Liverpool have announced Jordan Henderson has undergone surgery on the groin injury he sustained against Everton.

Playing at centre-back due to key absences in defence, the Liverpool captain was forced to come off in the 30th minute of his side's 2-0 defeat in the Merseyside derby at Anfield last Saturday.

Henderson has appeared in 21 of the Reds' 25 league games this season, his solitary goal coming in the 7-0 rout of Crystal Palace in December. He has also made six appearances in the Champions League, the last of them in the 2-0 away victory over RB Leipzig in the round of 16.

A timetable for his return to action has not been revealed, though the club have confirmed the England international will be out until at least after the international break in March.

"Following further assessment with the club's medical team, Henderson has successfully had a corrective procedure carried out on the adductor injury," a statement from the club read.

"He will begin a rehabilitation programme immediately.

"No specific timescale is being placed upon his return; however, the 30-year-old is ruled out initially until after the March international break.

"Henderson's recovery will be closely monitored by the club's medical department and his progression during his rehab work will determine when he is able to resume full training."

The absence of his skipper is a further blow to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, particularly considering the 30-year-old has so often filled in at centre-back this term due to the long-term absences of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

Henderson will miss Sunday's trip to Sheffield United, as well as league fixtures against Chelsea, Fulham and Wolves in March.

He is also ruled out of the Champions League second leg against RB Leipzig, while England boss Gareth Southgate will have to do without the midfielder for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has been given the all-clear to chase Erling Haaland, while Liverpool are also eyeing a forward.

Borussia Dortmund star Haaland is wanted by numerous European giants, with Manchester City among those reportedly interested.

But Chelsea are also targeting the 20-year-old forward.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA GIVEN ALL-CLEAR TO CHASE HAALAND

Chelsea boss Tuchel has been given the green light to go after Dortmund star Haaland ahead of next season, according to Bild.

Haaland has scored 27 goals in 25 games for Dortmund this season.

Chelsea spent big ahead of 2020-21, but are seemingly eager to land Haaland to strengthen further.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently eyeing a forward of their own. Diario Gol reports Jurgen Klopp wants Real Madrid forward Rodrygo.

- After starring for Burnley, Nick Pope is linked with a move. LancsLive reports the Premier League club want around £50million for the goalkeeper, who is said to be a target for Tottenham.

- Manchester United continue to be linked with West Ham midfielder Declan Rice. 90min reports United are willing to offer any of Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones to West Ham in their bid to land Rice.

- Staying at Manchester United and the Daily Express reports they may give up on Norwich City right-back Max Aarons due to a £35m asking price.

- With Napoli seventh in Serie A and out of the Europa League after being eliminated by Granada, the pressure is on head coach Gennaro Gattuso. But CalcioMercato reports Gattuso is safe for now despite his side's struggles.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson thanked his fans for their support following the tragic death of his "beloved" late father.

It was reported that Jose Agostinho Becker drowned on Wednesday while swimming close to his holiday home in Brazil.

The 57-year-old was reported missing and, following a search, his body was found.

Alisson wrote in a message on Twitter on Thursday: "I would like to thank everyone for the messages and tributes to my beloved father!

"Our family feels loved by everyone! May God bless each one's lives!"

The Brazil international has played 27 games in all competitions for Liverpool this season.

The Reds play bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp's side are seeking to halt a four-match losing run in the Premier League that has seen the defending champions slip to sixth place.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson's father is reported to have drowned, with former club Internacional tweeting their condolences. 

According to widespread reports, the 57-year-old was swimming close to his holiday home in Brazil on Wednesday when he was reported missing. 

A search was launched and his body was found. 

Internacional, for whom Alisson's brother Muriel also used to play, tweeted: "It is with great sadness that we received the news of the death of Jose Agostinho Becker, father of our former goalkeepers Alisson and Muriel. 

"Clube do Povo wishes strength to family and friends in this moment of so much pain." 

Brazil international Becker moved to Anfield from Roma in 2018, after appearing for his country at the World Cup in Russia. 

The 28-year-old won the Champions League in his debut season and helped Jurgen Klopp's side to the Premier League title last term. 

 

Manchester City are reportedly considering a double swoop for Erling Haaland and Giovanni Reyna.

The Borussia Dortmund stars have been linked with moves, with Haaland in particular in high demand across Europe.

And high-flying City have their eyes on the duo.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER HAALAND, REYNA

Manchester City are considering moves for Dortmund stars Haaland and Reyna, according to 90min.

Haaland, 20, has scored 17 goals and provided three assists in 17 Bundesliga games this season.

Reyna, the 18-year-old American, has three goals and four assists in 21 league games.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United continue to be linked with centre-backs. But the Daily Mail reports the Premier League club are unwilling to meet Sevilla defender Jules Kounde's £68million (€79m) release clause, although they remain interested in the 22-year-old.

- With Liverpool enduring a difficult season, Jurgen Klopp's future has become a talking point. Bild reports Klopp could take over as Germany coach after the 2022 World Cup despite having a contract with Liverpool until 2024.

- Another club linked with a move for Haaland are Chelsea. Metro reports Tammy Abraham, who has scored 12 goals this season and is out of contract in 2023, is unwilling to discuss a new deal with the club amid the Haaland rumours.

- Jesse Lingard is attracting interest after an impressive start to his West Ham career. The Daily Express reports Leicester City are prepared to challenge West Ham if they try to sign Lingard, who is on loan from Manchester United, permanently ahead of next season.

- Still without a club, it remains to be seen where Maurizio Sarri ends up next. CalcioMercato reports Fiorentina again met with the former Juventus and Chelsea boss, but a potential agreement remains complex.

Diogo Jota is closing in on a return to action for Liverpool, while fellow long-term injury victim Virgil van Dijk is also stepping up his rehabilitation. 

Jota has not featured since suffering a knee injury in December. 

It curtailed a superb start to life at Anfield from the Portugal international, who racked up nine goals in 17 appearances after joining from Wolves last September. 

Jota completed a full session with Jurgen Klopp's first-team squad at the AXA Training Centre on Wednesday. 

Van Dijk's absence stretches back further after he suffered knee ligament damage due to a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during last October's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. 

Lengthy and ongoing absences for Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have made centre-back a problem position for Klopp this term, and Jordan Henderson is waiting to find out the extent of an adductor injury having filled in manfully at the heart of defence. 

Unlike Jota, Van Dijk's return is not imminent, but he took part in an individual outdoor session away from his team-mates and appeared to be in good spirits. 

Liverpool won four and drew three of eight matches with Van Dijk in the side this season, including a remarkable 7-2 loss at Aston Villa. 

That 50 per cent win ratio has not been maintained in his absence, however, with 14 wins, seven draws and eight losses amounting to 48.3 per cent. 

Such form has put paid to hopes of a successful Premier League title defence but Klopp's men remain in contention in Europe after an impressive 2-0 last 16 first-leg win over RB Leipzig. 

Jota's return could be key to their hopes of reaching a third final in four seasons in the Champions League. 

He netted a hat-trick in the 5-0 group-stage thrashing of Atalanta and overall Liverpool won 58.8 per cent of games with Jota involved (W10 D5 L2). 

That falls to 40 per cent (W8 D5 L7) in the months since his injury, while the Reds' goals-per-game average is down from 2.2 to 1.7 without the 24-year-old, even though they average almost two more shots per game (15.9) set against when Jota does feature (14.1). 

While Sunday's trip to Sheffield United may come too soon for Jota, he could potentially feature in the home clash with top-four rivals Chelsea next Thursday.

What does the future hold for Andre Silva?

Silva has scored 18 Bundesliga goals this season, second only to Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski.

He could find himself at Manchester United if Eintracht Frankfurt reportedly pursue a permanent deal for Luka Jovic.

 

TOP STORY – SILVA BOUND FOR MANCHESTER?

Manchester United could be offered the chance to sign Eintracht Frankfurt star Andre Silva if Edinson Cavani leaves Old Trafford, according to The Sun.

Silva is taking the Bundesliga by storm this season, but Eintracht are reportedly looking to raise funds to re-sign Luka Jovic – who is currently on loan in Frankfurt – permanently from Real Madrid.

Portugal international Silva could become available if veteran forward Cavani departs after the former Paris Saint-Germain star arrived on a one-year deal at the start of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Eurosport claims Chelsea are growing increasingly confident of winning the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland. The Norway international forward has been linked with Madrid, BarcelonaManchester City, Liverpool and United, as well as Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

Everton have joined United and Bayern Munich in trying to sign Norwich City full-back Max Aarons, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Tottenham will target Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope if PSG make a move for Hugo Lloris, says the Daily Mail.

- The Sun claims United veteran Juan Mata is being tracked by Serie A trio, Juventus, Inter and Roma.

Juventus, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and now Manchester United are all reportedly chasing Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Days out from his 22nd birthday, Donnarumma has reportedly closed a deal with the Red Devils.

Is David de Gea's future in doubt?

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS SWOOP FOR RECORD-BREAKER

Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has agreed to a provisional deal with Manchester United, according to Todo Fichajes.

The report claims the deal would make the Italy star the best paid goalkeeper ever in world football.

United have had goalkeeping issues this season, with number one keeper David de Gea making a number of errors, while understudy Dean Henderson has made a handful of appearances.

Donnarumma, who celebrates his 22nd birthday on Thursday, became the youngest player in Serie A history to reach 200 appearances in Sunday's 3-0 derby defeat to leaders Inter.

The 21-year-old's current deal with the Rossoneri expires at the end of this season and he has been linked with a host of clubs including Serie A champions Juventus, Champions League holders Bayern Munich and Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

There are similarities between Yokohama F.Marinos manager Ange Postecoglou and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Pressing is a vital feature of Postecoglou and Klopp's teams, with both managers enforcing a high-octane brand of attacking football.

Postecoglou and Klopp were also coming off drought-ending title triumphs as the coronavirus pandemic set in.

In 2019, F.Marinos boss Postecoglou guided the Japanese club to their first J.League title since 2004, while Klopp ended Liverpool's 30-year league drought in the Premier League last season.

But F.Marinos were unable to back it up, finishing ninth and 36 points adrift of champions Kawasaki Frontale last year. Klopp has already publicly conceded Liverpool's title defence is over – the Reds are sixth and 19 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City with 13 matches remaining in 2020-21.

The struggles are no coincidence amid demanding schedules and mounting injury lists as a result of COVID-19.

"Absolutely," Postecoglou told Stats Perform News when asked if he could relate to Klopp as he prepares for Friday's season opener against Kawasaki. "Not so much on the success bit, but you look at their football, it's high intensity and it's just not sustainable when you have such a congested fixture list.

"It's not just them. Any team around the world who play that play that high intensity, particularly with the pressing aspect not so much in possession, have found it very difficult. Liverpool are a classic example of that. Even like a club like Southampton, who pride themselves on that pressing aspect have struggled this season.

"The way you struggle, it's not just about the results, but you lose players to injuries, trying to maintain that kind of intensity. Rotation of players affects the fluency of how you play. What I found last year especially, you can kind of rotate the front half of your team and still sort of get some stability and consistency in results but if you have to change centre-backs and defenders regularly, you're going to struggle. That's definitely where we struggled last year. I don't think there was more than half-a-dozen games where we had the same centre-back pairing and goalkeeper in a row because of the injuries we had. We conceded a lot of goals.

"You look at Liverpool and most of their injury problems have been at the back. The converse of that, I look at Kawasaki who were so dominant in our league. They were really stable in terms of their back four and didn't really make changes. Had more depth in the front third where they could rotate players. Their game was based around keeping the ball, they weren’t as aggressive in the process. I think data wise they were the lowest-running team in the league. That was definitely the way to go last year. They had the quality to do it also, it's not an easy way to play.

"Even reading about Pep Guardiola's comments that his trying to get his team to run less through this period and they've been more effective. There's definitely a correlation there with the amount of running you need to do to play your style of game. The more it is, the more effective it is during this period."

Having changed the landscape of Australian football following back-to-back A-League titles and a record 36-match unbeaten streak at Brisbane Roar, plus a ground-breaking 2015 Asian Cup triumph with the Socceroos, Postecoglou took Japan and Asia by storm in 2019.

Cut from the same cloth as Guardiola and Maurizio Sarri – an emphasis on attacking football, with an unrelenting belief in their philosophy – Postecoglou's F.Marinos dazzled their way to J.League glory in 2019, ahead of FC Tokyo.

However, F.Marinos – who are part of the City Football Group – were unable to go back-to-back after, as Postecoglou says, the J.League "congested a season into really five months" while the club also juggled Asian Champions League commitments.

F.Marinos made a red-hot start to the season before the 2020 campaign was initially suspended due to coronavirus. Their title defence quickly turned pear-shaped.

While their attacking and possession numbers were around the same mark from 2019 to 2020 – only champions Kawasaki scored more goals – the same could not be said in terms of F.Marinos' defence.

F.Marinos conceded 59 goals last season, having only shipped 38 as they ended their 15-year wait for J.League silverware. Outside the box, 11 goals were conceded – up from three the year prior, while they allowed 47 shots from outside the box (21 in 2019).

There were also big differences in saves to shots ratio (69.1 per cent to 61.9 per cent), saves to shots ratio inside box (65.6 per cent to 55.0 per cent) and saves to shots ratio outside box (85.7 per cent to 76.6 per cent).

"We all had to deal with something that was unique," Postecoglou said when discussing the impact of COVID-19 on football. "None of us in our lifetime had gone through something like that or remotely like that. At the beginning, it was kind of surreal because you thought it would pass but then it kept being part of almost your existence where you have these restrictions placed upon you. To be fair here in Japan, they dealt with it pretty well. We didn't really have any major lockdown. Life, for the most part, was fairly normal. It definitely affected our football season.

"It took a heavy toll on players and staff, not just us but all clubs. We had the added challenge of being in the ACL [Asian Champions League], which affected our schedule even further. Playing without fans and empty stadiums, there was a surreal feeling about. The predominant feeling was lets just get through it the best way we can and make the most of it. We were still able to do what we love, work in a normal sense."

The absence of fans due to the coronavirus crisis also cannot be understated. While a limited amount of supporters returned for J.League matches at the backend of the 2020 season after fixtures were initially staged behind closed doors, Postecoglou said: "It actually affects football games. Supporters, they don't just provide the theatre and atmosphere, they have an effect on the players and coaches.

"Anyone who knows and has played in a stadium away from home with a passionate support, it can be intimidating, it can affect your game. If you're chasing the game, having the support in the stadium can lift you or make your opposition nervous. It definitely affects. In the beginning, it felt like every game was a friendly game – it had that sort of lack of cutting edge and little bit of intensity that you feel in real games. Eventually, I think players and coaches got used to it and games sort of turned back to a normal mode."

While 2020 did not go according to plan, Postecoglou is not dwelling on the past season.

"It was such an outlier of a season," the former Australia boss added. "Are those kind of circumstances ever going to happen again? If they ever do, there is certain things you'd probably do differently – the way we trained and played games. If you try to make a major shift from what happened last year, even though this year is looking like a very affected year for all of us, we kind of expect things to get back to some kind of normal in the near future.

"If you just react to what happened last year and change in any meaningful way what you do, I'm not entirely convinced that's a good sample to sort of say we can do things better purely focusing on what happened last year. In a footballing sense, if we are in that situation of playing so many games, we probably would've played differently and tried to play with less intensity because having so many games made it difficult for our players."

Postecoglou, like Manchester City manager Guardiola and ex-Chelsea and Juventus boss Sarri, pushes the boundaries. His approach never waivers and success follows the highly rated 55-year-old in his pursuit of excellence.

All eyes will be once again on his free-flowing F.Marinos team, with Postecoglou steadfast in his beliefs as he attempts to establish the historic Yokohama-based club – the longest-serving team in the Japanese top flight along with Kashima Antlers, having played in the J.League every year since its inception in 1992 – among Japan's elite.

"To me, it's just about 'can we play our football?' To be fair, we did even last year. It's a super competitive league. We had some fantastic success, but we aren't one of the big clubs yet. For us to be a big club, we need to have a certain level of performance year in, year out," said Postecoglou.

"Last year I thought our performances were quite good and stuck true to the football we wanted to play but the results weren't. We were inconsistent. This year is about maintaining our football and just getting more consistent with our results. If we are going to become one of the big clubs in Japan, we need to finish in those top spots regularly and win silverware. That's our target. It all begins and ends with me with our football. What I do know, when our football is good and we are stable, the results tend to follow."

Postecoglou heads into 2021 on the back of a contract extension following F.Marinos' run to the Champions League last 16, having topped their group.

F.Marinos finished 12th in his first season in 2018 – narrowly avoiding relegation but only being outscored by champions Kawasaki – while they also reached the J.League Cup final as Postecoglou turned the club on their head, leaving a pragmatic approach behind in favour of his entertaining football.

Three years on in his Japan journey, what does the future hold for the ambitious Australian – who has been tipped to make the move to Europe following a brief spell in Greece in 2008?

"Just keep doing what I have been – looking at challenging things and what excite me," he said. "I've been coaching for a while now and I've been pretty fortunate that the clubs I've worked at, we've had some sort of success. I like to think I've left my mark at those clubs. That's what I'm looking for future. Hopefully I have 10-15 years of coaching left in me, whatever the next project is and wherever it is, it's something that will excite me.

"For me, the passion lies in the football. That was the whole challenge of coming to Japan – could I adopt to a different culture, language, the difficulty of the competition, could my ideas work here? It's been hugely satisfying to see that it works, both on a personal basis but for the club because they enjoy the success. Whatever the next move is, it will be a similar scenario."

Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus.

Europe's elite are lining up to sign Erling Haaland, but who will he join?

Whoever it is, Haaland is set to command a mammoth contract.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND ASKING FOR LUCRATIVE DEAL

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland wants a contract in the region of £78million (€90m) as speculation intensifies over his future, according to the Daily Star.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Bundesliga side Dortmund, linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus.

The report claims Haaland wants a five-year deal worth around £300,000 (€346,000) per week.

 

ROUND-UP

- Should Kylian Mbappe leave for Madrid, Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want to replace him with Tottenham star Harry Kane, claims the Mirror.

- Bild says Chelsea, Liverpool and United are interested in signing RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. His centre-back partner Dayot Upamecano is set to join Bayern Munich at the end of the season, having been linked with the Premier League's elite.

Liverpool are preparing a £40m bid for Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White, reports Football Insider. Jurgen Klopp is desperate to bolster his injury-hit defence amid a difficult 2020-21 campaign.

- The Daily Mail says United are considering a move for Everton youngster Jarrad Branthwaite. The 18-year-old defender has impressed since joining the Toffees.

Leipzig lead the race to sign Ajax sensation Brian Brobbey, according to Diario AS. United, Milan and Bayern have also been linked.

Milan and Inter target Odilon Kossounou – who plays for Club Brugge - is also wanted by Premier League duo Arsenal and Wolves, claims The Sun.

- Calciomercato reports Juventus are eyeing Leicester City winger Timothy Castagne, who arrived from Atalanta at the start of the season.

Manchester United's opening-day 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace was a chastening reminder of the team's frailties, but there was a somewhat surprising voice behind the subsequent call-to-action for the club's hierarchy.

Luke Shaw provided undoubtedly the most honest assessment of the situation among United players, this from a player who had rarely come across as a natural leader during his time at the club.

"We have a very good group, but personally I think we need more players to strengthen the squad," he told Norway's TV2. "It can give us a boost. When you look around at how other teams are strengthening their teams, then we must also do it to keep up with the others."

Perhaps the fact he wasn't speaking to a British outlet resulted in a more relaxed, open response from Shaw, who then also went on to criticise their pre-season.

But it was a new, authoritative look for a player who has always seemingly preferred to keep away from the media spotlight, and few United fans would have disagreed with him.

What happened next, however, he probably didn't expect – among the four players signed on deadline day in October was a new left-back, a Brazil international with the kind of attack-minded profile many had hoped Shaw would develop at United.

While Shaw definitely showed signs of progress in 2019-20, Alex Telles' arrival was the clearest sign that his position was no longer assured – he needed to respond.

 

A SHAW THING

The fact Telles has made just six Premier League starts in his debut season at Old Trafford is as good a starting point as any when highlighting Shaw's improved standing, and in fairness to the new signing, he's hardly put a foot wrong.

Telles has looked a solid acquisition and certainly fits the bill as a forward-thinking full-back who is also capable defensively, but Shaw has reached a level he has arguably never shown before in his career.

As an attacking outlet, Shaw's output has improved almost across the board, as such he has made himself almost undroppable.

 

His five assists is already a personal high for a Premier League season, having only managed seven in total before 2020-21, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. He is creating 2.3 chances per 90 minutes, which is up from one last term and well clear of his previous best of 1.2 each game for an entire campaign.

Undoubtedly one reason for that is the fact he is taking more set-pieces, yet his average of 1.4 open play chances created per 90 minutes remains a frequency he has never matched before over the course of a season, proving his increased familiarity with dead-ball duties isn't skewing the data.

A quick glance at his average position activity maps shows his involvement in the left-hand channel of the attacking third is up on each of the past two seasons, as well as his final year with Southampton.

 

This shows Shaw is embracing greater attacking responsibility, and where that is reflected most is the number of passes (including crosses) he is playing into the box each game (7.4). His last season with Saints had been his best in this regard (4.4), yet he's way up on that, and his productivity here is more than two-and-a-half times what it was in 2019-20 (2.9).

Shaw's early days with Southampton appeared to promise much. Finally, he appears to be back on track, not that it's been smooth sailing.

 

COPING, OUTLASTING, PROGRESSING

Shaw's relationship with Jose Mourinho became something of a distraction at times during the Portuguese's ill-fated reign.

Granted, Shaw wasn't the only player Mourinho seemed to have a problem with, but his treatment of Shaw in particular did leave a sour taste.

In two-and-a-half years playing for Mourinho, Shaw only made 33 Premier League appearances. While he did have injury and fitness problems, the manager's attitude seemingly did little to endear himself to the player.

Mourinho publicly criticised him after a 2016 defeat to Watford, saying: "For the second goal, [Nordin] Amrabat on the right side, our left-back is 25 metres distance from him, instead of five metres. But even at 25 metres, then you have to jump and go press. But no, we wait."

Mourinho then used Shaw's positive performance against Everton in 2017 against him. He said: "He had a good performance, but it was his body with my brain. He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him."

This isn't to say Shaw has been faultless this season. In fact, his defensive focus has been questionable at times in 2020-21, such as against Tottenham and Manchester City, for example.

But it's fair to say the greater attacking impetus he is showing this term compared to under Mourinho means he is more than making up for the occasional defensive lapse, and it's not like he's being beaten time after time – on average Shaw is dribbled past once every two games, the second lowest frequency for a single season in his entire career.

The difference? Well, according to the man himself, belief and competition.

"I feel really good, obviously big credit to Ole for that for believing in me and pushing me," Shaw said last month. "Alex [Telles] as well, we have a great relationship and he pushes me each day in training. We get on really well. It's nice to have that type of competition, but we push each other to get the best from ourselves. When he plays, I want the best for him, and it's the same the other way round. It's a positive way for both of us to look at it and push each other."

 

THE BEST?

There was a time – not even that long ago – when the very suggestion of Shaw being among the Premier League's best full-backs would have drawn a chuckle of derision in response.

Granted, across the four seasons prior to 2020-21, Shaw's best record of open play chances created per 90 minutes was 0.2, but there can be no doubt he is now at least in the conversation.

 

Liverpool's Andy Robertson is generally seen as the standard-bearer for left-backs in England's top flight, and Shaw compares well from an attacking sense with the Scotland international.

Shaw's 40 chances created this term is one more than Robertson, while the latter is just ahead in terms of key passes in open play (29 to 24) – though the United man has made 20 appearances to his rival's 24.

Robertson is proving a more regular source of service, with his 213 passes into the box and 201 total crosses/corners far more than Shaw's respective numbers (129 and 105), but the United left-back's deliveries are far more reliable.

Shaw's 37 successful crosses/corners is just five fewer than Robertson despite playing almost half the amount of overall deliveries.

But what really highlights Shaw's growth is his xA (expected assists) figures. His xA per 90, so the amount of assists he would ordinarily be expected to get per game, is 0.21 in 2020-21. Not only is that better than his previous best by some distance (0.12), Joao Cancelo (0.24) is the only full-back doing better here this term.

 

Shaw has made himself almost indispensable to United, his influence all the more important given Aaron Wan-Bissaka isn't particularly refined as an attacking outlet and they very rarely play with conventional wingers on either flank.

Therefore, Shaw offers the kind of threat from the wings that arguably no one else in the United squad does – and as his xA record shows, he is proving a consistent danger that marks him out as one of the league's best.

After being plagued by questions relating to his mentality for years, it's fair to say he is responding in the ideal fashion, with Telles' signing seemingly an important catalyst.

While it might be a little early to declare him outright the Premier League's best, his current trajectory at least shows that to be a realistic aim.

Jurgen Klopp said losing star captain Jordan Henderson to injury was a "massive blow" after Liverpool's faltering Premier League title defence hit a new low on Saturday.

Henderson suffered a groin injury as champions Liverpool were upstaged by Everton 2-0 in Saturday's Merseyside derby at Anfield.

After Richarlison put Everton ahead in the second minute, Henderson was forced off the field by the half-hour mark as Liverpool's injury crisis mounts.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty with seven minutes remaining condemned Liverpool to their first home defeat to neighbours Everton since 1999.

"It's a massive blow losing Hendo [Jordan Henderson] again, massive, but Nate [Nathan Phillips] played a super game," Liverpool manager Klopp told reporters post-match.

"Again, we got used to it, unfortunately, that we have to change things,

"We just try to set up again for the next game and as long as we have 11 players we will do that.

"The boys are still full of desire, I see that. But to change a football game, a result, to get the result you have to be decisive in the right moments, defensively and offensively and that's what we are lacking."

Liverpool were already without Fabinho – himself a stand-in for Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk sustained a potentially season-ending knee injury in October's reverse fixture at Goodison Park.

Liverpool have lost four consecutive home league games for only the second time, last doing so back in December 1923 – when they were also defending top-flight champions.

Everton picked up their first win over Liverpool in 24 meetings in all competitions (D12 L11) – ending what was the Reds' longest ever unbeaten run against a single opponent.

Everton ended over 21 years of hurt as they beat Liverpool at Anfield for the first time this century in Saturday's headline Premier League game.

That triumph over defending champions Liverpool came after Chelsea had drawn with Southampton, while Burnley and West Brom also shared the spoils at Turf Moor.

In the day's other game, Fulham boosted their survival bid with a 1-0 victory over lowly Sheffield United.

Using Opta data, we look at key facts from the four Premier League games.

LIVERPOOL 0-2 EVERTON: RICHARLISON AND SIGURDSSON SEAL DERBY BRAGGING RIGHTS

Everton picked up their first win over Liverpool in 24 meetings in all competitions (D12 L11) – ending what was Liverpool's longest ever unbeaten run against a single opponent.

Richarlison's third-minute goal was teed up by James Rodriguez, who has provided more assists in all competitions this season than any other player for Everton (eight). It was the Toffees' second-fastest Premier League goal scored against Liverpool, behind only Olivier Dacourt's first-minute strike in April 1999.

Brazil forward Richarlison became only the third Everton player to score in successive Premier League appearances at Anfield for the club, after Tim Cahill in March 2006 and Kevin Campbell in October 2000.

Liverpool dominated possession, with Jordan Pickford making six saves, including standout stops from Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have lost four consecutive home league games for only the second time, last doing so back in December 1923 – when they were also defending top-flight champions. The result ended Everton's run of 23 winless Anfield clashes with Liverpool without a win in all competitions (D10 L13) since a 1-0 victory in September 1999.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has suffered four consecutive league defeats for the first time since November 2014 when he was in charge at Borussia Dortmund, while he has lost four in a row at home in league competition for the very first time in his managerial career.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty settled the contest, and the Iceland playmaker has now scored five away goals against Liverpool in all competitions – more than he has away at any other opponent in his career in England.

SOUTHAMPTON 1-1 CHELSEA: SAINTS HALT LOSING STREAK AS TUCHEL STALLS

Southampton ended a run of six successive Premier League defeats, the club's worst losing run in their league history, as they earned a point against Chelsea.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel became the 16th manager in Premier League history to avoid defeat in his first six games in the competition (W4 D2) and the first since Maurizio Sarri in September 2018, also with Chelsea. However, he did see his side's four-match winning streak come to an end.

Southampton took the lead through Takumi Minamino, who became the first opposition player to score against Tuchel's Chelsea in all competitions, ending a run of 572 minutes without such a goal for the German manager (Antonio Rudiger scored an own goal against Sheffield United).

The draw means Saints have lost 18 points from leading positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.

Mason Mount's penalty pulled Chelsea level – Southampton have now conceded five goals from the spot this term. Only in 1993-94 and 2016-17 (both six) did Saints concede more goals from the spot in a Premier League campaign.

Mount became the 25th different player to score a penalty for Chelsea in the Premier League, with the Blues having more penalty scorers than any other team in the competition's history.

FULHAM 1-0 SHEFFIELD UNITED: LOOKMAN LIFTS COTTAGERS

Fulham's resurgence continued as they picked up just their second victory in 14 Premier League home games (W2 D4 L8) and first since beating West Brom in November.

Scott Parker's team have now taken seven points from their last three league matches and are just three points from safety.

Lowly Sheffield United, meanwhile, missed out on the chance to move off the bottom, and the Blades have only won two of their 28 Premier League games in London (D8 L18), winning at Chelsea in October 1992 (2-1) and Crystal Palace in February 2020 (1-0).

Ademola Lookman scored the winner, and the on-loan winger has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than any other Fulham player this season (four goals, three assists).

BURNLEY 0-0 WEST BROM: NO GIVE AT TURF MOOR

A clean sheet finally arrived for West Brom, as they registered their first in 15 Premier League games since a 1-0 win at home to Sheffield United in November.

The Baggies had the best chances to snatch a much-needed win, but ultimately Sam Allardyce – whose side lost Semi Ajayi to a red card in the first half – had to settle for a draw.

The last two occasions West Brom have received a red card and avoided defeat in a Premier League game have both been against Burnley (they won 1-0 in August 2017).

Burnley have won just one of their eight Premier League meetings with West Brom (D4 L3), earning a 2-1 success at the Hawthorns in March 2018.

Since the start of last season, Burnley have kept 24 clean sheets in the Premier League – only Manchester City (31) have had more in this period.

Jurgen Klopp questioned the decision to award Everton a late penalty that condemned Liverpool to a 2-0 defeat in the Merseyside derby at Anfield.

Carlo Ancelotti's visitors sealed a first win at the home of their near neighbours in almost 22 years on Saturday thanks to strikes from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

It was Sigurdsson's 83rd-minute spot-kick, after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was adjudged to have been fouled in the box, that most irked the losing manager.

Referee Chris Kavanagh was asked to inspect the incident at the pitchside monitor but stuck with his original decision, much to Klopp's dismay.

Asked about the incident at his post-match press conference, the Liverpool boss said: "I really think it's unfair to ask me because everybody asks me, which means everybody thinks it was not a penalty.

"But that's not really important because the ref thought it's a penalty. I wanted to talk to him after the first few interviews I had but he left already.

"I [wanted to ask] what did he see? Because the VAR calls you over in a situation like that, then I think he is in doubt about the decision.

"But he needed only a second; he went there, watched it from three, four yards and, yeah, penalty.

"He saw, obviously, something all the people didn't see. I didn't see it back yet but everybody who sees it tells me the same: 'How can it be a penalty?'"

As they contend with the disappointment of derby defeat, Liverpool must also count the cost of yet another injury blow following Jordan Henderson's first-half withdrawal.

On his captain, Klopp added: "It's the groin/adductor region and nobody in the medical department was kind of positive about it.

"So, it doesn't look good but we have to wait for the scan tomorrow, hopefully."

As for the game as a whole, Klopp highlighted an early moment of defensive sloppiness and profligacy at the other end of the pitch as the reason for Liverpool's downfall.

Asked about how much the result had hurt, he said: "A lot. A lot. But we conceded a completely unnecessary first goal, let's not forget that, and that's a big part of the game.

"There are two big parts, you have to defend and you have to score, and in one situation we didn't defend well enough so they could score.

"We made a mistake, if you want. And we didn't use things we created and that's why we have the result."

Graeme Souness slammed Liverpool as an "easy touch" as he reflected on their first Merseyside derby defeat at Anfield since 1999.

Jurgen Klopp's side were on the backfoot from just the third minute on Saturday as Richarlison coolly finished at the Kop end after getting on the end of a James Rodriguez throughball.

The hosts created a number of chances in response but, after failing to take them, saw their fate sealed when Gylfi Sigurdsson converted a late penalty.

Souness believes Everton were good value for their first win against the Reds in over a decade, and was disappointed with the manner of the reigning Premier League champions' performance.

He told Sky Sports: "It was a shadow of a Liverpool team. 

"It was thoroughly deserved by Everton. They were set out to be hard to play against them. They did the business, Everton. 

"The goalkeeper's made a really good couple of saves, which is why goalkeepers are in goal. 

"They deserved it today, but I’m really disappointed with my team [Liverpool]. They didn’t look as if they had any fight, any energy about them and the best team took the points today.

"The first 10 minutes of the second half – I expected a reaction and we got that, kicking into an empty Kop, but after 10 minutes that faded as well. 

"No Liverpool player can come off there and think, 'I've had a good game tonight'. They look like a shadow of a team. 

"You think of the team that Liverpool have been for three years, that nobody wanted to play against, always on the front foot, super aggressive and now everybody wants to play against them. 

"They're an easy touch. That hurts me to say that – they're an easy touch."

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