EPL

Liverpool trio Alisson, Firmino and Matip miss Chelsea clash with COVID-19

By Sports Desk January 02, 2022

Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip will all miss Liverpool's trip to Chelsea on Sunday after they returned positive COVID-19 tests ahead of the clash at Stamford Bridge.

It follows the announcement on Saturday that manager Jurgen Klopp will also be absent from the game for the same reason.

The Reds are already without Thiago, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott with injuries, while Andrew Robertson misses the game through suspension.

Caoimhin Kelleher replaces Alisson in goal, with the Ireland international set to make just his fourth Premier League appearance, while Ibrahima Konate comes in for Matip and Diogo Jota continues up front with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who both play their last Premier League game before heading off for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are without Romelu Lukaku after the Belgian striker was dropped for recent comments in the media that displeased his boss Thomas Tuchel.

Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante come back into the side after neither started the 1-1 draw with Brighton on Wednesday, while Marcos Alonso replaces the injured Reece James and Kai Havertz comes in for Lukaku.

Both sides will be desperate for a win to stay as close as possible to league leaders Manchester City after Pep Guardiola's men snatched a late victory at Arsenal on Saturday to go 11 points clear of second-place Chelsea.

TEAMS

Chelsea: Edouard Mendy, Trevor Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic. Subs: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Malang Sarr, Lewis Hall, Jorginho, Saul Niguez, Ross Barkley, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Harvey Vale, Hakim Ziyech. 

Liverpool: Caoimhin Kelleher, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Kostas Tsimikas, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota. Subs: Adrian, Marcelo Pitaluga, Naby Keita, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Owen Beck, Neco Williams, Tyler Morton.

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    Juventus have reportedly made contact with Christian Pulisic's camp as they begin the process of putting together a January offer for the out-of-favour Chelsea winger.

    Pulisic, 24, has only started one game this season in all club competitions, and he was subbed off in the 60th minute. He also has made five appearances as a substitute, but the longest has lasted 26 minutes.

    The United States international, who was signed from Borussia Dortmund for a £58million fee in January 2019, now finds himself on the outside looking in, and long-time admirers Juventus are seeking to capitalise on the potentially depreciated asset.

     

    TOP STORY – JUVENTUS CONTACT PULISIC ABOUT SERIE A MOVE

    According to Calciomercato, Pulisic has been "very fond of the Juventus management for some time" and he plans on leaving at the end of the season when he has one year remaining on his contract and more leverage.

    While Pulisic may wish to see out the remainder of the season and give things a go with new boss Graham Potter, Chelsea are said to have set his price at a reasonable figure of £31m. If the Italian side view that as a fair price, and if Pulisic has not broken into a starting role by January, things could progress quicker than anticipated.

    However, further Calciomercato reports claiming Juventus are eyeing moves for defenders Benoit Badiashile from Monaco and Evan Ndicka from Eintracht Frankfurt at the end of the campaign could imply they do not have the necessary funds to make any serious additions mid-season.

     

    ROUND-UP

    – According to iNews, Newcastle United are considering a £50m bid for Shaktar Donetsk's rising 21-year-old winger Mykhalo Mudryk

    – Marca is claiming Real Madrid's "main target" at the end of the season will be Borussia Dortmund's prized English midfielder Jude Bellingham.

    – Corriere dello Sport is reporting Chelsea plan to increase their previous offer of £44.5m for 26-year-old Inter defender Denzel Dumfries, and would be willing to loan him back to the Italian club for the remainder of the season if they can come to an agreement in January.

    – With Manchester United reportedly ready to move on from goalkeeper David de Gea, Football Insider states they are monitoring Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez as a replacement.

    – RAC1 claims Real Madrid's Marco Asensio has already signed a preliminary contract with rivals Barcelona, with his Madrid contract set to expire at the end of this season.

  • 'I don't see a team that is miles ahead' – Gundogan confident about Germany's World Cup chances 'I don't see a team that is miles ahead' – Gundogan confident about Germany's World Cup chances

    There were mixed feelings from the German camp after Monday's dramatic 3-3 draw against England in the UEFA Nations League, with manager Hansi Flick calling it "a good test".

    Germany led 2-0 after a 52nd minute penalty from Ilkay Gundogan and a goal from Kai Havertz in the 67th, but that advantage was wiped out in just over 15 minutes.

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    "The first half was balanced, in the second we deservedly led 2-0 – then we made individual mistakes," he said. "It must not happen that we give up a lead like that. 

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    "It's not unrealistic," he said. "Of course, a lot has to come together. I don't see a team that is miles ahead.

    "We have shown over long periods that we can do it at the highest level. We have to try to do that for 90 minutes. At a World Cup you have much less leeway to make mistakes than today."

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    "I want to make clear the reasons why I made my decision, to avoid speculation," he wrote. "I love my country and I love my team.

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    "Personally, these are difficult times and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support I'm receiving.

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    Uruguay will need to finalise their squad for Qatar 2022 by November 13, a week ahead of the host nation's opening game with Ecuador.

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