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Liverpool vs Brentford: Match Preview

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It’s matchday 22; Liverpool, in their bid of fighting for the title, take on a spirited Brentford side.

Although this fixture seems to be a walk in the park for the Reds. You just cannot take anything away from this Brentford side. They shared the spoils in a classic 6 goal thriller, when they faced each other earlier in September. I am sure The Reds wouldn’t want another night like that at Anfield.

The second half of the Premier League season has started. But it doesn’t seem like Brentford has been promoted in the top division for the first time, since the 1946/47 Season. The Bees have had their own share of joys and sorrows throughout the course of the season. But Thomas Frank’s side has not been able to live up to the same rhythm.

While Brentford are without a win in their last 8 games. Liverpool, themselves are going through a lackluster run of form. Liverpool had to settle for a draw against the 10 men gunners in the semi final of the Carabao Cup. Prior to that, draws against Spurs and Chelsea were flanked from the either side, before a taste of defeat at the hands of Leicester. The Reds need to pull out of this rut.

WHEN & WHERE?

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Venue: Anfield Stadium
Date: Sunday, 16th January 2022
Kick off: 2:00 pm GMT

TEAM NEWS

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Unfortunately for the Liverpudlians, they are bound to miss Salah and Mane every single time their team is going to play. For Klopp, the misery deepens with the absence of some more key players due to injury and illness, as well.

In the latest developments, Origi and Thiago still remain in the list of the absentees. With a knee and hip injury, respectively. Although, Klopp reported knocks for Van Dijk and Robertson after their EFL Cup clash against Arsenal. He also sounded relieved by the fact that both of these players were given clearance to play by the medical team, ahead of their clash against Brentford on Sunday. Their won’t be any major changes from the Liverpool squad that faced Arsenal in the EFL Cup on Thursday, according to their manager.

Meanwhile, a sigh of relief for Thomas Frank in the away dugout as Sergio Canos and Rico Henry returned in the squad after their injuries. The ex-Liverpool man has been key to Frank’s game plan. Brentford do not have to worry about any major absentees no longer, apart from their key midfielder Oyneka. The player is currently with the Nigerian squad, in the African Cup of Nations.

ANALYSIS

Where the Bees could sting 

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Throughout the season, Thomas Frank’s side have looked menacing on counters and set-pieces, releasing their strikers through aerial balls on will. A trait many championship managers resort to, with all due respect to them. But why not, when it is working, right?!

On the contrary Liverpool, as we all know, have been playing a very high line of defense under Jurgen Klopp. This worked when it does. But when it does not, then they are left in the dust. The same way The Bees hurt them when they faced the Klopp’s side back in September. The spaces left in the back by the Liverpool defense were so well used by the Brentford players. Releasing Ivan Toney, their key player up front, with good looping balls over the Reds’ defense.

As a result, Brentford scored all 3 of their goals through good aerial deliveries. Causing troubles, from where they can. As far as Sunday’s return fixture is concerned, Liverpool can still be troubled by this strategy. Given the fact that Brentford do not leave too much spaces, in the back, of their own.

Hitting the opposition from the flanks

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Unconventionally, Liverpool have relied too much on their full-backs. The likes of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, just won’t stop putting the crosses in the box unless a teammate gets on the end of it. This style of play by the Reds’ German gaffer, has been criticized by many pundits this season. Questioning the lack of creativity in the team. And rightly so! They have had to pay for the lack of creativity in the midfield in more testing games. A defeat at the hands of Leicester, which was a hard one to take given the run of form of both the teams leading up to the fixture.

However, on the other hand, the same strategy (if put rightly) has been hurting big teams too. Who could have forgotten the 5-0 score line against Manchester United, at Old Trafford. Trent and Robbo can deliver a peach of a service for their attackers. Pealing through the defenses. They just have to be consistent on Sunday and it should be all in control of the home side.

KEY PLAYERS

Diogo Jota (Liverpool):

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The Portuguese goal machine has already outscored his tally of the highest number of goals in a season, 10. Only half of the season have gone by and there is still no sign of stopping Diogo Jota. It will be interesting to see how the 25 year old Portuguese striker take charge, up ahead. Given the absence of the two stars, Salah and Mane.

The new favorite of the revered Kop, Diogoal Jota has been a striker to watch in the Premier League this season. The movement off the ball. The runs in-between the defenses to open up the play for his attacking allies. Solid positioning. Winning aerial duals. Dribbling past the defenses. All of these attributes just highlight his all-round ability as a striker. Bought by the Reds to cover for Firmino, Jota is now setting standards of his own. He is surely the one to look out of for, as Klopp will be hoping a goal or 2 from his in-form Striker on Sunday.

Ivan Toney (Brentford):

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Likewise, one of the few overlooked strikers in the Premier League, Ivan Toney is a beast up front. Leading his side to the Premier League with a scintillating run of goal scoring form. It is very much clear, that Toney has had difficulty settling to the newer environments. From how it was to what is now- Toney has rightly come into the limelight.

In spite of all the criticism, you still cannot ignore him when it comes to causing the defenders some problems. A leader up front for his side. Hitting the defenses equally on the counters, with his pace. Ivan Toney is not the one you want to face when he is on his day. Toney was the main cause trouble for the Liverpool defense, when the two sides faced each other in September. Running in behind the defense, winning the aerial duals with the show of strength. Thomas Frank will be hopeful for his striker to find his scoring touch against the Reds on Sunday, or there are danger flags looming all over their head.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Jota, Firmino, Jones.

Brentford: Fernandez; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Roerslev, Jensen, Noorgard, Janelt, Canos; Mbeumo, Toney

MUST READ: Football through data science – Brentford’s ideologies make them the most interesting team to join the Premier League since the league’s inception












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Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Rangnick left to fail?

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Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Manchester United’s failure to sign their primary targets is known to everyone. The Red Devils are struggling in the Premier League. Yet, they are doing nothing to land the player’s Ralf Rangnick’s wants.

Amadou Haidara is high on Rangnick’s list of things to get. Moreover, United’s interval manager has effectively placed in calls to his old club to arrange the signing.

Rangnick is very eager to reinforce his midfield and sees Haidara, 23, as a fair securing for both the short and long haul.

Leipzig is available to sell the Malian worldwide. He is addressing his country at AFCON and has verbally agreed to a £33million charge with Rangnick right now.

Manchester United Transfer Rumours: United in danger of losing out on Haidara?

Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Rangnick left to fail?

United is yet to make a proper bid to the German club and could miss out on Haidara after all.

Their advantage has gotten the attention of Newcastle’s new owners. They are anxious to show their muscle in the January window.

That could demonstrate United’s weakness, with club bosses delaying over burning through cash while Rangnick is in charge. The United board is hesitant to give Rangnick free reign in the exchange market.

Rangnick is very irritated with United’s inability to move in the market so far, yet the fates of a few United players are yet hanging out there.

Which players want to leave United?

Jesse Lingard is out of the agreement in the next 6 months. Newcastle, Tottenham, and West Ham pursuing his signing this month. However, he could hold on until the late summer to see who is willing to pay him the wages he wants.

Paul Pogba is living in his own world. The midfielder is out injured and showing no signs of signing a new deal with the club. His deal also ends in 6 months’ time and his agent can talk to other clubs.

Donny van de Beek has additionally become baffled with life at the club. However, Rangnick has encouraged the Dutchman to remain until the finish of the season.

The possibility of Lingard or Van de Beek being sold this month isn’t with regards to the inquiry. Still, United bosses are making it difficult for the interim manager. not eager to supply Rangnick with the funds to finish his transfer business.

Is Rangnick having doubts?

All things considered, Rangnick is presently scrutinizing the degree of impact he will have on signings going ahead. His consultancy job will be starting from this summer itself.

He really loves Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria, who will be a free agent in the summer. The Swiss international is available for a meager transfer fee of 6m pounds.

Brighton’s Yves Bissouma is also scouted. However, the decision will be made in the summer window only after the appointment of a new manager.





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Liverpool Transfer News: Barcelona are monitoring Roberto Firmino as they look to replace Sergio Aguero

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Liverpool Transfer News: Roberto Firmino has had a torrid season owing to injuries. But it looks like Barcelona are monitoring the Brazilian as they look to sweep him in the summer. 

FC Barcelona signed Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in the summer. But tragedy struck the Argentine within months of making his debut for the Spanish Giants. 

The striker fell to the pitch in the match against Deportivo Alaves after he complained of chest pain. He was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia following which he announced his retirement in December last year.

Barcelona have since signed another Manchester City striker in Ferran Torres. But now they are looking to add another striker to their roster, for which they are targeting Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. 

Barcelona look to swoop Roberto Firmino in the summer

Liverpool Transfer News: Barcelona are monitoring Roberto Firmino as they look to replace Sergio Aguero

According to Spanish news outlet El Nacional, FC Barcelona are looking to sign a striker in the summer. And as per the report, the Spanish Giants see Roberto Firmino as the perfect replacement for Sergio Aguero. 

The report states that Roberto Firmino would be in the last year of his contract in the summer transfer window. Hence, the Brazilian would cost only around €20m if Barcelona were to sign him. 

Roberto Firmino has had just 4 Premier League starts in the 2021/22 season. The striker has been sidelined for almost half the games owing to injuries. Hence, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has replaced the striker with Diogo Jota in the attack. 

Jota has made the most of Roberto Firmino’s misfortune. The Portuguese forward has scored 10 goals in 19 Premier League games this season. Of which, the Portuguese have started 16. 

Roberto Firmino though has got to play a key role for Liverpool in January. With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane participating in the Africa Cup of Nations, Firmino would be leading the lines for the Reds. 

The 30-year olds resume has also been impressive with Liverpool. Having joined in 2015, Firmino has scored 94 goals in 309 appearances in all competitions for the Reds. He has also played a key part in the club winning the UEFA Champions League and Premier League titles in recent years. 

Should the Reds let Firmino leave?

As stated earlier, Roberto Firmino is in the last 18-months of his contract with the Reds. To add to this, there is still no update of an extension from Liverpool or the forward. 

Though Roberto Firmino has not scored more than 9 Premier League goals in the last three seasons, his gameplay is crucial. The Brazilian is one of the few low-lying center forwards who helps get the winger’s score. Hence Liverpool should surely try to keep Firmino if he wants to extend his stay in Merseyside.



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Algeria vs Equatorial Guinea: Match Preview

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After that disappointing game against a less fancied, Sierra Leonean side, Algeria comes up against Equatorial Guinea for their second round of matches in the group stage.

Equatorial Guinea also lost to Ivory Coast by a lone goal scored by Max Gradel very early in the game. Max Gradel’s 5th-minute opener is the fastest goal so far in the competition.

Thus, both teams come into this game without a win. A win will increase the chances of both teams towards securing qualification to the knockout stages. This match is a chance for the Algerians to get back to winning ways after being given a reality check by 108th ranked Sierra Leone earlier in the First Round of Matches.

Algeria huffed and puffed looking at a momentary lapse of concentration from the Sierra Leoneans but were left disappointed at the end of the game. The Desert Foxes created few chances and were wasteful even with the few chances they created. Bounedjah, Benrahma and Mahrez were the culprits. Algeria are on a quest to become the 4th nation after Egypt, Ghana and Cameroon to win the AFCON title back to back.

For Equatorial Guinea, this is their 3rd AFCON appearance and their 1st without being hosts. They will be seeking to equal their Quarter-final appearance at the 2015 AFCON.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Time: 7 pm.
Date: Sunday, 16 January 2022.
Venue: Japoma Stadium.

TEAM NEWS

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Youcef Belaili took a knock in the first half of the game against Sierra Leone and was therefore sluggish and lethargic.

Record goalscorer for Algeria, Islam Slimani really offered nothing to the Desert Foxes against Sierra Leone and will be replaced in the starting lineup by Baghdad Bounedjah.

PRE-MATCH ANALYSIS

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Even though they lost their opening game, the Equatorial Guinea team gave a good account of themselves and are expected to lineup in the 4-3-3 formation. They have a lot of quick players in attack who also have great shooting abilities and can wreak havoc from long range as they will be offered very limited spaces against Algeria.

The team’s weak spot is in defence as displayed against the Ivory Coast where they succumbed to incessant attacks from their Ivorian opponents. Coach Djamel Belmadi is obviously disappointed with the lacklustre performance of his team in general and how blunt his attack was.

The Desert Foxes will be alternating between the 4-3-3 and the 4-1-4-1 formation with Haris Belkebla acting as the anchorman. In a 4-3-3 formation, the Algerian front three consisting of Mahrez, Bounedjah and Benrahma will be very pacy and will maraud the defence of the National Thunder. Abdelkader Bedrane, centre-back for the Desert Foxes was also very poor, making several defensive errors in the Sierra Leone game and was hauled off.

He should be replaced by the experienced Djamel Benlamri. Bounedjah is expected to start over Islam Slimani.

PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE

RIYAD MAHREZ

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The Manchester City forward was spiritless, and passive in the Sierra Leone game. He was man-marked throughout the game and offered next to nothing to the Desert Foxes. He will need to go the extra mile to be the creative spark in the team so as to make the work of Baghdad Bounedjah very easy.

SAID BENRAHMA

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West Ham forward, Benrahrima was brought with about a quarter of an hour left to play and missed a glorious opportunity to give the defending champions the lead. He made all the needed runs and was always in the right positions to wreak havoc to the opponents. He has been rewarded a starting berth against Equatorial Guinea.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Algeria possible starting lineup: M’Bolhi; Bensebaini, Atal, Mandi, Djamel Benlamri; Belkebla, Brahimi, Boulaya; Mahrez, Bounedjah, Benrahma.

Equatorial Guinea possible starting lineup: Sapunga; Ndong, Coco, Akapo, Obiang; Salvador, Ganet, Buyla, Machin; Nsue, Hanza.

MATCH PREDICTION

Algeria 3- 1 Equatorial Guinea












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