Klopp, Jokanovic on wild Liverpool opener: ‘Absurd situation’

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It wouldn’t be a surprise if Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had differing opinions on the offside call that denied the Cottagers a goal and allowed Liverpool a quick restart goal against the celebrating visitors at Anfield on Sunday.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 2-0 Fulham ]

But Klopp’s reaction to the offside call against Aleksandar Mitrovic wasn’t too strong, and Jokanovic was raging after the match.

The Fulham manager labeled the call “disrespectful” to Fulham and its supporters. From The Liverpool Echo:

“The damage is done,” Jokanovic said. “I don’t want to say Liverpool didn’t deserve to win the game. We did not defend well against the counter-attack but it shouldn’t have happened. It is an absurd situation.”

The margin was very thin, with Mitrovic perhaps a hair off. And Alisson Becker quickly pulled the ball out of the goal and got it moving (or kept it moving, as NBC studio analyst Kyle Martino pointed out that it never stopped).

Thirteen seconds later, Mohamed Salah had it in the back of the Fulham net.

Klopp was nonchalant about the call, ironic given the froth expected should the call have gone against him. Such is football.

“I saw the Fulham goal once,” Klopp said. “Was it offside? Against Arsenal we scored a clearer goal and didn’t get it. We cannot change it. The reaction was brilliant from us.”

It’s the quick restart that should probably be under more scrutiny than the offside call, as there aren’t too many offside restarts played that quickly at any spot on the field (let alone the matter of whether the ball moved).

Liverpool will be atop the Premier League table should Chelsea fail to beat Everton and Manchester City lose to United.

PL Sunday preview: Manchester derby; Chelsea, Liverpool go for 12

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You could say that Sunday is a big day of Premier League fixtures, but you’d be massively under-selling a six-and-a-half-hour period that see four games played, featuring five of the PL’s “big six” sides.

[ MORE: Spurs grind out another win despite mounting injuries ]

Liverpool vs. Fulham — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

In the day’s first game, Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool will seek to become the first side in the PL to reach a dozen games without a defeat. Doing so with a victory at Anfield would (temporarily) vault them ahead of Chelsea and Manchester City for top spot in the title race. A swift response will be required after a shocking defeat away to Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday. It’s not the first time the Reds have lost away on the continent this season: after losing to Napoli last month, Liverpool returned to domestic play and secured a scoreless home draw with Man City.

While Tuesday’s hiccup might seem a disaster in Liverpool’s world, last-place Fulham would beg to differ. The Cottagers haven’t won since Aug. 26, game no. 3 of the season, and have managed just two points from the eight games they’ve played since. On the bright, they sit just three points adrift of 17th place and can drag themselves clear of the relegation zone with a few decent results. Slavisa Jokanovic‘s side has had plenty of problems on both ends of the field — they’ve scored just four goals in their last seven games, simultaneously conceding 20 of the 29 they’ve given up on the season.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) | Fulham — OUT: None


Chelsea vs. Everton — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Very few foresaw a title challenge from Chelsea in Maurizio Sarri‘s first season in England, but the Blues sit second in the table (ahead of Liverpool on goal differential) nearly one-third of the way through the season, also yet to lose (in any competition) in 2018-19. Eden Hazard appears fully recovered from his back injury, which severely limited his minutes late last month, after playing 62 minutes in Thursday’s Europa League win away to BATE Borisov. The Belgian superstar is joint-top of the Golden Boot race with seven goals (plus four assists — tied-fourth most) and has been the best player in the PL, by a substantial margin. In comparison to City and Liverpool’s stingy number of goals conceded — four and five, respectively — Chelsea’s eight seems uninspiring, yet remains next-best by a good distance.

It’s been nearly five years (Dec. 4, 2013, against Manchester United) since Everton last won away to one of the PL’s “big six” sides. Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge is merely the Toffees’ next opportunity to break their 30-game skid (0W-9D-21L), but it’s hardly a golden one. It’s been nearly as many tries, 23, since Everton last won away to the Blues (Nov. 26, 1994). Everton’s newly crowned talisman, Richarlison, has been made available for selection after being an injury doubt all week. Marco Silva won’s be so lucky in defense, though, as first-choice center back Kurt Zouma, on loan from Chelsea, is ineligible to play against his parent club.

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: None | Everton — OUT: None


Man City vs. Man United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The third and final — though first in the table — unbeaten side, Man City, will host a Man United side which has (somewhat predictably) fallen on hard times in Jose Mourinho’s third season at the club. Despite winning three of their last four league games, the Red Devils enter Sunday’s Manchester derby seven points (and four places) behind fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur. However, Tuesday’s Champions League triumph away to Juventus will have United feeling full of confidence when they visit the Etihad Stadium. Mourinho has been strangely quiet this week — with regards to City, not Juve — offering few, if any, words about City’s financial fair play predicament or his side’s chances. Perhaps the red half of Manchester has begun to accept the city for its newfound blueness.

As for City, what’s to dislike about a side that has dropped just two points in its last 11 games (all competitions) and has shown no signs whatsoever of dropping off from last season’s record-setting performance? Sure, Kevin De Bruyne is set to miss a couple months due to a knee injury, for the second time this season, but he’s appeared in just three league games thus far (started none — 82 total minutes), yet City have won 29 of a possible 33 points. There’s also a small matter of avenging the home loss of last season, which prevented Pep Guardiola‘s side clinching the title against its most bitter rivals.

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Claudio Bravo (achilles), Eliaquim Mangala (knee) | Man United — OUT: Antonio Valencia (undisclosed)


Arsenal vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Since suffering defeat in each of their first two games this season, Arsenal have fancied themselves as one of the unbeatens, winning 13 and drawing three of their 16 games since. The somewhat troubling part of those impressive numbers, though, is the fact that the three draws have all come in the Gunners’ last four games (two in the PL, one in the Europa League). On the plus side, one of those league draws came against Liverpool last weekend, signaling the Gunners might just be credible peers to title contenders once again.

Their opponents on Sunday, Wolves, have struggled in recent weeks after a strong start to the season. Three straight losses have dropped Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side to 11th in the table, and an inability to score from open play has been a key culprit. Wolves scored twice in last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Tottenham, but each tally came from the penalty spot, after being held scoreless by Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion — not exactly defensive world-beaters. Still, to be seven points and seven spots clear of the relegation zone right now, in the club’s first season back in the PL since 2012, has been a dream start everyone involved with the club would have taken back in August.

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Stephan Lichtsteiner (hamstring), Laurent Koscielny (achilles), Danny Welbeck (ankle) | Wolves — OUT: None

Klopp: Liverpool ‘lost our mojo’ in loss to Red Star Belgrade

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Jurgen Klopp has a way with words, and that way was not lost en route to Serbia.

[ RECAP: Red Star Belgrade 2-0 Liverpool ]

The Liverpool manager knows his team was second best in a 2-0 loss at Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, missing a number of chances to score in the loss and out-attempting Red Star 23-10.

In fact, how Klopp described Liverpool on the day might be a good way to sum up chance creator Mohamed Salah‘s lack of finishing magic this year (because the chances sure are there).

Klopp also said he had more reasons for their loss than he had fingers and toes, and said it all started with set pieces. From the BBC:

“They had too many set pieces that’s true and with one of them they scored. Then more or less straight away they score the second one and then the atmosphere was completely different, you could feel it.

“They were on their bikes and we had to deal with the situation. It is not what we wanted and we will go for the other two games 100 per cent. We all have to deal with it now.”

The Reds will go beneath PSG or Napoli should one of them win their match in Italy, but will still lead the group if the two draw.

Liverpool travels to PSG on Nov. 28 and is home to Napoli on Dec. 11.

LIVE, Champions League: Red Star Belgrade v. Liverpool

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Liverpool’s trip to face Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday will test the mettle of Jurgen Klopp‘s side as a hostile, raucous stadium awaits them in Serbia’s capital city.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Klopp has already decided against having Xherdan Shaqiri as part of his squad due to political reasons and the Liverpool boss knows a win would be huge as they aim to progress past Napoli and PSG in Group C. Liverpool face that duo in their final two group games, so three points in Belgrade is crucial.

Elsewhere in the early kick offs, Monaco host Club Brugge and Thierry Henry’s side must secure all three points if they’re going to have any chance of making the Round of 16. The Ligue 1 strugglers lost their manager Leonardo Jardim after a poor start to the season and Henry’s first UCL game in charge of his former club only yielded a point at Brugge. If Monaco fail to win and Atletico Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund in the other Group A game, Monaco’s UCL dreams will be over for another year.

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while below is the look at the full schedule for the early games on Tuesday with both games kicking off at 12:55 p.m. ET.


Tuesday’s early UCL schedule

Group A
AS Monaco v. Club Brugge

Group C
Red Star Belgrade vs. Liverpool

Liverpool leave Shaqiri out due to political reasons

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Xherdan Shaqiri will not play for Liverpool at Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have decided against Shaqiri traveling with the squad due to the reception he may get in Serbia’s capital city due to his Kosvan-Albanian heritage. Serbia doesn’t recognize its former province Kosovo, where Shaqiri was born, as an independent state.

The situation could also be a little more dangerous due to Shaqiri scoring a late winner for Switzerland against Serbia in the 2018 World Cup and then celebrating by making a fluttering eagle symbol with his hands. That symbol was in reference to ethnic Albanians and Shaqiri was fined by FIFA, along with Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner, for making the gesture.

With reports that Shaqiri would be the subject of protests in Belgrade, it has been decided he will not travel.

“We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100 per cent on football and not have to think about anything else, that’s all,” Klopp said. “We are Liverpool FC, a big club, a football team but we don’t have any message further than that. We have no political message, absolutely not. We want the focus to be on a great game of football, free from anything else.

“We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions that would take focus away from a 90-minute-plus contest that is important for football and only football. So for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday.”