Alan Smith has urged Liverpool FC to sign former Manchester United defender Jonny Evans from West Brom in the January transfer window.
The Reds have struggled defensively throughout the 2017-18 season so far to undermine their brilliant attacking prowess.
Liverpool FC have the Premier League’s leading goal-scorer, Mohamed Salah, after the summer signing scored 14 times in his opening 17 top-flight games as a Red.
However, the Merseyside outfit have conceded 20 times in the Premier League this season due in part to the poor performances of Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan.
The 18-time English champions attempted to sign Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk in the summer transfer window but the Saints refused to sell the Netherlands international.
Liverpool FC have been linked with a fresh attempt to sign the former Celtic centre-half in January to help bolster their top-four challenge.
However, ex-Arsenal striker Smith believes Northern Ireland international Evans would be a fantastic addition to Klopp’s squad.
Asked whether he could see Evans at Liverpool FC, Smith told Sky Sports News on Friday:
“Yes I could (see Jonny Evans signing), definitely, definitely. I think it will be hard for West Brom if the money was right.
“Jonny’s a really solid citizen as well, you know what you are getting with him coming into the dressing room. He’s a good lad, highly experienced, knows what it’s about playing for a big club at Manchester United. It’s a no-brainer for a few managers I think that.”
Evans spent 11 seasons at Manchester United and won three Premier League titles with the Red Devils before he completed a switch to West Brom in 2015.
The Northern Irish defender has been linked with a potential switch to Arsenal or Manchester City over the past 12 months or so.
Paul Clement has told his players to put their Manchester City mauling to one side as they target pre-Christmas progress in the Premier League.
The Swans were left licking their wounds having finished up well beaten by the leaders at the Liberty in midweek.
But ahead of Monday’s tricky trip to Everton, Clement wants his team to forget what happened against City and focus instead on what they did in the win over West Brom.
“It was tough initially after Manchester City,” said the Swans manager.
“We haven’t been on the end of a performance like that in any game this season.
“Manchester City were totally dominant and it wasn’t a very nice experience for us, but you have to respect the quality of the opposition we were up against.
“What we have to do is focus on what happened against West Brom last weekend, where we showed fighting spirit and got over the line in a tight game.
“We have to go from that game to Everton and then Crystal Palace and not think about what happened against Manchester City.
“It was one of the first things I said to the players in the dressing room after the game – we have been beaten by a great side, but let’s move forward.”
The Swans climbed off the bottom of the table thanks to the West Brom success, but they slipped back to 20th place courtesy of Palace’s midweek win over Watford.
Stick or twist?
David Moyes has a decision to make and he has hinted that there could be something different on the cards this weekend.
Moyes has played defensive tactics – rightly – in the past three games with success, having picked up four points in the last two outings against Chelsea and Arsenal.
But, with all due respect to Stoke City, they are neither of those teams and they aren’t Man City either so does the Scotsman have to go with the defensive set up again?
West Ham are clearly a better team when they play five at the back but that, of course, means one less midfielder or forward on the pitch to score or create goals so what you get in defensive solidity, you lack in attacking prowess.
Moyes hinted earlier this week that Stoke and Newcastle too are different beasts and that could give a clue to his thinking about how he might set up the Hammers at the Bet265 Stadium on Saturday.
The Hammers need to start picking up wins, all of their games up until the end of January – bar one against Spurs – come against teams that are currently in the bottom eight of the Premier League and these are games where the team needs to be more attacking.
Arsene Wenger is unable to explain Arsenal’s lack of killer instinct in attack this season.
The Gunners sit seventh in the Premier League, having netted 30 goals, level with Tottenham but behind the tallies of Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.
Indeed, runaway leaders City have plundered an impressive 52 strikes from 17 matches to open up a commanding 11-point advantage over closest challengers United at the top of the table.
Pep Guardiola’s men are already 19 points ahead of Arsenal, leaving Wenger to question his team’s relatively meagre return in the final third.
“Not quite clinical enough, yes,” he told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s home game against Newcastle United when questioned about the form of his strikers.
“It’s difficult to explain. As we spoke about [Alexis] Sanchez last year, he scored 24, he’s on four at the moment. But he is still committed and he works hard.”
Of Alexandre Lacazette, a club-record signing from Lyon in the off-season, Wenger said: “I feel if you look at his record, it’s quite good. Especially at home. At home his scoring record is really good. Away from home, a bit less.
“But also, do the teams defend better? You could say no, because we create more chances than anybody else. Are the chances of the same quality? I don’t know. There is no objective reason to have a verdict on that.”
The Gunners have had 64 shots but netted just twice in their last three leagues games, losing 3-1 at home to United and then drawing 1-1 and 0-0 at Southampton and West Ham respectively.
Of the attackers at Wenger’s disposal, Lacazette has managed eight goals in 17 league appearances, while Sanchez and Olivier Giroud have four apiece. Danny Welbeck has struck three times in 11 outings, with the boss uncertain of the cause of their collective struggles.
He said: “Is it confidence? Is it the fact that the guys think we have absolutely to score? It’s difficult to know. But we have the chances, the quality of our game is there. But it’s true that at the moment, we cannot show it up with points.”
Mauricio Pochettino will have no problem with Tottenham turning up the music if they pull off a shock win against unbeaten Manchester City on Saturday.
City irked Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend by – amongst other things – reportedly blaring songs out of their changing room, which prompted an extraordinary bust-up between the teams’ players and staff.
Now Pep Guardiola’s men are chasing a record-stretching 16th Premier League victory but Pochettino wants it to be his side playing the tunes at the Etihad Stadium.
“I wish for that,” Pochettino said.
“I am never [going to complain] if another team celebrate because sometimes it’s good, when you lose, and you hear all that happens in another changing room, it’s good to feel the pain.
“With respect of course, because it’s always about respect, but sometimes it’s good to listen. Then you think ‘if we run more, and we play better and we care more. Come on maybe we need to translate that feeling to the opposite changing room’.”
Everton were given a triple boost yesterday as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate all signed new long-term contracts with the club.
As reported by the club’s official website, striker Calvert-Lewin has signed until the summer of 2023, with defenders Kenny and Holgate committing their futures until the summer of 2022.
All three players look to have bright futures at Everton, but which of them is the biggest prospect?
Calvert-Lewin, part of the England squad that won the U20 World Cup this year, has impressed since joining Everton from Sheffield United in 2016.
A hard-working striker, he has scored twice in the Premier League this season, while he has provided six assists.
Although he is still rather raw, the 20-year-old is an excellent prospect and will surely develop further under Allardyce’s guidance.
Kenny, meanwhile, has featured regularly at right-back for Everton in recent weeks, helping to reduce the impact of Seamus Coleman’s continued absence.
Impressive defensively and also capable of providing a threat going forwards, Kenny, who is a product of the Everton academy, has been playing with increased confidence of late.
Everton have conceded just one goal in the four matches Sam Allardyce has taken charge of.
Sam Allardyce has told Match of the Day, which was broadcast on BBC One on 14th December, that he is baffled that Everton conceded so many goals under Ronald Koeman.
Everton had one of the most porous defences in the Premier League when Koeman was in charge, but Allardyce has quickly given organisation to the team.
Everton have conceded just one goal in his first four matches in charge, and helped the Merseyside outfit keep another clean sheet against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park last night.
And Allardyce simply cannot believe that Koeman was unable to stop Everton from conceding.
He said: “The defence has been performing outstandingly well since i’ve been here. I’m baffled on the fact of how did Everton concede so many goals before I got here?”
Allardyce has made a fine start to life at Everton, winning three and drawing one of his first four matches in charge.
Everton have had a strong defence, despite not even having their strongest back four available.
Cuco Martina is currently playing out of position at left-back, while youngster Jonjoe Kenny is starting at right-back.
Everton’s win over Newcastle has kept them in 10th in the Premier League table.
According to reports, Everton could be allowed to sign Sunderland centre-back Lamine Kone on the cheap during the January transfer window.
It was Allardyce who brought Kone to Sunderland during the 2015-16 season and the Ivorian played a role in helping the club avoid relegation from the Premier League.
He however had a disappointing campaign last term as the Black Cats eventually were relegated. Kone has failed to make an impact for Sunderland this season due to a knee injury.
The Sunderland hierarchy are reported to be open to letting him go on a cut-price fee in order to get him off their wage bill.
Everton previously attempted to sign Kone during the summer of 2016 and after the move failed, he said: “Everton, they are not a small club. There were other clubs interested too. But it was not concrete like Everton.
“It was a very good opportunity for me. A golden opportunity. They are playing for the top positions. They could be in Europe. So it was an interesting challenge for me. At the time, I was disappointed.”
Moussa Dembele is confident Celtic can make an impact in the Europa League as they look ahead to a last-32 tie against Zenit St Petersburg.
The Hoops, who finished third in the Champions League group, were paired on Monday with the Russian club, who topped their Europa League section with five wins and a draw.
The first leg is at Celtic Park on February 15 with the return game in St Petersburg a week later.
Liverpool have been heavily linked with a move for Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk.
When speaking exclusively to BT Sport, ex-Reds striker Michael Owen explained how things really will be looking up for his former club if they manage to get a deal for Saints centre-back Virgil van Dijk over the line soon.
Liverpool have been quite sensational going forward this season, but question marks remain over their fragile defence, and Jürgen Klopp will surely be prioritising the addition of an established centre-back in January.
One of their prime targets is the Southampton ace, although Yahoo Sports claim that it would take £70 million to prise him away from St Mary’s.
The 26-year-old is one of the most highly-rated defenders in the league, however, and although £70 million seems rather extortionate on the face of it, in today’s currently inflated transfer market, it could very well prove to be good value for the Merseyside outfit.
And Owen labelled the Dutchman as a ‘proper player’, when speaking to BT Sport, insisting that things will be looking up for the Reds, if they manage to sign Van Dijk:
“Van Dijk is a proper player. If they can get him and Keita in midfield, things are looking up.”
With the opening of the January transfer window just three weeks away, this will certainly be one to keep an eye on.