Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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Klopp says Firmino’s chance of playing against Barcelona ‘looks good’

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Jurgen Klopp is hoping that vital striker Roberto Firmino is ready to go tomorrow against Barcelona in a massive Champions League semifinal battle, and while the prospects are positive, the Brazilian is firmly a game-time decision.

According to the Liverpool boss, Firmino’s chances of playing “look good” but he’s not ready to commit to the injured striker’s presence on the field.

“We all knew from the beginning it would be a race,” Klopp said on Tuesday in his pre-match press conference. “We don’t have to make a decision today because there’s no game today, we can wait. It looked good so far but until tomorrow I have to make that decision – after lunchtime tomorrow. That’s what I will do.”

Firmino is dealing with a torn groin muscle suffered in training just last week, and it kept him off the field for the massive 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town last time out. However, with such an important game on the docket, the Brazilian could make his way into the lineup.

“Bobby trained yesterday and was completely normal, it was not high intensity, we had to work on set pieces and a couple of things,” Klopp said. “Apart from the word ‘tear’ everything else is positive, but it’s Bobby so he might be ready for Wednesday but we don’t know obviously at the moment, but because it’s him, it’s more likely than not.”

Klopp also confirmed that Fabinho is available for selection after missing the Huddersfield Town match after a blow to the head, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also a possibility after making his year-long comeback complete with a substitute appearance against the Terriers.

“This is now the most intense period of a long, long season because we now have three games in six days and we need to think about different things,” Klopp said of the injury situation. “Of course with the opponents we have it’s difficult. But the boys are all in good shape so we will use as many as possible.”

Liverpool has the first leg against Barcelona on Wednesday, followed by a Premier League duel with Newcastle on the weekend. Next week is the second leg against the Spanish side at Anfield, followed by the final Premier League match of the season against Wolves. A potential Champions League final would take place on June 1.

Klopp thrilled with Keita performance, Ox return as Liverpool cruises

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is the right man to have in charge for this particular Premier League challenge.

The Reds won again on Friday to go back atop the league, but will not win the league if they win out and Manchester City does the same.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-0 Huddersfield Town ]

When you’re talking a 97-point season that doesn’t end with silverware aloft, you’re talking crazy; Yet that’s what stands before the Reds.

Take it from Andy Robertson, who collected another two assists in the 5-0 defeat of Huddersfield Town.

“We’re onto 91 points and normally that’s enough to win the league,” he said. “I think it’s going to take 97 or 98 and that’s incredible. We’ve fought the whole way, but whoever falls short will be gutted. But it’s something we can be proud of and not sure we could have done any more.”

That feeling is almost a pre-emptive gutting — not exactly possible, we know — but Klopp has done a magnificent job of framing each win for what it is and not in the context of, “But what about Man City?” ad nauseum.

Then again, it isn’t remarkable given the subplots of Friday’s win. Klopp saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain make his long-anticipated return from injury, and Naby Keita scored before the 15th second ticked off the clock at Anfield.

Here’s Klopp on “The Ox,” who missed a chance which would’ve sent Anfield into delirium. From Sky Sports:

“It was nearly heartbreaking when he missed the chance, but you saw him smile. He’s such a wonderful person. He’s a better person than player. Imagine that. He’s a really good player and as a guy he’s outstanding. We’re so happy for him.”

And here’s Klopp on Keita, who is finally finding his footing after getting limited chances to shine in his first season since transferring from RB Leipzig.

“He’s a complete midfielder,” Klopp said. “Today it was his best game in all defending situations he was so difficult to deal with. He’s so quick in small spaces, you can’t stop that. And I don’t know how many balls he blocked tonight. People were asking me what about Naby Keita and we always thought we signed him for next year. He needed time to adapt but thank God he has done it this season.”

Liverpool smash Huddersfield Town to retake PL lead (video)

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  • Keita sets Liverpool record (video)
  • Salah, Mane bag braces
  • Salah takes Golden Boot lead

Liverpool eviscerated Huddersfield Town 5-0 at Anfield on Friday to reclaim the Premier League lead from Manchester City.

The win puts Liverpool on 91 points, two points ahead of City, and brings the Reds within four on goal differential. Man City visits Burnley on Sunday.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both scored twice, the latter moving into the lead when it comes to the Premier League’s Golden Boot.

Naby Keita scored the opener before the match was 15 seconds old, setting a club record for fastest goal from kickoff.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Keita forced a turnover that zipped to Salah, who set up the Guinean for a finish off the far post and into the goal.

Andy Robertson collected his first of two assists when he cued up Mane for a 23rd minute marker.

Salah made it 3-0 before halftime, nabbing his 68th Liverpool goal in his 100th appearance when he lobbed Jonas Lossl off a long pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Jordan Henderson crossed for Mane’s second goal, a clever header and feat of balance.

The fifth goal came when Robertson took a feed from Xherdan Shaqiri before crossing for Salah to side-foot from close range.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Premier League Sunday preview: Arsenal, Man United, Liverpool all in play

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The battles at the summit of the Premier League table continue as three of the top six teams take the field on Sunday.

The title race is still white hot, with both Manchester City and Liverpool swinging back and forth with every positive result. City jumped back into the lead with the win on Saturday over Tottenham, a point in front with four matches remaining on both the dockets.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

The fight for the Champions League places also looks a good one, with four teams battling for just two places. Tottenham sits precariously in third on 67 points, while Arsenal and Chelsea are level on 66 with the Gunners holding the goal differential tiebreaker by five. Manchester United is in sixth on 64 points, still in the mix.


Everton v. Manchester United — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The Red Devils are the first of the Champions League contenders to take the field as they visit Goodison Park. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s honeymoon period in charge of Manchester United is over and it’s time for him to prove he belongs. The Norwegian boss was given the permanent position after a record start to his interim tenure, but the timing was still odd and as the season winds down, the Red Devils could be left out of the mix for Europe’s biggest competition. Luke Shaw is suspended for the match for yellow card accumulation, but otherwise the injury news is good with Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, and Alexis Sanchez all reportedly available.

Everton, meanwhile, sits in a similar position as Manchester United, battling for a European place but bringing up the rear. The Toffees sit in 10th, back of the pack among a crowded fight for the last Europa League place. Everton is still just three points back of Watford who currently holds that spot, and while they can break everyone’s hearts by upsetting Manchester City in the FA Cup final, a loss would give the Europa League position to whoever finishes seventh.

INJURIES: Everton —  OUT: Yerry Mina (hamstring), Andre Gomes (suspension). | Manchester United — OUT: Luke Shaw (suspension).


Cardiff City v. Liverpool — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Liverpool yet again has to put pressure on Manchester City to have any hope in the Premier League title race. Ahead of the midweek Manchester derby, the Reds have the opportunity not just to take the lead but to stay there should City slip up at all against the Red Devils with their game in hand.

They’ll need a result against a team fighting for its life. Cardiff City is in 17th in the Premier League table, three points shy of safety. A shocking win would put Cardiff in much better position, while a loss would see them potentially fall two games out. They’ve lost three straight and haven’t scored in their last two, so Liverpool will be licking its chops.

INJURIES: Cardiff City —  OUT: Souleymane Bamba (knee), Callum Paterson (ankle), Matthew Connolly (ankle), Harry Arter (calf), . QUESTIONABLE: Aron Gunnarsson (back). | Liverpool — OUT: none. QUESTIONABLE: Dejan Lovren (illness), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee).


Arsenal v. Crystal Palace — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com

The Gunners will know Manchester United’s result before taking the field, to see whether they will be looking to strengthen their Champions League position or hoping to recapture it. Arsenal is currently in fourth, clinging barely to its spot in the top European competition, but they have been strong of late and have a soft schedule to finish the season, so there is no reason not to lock the spot down. Still, the injuries are rampant and there are fears that Aaron Ramsey‘s Arsenal career will end with the thigh injury he picked up midweek in Europa League play. Coupled with the three long-term injuries to Bellerin, Welbeck, and Holding plus Sokratis’ suspension, the Gunners are thin.

Crystal Palace has little to play for at this point, sitting in 14th on 39 points but unlikely to be sucked into the relegation battle. Roy Hodgson has led the squad to five wins since the start of February, good enough form to keep them out of the maelstrom at the bottom of the table. They put up a decent fight against title leaders Manchester City last time out, and kept two straight clean sheets in the matches before that. However, they lost two important players recently in James Tomkins and Jeffrey Schlupp who both will miss the rest of the season after long-term injuries.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Hector Bellerin (knee), Rob Holding (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Sokratis (suspended). QUESTIONABLE: Granit Xhaka (groin). | Crystal Palace — OUT: James Tomkins (groin), Jeffrey Schlupp (ankle), Mamadou Sakho (knee).

Joe Gomez ready for Liverpool return

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Joe Gomez has handed Liverpool another huge boost in their quest to win the Premier League title.

The England international, 21, has been out since suffering a fracture to his lower left leg during a win at Burnley in December.

Initially, Gomez was only going to be out for a few weeks but complications have since arrived and he has had to have surgery and further treatment to rectify the issue.

Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Porto on Wednesday (Liverpool have a 2-0 lead from the first leg), Jurgen Klopp revealed Gomez is now available for selection and has travelled with the team to Portugal.

“Absolutely [he looks strong]. Ox and Joe both did really well at Leicester, it was a brilliant game by all of the boys, to be honest, I watched it back. It looked really good,” Klopp said. “It’s clear they still need time to get full match fitness but it’s nice to have them back and now Joe first as an option. He played right full-back, we need him as this option as well. We all know he played a wonderful season at the centre-half position until his injury, but he can play both and it’s good to have him.”

Klopp now has a lot of options in defense, as Joel Matip has stepped in and played pretty well alongside Virgil Van Dijk over the past few months, as losing Gomez for a pivotal stretch of the season was a big concern for Liverpool. Even though Matip has filled in well, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson are clearly Liverpool’s first-choice back four.

With Dejan Lovren out with illness, getting Gomez back is a big deal for Liverpool as the composed center back was developing a superb relationship with VVD in the heart of Liverpool’s defense. However, with only TAA as a right back option and the likes of James Milner having to fill in there at times, it seems likely Gomez will rotate in that full back role in the final weeks of the season rather than disrupt the Matip-VVD partnership.

Mark this down as another big plus for Liverpool in their quest to win the league title for the first time since 1989-90.

In other injury news, Klopp also confirmed that Lovren is out of the game against Porto, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain needs more fitness work, Adam Lallana has returned to training and Jordan Henderson is fit after a slight ankle knock against Chelsea.

All in all, good news for Liverpool as they enter a season-defining 10 days.