The Hard Tackle takes a look at the key news stories surrounding Premier League giants Liverpool from the day.
Liverpool have endured a frustrating start to 2017, going winless in all four games they have played so far this year. As the Reds prepare to visit the Home Park to face Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round replay, here’s a roundup of everything happening in and around Anfield.
Liverpool Under-23s Lose To Manchester United Under-23s
Liverpool dropped two vital points to Manchester United on Sunday night as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored late into the match to rescue the Red Devils from a home defeat to their fierce rivals. And if the frustration of the weekend’s result wasn’t enough, the young Reds have now lost 1-0 to United.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 16, 2017
Liverpool were the dominant of the two sides, although chances were few and far between. The visitors’ keeper Joel Pereira was called into action on several occasions but wasn’t tested much despite sustained pressure from the likes of Brooks Lennon, Jack Dunn and skipper Matty Virtue.
However, with just 14 minutes to go Manchester United were awarded a penalty. Sean Goss stepped up to the spot but his effort was superbly saved by Shamal George. But with just a few moments to go in the match, Matty Willock brought agony to the young Reds with his header from Goss’ free kick.
That 1-0 defeat is only the second loss Liverpool have suffered in their last 11 Premier League 2 matches, and it meant that they remained third in the table.
Klopp’s Frustration Over Matip Situation
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp appeared to be frustrated as he sought more clarity on whether the club can field centre-back Joel Matip anytime soon. The Cameroonian was left out for the Reds’ encounter at Manchester United, and latest reports had indicated that he could miss up to eight games, despite being fit and available.
Matip claims to have retired from international football 18 months ago, but was still selected by Cameroon for Africa Cup on Nations that is currently taking place in Gabon. Liverpool have been seeking clarity on the defender’s eligibility but FIFA’s slow response seems to have irked manager Klopp.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp said, “There were not a lot of times in my life I was in a situation like this, actually, not even in a similar situation. In this moment, we are sure we have done nothing wrong and neither has Joel.
“The thing is that FIFA told us that on Friday, this Friday, they will decide if they open a case about it or not. I accept rules in life, wherever, but I think they should always be based on human sense. In this case, we cannot do more. It is really hard.”
Coutinho Calls For Focus To Achieve “Big Objectives”
Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho has urged his Liverpool teammates to remain focussed to achieve the “big objectives” that the club has set this season. The 24-year-old went on to add that he thinks that this is an important season for the Reds and that they must continue to play well and end the four-game winless run.
Coutinho told Sky Sports, “We have to keep working together because the season is very long. We have big objectives to realise this season. The confidence [of a good result] brings good feeling, tells us that we have to keep working hard. This season promises to be very important for us and Liverpool have to keep playing well.”
Coutinho made a return to action last week as Liverpool lost 1-0 to Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-final 1st leg, before appearing as a second half substitute against Manchester United, when he looked as dangerous as ever and produced some jittery moments for the opposition defence.
Liverpool On The Verge Of Losing Bury Wonderkid
Aston Villa have reportedly moved ahead of Liverpool as well as Manchester United and Manchester City in the race to sign Bury FC wonderkid Jacob Bedeau, with the Championship club stepping up their interest to sign the highly rated defender.
— AllThingsFootball (@ATFootball16) January 16, 2017
Bedeau has rapidly risen through the ranks at Bury, and his undoubted talents were vindicated as he managed to earn his professional debut at the tender age of 16 this season. He has appeared 7 times and his impressive showings at the back had sparked interest from Liverpool as well as a couple of their Premier League rivals.
However, it now looks like the Merseyside club could be resigned to losing their man to Aston Villa, with the Championship club looking the likely favourites to sign the 17-year-old defender.
Benitez Interested In Ojo Loan
Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has reportedly turned towards his former club in order to bring in reinforcements in January, with the Newcastle United boss looking to bring talented young attacker Sheyi Ojo to the St. James’ Park on loan for the rest of the season.
Newcastle are currently battling injury issues, and Benitez is looking to bring in new faces as temporary solutions to counter the problem. And he has identified Ojo, who joined Liverpool from the MK Dons academy, as the perfect player to solve part of his problem.
However, the Liverpool Echo have reported that the Reds are unlikely to let Ojo leave in the winter transfer window, as Klopp insists that the 19-year-old is an important member of his plans with Liverpool competing in the Premier League, FA Cup and the EFL Cup.