Thursday, November 30 2023
Fans walk past a mural of Liverpool's Mohamed Salah near Anfield ahead of the match between Liverpool and Aston Villa

01:28 PM BST

Barcelona signing on the bench

An eye-catching move from Villa on transfer deadline was their capture of Clement Lenglet from Barcelona. The France international centre-back, signed after the Villa lost Tyrone Mings to a long-term injury, is on the bench today.

01:22 PM BST

Form guide

Liverpool have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season and victory today would lift them back into the top four. They began the campaign with an entertaining 1-1 draw at Chelsea and have since won 3-1 at home to Bournemouth and stunned Newcastle last weekend at St James’ Park when Darwin Nunez struck twice in the last 10 minutes for a 2-1 victory.

Aston Villa suffered a shocking start, going down 5-1 at Newcastle on the opening day, but have responded superbly, with a 4-0 home win over Everton and a 3-1 away triumph at Burnley, along with an 8-0 aggregate win over Hibs in their Europa League qualifier. Unai Emery’s side would jump into the top six with three points today.

01:21 PM BST

Liverpool rejig, Saudis to be disappointed

As expected, Darwin Nunez has been rewarded for his winning cameo performance last week. More surprising is the instant recall of Curtis Jones after injury. Nunez’s inclusion inevitably means a tweak in the formation for Klopp. Suspect Jones and Mac Allister will form a deep pairing while the forwards and Dominik Szoboszlai are instructed to unleash hell.

Unai Emery has a mixed record against Liverpool. He triumphed against Klopp while Sevilla manager but endured some nightmares while Arsenal coach. Villa’s Anfield draw at the end of last season ended Liverpool’s Champions League qualification hopes. We’ll know a lot more about what stage Klopp’s rebuild is at this afternoon.

In this age of players going on strike, or developing a ‘slight back injury’ when a club makes a massive bid for them, there might be some relief in some quarters that Mohamed Salah is in Liverpool’s starting line-up today. Klopp said the Egyptian is as committed as ever so it would have been out of character had it been any other way. If the Saudis were hoping Salah would agitate for a move after their £150 million bid, they must be disappointed by his professionalism since Friday.

01:16 PM BST

The main man



Mo Salah arrives at Anfield after a week in the headlines regarding a humongous bid from Saudi Arabia, which Liverpool batted straight back (see first post).

01:12 PM BST

Villa in the house

01:08 PM BST

The Aston Villa line-up

Emiliano Martínez returns in goal as the only change to the side that started in the 3-1 win at Burnley in their last Premier League game.

Clement Lenglet, a deadline day arrival from Barcelona, is on the bench.

01:07 PM BST

Liverpool starting XI

After his sensational late double at Newcastle last weekend, Darwin Nunez gets his first start of the season.

Joe Gomez comes in for the suspended Virgil van Dijk, while Curtis Jones starts after recovering from an ankle injury.

01:00 PM BST

Fancy a flutter?

Having a bet on today’s match? First take a look at these free bets and betting offers.

12:50 PM BST

Just over an hour to go…

The match will get underway at Anfield at 2pm

12:48 PM BST

Salah in the spotlight

The big noise this week has been around Saudi Arabia’s audacious attempt to sign Mohamed Salah before the Premier League transfer window closed on Friday.

Al-Ittihad’s eye-watering £150 million offer was firmly rebuffed by Liverpool, but this is a story that will not got away in the short term, as the Saudi Pro League’s transfer deadline is not until Thursday 7 September, nor, probably, in the long term.

The Saudi club – one of four taken over by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF in June – are expected to return with an improved bid of £200 million this week.

Telegraph Sport’s Merseyside football writer Chris Bascombe has reported that Liverpool intend to remain resolute in their not-for-sale stance – not least because they would not be able to replace their lead striker if he left now, and manager Jurgen Klopp has been adamant that the Egyptian is staying.

But the sheer size of the bid for a 31-year-old (and what that money could mean in terms of Liverpool’s rebuilding plans) and the almost unbelievable wages said to be on offer (some reports suggest he could earn £1.25 million per week) mean that speculation has persisted that a deal could still be struck, if not now then maybe in future transfer windows.

The lure of taking the Arab world’s greatest player to Saudi Arabia should also not be underestimated, but for now, to the relief of Liverpool fans – and perhaps all European clubs – Salah remains a Red.

Telegraph Sport’s chief football writer, Jason Burt, says the Saudi Pro League can no longer be dismissed, as it poses the biggest threat European football has known.

Salah himself has remained silent on this issue this week, but rather than reading anything sinister into this, Bascombe suggests it is likely more indicative of his finely tuned political antennae – that he was being open-minded to whatever circumstances arose in the final days of the window and waiting for Liverpool to respond.

Earlier in the transfer window, Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas Issa said the player had no intention of quitting Liverpool this summer, and his performances for the club have remained as committed as ever.

A man who has built a career on thrilling spectators and writing his own scripts, it would be no surprise to see Salah produce fireworks on the pitch today.

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