James Milner

Klopp reacts to end of Liverpool’s UCL reign

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Liverpool mainstay James Milner and manager Jurgen Klopp faced the camera after Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League run ended at Anfield.

The Reds controlled play for most of a 3-2 extra-time loss to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their UCL Round of 16 tie, but fell apart after an Adrian mistake set up the first of three late goals for Diego Simeone’s side.

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“They got the first goal, took the stuffing out of us and obviously we were chasing the game after that point,” Milner said (full video here via BeIn). “I thought it was a great performance from the start. We created a lot of chances against a very tough team. We probably should’ve taken a few more of them. But obviously 2-0 we had done a good job at that point. It’s the cost of not getting an away goal, really.”

Klopp was ready to put as positive a spin as he could on the loss, and he wasn’t wrong in most of what he proffered the cameras.

The Reds out-attempted Atleti 34-10 and had 71 percent possession, but Jan Oblak made nine saves and Liverpool finished very poorly in what could’ve been a cakewalk.

They fell 4-2 on aggregate.

[ MORE: Simeone, Trippier, Llorente praise capacity to suffer ]

“Super proud of the boys because for 95 minutes we played a sensational game,” Klopp said. “Our big mistake was to score the second goal five minutes to late. Clearly better side, dominated a side which is packed with world-class players. They defend in a way that was difficult to break down but we did it constantly. We did it constantly.”

Klopp neglected to blame Adrian for his game-changing error filling in for Alisson Becker, mentioning that the Spaniard had “saved us” plenty of times in the past.

Instead, he turned his attention to how hard Atleti had to work to dethrone the reigning UCL champs.

“I really feel proud and I should be. I told them already they should be really proud. We know in some moments we needed luck or a really good hand like against Napoli. We didn’t have that tonight, but really thank you to everybody tonight for the journey. The crowd tonight, wow. You see what you need to beat us here. You need a lot of luck and some help from us.”

UPDATE: Klopp took some shots at Atleti in separate interviews.

First, he proffered:

“I don’t understand with the quality they have the football they play. They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counter-attacks.”

Then, in his press conference with assembled media later in the evening, he continued.

“I’m an under-average loser,” he said. “If I said all the things I have in my mind, I would look like the worst loser in the world so it’s best I stop here.”

He was then asked to follow up those thoughts. He did.

“The way they play I just don’t get it, but the win is right,” he said. “Don’t lose respect with the questions you ask further because you should know already. If not then you didn’t see the game.”

 

James Milner supports young Liverpool FA Cup squad at Anfield

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Alisson went home to Rio. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Adam Lallana vacationed across the pond to Miami. Fabinho and Roberto Firmino soaked up the sun in the Maldives.

Not James Milner. He spent his February break in the 45-degree Anfield cold with the Liverpool youth team.

With Reds boss Jurgen Klopp giving the first team its February hiatus unchallenged, the manager instead sent the youth team to play in the FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury Town, winning the match 1-0 on a late own-goal. Milner was on hand to watch the young squad, even training with the team before the match and giving a team talk as well. According to one report, he was even one of the most excited figures in the post-match dressing room after the victory.

It certainly helped that he was due at Melwood for recovery from a muscle injury that has forced him to miss the last month of action, but his presence with the youth squad clearly had an impact on both the players and the boss.

“He trained with us yesterday and that obviously gives a boost,” said 18-year-old Neco Williams, who was part of the matchday starting lineup for Liverpool. “For him to be here today, to be in the changing rooms giving us advice, cheering us on I thought it was unbelievable from him. All the lads will cherish that. It was a special night for a lot of us, a night that we’ll remember for a long time especially the debutants.”

“He trained with us yesterday and he asked whether he could come along. I think the answer is: ‘Yes, of course you can.’ It was very respectful to ask,” said youth team manager Neil Critchley, who took charge of the FA Cup game for Liverpool with Klopp also on holiday. “He then said: ‘Can I come in the dressing room?’ What do you think? ‘Of course!’ He was giving words of advice, he was getting right behind the players. He was vocal in the dressing room. He was animated. He was vocal behind me, I could hear him. He was genuinely delighted at how the boys performed and I can’t thank him enough.”

Milner, known for his no-nonsense personality and his dedication to the game, seems form fitted to this kind of action. The 34-year-old has been with Liverpool since joining from Man City in 2015, making 205 appearances for the Reds across all competitions.

The Premier League’s brief February break sees the club have two weeks off, with its next match coming against Norwich City on February 15. This year is the first that a break was built into the schedule.

Klopp, Milner plays role in helping Liverpool kids advance in FA Cup

Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
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Liverpool U-23 boss Neil Critchley oversaw a dominant performance from his senior player-free squad in a 1-0 FA Cup defeat of Shrewsbury Town.

He was in the dugout watching a number of debutants control the League One side because Jurgen Klopp refused to change his club’s winter break plans.

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It was a controversial choice, but the kids made sure it looked like a stroke of genius.

Critchley was sure to credit the big boss Jurgen for his pre-, halftime, and post-match comments.

“Jurgen gives you clarity and belief. “Play the Liverpool way!” This is us, this is what we do, what we stand for, what we believe in and you better be ready for it. From the first minute, I think we did that.”

It also helps that Critchley got a hand from one of the on-break senior players.

James Milner, he of the 721 career senior appearances, was keeping himself fit and asked if he could train with the kids and spend the matchday with them.

“He was very respectful to ask, he asked if he could come in the dressing room. ‘Of course!’ He’s achieved so much in the game. He was giving words of advice to the players, he was vocal in the dressing room. I can’t thank him enough. He’s not available yet but he was certainly jumping up and down behind me, itching to get back.”

And now Liverpool is alive for more silverware, with a trip to Chelsea ahead.

It’s a bit too easy to heap praise on risks when they pay off, but this does truly seems like an example of why Liverpool as a club is succeeding in so many areas. Milner’s class. Klopp is class. And obviously the U-23 coach knows what he’s doing as well.

Alexander-Arnold drives Liverpool thrashing of Leicester City

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Trent Alexander-Arnold had a goal and two assists as Liverpool wore down sloppy Leicester City 4-0 at the King Power Stadium on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Firmino scored twice to join James Milner on the score sheet as Liverpool moved 13 points clear of the second place Foxes, who’ve played one more match. The Reds are 14 ahead of Man City.


[ MORE: JPW’s Three Things ]


Notes from an onslaught

1. Alexander-Arnold at full bandwidth: Twenty-one years old and oozing with class, Liverpool’s English right back was nearly impeccable on Thursday.

The pinpoint crosses are nothing new, though they seem to grow in audacity, but the young Liverpool right back showed some show-stopping defensive chops in the first half when he raced back to cut out a Leicester City counterattack.

No one will be mistaking him for Philipp Lahm any time soon — he was dribbled by Caglar Soyuncu late, but Thursday’s showing was reason to believe he can become the total package.

2. Liverpool joins Man City in putting Foxes in proper place: Over two matches in four days, Leicester City did almost nothing to inspire belief that they are a legitimate threat to Liverpool or Man City.

There’s no shame in that; The Man City and Liverpool projects are a lot further along than Brendan Rodgers‘ efforts at the King Power Stadium, but the Foxes’ miraculous history had plenty prodding their second place status as the harbinger of something more.

Look at these numbers from Leicester’s three matches versus the Reds and Citizens this season.

City will drop into third place if Man City gets a point or more on Friday at Wolves, and it seems more likely they’ll have to worry about fending off Chelsea, Spurs for a Top Four place than dislodging either of the two teams above them.

3. Qatar awakening spurs Firmino forward: The Brazilian center forward scored in the Club World Cup semifinal and final, and made it four goals in three matches with his brace on Thursday. Firmino has not scored in the Champions League and has just one goal in his last 11 Premier League matches before leaving for Qatar. He’s back.

Man of the Match: Alexander-Arnold.


Liverpool didn’t look jet lagged in the opening minutes, flying out of the gates to trouble Kasper Schmeichel twice in the first 90 seconds.

Leicester had a rare look at a 10th minute counter attack cut out by Trent Alexander-Arnold for a corner.

Naby Keita then used a counterattack to set up Mohamed Salah, who shot clumsily into the outside netting instead of cutting back for Sadio Mane.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Ben Chilwell was exposed at the back post as Liverpool opened the scoring with a second chance ball off a corner kick. Alexander-Arnold served a ball to the back post and Firmino rose high to nod home.

The second half was essentially an exercise in wondering if Liverpool would find the second goal to erase thoughts of a dramatic equalizer. Firmino just missed turning a cross home in the 56th.

Jamie Vardy won a rare free kick in the 62nd minute, but James Maddison sent a wayward effort high and wide of the goal.

Caglar Soyuncu conceded a penalty in the 70th minute with a handball in the box, and substitute Milner did what he does from the spot.

Klopp: Liverpool provided ‘a lot of great football moments’ in derby win

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The latest gem in Liverpool’s glittering season came courtesy of their depth in an emphatic 5-2 defeat of Everton in the first Merseyside Derby of the season.

Wednesday’s win at Anfield was a little leaky at the back, yeah, but Liverpool’s offensive show left little hope for their rivals.

[ MORE: Match recap | Silva, Holgate react ]

With Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench, Liverpool scored three times in the first 31 minutes and led 4-2 at halftime.

Divock Origi had two goals and Xherdan Shaqiri another by the time Sadio Mane added a goal to his pair of first half assists.

Their manager was loving it. From the BBC:

“Oh, a lot of great football moments in that game. We spoke before about the five changes. I had to show respect to the boys for what they do in training. I speak a lot about the quality of the squad so have to show it. What they made of it was incredible. Divock’s goals, Sadio’s passes, Shaqiri’s everything, Lallana was everywhere.”

Klopp rang in the changes with Shaqiri, Origi, Adam Lallana, Adrian, and James Milner. He said he would’ve liked to play Naby Keita as one of six changes, but he “was not brave enough to make six changes, that is the only problem.”

The Reds were actually out-attempted 12-11 by the visitors but were oh-so-clinical with the ball in the danger areas (until late, when Mane missed a pair of bids which could’ve supplied a hat trick).

Next up is Bournemouth away at 10 a.m. ET Saturday.