.

The pinpoint crosses are nothing new, though they seem to grow in audacity, but the young Liverpool right back showed some show-stopping defensive chops in the first half when he raced back to cut out a Leicester City counterattack.

No one will be mistaking him for Philipp Lahm any time soon — he was dribbled by Caglar Soyuncu late, but Thursday’s showing was reason to believe he can become the total package.

2. Liverpool joins Man City in putting Foxes in proper place: Over two matches in four days, Leicester City did almost nothing to inspire belief that they are a legitimate threat to Liverpool or Man City.

There’s no shame in that; The Man City and Liverpool projects are a lot further along than Brendan Rodgers‘ efforts at the King Power Stadium, but the Foxes’ miraculous history had plenty prodding their second place status as the harbinger of something more.

Look at these numbers from Leicester’s three matches versus the Reds and Citizens this season.

City will drop into third place if Man City gets a point or more on Friday at Wolves, and it seems more likely they’ll have to worry about fending off Chelsea, Spurs for a Top Four place than dislodging either of the two teams above them.

3. Qatar awakening spurs Firmino forward: The Brazilian center forward scored in the Club World Cup semifinal and final, and made it four goals in three matches with his brace on Thursday. Firmino has not scored in the Champions League and has just one goal in his last 11 Premier League matches before leaving for Qatar. He’s back.

Man of the Match: Alexander-Arnold.


Liverpool didn’t look jet lagged in the opening minutes, flying out of the gates to trouble Kasper Schmeichel twice in the first 90 seconds.

Leicester had a rare look at a 10th minute counter attack cut out by Trent Alexander-Arnold for a corner.

Naby Keita then used a counterattack to set up Mohamed Salah, who shot clumsily into the outside netting instead of cutting back for Sadio Mane.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Ben Chilwell was exposed at the back post as Liverpool opened the scoring with a second chance ball off a corner kick. Alexander-Arnold served a ball to the back post and Firmino rose high to nod home.

The second half was essentially an exercise in wondering if Liverpool would find the second goal to erase thoughts of a dramatic equalizer. Firmino just missed turning a cross home in the 56th.

Jamie Vardy won a rare free kick in the 62nd minute, but James Maddison sent a wayward effort high and wide of the goal.

Caglar Soyuncu conceded a penalty in the 70th minute with a handball in the box, and substitute Milner did what he does from the spot.

Klopp: Liverpool provided ‘a lot of great football moments’ in derby win

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The latest gem in Liverpool’s glittering season came courtesy of their depth in an emphatic 5-2 defeat of Everton in the first Merseyside Derby of the season.

Wednesday’s win at Anfield was a little leaky at the back, yeah, but Liverpool’s offensive show left little hope for their rivals.

[ MORE: Match recap | Silva, Holgate react ]

With Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench, Liverpool scored three times in the first 31 minutes and led 4-2 at halftime.

Divock Origi had two goals and Xherdan Shaqiri another by the time Sadio Mane added a goal to his pair of first half assists.

Their manager was loving it. From the BBC:

“Oh, a lot of great football moments in that game. We spoke before about the five changes. I had to show respect to the boys for what they do in training. I speak a lot about the quality of the squad so have to show it. What they made of it was incredible. Divock’s goals, Sadio’s passes, Shaqiri’s everything, Lallana was everywhere.”

Klopp rang in the changes with Shaqiri, Origi, Adam Lallana, Adrian, and James Milner. He said he would’ve liked to play Naby Keita as one of six changes, but he “was not brave enough to make six changes, that is the only problem.”

The Reds were actually out-attempted 12-11 by the visitors but were oh-so-clinical with the ball in the danger areas (until late, when Mane missed a pair of bids which could’ve supplied a hat trick).

Next up is Bournemouth away at 10 a.m. ET Saturday.

Liverpool draws Napoli, takes UCL fate to last match day

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Napoli drew Liverpool 1-1 on Wednesday to push the Reds’ knockout round qualification hopes to the final match day.

Liverpool will advance with a draw or better in Austria against Red Bull Salzburg on Dec. 10. It could also advance with a loss if Napoli fails to beat Genk in Italy.

Salzburg lost 4-3 at Anfield during the first meeting but carries three away goals in case it wins and a tiebreaker is required.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Dries Mertens scored in the first half, but Dejan Lovren leveled the score in the second half.

Premier League teams would love to have a word with Napoli, or subscribe to their diet or something; The Serie A side has now a 2-1-1 record against the reigning UCL champs dating back to last season.


Three things we learned

1. VAR doesn’t save Reds from opening concession: There were two reviews of Dries Mertens opener, but neither stopped the “1” from staying on the visitor’s side of the scoreboard as the Belgian scored for the second-straight match against Liverpool. Mertens timed his run perfectly well, though at first glance it looked like offside would be the call. Also, as good as the finish was, it was helped by a rare mistake from Alisson Becker. The Liverpool goalkeeper was married to his post.

2. Reds have trouble getting going: Napoli’s plan was to punch Liverpool in the mouth. No, literally. The Neapolitan set had the Reds off balance in the first half hour or so, but goalkeeper Alex Meret was called upon twice in the final 10 minutes to keep the advantage 1-0. The second half was much better, and the Reds could’ve found more than their lone tally.

3. Fabinho injury a worry: Liverpool’s midfield monster walked off the pitch and straight into the tunnel with an apparent hip injury. He was already going to miss this weekend via suspension, so if it’s something small he’ll have some time to heal before the Merseyside Derby on Dec. 4. If it’s not something small, the Reds will have some problems navigating a terribly congested December.

Man of the Match: There wasn’t a true star in this one. Obviously Lovren and Mertens delivered the goals, and Kalidou Koulibaly was good at the back for Napoli. But we’ll give it to James Milner, who left in the 78th minute with an assist to go with 89 percent passing, two tackles, three aerials won, and two dribbles.


Napoli took the lead when Van Dijk was momentarily hobbled while rising above Mertens for an aerial win.

Mertens took off as Napoli gained possession, and the Belgian’s run to meet a Giovanni di Lorenzo through ball was immaculate in beating the line set by Andy Robertson. As noted above, Alisson wasn’t at his best and would’ve needed to be in order to stop a terrific strike.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Liverpool came to life and might’ve won a penalty due to some Sadio Mane tomfoolery that the referee was correct to dismiss as embellishment (no card, though). The Senegalese star would later rifle a shot that Meret turned away to keep it 1-0 heading to the break.

Mohamed Salah pumped a shot into Meret’s belly at the hour mark as Liverpool fought for an equalizer. Oxlade-Chamberlain then cued up Roberto Firmino for a header that was probably put off by Kostas Manolas.

Liverpool found its answer off a corner kick, James Milner sending it in and Lovren finishing the play.

Liverpool wins 10-goal League Cup instant classic v. Arsenal

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Two second-choice sides provided first-choice thrills as Arsenal and Liverpool accounted for 10 goals on Wednesday at Anfield before penalties helped the Reds advance to the quarterfinal draw.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Caoimhín Kelleher stopped Dani Ceballos after both sides made their first three shootout attempts.

Gabriel Martinelli scored twice and Mesut Ozil also starred for the Gunners, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira, and Joe Willock also scored to seal a place in the quarterfinals.

Divock Origi scored twice, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner joined an Arsenal own goal on the board for the hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Klopp, Emery not bothered with the League Cup: Whichever manager lost this match was going to have to answer questions after playing extremely weakened sides for a quarterfinal against a Top Four rival. With all due respect to an insanely entertaining match and all the kids who got a chance to wear the Liverpool and Arsenal shirts at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp wasn’t bothered to give his team a fighting shot and Unai Emery cared just a little bit more. Both managers are right to make that call and hope their depth comes through, of course, but it seems like this was the round to start thinking about hardware: three wins from a final and 90 minutes from a draw that will include a third-tier and a fourth-tier side.

2. But the thrills! The old cliche is that high-scoring games make everyone happy but the coaches, and we’ll certainly be including the goalkeepers in this, too. Caoimhín Kelleher and Emiliano Martinez were hung out to dry on several occasions, including a rare mistake from James Milner that allowed Ainsley Maitland-Niles to make it 4-2. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s feats of strength from distance continued with Liverpool’s third, which gave us seven combined goals with a half-hour remaining on the clock. Origi’s equalizer came moments later and was gorgeous, only to be topped by Willock’s wonderful moment.

3. Martinelli keeps making his case: Kids hungry for a chance to shine led to risky challenges and some pretty nice feats, and 18-year-old Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli falls in the latter category. Having now scored seven times in seven senior matches including two braces in this competition, Martinelli is ready to contribute now despite being stuck behind Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Quite a good problem for Arsenal as it navigates several different competitions.

 

Man of the Match: Origi — The man just keeps showing up at big moments in big games, whether in the right spot for Jordan Pickford‘s Merseyside Derby error, the UCL Final, or with two big goals late in this one. Monster day.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Where to start? Maybe we just give the quickest of explanations for the goals.

6th minute: Arsenal’s Shkrodan Mustafi stabs at a cross with one leg, sees his other leg score an own goal.

19th minute: Lucas Torreira deposits a rebound to tie the match after Mesut Ozil sets up Bukayo Saka for a fine shot.

26th minute: Martinelli gets his first by roofing a shot from extremely close range to give Arsenal its first lead.

36th minute: Saka causes a turnover and gets it to Ozil again, who sets up Martinelli for his second.

43rd minute: Having made the giveaway on Martinelli’s second, Harvey Elliott hits the deck after a challenge from Martinelli and James Milner scored from the spot.

54th minute: An uncharacteristic bad pass from Milner puts Kelleher in no man’s land and Maitland-Niles makes it work for a 4-2 lead.

58th minute: “The Ox” has been money from distance, and strokes home for 4-3.

62nd minute: Origi’s goal could’ve easily been the goal of the night (see below), a tidy turn and finish from the top of the box, but…

70th minute: Joe Willock, take a bow.

90’+4: Youngsters Rhian Brewster and Neco Williams do plenty of work to set up Origi, who has more to do when he blasts home to force penalties.

Liverpool’s Klopp thrilled with ‘on fire’ Milner, ‘brilliant boy’ Elliott

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Like most of his Top Four peers, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gave his youngsters the stage on Wednesday in the League Cup.

The kids seized the chance, but it was veteran James Milner who had a goal and an assist in the 2-0 defeat of MK Dons at the Stadium MK.

[ MORE: League Cup full of Wednesday ‘cupsets’ ]

Milner assisted youngster Ki-Jana Hoever‘s 69th minute goal that insured the result, making his 185th appearance for Liverpool a fine one.

Klopp had high praise for his veteran, who is 18 appearances away from matching the number he made for Man City.

The Starting XI included Hoever, Rhian Brewster, Curtis Jones, Caoimhin Kelleher and Harvey Elliott, the latter who holds status as the youngest player to make a Premier League appearance from his 2018/19 season at Fulham.

Klopp used his subs on youngsters Sepp van de Berg (17) and Herbie Kane (20) — we swear that’s his name — and little used Pedro Chirivella. And four other youngsters were unused subs.

Many online joked that Klopp would’ve been happy to lose the match and bow out of the competition. The manager is pretty pleased with the improvement, and hinted that his lineup would look similar in the next round versus Arsenal. From The Liverpool Echo:

“At 16 years old still and he is this kind of footballer. That is really good for us. He is a brilliant boy, he takes the situation really well and wants to learn. He will always be a special player for moments, but you see overall with his defending and movements, it is not easy so that is really good. …  He was a bit unlucky otherwise he would have scored. They are all good, they are all really skilled but that’s why it is important to give them games like this. We will try to continue like this, so we will see.”