Roberto Firmino

Second-half surge rockets Liverpool past Southampton

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Liverpool continued its unbeaten march toward Premier League glory with a 4-0 beating of Southampton on Saturday at Anfield.

The Reds open their table lead to 22 points thanks to banner days from Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah.

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Salah scored twice, Henderson collected a goal and an assist, and Roberto Firmino registered two assists. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored Liverpool’s other marker as Liverpool improved to 23 wins and one draw in league play.

Saints see their upward swing halted and finish the day 11th.


Three things we learned

1. Thirteen to go: Going unbeaten is a near-impossible task, but Liverpool is doing its level best. While the Reds again tempted fate in the first half, there was no doubt about their second half. Salah and Henderson were everywhere, and they might’ve scored seven on another day. The coronation is coming, but will the crown be spotless?

2. Henderson continues career year: There’s always been something on-field missing from Jordan Henderson, but Jurgen Klopp has taken him from capable starter to star this year. Henderson had a goal and an assist to pitch in offensively while following his (probable) orders to play a little hatchet man in the midfield. It must be a miserable afternoon dealing with “Hendo.”

3. Saints waste chances to play spoiler: Southampton’s first half was deserving of at least one goal, and the halftime whistle totally recharged the hosts. If you want to take points off this Liverpool, you have to take advantage of the rare down periods from the soon-to-be champs. Southampton did no such thing.

Man of the Match: Salah.


Oxlade-Chamberlain and Salah both handled the ball unwhistled en route to the latter’s tempting of the goal in the 20th minute.

Saints had moments, Moussa Djenepo forcing Alisson Becker into a 27th minute parry.

McCarthy made terrific saves on Virgil Van Dijk and Firmino before a penalty shout was denied the Reds.

Danny Ings carried into the box only to see a shot blocked by Joe Gomez in the 40th, with Shane Long‘s rip saved by Alisson in the 41st.

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Oxlade-Chamberlain put the Reds in front two minutes into the second half and moments after a penalty shout was denied Saints. An low drive through traffic cut inside the near post made it 1-0.

Henderson made it 2-0 when he was unmarked in the box for a Firmino cutback. The ex-Sunderland man left no doubt.

Salah took advantage of a Saints error to make it 3-0, dribbling to McCarthy’s doorstep to dink into the goal. He’d make it 4-0 on the edge of stoppage time.

Klopp: Liverpool ‘worked their socks off’ in late win

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Jurgen Klopp is loving life after Liverpool gutted out another three points in a thrilling if shaky 2-1 win over Wolves at the Molineux on Thursday.

Klopp gave full marks to Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves, who pushed Liverpool to the brink.

The Reds got a series of fine interventions from Alisson Becker after Wolves equalized through Raul Jimenez in the second half.

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That allowed Liverpool’s Brazilian center forward to deliver the match-winning goal.

Klopp didn’t love the performance, but he enjoyed the resolve.

“The genius moment of Bobby Firmino can help us,” Klopp said. “We won the game, incredibly difficult but who cares?”

“We didn’t panic but it was not like we we completely in the mood I wanted us to be in when we went 1-0 up. You saw then a couple of balls we played into their feet it makes no sense. It’s completely normal. It’s the most difficult thing in football. You start with a complex plan but the development of the game has influence on each individual on the pitch. One sees a chance, sees the space, are not exactly in the same mindset.

“So much to improve for us but knowing if we defend really well like we did in the third system we played tonight. Defending in a 4-4-2, offensively in a 4-3-3. Sadio off doesn’t help. Finishing the game in a 4-5-1. … Everybody worked their socks off. I’m so proud of the boys. It’s incredible.”

Cue more questions about Liverpool’s inevitable first Premier League title and a possible unbeaten season.

“It’s over when it’s over, not before. So why should we really think about it? Let’s carry on. It’s difficult enough. We have to find solutions for the different games then we will see.”

Liverpool visits Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup on Saturday, then heads to West Ham United on Wednesday before hosting Saints on Feb. 1. The congested schedule won’t ease up unless the Reds get knocked out of some competitions, and you wouldn’t want to bet on that right now.

Liverpool’s Klopp rips AFCON move, says FIFA needs to step in but won’t

Liverpool's Klopp rips AFCON move
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Jurgen Klopp is furious about Cameroon moving the Africa Cup of Nations to January 2021, something that would hinder the Reds’ likely title defense.

(No, Klopp is not counting his title chickens before they hatch, even if it’s a foregone conclusion).

Cameroon moved the tournament from summer to winter due to its climate, which seems like a decision that could’ve been made ages ago. The nation had hosting rights stripped away for the 2019 tournament, but will host in 2021.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Reds could be without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita for the better part of a month should Senegal, Guinea, and Egypt all qualify for the tournament. Joel Matip could be there with hosts Cameroon if the federation is successful in convincing him to return to the international fold.

Klopp went on a lengthy and mostly understandable diatribe against the move. We write mostly because there’s something lost in translation regarding the import of the tournament.

He’s upset at how it will tax his squad and how he keeps the players happy if he needs to add players just to deal with one month of the schedule.

“Do we really want to open this book? I couldn’t respect Africa Cup of Nations more than I do, I like it, I’ve watched it a lot. Difficult circumstances a lot of times,” Klopp said, via The Liverpool Echo. “It is another tournament, there are too many of them. Other thing is it doesn’t help African players. We won’t sell Naby, Mo or Sadio because of it but if we bring someone in, it affects the decision. Normal process. We have to think about that. Players aren’t asked. … FIFA, who should [step in] doesn’t look like being involved. It’s a strange situation. If we want lesser games they will say take less money. I will say, I am ready to do so. Yes.”

He continued.

“For us it’s a catastrophe, If we say (a player) can’t go, he’s suspended. How can the club who pay his salary not decide. If he’s injured and we say he cannot play for us, we have to send him to Africa so they can have a look. We don’t have any say. We just plan the route. These are all things that should not be like this. I speak about it now and no one will listen. The moaner from Liverpool again. It’s a complete waste of time. As long as nothing changes, I will keep saying it. It’s about the players, not me.”

Manchester City (Riyad Mahrez), Arsenal (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang), and Leicester City (Wilfried Ndidi) are among the many clubs who could lose stars for a month.

Liverpool makes history versus wasteful Spurs

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Liverpool scored an early and withstood a furious Tottenham Hotspur charge to pick up a 1-0 win in North London on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Firmino was the goal scorer as Liverpool improved to 20W-1D, becoming the first club in Europe’s Top Five leagues to take 61 of 63 points to start a season.

Tottenham is now nine points back of the Top Four.


Key numbers

14: Spurs out-attempted Liverpool 14-13.

68: Liverpool carried nearly 70 percent of the ball.

39: Spurs hoofed almost 40 clearances compared to Liverpool’s nine.

1: Japhet Tanganga made his first Premier League start for the Spurs.

Man of the Match: Firmino.


Premier League debutant Japhet Tanganga was baptized by fire, blocking a would-be Roberto Firmino goal in the second minute.

Lucas Moura worked past Joe Gomez to drill a shot wide of the near post in the fifth. Heung-Min Son drove 50 yards to miss with an 8th minute effort.

Dele Alli saw a lash deflected over the bar in the 13th minute as Spurs countered well again.

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Christian Eriksen rolled a tame shot to Alisson Becker in the 22nd.

Liverpool found danger through Salah a minute later, the Egyptian chipping to the back post where Virgil Van Dijk was denied by Paulo Gazzaniga.

The Reds went in front through Firmino, who turned past Tanganga and fired past the outstretched arms of Gazzaniga.

Virgil van Dijk slid to block a Dele Alli shot, and Serge Aurier ripped the chance into the arms of Alisson Becker. At the other end, Firmino stung Gazzaniga’s palms.

Heung-min Son saw deflected shot earn Spurs a corner in the 60th, but it came to nothing.

Gazzaniga then made a tight reaction save on Mane to keep it 1-0.

Spurs then took hold of the match, though they coudn’t find an equalizer. Serge Aurier picked out Giovani Lo Celso at the back for a sliding effort that somehow missed the frame.

Erik Lamela bounded a shot to Alisson in the 89th as Spurs kept pushing for an equalizer.

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.