Trent Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool 1-1 Burnley: Clarets frustrate Reds

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  • Liverpool earn 1000th PL point
  • Arfield scores from Wood
  • Can cues up Salah for fifth

Canadian national teamer Scott Arfield put Burnley ahead, and a Mohamed Salah goal was all Liverpool could muster in a disappointing 1-1 Saturday draw with the Clarets at Anfield.

Liverpool sits seventh with eight points, while Burnley is sixth with a one-goal advantage in goal differential.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool was lively early, and Philippe Coutinho didn’t look bothered by his long lay off.

Salah came close to winning an 18th minute penalty off James Tarkowski, but the whistle did not arrive at Anfield.

Yet it was Burnley who went ahead, with Arfield running onto a Chris Wood flicked cross and hammering his shot past Simon Mignolet in the 28th minute. The defending was again primarily responsible for an opposition goal, with the center backs sucked to Wood.

The Reds were level through Salah within three minutes, as Emre Can opened the lid on Burnley’s back line and the Egyptian took the ball to his left before firing a low shot across his body and past Clarets’ backstop Nick Pope.

Would there be history for Burnley? The Clarets had not taken a point from Liverpool since returning to the PL.

Joel Matip saved a late chance from Burnley, and Mignolet made another stop.

Pope made a terrific save on Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Dominic Solanke cranked one off the bar from in-tight moments later.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

PL Playback: Mane’s red masks Liverpool’s real problems

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MANE RED MASKS LIVERPOOL ISSUES

Sadio Mane‘s red card in the 36th minute was the main talking point from Liverpool’s 5-0 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday.

It was a big moment but in no way should it have masked the bigger problem Liverpool have failed to address over the offseason: their defense.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Jurgen Klopp was scathing after Mane’s red for a high challenge on Man City goalkeeper Ederson. Told to calm down on the sidelines by officials, perhaps Klopp was so incensed because he had seen his team go 1-0 down after a poor piece of defending, plus miss glorious chances via Mohamed Salah to compound Mane’s sending off.

[ MORE: Klopp vs. Guardiola antithesis

Speaking to the media afterward, Klopp stood up for Mane as Guardiola also believed it was an accident but that the action was dangerous.

“It was an accident. A very unlucky situation. I think everybody knows Sadio didn’t see the goalie. He just wanted to get the ball as soon as possible… and then it was a red card. We cannot change that anymore,” Klopp said. “Hopefully the goalie isn’t seriously injured. At the first moment when the people were on the pitch it looked like this, but after the game he was running around the dugout. Hopefully it was not too serious.”

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Ederson did not break anything but had some nasty cuts on his face and will be feeling the impact of that reckless challenge from Mane, which deserved a red, for quite some time.

Klopp was also asked if Liverpool would appeal against Mane’s three-game ban, and reports have since suggested they could do: “It would be another waste of time. Like the game today,” Klopp said.

Yet, the game wasn’t a complete waste of time.

We learnt an awful lot about Liverpool’s defensive deficiencies and the usually charismatic Klopp seem distracted as he mumbled through his answers in his post-game press conference.

He admitted it was far too easy for Man City’s midfielders, the brilliant David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in particular, to turn and hurt his defense but that he “will try, with the boys, to forget the result. Not the mistakes, but the result” as Liverpool were torn apart time and time again.

“We have four in defense and six in midfield and in these situations, yes, we could have done better. We could have done better with the ball in the second half. You don’t lose 5-0 when a lot of things are right. It is not that I am concerned in the long-term,” Klopp explained. “I think if City takes too much confidence from this game today it is a mistake, if we lose too much confidence from this game we will also make a mistake.”

Analyzing Liverpool’s defensive display before and after Mane was sent off will draw a similar conclusion: gaping holes. Not just among the defenders because that is an easy target. But in midfield, which player is the true holding midfielder to provide a shield? Jordan Henderson isn’t and Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum lack discipline defensively. Even club-record signing Naby Keita, who will arrive next summer, is a two-way player who chips in with goals and assists.

City’s balanced midfield of Fernandinho behind Silva and De Bruyne is what Liverpool should aim for if their extreme attacking side is going to challenge for trophies.

Liverpool’s young right back Trent Alexander-Arnold was targeted too easily and the center back duo of Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan (who was preferred to Dejan Lovren) didn’t know whether to step up or hold with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus buzzing around them. Every time City put the ball in the box it looked like they would score and they had two more goals ruled out for offside. Yes, Liverpool aren’t a team who are ever going to set back but when you’re 2-0 down at Man City at half time and a man down, surely Klopp didn’t expect the defensive capitulation he witnessed.

Even if Mane hadn’t been sent off, it would be tough for Man City not to have won that game.

Liverpool went all-in on center back Virgil Van Dijk this summer and they didn’t get their man. They didn’t seem to have a Plan B about strengthening their defense, which is undoubtedly their Achilles heel. Until they defend better, they will not win the title or challenge in Europe. Simple.

Klopp tried to mask the issues with Mane’s red card but you felt that, like Liverpool’s defensive display, it was halfhearted.

“After the international break, one man down, young players on the pitch in different positions. It was hard for the boys, I know, but we don’t look for excuses. It [the red card] changed the game today, we know it,” Klopp said. “What would have happened if we played 11v11? But I don’t have the chance to watch this game.”


DE BOER UNLUCKY

Quite why Crystal Palace hired Frank De Boer in the first place is mind-boggling.

It is admirable that for the second time in 12 months Steve Parish and Palace’s U.S. owners Josh Harris and David Blizter want to change the playing style of the south London club to an attractive, possession-based side, but now on both occasions it has failed. Miserably.

Palace now have to be brave and stick with what they want to be. Substance over style is okay. If you’re going to do it, just own it. And give it longer than four games.

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Frank de Boer was nothing more than a victim of Palace’s ongoing identity crisis. They have now replaced Alan Pardew‘s experiment with a more attacking side with the pragmatism of Sam Allardyce and after the de Boer experiment went horribly wrong they are reportedly going back to basics with Roy Hodgson lined up to take charge as a horror run of games is on the horizon with Man City, Man United and Chelsea all in their next four PL games.

Sacked just four Premier League games into the season, FDB lasted 77 days and set a new record for the fewest PL games managed by a permanent boss. This comes after his disastrous 85-day spell in charge of Inter Milan last season as the Dutchman will do well to rebuild his coaching reputation following his four-straight Dutch titles with Ajax.

He was given some funds to strengthen and loanees Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Timothy Fosu-Mensah looked okay, but Mamadou Sakho never played due to injury and Jairo Riedewald also suffered on the sidelines. The players are partly to blame, particularly with their poor finishing and shambolic defending, but without a complete squad overhaul these systematic changes were doomed from the start.

This squad flourished under the direct approach of Allardyce last season and was now expected to play expansive, flowing soccer from the back.

Yet, this isn’t really about de Boer. Sure, he wanted to bring his expansive style of soccer to Selhurst Park, but that’s what Parish and others wanted too. And although you could accuse Palace of making horrendous defensive mistakes as they tried to keep the ball, they mixed it up and played long balls and got in crosses against both Liverpool and Burnley where they could have picked up points.

But they didn’t and they lost all four opening games without scoring a goal and the killer-blow was that three of those defeats came against Huddersfield, Swansea and Burnley who are all likely to be relegation rivals.

With 54 points from their last 63 games, Palace have racked up the second-lowest points total out of the 92 professional teams in England in that period. They have been scrapping away and fighting with themselves for so long now. Do they try to create a different identity or do they play it safe and aim for 40 points each PL season? The financial implications of relegation, plus the impending arrival of Hodgson, suggest the latter.

This is no longer de Boer’s problem to sort out.


DE BRUYNE OTHER-WORLDLY

Kevin de Bruyne provided two wonderful assists for Manchester City on Saturday in their demolition of Liverpool and the Belgian wizard finally seems to have found his spot in the team.

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Under Pep Guardiola last season he was played in a deeper role and he flourished, grabbing 18 assists in the Premier League (more than any other player)

This season he is again lining up centrally rather than out wide and it giving City extra balance to their play with a 3-5-2 system allowing Jesus and Aguero to start up top, plus wing backs Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker to bomb forward.

De Bruyne, 26, spoke to the media in the tunnel area at the Etihad Stadium with a smile on his face as he discussed his match-winning display like it was a kickaround with his mates in the schoolyard.

“I just do whatever I need to do. I’d prefer to get zero goals and zero assists and win the league. Obviously it is a little bit different. I will try to do my thing and the coach is very happy with the way I am playing since the beginning of the season. I feel sharp. It always depends, but think where I am playing right now is the position which is best for me. Obviously every game is a little bit different, higher, lower, but it is small margins.”

Those small margins are what Guardiola and City are all about and De Bruyne believes they are hungrier than ever to win silverware this season after a barren spell in Pep’s first campaign.

“Everybody wants to win,” De Bruyne explained. “Obviously we have a couple of years where we don’t win a lot so there’s maybe more urgency to win something between the players. I have a good feeling about this season but you never know. We started well.”

And if those trophies arrive with him playing in a deeper role and not scoring as many goals?

“If it happens, it happens. If we win at the end of the season you will see a very happy Kevin.”


USMNT UPDATE: CAMERON OUT; EPB ON THE WAY?

Couple of U.S. national team notes to catch up on from around the Premier League.

Pro Soccer Talk understands Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron will be out for up to two weeks after injuring his hamstring just before half time in the Potters’ 2-2 draw against Manchester United.

Cameron, 32, started at center back but hobbled off after pulling up as he tracked back Romelu Lukaku. The experienced defender will now face a race against time to get back to full fitness before the USMNT’s final two World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago with a trip to the 2018 tournament in Russia on the line.

A younger USMNT center back has also been in the news with reports stating that Sporting Kansas City’s Erik Palmer-Brown will join Manchester City.

EPB, 20, has been a star for the U.S. youth national teams and his coach as SKC, Peter Vermes, has confirmed he will move on at the end of the 2017 MLS season when his contract expires.

Pro Soccer Talk understand there is interest from Man City and that any deal will be sealed for him to join at the start of 2018. A versatile defender who can also play in midfield, EPB will likely join City’s development squad and then be loaned out.


INTRIGUING GOLDEN-BOOT RACE

We are only four weeks into the Premier League season but the Golden Boot race already seems like an intriguing one.

Harry Kane, the reigning two-time top scorer in the PL, is off the mark (because it is September) with two goals, while he has a little catching up to do as Romelu Lukaku has four goals, while Alvaro Morata and Gabriel Jesus have three goals each.

[ MORE: Premier League stats

There’s no doubt Sergio Aguero and Alexandre Lacazette (both on two goals) will also be up there all season long, but this could well be a three-horse race between Kane, Lukaku and Morata.

All three are the main-men up top for their teams and will likely start every single game. They are also very similar players who are comfortable with scoring in the air, holding the ball up and able to score all kinds of goals.

Let the best man win. And by win, I mean score a bucket load of goals.


Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

Man City 5-0 Liverpool: 10-man Reds clobbered

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Gabriel Jesus scored twice as Manchester City poured past 10-man Liverpool 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero had a goal and an assist, Kevin De Bruyne had two assists, and Benjamin Mendy cued up Sane for City’s 77th minute goal before Sane added a second.

City goes first for the moment with 10 points, while Liverpool remains on seven and sinks fifth on goal differential. For City boss Pep Guardiola, it’s a first win over Jurgen Klopp.

Sadio Mane was sent off for a 37th minute challenge on charging City goalkeeper Ederson, as the winger’s attempt to beat the keeper to a loose ball saw the keeper kicked in the face.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool won a corner within the first 90 seconds after Alberto Moreno had a go with Mohamed Salah‘s early square ball, but Ederson collected the corner.

At the other end, Gabriel Jesus turned a free kick wide of the goal post with a header. We were off.

Salah then nutmegged Nicolas Otamendi on the edge of the 18 and was cleaned out by the Argentine defender, giving Liverpool a dangerous free kick from the right edge of the 18.

It led to nothing and Kevin De Bruyne carried 50 yards to test Simon Mignolet with a low offering.

A spell of Liverpool possession was broken up by a De Bruyne-won free kick on the right edge of the 18 which put Trent Alexander-Arnold in the referee’s book, but the Reds held strong against City’s opportunity.

Aguero scored in his sixth-straight Etihad Stadium appearance versus Liverpool, rounding Mignolet from De Bruyne’s through ball to make it 1-0.

Fernandinho then saw yellow for hacking down a dribbling Sadio Mane in the 28th minute. It provided a promising 18-yard free kick, but Emre Can sent his offering wide of the far post.

Ederson denied Salah at the half-hour mark, as the Egyptian kept asking the City keeper questions.

A jitterbug dribble from Jesus forced Mignolet to concede a 35th minute corner, but John Stones missed his terrific chance to make it 2-0.

That’s when Mane clipped Ederson, and saw red. City had a goal pulled back for an offside Jesus moments after the match restarted, but then pounded ahead through another De Bruyne to Jesus goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain entered the match for a Liverpool debut, and promptly saw his team concede when Fernandinho found Aguero with a terrific pass and the Argentine deferred to his Brazilian teammate for a left-footed finish.

With the match done and dusted, as evidenced by the plethora of subs from each side ahead of this week’s UEFA Champions League matches, Mendy raced up the left of the pitch and found Sane for a class finish.

Sane found a sliding Aguero for what could’ve been 5-0 if not for a splayed Mignolet.

The youngster completed the scoring with a left-footed beauty from atop the 18.

Klopp reveals love for Anfield, Liverpool’s goal in victory

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With the Phillipe Coutinho situation compounded by shaky defensive displays, it hasn’t been too much fun for Liverpool fans recently.

Jurgen Klopp thanked Liverpool’s supporters for delivering a fine atmosphere at Anfield to get a much-changed Liverpool side over the line against Crystal Palace.

[ MORE: Mourinho – “Let horses run freely” ]

With a UEFA Champions League playoff second leg against Hoffenheim on Wednesday coming up, also at Anfield, Klopp rested five players for the game against Palace.

Frank De Boer‘s side had won on their last three visits to Anfield in the Premier League and although former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke missed a glorious chance went it was 0-0, Sadio Mane score the game-winner in a dogged Liverpool display.

There was no doubt who was the hero for Klopp: “Anfield helps a lot I think today it was the difference.”

Getting into more depth about his teams display, Klopp was pleased with the defensive display and Liverpool’s patience as well as lauding the scrappy nature of their game-winner as substitute Dominic Solanke made an impact and Mane pounced.

“It was a hard job to do,” Klopp admitted. “I have no idea how much we had the ball but it was a lot. We need to be creative and we had our moments in the first half and we knew we had to be a little more patient and we have to switch the sides again because they were quite deep and defended well but we had the moment and didn’t score, but didn’t give a lot of counter attacks away. Second half we adjusted a little bit and did it better.

“The first part of the second half was really good but how it is, we’ve had games like this, against Crystal Palace already, where one counter attack kills you. We were really awake, concentrated in these situations and defender well. Then you have to… I loved the goal, to be honest. We could have scored more but I love the goal because it wasn’t a clear situation, it was a counter-pressing situation. Dom [Solanke] is awake to get his foot in so Sadio can score the easy goal in the end. We had other chances where we could have scored more often. It was difficult but I am completely happy with how the boys did the job today.”

Sadio Mane popped up when Liverpool needed him and with the Coutinho saga rumbling on — Liverpool turned down a $145 million bid from Barcelona on Friday — Liverpool proved they can not only continue to create chances in attack without Coutinho but also proved they can defend better than they have been with defenders Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno and Trent Alexander-Arnold all rested on Saturday.

Liverpool’s coach reserved special praise for Andrew Robertson, making his Liverpool debut, at left back and Joe Gomez at right back who has missed a huge chunk of time out injured. Robertson was particularly dangerous in attack but it will b Liverpool’s solid defensive display which will have impressed Klopp the most.

Klopp will need another balanced display this week to get Liverpool past Hoffenheim and into the UCL group stage, and he will need another lively atmosphere from the Anfield faithful to help get his team over the line.

UEFA Champions League: APOEL, Liverpool lead; Bizarre own goal lifts CSKA Moscow

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The final 10 teams to join this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage will be decided over the next eight days, starting Tuesday with five first legs.

Hoffenheim 1-2 LiverpoolRECAP

This one was a lot of fun for neutrals, as Hoffenheim did not appear timid in its first UEFA Champions League match. Serge Gnabry was especially dangerous, and drew a penalty kick that led to nothing thanks to a tepid effort from Andrej Kramaric and a save from Simon Mignolet.

Sadio Mane won a promising free kick that Trent Alexander-Arnold fulfilled, and James Milner had a cross deflected home to give the Reds a 2-0 lead. Hoffenheim struck back late through Mark Uth, and it’ll probably take a two-goal win or better for the German side to advance to the group stage.

BSC Young Boys 0-1 CSKA Moscow

Spare a thought for Ghanaian center back Kasim Adams Nuhu, who is going to get a lot of flack for a late own goal that was, at worst, a two-way street. Young Boys looked set to head back to Russia knowing a win or scoring draw would get them to the UCL group stage, but Adams headed over his backstop and CSKA Moscow scooped up an own goal.

What do you think?

Qarabag 1-0 FC Copenhagen

Azerbaijan striker Mahir Madatov cleaned up a rebound and gave his side an edge as it heads to the road next week.

APOEL 2-0 Slavia Prague

Igor de Camargo and Efstathios Aloneftis (pictured at top) scored within the first 10 minutes to give the Cypriot hosts a strong result before a trip to Prague.

Sporting CP 0-0 Steaua Bucharest

There could be an upset brewing after the Romanian visitors held strong in Lisbon.