Simon Mignolet

AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Three things from Liverpool’s frustrating day vs. Man Utd

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Let’s not beat around the bush: This is a game that Liverpool, at home, should’ve won.

Instead, Manchester United barely passed its first major test of the Premier League season.

[ MORE: JPW’s match recap | Player ratings ]

Let’s dig into the why.

Revolution No. 9, No. 9, No. 9

There are two positions that ail Liverpool, and they are the main reason the Reds will not challenge for a Premier League title this season despite their bevy of electric and dizzying attackers.

The first is a bit harder to digest if you take a myopic view of Saturday’s contest, because Romelu Lukaku was one of Manchester United’s more disappointing performers.

But if you plugged Lukaku or the starting frontman from any of the other main competitors into Liverpool’s lineup, the Reds win 2-0 or 3-0 Saturday.

Lacazette, Morata, Kane, Lukaku, they are all burying a biscuit or two on Saturday, to borrow a hockey term. And perhaps this is the main reason Liverpool’s Merseyside rival will also struggle to meet its goals. We can talk 3-5-2, or 4-5-1, or 3-4-3, but that Alan Shearer or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang type remains as important as ever in football.

De Gea, the king

Simon Mignolet is a fine keeper, and gets far more grief than he should due to his position as the backstop on an important world club in Liverpool.

But just like striker, this is one position where Liverpool lags beyond its competition. Lloris, De Gea, Ederson, Cech, Courtois… is there any doubt where Mignolet (or Loris Karius) ranks?

Let’s not make this just about Liverpool, though: De Gea was fantastic again on Saturday, assuring any voter who plugged him into the Ballon d’Or Top 25 that the right decision has been made regarding this year’s top keepers.

His leg save on Joel Matip in the first half was marvelous, but — warning: another hockey reference — De Gea reminds me of former USA and Buffalo Sabres backstop Ryan Miller in his prime, in that he is always in position to make extraordinary saves look routine. How often is a well-hit shot right into his safe arms, looking far less dangerous than it should? Often.

Disappointing Man Utd does Mourinho’s bidding

United is off to its joint-best points haul to start a Premier League season, and it could very well have had its best ever had one moment went its way.

Lukaku moved into the 18 during the first half and saw Mignolet make an excellent save on his hard shot toward the center of the goal.

While that point admittedly flies in the face of the above two things, the fact is Lukaku finishing that chance makes this result an essential pair to any number of Mourinho’s 1-0 defensive masterclasses at Chelsea.

Let’s face it: With respect to Phil Jones and Co., Mourinho is again producing clean sheet after clean sheet without impenetrable components. Eric Bailly has the chance to move into an elite class, but right now this is just vintage Mourinho.

Given the entertainment value, we have to add a ‘like it or not.’

Leicester City 2-3 Liverpool: Reds hold on to win

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Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho, and Jordan Henderson scored as Liverpool built a pair of two-goal leads before holding on to beat Leicester City 3-2 at King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy for Leicester, but Simon Mignolet stopped a Vardy penalty to preserve the three points.

The win moves Liverpool fifth. Leicester sits 16th with four points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jamie Vardy raced past Liverpool’s backs to trouble Simon Mignolet in the sixth minute, and Riyad Mahrez put the rebound wide of the Reds’ goal.

Liverpool should have gone ahead when Emre Can‘s blast off the post rebound to Mohamed Salah, but the in-form winger missed his point-blank chance in howling fashion.

He turned to the bench and gave a thumbs up, so it’s no surprise that Salah made amends moments later with a back post header of Philippe Coutinho’s cross.

Coutinho scored a beauty of his own in the 23rd minute, as the Brazilian lorded over a free kick before spinning a goal just off the top of the wall and past a flying Kasper Schmeichel.

Okazaki had a goal ruled null when Harry Maguire‘s assist was rightly deemed offside, but made it 2-1 in the third minute of stoppage time. A corner kick bounded off Maguire and a lunging Okazaki beat Mignolet to the loose ball.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Vardy had a shot blocked which turned into a Liverpool counter goal through Henderson, but the English striker restored the deficit to one when he nodded a Demarai Gray rebound past Mignolet in the 69th minute.

And the industrious striker drew a penalty within two minutes when Mignolet missed a clearing attempt and took down Vardy. It wasn’t malicious, but it was a foul in the box.

Mignolet saved it!

Can nearly gave away a second PK with a handball moments later, but the linesman ruled that there was no intent in Can’s arm striking the ball.

“Outstandingly good” – Klopp joins NBC crew pitchside at Anfield (video)

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Jurgen Klopp is pretty pleased after Liverpool finished wiping the floor with Arsenal 4-0 on Sunday.

The Reds manager joined Arlo White, Lee Dixon, and Gary Neville to talk about the blowout win, and heaped praise on his men, especially given their midweek match against Hoffenheim taxed the squad.

[ MORE: Match recap | Wenger reacts ]

“I know it’s quite a challenge after an international game, being spot-on immediately, but if you really want, if you really want, then you can do it,” Klopp said. “We wanted to show our ambitions today and the boys did outstandingly good.

“I’m sure Arsenal was able to do much better, but we didn’t let them. We defended really well, the different spaces where they wanted to play. They had a high formation, we still played football. It was a more than good performance. 2-nil, 3-nil, 4-nil, I don’t care. You don’t need to beat Arsenal 4-0. You need to win.”

Klopp also talked about giving starting keeper Simon Mignolet a rest from the 18 — “Simon keeps the shirt” — and discussed the end of the transfer window. See the video above.

 

Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool: Reds nab away goals

AP Photo/Michael Probst
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  • Mignolet stops PK
  • Alexander-Arnold scores free kick (VIDEO)
  • Milner adds insurance
  • Uth scores off bench

James Milner and Trent Alexander-Arnold gave Liverpool a leg up on Hoffenheim with a 2-1 win in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff round first leg at Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

Mark Uth scored for Hoffenheim, which will need at least two goals at Anfield on August 23 to advance to the group stage.

[ MORE: Klopp’s take ]

Simon Mignolet stopped an Andrej Kramaric and made a handful of other impressive interventions in helped a Liverpool back line which again suffered through fits and starts.

Joel Matip intervened to divert a tempting Hoffenheim cross in the 6th minute, and the hosts’ dangerous attack had another chance when Dejan Lovren cleared a free kick off his hand that Mignolet rescued outside the six.

Lovren got a piece of Serge Gnabry after the former Arsenal man made a quick cut, and Kramaric stepped up to the spot. He was denied Hoffenheim’s first goal in Champions League history when his poor attempt was parried by Mignolet.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mohamed Salah bungled a chance to score on a 50-yard breakaway when he grounded a shot wide of the goal.

Only indecision and nerves in the final third kept Hoffenheim off the scoreboard in the first half hour, though Liverpool had moments where it appeared to have its footing in the match.

Sadio Mane‘s danger was evident, and the Senegalese forward won the Reds a free kick from closer than 25 yards. Trent Alexander-Arnold curled the ball over a non-leaping edge of the wall and slipped it inside the far post to make it 1-0 Reds against the run of play.

Sandro Wagner came close to equalizing in the 43rd minute when Gnabry’s blocked shot rebounded to the forward. Wagner’s shot knocked the post en route to a goal kick.

[ MORE: Everton agrees Sigurdsson fee ]

[ MORE: Chelsea set for spending spree? ]

Gnabry looked to have made it 1-1 in the 49th minute, but was rightly called offside after beating Mignolet low and inside the near post. It was not the only time Gnabry would threaten during the half, though he left after watching Salah miss another Liverpool chance in the 70th minute. The ensuing free kick saw a Lovren header collected by Oliver Baumann.

Milner gave the Reds a second away goal when his cross deflected off Havard Nordtveit‘s chest, chipping Baumann in the 74th minute.

Mignolet made an outstanding diving stop on Nadiem Amiri’s side-volley in the 83rd minute.

The clean sheet was ruined minutes later, as Uth collected a diagonal cross over Alexander-Arnold — who proved to be fallible — and laced a low shot across Mignolet and inside the far post. 2-1.

Marko Grujic gave away a free kick as the match entered four minutes of stoppage time. Justin Hoogna rose to head a great offering from Kerem Demirbay, but it fired over the crossbar.

Klopp praises ailing Coutinho’s big performance

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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As usual, Jurgen Klopp was not at a loss for words to describe Liverpool’s come-from-behind win at Stoke City on Saturday.

Trailing on a Jon Walters goal, Klopp introduced Roberto Firmino and ailing Philippe Coutinho in the second half to inspire a 2-1 win that keeps the Reds third in the Premier League table.

[ RECAP: Stoke 1-2 Liverpool ]

Coutinho left Liverpool’s midweek match with illness, and wasn’t fit to start against Stoke. But the club’s predicament meant he’d need to gut out a performance.

He definitely did. How bad was the illness, Jurgen? Nearly seven pounds bad, apparently. From the BBC:

“Philippe Coutinho lost three kilos in the past three days, which some people wish – but for a professional footballer it’s not too cool.

Simon Mignolet saved our life. Job done, feels good. Nice weather, 63 points and I couldn’t feel any better.”

The win was huge and necessary, with the four teams chasing Liverpool all possessing matches in hand. Coutinho has been a wizard for the Reds in recent weeks (and years!).