Roberto Firmino

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

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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.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

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.

Klopp: ‘I struggle for the right words to describe my respect for the boys’

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With an extra-time 1-0 victory over Flamengo in the Club World Cup final, Liverpool have landed on the moon.

At least that’s how Jurgen Klopp described what winning the trophy would be like: “I don’t know how you approach something that has never been done before – it is like landing on the moon,” Klopp told reporters in Qatar on Friday.

It was not an exaggeration from the German coach.

Liverpool are the first English club to secure the continental treble – Champions League, Super Cup, and Club World Cup. Saturday’s historic victory wouldn’t have been possible without Roberto Firmino, whose goal in extra time sealed it for the Reds, similar to his game-winning goal against Monterrey in the semifinal bout.

Last-minute goals are becoming one of the many strengths this unbeaten Liverpool boasts.

“It looks like a strength,” manager Klopp said after the match about his team’s knack for scoring late recently. “We don’t want to have [the late goals] but they are necessary as it was level in the game. They were all very important like tonight. When you start believing, you believe for the 90 or 120 minutes. We believe in a chance.”

“In moments like this, I struggle for the right words to describe my respect for the boys,” Klopp added. “I don’t how they do it. An incredible performance against a good team.”

The chances for Liverpool – and Firmino – were plentiful throughout the 120 minutes at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. As usual, the Reds’ captain, Jordan Henderson, was pulling the strings.

The 29-year-old’s cutting pass to an attacking Sadio Mane eventually led to the Brazilian’s goal from point-blank range.

On the podium, Henderson, like a true captain, was the first to lift Liverpool’s first-ever Club Word Cup silverware, giving outsiders every reason to believe that there is no team better than Liverpool at the moment.

For Henderson, however, the thirst to improve is there.

“It was an interesting game,” the Liverpool captain said. “I am sure it was interesting to watch but we kept going, good performance and mentality shined through. We could have scored a couple more. Overall delighted with the result and performance in difficult conditions.”

“We have found a way for a long time now,” he added. “Some late goals, we just want to keep going, keep improving. Keep working hard and putting in performances like that.”

Salah saves Liverpool after Red Bull Salzburg erases 3-0 deficit

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Mohamed Salah‘s second goal saved his defense blushes as Liverpool threw away a 3-0 lead at Anfield before finding all three points in a 4-3 win over Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Salah was joined by Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane on the score sheet, and Roberto Firmino had two key assists in the win.

Hee-Chan Hwang scored a goal and an assist en route to 3-3, with young phenom Erling Braut Haland delivering a goal off the bench.

Takumi Minamino also scored for Salzburg, who has the same amount of points as Liverpool. Napoli leads the group with four points.


Three things we learned

1. Liverpool defense needs to get back to basics: Virgil Van Dijk is a tower, a force, a marvel… and just as capable as any other defender of being sent to the concessions stands by a sick cut. Hwang Hee-Chan cooked up the Dutch center back to fire Salzburg back to within two after Salah had stake the Reds to a 3-0 lead.

Perhaps “Van Dijk on Ice” is a fitting way to make a point that may not hold up. Liverpool has now played 12 matches this season and kept clean sheets in just three of them, allowing 13 goals. One clean sheet was against MK Dons, the other two versus Burnley and Sheffield United. Clean sheets don’t matter that much, we suppose, when you’re running teams off the pitch, but the chances have been there and this team has so far been less sound than its predecessor.

2. Salah, Mane, Firmino sensational: The Egyptian King delivered a poacher’s goal off a rebound in the first half before darting onto a Firmino flick to restore Liverpool’s lead in the second. Mane scored the sensational early marker off another Firmino assist, and could’ve easily had it 5-3.

The Reds’ most electric players were on it on Wednesday, and should not be paying for their meals tonight.

3. Marsch enjoys the moment: The twice-capped USMNT midfielder from Wisconsin looked set to see the reverse of a tournament-opening 6-2 score line, but full credit to Marsch’s men in a deserved come back. When the match hit 3-3, Salzburg was out-shooting Liverpool (again, this was at Anfield). The coach celebrated the second and third goals with vigor, leaping into his players’ celebrations at the equalizer. Even in the loss, he’ll be the toast of Austria tonight.

Man of the Match: Salah — Over Firmino, and just.


Liverpool was ready to go from Moment No. 1, with Mane blazing down the left side to work a 1-2 with Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian used perfect speed to cue up Mane’s show.

The Reds earned their second goal via fullback to fullback love, with

Hwang pulled a goal back for Salzburg in the most electric of fashions, putting Van Dijk on skates before finishing for 3-1.

Hwang could’ve easily made it 3-2 on a dynamic team move in the 53rd minute, but flubbed his effort well wide of the goal.

And then it was 3-2, with Minimino belting a bouncing shot past Adrian with Liverpool ignoring an entire half of the field.

Marsch was feeling it now, and introduced leading scorer Erling Braut Haland. The youngster took advantage of half-effort stuff from Van Dijk and Joe Gomez to make it 3-3.

The Reds turned to their stars to deliver the victory, as Mane’s backheel to Salah turned into a partially cleared cross. Firmino soon flicked Salah on goal for 4-3 and Liverpool’s first points of the tournament.