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Joel Matip returns to Liverpool training, expected to be fit for West Ham clash

1 час 38 мин. назад
on 06.12.2016

Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip has returned to training after a minor ankle injury, and should be available on Sunday against West Ham United.

Matip was sidelined for the Reds’ trip to take on Bournemouth on December 4, with his side eventually losing 4-3 despite leading 3-1 with less than 30 minutes to play.

The Cameroonian was clearly missed within Jurgen Klopp‘s defence, with Liverpool’s capitulation proof of his importance.

Klopp will be buoyed, therefore, by Matip’s return to full training, with the summer signing joining his team-mates on the field during their mid-season trip to Barcelona.

The Reds flew to Catalonia shortly after their defeat at Dean Court, though their time away from Merseyside was planned in advance.

Matip is now likely to start at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, as Klopp’s side look to rewrite their form with victory over Slavan Bilic’s struggling Hammers.

He should join Dejan Lovren at the heart of defence, with Lucas Leiva dropping out of the starting lineup.

 Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Liverpool are yet to suffer defeat when Matip has played this season, with the No. 32’s strength and defensive nous proving crucial to their efforts at the back.

He has slotted in seamlessly alongside Lovren, providing a composed presence at the heart of defence, and a progressive option as they look to push forward as a cohesive unit.

Tellingly, without Matip in the Premier League this season, Klopp’s side have conceded nine goals in three games, while they have also conceded just nine goals in the 11 games he has played.

He has also contributed heavily to three of Liverpool’s four clean sheets in all competitions this season.

Klopp will still be without both Philippe Coutinho (ankle) and Danny Ings (knee) against West Ham, while it remains unclear whether Daniel Sturridge (calf) will be passed fit to feature.

Both Joe Gomez and Sheyi Ojo are continuing their recovery from injury by spending time with the Liverpool Under-23s, with Klopp’s squad options increasing during a busy December schedule.

Liverpool will return to Merseyside on Wednesday, with preparations then continuing at Melwood.

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Bournemouth collapse highlights areas required for reinforcements in January

2 часа 6 мин. назад

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Though injuries to Joel Matip, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have unluckily come at once, this only exposed how ill-equipped Liverpool are to deal with multiple key absences.

Without Matip, a composed and leading figure to organise was sorely missed as Bournemouth upped the pressure sensing the Reds’ fragility.

It’s no coincidence both defeats this season have come when Klopp’s men have been without the colossal Cameroonian.

Neither the deputising Lucas – preferred to specialist back-up Ragnar Klavan – or Dejan Lovren provided this assuredness required; both shrinking into their shells as panic set in.

That Liverpool crumbled without Matip again illustrated not only his importance, but the unsuitability of back-ups and the liability Lovren can be without his influential partner.

Though keeping goals out rather than scoring them proved the problem, absences of key attackers, Coutinho and Sturridge, were equally felt.

Liverpool's Adam Lallana (centre) is substituted on for Liverpool's Sadio Mane (right) by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. 2016. (Picture by Adam Davy PA Wire/PA Images)

A bench featuring teenagers Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn as two of the three impact options alongside recently-returned Adam Lallana meant Klopp had precious little to utilise to alter momentum.

No surprise, therefore, that Lallana was the only introduction, replacing a limping Sadio Mane which presents further concern and reason for acquisitions.

Injuries to key players have been poorly timed and such absences would unquestionably shake any team.

But the performance without them showed Liverpool lack necessary quality and quality to compensate, making January signings vital.

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Areas to Address

Football - FA Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC

Klopp has already stated he may bolster his wide options next month, but more activity is required with a defensive addition and an ideal partner for Matip needed.

Lovren’s struggles without the stabilising Cameroonian at Burnley and Bournemouth provide little comfort for future instances without the towering centre-back, which isn’t good enough for a starting Reds defender.

Where Klopp finds the ideal signing in a window notoriously difficult to find value and quality remains to be seen, but one option is another St Mary’s raid for Virgil Van Dijk.

The Dutchman seems a near-perfect fit both physically and tactically, and recent tentative reports suggest he has a release clause which could tempt Klopp into exploring a move.

 Southampton's Virgil Van Dijk in action against Manchester City during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With injuries and absences stacking up and the impact becoming visible, Klopp seems increasingly likely strengthen his forward line, recently assessing, “the more injuries we have, the more you have to think about it.”

But a new attacker is now essential with Liverpool to be without Coutinho and Mane at the turn of the year, the need to rotate to avoid further injury and the seeming lack of trust in youngsters for the Premier League stage.

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Recruiting a pacey winger would be ideal, with Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic seemingly the prime target.

Whether the American is attainable is doubtful, with BVB sporting director, Michael Zorc, stating “It’s not worth the effort for Liverpool.”

Klopp could therefore rekindle interest in versatile attacker, Quincy Promes, who, reports suggest, is poised to leave Spartak Moscow in January.

Another unimpressive display from Loris Karius, Klopp’s chosen man ahead of failed experiment, Simon Mignolet, has also seen calls for a new goalkeeper.

But while the shot-stopping department is a legitimate concern, Karius is working towards providing a long-term solution making patience crucial as he adapts.

A new ‘keeper isn’t a priority but a centre-back and attacker is.

Finding adequate options could prove crucial to the success of the campaign.

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January Window of Opportunity

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp looks dejected during the FA Premier League match against AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sitting third in the table, four points off top spot, optimism should not be short supply as bad as the capitulation was.

Such a defeat could prove the cliched blessing in disguise, providing clear evidence that work is required on and off the pitch as January approaches.

Indeed, the manner of defeat provided a warning that current promise could count for nothing if the squad isn’t adequately supplemented next month. There’ll also be more of a reaction to a defeat, than if it had ended in a 3-3 draw.

Failure to utilise the January window has proved costly to title dreams before – most obviously in 2008/09 when a match-winning forward to turn costly draws into crucial wins never arrived.

Entrenched in the title race again, Liverpool have a huge opening in front of them this season – and Klopp should heed warning of previous missed January opportunity to avoid a heart-breaking repeat.

A window as productive as one of Liverpool’s best ever which brought Coutinho and Sturridge to Anfield four years ago would be most welcome. This shows value can be found, and similar signings who can impact on arrival and fit with the long-term profile would be ideal.

Liverpool’s title dreams potentially hinge on the utilisation of January’s window, with additions key to addressing squad shortcomings and keeping the title charge alive.

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Jamie Carragher frustrated by Liverpool not shutting up shop against Bournemouth

3 часа 34 мин. назад

“Don’t forget Arsenal earlier this season, Norwich last season, the panic sets in.

“This has been a common theme for the last two to three years. You have to look at the personnel and also the two managers.

“There’s 15 minutes to go but they don’t change or make a defensive substitution. Just alter the way you play.”

Carragher also spoke about Loris Karius, who was arguably at fault for two of Bournemouth’s goals at the weekend.

The 38-year-old swatted away claims that the Reds are poor defensively, and expressed concern at Karius’ lack of influence between the sticks.

“Liverpool have not got a poor defence, and they are not poor defensively,” he added.

“If you’ve got a poor defence, your goalkeeper gets worked a lot.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Loris Karius fails to stop AFC Bournemouth's Nathan Ake score a late fourth goal to win the match 4-3 during the FA Premier League match at Dean Court. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“The fact Karius has not made many saves tells me Liverpool have not got a poor defence because the ‘keeper has not had to face anything, he has not had to do anything.

“The reason why we were critical of Karius after the Bournemouth game is because you cannot expect your defence to press constantly for 90 minutes, there will be games where people make mistakes.

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“There have been two games where he has had questions asked of him; Swansea, where he struggled and was lucky, and Bournemouth, where he did not have the luck, the ball bounced out and he conceded.

“That is why we are critical because he was asked questions and he failed to answer them.

“Having said that, it’s still early days for his Liverpool career, we are not saying he’s finished by any stretch of the imagination. However, over the next 12 to 18 months he has got to improve.”

As ever, Carragher is spot on about the issues troubling Klopp’s side, and they must be eradicated if they are to have genuine title aspirations this season.

The hope is that this latest brain-freeze becomes an anomaly, but it has caused understandable concern among the fanbase.

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Roberto Firmino contract includes big-money release clause, but Arsenal can’t activate it – report

8 часов 5 мин. назад
on 06.12.2016

Roberto Firmino‘s Liverpool contract includes an £83 million release clause, but Arsenal are unable to activate it.

Firmino signed for the Reds in 2015, joining in a £29 million deal with Bundesliga side 1899 Hoffenheim.

After a slow start to life on Merseyside, the Brazilian has established himself as one of Liverpool’s most important players, and particularly one of Jurgen Klopp‘s key men.

Moulded from his natural role as an attacking midfielder into a more straightforward duty up front, Firmino has become integral to the success of Klopp’s forward line.

This was clearly something the club envisaged when they brokered the deal to bring Firmino to Anfield.

According to investigative outlet Football Leaks, in conjunction with Belgian publication Le Soir, the details of Firmino’s contract have been revealed.

This includes a sensational £83 million release clause, with the No. 11 able to talk to clubs who bid that value for his services.

But, as the report continues, this would not be the case if Premier League rivals Arsenal made an approach.

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“Arsenal can not buy him for [£83 million]. Nor for any higher amount, moreover,” the report claims.

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This could be a form of retribution following the Gunners’ derisery £40 million and £1 for Luis Suarez back in 2013, which led to Reds owners John W. Henry to question their approach.

Whether this irked the American enough to veto any further business with the north London side remains to be seen, but Liverpool are clearly going to considerable measures to hold onto their best talent.

Firmino, at 25, still has his best years ahead of him at Liverpool, and he looks primed to stay long into the future.

However, the veracity of these claims is still questionable, particularly given contrasting takes on a reported £25 million release clause in Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld’s contract.

Spurs have vehemently denied that the Belgian would be able to leave for such a relatively low fee, with speculation over his availability no doubt sparking interest from around Europe.

Though he is a crucial member of Klopp’s first-team squad, Firmino is not yet at the level of warranting an £83 million transfer.

Much like with Suarez and Barcelona, if and when he is, fortunately this would likely come abroad.

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Jurgen Klopp will be “astute” in his handling of Liverpool star Ben Woodburn – Fowler

15 часов 28 мин. назад

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“Jurgen is very astute when it comes to handling young players and doing what’s right for them.

“There were loads who helped me at that time. Graeme Souness was the manager, but one of the biggest influences was Ronnie Moran, he was brilliant with me.

“He’d been at Liverpool for almost 50 years and had worked with some unbelievable players and I never once saw him get excited about any player.

“After the Fulham game when I scored five the first thing he said to me was, ‘You should have had six’.

“As much as he knew you were a good player and wanted you to do well, he never showed that.

“He wanted what was best for the club and no individual was ever allowed to be more important than that.”

 Liverpool's Ben Woodburn scores the second goal against Leeds United, to become the club's youngest ever goal-scorer, during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fowler believes Woodburn has a different task to the one he faced because the youngster has arrived on the scene so quickly.

Woodburn played in a couple of pre-season friendlies, but had to wait until late last month to make his senior debut with an injury-time appearance against Sunderland.

Just three days later came his record-breaking goal. Fowler had to deal with huge expectations, made greater by the fact he was a Scouser, but tried not to let it affect him.

“Obviously my life did change, but I could never really pinpoint when it did because I was as normal as the next lad,” he added.

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“Maybe that’s why I had a rapport with the Liverpool fans, because they saw a bit of themselves in me and that helped them take to me.

“But the change was more gradual because you were never really allowed to be big-headed at Liverpool, so I never really had a day when I went to bed one night and woke up the following morning a different person.”

 Liverpool's goal-scorer Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold after the 2-0 victory over Leeds United during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ian Rush, Liverpool’s leading goalscorer of all time, knew about Woodburn’s talent long before the wider public and believes Klopp is handling him well.

“I had him with Wales, being elite performance director of the Welsh FA Trust, when he was 14 and he had great potential, but to be the youngest ever goalscorer for Liverpool is absolutely amazing,” he said.

“I think he will knuckle down and get on with it, but you don’t throw him in straightaway. There is a time and a place for everything.

“He played in pre-season and scored a couple of goals, he didn’t go on the pre-season tour and now he has gradually come back and scored a goal. He is going the right way.”

Fowler, who will captain Liverpool’s Legends side, is hoping to call in a favour and persuade the recently-retired former club captain Steven Gerrard to turn out against Real.

“I’m sure if commitments allow Steven he will play. I’m sure if he can Steven would love to play,” he said.

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Liverpool show old habits die hard – but they are being eradicated

пн, 12/05/2016 - 23:00

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It is very easy to simply focus on one terrible second half and treat the entire campaign as a disaster, but it has been excellent.

The football Liverpool have played has been the best in the country at times, and they are undefeated in games against Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Man United.

In the summer, a sizeable chunk of the Reds fanbase expected them to finish outside the top four—our writers were generally of that opinion too, as you can see here—so being firmly in the title race in December should be celebrated.

This isn’t sweeping a terrible defeat under the carpet and telling supporters to get a grip of themselves—it’s calling for a more level-headed approach.

Just two defeats in 14 league games, in what has been a more difficult start than most teams, is a far cry from what we witnessed last season, both in terms of results and performances.

Having gone back over those inconsistent afternoons of 2015/16, there are at least 12 games in which Liverpool either underperformed, fell to pieces or simply didn’t get the desired three points.

It all started under Brendan Rodgers, when West Ham won 3-0 at Anfield in August. As performances go, that was one of the poorest in recent memory.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers before the Premier League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers’ Reds were similarly pathetic away to United the following month, when Martin Tyler decided to treat Anthony Martial’s goal like Diego Maradona’s against England.

Norwich came to Anfield and nicked a late point, and by the time Crystal Palace went one better and won 2-1 on Merseyside, Klopp was manager.

The trio of away defeats to Newcastle, Watford and West Ham were all unacceptable, and perhaps ended up defining Liverpool’s league campaign.

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A lack of personality and fight was evident on cold afternoons at tricky grounds, and it was proof that Klopp needed time to work his magic.

Sunderland and Newcastle both somehow earned 2-2 draws at Anfield, despite the Reds leading 2-0 in both matches and both North East rivals being in the relegation fight.

The 3-2 defeat away to Southampton was a south-coast nightmare that had drew spooky comparisons with Sunday’s capitulation at Bournemouth.

After 45 minutes, Liverpool were 2-0 up and had been superb, only for Klopp’s men to inexplicably lose their heads and succumb to a 3-2 loss.

 Liverpool's Emre Can looks dejected as his side concede a third goal to Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Although a weakened starting lineup was fielded at Swansea City in May, due to Europa League commitments—the final against Sevilla was another shocker—that cannot be used as an excuse for the insipid 3-1 loss.

So there you have it. Almost a third of Liverpool’s league games were below-par last season, and you could probably pick more out, if you were being ultra-critical.

This season doesn’t look too shabby now, does it?

Defeats like Burnley and Bournemouth are becoming more and more of an anomaly, and unlike many of those games last year, the Reds weren’t remotely outplayed in either of them.

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In fact, they bossed both the Clarets and the Cherries, but woeful defending cost them.

 Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the first goal againstSunderland during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The improvement this season has been enormous, and the speed at which they have found another level is quicker than many expected.

Rare losses always hurt more, simply because winning has become the norm, but once the dust settles, Sunday’s game should be treated as ‘one of those’.

Klopp and his players should be ashamed of what happened to them late on, but in a division as competitive and unpredictable as the Premier League, every team suffers days to forget.

Liverpool’s rivals already have this season, and they will experience more between now and May.

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The Lucas Effect?

 Liverpool's captain Lucas Leiva in action against Leeds United during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Something that has caught our attention is Lucas Leiva‘s involvement in these on-pitch meltdowns.

Liverpool’s longest-serving player started eight of those 12 games mentioned in 2015/16, coming on as a substitute in three of the others.

His personality and loyalty make him easy to warm to, but it is perhaps masking the fact that he is a weak link.

With Joel Matip missing against Bournemouth, Lucas slotted in alongside Dejan Lovren, and two experienced heads fell apart when the going got tough.

Lucas can look assured when Liverpool are controlling a game, but as soon as that changes, he is not the calming influence some believe he is.

Let’s not forget his dreadful error against Leicester City in September, either.

Opinion is split over whether Klopp turning Lucas into a centre-back has been a success, but it does seem odd that he is now third choice, ahead of Ragnar Klavan.

The 29-year-old has been involved in too many of these horrific Liverpool results for it to keep being a coincidence.

Onwards & Upwards

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp appears dejected after the final whistle during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. December 4 2016 (Picture by Adam Davy PA Wire/PA Images)

When Klopp and his team were turned over 2-0 at Turf Moor in August, the reaction was hysterical and needless.

What followed next was 15 games without a defeat, some huge results against title rivals and some of the best attacking play we’ve seen since the 1980s.

Given the potential of this Liverpool side, there is no reason why they can’t go on a similar run of form after Bournemouth, starting at home to West Ham next Sunday.

The Reds may very well not win the league this season, but since when was that unacceptable?

This is a team still improving, and if Klopp can make this big an impact in just over a year, imagine what we could be witnessing in another 12 months or so.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match against AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We are all so desperate for a Premier League title that any defeat feels like the end of the world—we have not been used to matches being this important in December over the last 20 years, which adds to the hysteria—but calm heads are needed.

Whether or not Jordan Henderson is holding the trophy aloft in May remains to be seen, but either way, Liverpool are only going in one direction.

Every Reds fan is entitled to feel dreadful after the Bournemouth defeat, and feel livid with the players, but it will be seen as a rare off-day come the end of the season.

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Liverpool drawn at home to Newport County or Plymouth in the FA Cup 3rd Round

пн, 12/05/2016 - 22:20
on 05.12.2016

Liverpool have been drawn at home to either Newport County or Plymouth Argyle in the third round of the FA Cup, to be played in January.

The Reds will begin their FA Cup campaign on the turn of the year, with Monday night’s draw lining up a third-round clash with one of Newport or Argyle at Anfield.

The tie is to be held on the weekend of January 6-9, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side looking to improve on last season’ run to the fourth round, where they lost to West Ham United after a replay.

Newport are currently bottom of League Two, having taken just 17 points from their first 18 games, while Argyle are third, with 38 points from 19 outings.

The two sides drew their initial second-round clash 0-0 on December 3, and will contest a replay at Newport’s Rodney Parade on December 13, with the victor advancing to the third round to take on Klopp’s title challengers.

Liverpool have never played Newport in their history, while the last of their 10 clashes with Argyle came in 1962, when Roger Hunt sealed a 3-2 victory for Bill Shankly’s side at Home Park.

If Newport make it to Anfield, the fixture will be of particular interest to John Aldridge, who represented both the Ironsides and Liverpool in his playing career.

The draw represents an simple one for the Reds on paper, potentially allowing Klopp to rest key players ahead of the first leg of their League Cup semi-final clash with Southampton at St Mary’s on January 11.

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Naturally, however, whichever of Newport and Argyle makes it to the third round will be motivated by the history of giant-killings in the FA Cup.

FA CUP THIRD ROUND DRAW

Ipswich vs. Lincoln City/Oldham
Barrow vs. Rochdale
Manchester United vs. Reading
Hull City vs. Swansea
Sunderland vs. Burnley
QPR vs. Blackburn
Millwall vs. Bournemouth
West Ham vs. Manchester City
Brighton vs. MK Dons/Charlton
Blackpool vs. Barnsley
Wigan vs. Nottingham Forest
Birmingham vs. Newcastle
Chelsea vs. Notts County/Peterborough
Middlesbrough vs. Sheffield Wednesday
West Brom vs. Derby
Everton vs. Leicester City
LIVERPOOL vs. Newport/Plymouth
Wycombe vs. Stourbridge/Northampton
Watford vs. Burton Albion
Preston vs. Arsenal
Cardiff vs. Fulham
Stoke vs. Wolves
Cambridge vs. Leeds
Bristol City vs. Shrewsbury/Fleetwood
Huddersfield vs. Port Vale
Tottenham vs. Aston Villa
Brentford vs. Halifax/Eastleigh
Bolton vs. Crystal Palace
Norwich City vs. Southampton
Sutton United vs. AFC Wimbledon
Accrington Stanley vs. Luton Town
Rotherham vs. Oxford United/Macclesfield

Ties to be played on the weekend of January 6-9.

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Bournemouth goalscorer reveals they planned to target ‘weak link’ Loris Karius

пн, 12/05/2016 - 19:38
on 05.12.2016

Bournemouth centre-back Steve Cook admitted his side targeted Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius in their 4-3 win at Dean Court on Sunday.

The Cherries pulled off a remarkable comeback, twice coming back from two goals down, to secure their first ever victory over Liverpool.

Cook was among the goalscorers, with Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Nathan Ake all netting to cancel out strikes from Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Emre Can.

Ake’s last-minute winner came following an error from Karius, who came under considerable scrutiny after the game, with Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher saying “he’s yet to convince me in any game.”

The German has struggled in his first months in the No. 1 shirt, and despite some improved displays of late, he was the target for Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.

“We felt he was under a lot of pressure, obviously playing for Liverpool you’ve got to be a very strong character,” Cook revealed after the game.

“We did target him, we tried to pressure him and get as many shots at him possible.

“Obviously we didn’t get that many shots off in the game, but we did target him as a weakness in the Liverpool side.”

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AFC Bournemouth's Steve Cook (second left) celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. 2016. (Picture by Adam Davy PA Wire/PA Images)

Bournemouth fired 10 shots at Karius in 25 minutes in the second half, with the 23-year-old succumbing to the pressure, with his defence wilting in front of him.

Howe will likely have taken inspiration from Karius’ shaky performances against other smaller sides, with Swansea City among those to exploit his weaknesses in the air on joining the Reds.

However, speaking after the game, Klopp responded to Carragher’s criticism, insisting he still had faith in his £4.7 million signing.

“I’m sure somebody has criticised Jamie Carragher in his career,” he said.

“The last goal was not a lucky situation for a goalkeeper.

“Loris would have made a really decent save, this says nothing about him.”

Largely, Karius has looked to have gained in confidence of late, with his contribution to Liverpool’s all-round play proving invaluable.

However, there remain areas of his game that are still lacking, and as Cook attests, he will be a target for sides as the Reds continue their title challenge under Klopp in 2016/17.

But given Klopp’s backing, Karius can only continue to grow, as a goalkeeper with real potential.

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Counters, psychology & the back 3 – What can Liverpool learn from Man City 1-3 Chelsea?

пн, 12/05/2016 - 19:00

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City’s defence were shambolic, but were made to look so by a Chelsea side who were ruthless on the break.

When defending in their own half Antonio Conte’s side bring nine men back to help out, forming something of a 5-4-1 formation which leaves Costa up front on his own.

Pedro and Hazard are two of the players who retreat into this defensive set-up, but the pair of wide men also have an eye on Costa.

They look to their centre-forward to see if he’s dragged the defenders around, and where he’s positioned if they need to use him as a springboard.

They sense lost balls, and when they receive it following a turnover in possession they pounce—City’s wide defenders, Nicolas Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov, couldn’t cope.

Otamendi was brushed aside by Costa for the first goal following a Cesc Fabregas ball over the top, Kolarov was outpaced by Willian for the second and, finally, both were spectators as they watched Hazard latch on to Marcos Alonso’s lofted pass.

Following Liverpool’s inability to handle Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser et al at Bournemouth on Sunday, they need to be more disciplined in defensive midfield areas and more savvy in defence if they’re to mount a serious title challenge.

If the defenders pull wide in attack, Jordan Henderson needs to plug the middle and another midfielder needs to have an eye on stopping the counter too.

Keep Your Head When All About You Are Losing Theirs

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson is shown a yellow card by referee Neil Swarbrick during the FA Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lesson: Don’t lose your head

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City went from passive to petulant over the course of one long, 90-minute wind-up by Chelsea.

David Luiz chipped away at Sergio Aguero, and an early clash between the two led to calls for the Brazilian to be sent off, but it was simply a coming together.

Worse than this, though, was Cahill’s foul on Aguero, which went unpunished and may have been in the striker’s head when he mockingly congratulated the Chelsea centre-back on his own goal.

Chelsea were in Aguero’s head, and they had the last laugh when the Argentina striker rounded off a poor performance with a reckless lunge on Luiz, for which he was sent off in the final minute of the game.

In the melee which ensued, Fernandinho tried to move Fabregas away from the crowd. The Spaniard is always involved if there is any narky behaviour, and he added to it by slapping Fernandinho in the face.

The Brazilian responded by putting his hand to Fabregas’ throat before the Chelsea midfielder decided to take a dive over some advertising hoardings to get his opponent sent off.

Liverpool have one of the best disciplinary records in the league with just 22 yellow cards and no reds, but their game against Chelsea at the end of January could be a test of this.

The London side aren’t as intentionally irritating as some of their previous incarnations but they still have personalities capable of winding people up—particularly Costa, who has no qualms about taking it to the next level.

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Hold The Back Line

 Manchester City's Manager Pep Guardiola gives instructions to Aleksandar Kolarov and John Stones during the FA Premier League match against Chelsea at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Gavin Trafford/Propaganda)

Lesson for centre-backs: Watch Cahill and Stones and do the opposite

John Stones was signed by the Manchester club because of his ability on the ball, and while he’s had a better start at City than he had an end at Everton he still lacks some of the basic tools required for the position.

Early in the first half of this game Stones wrested the ball excellently from Costa, but then proceeded to dally in possession and Costa was able to win it back.

Stones appears calm, but at times he’s just plain reckless and can take an age to make a decision. He’s at his best when making quick passes to midfield players or forwards, but he was unable to do so in this game because of his own hesitation, and a lack of options ahead of him.

Despite Chelsea’s excellent defensive record since switching to a back three (three goals conceded in eight games), they also showed some defensive weaknesses in the game at the Etihad.

Cahill has been found out in a more exposed wide centre-back position on the left, while Luiz can still be pulled out of position by a striker who drops deep.

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All of this plays into Liverpool’s hands. When they play City then can press their centre-backs high up the pitch as they attempt to play out from the back, while against Chelsea, Roberto Firmino can draw Luiz out of the back line and Sadio Mane can use his pace against Cahill.

In Joel Matip, Liverpool have a centre-back who takes the good points from both Cahill and Stones.

While at Schalke, the Cameroonian defender looked to have a few errors in his game, but since he’s been working under Klopp these appear to have been ironed out.

He’s now exactly what is required from a centre-back in the modern game: tall, calm, quick enough, able to pass, positionally sound, and able to boot the ball clear when required.

Bits And Pieces

 Liverpool's substitute Daniel Sturridge warms-up during the FA Premier League match against Southampton at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goalkeepers

Liverpool aren’t the only team with goalkeeping worries. If a good goalkeeper is needed to win the title, then Sunderland should win it…

City’s Claudio Bravo is regularly criticised for making mistakes, and even Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea came under fire earlier in the season before his side made their switch to a back three.

Strikers

Neither City or Chelsea currently have the striking depth Liverpool have, and that’s thanks to Daniel Sturridge.

Divock Origi has proved to be a very useful forward, but when Sturridge is fit you’d expect him to challenge for a place up front.

These two rivals are each relying on star strikers in Costa and Aguero, and only have one other option if these players are out of the side; Liverpool have two.

Although if Gabriel Jesus hits the ground running for City then he could be the difference in this department.

Back-Three Weaknesses

Conte is one of the finest exponents of a back three in the game, but every formation has its flaws.

Liverpool fans know this all too well having seen the system under Brendan Rodgers in seasons gone by, and the longer Chelsea use it, the more sides will be able to break it down.

By the time the teams meet on January 31, Klopp and his squad will have had plenty of time to do their homework, and other teams will be doing the same.

They might also be hoping that Guardiola plays a back three in the game at Anfield on New Year’s Eve.

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Liverpool embark on two-day training camp in Spain after Bournemouth setback

пн, 12/05/2016 - 16:16
on 05.12.2016

Jurgen Klopp has flown his Liverpool squad to Catalonia for a mid-season training camp, directly after their 4-3 loss to Bournemouth.

The Reds fell to a humiliating defeat at Dean Court on Sunday afternoon, letting a two-goal lead slip twice, with goals from Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Emre Can proving not enough.

This served as a disappointing setback in Liverpool’s title-challenging campaign, ending a run of 15 games without defeat in all competitions.

With their next outing coming at home to West Ham United on December 11, Klopp took the opportunity to organise some warm-weather training in Spain, according to the Mail with the squad flying on Monday.

Mane, Origi, Can, Simon Mignolet, Lucas Leiva, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan, Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino were among those to travel.

Joel Matip also joined the squad, after a minor ankle injury kept him out of the defeat to the Cherries.

They are set to spend two days in Catalonia, before returning to Melwood to continue preparations for the clash with Slaven Bilic’s out-of-form Irons.

Liverpool mid-season training, Tenerife

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Last season, Klopp took a makeshift group to Tenerife for a similar spell during the March international break, giving him an opportunity to assess his squad players and young stars.

Ovie Ejaria was among those to take part, and clearly impressed the German with his contribution.

This time, however, Liverpool’s focus will be on rewriting their form after a frustrating defeat, with the trip likely designed to restore morale as much as the quality of their performances.

Without a winter break in the Premier League, unlike in the Bundesliga, Klopp is clearly looking to make the most of rare spells without a game, and will be hoping this is a fruitful process.

Liverpool play another five games before the end of the year, with Middlesbrough, Everton, Stoke City, Man City their next opponents after West Ham.

They are currently third in the table, level on points with fourth-placed City and now four behind league leaders Chelsea, having taken 30 points from their first 14 games.

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Flanagan features, Kent impresses & Markovic returns – Liverpool FC Loan Watch

пн, 12/05/2016 - 15:43

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The young winger started on the left wing, and opened his afternoon by picking up an early booking after three minutes for diving—going to ground too easily in search of a penalty as he burst into the box.

Kent then almost opened the scoring, seeing a fine low strike on his left foot brilliantly tipped around the post, and with his side ahead, he came within a whisker of adding a second—this time cutting inside on his left and curling just over the bar.

That proved the 20-year-old’s last contribution as he was withdrawn five minutes before time with Barnsley 2-0 up.

Also in the second tier, Danny Ward continued as Huddersfield’s No. 1 with two outings but was left frustrated as his side took only one point from six.

 Wales Danny Ward in action against Northern Ireland during an International Friendly match at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by Ian Cook/Propaganda)

The ‘keeper suffered defeat on Monday night as he was unable to prevent a 2-1 loss against Wigan Athletic, but Ward’s overall performance was good despite defeat.

In a game Huddersfield controlled, Ward made some good saves when called upon, but though well beaten for the first, he may feel he could have done better with the second—rushing out without fully committing to a one-on-one, allowing Yanic Wildschut to round him and finish easily.

In his second game, Ward helped Huddersfield to a point against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, producing a solid display in a 1-1 draw.

Ward’s side dominated vast chunks of the contest, meaning he invariably had very little to do at Ewood Park, but despite hardly being called into action he couldn’t keep out Rovers’ equalising effort, which came from the penalty spot.

It was a slightly more positive week for Liverpool’s European loanees, with all but one of the Reds stationed on the continent playing for their current clubs.

After a spell of being uninvolved, Lazar Markovic made a welcome return to action, featuring twice for Sporting CP.

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In the first of those, the Serbian completed a full 90 minutes for the first time this season in Sporting’s 1-0 Taca Da Liga victory over Arouca on Wednesday.

Deployed in an advanced wide-right role, Markovic turned in a composed but quiet overall display—though he did create a clear-cut chance for his side to kill the game late on which went to waste following a poor finish from his impressive driving run and pass.

The 22-year-old dropped back to the bench for Saturday’s league clash against Setbul, and had to make do with a less-than-brief substitute appearance, entering for the final five minutes of a routine 2-0 win.

Taiwo Awoniyi was restricted to a cameo appearance this weekend, featuring as a late substitute for NEC Nijmegen in their 2-0 loss against Heracles on Friday.

With NEC trailing 1-0, Awoniyi was thrown on for the final 10 minutes as his side searched for an equaliser, but the Nigerian was unable to provide the inspiration as the home side scored a second to wrap up the game three minutes after he came on.

 Liverpool's Allan Rodrigues de Sousa during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match against FC Sion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In Germany, Allan Rodrigues was similarly restricted to a substitute appearance in Hertha Berlin’s 3-2 Bundesliga win at Wolfsburg.

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The talented 20-year-old entered for the final 10 minutes of an entertaining fixture with the score balanced at 2-2, and he was tidy in his work but had little time to fully impose himself on proceedings.

After enjoying two starts in a row, Andre Wisdom was disappointingly uninvolved in both of Red Bull Salzburg’s victories over Austria Vienna and Rheindorf Altach despite being fit.

Wisdom was left out of the squad entirely for the first game and an unused substitute in the second.

Only one of the young Reds in the lower leagues played this week, with Ryan Fulton featuring in FA Cup duties for Chesterfield.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Ryan Fulton warms-up before the FA Youth Cup 5th Round match against Leeds United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The youngster had an afternoon to forget as the Spireites’ poor season went from bad to worse as they crashed out of the famous cup to League Two side Wycombe Wanderers, suffering a humiliating 5-0 defeat.

Fulton can by no means be blamed for the result, beaten by some clinical finishes while also having precious little help from his defence, but it was his error that caused the fourth goal—the Reds’ keeper spilling a corner inside the box which was punished.

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Such struggles in a difficult atmosphere are providing a tough loan spell for Fulton and you have to wonder how this is affecting his confidence, and whether the move is providing the benefits it should.

There was no action for Lloyd Jones this week due to Swindon Town already being knocked out of the FA Cup, while Sam Hart was also out of action, the left-back missing Port Vale’s cup win over Hartlepool United through suspension.

Liverpool’s Loanees This Week
  • Lazar Markovic – Sporting – Played 90mins vs. Arouca & 5mins vs. Setbul
  • Jon Flanagan – Burnley – Played 81 mins vs. Stoke
  • Andre Wisdom – Red Bull Salzburg – Left out of matchday squad vs. Austria Vienna & unused sub vs. Rheindorf Altach
  • Danny Ward – Huddersfield – Played 90 mins vs. Wigan & Blackburn
  • Ryan Kent – Barnsley – Played 85 mins vs. Birmingham
  • Ryan Fulton – Chesterfield – Played 90 mins vs. Wycombe
  • Lloyd Jones – Swindon – N/A
  • Sam Hart – Port Vale – Suspended
  • Taiwo Awoniyi – NEC Nijmegen – Played 10 mins vs. Heracles
  • Allan Rodrigues – Hertha Berlin – Played 10 mins vs. Wolfsburg

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Liverpool to host Real Madrid in March – will Steven Gerrard make his Anfield return?

пн, 12/05/2016 - 14:00
on 05.12.2016

Liverpool will host Real Madrid in a legends match at Anfield in March – a game that could see recently retired Steven Gerrard back in red.

A LFC legends team will host Real Madrid legends on March 25th, 2017 – the return match from when the sides played at the Bernabeu in June 2015.

That match saw the likes of Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Steve McManaman, Luis Garcia, Jamie Carragher and Patrik Berger line up for Liverpool.

But the last time Liverpool legends played a charity match was down under in Sydney in January – a game Gerrard played in during the off-season from MLS, so despite him not being named on the official press release on Monday, fans will be hoping he’ll be added to the Reds’ squad.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard in action against Crystal Palace during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The match at the Bernabeu saw Zinedine Zidane line up for the Spanish giants but he’s unlikely to take to the Anfield pitch now he’s in charge of Los Merengues, although the game is during an international break. Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos will be among the the stars in action for Los Blancos though.

The match will raise funds for the Liverpool FC Foundation, the club’s official charity.

Liverpool FC Ambassador, Robbie Fowler, will captain the Reds side with the hope of claiming victory in front of the Kop. LFC’s top goal scorer, Ian Rush, will also act as player manager for the team.

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Some of the star former players confirmed to play in the Legends team include; Ian Rush, Gary McAllister, Luis Garcia, Jamie Carragher, Patrik Berger, Salif Diao, Jerzy Dudek, Stephane Henchoz, Jason McAteer, Vladimir Smicer, David Thompson, Bjorn Tore Kvarme, Sander Westerveld, Didi Hamann, John Aldridge, John Arne Riise , Phil Babb, Daniel Agger and Michael Owen.

Real Madrid’s team will also feature a top line up of footballing stars including, Roberto Carlos da Silva, Emilio Butragueño, Luis Figo and Steven McManaman.

All proceeds from the match will go to the LFC Foundation – the Club’s official charity. The aim of the LFC Foundation is to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people. Funds raised will support the charity’s programmes and partnerships, which aim to improve the health and life chances of children and young people in Merseyside and beyond.

 Liverpool's Jamie Carragher in action against Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane during the Corazon Classic Legends Friendly match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fowler said: “We’re really looking forward to playing Real Madrid next spring. We hope to put on a really good show for our fans in the first legends game held at Anfield, whilst raising funds for the Liverpool FC Foundation.”

Andrea Cooper, Head of the Liverpool FC Foundation said: “We are delighted to host our friends from Real Madrid in the return leg of the charity game held last summer. With our fans’ help we can make a really positive difference to thousands of children and young people who need it most.”

Tickets for the game are priced at £20 for Adults and £5 for Juniors. Tickets will go on sale to Season Ticket Holders and LFC Members from 11am on Tuesday 6th December. Tickets will be on general sale (including LFC fan card holders) from 11am on Friday 9th December.

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Video: Will Philippe Coutinho’s injury cost Liverpool in the Premier League title race?

пн, 12/05/2016 - 13:59

With Philippe Coutinho sidelined with an ankle injury until 2017, Liverpool’s Premier League title chances could have taken a major blow.

[embedded content]

  • Win a free £10 Betway bet! It couldn’t be easier — just post your comment on Liverpool’s title chances on this Facebook video. Click here.

The Brazilian does not require surgery on his ankle, but is still set to miss the rest of 2016 following a strong challenge from Sunderland’s Didier Ndong.

Coutinho has scored five goals and five assists in 13 league games so far this season, and his influence of Jurgen Klopp‘s side is clear.

But will his absence mean Liverpool drop out of the title race on the turn of the year?

Betway Insider‘s Tom Clee and Adam Drury argued for and against this theory with the chance of winning a free £10 bet on offer for those joining in on Facebook.

Firstly, Drury suggested that losing Coutinho, and Sadio Mane‘s departure to the Africa Cup of Nations in January, will see the Reds’ title chances diminish.

Drury argued that with Coutinho, Mane, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana not set to play together as a quartet again until February, and Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi not at their level, Klopp’s side will suffer.

However, Clee proffered that, with goals and assists coming from a variety of positions this season, Liverpool won’t miss Coutinho as much as expected.

This is a more sensible line of argument, with Liverpool primed to navigate Coutinho’s absence comfortably.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the second goal against West Bromwich Albion during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 24-year-old is certainly a key player within Klopp’s Reds squad, with his blend of creativity and industry allowing him to thrive in his free role drifting inside from the left wing.

Furthermore, his output in terms of goals and assists is invaluable, with Coutinho finding more consistency in front of goal, and he has scored the joint-most winning goals for Liverpool in the league (two), level with Mane and James Milner.

But despite Klopp losing both Coutinho and Mane at crucial stages in the season, the German now has adequate cover to ensure their absence isn’t felt too heavily.

Origi replaced Coutinho in November’s 2-0 win over Sunderland, scoring the opener, while Sturridge is a proven top-level striker, despite his own fitness concerns this winter.

Both Ben Woodburn and Sheyi Ojo will be available to provide youthful vitality in the attacking third if required, with the latter playing 65 minutes in the Liverpool U23s’ 2-1 defeat to Leicester U23s on December 3, his first outing after injury.

Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic

That Klopp is also pushing to sign Borussia Dortmund winger Christian Pulisic in January suggests he is aware of the danger of losing his key forwards, and is addressing that.

While previously Liverpool relied on one or two stars, their approach under Klopp is certainly more collegiate.

Without the likes of Coutinho and Mane, the Reds may be a lesser team, but their improving all-round game should see their Premier League title hopes preserved throughout the winter.

Can Liverpool cope without Coutinho? Let Betway Insider know your thoughts in the comments section of this Facebook video for the chance to win a free £10 bet. Click here to comment.

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Spartak Moscow “ready to sell” Liverpool target Quincy Promes after winter signing

пн, 12/05/2016 - 13:43
on 05.12.2016

Spartak Moscow are reported to be willing to sell Liverpool target Quincy Promes in January, after signing the winger’s replacement.

Promes has been mooted with a winter move to Merseyside, with Jurgen Klopp drawing up a list of targets to reinforce his attack following a number of injuries.

Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings are all currently sidelined, while Sadio Mane is due to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, leaving Liverpool short of options.

This has seen Klopp turn to youngsters Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn in recent weeks, but this could prove to be a stopgap.

Spartak have secured the signing of 32-year-old winger Aleksandr Samedov from rivals Lokomotiv Moscow, and according to reports in Russia, broadcaster Match TV claim this will see Promes leave the club:

Spartak are READY to sell Quincy Promes and that's why they've decided to sign Aleksandr Samedov from Loko. Huge news given by Match TV.

— Stefano Conforti (@confortistefano) December 4, 2016

Samedov is an experienced outlet on the right flank, and looks set to take up the role Promes has played regularly for Spartak since his move from FC Twente in 2014.

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Promes has previously been valued at £25 million, and Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are reportedly ready to sanction a big-money outlay in January.

Klopp’s priority target is said to remain Borussia Dortmund youngster Christian Pulisic, but the United States international could prove difficult to prise from the Westfalenstadion midway through the season.

A move for Promes, who has scored five goals and laid on seven assists in 13 games in this season’s Russian Premier League, would present a strong alternative.

 The Netherlands' Quincy Promes and Wales' Joe Allen and Joe Ledley during the International Friendly match at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Able to perform a variety of roles across the forward line, Promes could cover for the absences of Coutinho and Mane, joining the likes of Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi in Klopp’s attack.

Klopp was interested in signing Promes back in 2014 when he was manager at Dortmund, and is clearly an admirer of his talents.

At 24, Promes could slot into Klopp’s first-team setup immediately, but also has the scope to develop under the German in the Premier League.

All signs point to a January bid, but with Spartak challenging at the top end of the table this season, after finishing fourth, sixth, sixth and fifth in the last four seasons, whether they are definitely looking to sell their joint-top scorer is questionable.

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Mario Balotelli’s Liverpool contract included incredible £1 million behaviour clause

пн, 12/05/2016 - 13:42
on 05.12.2016

Liverpool went to extreme measures in their efforts to ensure Mario Balotelli‘s £16 million move from AC Milan in 2014 was a success.

Balotelli’s switch to Merseyside proved an ill-judged gamble by the Reds in the aftermath of Luis Suarez‘s £75 million transfer to Barcelona.

The Italian scored just four goals in 28 games for the club, before rejoining Milan on loan in 2015 and, eventually, leaving for OGC Nice on a free transfer in the summer.

But it was Balotelli’s controversial nature Liverpool were more focussed on when sanctioning his arrival.

According to the Times, this saw the inclusion of a big-money behavioural clause in his contract, which would be activated at the end of every season if he avoided three red cards.

This would see Balotelli receive a considerable payoff of £1 million, even if he was sent off twice over the course of a season for offences including violence, spitting and abusive language.

Serving to highlight the risk taken in signing Balotelli, this also underlined Liverpool’s desperate situation at the end of the summer transfer window in 2014.

Suarez’s departure saw a list of alternatives drafted, including Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Wilfried Bony, with none ending up at Anfield.

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This left Rodgers and the transfer committee to make a last-minute decision over whether to plump for Balotelli or move for a 33-year-old Samuel Eto’o.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli clashes with Everton's Tony Hibbert during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ultimately, neither were the solution for Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp‘s centre-forward ranks now considerably stronger following the return of Divock Origi from loan and the signing of Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim.

Balotelli is now scoring regularly in Ligue 1, though if he found similar form while with the Reds, he would have been in for a lucrative payday.

His contract also included a bonus of £50,000 for every goal scored in the Premier League and the Champions League after his first five strikes, which he clearly failed to achieve.

To his credit, however, he was also not sent off in his time with the club, instead receiving seven yellow cards.

Liverpool were more savvy in negotiating Balotelli’s move to Nice, agreeing a 30 percent sell-on clause with the French side.

If the striker keeps up his impressive form this season, this could see them recoup a portion of their sizeable outlay in 2014.

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“A terrible, humbling defeat that could prove costly in May” – How the media assessed Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool

пн, 12/05/2016 - 12:49

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“Liverpool supporters had hoped this kind of spineless collapse was a thing of the past, but the second-half performance absolutely reeked of complacency.

“The players took their foot off the gas and allowed Eddie Howe’s side to get back into it; once the momentum swung Bournemouth’s way, Liverpool were unable to reverse it. In the end, the Reds got exactly what they deserved.”

On a similar trail of thought, the Guardian‘s Dominic Fifield drew comparisons with that disastrous night at Selhurst Park:

“There were shades of Selhurst Park and that infamous night dubbed ‘Cry-stanbul’ in the finale to Liverpool’s title pursuit under Brendan Rodgers three seasons ago in the way this team unravelled.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp appears dejected after the final whistle during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. December 4 2016 (Picture by Adam Davy PA Wire/PA Images)

The Liverpool Echo‘s James Pearce drew parallels with the Southampton capitulation last March:

“The Reds regressed alarmingly and paid the price. This was St Mary’s back in March re-visited as they conspired to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Fifield felt the display shows why skepticism still surrounds the credibility of the Reds’ title challenge:

“It is in the aftermath of occasions as gloriously madcap as this when Liverpool’s credentials as title challengers are suddenly rendered flimsy.”

Usher also felt it was a loss that could cost Liverpool in their title chase come May:

“There’s nothing positive to take from this game. As good as the first half was, it counts for nothing in the end. This was a terrible, humbling defeat that could prove costly in May.”

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However, Pearce was among those who urged perspective when assessing the defeat, with Liverpool needing to bounce back immediately:

“Momentum had been squandered but context is important.

“One defeat doesn’t wreck everything that’s been achieved since August. The Reds need to dust themselves off and prove this was just a blip rather than something more serious.”

 Liverpool's Divock Origi looks dejected after missing a chance against AFC Bournemouth during the FA Premier League match at Dean Court. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Reporters offered their assessments over what went wrong and how it went wrong, with most attributing this to certain missing personnel rather than Liverpool’s weak mentality when dealing with pressure.

The Mirror‘s John Cross thought Klopp’s side missed Philippe Coutinho’s influence, despite scoring three goals:

“Most clubs would miss a No. 10 like Coutinho and it clearly won’t be plain sailing for Liverpool.

“It looked as if they would win at Bournemouth but Liverpool really missed Coutinho’s invention and quality.”

Slightly closer to the mark this time, Cross also feels Klopp’s squad lacks the strength in depth needed:

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“But they threw it away in the end and that must go down to not having many options from the bench to change it.

[…]

Jurgen Klopp was even reduced to putting three kids on the bench as Evie Ejaria, Ben Woodburn—who became Liverpool’s youngster scorer in midweek—and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

“They need their big guns and experience back.”

 Liverpool's Joel Matip arrives ahead of the Football League Cup 2nd Round match against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo‘s Ian Doyle was among numerous reporters who felt the defensive collapse proved how important Joel Matip has become:

“Defensively, though, Klopp’s men have already become hugely reliant on Joel Matip.

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“The Cameroonian centre-back has, in a short space of time, made himself a key figure at the heart of the backline. He brings the best out of Dejan Lovren, providing a calming influence the Croatian often needs.”

ESPN’s John Brewin thought Matip’s absence proved more significant than Coutinho’s:

“The loss of central defender Joel Matip, with a far more minor ankle problem, should be of much more concern than Coutinho’s absence as the Cameroon international has been very much the leading light of Klopp’s backline. He was missed terribly here, as Liverpool fell apart in the second half.”

Pearce feels it is telling that both defeats this season have come without Matip in the back four:

“It’s no coincidence that Matip also sat out Liverpool’s only other defeat this season—away to Burnley in August.

“The Cameroon international has been so key to tightening up the Reds’ backline. It’s not just his aerial prowess, ability to read a game and how comfortable he is with the ball at his feet, it’s the cool and calm persona which rubs off on others around him.”

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Loris Karius during the FA Premier League match against Manchester United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Certain players understandably came in for criticism in post-match reports, with Loris Karius and Dejan Lovren the names prominently mentioned following poor displays.

Usher feels Karius has serious work to do to prove he’s the right man for Liverpool’s long-term goalkeeping position:

“Made two very good saves but should have done much better on two of the Bournemouth goals, particularly the stoppage-time winner. Still has a lot of convincing to do not only to prove his long-term worth, but even to show he’s a better option than Simon Mignolet.”

Pearce feels the German stopper has yet to prove he’s a significant upgrade on Simon Mignolet:

“Karius has only played 10 games following his summer move from Mainz so it’s too early to judge him. But he has yet to prove that he’s a significant upgrade on what the Reds already had.”

Doyle feels Karius’ struggle hands Klopp a big call to make in his goalkeeping department:

“Karius has gradually improved, but this was several steps backwards, uncertain and unconvincing even when the Reds were ahead.

“He’s given Klopp a decision to make, even if the German insists otherwise.”

And Usher was critical of Lovren, with the Croatian’s error ultimately handing Bournemouth a route back into the match.

“Steady enough in the first half, nervy in the second. His mistake led to the penalty that first got Bournemouth back into the game and he never looked at ease after that, losing several duels with the Bournemouth forwards.”

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Jordan Henderson admits Liverpool weren’t at “100 per cent throughout the game” vs. Bournemouth

пн, 12/05/2016 - 11:57
on 05.12.2016

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson says the Reds’ 4-3 loss to Bournemouth on Sunday was tough to take, admitting, “there’s nothing we can say, really.”

After a brilliant 15-game unbeaten run, Liverpool came crashing back down to reality in alarming fashion at Dean Court.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side led 3-1 with 14 minutes remaining, only to self-destruct and succumb to a defeat of heartbreaking proportions.

After a superb first-half performance, the Reds completely lost their way, and the quality of defending left a lot to be desired.

Henderson couldn’t hide his disappointment after the game, on an afternoon that left many doubting Liverpool’s title credentials.

“There’s nothing we can say, really. [It’s a] very disappointing result,” Henderson told Liverpoolfc.com.

“I don’t feel like we were at 100 per cent throughout the game to be honest but we did well to get back to 3-1 in the lead.

Liverpool's Loris Karius looks on dejected after his mistake gives Bournemouth's their fourth goal during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, London. Picture date December 4th, 2016 Pic David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

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“But [we needed] to keep going and keep fighting, which in the end we didn’t do, and they applied pressure in the last 20 minutes and got the goals.

“We were comfortable at times but I still think we could have penetrated a little bit better and there was still a lot of room for improvement after the first half. Second half we wanted to come out and improve.

“Overall, it’s just very disappointing.”

Unfortunately, displays such as these have become all too regular over the years, with the Merseysiders capable of capitulating like no other team.

Without Joel Matip at the heart of the defence, Liverpool looked brittle, and too many experienced heads failed to come to the fore late on.

Perspective is needed, however, with the Reds still only having lost twice this season.

They remain right in the title mix, and given the competitive nature of the Premier League, their rivals will experience similar results at some point.

If Liverpool want to clinch a first ever Premier League crown this season, though, they cannot afford many more afternoons like Sunday.

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Defensive confusion reigns as Liverpool’s back line capitulates away to Bournemouth

пн, 12/05/2016 - 10:00

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In the absence of Joel Matip, with the summer signing picking up a minor ankle injury, Klopp turned to Lucas Leiva as Dejan Lovren‘s partner at centre-back.

This was the Brazilian’s sixth starting appearance in his new role in 2016/17, and largely this season he has looked comfortable in his new surroundings.

Adjusting following a series of debilitating injuries, Lucas has worked to negotiate his lack of pace by lending a composure and robust defensive steel to his performances in Klopp’s back line.

In the initial stages at Dean Court, he and Lovren looked to form a strong pairing, with both willing to step out of defence and combat Bournemouth’s direct approach, limiting Wilson to just 15 touches of the ball in the first half.

But after the break, an instability grew between Klopp’s centre-back duo, and this was seemingly prompted by a bemusing tactical switch from the German.

Lucas began the game on the left of the central pairing, with Lovren moving across from his regular position alongside Matip; but in the second half, their roles had switched, and they promptly found themselves on the back foot.

 AFC Bournemouth's manager Eddie Howe during the Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was magnified by the introduction of Benik Afobe on 75 minutes, as Howe changed to a 4-4-2 formation, targeting Klopp’s centre-backs one-on-one, with Afobe’s physicality proving key.

The strength and conviction of Lucas and Lovren’s first-half efforts dissolved, and Liverpool invited pressure from Bournemouth’s attackers, with Klopp’s decision to change his setup at fault.

In the first half, Liverpool conceded just one shot on goal, while in the second half they conceded 11; and on a more basic level, after the interval, they conceded four goals.

That Klopp overlooked Ragnar Klavan, a natural left-sided centre-back with 169 games of experience in the role, proved to be an oversight.

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Estonia’s four-time Footballer of the Year is certainly a more accomplished option than Lucas and, largely, he has started life at Liverpool in solid form.

However, Matip’s absence was the most detrimental, with the Reds’ defence lacking organisation without their No. 32.

Joel Matip: Liverpool’s Defensive Linchpin

 Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Leicester City during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The impact Matip has made on Liverpool’s defence since arriving on a free transfer from Schalke 04 is remarkable, with the 25-year-old establishing himself as a key figure at Anfield.

Standing at 6’5″, and pairing defensive strength with natural pace, Matip is a formidable defensive presence, while his intelligent reading of the game allows him to thwart dangerous attacking moves before they build.

A rare breed of ball-playing centre-back, too, Matip has provided Klopp’s defence with a welcome outlet in possession, as well as another body to throw forward into the final third.

That Klopp was able to sign a defender of Matip’s calibre without sanctioning a big-money deal is a testament to his nous in the transfer market.

Matip has had a significant effect on Liverpool’s defence, too, with the Cameroonian yet to suffer defeat since his arrival, absent against both Burnley and Bournemouth.

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 Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Manchester United during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Matip in defence, the Reds have conceded nine goals in 11 games in the Premier League; in just three games without him, they have also conceded nine goals.

Tuesday night’s successful shutout at home to Leeds United in the League Cup remains the only time Liverpool have kept a clean sheet without Matip this season, while he has contributed to three, at home to Man United and Sunderland, and away to Southampton.

That Liverpool suffered their defensive collapse in Dorset without Matip was no mere coincidence, but it cannot serve as an excuse, either on this occasion or in the future.

Finding Defensive Solutions

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action against Burnley during the Lancashire Senior Cup 2nd Round match at the Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Matip underwent ankle surgery in the summer, to address a long-standing problem for the Bundesliga veteran, so that his latest injury is in the same area should be a concern.

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As with any of his players, Klopp will be forced to plan without Matip at stages throughout a season, and Sunday’s defeat should be a red flag.

If Lovren and Lucas are unable to strike up a watertight partnership over a 90-minute stretch, Klopp will be required to assess his other options in the event Matip is unavailable.

Klavan, signed from Augsburg for £4.2 million, is a clear solution, though Liverpool have conceded six goals in the three games he has started in the Premier League so far.

Joe Gomez continued his recovery from an ACL injury with his third appearance for the Liverpool U23s on Saturday afternoon, but the 19-year-old remains a raw prospect in the role.

 Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho, with dyed blonde hair, in action against Leicester City during the Premier League International Cup match at St. George's Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The most capable centre-back at Klopp’s disposal would be Mamadou Sakho, but the out-of-favour Frenchman is set to leave the club in January.

On paper, he is the most similar to Matip, and his imminent departure serves as a disappointing conclusion to a spell on Merseyside that served up a host of excellent displays.

That this defeat came less than a month before the January transfer window opens is fitting, and it could be that Klopp needs to dip into the winter market for another centre-back, with Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk the prime candidate.

One thing is certain, in that Klopp will need to find a solution without Matip—as in his absence, Liverpool are evidently prone to capitulations that could undermine their title charge.

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Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool: Soiled sheets and the walk of shame

вс, 12/04/2016 - 21:30

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They eventually succumbed on twenty minutes, when Can’s great cross found Mane through on goal. He shrugged off the defender, Nathan Ake and slipped it past the on rushing Artur Boruc. It was no more than Liverpool deserved and you could only see all three points returning to Anfield at this point.

As if to rub Bournemouth’s noses in it the Reds went two up just a couple of minutes later. The Reds won the ball in the middle of the park and Henderson’s pass was inch perfect. Artur Boruc again gambled and lost, as Origi’s pace left him red-faced. Divock clipped the ball around him, but seemed to take himself too wide to capitalise.

Divock Origi scores from an impossible angle against Bournemouth - 4 December 2016 (PA Images)

Defenders were rushing back and the angle looked way too acute, but the lad shrugged off his earlier miss and slammed the ball into the net. This was all too easy and I’m already writing a eulogy in my head, about how Liverpool had once again risen to the challenge set them by their rivals. I even had a great quote by Shankly about pressure to use. I’ll have to mothball that one for later.

Liverpool had been brilliant up to this point and saw out the rest of the half, despite a let off as Firmino appeared to foul a Bournemouth player in the box. This was a warning sign. Liverpool could and should have put the game beyond Bournemouth.

Instead, as they walked off the pitch two goals to the good and with nearly all the possession, you couldn’t help but agree with Alan Smith in commentary. 2-0 is a dangerous scoreline.

So it proved to be. Eddie Howe’s men were always going to improve. They were after all the home side and their support was never going to let them roll over. They’d also given Arsenal a game last week, so the Liverpool should have been switched on to the dangers.

The Cherries’ manager made a change, bringing on former Red Jordan Ibe and I must admit to feeling a pang of nerves. Ibe had huge potential at Liverpool and, while I can understand us cashing in, I have always felt that decision will come back to bite us one day. As it happened it wasn’t the former Red that did the damage, it was Howe’s other substitution, Ryan Fraser.

He was only on the pitch two minutes and he won a penalty. Having been solid for the last three games, Liverpool’s defence just crumbled. Milner’s lunge upended Fraser and he could have no complaints as the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Callum Wilson to send Loris Karius the wrong way. 1-2, game on.

The Reds have been pegged back before this season. We have rightly praised them for not capitulating, taking this as a sign of a new found resilience. When, on 64 minutes, the Reds restored their two goal advantage it looked like normal service had resumed.

Liverpool's Adam Lallana (centre) is substituted on for Liverpool's Sadio Mane (right) by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. 2016. (Picture by Adam Davy PA Wire/PA Images)

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Sadio Mane, who simply refused to give up the fight, made his way into the home side’s penalty area. Facing a wall of defenders he passed it to Emre Can who was 20 yards from goal. He unleashed a right footed shot that sent the away support into fits of ecstasy. That should have been it.

Since they lost to Burnley in the league, Liverpool have been relentless. They haven’t always been without flaws, but they have never been outfought. Klopp has instilled a mental strength in his charges this season. It has helped them, on occasion, get through games where they were perhaps a little sub-par. Today it deserted them at a time when they were in complete control.

Pundits have latched onto Liverpool’s “defensive woes” almost from day one this season. It’s become a cliche and an easy go to line for many. In reality, if you take out the five conceded in the first two games against Arsenal and Burnley, the Reds were averaging less than a goal a game prior to today.

However, they were easy prey to a Bournemouth side who refused to lie down. Liverpool almost added a fourth when a Milner corner looked to have been carried over the line by Boruc. The computer said no!

The the Reds defence seemed to go missing for the rest of the game. The injury to Matip appears to be a costly one and underlines his importance to the side. We can only hope it’s not serious. In the 74th minute Bournemouth once more halved the deficit and it was the substitute Fraser again, finishing brilliantly from the edge of the box on 76 minutes. Karius should have done better though.

With fifteen minutes to go, the game could have gone either way. Liverpool should have got hold of it as they have so many times this season and saw it out. Instead the home side seemed to smell blood and continued to press. The Reds’ back-line has been solid in recent weeks, against Bournemouth it appeared to be made of straw and a leveller seemed depressingly inevitable.

Liverpool's Loris Karius looks on dejected after his mistake gives Bournemouth's their fourth goal during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, London. Picture date December 4th, 2016 Pic David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

It took barely a minute to arrive. Liverpool failed to deal with a free kick and Wilshere, anonymous in the first half, whipped the ball into the box. Steve Cook, a centre back, controlled it with all the guile of a seasoned forward and volleyed it into the back of the net. Disaster. Liverpool almost went back in front through first Origi and then Lallana, but both squandered their chances.

Dropping two points from a winning position is always hard to bear. To drop three is unforgivable and that’s exactly what Liverpool did.

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With the game seemingly over, the fourth official somehow found five minutes of additional time. Klopp looked flummoxed, but not as perplexed as he would do three minutes later.

Cook, now re-born after his mistake against the Gunners last week, unleashed a fierce drive straight at the keeper. Karius spilled the ball and Nathan Ake couldn’t believe his luck as he tapped home the winner.

Liverpool, having made a mess of their clean sheets, were facing an almighty walk of shame back to the dressing room. The travelling Kop were looking at a miserable journey back to Liverpool and all of us face an awful wait for the next game. The Reds once again have been presented with another challenge to their title credentials.

The last time they tasted such a humiliating defeat, against Burnley, they went on a 15 game unbeaten run. That’s what genuine contenders do. All great teams suffer set-backs. The great Reds’ sides of old did and the likes of Chelsea and City have this season. What marks a team out as genuine contenders, is their ability to shrug it off and make up for any slip ups, by punishing the next side they meet.

That’s what Klopp’s Liverpool must do now. My advice to all of you is to do what I’m going to do; get drunk, forget it happened and move on to the next game. Win that, the one after, then the next one and this will just be another hiccup on the road to glory.

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Jurgen Klopp “not angry” after his side “lost momentum” in defeat at Bournemouth

вс, 12/04/2016 - 20:30
on 04.12.2016

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refused to blow his top at his players after they twice relinquished two-goal leads to lose a seven-goal thriller at Bournemouth.

The Reds seemed to be cruising at half-time courtesy of goals from Sadio Mane and Divock Origi, and were 3-1 up midway through the second half, before three goals in the final 15 minutes saw the hosts run out 4-3 winners.

Klopp, who was admonished by referee Robert Madley in the second half, was barking orders in his usual fashion and also stormed out of his technical area to berate Mane at one point.

But, after his side fell to just a second league defeat of the campaign, he insisted he was satisfied with his players’ effort. “I’m not angry,” he said.

“I was angry during the game a few times, but I saw that my boys didn’t want to do the wrong thing, but they did and lost the momentum in the game, and it’s not simple to come back.

“That’s why you have to keep momentum all the time you can. I cannot change it. So why should I be angry?”

Callum Wilson pulled one back from the spot after substitute Ryan Fraser was brought down, but Emre Can restored the two-goal cushion soon after, only for the impressive Fraser to strike his maiden Premier League goal and then cross for Simon Cook to level with a well-taken effort.

And there was more to come in stoppage time as Chelsea loanee Nathan Ake bundled home a winner for Eddie Howe’s side to prevent Liverpool closing to within a point of Ake’s parent club at the top of the table.

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Klopp continued: “The guys just weren’t clear enough in the game. We couldn’t influence the referee’s decision on the penalty. We could have seen a few situations differently, a player could have been sent off for a second yellow card for holding (Roberto) Firmino – but we have to accept that happens.”

Explaining his conversation with the referee and fourth official Stuart Attwell, Klopp added: “I was not happy about the penalty decision.

“It was not possible for me to do absolutely nothing. What I did was obviously too much. So I got a green card, before the yellow card, so I didn’t do it again.

“At first I said it wasn’t a penalty. And then Sadio shot the ball up into the stand, and I tried to tell him to play football again. I left my technical area, that’s all. He (Madley) told me not to do it again.”

AFC Bournemouth's Steve Cook (second left) celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. 2016. (Picture by Adam Davy PA Wire/PA Images)

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For Bournemouth, this was a first victory over Liverpool in their history, and took the Cherries into the top half of the standings.

A 3-1 defeat at Arsenal last week meant Howe could not celebrate his 300th game as Bournemouth manager, but his 301st match at the helm is one that will live long in the 39-year-old’s memory.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget this one,” he said. “It was a real contrast of emotions. Right up there with the Everton game last year where we were really poor for the first part and came back for a point (a 3-3 draw).

“At half-time we were in real trouble. Liverpool were excellent. We weren’t very good. So that makes the comeback all the more impressive.

“After promotion, we never wanted to lose our togetherness, never-say-never attitude and commitment which got us into the Premier League.

“Money can harm that, but this is evidence we’ve maintained that spirit and, if anything, harnessed it. That bodes well.”

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