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Klopp says Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson close to return

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that first-choice goalkeeper Alisson is nearing a return to the club after missing the last five matches with a calf injury.

The Brazilian went down 39 minutes into the season opener against Norwich City and has been out of action since. Adrian has filled in admirably, with the club conceding just four goals in his five Premier League matches, spreading those four goals out across four matches along with one clean sheet.

“Ali looks like he is close, but the final word is with them,” Klopp said during his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s Premier League match against Sheffield United. “He is not in contention for tomorrow, maybe he can train with the team from Sunday onwards, but we don’t know 100 per cent. He is really close.”

The Liverpool boss said there has been no drop-off with Adrian in net, which has made Alisson’s absence easier to swallow and left them able to ease the Brazilian back into game action. “Adrian is doing a brilliant job and that makes everything easier, 100 per cent. It’s important with injuries that you don’t rush it, but if you have no other option in a position then sometimes you cut two or three days off the rehab time. We don’t like to take risks.”

Alisson was awarded the Best Goalkeeper award at the FIFA ceremony in late August, proving vital in his first season at the club as they won the Champions League crown. The Brazilian’s wonderful form not only in net but with the ball at his feet made him critical to the club’s success. Adrian has seen time since moving from West Ham, however, since moving from West Ham this summer to replace Simon Mignolet as Alisson’s backup. He saved Tammy Abraham‘s penalty to give Liverpool victory over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup and has been quality in goal during Premier League play, helping Liverpool to top the table.

Napoli scores on late penalty, rare Van Dijk error in 2-0 win

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The good news is that Liverpool lost to Napoli last season in the UEFA Champions League, then went on to win the whole darn thing.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jose Callejon won a late penalty that Dries Mertens converted, and Fernando Llorente took advantage of a Virgil Van Dijk error to pad the lead as Napoli held serve at home with a 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeepers immense: No, he’s not Alisson Becker, but Adrian is probably the biggest reason Liverpool didn’t open its UCL defense with a blowout loss. He made a pair of early stops on Dries Mertens before a show-stopping effort in the second half. Napoli got two fine saves from Alex Meret, including a terrific denial of Mohamed Salah in the 65th.

2. Salah, Mane can’t deliver in key moments: Take away Salah’s penalty in the UCL Final, and Liverpool’s two top threats have not accounted for a goal in four matches inside the competition. Mane was mostly good on the day, but misled Salah on an early second half pass which would have almost certainly been a goal. Salah simply had an off day

3. Callejon sells the drama: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson lost a 50/50 with Jose Callejon, who ran into the fulback and hit the deck to win a penalty. That was the difference here, as Mertens beat Adrian.

Man of the Match: Meret was especially good, the 22-year-old Italian goalkeeper big in several key moments to edge Mertens for the honor.


Napoli thought it had gone ahead through El Tri star Hirving Lozano, who nodded over the line following two Alisson Becker saves on Dries Mertens, but the Mexican was offside.

Sadio Mane had a 20th minute chance at the other end, but pumped a point blank low shot to Napoli keeper Alex Meret which led to a corner kick.

Fabinho intervened in the 53rd minute as Napoli emerged from the locker room with energy, but the best chance of the early second half was flubbed in uncharacteristic fashion: Sadio Mane was through 2v1 with Mohamed Salah but made a miserable pass to his teammate.

The first goal arrived when Callejon tapped the ball past Robertson and leapt into the defender to earn a penalty from referee Felix Brych.

It was 2-0 in stoppage time when Fernando Llorente ran onto a Virgil van Dijk error and passed beyond Adrian.

Three things learned: Liverpool v. Arsenal

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The CliffsNotes of Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat of Arsenal says one team was much better than the other, who didn’t choose its lineup well and couldn’t take advantage of a defense that doesn’t look ready to match wits with the best in the world.

[ MORE: Match recap | Stars and duds ]

Mohamed Salah was amazing, Unai Emery was uninspiring, and Arsenal’s attack joined Norwich City and Southampton in howling, “What if?” in a fun match that never really threatened to go in any direction other than that of the reigning European champions.

Take your few chances versus Liverpool, or die

Over the last two months, Liverpool may have allowed more dynamite scoring chances than they did over the second half of the 2018-19 season.

If you don’t cash in those chips against them, you might as well call it a day.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang couldn’t convert a difficult angle into the goal after Adrian made a massive first half gaffe, and Nicolas Pepe missed a chance to put the Gunners on the board when Adrian saved his low effort off a Jordan Henderson giveaway

Aubameyang took too long to shoot when another giveaway put him through on goal, and Matip caught up to the Gabon star. Still, a prime chance.

We’ve seen time and again this early season that Liverpool opens up at the back, but Arsenal’s stars did like Danny Ings in Week Two and pretty much all of Norwich City’s attack on Opening Day, and got the same result as their PL peers.

Now, perhaps if Unai Emery had started Alexandre Lacazette, too, well… let’s just say Jurgen Klopp was pretty thankful to not have that problem.

That said, Liverpool still foiled in bid for long-sought clean sheet

Preseason is preseason, but the Reds usually imperious defense had dragged its sloppy form from summer into the Premier League.

Liverpool kept a clean sheet in its preseason opener against Tranmere Rovers, and went on to concede 12 in the next six friendlies. Norwich City and Southampton both managed a goal in the Reds’ first two PL outings, but there were plenty of misses (See Danny Ings’ attempted flick equalizer in Week Two).

Throw in 1-1 and 2-2 score lines in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup matches, and Liverpool hadn’t kept a clean sheet in 10 outings.

Now we’ve documented how this was still not a luxurious example of the Reds’ defending prowess but, given Arsenal’s attack, a clean sheet would have still loomed larger than any of their other performances this season. Instead, Torreira’s goal a mild red flag as Liverpool’s failure to hang a ‘0’ on the board for the 11th-straight occasion.

Instead, the questions rightly remain. What will happen when the attack isn’t so prolific?

Mo’ Mo, please

When you’ve got a magnificent team like Liverpool, there’s a temptation to magnify ancillary pieces or second stars over the best attacker on the team.

Please don’t make that mistake, Reds fans.

Mohamed Salah is one of the best players in the world, and he’s a touch above any one on the attacking unit in terms of importance. Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are splendid players who would be the best on any number of teams, but Salah they are not.

He’s stronger than he looks, and will plant his legs into the pitch to hold position. He’s legs whir like the roadrunner, and he’s so clever both will and without the ball. To boot, Salah hasn’t yet had to embellish to win a penalty yet this season, literally the only knock against him (and also an asset for his team, whether you like it or not).

Now whether Salah or Virgil Van Dijk is more important to the team, well, that’s a great debate for your next time watching with friends.

Klopp on Adrian’s mistake: ‘He has ticked that box now’

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Jurgen Klopp found the funnier side of Adrian’s howler which gave Southampton a sniff of picking up a point against Liverpool on Saturday.

[ MORE: Mane reflects on win ]

With seven minutes to go Liverpool led 2-0 but Adrian, who was rushed back from injury himself after replacing the injured first-choice goalkeeper Alisson, inexplicably passed the ball straight to Danny Ings who scored.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Klopp laughed off Adrian’s mistake and said he is now a proper Liverpool goalkeeper because of it.

“Southampton had one more big chance and if they score then we can’t moan about that – but I think we deserve three points. I’m happy with the performance,” Klopp said. “We gave them a proper boost by that nice pass by Adrian. He has finally arrived because it is his third game and so it is normal for a Liverpool keeper to tick that box [by making a mistake]! Now we can carry on.”

After shouting “Adriannnnnn! Like Rocky!” after Adrian’s penalty kick heroics which won Liverpool the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea in Istanbul on Wednesday, Klopp keeps rolling out the classics.

Long-term he knows Alisson will be his first-choice goalkeeper and after the struggles of Lorus Karius and Simon Mignolet, Klopp is chilled out enough to know Liverpool’s goalkeepers always seem to have a few big mistakes in their locker.

Hopefully, for Liverpool’s sake, Adrian know has that big mistake out of his system.

Adrian an injury doubt after pitch invader-caused injury

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Dated reference here, but Liverpool goalkeepers have been watching a bit too much “Spinal Tap.”

To add to the comparison, Liverpool’s goalkeeping problems are turned up to 11 (on a very short-term basis).

[ MORE: Wolves thrash Pyunik ]

Adrian has joined Alisson Becker on the injury list following a freakish injury when a fan slipped after running onto the field to celebrate the UEFA Super Cup and clattered into the goalkeeper’s ankle.

The former West Ham goalkeeper is a question mark for Saturday’s trip to Liverpool, putting 35-year-old Andy Lonergan in line for a start and academy graduate Caoimhin Kelleher in the back-up role at age 20.

Here’s Jurgen Klopp, via the BBC:

“There’s no doubt about how much we love our fans, there’s no doubt about that at all, but if they all could stop doing that – that’s the worst example we have so far heard about. We played against Manchester City and someone ran on the pitch then. At Norwich, there was someone as well.”

Former Fulham and Bolton goalkeeper Lonergan has never played in a Premier League match.

Insane.

I’ve got more jokes, if you want ’em: Given the history, Saturday’s opponents should be happy the transfer window is closed or Angus Gunn could be swapping sidelines.

UPDATE: Everything is gonna be fine.