EPL

Liverpool and Manchester United to contest friendly in Bangkok

By Sports Desk March 31, 2022

Premier League rivals Liverpool and Manchester United will face off in a pre-season friendly in Bangkok.

The game will be played at the Rajamangala Stadium on July 12, where Jurgen Klopp's men will battle the Red Devils for the Bangkok Century Cup.

It is the only pre-season fixture confirmed by Liverpool so far, but United announced they will also play Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 15, before facing more familiar opposition again in Crystal Palace at the same venue four days later.

The last time Liverpool and United played in a friendly was in 2018 and saw the Reds win 4-1 in front of more than 100,000 fans in Michigan as part of the International Champions Cup.

United will be hoping to have a new permanent manager installed by the time pre-season begins, with Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino among the favourites for the role, and the Liverpool fixture could be the first game for whomever is appointed.

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  • Klopp reflects on 'special' Liverpool stint as tenure draws to a close Klopp reflects on 'special' Liverpool stint as tenure draws to a close

    Jurgen Klopp reflected on his "special" stint in charge of Liverpool ahead of his final game on Sunday.

    Klopp will manage Liverpool for the last time when the Reds take on Wolves in their final Premier League match of the season.

    Having taken over in 2015, Klopp has led Liverpool to their maiden Premier League title, a Champions League crown, the FA Cup, multiple EFL Cups, as well as the Super Cup and Club World Cup titles.

    While this season's Premier League title challenge ultimately fizzled out, Klopp used his programme notes to laud his players and staff for their efforts.

    He wrote: "If space allowed I could write name after name of people who I need to thank but there has never been a match programme of this size, so I will have to be more general. I could not be more appreciative of the players past and present who have served this club in the nine years that I have been here.

    "What they have achieved in that time is special, not just in terms of the moments they have created and the success they have had, but also in the way they have underlined what it is to represent LFC.

    "This will be the final time that we will see two of them – Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara – at Anfield and I know they will be given the send-off that they deserve.

    "You do not need me to tell you what they have achieved as individuals, you have experienced it all at first hand and as with others who have left us in recent seasons, they have more than made their mark on this club during a period which I think has been memorable for all of us.

    "This will also be the end of an era for several members of our coaching and backroom staff who will also move on. To put it simply, I could not have more appreciation for the work that has been done by Pep Lijnders, Peter Krawietz, Vitor Matos, John Achterberg, Jack Robinson, Andreas Kornmayer, Andreas Schlumberger and Ray Haughan.

    "The big positive for Liverpool is that no matter who is leaving, the club is still in a very, very good place. This season we aimed for the moon and ended up in the stars which is never too bad and the players and staff who are remaining are top, top class.

    "Yes, they will have new leadership before too long but this is a club that is ready to take the journey in a new and exciting direction, not one that is ready for the journey to come to an end."

    Feyenoord coach Arne Slot confirmed on Friday that he would be replacing Klopp.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Liverpool - Mohamed Salah

    Salah is set to make his 250th Premier League appearance for Liverpool in this match. The Egyptian already has the second-highest combined goals and assists tally by any player in their first 250 appearances for a single club in the competition (223 – 155 goals, 68 assists), behind only Thierry Henry for Arsenal (243 – 171 goals, 72 assists).

    Wolves - Hwang Hee-chan

    No Wolves player has scored more Premier League goals this season than Hwang Hee-chan (12). He gave his side the lead in the reverse fixture against Liverpool at Molineux – the last Wolves player to score home and away against the Reds in a league campaign was John Richards in 1972-73.

    MATCH PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL WIN

    Liverpool have conceded at least once in each of their last 10 Premier League home games. They last had a longer run without a league clean sheet at home between January and November 1954, a run of 17 games that included relegation to the second division.

    Between Christmas Eve and March 9, only the current top three sides earned more points in the Premier League than Wolves (22 – W7 D1 L3). Since then, only Sheffield United (two) have won fewer points than Gary O’Neil's side (five), with Wolves winning just one of their last nine (D2 L6).

    Wolves have lost eight and won just one of their nine Premier League games on MD38. Their win rate of 11 per cent on the final day is the lowest of any side currently in the competition, while their current run of losing seven consecutive such games is the joint-longest in English top-flight history.

    Liverpool have won 13 of their last 14 Premier League meetings with Wolves, with the exception being a 3-0 loss at Molineux in February last season.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Liverpool - 65.6%

    Wolves - 12.7%

    Draw - 21.7%

  • Al-Nassr 1-1 Al-Hilal: Mitrovic scores last-gasp penalty Al-Nassr 1-1 Al-Hilal: Mitrovic scores last-gasp penalty

    Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a penalty in the 10th minute of second-half stoppage time as Al-Hilal denied Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr victory in a 1-1 draw.

    Mitrovic netted his 27th Saudi Pro League goal of the campaign after Sadio Mane was harshly judged to have fouled Saud Abdulhamid in the area.

    Mane stuck out an arm to shield the ball, catching his opponent in the throat, though the contact appeared to have been outside of the box.

    Mitrovic made no mistake to keep Al-Hilal's unbeaten campaign going.

    The Serbian's spot-kick cancelled out Otavio's first-minute opener, with Ronaldo having set up his compatriot.

    Champions Al-Hilal remain 12 points clear of Al-Nassr at the summit of the Pro League standings.

    Data Debrief: Ronaldo the provider

    Ronaldo leads the scoring charts in Saudi Arabia this season, though he had to settle for an assist on Friday.

    That came from the only chance he created, with the 39-year-old limited to 25 touches, though he did have four shots.

  • Ten Hag unconcerned by Fernandes' fitness ahead of Man Utd's trip to Brighton Ten Hag unconcerned by Fernandes' fitness ahead of Man Utd's trip to Brighton

    Erik ten Hag is not worried about Bruno Fernandes' fitness ahead of Manchester United's final game of the Premier League season.

    Fernandes impressed in an attacking midfield role in United's 3-2 win over Newcastle on Wednesday.

    The Portugal international was forced off through injury late on, yet Ten Hag is not overly concerned.

    "Bruno didn't miss so much and he's fit," Ten Hag told United's media channels. 

    "I would say that is one of my least concerns, if he can keep going. He's fresh and he's in very good form but the others you mentioned, it's important [to get game time].

    "They missed some games. [Marcus] Rashford, of course. [Lisandro] Martinez missed, I would say, almost the whole season. So every minute that he can get, we have to give him."

    Should United win, and Newcastle fail to beat Brentford, then the Red Devils will be guaranteed European football next season, even if they lose the FA Cup final when they face Manchester City at Wembley on May 25.

    Ten Hag's future is uncertain, but Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi pointed to United's injury issues as a main factor in their frustrating campaign.

    "They have suffered a lot of injuries, problems, but they are still a very good team," he said.

    "Ten Hag's Ajax team has been one of the best in quality of play. For United, this season, it's been tough playing without a lot of important players."

    Brighton are entrenched in mid-table after failing to match the same heights they managed last season.

    However, two of their players - Pascal Gross and striker Denis Undav, who is on loan at Stuttgart - were on Thursday called up for Germany's Euro 2024 squad.

    De Zerbi said: "I am happy for Undav. He is becoming a great player. Pascal is not a surprise - he deserves to play for the national team."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Brighton - James Milner

    James Milner has appeared in the final game in 16 different Premier League campaigns – if he plays in this match, he’ll be the first player in the competition's history to do so in 17 different seasons.

    Manchester United - Bruno Fernandes

    Fernandes has created 113 chances in the Premier League this season, 14 more than any other player. He also created the most chances last season (119) and is the first player to do so in back-to-back seasons since Eden Hazard in 2013-14 (93) and 2014-15 (100).

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    In their first 19 Premier League matches this season, Brighton were the fifth-highest scorers in the Premier League (38 goals) and had a conversion rate of 13.3 per cent. In their last 18 games since the turn of the year, only Everton (15) have scored fewer goals than the Seagulls (17), with their conversion rate of 6.6 per cent the worst of any side in this time.

    United have lost their final league game in two of the last five seasons (W3), as many times as they had in the previous 33 campaigns (W23 D8).

    Brighton have lost their final game in four of their six Premier League campaigns, with the exceptions being a 2-1 win at Burnley (2019-20) and a 3-1 home win v West Ham (2021-22).

    Brighton have won each of their last four Premier League games against United – the last side to beat the Red Devils in five consecutive league games was Norwich City between 1988 and 1990.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Brighton - 35.4%

    Man Utd - 35.9%

    Draw - 28.7%

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