Aston Villa are the guests of the last home game of the season. The Reds are looking to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive, but it will mark the end of an era in more ways than one.
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Liverpool have shown their best form this season and are aiming for an eighth straight win as Unai Emery travels on Saturday afternoon.
The Reds returned to the Premier League after the Winter World Cup with a 3-1 win on Boxing Day in the second leg at Villa Park and will be hoping for a similar result in Anfield’s last game of 2022/23.
Here are 10 things you need to know ahead of Liverpool v Liverpool. Aston Villa.
1. No Klopp on the sidelines
Jurgen Klopp will be absent from the bench as he is serving his one-match ban for events against Tottenham last month.
The boss will be watching from the stands during the match itself, but could be on the pitch for the post-match ‘thank you round’ in which Anfield will serenade an outgoing quartet.
Roberto Firmino and James Milner are sure to receive commemorative gifts from the club, such as Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum at their last game in 2020/21, also Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita?
2. Si Senor and an emotionally charged afternoon
On Saturday, we can expect two things: Si Senor in the replay and some tears in the Kop as Firmino bids farewell after eight years at the club.
Perhaps no one represents this era better than Bobby and his energy, his smile and his personality. A true Liverpool legend.
Firmino had to be serenaded for 15 minutes in the 3-0 win at Leicester despite not making the matchday squad, and everyone at Anfield is hoping he can make an appearance on the bench SATURDAY. 3. Seven in a row against Emery?
The Aston Villa boss has done an impressive job since Steven Gerrard took over in October and his side are now comfortably settled in eighth place.
Saturday sees his ninth game as manager against Liverpool, the first of which is in the 2016 Europa League final with Sevilla.
Since then, he hasn’t managed to beat the Reds with any of his teams and has lost his last six matches to Jurgen Klopp. 4. No Nunez involved
After Darwin Nunez missed the trip to Leicester, Klopp has confirmed the Uruguayan will also be out this weekend.
The manager revealed Nunez ‘hasn’t trained’ this week and ‘will not be available’ due to ‘tendon inflammation in his toe’.
That’s six separate injuries suffered by Nunez in his first season at Anfield.
Elsewhere, Klopp confirmed that ‘the long-term injured are still out, but the rest should be available’.
5. End of another era…
It’s been a tumultuous season for many reasons, but Liverpool’s home record remains extremely solid. A win on Saturday would secure second place in the Premier League “home table” ahead of Arsenal, with champions Man City the only side to have collected more points on their home turf.
Leeds are by and large the only team in the league to have won at Anfield this season.
With the departure of four players, it will also mark the end of another era as on Monday the roof of the Anfield Road stand will be removed meaning the Reds will be ahead of 61,000 the next time they play at Anfield – and the most viewers at home. since May 1977.
6. 10 in a row for Monday? And overtake Gerrard?
In a season already littered with records, Mohamed Salah scored his 100th goal at Anfield in a 1-0 win over Brentford.
The Egyptian winner equaled Gerrard’s 186 goals in all competitions and a goal on Saturday would propel him past the Reds icon to fifth in the club’s all-time goalscoring chart.
Moreover, Salah would play ten consecutive home games in which he made the goalscoring charts and five of the six seasons in which he scored 20 or more Premier League goals.
7. A new kit
During the last home game of the season, Liverpool will wear the new home kit for the 2023/24 season for the first time.
Following its launch earlier this month, fans will see players sporting the new kit in what will hopefully be a routine win to end the season at Anfield.
It’s not uncommon for the Reds to don a new shirt before the summer, but the team didn’t do so last season due to the potential to clinch the Premier League title on the final day.
8. Bobby is back
As previously mentioned, the meeting with Aston Villa represents Firmino’s last chance to say goodbye to Anfield. To secure Champions League qualification, Liverpool still have to take care of business on the pitch, but fans will hope there will be room for the atmosphere if the Brazilian is fit enough to be there.
During his press conference, Klopp confirmed that Firmino had been training despite not having played since the 6-1 win at Leeds last month when he suffered a muscle injury.
Fans are hoping to see him on the pitch at Anfield one last time before he takes on a new challenge next season.
9. Brooks in the middle
In a week when Newcastle fans have decided to worry about the referee’s birthplace for their clash with Brighton, John Brooks is the man to referee our final home game of the 2022/23 season. Klopp has apologized for his overzealous celebration of Brooks as he was in fourth official duty in last month’s dramatic 4-3 win over Tottenham.
Matthew Wilkes and James Mainwaring are the assistants, the fourth official is, you guessed it, Newcastle fan Michael Oliver.
Phil Jones comments come back to haunt Sir Alex Ferguson as Liverpool get last laugh after being mocked for signings
Jordan Henderson joined Liverpool just days before they missed out on Phil Jones to Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson had very different views on the two players
Phil Jones’ Manchester United career is almost officially over. The Red Devils confirmed on Friday that the England international will leave Old Trafford at the end of his contract this summer, having made 229 over the past 12 seasons.
In truth, his exit is no surprise. The 31-year-old hasn’t made a single appearance under Erik ten Hag this season, with his last four years being riddled by injury. He has made 13 appearances across the past four years, with his final start for United coming when he was surprisingly selected at Anfield as Liverpool ran out emphatic 4-0 winners over their fierce rivals last April.
Following confirmation of his departure, Jones published an emotional letter to Manchester United fans as he shared what it has meant to him to join the club and play for the Red Devils.
“My time at United has been nothing short of incredible,” he wrote. “When I decided to leave Blackburn, I always wanted to prove myself further. I’d represented my boyhood club, and lived a dream, but I was desperate to show everyone what I could do at the highest level.
“I had this hunger inside me and I was desperate to continue that at a club that could challenge for everything. I had offers from a few clubs but I was waiting and waiting for the call from United. One day, on holiday, the phone rang from Sir Alex.
“I left my holiday that day, I couldn’t wait to meet him. I couldn’t wait to sign and, most of all, I couldn’t wait to get started. There was only one club where I wanted to continue my journey in the game. To wear this shirt just once, to wear this badge and represent everyone associated with it, was an honour…
“I lived a dream at the biggest club in the world. I played for England in major tournaments. At United, I won trophies, most notably the Premier League under Sir Alex, in his final season.”
Yet, Jones could have easily found himself playing for Liverpool instead of Manchester United when leaving Blackburn in the summer of 2011. Both clubs were in for both the defender and Jordan Henderson.
One ended up at Old Trafford, while the other moved to Anfield. One enjoyed immediate success while the other was written off. Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson would famously claim Jones could even be United’s ‘best ever player’, while belittling Henderson when explaining why he didn’t sign the midfielder.
Yet 12 years on, the Scots words have emphatically come back to bite him. As Jones’ career has been wrecked by injury, Henderson has captained Liverpool to every major honour to reclaim their perch. Both the Reds and their captain will have no regrets.
Considering how he appears, he might be our best player ever, according to some.
Sir Alex Ferguson watched from the stands as Liverpool devastated Manchester United 4-0 at Anfield, horrified to see his beloved team, whom he had so admirably served for 27 years, destroyed by their fiercest rivals for the second time in as many months.
In comparison to the teams the Scot created to dethrone the Reds from their throne, the Red Devils are unrecognizable. At Anfield, former United players Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, and Roy Keane looked on in disdain, serving as a reminder of how low United have sunk.
Since Ferguson left Old Trafford and announced his retirement from management nine years ago, United has not won the Premier League. At Anfield, with yet another trophyless season already imposed upon them, their tails are firmly between their legs.
However, some of the Scot’s last United additions are still with the team and were a part of the team he led to the club’s final Premier League championship in 2012–13. And on Tuesday against Liverpool, they started their longest-tenured player, who Ferguson once claimed might be their best player ever.
In this 4-0 rout, he faced up against the Reds’ own longest-tenured player, a guy who had been cast off by the legendary United manager in.
Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones was a target for both Liverpool and Manchester United during their domestic recruitment drives in the summer of 2011. That time, it was Ferguson who got his man, signing the 19-year-old for £17 million.
The kid, who declined an alternative offer from FSG to move to Anfield, would later describe the relocation as “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
However, the Scot had already missed out on one other target when the Reds signed Jordan Henderson, 20, from Sunderland in a deal for up to £20 million. At the time, United had been the long-time favorites to sign the player after Ferguson received a tip from Black.
Liverpool attempted to sign a number of additional homegrown players that summer after acquiring Andy Carroll from Newcastle United in a club-record £35 million move the previous January.
They spent £20 million on Stewart Downing from Aston Villa, but lost out on Ashley Young, who joined the Red Devils. They would later re-sign Craig Bellamy from Man City on a free transfer to reinforce their attack after losing out to Sunderland on Ipswich Town striker Connor Wickham.
Ferguson would claim that he did not lose any sleep over the Reds’ £75 million splurge on the trio in his second official book, which was published in 2013. He would then go on to explain why he had chosen not to pursue a move for Henderson.
Liverpool began a new era of significant reconstruction, although the Scot claimed that few of the recruits made during Kenny’s tenure still kept him up at night. “We spent a lot of time examining Jordan Henderson, and Steve Bruce was consistently enthused about him.
Henderson sprints from his knees with a straight back, but the modern player runs from his hips, which is in contrast to that, as we noted. We worried that his gait would become an issue for him in the future.
“Liverpool spent £20 million on Stewart Downing. Although he was gifted, he was not the most courageous or swift. He was an effective ball striker and crosser. But £20m?
“Downing and Andy Carroll attended our northeast school of excellence; Andy Carroll also joined for £35 million. Following complaints from Sunderland and Newcastle, the FA shut it down. At the time, academies had just begun.
“The Carroll acquisition was a response to the £50 million Torres windfall. Andy’s mobility and ground speed were his problems. It is incredibly challenging to play like Andy Carroll these days since defenders push out so well, unless the ball is going to be in the box the entire time. You should search for mobility in a striker today.
To be fair to Ferguson, it was simple to criticize a faltering Liverpool at the time, and his assessments of Downing and Carroll would turn out to be accurate.
And the Scot would have believed at the time that his judgment had been confirmed there too, considering that the Reds had attempted to move Henderson to Fulham after just a year at Anfield after Brendan Rodgers’ arrival.
But whereas Jones, the current captain of Liverpool, had battled in his early years on Merseyside, Jones’ own fortunes at Old Trafford, where he was being predicted to become the future captain of England, were in stark contrast.
Ferguson’s final season with the club was a Premier League champion in 2013, and it was in the wake of such success that the Scot made the most audacious forecast regarding the defender.
You saw Jones tonight, right?Possibly, based on how he is playing, he could be our finest player ever, Ferguson commented following the championship in.
“At age 21, he is going to be a terrific player. He can, in my opinion, play wherever on the field. With his instinct and understanding of the game, he has such a significant impact. He exudes motivation.
Jones has ultimately been unable to live up to such acclaim due to injuries, but Henderson’s comeback casts new light on Ferguson’s assessment from all those years ago.
The Scot’s early judgments actually have not held up well, especially in light of his clarification of his earlier remarks about the Liverpool captain when speaking last year, in which he cited a worry about future injuries as the reason he did not sign the midfielder.
During a virtual benefit for The Alzheimer’s Society, Ferguson stated, “Brendan Rodgers criticized my evaluation of Jordan. “The real story was that we were prepared to offer Sunderland money for him. Steve Bruce, the manager of Sunderland, and I spoke.
“Our scouting and medical departments expressed dissatisfaction with his running technique. They claimed he might be prone to injuries. I had to guarantee that players will be accessible at all times.
“But as players, we adored Jordan. He has now established that. It seems like I lost out on a pretty excellent person based on all the stuff I have heard about him.
Since Ferguson left Old Trafford in 2013, Jones has never played in more than 29 Premier League games in a season and has just once gone over the 30-game mark altogether. He won the FA Cup in 2016 and the Europa League in 2017, but those two victories still stand as his only other significant awards with the Red Devils.
His start on Tuesday night at Anfield, when Ralf Rangnick replaced his ineffective back five at halftime, was only his second of the year and his fourth in the Premier League since May 2019.
He has made an average of 20 appearances for United throughout the course of his 227 appearances across 11 seasons. He has not been called up for England since winning the last of his 27 caps at the 2018 World Cup.
The 30-year-old defender’s contract expires in 2023, and despite playing against Liverpool, he is far down the Old Trafford pecking order. His Red Devils career is winding down.
Henderson, who started and captained Jurgen Klopp’s squad to win over United, made his 47th appearance of the season—more than any of his Reds teammates—despite having signed a new contract through 2025 last summer.
He was made Liverpool’s captain in 2015, and since then, he has guided the Reds to victories in the Premier League, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Super Cup.
His list of accolades is expected to grow as the Reds pursue an unprecedented quadruple, and his leadership of Jurgen Klopp’s team to the league’s first Premier League title in 2020 earned him the FWA Footballer of the Year award.
With 439 games for Liverpool—nearly twice as many as Jones had at United—the 31-year-old is still an important player for both club and country and one of the top leaders and role models in English football, even though he may no longer be a certain starter.
The 69-cap vice-captain of England will try to improve at his third World Cup after reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and finishing runner-up at the 2017 European Championships.
Henderson continues to disprove Ferguson’s statements from all those years ago despite having been present for the entirety of Liverpool’s rise and Jones for the entirety of United’s decline.
You have to wonder whether the Scot regrets not pursuing his original interest in the midfielder back in 2011. The current Red Devils team is plainly lacking in leadership given their lack of spine.
With Tuesday’s 4-0 thrashing serving as a stark reminder of how many times Ferguson was mistaken about the Liverpool captain, Jones’ decade-long decline and Ferguson’s infamous ‘best ever player’ praise serve only to highlight the divergent paths that the two clubs are continuing to take.
Ferguson is now left with no choice but to watch in disbelief as Klopp and Henderson reclaim the Reds’ perch, which he had worked so hard to win for them in recent years, from the Red Devils, helpless to stop United’s on-going humiliation that continues to happen in his lofty shadow.
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