Frustrating Night for Liverpool as They Lose 1-0 to Atletico Madrid

It was not the finest Liverpool performance yesterday as they failed to get a shot on target against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League draw at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. The former Champions League winners must now score at least two to go through at Anfield next month and defend their much-coveted title.

As of recent, Atletico Madrid have not played to their best. We have witnessed surprisingly clumsy football from the Spanish giants this season. However, in last night’s Champions League showdown, what we saw was a typical Atletico, defensive Simeone-led performance. They frustrated Liverpool, disrupted their rhythm, won 1-0 with an early strike and were happy with the result. If Atletico can mount a similar defensive performance in two weeks’ time at Anfield Stadium, then the world champions will be in trouble.

Can The Reds muster up the strength to overcome Atletico’s goalkeeper with such huge pedigree? Since the start of the 2013-14 season, Jan Oblak has kept 26 clean sheets in 49 Champions League fixtures. Liverpool failed to upset the sharp performance from Atletico Madrid which was both tenacious and disciplined. We saw some of the brilliance that Atletico Madrid demonstrated last season, displaying what they do best; defend deep and hit on the break.

Of Liverpool’s front three, Sadio Mane was taken off at half-time. Many suspected that the winger was suffering once again with hamstring issues. However, Jurgen Klopp has since revealed that he was concerned Mane would be targeted and receive a second yellow card. Mo Salah was also taken off on the 72-minute mark, having missed multiple opportunities throughout the game, whilst Jordan Henderson staggered off the pitch due to hamstring injury with just 10 minutes to go.

Despite the loss, Liverpool still remain confident about their Champions League journey. Virgil van Dijk said ‘we knew it would be a proper battle. We have 90 minutes to set it straight’, whilst Andy Robertson commented, ‘we gave them the best possible start. They got the fans behind them. They got under our skin. But we know we can be better.’

Jurgen Klopp praised Liverpool’s ‘exceptional’ press but admitted there were problems in the final third. ‘Their defence in the box was incredible’ but added, ‘we will take it like it is. It is only half time. It is not over yet.’

Liverpool have only really struggled twice in what’s been a fantastic season for the Premier League Champions elect and the Champions League Winners but maybe what’s more concerning for Jurgen Klopp is that on both occasions, it’s come against teams who have mastered the 4-4-2 formation in Napoli and Atletico Madrid. Most of Liverpool’s creativity stems from their full-backs and coming up against a flat midfield four means that oppositions have been able to track and screen a lot of what Liverpool’s full backs do. That then means that the midfield three that Klopp selects is key to how creative Liverpool can be. The midfield trio of Henderson, Wijnaldum and Fabinho offers a lot of legs and cover but not necessarily the creativity and drive to get into the half spaces behind the opposition defence and break the lines.

Atletico Madrid came at Liverpool from the off and The Reds did the worst thing possible; allowed them to get a goal after just 4 minutes. A corner slung over, Liverpool’s defenders were not decisive, didn’t deal with it, it pinged off Fabinho’s foot straight to Saul Niguez who slotted past Alisson. The luck certainly went the way of Atletico Madrid but it was a poor performance from a Liverpool perspective.

Full-backs Sime Vrsaljko and Renan Lodi were tight on Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold while the experienced Stefan Savic and Felipe dominated the middle. Indeed, they could have grabbed a second but failed to do so. Robertson, last defender and facing a potential two on one, managed to get it out for a corner. Then Alvaro Morata had a big chance but couldn’t make it count.

Liverpool had it in the net but Salah was a mile offside in the build-up. Otherwise restricted to pot-shots from 25 yards, Robertson well wide and a Fabinho effort high and mighty over the bar. Liverpool’s set pieces were woeful; not moving the ball around fast enough – very unlike the always offensive-minded Merseysiders.

The second half was more of the same – massive Liverpool possession, but ponderously put together attacks with Atletico Madrid trying to steal a second. Thankfully, they couldn’t because that would have put them in pole position but Liverpool have plenty to do.

Salah spurned the best opening when heading a beautiful Joe Gomez ball wide when he should have scored but then Morata slipped with the goal at his mercy, evening itself out.

Diego Costa, the villainous centre-forward, once of Chelsea, came on for Atletico Madrid, but managed to scuff well wide. Jurgen Klopp got a yellow card for going mad on the touchline as the referee failed to spot a blatant hand ball. Which pretty much said it all.

Yesterday was certainly not Liverpool’s finest hour but hopefully they can learn from last night’s mistakes and make a comeback at Anfield next month and be on the road to becoming Champions League winners once again. The trophy is still all to play for.

Liverpool’s Winning Streak

Allez Liverpool!

Adding another to their drawing board as both the Community Shield Match at Wembley and the Super Cup ended in a draw for The Reds. It looks as if the team are practising on their penalties though as both matches ended in penalty shootouts.

Super Cup

We won it SIX times, we won it SIX times, In Istanbul, we won it SIX times

Jurgen Klopp on top, as he wins his second European trophy in 2 months with Liverpool after a Turkish Delight.

Liverpool celebrate as they win another Super Cup in their second home, Istanbul. After 90 minutes The Reds where left with a 2-2 draw but later went on to winning the penalty shootout 5-4. The decider was made after Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham’s shot was saved by Liverpool’s reserve Goalkeeper Adrian. The Spaniard gave a good show after Alisson was out due to an injury in the game against Norwich City, with Adrian literally ‘saving’ Liverpool.

Unlucky Chelsea put up a strong fight and both teams played well throughout the 90 minutes. But the strongest boot was Mo Salah who took the last penalty, edging his team into the winning zone, following his left-footed goal blessing.

In just 3 minutes of coming onto the pitch, Brazilian, Roberto Firmino set Sadio Mane up for an equaliser. In the 95th minute Firmino did it again, assisting Mane and putting Liverpool out in front of The Blues. They are two key players for Liverpool, and when you throw Salah into the mix, they do look like potential Premier League champions, right?

Mane Commented on his teams play, ‘I think this is how we play at Liverpool. We play for each other and we always enjoy playing for each other.’ Mane we one hundred percent agree that team work makes the dream work!

Premier League

Jürgen Klopp’s men had an excellent start to their Premier League season, with their first game at home against Norwich City. The game ended in a 4-1 win at Anfield. At 7 minutes Norwich’s Grand Hanley began Liverpool’s Happy Hour with an own goal, later followed by Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Divock Origi’s superb goals. All happening in the first half of play.

Istanbul Thursday night, Premier League Saturday afternoon. Liverpool have a tight and busy schedule with their second fixture in the EPL being pencilled in for Saturday at 3pm. The team will fly back on Friday, just in time to get back into the game and fighting for another win at St Mary’s this weekend. Signs of fatigue and the aftermath of Super Cup celebrations won’t help the team, but a winner’s mindset should help. Who can afford to lose or even draw when you’re up against Manchester City for the top spot another year running.

Liverpool fans will be hoping that Jordan Henderson and his team keep the winning momentum going throughout the Prem season and have another try at winning the English League.

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Liverpool F.C.: Transfer Talk & Rumours

A new deal for Divock Origi, Harvey Elliott to join The Reds and Phillipe Coutinho to return to Liverpool?

Liverpool F.C.: Transfer Talk & Rumours

Harvey Elliott: Up-and-coming star midfielder joins The Reds

The 16-year-old, who made his Premier League debut as a substitute against the Wolverhampton Wanderers, was the youngest ever player to compete in top-flight football and is now reported to have signed for Liverpool. This came after news that the youngster rejected a scholarship with Fulham, which understandably, caught the attention of a number of football giants. Aside from Liverpool, it seems Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and RB Leipzig are also interested in the budding star. But Elliott, who has quickly become regarded as one of the country’s brightest talents is said to have chosen The Reds as his next club.

Several reports infer that he cannot sign a professional contract due to his age and will not receive a professional wage until he turns 17, which is in April next year, so for the time being he will continue on a scholarship wage. Elliott is the second sought-after teen that Liverpool have signed for the 2019/20 Premier League campaign, as they have already secured a deal for the gifted Dutch defender, Sepp van den Berg.

Van den Berg, who is only 17-years-old also rejected offers from other European football clubs, deciding on Liverpool as his next venture. He and Elliott will have to work through the academy’s squads before making an appearance in the first team but there is a strong held belief, that they will consolidate the Liverpool team.

The race to re-sign Phillipe Coutinho

Just 18 months after releasing the Brazil international, rumours have it that Jurgen Klopp is considering re-signing the talented midfielder.

Coutinho was sold to Barcelona for £142m and the Spanish club were convinced he would replace club legend Andres Iniesta but his time at Barca has only seen him drop down the pecking order. Despite winning the La Liga in both seasons at Spain, it seems that Coutinho doesn’t get the same kind of love or respect that he received during his time with Liverpool, at Barca.

After a tough time with the Spanish team, reports suggest he is set on leaving but news of a possible return to Liverpool has sparked a conflict of interests. Some argue that given Liverpool have had better fortune without the star, they don’t need him and that his return could overshadow and hinder the potential of other top-rated players such as Naby Keita. However, others believe his return to Liverpool will only enhance the team and that Coutinho’s skills and creative prowess as a footballer shouldn’t be overlooked. There is no denying that he is a playmaker and if Liverpool are to cement themselves as Premier League and Champions League titlists in 2019/20, Klopp should definitely think long and hard about passing on this one.

Divock Origi: Happy to stay for the long-term?

Klopp made it a priority to convince Origi to re-commit and continue playing for Liverpool. Thanks to his exploits in the last campaign, Origi has secured legendary status amongst Red fans and has become a prolific figure for the team. So, it comes as no surprise that Klopp was eager to extend and renew his contract.

Origi only has a year left on his existing contract which means he’d be leaving on a free transfer next year and this has attracted interest from a number of other Premier League clubs but Liverpool have resisted any offers.

After releasing Daniel Sturridge, it became clear that Klopp wanted to secure an attacking forward, especially as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will be eased back into play following their involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations and Copa America. Origi is the kind of player you’d want to turn to in times of need and hopes are high for his continued progress and success with The Reds.

The Champions League-hero may have also been motivated to stay following a post-match chat he had with club legend Sir Kenny Dalglish, as reports suggest the 24-year-old is leaning towards staying with The Reds and is happy at Liverpool.

Head over to our Anfield News page for all the latest updates on the The Reds and don’t forget our Liverpool hospitality page for your chance to watch Liverpool play at Anfield stadium.

Fernando Torres: The Glory Days

Liverpool legend, Fernando Torres, made a surprise announcement last Friday that he would be retiring from football after 18 years in the game.

The 35-year-old who was most recently playing for Japanese club, Sagan Tosu, held a press conference in Tokyo and revealed to journalists that he felt he was on the verge of no longer being able to physically or mentally meet his own personal standards and expectations. During the conference he stated, “I do not want to get to the stage where I go on the pitch and do not enjoy football.”

Despite being involved with a number of other clubs throughout his career, El Nino undeniably experienced the greatest days of his footballing profession with Liverpool. Having joined The Reds in 2007, Torres became a notorious goal scorer for the club, scoring a total of 24 league goals in one season. This made Torres the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler to achieve such a feat.

During his first year at the club, he managed to score his first hat trick against Reading, resulting in a 4-2 victory. This was then followed by a number of other hat tricks; one in February 2008 against Middleburgh and again in March 2008 against West Ham. Jack Balmer was the only other Liverpool player to score a hat trick in consecutive home games.

Torres initially played for Atletico Madrid at the mere age of 15 and remained there for 6 years before leaving for Liverpool. Although he had ties to Atleti, with it being the team adored by his Grandfather, Torres had a huge impact on The Reds from the get go, consistently performing match after match.  During 2009, The Times listed him as one of the top 50 greatest Liverpool players, despite only being part of the club for one and a half years. Rankings such as this goes to evidence the immediate effect that he had on the club.

Even with the great success he experienced with Liverpool, Torres eventually transferred to Chelsea in 2011, signing a £50 million deal. This deal made him one of the world’s most expensive footballers and crushed the hearts of not only Liverpool fans but also his fellow team members. The news shocked Liverpool fans and many viewed Torres as a traitor – especially with The Blues being The Reds’ ultimate rivals!

Many will argue that Torres was simply not the same player when he joined The Blues. There were no moments of magic, no camaraderie, no club breaking records. A perfect example being his total goal figures at each club. He collectively scored 81 goals with Liverpool as opposed to just 45 with The Blues. No doubt, there will be some committed Kopites out there who never quite forgave him for shifting over to the opposition.

Despite his controversial decision, El Nino is clearly a respected and valued figure within football. Both Liverpool and Chelsea have publicly stated that they wish him well in his retirement and posted montages of some of his greatest moments on social media.

One of the most endearing aspects to El Nino’s time at Liverpool was perhaps the great relationship he had with his team mates. During the conference, Torres mentioned how it “left him cold” when he first discovered that Stephen Gerrard would be retiring. He labelled Gerrard as the best player he has ever played with and credited him for some of his success on the pitch. There was always a mutual, bromance-like respect between Torres and Gerrard. Who can forget the touching moment when Gerrard handed him the match ball after his hat trick against West Ham, earning the team a 4-0 victory. This moment truly depicted the admiration that he had during his time at Liverpool. Arguably, that same magic was never present during his other endeavours and I’m sure many fans are of the opinion that he should never have left.

Regardless of the multiple transfers and offers throughout his glistening career, Torres made it clear during his announcement that he does not regret any of his professional choices. Some have speculated that perhaps the decision to retire came about due to his less successful stints at other clubs, namely his most recent one. Having joined the club in July 2018, he has not even managed a full year there. Sagan Tosu, although not a household name like his other clubs, Torres stated that the team has great potential and that they have a lot of great players. He added that he experienced a culture shock upon his arrival and that there is still “tremendous margin for improvement.  He then finally confirmed that the decision to retire was purely guided by feelings rather than how he has performed at Sagan Tosu.

When asked what would next be on the cards, he mentioned that he firstly wants to take some time out to rest and be with his family. With the millions he has made over the years, he understandably wants to enjoy the fruits of his labour. He then stated that eventually coaching or management could be a possibility in the future. He acknowledged his lack of experience and that he would need to obtain the relevant qualifications. Ultimately, his desire is to remain within football in some capacity as he declared that he still has “more to offer”.

He also expressed that he was keen to reconnect with Atleti, declaring that it is his family, his home and his life. Due to the years of history that he has with the team, he mentioned that they “would connect in some way in the future but not immediately”.

Although thousands of football fans will undoubtedly miss not seeing him on the field, we can all appreciate the years of fantastic football that El Nino has given to us and we wish him all the best in his next chapter.

Head over to our Liverpool News page for all the latest updates on The Reds and don’t forget our hospitality page for your chance to watch Liverpool play at Anfield Stadium in luxury.

 

Two of the best title races in recent years – Liverpool F.C. raise the bar

A blockbuster semi-final and Champions League victory is not enough for Liverpool, who will chase the Premier League title in 2019/20 with a new kind of determination.

Liverpool have proven to be football giants after last season’s performance. In both the 2018/19 Premier League and Champions League, The Reds defied the odds and demonstrated that they are a major force in football.

As the Premier League title edged a little further away, the Champions League ebbed in. On May 7th, Liverpool produced one of the most astounding comebacks in football history, beating Barcelona 4-0 to reach the Champions League finals after a 3-0 deficit in their first leg. As the final whistle sounded, cheers from home fans thundered through Anfield whilst a bewildered Barca-side wasted no time to head towards their nearest exit. That night, the atmosphere at Anfield was special – it reminded all about the greatness of football, with its ability to shock and conjure up unforeseeable storylines as Liverpool achieved what was thought to be impossible.

It’s hard to determine which individual stole the show as there were heroes in red shirts no matter where you looked, though hats have to be taken off to Georginio Wijnaldum, Divock Origi and Alisson Becker. Liverpool were a true depiction of what a team looks like and how a team should act that night. So how did they do it? Without Mohamed Salah, without Roberto Firmino – how would they do it?

It started with Origi, who after just seven minutes of play, tapped in Marc-André ter Stegen’s parry off Jordan Henderson’s blow. In the opening ten minutes, Barcelona had just managed 38% possession of the ball but that did not mean they wouldn’t threaten. Barca responded on the attack and efforts were made by Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho to do serious damage but Alisson denied them any opportunities. It came very close when Jordi Alba attempted to remedy his mistake and sent a shot hurling towards a Liverpool goal but Alisson was there to meet the ball once more.

Things looked like they were going to take a turn for the worse when Henderson went down. After a medical check-up he was good to continue play but then like a game of dominos, Robertson fell and didn’t return to the pitch after half-time, due to a kick to the calf that came from Luis Suarez. Klopp sent Wijnaldum on as his substitute and dropped James Milner to left-back and to some unknown miracle, that turned out to be the best thing the German could have done.

The collapse of Barcelona was shocking for all – home and away fans, even Suarez was in disbelief as he stared vacantly into the crowds. Within the first 11 minutes, Wijnaldum had scored two goals –two minutes after the other – drawing Liverpool equal to their rivals. The first goal came off a low-cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Wijnaldum stroked the ball right under Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s torso. Two minutes later, he emerged unmarked to header in Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross, sending Anfield into a wild frenzy.

The Reds took the lead by another assist from Alexander-Arnold, who deceived a distracted Barca-side and pretended to walk off for Shaqiri to take the corner before dashing back and sending the ball in Origi’s path. Origi responded in a rapid manner and swept it home with eleven minutes to go. By now Anfield Stadium was rocking, trembling and shaking with cheers and roars of the Liverpool club anthem.

The Champions League finals lacked all the excitement of the game-changing semis that had seen Liverpool and Tottenham reach Madrid but nevertheless, it was a final full of suspense and euphoria.

Liverpool were handed their first opportunity and it was star striker Mohamed Salah, who put The Reds out in front. After just two minutes of play, Moussa Sissoko was punished for a questionable handball that came off Sadio Mane and Salah took the penalty. And Salah didn’t miss, firing the ball firmly down the middle. Tottenham tried to create pace and began to have more possession of the ball but didn’t create a shot on target until the 73rd minute, which fell right into the hands of Alisson.

The Lilywhites were starting to look more dangerous in the second-half and no doubt Liverpool were grateful to Alisson, for producing key saves. He first stopped Heung-Min Son’s strike and then hat-trick hero, Lucas Moura, who was given 30 minutes by Mauricio Pochettino to produce a miracle but just couldn’t get past the Brazilian keeper. Tottenham were growing in pace but under the sweltering Spanish heat just couldn’t do enough and Origi soon found the back of Spurs net three minute before time. Liverpool had won their 6th Champions League and Klopp, his first European triumph.

It was said that the Champions League was their “second prize” and that the Reds were set on achieving the Premier League title, so fans and football enthusiasts should expect the Premier League 2019/20 campaign to be a blockbuster show. Last season, Liverpool set a number of records, one of which being the most points for a Premier League second-finisher and it can be presumed that they’ll be outdoing themselves this time round.

In the 2018/19 campaign the Champions of Europe missed out on the Premier League title by a single point to rivals and reining champs Man City. It’s now been 30-years since Liverpool have been crowned Champions of England and they are hungry for that title. Who do you think will be victorious next season?

To experience the finest hospitality at Anfield Stadium head to the Eventmasters Liverpool hospitality page and secure the best views of the pitch as you watch Liverpool strive towards the Premier League title.

 

Premier League Review: Match Week 3

The Weekend’s Premier League instalment certainly didn’t disappoint this week, with Pochettino’s fluid Spurs side undoubtedly stealing the headlines.

The Lilywhites thrashed Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford as the home side’s troubled start to the season continued. Jose Mourinho, critical of his players and frustrated at the failure to make further signings, cut a sombre figure at the end, with some wondering whether it might also be the end for the controversial manager if there is a failure to improve.

Strangely he had midfielder Ander Herrera in a three-man central defensive system alongside Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof dropped.

Mourinho was desperate to add central defensive reinforcements in the transfer window, yet he was the man who signed Bailly and Lindelof at a cost of more than £60 million. Is third-year syndrome, when Mourinho either leaves clubs or is moved on, about to bite again? Harry Kane’s header put Spurs in command at the start of the second half. Lucas Moura doubled their lead two minutes later and the Brazilian scored a second late on to make things emphatic.

One hundred per cent records for Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea and Watford, three wins out of three, so far this season.

Liverpool saw Mohamed Salah’s first-half strike secure a 1-0 victory over a battling Brighton side. Salah, who scored a record 38 goals in the Premier League last season, clinically finished off the inside of the post. Wolves managed a deserved point after they held Manchester City 1-1 at Molineux.

The visitors hit the post twice in the first half – first through Sergio Aguero and then when Wolves keeper Rui Patricio brilliantly turned Raheem Sterling’s 25-yard drive onto the bar. Wolves’ striker Raul Jimenez had a goal ruled out for offside. And the hosts took the lead in controversial fashion when defender Willy Boly’s attempted diving header went in off his hand from Joao Moutinho’s free-kick.

An Aymeric Laporte header rescued a point for the champions. Both sides had opportunities in the closing stages, with Aguero’s free-kick glancing off the bar with virtually the last kick of the game.

Arsenal managed their first win under new head coach Unai Emery, beating West Ham 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners were caught out on the counter for the opener, West Ham captain Marko Arnautovic slotting low past Petr Cech. Nacho Monreal struck back, firing into an unguarded net after Bellerin’s cross deflected into his path off Alex Iwobi.

Hammers’ debutant Issa Diop diverted Alexandre Lacazette’s volley across the area into his own net and then Danny Welbeck sealed it in added time. The result perhaps flattered Arsenal whose defensive frailties remain.

Chelsea went to Newcastle and turned over the Geordies 2-1. Eden Hazard, on his first start this season, netted from the penalty spot in the 76th minute before substitute Joselu levelled with a terrific header at St James’ Park. But late on Newcastle were sucker punched when Marcos Alonso’s shot deflected in off DeAndre Yedlin. Chelsea dominated the game with 82 per cent possession.

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Premier League Review: Match Week 2

It was a tale of two Manchesters as City thrashed Huddersfield 6-1 while United went down 3-2 at Brighton.

For City, Sergio Aguero scored a superb hat-trick. “I never saw him like this since I was here,” said manager Pep Guardiola. “He is in an incredible condition with the ball and without the ball.” Other City scorers were Gabriel Jesus, David Silva and a Terence Kongolo own goal.

Huddersfield managed a consolation through Jon Gorenc Stankovic. Aguero now has nine Premier League hat-tricks – level with former Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester City striker Robbie Fowler. Only ex-Blackburn and Newcastle forward Alan Shearer (11) has managed more.

United have had a toxic start to the new season with Jose Mourinho at his most irascible. Now it has spread to on the field.
Brighton stunned a lacklustre United with three first-half strikes. They took the lead on 25 minutes, when Glenn Murray flicked home Solly March’s low cross. Just two minutes later, Shane Duffy stroked home his first Premier League goal.

Romelu Lukaku halved the deficit 11 minutes before the break, but then Eric Bailly brought down Pascal Gross inside the area and Gross converted the penalty to restore the two-goal advantage. Paul Pogba netted an injury-time spot kick after Duffy fouled Marouane Fellaini. But it was too little too late. United have now conceded four goals in their opening two games of the season – it took them nine to let in that many last term.

Spurs comfortably beat Fulham 3-1. Indeed so comfortable was it that all the headlines focussed on Harry Kane finally scoring his first league goal in August. Lucas Moura had opened the account with his breakthrough Premier League goal, curling one beyond Fabri’s dive. Moura is already shaping up to be an influential performer now he has found his feet in English football.
Fulham, who lost to Crystal Palace in their first game back in the top flight following promotion, levelled as a result of clever improvisation by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Kieran Trippier restored Tottenham’s lead with a trademark free-kick. Then they got a third as Kane turned his marker and slotted the ball into the far corner of the net. The August jinx had lasted for 1,065 minutes over five seasons. “It is nice to put it to bed,” he commented.

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 but the London sides have much to do if they are to challenge for the title.
Both defences were opened up at will and arguably the Gunners should have won, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi missing three absolute sitters in front of goal.

Chelsea built a two-goal advantage inside the first 20 minutes as Pedro turned in Marcos Alonso’s cross and Alvaro Morata added another. Mkhitaryan pulled one back with a low shot that Chelsea’s new £71 million keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga should have saved.
Iwobi then put the away side on level terms.

However, Chelsea controlled the second half, and claimed victory, Alonso sweeping in substitute Eden Hazard’s cross nine minutes from time to make it successive wins for new coach Maurizio Sarri and two defeats for new Arsenal manager Unai Emery.

If you’d like to enjoy a match in VIP style, then discover our great range of football hospitality packages for the 2018/19 season.

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A Bank Holiday Weekend of Sporting Action

As we head into this May Bank Holiday weekend, the weather doesn’t seem to be living up to the idyllic Mediterranean climate we’ve grown accustomed to over the past few weeks. Although beer gardens and leisurely country walks may be off the cards, that’s no reason not to enjoy yourself, and a jam-packed weekend of sport is just the thing to take your mind off the miserable weather.

Kicking off the weekend is the continuation of the Giro d’Italia. After a gruelling three weeks of racing, the prestigious tour finishes on Sunday 27th May with a parade through the streets of Rome. Before then however, is a final punishing mountain stage on Saturday.

British rider Simon Yates went into Friday as leader, with the thought he could do well here after making up much of his lead in similar previous stages. But after getting his lead slashed in half by Tom Dumoulin on Thursday, and a failure to perform in the mountains on Friday coupled with a spectacular return to form from icon of the sport Chris Froome resulting in a stage win, its looking to be a tussle between Froome and Dumoulin in the closing days of the tour.

The first of the three European Grand Tours, the Giro is also the perfect preview for the Tour de France. 

Continuing the racing theme, this weekend also sees the running of the 76th Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. A perennial favourite of the sport, it sees racers flying round a demanding street circuit, while guests and attendees relax and enjoy the race in the glamorous city.

Lewis Hamilton will be looking to continue his run of good form this season, saying ‘We’ve got some things to work on and we’re not completely in the dark, much better than we were last year. But we’ve got a lot of ground to cover and pick up if we want to be in the fight for the win’ in the face of stiff competition from Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel. Red Bull driver’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Riccardo will also be looking to make waves at the race, and if their fiery rivalry in the tournament so far is anything to go by, it should be an exciting race. The Grand Prix starts on Sunday 27th May at 14:10 GMT, with qualifying taking place on Saturday.

Take a look at our Monaco GP hospitality, and secure your place for 2019 today.

Moving on to football, this Saturday sees the Championship Play-Off Final between Aston Villa and Fulham at Wembley. Dubbed ‘the richest game in football’, potentially worth up to £160m to the winners, this game will determine who takes a place in the Premier League next season.

Fulham have been on great form this season, with 18-year-old Ryan Sessegnon being a particular stand-out, as well as taking the win the last time these teams met, so go into the game many people’s favourites. But with a team as steeped in experience as Aston Villa, stewarded by veteran player John Terry, its sure to be close.

The play-off final acts as the perfect appetiser for the main course of a Saturday of football; the Champions League Final.

Real Madrid and Liverpool are currently out in Kiev preparing to battle it out for the title. The Spanish side go into the game the favourites, looking to make it a third win on the trot and their 13th overall. However, with neither team on home turf and Jürgen Klopp’s side intending to play in their usual attacking style while pulling on the immense talent of players like Golden Boot winner Mo Salah, the Reds aren’t going to make it easy for them.

Liverpool are also hungry for the win after going without the trophy for over a decade and it clearly means a lot to the Merseyside team; forward Sadio Mane has gifted 300 Liverpool shirts to his hometown in Senegal to celebrate the game.

If the poor weather has got you pining for sunnier days, and a scintillating weekend of sport has you in the mood for more, take a look at the VIP hospitality at an exciting summer of lawn tennis at the Nature Valley Classic Birmingham and Nature Valley Open Nottingham, and the iconic tournament at Wimbledon.

Premier League News: Weekend Review

 

Man United 2 Arsenal 1

In what was a crucial round of Premier League games, the standout fixture, Man United vs Arsenal, had a far more gentile feel than in years gone by. There have been plenty of dust-ups between the pair, but this was not a day for recrimination.

Arsene Wenger’s old foe Sir Alex Ferguson was in a generous mood as the Frenchman was rightly lauded at Old Trafford for all he has done for football. And while the Gunners won the title there in 2002, this time it was United triumphant 2-1 on the day.

Both teams have been eclipsed by ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City this season, United at least though had the opportunity to cement second place and claim the “best of the rest” prize.

Sir Alex was master of ceremonies in a pre-match presentation to Wenger who will leave Arsenal at the end of the season after 22 years as manager. The crowd applauded as Wenger received a silver vase and the pair embraced in what Wenger would later call a “classy” touch. It was a sign of the enduring respect the former rivals hold for one another.

When play got underway it was United who opened the scoring when a header from former Arsenal player Alexis Sanchez was knocked on to the post by Hector Bellerin, Paul Pogba then stabbed home the rebound.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan equalised, gifted plenty of space to weave and strike through the legs of Victor Lindelof.

But United had the last laugh with an injury-time winner from Marouane Fellaini. The bruising midfielder was a constant threat in the air as United bombarded the Arsenal penalty area, and the pressure finally paid off with two minutes remaining.

It felt almost like a testimonial game, with Arsenal playing mostly reserves, resting the first team ahead of the Europa League semi-final second leg.

 

Fellaini Premier League review

Fellaini’s game winning header all but assures United of second place

West Ham 1 Man City 4

Manchester City’s Premier League victory celebrations continued with a comprehensive 4-1 demolition of West Ham.

And in the process, they hit another milestone – 100 Premier League goals for the season. History was also made, as they became only the second Premier League side to win 30 league games in a campaign.

The champions took the lead when Leroy Sane’s shot deflected off the head of Patrice Evra and wrong-footed Hammers goalkeeper Adrian.

A comedy of defensive errors culminated in a Pablo Zabaleta own goal for their second.

Aaron Cresswell pulled one back with a sumptuous free kick. However, not long after Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho finished off the hopeless Hammers, who are still in danger of being dragged into a late relegation battle.

Cresswell Premier League Review

Aaron Cresswell’s brilliant Free-Kick turned out to be nothing more than a consolation.

Liverpool 0 Stoke City 0

Following their great Champions League feats in the week, a tired-looking Liverpool could only manage a 0-0 draw against relegation-haunted Stoke at Anfield.

The Reds goal machine Mo Salah for once misfired in a rare off game for the PFA player of the year, while the Potters feeble attack line has been misfiring all season.

Swansea 0 Chelsea 1

Chelsea, hanging on the coattails of Tottenham in the race for a Champions League place next season, scraped a 1-0 victory away to Swansea.

In the process, Cesc Fabregas notched his 50th Premier League goal, a wonderfully improvised finish that turned out to be enough on the day, as Swansea failed to make their few chances count.

But troubled manager Antonio Conte admitted that the “situation is not in our hands”, as even if Chelsea manage to beat Liverpool next weekend, the Reds need only a win at home to Brighton to confirm Champions League football for another year.

Swansea meanwhile are back deep in the relegation mire.

Southampton 2 Bournemouth 1

Speaking of the relegation dogfight, Southampton triumphed in the South Coast derby against Bournemouth, who have already assured their Premier League status for another year.

A Dusan Tadic doubled inspired the Saints to a crucial victory, which leaves them just a point behind Swansea in 18th place.

Crystal Palace 5 Leicester 0

Palace meanwhile are all but safe after a stunning 5-0 victory over seemingly ‘on the beach’ Leicester. Wilfried Zaha was the catalyst, contributing a goal of his own early on, with MacArthur, Loftus-Cheek and Van Ahnholt compounding the misery.

A late penalty by Christian Benteke ended the Belgian’s long goal drought, to round off a thoroughly convincing win at Selhurst Park.

Huddersfield 0 Everton 2

Huddersfield might just be looking over their shoulder, as a home defeat to Everton leaves them on 35 points, just three above the drop zone.

Newcastle 0 West Brom 1

Many would have labelled Saturday’s encounter on Tyneside this weekend as a bit of damp squib but try telling that to Albion fans. A 1 -0 win at Newcastle courtesy of winger Matt Phillips, means they aren’t relegated – for now at least.

Burnley 0 Brighton 0
And finally, Europe chasing Burnley took on Brighton at Turf Moor, with the two sides playing out a 0-0 draw. It leaves Burnley still in the hunt for Europa League qualification, but the less said about this one, the better.

 

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Liverpool’s Champions League Campaign Starts with a Bang: Match Review

Liverpool signalled their long-awaited return to the European Elite last night, as they beat Hoffenheim 2-1 at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena to kick off their Champions League qualifying campaign in fine style. The tremendous result sees the Reds take home a one goal advantage as they prepare for the reverse fixture at Anfield on Wednesday 23rd August.

It was the Liverpool youngster, Trent Alexander-Arnold, who stole the show for the visitors, with the rookie full-back producing a sublime set-piece effort that soared beyond the reach of keeper, Oliver Baumann. The England Under-19 international showed maturity beyond his years as he stepped up to the mark in the 35th minute, striking the ball from more than 30 yards to give Jurgen Klopp’s side a well-earned lead.

James Milner added to the account in the second half, after he exploited a gaping space on the left to fire home a bullet into the top corner via a wicked deflection off the chest of Havard Nordtveit.

The visitors were firmly in control by this point, but their inherent defensive frailties almost came back to haunt them late on, as an unchallenged Mark Uth fired into the net in the 87th minute following a lofted ball into the box.

It was job done as far as the travelling Reds were concerned but it could have been far worse for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

The German hosts had in fact starterd the brighter of the two sides, and were presented with a terrific early chance to take the lead in the 11th minute when Serge Gnabry buckled under a challenge from Dejan Lovren in the box. Former Leicester City forward, Andrej Kramaric stepped up to take the spot kick, but the Croatian’s tame effort was easily parried by a grateful Simon Mignolet.

From then, the Reds grasped the initiative, with efforts from Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino almost rubbing salt in the wounds shortly after the disastrous spot kick.

The two teams had looked to play heavily on the front foot, with both sides being culpable of spurning several gilt-edged chances. The deadlock was eventually broken when Alexander-Arnold’s thundering effort glided past keeper Baumann, with the 18 year old defining the feeling as ‘indescribable’.

Hoffenheim came dangerously close to levelling as Gnabry’s effort was saved once again by the industrious Mignolet, before Sandro Wagner’s venomous strike crashed off the post. But Liverpool almost doubled the lead on the eve of half time, after Dejan Lovren narrowly missed the target with a close range header.

It was then Firmino’s chance to test the resolve of his former employers. The Brazilian, whose move from Hoffenheim to Anfield was completed in 2015, had a fabulous close range effort saved by former compatriot, Baumann, before the German then had to block a fizzing effort from the lively Sadio Mane.

The pressure proved too much for the hosts though, as James Milner’s storming run and fine cross saw the ball rocket into the net after an unfortunate ricochet off Nordtveit’s chest. Hoffenheim halved the deficit in the closing stages before Benjamin Hubner wasted a perfect chance to equalise after heading over the bar in injury time.

Man of the Match – Trent Alexander-Arnold

The promising right-back certainly grabbed the headlines with his audacious long- range finish. Having only started nine times for Liverpool in all competitions, the England Under-19 International did not let his lack of senior experience hamper his performance by any means. His confidence and composure was clear for all to see, and he provided a dynamic attacking option down the right flank when needed.

Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp was happy with his side’s result and looks forward to the reverse fixture at Anfield. The Reds’ boss spoke to BT Sport:

“Hoffenheim had a specific plan to play. We gambled a little too much on the wing, it was a little dangerous in the first half, but as always when we play football, we found spaces in-between and created wonderful chances.

“The result is OK. The first half is done and if you said before the game we would win, I would take the result.

“We need Anfield, what an intense game for both sides. I am looking forward to a European night at Anfield. Only the person who does not know about Hoffenheim can be surprised by this.”

All in all, a fantastic start for Liverpool as they begin to joust once again with Europe’s elite sides. The home fixture will certainly be the one to savour!

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Jurgen Klopp interview quote taken from BT Sport