EPL

Liverpool's second-half blitz pleases Klopp

By Sports Desk February 01, 2020

Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for his side's second-half transformation in Saturday's resounding 4-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.

The Reds were far from their fluid best during a chaotic first half and were lucky to not go in at the break behind, with Danny Ings, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond guilty of squandering presentable opportunities.

It was a different story after the interval, though, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain settling any nerves with a 47th-minute strike before a Jordan Henderson effort and two goals from Mohamed Salah sealed a 24th win in 25 Premier League games this season.

Klopp, whose side now hold a 22-point lead over Manchester City, was impressed with Southampton's display and accepts the result could have been a lot different had they taken advantage of their early chances.

He told a media conference: "First and foremost, I really have to say, wow, Southampton – what a team that is. I have been in football for so long and have never seen a turnaround like that.

"When I saw them playing at home against Chelsea months ago, I was really worried. That kind of turnaround is just exceptional.

"The set-up they have is constantly causing you problems. Their defending is really good and then their counter attacks are exceptional. [Danny] Ings and [Shane] Long, what they do there up front, how they are supported by the midfield and the wingers, is just exceptional.

"That's why we had the problems in the first half, because we lost the balls in the wrong moment.

"We had to change two or three things; most importantly we had to change the involvement of Fabinho. We played much calmer and used Fabinho better. It was just a better game and, in the end, we won it.

"The strange thing about this game is that it's not even too high a scoreline; it's just strange that Southampton could have won it as well. That just shows how difficult it was. Even more so, we are really pleased about the outcome."

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was delighted with his side's first-half display and hailed his players' ability to go toe-to-toe with the world champions for so long.

"Everybody who was at the game saw a very brave Saints squad and I would like to see this game again if we had scored the first goal," he said.

"I think for everybody it was fantastic to see that we can compete against such a team. It was a fantastic signal of how good we are and how it can go and how we can win."

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    Jordan Henderson will not let his injury setback spoil what he described as an "incredible campaign" for himself and Liverpool. 

    Henderson suffered a knee injury in Wednesday's 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion, with Jurgen Klopp confirming on Friday that it will force the midfielder to miss the remainder of the season. 

    The Reds captain has featured 30 times for Liverpool in the competition, helping them to a maiden Premier League title and a first top-flight crown in 30 years. 

    Klopp is optimistic the England international will be fit in time for the start of the 2020-21 season as he does not require surgery, and the player will now focus on his rehabilitation. 

    Nevertheless, the injury will not prevent Henderson from lifting the Premier League trophy later this month.

    "Unfortunately, following the knee injury I picked up against Brighton on Wednesday, I will now miss the last two weeks of the season," he wrote on his official social media accounts. 

    "However, my rehabilitation will start immediately and I'll be working hard to be back to full fitness in just a matter of weeks in order to be fully ready for the start of the new season. 

    "Of course, it's not the way I'd have preferred to finish the season on a personal level, but it's been an incredible campaign for us so far as a team and as a club, and I'll be doing everything I can to support the boys for the final games from the sidelines. I'm sure the lads will ensure we finish the season off on a high. 

    "Thanks to everyone for the messages of support and I look forward to being back out there as soon as possible." 

    Henderson will miss matches against Burnley, Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle United, bitter rivals of his boyhood club Sunderland, as Liverpool aim to reach a century of points. 

  • Chelsea midfielder Gilmour facing up to four months out after knee surgery Chelsea midfielder Gilmour facing up to four months out after knee surgery

    Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour will be out for up to four months after undergoing knee surgery, head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed.

    The 19-year-old was hurt after a collision with Luka Milivojevic during the Blues' 3-2 Premier League win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

    "Billy Gilmour's had an operation on his knee this morning, unfortunately, so he'll be out, we estimate, for somewhere between three and four months," Lampard said on Friday.

    Gilmour had been flourishing this season under Lampard, making 11 appearances in all competitions, and had recently moved above Italy international Jorginho in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

    Lampard says there is a stroke of fortune about the timing of the injury, with much of Gilmour's recovery likely to be taking place during the off-season between this term and the start of 2020-21, but he accepts the news was a blow to the player.

    "I'm obviously very disappointed, we all are and Billy is himself," Lampard said. "I spoke with him yesterday [Thursday] at length and just gave him support, really.

    "He's a tough boy. It hit him hard – I get that as well, particularly as a younger player who's just made his breakthrough in recent times and was doing so well – but it's part of football and I tried to explain he can be very pleased with the impact he's had this season. Part of our job as players is to get on with these things and learn our lesson quickly and his attitude will get him back as quick as he possibly can.

    "His character is fantastic. Particularly with his age, the personality he has shown in getting in and around the first-team squad, getting himself into the team, I'm very sure he'll show the same character and do everything right with the rehab and tackle it.

    "He's got a close-knit family around him who'll be there for him and we're his family too, we'll be there for him and the small bonus is it will hopefully cover a period that's off-season and pre-season, so he's maybe not missing as many games as he might have done."

    Chelsea, who sit third in the Premier League table with four matches remaining, face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

  • Incredible consistency, crazy numbers – Klopp overjoyed with Salah Incredible consistency, crazy numbers – Klopp overjoyed with Salah

    Jurgen Klopp is overjoyed with the consistency Mohamed Salah has shown since joining Liverpool, though he does not believe his team-mates are deliberately trying to set the Egyptian up to help his Golden Boot chances. 

    Salah, 28, arrived at Anfield from Roma in 2017 for a reported initial fee of £37million, and he has since made that figure look like a real steal, such has been his impact. 

    In 104 Premier League matches for Liverpool, Salah has scored 73 times, with 32 of those coming in 2017-18 as he set a new record for the most goals in a single 38-match campaign. 

    While his haul of 19 this campaign may not be on the same level, he is the champions' top-scorer and remains in the hunt for the Premier League's Golden Boot, with only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (20) and Jamie Vardy (22) netting more frequently than him. 

    But, given Salah often plays off the flank, his record is an impressive one and that is not lost on Klopp. 

    "It's incredible," Klopp told reporters on Friday ahead of Saturday's visit of Burnley. "We wouldn't be where we are if these boys [Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino] didn't perform at such a consistently high level. 

    "And Mo, of course, his numbers are crazy. I don't know his exact numbers since he's been here, but they're just outstanding numbers, world class numbers. 

    "No one should be surprised anymore because, the boys show that week in, week out for a while already, we know it's special but there's a lot of work in it, and we can only score if you're invested in each game, if you're in the right positions, do the right things. 

    "If the boys are ready to do what they have to do, it will continue, and long may it continue." 

    Salah's most recent goals – two of them – came in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion, but his record has not protected him from criticism. 

    Graeme Souness, a former Red who is now a television pundit, called Salah "super selfish" after the Brighton game for attempting eight shots, while some suggested other Liverpool players are passing up scoring opportunities of their own in attempt to help the former Chelsea forward.

    But Klopp doubts his players have that approach, convinced the front three want to score all the time. 

    "I hope the boys were not in that mood," Klopp said when asked about whether he felt Firmino passed on a chance just so Salah could boost his Golden Boot bid. 

    "When I saw the situation back it was just because of Bobby's [Firmino] football intelligence, he wasn't in the best position. 

    "If he'd shot it would be a completely different finish, Mo came around was in a much better place - it's just Bobby. 

    "I don't think he left the ball because he thinks Mo should win the Golden Boot or whatever. You cannot have this mindset, football is too quick for you to do that. 

    "We all help each other. Mane is another contender [for the Golden Boot], with 16 it's not too close but it's not impossible, so they all want to score goals. Bobby wants to score goals, they all want that. 

    "That's the mindset they need, that they want to be decisive, they want to decide football games and that's the mindset a striker needs." 

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