There’s sure to be celebrations tonight as Liverpool’s title bid has been given a huge boost with the confirmation that Joel Matip will not travel to the African Cup of Nations in Gabon. This will no doubt be a massive relief for Liverpool fans, as the defence has looked awful without the big Cameroonian.
We expect Liverpool fans’ reactions were something like this:
Meanwhile in Cameroon, his picture has probably made its way onto a number of dartboards in local pubs. However, other than a prime Samuel Eto’o, we don’t expect any of the Cameroonians to be accurate enough to land a dart on Matip – so he doesn’t have to worry too much.
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But really, they only have the Confederation of African Football to blame. Why plan a tournament in between all of your best players’ domestic fixtures!? Matip’s decision not to play isn’t the first, and it certainly won’t be the last.
With Africa’s Messi, Sadio Mane, looking likely to join up with Senegal over January, Liverpool fans can only hope that they are sharply eliminated. Not that we don’t want Sadio to do well, he’s just been amazing this season! But really, if fans could choose between Mane or Matip – they would probably take the latter when comparing Liverpool’s defence and attack.
The AFCON tournament has mainly been a nuisance to Arsenal and Manchester City fans in recent years – back when Adebayor was a fan favourite at the Emirates (Which seems a long time ago now!) or with the Toure brothers heading off to represent the Ivory Coast – the tournament simply gets in the way!
Although it is annoying when your teams players are taken away, the AFCON tournament is actually decent to watch in the midweek – their fans are quality. From vuvuzelas, drums and the rattling of maracas – the African fans create a great atmosphere and it’s excellent for football. Meanwhile in Europe, we have thugs chanting abuse and in some countries, launching fireworks onto the pitch – the European football fan culture could learn a lot from Africa’s.
Liverpool’s greatest ever teenage goalscorers
Michael Owen – The King of Cool himself, Michael ‘White Noise’ Owen was the previous record holder before Woodburn’s goal against Leeds. Owen’s first came on his debut against Wimbledon in 1997 and he went on to such career highlights as his World Cup wonder goal against Argentina, playing for Real Madrid in the Galácticos era and bullying that teenage goalkeeper on Michael Owen’s Soccer Skills, eliciting the timeless "Well done, he's 13" from Neville Southall in the process. Image Source: Twitter
The most recent of Liverpool’s teenage scorers before the Leeds game, Sterling’s name had been heard in dimly lit bars all over Merseyside following his incredible form for the youth team, and he confirmed the hype with a well-taken far post finish to give Liverpool a 1-0 victory over Reading in 2012. Image Source: Twitter
"I'm sat in the chair and she's gone round me and she's started placing her hands all over my head, all over my arms, all over my shoulders and she said I had two demons inside me, which was not bad because Gazza had five – I was happy with that.” This is a quote from Robbie Fowler about going to see infamous mystic, Eileen Drewery. Like Gazza, Fowler was never far away from controversy during his career, but had immense talent to match. Image Source: Twitter
Perhaps an unexpected addition to the list, Carragher went on to score only three goals in 508 games for the club. He may have had an illustrious career with the Reds, but to find him in a goalscoring list wedged between such legendary names as Robbie Fowler and Florent Sinama-Pongolle is surprising. Image Source: Twitter
Here he is: A man who brings a wry, nostalgic smile to Premier League fans and takes them back to halcyon days before Anthony Le Tallec became the new Zinedine Zidane. Sinama-Pongolle scored just four days after his 19th birthday to help Liverpool beat, funnily enough, Leeds. He then took the typical route up the footballing ladder, enjoying spells at Atlético Madrid and Sporting CP before securing a dream move to Dundee United and later Chainat Hornbill FC. Image Source: Twitter
It’s hard not to live in the shade of your father when he is both famous and as shady as ‘Arry, but Jamie Redknapp managed to make a name for himself. He was regarded as Liverpool’s – and England’s – next big thing when he got a winner against Chelsea in September 1992. Injury curtailed his impact on English football, but did he win an FA Cup, make millions, marry Louise and then secure a cushty punditry role at Sky; it’s not all bad, is it? Image Source: This is Anfield
Probably the biggest hero the Kop has ever had, which takes some doing when you think of all the greats to have played on Merseyside. His recent retirement means all the superlatives have already been recently used, but this is probably the player Woodburn grew up hoping to emulate. Perhaps Gerrard will even be tutoring the youngster if, as rumoured, he returns to the club in a coaching capacity. Image Source: Twitter
Through a quirk of David N'Gog being the oldest teenager to have scored his first goal for Liverpool, we’ve managed to save you the best until last. They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, so I’ll stop there rather than tell some long, imagined success story about Ngog’s career. Things didn’t really take off. Image Source: The Anfield Wrap
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