Klopp Feels Heat As Liverpool Eye Group Phase

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp concedes his side are already feeling the pressure this season ahead of the return leg of their Champions League play-off against Hoffenheim on Wednesday.

Liverpool looked to have planted one foot in the group phase after going 2-0 up in last week’s first leg in Germany, only for Mark Uth’s 87th-minute reply to bring Hoffenheim right back into the tie.

The five-time European champions needed a late Sadio Mane goal to see off Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday and Klopp anticipates another knife-edge occasion at Anfield in mid-week.

“We all have pressure and it’s a quick start always,” said Klopp, who reached the Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund in 2013.

“You need to be there immediately, deliver and all that stuff. The difference this year is that it’s really hard.

“We all know a draw (against Palace), two points instead of four or six, it doesn’t feel good, but you can sort it.

“You can’t do this in a Champions League qualifier. This intensity is really hard, for both teams.”

Klopp made five changes to his starting XI for the 1-0 victory over Palace, with debutant Andy Robertson, Ragnar Klavan, Joe Gomez, James Milner and Daniel Sturridge coming into the side.

Having started on the bench, Dejan Lovren, Emre Can and star signing Mohamed Salah are all expected to return to the starting line-up against Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim.

Young right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold could also return, having been rested against Palace after setting Liverpool en route to victory in Sinsheim with a memorable 25-yard free-kick.

Liverpool are likely to still be without Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, the subject of three unsuccessful bids from Barcelona, who continues to nurse a back problem.

But Robertson believes the fire-power on show against Palace demonstrated the strength in depth in Liverpool’s attacking unit.

‘3-0 would be nicer’
“It’s brilliant when you get the ball and you look up and you’ve got Sadio, Roberto (Firmino), Studge (Sturridge) in the first half and Mo (Salah) came on with big Dom (Solanke),” said the former Dundee United left-back.

“It’s great to have the options. We’re not fully up to speed yet, but we’re getting there and when we are, we’ll be a threat.”

Liverpool are bidding to reach the Champions League group phase for only the second time since 2010.

Their last participation in 2014-15 having come to an end in the group stage, it is now over eight years since Anfield last hosted a knockout-phase match in the competition.

Elimination at the hands of European debutants Hoffenheim would represent a monumental setback for Klopp, who was hired partly on the strength of his fine continental record with Dortmund.

But Liverpool’s fans will draw encouragement from the fact that in 14 previous European home games against German teams, their team have never been beaten.

Hoffenheim geared up for the trip to Liverpool with a 1-0 win at home to Werder Bremen on Saturday, courtesy of a deflected shot from substitute Andrej Kramaric in the 84th minute.

“I wouldn’t say no if a few deflected goals fly in on Wednesday,” said head coach Nagelsmann, who led Hoffenheim to a best-ever fourth-place finish in the Bundesliga last season.

“A 2-0 win is the big plan. A 3-0 would be nicer.”

Nagelsmann rested six of the team who started against Liverpool last week, including burly striker Sandro Wagner and Germany winger Serge Gnabry.

Kramaric, who squandered an early penalty in the first leg, only came on for the last 25 minutes, but in a potential good omen for Wednesday, he managed to make his presence count.

 

 

Source: The Guardian

Liverpool Seals Win With Hoffenheim

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool are far from certain of a Champions League group stage berth despite their 2-1 win at Hoffenheim on Tuesday in their playoff, first-leg.

The result in south-west Germany leaves Klopp’s Liverpool in pole position ahead of the return at Anfield on Wednesday, August 23.

After goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had saved a first-half penalty, 18-year-old defender Trent Alexander-Arnold curled in a free-kick to give Liverpool the lead.

Ex-England forward James Milner made sure of victory by curling in a cross-cum-shot, which dropped inside the far post on 75 minutes after deflecting off Havard Nordtveit for an own goal.

However, Hoffenheim pulled a goal back when replacement Mark Uth managed to beat the offside trap to score late on to give the Germans hope.

“I am happy with the performance, we’d have liked to have won 2-0 and the goal they scored just before the end isn’t so favourable for us,” said Klopp.

“We could have scored one or two more goals and we need Anfield in the return leg. “This thing isn’t over yet.” Liverpool’s want-away attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho sat out the playoff with a back injury.

The Brazilian is desperate to leave Anfield for Barcelona after handing in a transfer request, but Liverpool insists he is not for sale. Belgium goalkeeper Mignolet saved an early first-half penalty to deny hosts Hoffenheim an early lead in Sinsheim.

When Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren brought down Germany winger Serge Gnabry, Hoffenheim’s ex-Leicester City striker Andrej Kramaric stepped up for the spot kick.

The Hoffenheim forward squandered the golden chance, weakly firing his 11th-minute spot-kick at Mignolet.

At the other end, Liverpool’s Egypt striker Mohamed Salah fired just wide of the post on 15 minutes after sprinting clear and beating Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann.

Alexander-Arnold gave Liverpool the lead when his floated free-kick beat Baumann on 35 minutes. However, Hoffenheim could have gone into the break level when striker Sandro Wagner hit the post after Mignolet blocked a Gnabry shot.

Liverpool should have made it 2-0 straight after the break when Baumann saved Roberto Firmin’s shot from point-blank range after Sadio Mane’s clever cross.

‘Brave’
Substitute Milner put the matter beyond doubt when he snapped up Firmino’s pass to the wing from a quickly taken free-kick.

He fired home off his left boot on 75 minutes as the shot clipped Nordtveit and went into the net.

Uth netted Hoffenheim’s consolation goal to give his team a lifeline when he managed to hold off Alexander-Arnold to score on 87 minutes. “We deserved to at least of had a draw,” said Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann.

“We were brave, but we were a bit too open in the second half and risked too much. “The way the game went, with the missed penalty, was unfortunate for us.”

Elsewhere, Apoel Nicosia took a big step towards the group stages with a 2-0 win over Czech side Slavia Prague in Cyprus with Igor de Camargo and Efstathios Aloneftis scoring in the first ten minutes.

The Cypriot outfit was knocked out by FC Copenhagen at this stage last season, but the Danes are struggling this time, falling 1-0 in Azerbaijan by Qarabag FK.

Mahir Madatov scored the only goal of the night when he fired in a rebound after Dino Ndlovu’s shot hit the post after 25 minutes.

In Switzerland, Young Boys defender Kasim Adams Nuhu scored an own goal in added time to hand CSKA Moscow a 1-0 win. Steaua Bucharest, reduced to ten men after Mihai Pintilii was sent off ten minutes from time, drew 0-0 at Sporting Lisbon.

 

Liverpool Reject Barcelona’s €100 Million Coutinho Bid

Liverpool has rejected a second bid from Barcelona for influential Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho worth 100 million euros (£90.3 million), British media claimed Wednesday.

Barcelona is desperate to land the 25-year-old to replace fellow Brazilian Neymar who was sold for a world record 222 million euros to Paris Saint Germain last week.

However, the BBC reported that Liverpool has again told Barcelona that Coutinho, who signed from Inter Milan in 2013, is not for sale.

The Liverpool Echo newspaper added Wednesday: “Liverpool have told Barca they will be wasting their time if they come back in with a third offer and are adamant that Coutinho will not be Neymar’s replacement at the Camp Nou.”

Barcelona believes the Brazilian international has the ability to not only replace Neymar alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in a star front three but could also provide cover for 33-year-old captain Andres Iniesta in midfield.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told Barcelona “to save their energy” last week, claiming the player wasn’t for sale.

However, he was left out of Liverpool’s squad for a friendly win over Athletic Bilbao in Dublin at the weekend while a back injury seems certain to sideline him from the club’s opening Premier League match at Watford on Saturday.

Should Barcelona fail to tempt Coutinho to Spain, they are expected to turn their attentions to highly-rated French star Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund.

Dembele, 20, was involved in a training ground bust up with Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki last week and has spoken of his desire to one day play for Barca.

 

 

Source: The Guardian

Klopp Faces Test Season Of Undiluted Talent

Under pressure to turn tantalising potential into tangible prizes, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp face the acid test of their talents this season.

Despite being feted as teams on the rise, Tottenham and Liverpool have yet to win a single trophy under their current managers.

Pochettino has been in charge at Tottenham since 2014, while Klopp is in his third season with Liverpool, making the forthcoming campaign a watershed moment for both bosses.

After finishing third in the Premier League in 2015 and second last season, Tottenham suddenly find themselves in danger of being stuck in reverse at a time when they should be putting their foot on the gas.

Building his team around England stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli and, with Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Son Heung-Min all influential in their own right, Pochettino has assembled a group capable of beating any side in the country on their day.

Liverpool Dodge West Ham’s Hammer

Liverpool has dodged the “banana peel” at London Stadium and instead strengthened their grip on a top-four finish in the English Premier League.

Philippe Coutinho scored twice and created another to lead his side to victory at West Ham United.

The victory was against expectations, in some quarters in North London,  of a possible lacklustre performance by the Jurgen Klopp boys. Instead, they hammered their hosts 4-0, the same margin that Crystal Palace had recorded against miserable Hull City in the earlier game today.

According to the match report by www.premierleague.com, the visitors started strongly and after Joel Matip’s header hit the bar, Coutinho played in Daniel Sturridge who rounded goalkeeper Adrian to open the scoring.

West Ham’s Andre Ayew twice stabbed the ball against the post just before the break but Liverpool took control in the second half, Coutinho adding a second after Georginio Wijnaldum’s shot hit the bar.

Coutinho fired home a second from a swift break before Divock Origi completed the scoring on 76 minutes with a close-range finish.

Liverpool is now four points clear of Arsenal, who have a match in hand, and the Reds will seal a top-four place if they win their final match of the season at home to relegated Middlesbrough next Sunday.

West Ham, meanwhile, remains in 12th place.

 

Klopp Speaks About The Difference Between his Club And Chelsea FC

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said that the 14-point gap between his club and leaders Chelsea is not an accurate reflection of the difference in quality between the two Premier League sides.

While Chelsea can seal the title with a win at West Brom later on Friday, Liverpool is clinging to a spot in the top four. They are third, a point and a place above Manchester City, having played a game more.

Fifth-placed Arsenal is also challenging for a top-four finish and lie four points behind Liverpool, also with a game in hand.

“Everything is still in our hands,” Klopp told British media. “It shows a lot of things are not that bad even if not everything is how we wanted.

“All the teams have to play tough games and no one wins all of them. Now we have to win ours and it will be fine.”

The German said that with Liverpool having won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and drawing 1-1 with Chelsea at Anfield in the league this season, there was very little to choose between the sides in terms of quality.

“You have to look at the games we played against Chelsea,” Klopp said. “We were not worse than 14 points that is for sure but they are experienced, cold as ice and they get the points.

“They play very serious and finish when they have to finish.”

Liverpool travels to West Ham on Sunday before hosting already-relegated Middlesbrough in their final game of the season.

Emre Can’s Superb Shot Wins it For Liverpool

Emre Can’s superb shot guided Liverpool to a 2-1 home win over Burnley on Sunday and maintained their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Ashley Barnes, with his club’s first goal at Anfield since 1975, had given Burnley a deserved early lead only for Georginio Wijnaldum to equalise in first-half injury-time.

And Can struck just after the hour mark to secure victory for Liverpool, although it was a far from convincing performance by Jurgen Klopp’s side.

German international Can collected a short pass from Divock Origi and was allowed space to unleash a right-foot shot from 25 yards which the Burnley goalkeeper, Tom Heaton, might have been expected to save before it reached the bottom left-hand corner of his net.

Victory saw Liverpool remain fourth, still in the final Champions League place open to English clubs.

The win moved them to within a point of third-placed Manchester City but, more significantly, saw Liverpool go five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.

“The performance was good enough to win the game but the result is massive for us, it’s the first ugly game we have won,” Liverpool manager Klopp told Sky Sports. “Usually when we are not that good we lose.”

Meanwhile Burnley boss Sean Dyche was left bemoaning his side’s lack of good fortune.

“It’s a tough one to take, because everyone gave a really good account of ourselves and we went up with a sublime goal,” he told the BBC. “We just needed a scratch of luck along the way.”

Liverpool had gone in at the half-time interval level although it was a scoreline that even the most ardent home supporter would have admitted was harsh on Burnley.

With just two away points to their name all season — from a still impressive tally of 31 — Dyche’s team opened the game aggressively and took the lead in just the seventh minute.

Right-back Matt Lowton crossed low into the area from the wing and, after Andre Gray narrowly missed making contact, Barnes slid in ahead of his marker to force the ball past Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Burnley, without a victory at Anfield since 1974, would have hoped to reach the interval without conceding an equaliser and looked well on course for that target for the majority of the half.

Not until the 45th minute did Liverpool enjoy a ‘shot’ on target and that was actually an over-hit defensive header from Burnley’s Joey Barton which forced Heaton into a comfortable diving save, his first of the game.

But a minute into first-half injury-time, Liverpool claimed an unlikely equaliser which raised the mood around the stadium.

Origi, starting in place of the injured Roberto Firmino, crossed from the left and Wijnaldum made a lazy attempt to control the ball, flicking out a boot and benefiting from a fortunate rebound from defender Ben Mee, before drilling home an unstoppable finish from six yards.

Even before the goal, Burnley’s crosses from the right had caused concern, with Gray’s chip almost finding Barnes after five minutes.

Solid at the back, Burnley also looked the more likely to score a second goal after Barnes’s opener.

But the second half opened with Liverpool in far more determined mood, although their suspect defending always gave Burnley hope.

Barnes sent a speculative first-time shot wide soon after the restart before Liverpool finally threatened, with Joel Matip’s shot from a Philippe Coutinho cross blocked

Can’s goal was still harsh on Burnley, although the visitors almost responded just three minutes later, when Mee headed a free-kick across goal and Barnes’s effort was blocked by Ragnar Klavan.

Both teams squandered late chances for further goals. Sadio Mane had only Heaton to beat but saw the Burnley keeper tip his 12-yard shot over the bar in the closing stages before Lowton missed a glorious opportunity to equalise, shooting wide from a scramble in the area in stoppage-time.

Ex Liverpool FC Captain, Steve Gerrard Retires, Ends 19-Year Career

Former Liverpool and England captain, Steven Gerrard, has retired, ending a 19-year playing career.

Gerrard, who is England’s fourth most-capped player with 114 appearances, captained the “Three Lions” at three of the six major tournaments the side featured, the BBC reports. He played 710 times for the Reds, winning eight major trophies, but joined MLS side LA Galaxy in 2015.

“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career,” Gerrard said.

“I have had an incredible career and am thankful for each and every moment of my time at Liverpool, England and LA Galaxy.

Kane Rescues Spurs At Anfield, Arsenal, City, Chelsea All Stroll To Victories

Harry Kane was on target again to earn Tottenham Hotspur a 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Saturday but the stalemate opens a path for Leicester City to forge seven points clear in the title race this weekend.

While Arsenal crushed Watford 4-0 and Manchester City hammered Bournemouth by the same score to breathe fresh life into their faint hopes, Leicester’s closest pursuers moved to within four points thanks to Kane’s predatory instincts.

After Philippe Coutinho had put Liverpool ahead soon after halftime in a vibrant contest, Kane conjured a brilliant strike out of very little to become the first Spurs player in the Premier League era to score 22 league goals in a season.

Leicester, who have played one game fewer, now have the chance to open a huge gap over Mauricio Pochettino’s side with just six matches left if they can beat Southampton at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

Kane, who felt “very proud of a great achievement” after becoming Spurs’ highest scorer in any league season since Gary Lineker in 1991-92, said his team were “a tad disappointed” with the result.

“We will watch the Leicester game tomorrow and hope Southampton can get a result and do us a favour,” he told Sky Sports.

In the battle for Champions League football next season, not even another free kick masterpiece from Dimitri Payet could inspire fifth-placed West Ham United as they had Cheikhou Kouyate sent off in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

At the other end of the table, Aston Villa’s disillusioned fans made a long, loud protest as their side were humiliated 4-0 at home to Chelsea and now stand on the verge of relegation.

Newcastle United are hot favourites to join Villa in the Championship next season after going down 3-2 in a dramatic clash at fellow strugglers Norwich City who celebrated a 93rd-minute winner from Martin Olsson.

United’s north-east rivals Sunderland are also in deep trouble, four points adrift of safety after a goalless home draw with West Bromwich Albion.

(Supersport)

First Trophy For Iheanacho, Last For Pellegrini?

Nigerian prodigy, Kelechi Iheanacho won his first silverware with Manchester City who triumphed over Liverpool 3-1 on penalties, to win the Capital One Cup on Sunday, after the game finished 1-1 after extra-time.

Fernandinho had opened scoring for City, before Coutinho levelled with a few minutes of regulation time left.

There were no goals in the extra 30 minutes and Willy Caballero, who was playing in the place of Joe Hart, saved three spot-kicks to hand the first domestic title to Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

Pellegrini who is having his last season at the Etihad will now look towards three other competitions but the Premier League is looking unreachable, and Chelsea stand in the way in the FA Cup, meaning if they fail to win the UEFA Champions League, as is more likely, and bottle it in the previous two, the South American may have won his last title for City.

The loss means Reds boss, Jurgen Klopp, has now lost four consecutive finals as a manager and Liverpool have not won any silverware since 2006.

Liverpool Reverse Ticket Prices Hike After Fans Revolt

Liverpool’s owners have apologised and scrapped the plans to hike Anfield ticket prices after 10 000 fans walked out of the ground in protest at the weekend.

Principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner acted after legions of angry Reds fans stormed out of the ground in protest in the 77th minute of Saturday’s home game against Sunderland, after which the team lost a two-goal lead to draw the game.

The timing reflected the £77 being asked for the most expensive ticket at Anfield next season.

Consequentially, the club’s owners have announced a number of changes to their initial proposals in a structure which will also remain for the subsequent season.

Revenue generated from ticket prices will be frozen at 2015-16 levels; this means the highest match-day price for a general admission ticket will remain at £59 – the lowest will be £9 and these tickets will be offered for every match with an allocation of 10 000 across the season.

The highest season ticket price will be frozen at £869 – after fears it would break through the £1 000 barrier – and the lowest £685.