Klopp gives update on Mane ahead of Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool is stuck in a rut.

Getting Sadio Mane back should help with that.

[ MORE: Payet slammed by Hammers ]

On Saturday Mane missed the decisive penalty kick against Cameroon as Senegal were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations 2017 at the quarterfinal stage.

Bad news for Mane internationally is good news for Liverpool as their lightning-quick forward, and top scorer this season, is on his way back to England and is in contention to play against Chelsea on Tuesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

If Mane can play some part at Anfield for the ailing Reds — Klopp’s side have lost three games at home in a week heading into this game — it will be a massive boost as they host the Premier League leaders knowing only a win will do to keep their fading title hopes alive.

“Ray Haughan and our team management did an outstanding job to bring him back as soon as possible and he is now on his way,” Klopp said. “We had the plane there but he was not allowed to go in the plane and we had to wait to get him from A to B. I spoke to him and it is all good so far. We will be in tomorrow morning and I will make a decision. I will have to look into his eyes and see if it is possible.”

Something else Klopp doesn’t know is possible is if his team can recover from a brutal seven days which has seen them dumped out of two cup competitions and suffer a defeat to then bottom of the table Swansea City.

With Liverpool the heavy favorites in all three of their recent home defeats to Swansea, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Klopp knows his side will be underdogs against Chelsea on Tuesday as Antonio Conte‘s side looked to stretch their lead above Liverpool to 13 points and all but end the Reds’ title hopes for another season.

Klopp is staying positive despite the high stakes being obvious.

“It’s very important we build on the good things,” Klopp said. “Is it allowed to go for the best position in the Premier League? I really think we should try everything to make the best of the base we made. Stay positive. It’s possible we could qualify for Champions League.”

Despite all the early season euphoria surrounding this Liverpool team and their dynamic attack, there’s been plenty of talk about a second half of the season collapse with many questioning Klopp’s Gegenpressing tactics and the lack of a winter break in England impacting his team. That said, when you look at Mane’s absence, plus Joel Matip and Phillipe Coutinho missing, there has been plenty of adversity for them to battle through and quite frankly the likes of Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge and Ragnar Klavan (all of whom are classified as squad players) have struggled to plug the gaps and step up to the plate when needed.

Liverpool will need to be bold and brave to get a result against Chelsea on Tuesday. If they win they’ll blow the title race open again. If they lose, it’s game over for their own title hopes and it will be an uphill battle to regain momentum and challenge for the top four spot that Klopp and the Kop crave.

Finishing in the top four should have always been Liverpool’s main target this season. Now it’s the only target they have left. The pressure is on.

Conte: Chelsea “ready to fight to the end”

Leave a comment

Following Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs and Tuesday’s blowout of Southampton — the 4-2 score line didn’t tell the story of the second half — Antonio Conte is fired up for Chelsea to complete its Premier League title run.

The manager admits that his side was under pressure after Spurs narrowed the table gap to four points last week, but the wins have eased the Blues’ burden.

Chelsea had lost two of four PL matches before the weekend.

From Football.London:

“I think we passed a big, big psychological step after the defeat to United. We lost three points and had to prepare a semi-final against Tottenham and then another tough game in the league. In that moment we had a really important test and our answer was very good.

“We must think that this race is open, we have reached the final of the FA Cup. The situation in the league is totally open. We are ready to fight to the end. We must be proud for the job we are doing and to fight to the end.”

Spurs can bring the gap back to four with a win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but have a tougher run-in with five matches to play. As long as the gap is within six points, anything is possible, but the Blues have certainly answered the bell over the past four days.

Chelsea: Big win “feels like a massive step” to title

Leave a comment

“It feels like a massive step to be honest,” said game-changing goal scorer Gary Cahill of Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea’s Premier League lead stands at seven points after the win, which saw a dominant second half from the hosts.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Perhaps it was cued up by Cahill’s first half stoppage time header, which boosted the Blues to a 2-1 lead just before the whistle.

Cahill darted in front of Diego Costa‘s scissor kick attempt to power a header past Fraser Forster.

“(Costa) tried to claim it afterward as well,” Cahill said. “When the ball’s just lofted over, it’s dying to be attacked. We went into halftime with our tails up and it was a big boost for us.”

Cesc Fabregas said Southampton surprised the Blues tactically, leading to an entertaining first half that could’ve seen either side ahead before half.

“We needed a little bit of time to adapt to what they did because we prepared for something else,” he said.

Fabregas said the win was big with second-place Spurs watching at home. Tottenham plays at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

“We needed a good response after the Man United game. We have to keep going with five games to go, to keep it up and make the last push. It would be a big shame if now we relaxed. We just have to push now more than ever,” he said.

“It’s a statement for (Spurs), for us, for everyone, but most of all for us.”
Eden Hazard agreed.
“We scored four beautiful goals,” said the Belgian, who scored the game’s first goal. “It’s good to play before and put pressure on them.”

Chelsea 4-2 Southampton: Blues send message in win

Leave a comment
  • Costa nabs two goals, assist
  • Hazard, Cahill score
  • Chelsea ups table lead to seven

Gary Cahill‘s first-half stoppage time marker was a momentum shifter as Chelsea topped Southampton to increase its Premier League table lead with a 4-2 win on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Cahill, Hazard, Fabregas react to “massive step” ]

Diego Costa scored twice and Eden Hazard also scored for the Blues, and Cesc Fabregas moved into second place on the Premier League’s all-time assists list with a helper on Costa’s first goal.

Former Chelsea men Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand scored for Saints, as Southampton remains ninth with 40 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There were early lively moments for both sides, as Saints’ Manolo Gabbiadini attempted to back up Antonio Conte‘s pre-match praise as one of the best left foots in the world.

Chelsea found the opener through Hazard, as Costa held possession into the right of the box before cutting back to find Belgian. Fraser Forster couldn’t get low quick enough to stop Hazard’s low shot, and it was 1-0.

Romeu, clearly buoyed by JPW’s feature piece earlier this week, bagged an equalized off a corner kick. Gabbiadini sidled up to the ball at the back post, and pushed it off Thibaut Courtois into the path of the former Chelsea man.

Sofiane Boufal was also dangerous for Saints, and won a free for James Ward-Prowse that amounted to a corner kick from the edge of the 16. Courtois flew forward to put the ball free.

N'Golo Kante had his turn to start a threat, and Forster’s block of his cross only queued up a pair of opportunities between Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.

Cahill made it 2-1 in stoppage time, darting in front of Costa’s scissor kick attempt to nod Marcos Alonso‘s headed pass into the goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea added to its lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Saints allowing Cesc Fabregas a bit too much room inside the box. The Spaniard chipped a pass to countryman Costa to make it a two-goal lead.

Forster made a good save on a tricky Costa attempt in the 71st minute.

Corner kicks were not easily defended by Chelsea, and Steven Davis came close to pulling a goal back in the 79th minute. A moment later, Forster came out to stop Kante with a wild arm save after Hazard led a lightning counterattack off the ensuing corner.

Bertrand headed a goal home in stoppage time when he got in front of Cahill, but the damage was done.

AT HALF: Chelsea strikes twice to build 2-1 lead over Saints

Leave a comment

Gary Cahill‘s stoppage time goal has Chelsea leading Southampton 2-1 after 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge.

Eden Hazard scored the match’s first goal, with Saints’ Oriol Romeu equalizing in the 24th minute.

A win would send Chelsea seven points clear of second place Spurs, which has played one less match than the Blues.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There were early lively moments for both sides, as Saints’ Manolo Gabbiadini attempted to back up Antonio Conte‘s pre-match praise as one of the best left foots in the world.

Chelsea found the opener through Hazard, as Costa held possession into the right of the box before cutting back to find Belgian. Fraser Forster couldn’t get low quick enough to stop Hazard’s low shot, and it was 1-0.

Romeu, clearly buoyed by JPW’s feature piece earlier this week, bagged an equalized off a corner kick. Gabbiadini sidled up to the ball at the back post, and pushed it off Thibaut Courtois into the path of the former Chelsea man.

Sofiane Boufal was also dangerous for Saints, and won a free for James Ward-Prowse that amounted to a corner kick from the edge of the 16. Courtois flew forward to put the ball free.

N'Golo Kante had his turn to start a threat, and Forster’s block of his cross only queued up a pair of opportunities between Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.

Cahill made it 2-1 in stoppage time, darting in front of Costa’s scissor kick attempt to nod Marcos Alonso‘s headed pass into the goal.