Mohamed Salah, Thiago Alcantara and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all named among the substitutes for Liverpool's Premier League clash with Newcastle United on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp heavily rotated his side.

The Reds travelled to St James' Park in the early kick-off aiming to pick up the win that would see them overtake Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, albeit having played a game more.

Klopp has complained about the timing of the match, coming three days on from facing Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, with the return fixture to come on Tuesday.

The German coach made five changes to face Newcastle on the back of the 2-0 win over Villarreal, with Premier League top scorer Salah and fellow first-team regulars Thiago and Alexander-Arnold among those to drop out.

Fabinho and Ibrahima Konate were also named on the bench, with James Milner, Naby Keita, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Diogo Jota all recalled, the latter making his 50th league appearance for the Reds.

Divock Origi, who starred from the bench in last week's 2-0 win over Everton, was ruled out of the squad due to illness not related to COVID-19.

Newcastle, who had won four in a row heading into the Liverpool match, made three changes as Fabian Schar, Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron all came into the starting line-up.

Newcastle United XI: Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett; Bruno Guimaraes, Shelvey, Willock; Almiron, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin.
Subs: Dummett, Lascelles, Ritchie, Manquillo, Wood, Murphy, Darlow, Gayle, Longstaff.

Liverpool XI: Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Keita; Mane, Diaz, Jota.
Subs: Kelleher, Fabinho, Konate, Thiago, Salah, Jones, Tsimikas, Alexander-Arnold, Elliott.

Arsenal cannot replicate the meteoric rise of Liverpool due to financial restraints and the Premier League becoming more competitive, says Mikel Arteta.

Jurgen Klopp signed a new deal to keep him at Anfield until 2026 on Thursday, signalling an intent to extend Liverpool's dominance that has them hunting an unprecedented quadruple.

Liverpool are profiting from a transformation in the club's fortunes, underpinned by astute signings and the development of players into world class stars.

The Gunners, meanwhile, are fighting for fourth in the Premier League – a competition they have not won since 2003-04 – with their last trophy being the 2019-20 FA Cup.

While manager Arteta respects the route Liverpool took to return to a force to be reckoned with, the Spaniard believes Arsenal must forge their own path.

"There are things you can try to compare, and you can acknowledge how other clubs have been through these processes and these phases of a project, like Liverpool," he told Sky Sports.

"But what the league was six years ago and what the league is today is completely different. Those leagues were won with 83, 84, 86 points. Now you need 95, 96 or 100 points to win the league.

"The context is completely different, so what was good three or five years ago is not good anymore, because the standards are so high.

"We need to focus on what we want to do and how we are going to execute it, and not look too far ahead."

Arsenal visit West Ham on Sunday as they look to build on their two-point advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham, who they face in the penultimate week of the season in what could decide Champions League qualification.

Once this season is complete, Arsenal face a crucial transfer window in order to become more competitive, with Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus reportedly a top target.

Arteta reiterated that Arsenal cannot duplicate the success of Liverpool's signings, given the club's financial restraints.

"I don't think we are in a position where we can do that, so we have to find other ways to do it," he added when asked in reference to Klopp signing both Alisson and Virgil van Dijk for record fees at the time.

"Liverpool, as well, have improved their players immensely, which is as important as bringing players in. And then, the ones that you buy, [it's important] that they can have an impact straight away.

"That's a big decision they have to make in recruitment, and then they are human beings as well. They have to adapt, and sometimes that's a tricky question to answer before they are actually here.

"We want to make the squad stronger, we want to make the starting XI stronger, we want to make the specificity and the personality of our players stronger, and that's what we are going to be seeking to do.

"It will depend on many factors. How many players are back from their loans, with the commitments we still have with them, our financial position in relation to where we finish; the clubs' demands when we want to buy players or sell players.

"There are a lot of question marks there, but this is football. We've been through a lot in the last two seasons and we are going to try to manage it in the best possible way.

"The good thing is that the plan is clear, but the plan is just the plan until you start to work through that plan. Then, every decision and every situation is going to allow you – or not allow you – to be as close as possible to that plan, which is our aim."

As the 2021-22 Premier League season enters its final weeks, plenty remains for the taking – not least the thrilling title race between Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City.

Both teams are in imperious form and, while City lead the way by a single point heading into the weekend, one slip might be all it takes.

Chelsea seem relatively secure in third place, but behind them the battle for the final Champions League spot is raging on. Just two points separate north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham, who meet in a potentially decisive derby in mid-May. 

Manchester United have played two games more than those two sides and look like they will have to settle for sixth, assuming they can fend off West Ham.

At the bottom, Everton are in real danger of losing their Premier League status for the first time but will hold out hope in their dogfight against Burnley and Leeds United, though Watford and Norwich City appear destined for the drop.

But just how will it all unfold? Well, using the Stats Perform League Prediction Model, we can try and forecast the final standings.

Created by Stats Perform AI using Opta data, the model has analysed the division to assign percentages to potential outcomes for each club.

The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) based on teams' attacking and defensive qualities, which considers four years' worth of results, with weighting based on recency and the quality of opposition. The rest of the matches are then simulated 10,000 times to calculate the likelihood of each outcome.

Let's take a look...

PEP PIPS KLOPP TO THE POST... AGAIN

City won the Premier League title by a margin of just one point in the 2018-19 campaign. The gap has been much wider over the past two seasons, with Liverpool triumphing in 2020 and City winning last year.

But just like in 2019, the model suggests Liverpool will fall just short once again, with City predicted to stay on top. It gives Pep Guardiola's team a 66 per cent chance of winning their fourth title in five seasons, with the Reds given a 34 per cent chance.

Neither side are predicted to drop out of the top two – that seems a safe bet. Liverpool have a tough trip to in-form Newcastle United on Saturday, while City face Leeds United.

Newcastle will then have the chance to have another say in the title race when they visit City on May 8, with trips to Wolves and West Ham coming for the leaders before they round off their domestic season against Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa. 

Liverpool, who also face Villa along with Spurs, Southampton and Wolves, will be wanting a favour from their club great on the last day of the season if they are to prove the model wrong.

GUNNERS CLINCH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLACE

Chelsea, according to the model, have a 98.7 chance of staying in third place, and are certain to be playing in UEFA's elite competition next season.

Below them, it is predicted that Arsenal will just nip into the top four rather than Spurs. Mikel Arteta's team have a 75.2 per cent chance of qualifying for the Champions League, and just 24.8 of finishing in a Europa League place.

While Stats Perform AI only gives Arsenal a minuscule opportunity of taking third off Chelsea, they have a 73.9 per cent chance of securing fourth place and featuring in the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17.

It seems likely that much will be decided on May 12, when Spurs welcome Arsenal to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Antonio Conte's team are predicted to finish fifth (72.4 per cent), and only have a 24.7 per cent likelihood of clinching fourth.

United are forecast to finish sixth (65 per cent), albeit there is the possibility they could even end 2021-22 in seventh. That position, however, seems set to be filled by West Ham, who have to win against Eintracht Frankfurt next week to keep their hopes of a Europa League triumph alive – success in that competition would take them into the Champions League, regardless of where they finish domestically.

TOFFEES CHAMPIONSHIP-BOUND

It has been a dismal season for Everton, who head into Sunday's clash with Frank Lampard's former club Chelsea sitting in the bottom three for the first time since 2019 (when, ironically, they beat a Chelsea side managed by Lampard).

Lampard has taken 10 points from his 12 games in charge, and they are now predicted to finish in 18th place. The model gives them a 29.8 per cent chance of escaping the drop and finishing 17th and just a 17.4 per cent likelihood of coming 16th. Their run-in includes three away games, and Everton have the worst away record in the competition – 12 of their 19 defeats coming on the road and they have taken just six points on their travels all season.

Burnley sit two points clear of Everton in 17th after two successive victories and are given a 39.4 per cent chance of staying put, although the likelihood of the Clarets' finishing 18th is not dissimilar (36.5 per cent).

Leeds have tough fixtures against City, Arsenal and Chelsea coming up before they host Brighton and Hove Albion and visit Brentford, though Stats Perform AI gives them only a 12.9 per cent chance of relegation.

Watford are heavily predicted to stay put in 19th too, with Norwich given a 67.4 per cent probability of finishing bottom – the model reckons they have a 0.1 per cent chance of avoiding the drop.

Pep Guardiola offered a solution as Jurgen Klopp bemoaned Liverpool's hectic schedule, suggesting that issue would disappear if he took up a job in the Maldives.

Manchester City are in action against Leeds United on Sunday after Liverpool have visited Newcastle United in Saturday's early kick-off.

The timing of that fixture has been the source of some frustration to Klopp, whose Reds side played in the Champions League against Villarreal on Wednesday.

But City manager Guardiola insisted it is a problem top coaches simply have to come to terms with, accepting they have little say in how the calendar is set.

The alternative, Guardiola suggested, would be leaving the Premier League for a quieter life beneath the coconut trees in "the Maldives league".

"Always I sympathise about the concerns of Liverpool," Guardiola said with a smile of Klopp's complaint.

"How many times have we discussed about what's happened to us and I've said I don't want to talk about that? Nothing is going to change.

"It's not going to change because the broadcasters are thinking about what they have to do to get more viewers. It's not about what the players need or what the teams need.

"Of course I understand it, but what can I say? We are not going to solve the problem, I've said many times. Sir Alex Ferguson was the most important icon in the history of English football and he was complaining when he was a teenager.

"Nothing is going to change, so don't ask me. With these questions, stop asking the managers. Go to the Premier League, the broadcasters, and ask the reason why. As a manager, we want the best for our players.

"We are focused on the players, concerned about the players and their recovery to make three or four competitions. Don't ask me again these questions because it wastes time. Nothing is going to change.

"We played in Madrid against Atletico, and three days later we played at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

"Chelsea played Tuesday and could have played on Saturday but played on Sunday. Do you think they think about that? No, because the next Tuesday, Liverpool play against United.

"Everyone has their own business to defend. We adapt. If they say play Saturday, we play Saturday. If they say play Tuesday, we play Tuesday. Thursday? We are going to play Thursday. Whatever they want, no problem.

"If I'm not satisfied, I go home and don't be manager of Man City. I go to another league in the Maldives, the Maldives league, and play one game a week and I'm so comfortable under the coconuts and it would be so perfect.

"But it's not the case. You are playing at 12.30pm, I'm sorry, Liverpool, but I'm not involved with that."

Steven Gerrard believes extending Jurgen Klopp's contract is Liverpool's "most important signing for many years to come".

Reds boss Klopp signed a two-year extension to his deal at Anfield on Thursday that will keep him tied to the club until 2026.

Gerrard, who is now manager of Aston Villa, played almost his entire career at Liverpool, making 710 appearances, scoring 186 goals and winning two FA Cups, three League Cups, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League with his boyhood club.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Villa's Premier League match with Norwich City, Gerrard said Klopp's new deal was good news for all Liverpool fans.

"You can tell by the smile," he said when asked what he thought. "Listen, all the Liverpool fans worldwide are absolutely delighted with the news.

"Congratulations to Jurgen and his staff, and I think it'll be Liverpool's most important signing for many years to come. That's how highly we all think of him. [It is] terrific news for Liverpool Football Club."

 

Gerrard has inevitably been linked with an eventual move to manage his former club, having spent a brief spell in charge of Liverpool's under-18 side before moving to Rangers, where he won the club's first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years.

He became manager of Villa in November and has overseen 22 matches so far in all competitions, winning eight, drawing three and losing 11.

Liverpool are still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple this season, having already won the EFL Cup. Klopp's men have an FA Cup final against Chelsea to come, are 2-0 ahead after the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Villarreal and sit just a point behind Manchester City at the top of the Premier League with five games remaining, with both scheduled to play Villa in the run-in.

"I think he certainly deserves it for the way he's performed," Gerrard continued. "I think the [Liverpool] fans have been craving that signing for some time, and he's built a world-class team, and I think they're on the cusp of something really special.

"We can have an influence in that, so that'll be interesting when [Liverpool] come to Villa Park. We wish them well outside of that fixture, and I think it's totally deserved and it's fantastic news for Liverpool Football Club. I think it's the most important signing for a very long time at the club."

Jurgen Klopp does not expect news of his new Liverpool contract to have any bearing on the futures of star duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

It was confirmed on Thursday Klopp had agreed a two-year extension to his deal at Anfield, meaning he has committed to Liverpool until 2026.

Egypt forward Salah is soon to enter the final 12 months of his deal and this month described the situation as "really sensitive".

Mane's is also out of contract in 2023 and reports have naturally suggested the focus for Liverpool is now on securing the futures of their best players have tied Klopp down for the foreseeable future.

But Klopp does not necessarily think there is a link between his own long-term plans and those of Salah and Mane.

"That's more a question for the boys to be honest, what it means to them," Klopp told a news conference ahead of Liverpool's Premier League clash with Newcastle United.

"It's fine, my relationship with both is great. In life there are always more things to think about, not only the manger, the coaching staff. 

"We don't know exactly, there's no 100 per cent in this business but it's pretty likely I'll stay for a while. I think everything is clear in this moment.

"If it's a positive sign for the boys then great. I don't think that will be the one decisive thing. 

"They have to make their own decisions in life, it's good. We just have to make sure everyone who wants to be here can know what to expect."

Klopp had previously suggested his old deal, which would have ended in 2024, would be his last at Liverpool.

Asked to explain what changed, he replied: "The main reason for it, I signed the last contract I thought it would be like this [his last deal].

"An idea, a plan would have been [to stay] a long time, [it would have been] eight years in 2024. I thought that will be it

"You [the media] ask me things and I give an answer, what I said I thought it would be it to be honest. I didn't think about it anymore to be honest that's the truth. 

"You ask from time to time, the plan didn't change yet. The plan changed, that's all."

Klopp believes the timing of the news can offer stability to Liverpool, not only now but for further down the line when he eventually does depart the club.

"We want to try and make this club successful for as long as possible, if not forever. That doesn't mean I will be here forever of course," he said.

"It is done early. And it's good for transfer windows. We cannot guarantee success, but we can guarantee stability which in difficult times is a big thing to guarantee.

"For me, at this moment in time, this is the place to be. This club offers a lot, we are building a stand again and it's a sign we never want to stop developing.

"This is no threat, but this is only the start. We really go for it now.

"We can't wait 10 years to make memories. We have to do it now. We have to enjoy the journey. We don't know if we will win anything. But at the moment, we try to squeeze everything out of this season that is possible."

"The last two years were really hard because corona dominated our lives, we thought it was over then 'the other guy' [Vladimir Putin – a reference to Russia's invasion of Ukraine] put us in trouble. So, we have to cherish these moments."

Mohamed Salah has been named the men's Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers' Association.

The Egyptian wins the award for the second time in his career after enjoying another fruitful campaign with Liverpool.

Chelsea striker Sam Kerr won the women's award, which for the first time was voted for by the full FWA membership, having previously been decided by a panel of experts.

Salah received 48 per cent of the voting, finishing ahead of Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and West Ham's Declan Rice.

The Liverpool attacker has 44 goal involvements in 44 appearances this season in all competitions (30 goals, 14 assists) as he and his team-mates continue to hunt down what would be an unprecedented quadruple.

Kerr received 40 per cent of votes to beat Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema and Man City's Lauren Hemp, who finished second and third.

The Australian has scored a goal a game in the Women's Super League this season, bagging 18 in 18 for the league leaders, with a further four assists.

Chair of the FWA, Carrie Brown, told the FWA website: "Both Mo and Sam have been outstanding this season, breaking records for both club and country. As well as their performances on the pitch, they are leaders and standard bearers of excellence at their clubs and respective leagues.

"The fact they have won by such convincing margins underlines just how impressive they have been this season which has been recognised by our members."

Both Salah and Kerr will be presented with their awards at a Footballer of the Year dinner on May 5.

Few would be surprised if Manchester City and Liverpool, the Premier League's two dominant teams, each won their five remaining matches this season.

Liverpool have 12 victories in 13 games, with their sole aberration a 2-2 draw against City.

Yet that run will not be enough to take the title should City themselves continue to win, maintaining a tiny one-point gap that represents a chasm in this rivalry.

Perhaps the distraction of huge Champions League tasks could instead encourage one side or the other to take their eyes off the prize – or maybe a Premier League rival can provide an upset.

Liverpool must still tackle two of the other three opponents to have taken points off City this term (Tottenham and Southampton) but first face a team transformed since they were swatted aside by both the Reds and the champions back in December.

As back then, Newcastle United take on Liverpool and City in consecutive matches. The top two also each have Wolves and Aston Villa to play, yet it is Eddie Howe's men who look primed to be kingmakers.

After all, in this calendar year, Newcastle represent the best of the rest. Only Liverpool (2.7) and City (2.3) have earned more points per game than Newcastle (2.1), who are actually ahead of City (30) in terms of a 2022 total (32).

So, heading into a daunting double-header comfortably in midtable after 150 days in the relegation zone this season, could Newcastle shake things up?

Fortress St James'

The last time Newcastle beat Liverpool, Georginio Wijnaldum scored one goal and created the other. He has since been relegated with Newcastle, joined Liverpool, won the Champions League and the Premier League and moved on again.

The Reds are 10 without defeat against Newcastle, including a four-match unbeaten run on Tyneside – albeit two of those clashes were behind closed doors. Newcastle have failed to win in five successive home league games against Liverpool only once previously, back in the 1960s.

Liverpool did come out on top the last time they played in front of fans at St James' Park in 2019 but only courtesy of a controversial late winner. The hosts were clear of relegation trouble with little to play for after a strong second half to the season, while the visitors briefly set aside a Champions League semi-final in their pursuit of City.

That sounds familiar, and the home crowd are likely to be up for it again, with Jurgen Klopp remarking last time: "Is there any history between Newcastle and Liverpool that I don't know about? The atmosphere was like something happened in the past."

Howe's side have their own streak to extend this weekend, meanwhile, having won six Premier League games in a row at home for the first time in 18 years.

In fact, only three times previously in the competition have Newcastle enjoyed a longer such stretch at home, even if their 1995-96 record run of 14 wins remains a long way out of reach.

City at least have the benefit of playing Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium, although the Magpies' four away wins this season have all come since the turn of the year.

For the first time since 1996-97, Newcastle have won three games in a row on three separate occasions, including an ongoing run of four straight victories in which they have conceded only once...

Built from the back

Newcastle's development into a solid defensive outfit was far from expected. They ended 2021 having conceded a record 80 Premier League goals for the calendar year, while Howe's Bournemouth team shipped at least 61 in each of their five seasons in the competition.

A 3-3 draw at home to Brentford in his first match in charge hinted at the continuation of a campaign of chaos, and Newcastle were still conceding 2.3 goals per game – on course for more than 86 for the season – when City won 4-0 at St James' Park in December.

However, Howe – widely considered an attacking coach – spent time at Atletico Madrid in his spell out of the game, and Newcastle have since represented something akin to Diego Simeone's side.

They have conceded more than once in only a single game since the City defeat, an uncharacteristic 5-1 collapse at Tottenham that included four home goals in just over 20 minutes either side of half-time.

Again, only Liverpool's Alisson (10) and City's Ederson (seven) can top Martin Dubravka's six league clean sheets for Newcastle in 2022, when he has let in 13 goals in 15 games – or a hugely impressive eight in 14 outside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Dubravka has played a key role in keeping Newcastle up in previous seasons, but this time the players in front of him are doing the bulk of the work.

Newcastle have allowed their 2022 opponents chances worth 1.0 expected goals per game, third behind City (0.6) and Liverpool (0.9). Their defence is sixth in terms of shots faced over this period (10.8 per game) and fourth for shots on target faced (3.1 per game).

The Magpies will back themselves to frustrate either Liverpool or City, yet the top two have won 10 of the 17 games this season in which they have scored no more than a single goal, so Howe's men will have to threaten at the other end, too.

Brilliant Bruno Guimaraes

Outsiders have attributed much of Newcastle's upturn to their January investment in new players, yet that ignores the improvement of previously failing individuals like Joelinton and Emil Krafth – key men in a side missing England internationals Callum Wilson since December and Kieran Trippier since February.

Howe is therefore yet to come close to naming his strongest Newcastle team, but that XI will undoubtedly have his most expensive signing, Bruno Guimaraes, at the heart of it.

With Trippier likely still out, Guimaraes is perhaps the one Newcastle player who would not look out of place in either the Liverpool or City line-ups.

The Brazil midfielder has been as outstanding as expected both in and out of possession, showing the quality that helped Lyon to knock City out of the 2019-20 Champions League.

Guimaraes has completed 85.8 per cent of his passes in the Premier League, the highest rate of any Newcastle player to play 500 or more minutes since their promotion in 2017, while also averaging a tackle every 24 minutes – third behind Arthur Masuaku and Liverpool's Naby Keita this season.

What was not anticipated was the goal threat Guimaraes has also brought. After scoring three times in 56 Ligue 1 games with Lyon, the 24-year-old has four in 13 – including just seven starts – at Newcastle.

Since first breaking into the Newcastle XI, only Cristiano Ronaldo (eight), Son Heung-min (six) and Gabriel Jesus (five) have found the net on as many occasions in the Premier League.

"Goals aren't the strongest part of my game," Guimaraes insisted when he arrived in England, but he poses as big a danger to Liverpool and City as anyone, looking to extend his streak of goal involvements in three straight matches.

Guimaraes spoke in that same interview of winning the Champions League during his time at Newcastle, while his agent this week suggested the club would be targeting qualification as soon as next season.

These next two fixtures present Guimaraes and Newcastle with the opportunity to test themselves against the best Europe can offer – and potentially decide the Premier League title race in the process.

As Jurgen Klopp sat in front of a tremendously busy media room when he was being presented as Liverpool's new manager in October 2015, he said his mission was to "turn doubters into believers."

He felt Reds fans were a little too used to coming so near yet so far, having not won a league title since 1990 at the time, and only winning one trophy - the 2012 League Cup - since 2006.

Early on in his reign, after his new team had fallen 2-1 behind to Crystal Palace at Anfield, he was aghast at fans leaving the ground with almost 10 minutes to go, saying he felt "pretty alone" in that moment.

Fast-forward to April 2022, and having won the Champions League, the Premier League, a UEFA Super Cup, a FIFA Club World Cup and an EFL Cup since, it is safe to say that the Liverpool fans are now believers as they sang Klopp's name at the top of their lungs during the 2-0 Champions League semi-final first leg victory against Villarreal.

The Reds are still in with a shout of winning an unprecedented quadruple this season having already won the EFL Cup, with an FA Cup final against Chelsea to come, a lead in their Champions League semi, and sitting just a point behind leaders Manchester City in the Premier League title race with five games left.

News that Klopp had signed a two-year extension to his Anfield deal on Thursday, meaning his contract now runs until 2026, came as a huge boost to fans ahead of what promises to be an exciting run-in, and Stats Perform has taken a look at some of the important steps that took those doubters and filled them with such belief.

Darkest before the dawn

There was a lot to clear up in the squad left behind by the outgoing Brendan Rodgers. If you look at the team Klopp chose for his first game in charge against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, you will see names on the bench such as Jerome Sinclair, Joao Teixeira and Conor Randall, names not too familiar to many now.

"There were many full-throttle moments in the game. We need to improve but after working with the players for three days I am completely satisfied," Klopp said after the 0-0 draw, but he knew he had his work cut out.

Although ultimately it was a disappointing league campaign in 2015-16 for Liverpool, finishing eighth with just 60 points, behind both Southampton and West Ham, Klopp did manage to reach two finals, in the EFL Cup and the Europa League.

He ended up losing both of them, on penalties to Man City and 3-1 to Sevilla respectively. The players were despondent, but as detailed earlier this week by Reds captain Jordan Henderson, Klopp insisted his players not mope, but celebrate what they had achieved, and what he was sure was still to come.

First step in the evolution

After adding Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum prior to his first full season in charge, many people were a bit underwhelmed, but those fears were soon allayed as Liverpool set about playing the sort of football they have since become synonymous with.

A 4-3 win at Arsenal on the opening day of the season set the tempo, albeit that was tempered by a 2-0 defeat at Burnley straight after in which Liverpool could do nothing with their 80 per cent possession at Turf Moor.

However, as the season progressed, Klopp was able to get a tune out of a potent front three of Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, with Mane and Coutinho scoring 13 Premier League goals each, while Firmino added 11 more.

A 3-0 win against Middlesbrough at Anfield on the final day of the season sealed a Champions League spot, but the question was, could Liverpool stay competitive in the league while also navigating through a European campaign?

 

No player is bigger than the club

Liverpool had made an addition to their already potent attack by bringing in Mohamed Salah from Roma, but the 2017-18 season looked to be thrown into turmoil before it had begun, with Coutinho handing in a transfer request the day before the opener at Watford.

The Brazilian was forced to stay until the January transfer window before being allowed to move to Barcelona, but it did not exactly slow Klopp's men down, largely thanks to the revelation that was Salah.

The Egyptian plundered 4e goals in all competitions in his debut season with the Reds, and coupled with the addition of Virgil van Dijk in January, led to Liverpool making it all the way to the Champions League final in Kyiv.

They were ultimately beaten by Real Madrid thanks to some odd goalkeeping from Loris Karius and a stunner from Gareth Bale, but it felt like the start of something, rather than the end.

 

Righting wrongs

After adding Alisson and Fabinho to an already strong team, it seemed that Klopp had addressed his two biggest weak points, and so it proved as Liverpool became a near unstoppable force.

They went toe-to-toe with a rampant Man City in the title race, while also showing a determination to avenge their Champions League heartbreak.

They did just that after a remarkable 4-3 aggregate win against Coutinho and Barcelona in the semi-finals, before beating Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid to give Klopp his first trophy at the club, arguably the biggest one of all.

However, in some people's eyes, the biggest one was the Premier League, which they missed out on to City by a single point, despite amassing an incredible 97 themselves. Only City that year and when they achieved 100 the year prior had ever won more points in England's top flight, but it still didn't result in a league title.

Righting wrongs: Part two

Just as they had done in the Champions League, Liverpool had a sense of purpose to go one better in the league in 2019-20, and that led to the title race being over pretty much before it had begun.

A 3-1 win against City at Anfield in the November put the Reds nine points clear of Pep Guardiola's men, and they never looked back, until they were forced to stop their relentless pursuit.

After a break of several weeks following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Liverpool returned to finish the job and seal their first league title in 30 years after going two points better than the year previous, ending the campaign with 99 to their name.

 

The beginning of the end?

The pandemic meant every club had lost their fans, with no-one allowed in grounds. While the increasingly believing Kop was missed, it was not until Klopp started losing his defence that problems emerged in 2020-21.

By mid-November, he had lost Van Dijk and Joe Gomez to long-term injury, and Joel Matip completed the set in January, meaning Liverpool had to play a significant chunk of their campaign with either midfielders, or rookie defenders at centre back.

This led to a downturn in results that had people questioning if the ride was over. Had Klopp's relentless Reds finally run out of steam, and was this the inevitable consequence of shining so brightly?

Thanks to some very hard-earned wins, including a remarkable stoppage time winner from Alisson at West Brom, Liverpool scraped third place and a crucial Champions League spot. Had stories of their demise been greatly exaggerated?

 

The quadruple chasers

Yes, yes they had. With their defenders all back, and Ibrahima Konate added from RB Leipzig, Liverpool have, if anything, found new levels of excellence this season. They have gone right back to challenging City, and have proven themselves to be one of the teams to beat in Europe too.

They are currently the top scorers in the Premier League with 85 goals in 33 games, and have won 13 of their last 14 league games, with a 2-2 draw at City their only blemish in that time.

Can they go all the way and make history by winning a quadruple? It still seems unlikely, but whether they do or they don't, the news that Klopp's story with Liverpool has been extended by two more years can only be positive.

You better believe it.

Jurgen Klopp is staying on at Liverpool for an extra two years after signing a new contract that keeps him at Anfield until June 2026.

Rumours had started to circulate suggesting the German and his coaching staff agreed fresh terms, and the club made it official on Thursday.

The announcement came as Liverpool chase an unprecedented quadruple. Having already won the EFL Cup this season, they are into the FA Cup final, sit just one point behind leaders Manchester City in the Premier League and hold a 2-0 lead over Villarreal ahead of the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.

Injury-ravaged Liverpool finished 2020-21 third in the Premier League, 17 points behind Pep Guardiola's City, but Klopp has proven that to be a minor blip with the Reds back in devastating form this term.

Following confirmation of his new contract, Stats Perform looks back at some of the best and most notable victories from Klopp's five and a half years at the helm…

Liverpool 4-3 Borussia Dortmund, April 2016

Klopp surely felt he had a point to prove when going up against his former club in the Europa League quarter-finals, though it all looked to be going horribly wrong. After drawing 1-1 in the first leg, the Reds then trailed by two goals twice at Anfield and found themselves needing at least three goals in the final 25 minutes – somehow, they managed it. Philippe Coutinho, Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren all struck, with Liverpool incredibly netting with all four of their shots on target in the game.

Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City, January 2018

Although Liverpool still trailed leaders City by 15 points in the Premier League after this victory, in hindsight, there is a degree of this win being a watershed moment for Klopp's Liverpool. City were unbeaten in the league at this point, yet for much of the game Liverpool looked every inch their equal. While two late goals from City ensured a tense finish, the Reds were well worth the three points in what went down as a modern classic.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona, May 2019

The Reds seemed to have little hope here. Lionel Messi inspired a 3-0 dismantling of Liverpool in Camp Nou in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash, seemingly putting one foot in the final. But Klopp's side were in sensational form for the return at Anfield, with Divock Origi providing some early hope with a seventh-minute opener. Georginio Wijnaldum then laid on a second-half brace to restore parity, before Origi completed the turnaround 11 minutes from time. It was the first time since 1986 that a team wiped out a three-goal first-leg deficit to win a Champions League/European Cup semi-final.

Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool, June 2019

It may not have been a classic as a spectacle, but Liverpool fans – and Klopp – won't have cared. After falling at the final hurdle the year before, the Reds were European champions for a sixth time in 2019 as they beat Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid, with Mohamed Salah and Origi getting the goals.

Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United, January 2020

The 2019-20 title triumph was Liverpool's first league championship in 30 years – in that time, their bitter rivals United had won it 13 times to become the most successful club in the English top flight. While Klopp's side were already well clear at the Premier League summit when the ailing United came to Anfield in January 2020, there was a sense that their procession began with this 2-0 victory that left them 16 points clear at the top with a game in hand.

Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool, October 2021

Liverpool heaped the misery on United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer again in October. Paul Pogba's sending off certainly helped the visitors, but even before then the gulf was clear. This was the Red Devils' biggest losing margin to their fierce rivals since 1895 (Liverpool won 7-1 at Anfield), and worst ever at home. Mohamed Salah led the way with a hat-trick, in the process becoming the highest-scoring African player in Premier League history. The Reds went on to hammer United again six months later, winning 4-0 on Merseyside.

The Premier League's longest-serving manager is to remain in his post until 2026 after agreeing a two-year contract extension to his deal at Anfield.

Having already led the Reds to their first ever Premier League title, ending a 30-year wait for top-flight glory, and a sixth European crown since arriving in England in 2015, Klopp is looking to become the first boss to win a historic quadruple in another fine campaign.

Liverpool finished eighth when Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers during the 2015-16 season but the German's canny recruiting has helped restore the club to one of the game's global powerhouses.

And Stats Perform has used Opta data to run through the club's best signings of the Klopp era.

Sadio Mane

Having led the Reds to EFL Cup and Europa League finals after inheriting a squad built by predecessor Brendan Rodgers, Klopp went about remodelling his team in 2016, with then-Southampton forward Mane representing the biggest arrival ahead of his first full campaign at the helm.

Mane registered 13 goals and seven assists in his debut season, with only Phillipe Coutinho managing more goal contributions for the Reds (14 goals and nine assists). The Senegal forward managed his best campaign to date when scoring 26 goals in all competitions two years later, also winning a vital penalty in the opening stages of their Champions League final win over Spurs.

Including this season, Mane has hit 20 goals in four of his last five campaigns at Anfield, more than paying back his £30million price tag.

Mohamed Salah

If Mane's arrival was a success, where do you start with the debut campaign of Salah, who joined Mane and Roberto Firmino to form a fearsome Reds front three in 2017?

In all competitions, Salah scored an unbelievable 43 goals and registered 14 assists during his first season with the club as Liverpool finished as Champions League runners-up. Salah has hit 117 goals in 176 Premier League appearances for the Reds, has scored in a Champions League final victory and won two Premier League golden boots to date, with another extremely likely to follow this term.

Not bad for a player Chelsea let go for a reported £13.5million back in 2016…

Virgil van Dijk

While Salah and Mane have arguably provided the most magical moments for Klopp's Liverpool, would any of their incredible successes have been possible without the acquisition of Van Dijk in January 2018?

With former club Southampton receiving a reported £75million for his services, Van Dijk certainly did not come cheap, but it could be argued no other player can rival his impact at Anfield. Having conceded 38 league goals in 2017-18, Liverpool shipped just 22 in Van Dijk's first full season with the club as they were crowned European champions and narrowly missed out on the Premier League title.

Indeed, after racking up 97 points that season, Liverpool earned 99 when winning their first Premier League title in 2019-20, 30 more than they earned in the 2020-21 campaign when Van Dijk was sidelined by an ACL injury.

Allison 

The 2018 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid was a turning point for Klopp's Liverpool. The heavy metal football that propelled Klopp to stardom had gotten the Reds so far, but Loris Karius' costly errors demonstrated their need for a safer pair of hands.

For all that Van Dijk's brilliance contributed to Liverpool's incredible defensive record in 2018-19, Allison's arrival must also be credited after he kept 21 clean sheets and recorded a save percentage of 77.08 per cent that term. The Brazilian could yet better those statistics this season, posting 19 Premier League clean sheets to date.

Liverpool's shot-stopper even popped up with a vital goal against West Brom last season to help secure Champions League qualification.

The Hull City left-back, the silky Spaniard and Liverpool's next great attackers: The best of the rest…

Klopp's Liverpool have generally recruited brilliantly since his arrival, and while the aforementioned quartet have arguably had the greatest impact on the team's development, there are numerous others who warrant a mention.

In terms of pure value-for-money, no signing can match the £7million purchase of Andrew Robertson, with only Trent Alexander-Arnold (17) beating the Scot's 15 assists in all competitions this season.

Thiago Alcantara, who arrived from Bayern Munich ahead of lasts season, took a while to convince some doubters, largely owing to the silky midfielder's bad fortune with injuries, but the Barcelona man has been inspirational in recent weeks and no regular Reds midfielder can match his passing accuracy of 89.56 per cent this term (all competitions).

If Liverpool could be said to have had one weakness in recent seasons, meanwhile, it was a lack of reliable back-ups for Salah and Mane.

However, the form of Diogo Jota and January arrival Luis Diaz has been crucial to Liverpool's quadruple bid. With Jota averaging a goal every 134.6 minutes in the Premier League this term, and Diaz recording five goal contributions (three goals, two assists) in just seven league starts, the duo could be crucial in Klopp's next cycle.

Jurgen Klopp is "more energised than ever" and "the perfect figurehead for the modern Liverpool FC", according to the club's owner Fenway Sports Group.

Liverpool announced a contract extension for their hugely successful manager on Thursday.

Klopp's previous deal was set to run until the end of the 2023-24 season, but he revealed he has committed to the Anfield club for a further two years.

The Reds could win an unprecedented quadruple this season, having already collected the EFL Cup while remaining in contention for Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup glory.

Klopp has won both the league and Europe's elite club competition in previous seasons, too, and Fenway Sports Group believes he is the man to lead them forward.

FSG president Mike Gordon said: "It's always hard to find the right words to adequately reflect Jurgen's importance and contribution to our club, but today's announcement really does speak for itself.

"But speaking on behalf of my partners John [Henry] and Tom [Werner], as well as myself, Jurgen is the perfect figurehead for the modern Liverpool FC.

"This is especially true of what he stands for, on and off the pitch. It also applies to the leader he is and the man he is.

"Because of our extraordinary playing squad, outstanding coaches, world-class football operations team and brilliant club staff, we are blessed with the most valuable resource an organisation could wish for: amazing people.

"Everything Jurgen has said publicly about his future previously was reflected by his words privately to us. It was about him having the inclination and desire to keep going. In this respect, it is clear he is more energised than ever.

"What our latest agreement gives us, across the organisation, is an opportunity to benefit from continuity, particularly in terms of renewals, whilst retaining and, where possible, enhancing our keen focus on refreshing and reinvigorating at all times.

"As Jurgen has himself alluded to, we have incredible talent across the club, led by Billy Hogan and his executive team for the wider business. Plus, more specifically for football, Julian Ward as sporting director, football ops and the wider AXA set-up, including our sensational academy.

"It's a talent pool that is incredibly deep and totally committed.

"Jurgen wanting to make our future to be as bright as our present is a big statement. We cannot rest or consolidate.

"We have to think at all times about improvement and we are now able to do this in the knowledge that we have retained a manager who not only shares our vision and ambition, he remains determined to deliver on it.

"For these reasons and many more, it is beyond thrilling to know Jurgen Klopp will lead us into this new era."

Jurgen Klopp has signed an extension to his Liverpool contract that will keep him with the Reds until 2026.

Klopp's previous deal was due to expire at the end of the 2023-24 season, and the German appeared to suggest on the occasion that he intended to step away from the game for a break at the end of that contract.

However, nearing the end of a season in which Liverpool may still win an unprecedented quadruple, Klopp has decided to extend his stay on Merseyside, adding an extra two years to his deal.

The Reds have already secured the EFL Cup this season, while they will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final, have a 2-0 advantage in their Champions League semi-final against Villarreal and sit just a point behind leaders Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title with five games remaining.

Klopp's two assistant managers, Pepijn Lijnders and Peter Krawietz, have also inked new deals.

 After the announcement on Thursday, Klopp told the club's official media channels: "There are so many words I could use to describe how I am feeling about this news... delighted, humbled, blessed, privileged and excited would be a start.

"There is just so much to love about this place. I knew that before I came here, I got to know it even better after I arrived, and now I know it more than ever before.

"Like any healthy relationship, it always has to be a two-way street; you have to be right for each other. The feeling we were absolutely right for each other is what brought me here in the first place and it's why I’ve extended previously.

"This one is different because of the length of time we have been together. I had to ask myself the question: Is it right for Liverpool that I stay longer?

"Along with my two assistant managers, Pep Lijnders and Pete Krawietz, we came to the conclusion it was a 'Yes!'

"There is a freshness about us as a club still and this energises me. For as long as I have been here, our owners have been unbelievably committed and energetic about this club and it is clear that right now this applies to our future as much as I’ve ever known."

Klopp has taken charge of 373 Liverpool games in all competitions, with a win percentage of 61 (229 wins, 84 draws and 60 losses). 

Since he arrived at Anfield in October 2015, Klopp has won the Champions League, the Premier League, the Super Cup, the Club World Cup and the EFL Cup.

"We are a club that is constantly moving in the right direction," Klopp added. "We have a clear idea of what we want; we have a clear idea of how we try to achieve it. That's always a great position to start from.

"When the owners brought the possibility to renew to me, I asked myself the question I've mused over publicly. Do I have the energy and vibe to give of myself again what this amazing place requires from the person in the manager’s office?

"I didn't need too long to answer in truth. The answer was very simple... I'm in love with here and I feel fine!"

Jurgen Klopp has signed an extension to his Liverpool contract that will keep him with the Reds until 2026.

Klopp's previous deal was due to expire at the end of the 2023-24 season, and the German appeared to suggest on occasion that he intended to step away from the game for a break at the end of that contract.

However, nearing the end of a season in which Liverpool may still win an unprecedented quadruple, Klopp has decided to extend his stay on Merseyside, adding an extra two years to his deal.

The Reds have already secured the EFL Cup this season, while they will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final, have a 2-0 advantage in their Champions League semi-final against Villarreal and sit just a point behind leaders Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title with five games remaining.

Klopp's two assistant managers, Pepijn Lijnders and Peter Krawietz, have also inked new deals.

Virgil van Dijk admitted he would not want to face Liverpool's lethal strikers after Villarreal failed to contain the ruthless Reds.

Sadio Mane became the third Liverpool player to score 20 goals this season as Jurgen Klopp's side won the Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield 2-0 on Wednesday.

Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota have also reached that amount in the 2021-22 campaign, while Luis Diaz has been a revelation since his arrival from Porto in January.

Divock Origi has also played his part this season, once again coming off the bench to score against Everton in a 2-0 Merseyside derby win last Sunday that keeps the pressure on leaders Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Van Dijk is relieved he is able to watch the Reds' rampant forward line create havoc rather than having to try and keep them at bay.

The centre-back told the club's official website: "They are so important for us at the moment. I don't want to be facing any of our strikers, to be fair.

"Diogo from the bench, Luis, Mo, Sadio, it's incredible, Divock the last game. We are in a good moment, everyone is pushing each other and we'll try to keep that going, and the amount of work they put in is incredible as well."

Liverpool will travel to Estadio de la Ceramica for the second leg next Tuesday with one foot in the final as they attempt to win an unprecedented quadruple.

Van Dijk says there is no chance the Reds will sit back on their advantage.

"We are not going there to defend and defend the lead,” said the Netherlands international.

"We know we have to be very mature there as well, we know it’s going to be tough, probably a little hostile atmosphere, but it’s something we should enjoy as well.

"You don't get to the final the easy way, it's never the case, especially at this stage of the Champions League. You play against fantastic teams. So, it will be tough there but we have to be confident, work hard for the full 95 minutes and hopefully we can get the job done."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.