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Transfer rumor roundup: Fred to Man City; Aubameyang wanted

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Could this January transfer window rival last season’s in terms of activity?

[ MORE: FA Cup replay roundup ]

Last season saw Crystal Palace save its season and Hull City nearly do the same, Morgan Schneiderlin head to Everton, Leicester find a decent N'Golo Kante replacement, and much, much more.

This season has been less active, though Ross Barkley has headed to Chelsea while former club Everton nabbed Cenk Tosun and Liverpool added Virgil Van Dijk.

The BBC has news involving Napoli which could affect two Premier League clubs. The Neapolitans apparently want Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who wants to be an every week starter, to be a prime part of their push to end Juventus’ Serie A stranglehold.

That would unseat Pepe Reina, who’s been long linked with a reunion with former boss Pepe Reina at Newcastle United. Napoli currently has Luigi Sepe as a No. 2 to Reina, though UEFA Europa League fixtures mean it’s no guarantee Mignolet’s arrival would allow Reina to leave town.

Sky Sports says Manchester City would like to see Fred as a long-term replacement for Fernandinho. Fred went 90 minutes for Shakhtar Donetsk in a pair of UEFA Champions League contests against City, including the 2-1 home win over the Premier League leaders’ B-squad on Dec. 6. The 24-year-old has two goals and two assists in league play, and could cost more than $25 million.

Don Balon proffers news that could unsettle Arsenal fans, as Real Madrid is apparently entering the bidding for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Florentino Perez would like an upgrade to Karim Benzema for his struggling La Liga super powers, and goodness knows Real will tempt Borussia Dortmund’s bank account.

One liners:

— The BBC also says Besiktas want Islam Slimani to join the club from Leicester City.

— Ola Kamara’s move from Columbus to another MLS team may be hijacked by La Liga.

Klopp keeping it in perspective after breakdown vs. Arsenal

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Jurgen Klopp was angry following Friday’s 3-3 draw at Arsenal, but put a productive spin on a disappointing day at the Emirates Stadium.

While there’s no doubting Klopp will have some strong words for his Reds after tossing aside a 2-0 lead with three goals conceded in 4:45 — “You need to be angry, not sad, not disappointed in that moment” — his mentality was on display in his post-match comments.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things | Stars/duds ]

Somewhat like Arsenal’s 3-1 loss to Manchester United, the Reds were the better team despite not picking up all three points. And Klopp stressed throughout all his comments, whether criticizing Simon Mignolet‘s blunder or Liverpool’s massive let-up, that his team consistently producing chances without opening up myriad chances for the opposition.

Whether you agree with him or not — and that’s a loaded question for the Kop —

“I thought we were clearly the better side. They couldn’t play how they wanted to play. Before they had their goal, we could’ve had 2, 3, 4. Life’s like that. It’s clear we gave them the opportunity, it’s no secret. We could’ve defended the cross much better on the first goal. Then a shot from distance, yeah, we can all agree Simon could make a save in this moment.

Yet you can’t just grimace and grouse about singular errors, saying something about soccer being crazy, when your defense gives up performances on more than one occasion (Granted, that’s not recent: this was the first time Liverpool allowed more than one goal in league play since its last loss, 4-1 at Spurs on Oct. 22).

“Defending is a team thing,” Klopp said. “Today we make individual mistakes and that is not cool.”

And that’s right. Liverpool has been less apt to give up big chances in its 10-match league unbeaten run, and this was the first match of the 10 to including multiple concessions.

Stars and duds from Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool

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The festive fixtures began with a gift that kept on giving (up goals) as Arsenal came back from 2-0 down in a 3-3 draw with Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on Friday.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

Who was most responsible for the result, for better or worse? Here are one man’s thoughts.

Three stars

  1. Philippe Coutinho — His clever header to make it 1-0 was a neat bit of skill, and the Brazilian was very much Liverpool’s star.
  2. Mohamed Salah — Didn’t finish as clinically as he has — if he did, the Reds would’ve been up 3-0 at the break — but was a big part of everything the Reds did and attack wasn’t why they lost.
  3. Jack Wilshere — There may be egg on my face after I review the first half — JPW didn’t love JW’s day — but Wilshere did so many little things well in the second half and a big thing, too, covering near-90 yards to break up a Liverpool counter. Was asked to do a lot with Xhaka in what appeared to be close to a double pivot.

Three duds

  1. Laurent Koscielny — Just hasn’t looked right for some time, and seems to physically slip in giving away the ball at least once a match. Very poor and made a mistake in the build-up or the business end of all three goals conceded by Arsenal.
  2. Simon Mignolet — The second goal was a bullet from Xhaka, but to miss that poorly on a shot right at you that sent the match to 2-2 was regrettable.
  3. Joe Gomez — Hasn’t been miserable every match, though he certainly was on the Alexis goal. What Klopp wouldn’t give to have Nathaniel Clyne return to health.

Bonus rating

  1. Petr Cech — Was set to be one of the stars of this until he only got a piece of Firmino’s rip to make it 3-3. Three goals allowed is three goals allowed. Still, a decent game for a 3-3.
  2. Alexandre Lacazette — Was probably frustrated by his wingers not trying to find him often, but he plays a fairly complete game as a center forward. Terrific assist on Ozil’s goal.
  3. Ragnar Klavan — A couple fine interventions make us want to highlight his performance in keeping Lacazette off the score sheet. Then again, three goals allowed.
  4. Alexis Sanchez — Only apparent in short bursts during the first 45, there’s no denying his role in the electric comeback.

Hughes still fuming at call, thinks Atkinson should be suspended

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Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is still angry with a call from midweek, and rightly so.

His Potters lost 3-0 to Liverpool, but Hughes and many others believe it could’ve been much different had referee Martin Atkinson sent off Simon Mignolet for taking down Mame Biram Diouf.

Atkinson clearly saw the play, which earned Mignolet a yellow card despite being the last man back. The rulebook allows for the foul to not be a sending off if the foul was an accident.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL predictions | TV, stream schedule for the weekend ]

It wasn’t an accident:

He had to, which means Atkinson had to send him off. Mistake.

And now Hughes, certainly someone whose playing history would make the enjoyment of a result versus Liverpool extra special, wonders why Atkinson isn’t suspended in Mignolet’s place.

From the BBC:

“I don’t see why he should be refereeing this weekend,” he added. “My feelings reflect everybody else’s view: the referees who reviewed it since and everybody in the stadium, apart from one. Those are the decisions that frustrate me as a manager – and other managers.”

Fair? I think so.

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea: Spoils split

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  • Salah’s 15th Liverpool goal
  • Reds stay third
  • Willian‘s cross sails in

Mohamed Salah and Willian traded second half goals in a cagey and entertaining 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on Saturday.

The point keeps Chelsea third with 26 points, three ahead of fifth-place Liverpool.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jurgen Klopp left Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Georginio Wijnaldum on the bench in an eyebrow-raising XI.

Eden Hazard was far-and-away the star of the opening 20 minutes, and forced the only dangerous moment for either keeper with a 21st minute drive that led to a corner kick.

Danny Drinkwater was the next to ask Simon Mignolet to stop him, poking over the keeper but wide of the frame.

The dangerous Mohamed Salah provided a rare moment of threat from Liverpool, moving between N'Golo Kante and Gary Cahill to curl a shot around a flying Thibaut Courtois… and the goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Hazard and James Milner were tangled on the edge of the 18, but Michael Oliver saw the incident as accidental and didn’t award a penalty kick.

At the other end, Courtois almost fumbled a bouncing Daniel Sturridge shot into the goal.

The Blues kept knocking, firing crosses in from the right to force Liverpool into tricky interventions and blocks.

Salah provided the break through, and refused to celebrate against his former club. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set the chance up, and the Egyptian winger calmly and clinically made it 1-0.

Chelsea found an answer through Willian’s lofted cross, which was mishit and put Mignolet in a bad place. The ball sailed over the keeper’s head for 1-1.

Courtois stopped a late Salah strike, and the points were split at the Bridge.