Manchester City brushed Leeds aside with a 4-0 win to end their run of four games unbeaten in response to Liverpool’s 1-0 victory at Newcastle at lunchtime; Pep Guardiola’s side remain two points clear at the top of the Premier League, but with just four games left of the campaign to play
Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s sides look destined to remain almost neck-and-neck until the very end of the Premier League season for the second time in four years with both sides victorious on Saturday, to leave City a point ahead in the standings with four games remaining.
Both sides rested players due to their Champions League semi-final commitments but after a Mo Salah-less Liverpool edged to a 1-0 win at Newcastle in the lunchtime kick-off, Manchester City saw off a Leeds side unbeaten in five games with a 4-0 victory at Elland Road to leapfrog them back to the top of the table, despite making five changes from their match with Real Madrid in midweek.
Neville told the Gary Neville Podcast the two teams had transformed the title race from the “fights” of his time as a player at Manchester United into a spectacle both appear to enjoy, with the increasing pressure of keeping up with their title rival never showing – and the prospect of a faultless end to the season a real possibility.
He said: “The thing that actually City have done tonight, which is massively impressive, but they make it look easy, is that when we were up against the team going for a title and they played before us, we always wanted to play first.
“When Liverpool have gone and done what they did at lunchtime today at Newcastle, after Villarreal in midweek and all the games they’ve had recently, you’re thinking that switches the pressure to City, but you never really get the impression that these two teams feel that pressure.
“That’s because of their dominance, because of their class, because of their composure, because of their rhythm. Everything that they have. They just seem to be in control, they seem to be enjoying it.
“When we were going through these tussles with Arsenal, or Chelsea or Blackburn in the mid-90s, it always felt like a fight. But this doesn’t feel like that, even when they played against each other in that brilliant 2-2 draw. Liverpool did very well to come back in and then there were hugs at the end and it’s a very pleasant, respectful run-in.
“But you cannot deny the excellence of both of these clubs and both of these teams at this moment in time because it is a standard that we’ve not seen before in terms of consistency at the end of the season.
“You could say that in other seasons, teams have gone on these types of runs towards the end, but these teams are in the Champions League, they’re in the FA Cups. they’re in the Carabao Cups, they are playing tonnes of matches and still doing it.”
Neville felt both Klopp and Guardiola took a chance by making changes for Saturday’s Premier League matches – but says to have come through unscathed will be of huge benefit to both teams in the remaining games this season, with fringe players feeling more confident and ready to make an impact off the bench in pivotal moments.
“What Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are doing today is, they’re basically empowering the squad,” said Neville. “You hear managers say ‘I’ve got a great squad’, but have you got the guts and the courage to really use that squad in big matches where you need to win?
“Where you know if you don’t win there is a large consequence, or you’re probably going to lose a league title, or you’re going to get knocked out of a European Cup competition. So to do it and then come out of it and win – you’ve empowered everybody.
“You’ve made everybody feel part of it, and the strength in that squad and the commitment of everybody means that you start to blend into the feeling of every three days, you know everyone’s had a game, no one feels like there’s a first eleven.
“It’s a real mistake to name your first eleven, then always play that first eleven in modern football, if you’re going to go for three and four trophies because you’re going to need those five and six and seven on the bench. And so to keep them included to make them feel part of it, get them on the pitch if you can, even it’s for 10 or 15 minutes at the end.
“It’s really critical that you make everybody feel proud of being part of the squad because there is absolute certainty there is going to come a game that will catch you out, and you’re going to need two or three subs to come on and save you. That could be a defensive sub, it could be an attacking sub as well more often than not.
“We had it in the Champions League final, where we had two subs come off the bench and win it for us. Liverpool have that in them, Manchester City have that in them, but you need to keep those players in form, confident, fit, part of it, energised. Making them feel like they’re contributing to the success, and it’s not just a token gesture where you’re being played in the sort of weak games.”
Was it a risk to rest Salah & De Bruyne?
“It’s the first time Jurgen Klopp’s left Mo Salah out in what feels like an absolute age, but he must have felt that was a game that he could leave him out in. Why he thought that, we don’t know. But when I saw that, I thought, ‘Right, what message does that send to the rest of the Liverpool players?’.
“I just thought because he’s played Salah in every game, the game that he leaves Salah out in, I thought would be a risk because it tells the rest of the players something. I just thought there was a risk there when I saw the team news come through. I thought that’s a test for the other players because they know this guy is going to come straight back in against Villarreal. They know he’s number one. So can we get through without him?
“So those Liverpool players come off today getting through without him, and City have got through without De Bruyne, and I think that’s the two best players – I think Van Dijk competes with Salah in terms of importance – but those are the two star players. To come through those games without their two star players, the rest of the squad will feel a million dollars, and you’ve rested your two best players.”
Hello and welcome to the Liverpool ECHO Friday live blog for all your very latest Liverpool FC news, rumours and transfer gossip.
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It was quite the Thursday afternoon for Liverpool supporters following news of Jurgen Klopp’s contract extension, which will keep the German at Anfield until 2026. We will be providing further reaction to news of this deal, which represents a major moment in the Reds’ season.
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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has reiterated that nothing managers say will make a difference to fixture scheduling and those that cannot take it should ‘go to the Maldives’.
Jurgen Klopp has been vocal in his frustration at the fact Liverpool take on Newcastle United in the 12:30pm kick off on Saturday, despite having played in the Champions League against Villarreal on Wednesday night.
The Liverpool boss has hit out at broadcasters and the Premier League on numerous occasions and says no other league in the world would impose such a gruelling schedule.
City, too, have had to navigate similar problems this season with quick turn arounds between their Champions League quarter-final clashes against Atletico Madrid and the games against Liverpool in the league and FA Cup.
Guardiola says ‘nothing will change’ and it’s a waste of time to keep asking managers about such problems.
Jamie Carragher has tipped Ibrahima Konate to become Virgil van Dijk’s main central defensive partner from next season.
The Frenchman was left on the bench for seven of the Reds’ opening eight games of the campaign and has had to remain patient for first-team opportunities since completing his £36million move from RB Leipzig in the summer.
Questions were raised at the start of the campaign as to whether or not Van Dijk would be capable of starring on a regular basis on his return from a lengthy injury layoff, presenting a potential pathway into the first-team for Konate. The Dutch defender has slotted straight back into the team, however, forcing Liverpool’s summer recruit to bide his time.
Liverpool have evolved year on year under Jurgen Klopp. Over time, the Reds have acquired new weapons all over the pitch as a result of consistent stability on the training pitch.
The German has been in charge since October 2015 and he’s formed a coaching team around him packed full of expert contributors. From Pep Lijnders to Peter Kraweitz to Vitor Matos to John Achterberg, Klopp is surrounded by a number of influential voices.
He and his coaches agreed to extend their stay at Anfield on Thursday. They each signed extensions to keep them on Merseyside until 2026, which should allow for further tactical advancements.
Manchester City will be without defensive duo John Stones and Kyle Walker for tomorrow’s Premier League clash with Leeds United at Elland Road.
The Sky Blues started Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid without Walker, meanwhile Stones was forced off during the first half due to aggravating a foot injury.
Already a doubt heading into the contest, the decision to risk the ex-Everton centre-back ultimately backfired as he lasted only 36 minutes before being withdrawn.
News of Jurgen Klopp extending his Anfield stay is the announcement all Liverpool fans were hoping to hear.
Answers provided by the German on his future in recent months appeared to indicate he was ready to call time on his career at the club in 2024, when his contract was due to expire, but the 54-year-old has now taken the decision to prolong his Reds tenure by a further two years to 2026.
Explaining what made him choose to remain on Merseyside past his expected departure date, Klopp explained his wife, Ulla, played an influential role.
And this is not the first time Liverpool have had Klopp’s partner to thank. Targeted to become Sir Alex Ferguson’s replacement at Manchester United in 2013, the Reds’ boss is understood to have turned down this opportunity after advice from Ulla regarding the vacant position.
Leeds United forward Raphinha has explained how he uses Liverpool star Mohamed Salah as an inspiration.
The Egyptian is currently the top scorer in the Premier League with 22 goals so far this term. The 29-year-old has also recently scooped the Football Writers’ Player of the Year award for his efforts this season.
Earlier in the campaign, Raphinha was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool. The Brazilian was also said to be attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
Jamie Carragher has admitted the trophy he thinks Liverpool “will win” this season but has doubts over whether the side can achieve an unprecedented quadruple.
The Reds recorded a relatively comfortable 2-0 win over Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night. Following the victory, the attention of Jurgen Klopp’s side now turns towards Saturday’s trip to Newcastle as Liverpool continue to put pressure on league leaders Manchester City and strive for an unprecedented quadruple.
Having already lifted the Carabao Cup and reached the FA Cup final, the Reds remain just a point behind Pep Guardiola’s side in the title race. Liverpool legend Carragher has backed the club to lift their seventh European Cup but has insisted that the Premier League is City’s to lose.
A young Liverpool player, who only signed a contract to join the Reds this month, has suffered an early injury set-back.
Ben Doak made the move from Celtic to Anfield barely a week ago, after announcing on social media that he had agreed to join the Merseyside giants in a deal understood to be worth around £600,000 to the Hoops.
But the 16-year-old has been hit by a groin issue which has ruined the versatile youngster’s forthcoming international plans.
Pep Guardiola has congratulated Jurgen Klopp after the Liverpool manager signed a contract extension to stay at Anfield for the next four years at least.
But the Manchester City boss had a slightly more unusual take on Reds forward Mohamad Salah being confirmed as the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year.
In a whirlwind 24 hours for the Merseyside club, Liverpool confirmed on Thursday afternoon that Klopp had signed a two year extension to his current contract, keeping him at Anfield until 2026. And on Friday morning news broke about Premier League top scorer Salah topping the Footballer of the Year poll, as voted for by industry journalists.
Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has warmly greeted the news of Jurgen Klopp’s contract extension.
Club legend Gerrard, now manager of Aston Villa, was speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the midlands side’s home clash against Norwich City tomorrow.
He said: “I think you can tell by the smile. “All the Liverpool fans all over the world are absolutely delighted with the news. Congratulations to Jurgen and his staff. It will be Liverpool’s most important signing for many years to come.
“I think he deserves it for the way he has performed from a personal point of view. I think the fans have been craving that signing for some time and he’s built a world class team and I think that they’re on the cusp of something really special.”
Liverpool legend John Barnes believes Roberto Firmino still has a huge future at Anfield and will play a key role for the Reds as the big games keep on rolling in.
The Brazilian has missed the last three matches with a foot inury and earlier today, Jurgen Klopp confirmed that the Brazilian will not be in the squad to face Newcastle United tomorrow.
But speaking to BonusCodeBets, Barnes said: “Despite the way Luis Díaz is playing, Roberto Firmino hasn’t slipped down the pecking order at Liverpool, at all.
“If Firmino is 100% fit, he’s likely to play in the biggest games ahead of Díaz, but he’s just been injured recently. He’s very important to Liverpool, he is one of my favourite players and he’s certainly one of Jürgen Klopp’s.
“If Liverpool cashed in on him this summer and others got injured, then what would they do? He’s a valuable member of the team and squad. At his age they aren’t going to get £80 million for him – so they shouldn’t sell him.”
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen believes Liverpool are in for a tough examination at St James’ Park tomorrow lunchtime but has faith that the Reds will have enough to see off Newcastle and keep their Premier League title tilt on course.
Writing in his predictions column for BetVictor, he said: “Make no mistake, this is far from a straightforward game for Liverpool. Newcastle have won four in a row in all competitions, conceding just one in that time. They cruised to the win at Norwich last week, this side is full of confidence.
“Liverpool probably could have had more goals against Villareal, but it was a comfortable 2-0 win nonetheless. The last two wins have been against sides who have defended deep and tried to frustrate them, Everton and Villareal, it’s a good sign that they still found a way to win.
“Liverpool have so much momentum right now. This won’t be easy, Newcastle are in great form themselves. I’m going for 2-1 Liverpool.”
Jurgen Klopp has completed the main part of his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Newcastle United tomorrow.
The early team news is that Roberto Firmino still hasn’t returned to training and will once against be missing from tomorrow’s match day squad.
Kostas Tsimikas has been ill but was back in training yesterday so could still be in contention, but Curtis Jones has an issue and did not train yesterday, so remains a doubt.
The goods news just keeps coming for Liverpool supporters. Mohamed Salah has been crowned Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
The Egyptian star earned 48 per cent of the vote, ahead of Kevin De Bruyne and Declan Rice, who were second and third.
Salah previously won the Football Writers’ award in 2018. Chelsea striker Sam Kerr has been crowned Women’s Footballer of the Year.
FWA chair, Carrie Brown, said, “Both Mo and Sam have been outstanding this season, breaking records for both club and country. As well as their performances on the pitch, they are leaders and standard bearers of excellence at their clubs and respective leagues.
“The fact they have won by such convincing margins underlines just how impressive they have been this season which has been recognised by our members.”
Of the 34 players who received votes for the men’s award, eight of them were Liverpool players. Salah will receive his award at the Footballer of the Year Dinner on May 5.