EPL

Liverpool assistant Lijnders excited by Elliott's comeback

By Sports Desk January 19, 2022

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has expressed his excitement at Harvey Elliott's return to full training, saying that the youngster "didn't lose his football brain."

Elliott has been out of action since September, having dislocated his ankle in a 3-0 Leeds United. The teenager had played in all four of Liverpool's previous games this season.

The 18-year-old returned to full training earlier this week and Lijnders smiled as he was asked about the former Fulham player at a news conference ahead of Liverpool's EFL Cup semi-final second leg at Arsenal.

"Let me say it like this, he didn't lose his football brain," Lijnders said, though he did not put a timescale on Elliott's return to match action.

"He shows immediately what he's about. It would be a crime if you would not play him if he trains like this, but we know it's just the start of the team training. He needs time and we go step by step, of course.

"Some players they never knock on the door, they run through it – and he's one of them."

Elliott, the youngest ever Premier League player, returned to Merseyside at the end of last season having enjoyed a productive loan spell at Championship side Blackburn Rovers, where he registered the joint-third most assists in the division (11), behind only Emiliano Buendia (16) and Michael Olise (12), who is now playing a starring role for Crystal Palace.

He was also the only player in the Championship to register as many as three second assists – which Opta defines as a pass/cross that is instrumental in creating a goal-scoring opportunity – and was eighth overall for successful passes into the final third (519), ahead of the likes of Olise (495), Leicester City's Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (478 while on loan at Luton Town) and Tottenham's Oliver Skipp (441 while on loan at Norwich City).

In his three Premier League starts and one substitute appearance this season before his injury, Elliott created five chances, more than team-mate Curtis Jones (three) has in his four starts and three appearances from the bench, and won possession in the middle third of the pitch (17) more often than Jones (11) and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (12) despite the former Arsenal man making 15 league appearances, seven of which have been starts.

Lijnders also had words of praise for Liverpool's opponents on Thursday, crediting the work that Mikel Arteta has done since taking charge of Arsenal just over two years ago and noting how well the Gunners played in the goalless first leg at Anfield despite going down to 10 men in the first half when Granit Xhaka was sent off.

Arteta, too, has been happy to utilise younger players as he continues to freshen up Arsenal's squad.

"First of all, Arsenal always had really good players but, for me, they have a really good team at this moment," Lijnders added. "I think credit to Mikel, they matured.

"You see many games where the team with 10 men plays better than the 11 – not play better but they give just this extra step, they give this extra [bit] more because they know they have one player less. What happens many times with the 11 players is that they do one thing less because they know they have one player more. That's exactly what happened.

"Anyway, what I like about the Arsenal game is that we wanted to surprise them with our intensity and that's what we did until Xhaka went off.

"I really think that in football the only advantage exists if you go to the last minute of the game, to be honest. Before that, it's quite even. I think Mikel did an unbelievable job. The team is a proper team.

"They were struggling as well with injuries and, how you said, COVID cases and they had to change as well in the last minute, but if you can play with 10 men like that then you have a mature and good team."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Declan Rice to stick with West Ham Rumour Has It: Declan Rice to stick with West Ham

    Speculation over Declan Rice's future has long centred on an apparently inevitable departure from West Ham United.

    The Hammers run to the Europa League semi-final has amplified talk around the England international midfielder, with Chelsea and Manchester United linked.

    According to reports, though, the 23-year-old appears content at London Stadium with a World Cup on the horizon.

     

    TOP STORY – DECLAN RICE TO STICK WITH WEST HAM    

    Declan Rice will not leave West Ham despite interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, according to The Mirror.

    The 23-year-old has been reticent to sign a new deal at the club, but he is reportedly in no hurry to leave yet either, seemingly wanted to stay settled ahead of November's World Cup in Qatar.

    United have looked to Rice as one of their primary transfer targets as Erik ten Hag looks to overhaul the squad, but Rice appears set for one more season at West Ham following their run to the Europa League semi-final this term.

    Hammers management had previously advised that Rice is not for sale, and strong performances at the World Cup with England would likely only increase his already lofty market value.

    ROUND-UP

    Real Madrid are showing interest in Milan's Rafael Leao after Kylian Mbappe opted to stay at Paris Saint-Germain, according to Marca.

    – Los Blancos are also looking to scupper Liverpool's move for Aurelien Tchouameni, despite the player having already agreed terms with the Reds so say The Mirror.

    Barcelona are discussing personal terms with Marcos Alonso, who is set to leave Chelsea, Fabrizio Romano reports.

    – Arsenal defender William Saliba wants to stay at Marseille, where he has been on loan, per Goal.

  • Heber helps NY City to third straight win in MLS as LA Galaxy, Austin slip up Heber helps NY City to third straight win in MLS as LA Galaxy, Austin slip up

    New York City FC moved to second spot in the Eastern Conference on Sunday, claiming a 1-0 victory at home to Chicago Fire.

    Following a handball from Miguel Navarro, Heber scored the lone goal for City from the penalty spot to move the reigning MLS champions to 23 points.

    It was only the 30-year-old's second goal this season, and despite City's dominance in possession with 61.8 per cent of the ball, they could not translate it to anything substantial in open play.

    City have nevertheless won six of their last seven games in the MLS to recover from a slow start to the season, with only one win in their opening five.

    Ronny Deila's side sit a point from Philadelphia Union at the top of the Eastern Conference following the Union's 2-0 win on the road over Portland Timbers in Sunday's final game.

    Elsewhere in the East, CF Montreal and New York RB both dropped points, losing to Real Salt Lake and Inter Miami respectively.

    Orlando City let a two-goal lead within the opening 25 minutes slip, meanwhile, going down to nine men and eventually playing out a 2-2 draw away to Austin FC.

    Moussa Kalilou Djitte's equaliser in the 95th minute salvaged a point for Austin, who could not manage to retake top spot in the Western Conference from Los Angeles FC.

    Los Angeles Galaxy lost their second in the three games, going down 3-0 to Houston Dynamo, while FC Dallas also lost to Minnesota United.

    The Seattle Sounders' disappointing start to the MLS season continued on Sunday, losing 1-0 to Colorado Rapids, while the SJ Earthquakes and Sporting KC played out a 1-1 draw.

    After two goals in the opening ten minutes, Daniel Rios provided an 85th-minute winner for Charlotte as they defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1.  

  • Simeone: This season a 'wake-up call' for Atletico Madrid Simeone: This season a 'wake-up call' for Atletico Madrid

    Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is satisfied but expects more after his side's season ended with a 2-1 win away to Real Sociedad on Sunday.

    Having already confirmed Champions League football next season, Atleti secured third spot over Sevilla with the win through second-half goals from Argentine duo Rodrigo de Paul and Angel Correa.

    After holding out against Real Madrid to win the LaLiga title last season, Simeone's side were considered favourites to repeat after strengthening the squad with De Paul, Matheus Cunha and Antoine Griezmann's arrivals, but finished 15 points adrift of their title-winning city rivals.

    Securing Champions League qualification is satisfactory according to Simeone, but this season has been a reality check for Atleti.

    "As we were champions last year, this always seems little," he said post-match. "In the end we ended up rounding off an important season, a good one, and one that leaves us in a privileged place," he said post-game.

    "I'm not going to lie, because I always expected more and I always want to be the champion. It's not easy because we live in a league with Barcelona and Real Madrid and it's difficult for both of them to fail, but on two occasions since I've been coach of Atletico we've achieved it.

    "This season has given us a wake-up call."

    Four consecutive LaLiga losses in December put the Rojiblancos in a difficult position, 14 points off Real Madrid by Christmas and out of the Champions League places with a resurgent Barcelona gaining ground under Xavi.

    They were eventually able to turn around a nine-point deficit to Sevilla, while pushing Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League, in what was a positive second half to the season.

    Following a solid performance to end the season, Atleti's strong run home gives Simeone confidence going into the next campaign, despite the Spanish league's natural order.

    "It's not a problem of improving positions, although it's clear how we can strengthen ourselves, but the team is already there and it has very good players who have won 10 in the last 14 games, which are numbers of a champion," he said.

    "We were very close to not making it [Champions League]," Simeone said. " This season leaves us with a lot of things, it was hard. We need to rest, since it started it wasn't easy. It cost a lot. It would be great to be able to generate hope, reverse how the end of the season was done. The rebelliousness of the players give us hope."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.