EPL

Keita is getting better and better – Klopp praises Liverpool midfielder

By Sports Desk July 08, 2020

Jurgen Klopp was delighted with Naby Keita after the midfielder produced an influential performance in Liverpool's 3-1 Premier League win away at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Keita assisted Mohamed Salah's sixth-minute opener after his pressing led to a turnover in possession, while he also started the move that led to Liverpool's second, scored by captain Jordan Henderson on Wednesday.

The Guinea international has struggled for consistency since joining the Reds from RB Leipzig in 2018, his career on Merseyside hampered by injury issues, but he has impressed since the resumption of the season.

Keita – who set up Sadio Mane's opener in the 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday – created four chances before being substituted in the 61st minute against Brighton, with Klopp particularly pleased with his contribution to Liverpool's first goal.

"He is getting better and better, step by step and game by game and that's really cool," Liverpool manager Klopp told the media when asked about Keita's display.

"I am really happy about that. Long may it continue, let me say it like this. When him and the boys stay fit then everything is fine with the quality they have, the way we play suits them.

"Tonight, being a player like Naby but winning these balls, as the coach I am I couldn't be happier about these kind of goals. Everybody is involved in that and I am really grateful for seeing things like this."

Victory on the south coast moves Liverpool up to 92 points, eight shy of Manchester City's Premier League record with four games remaining.

However, Klopp is not interested in looking ahead to reaching a century and is instead focusing only on Burnley, who the champions face at Anfield on Saturday.

"What can I say? When I think about the next four opponents and look at them and think we will get 10 or 12 points," the German said in his post-match news conference. 

"I never did that. I can't do that. We play against Burnley, who are a results machine. I couldn't respect more what they are doing. They played away, won against West Ham, they will come to us and will fight with all they have – so that is what we have to do as well.

"After that, we play Arsenal in a really good moment. After that, we play against Chelsea in a really good moment.

"How could I assume we will get all of these points? I think from now on about the Burnley game."

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    Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum has blasted Everton's conduct as "completely unacceptable" following injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara sustained in Saturday's Merseyside derby.

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    Richarlison's red card was the 22nd sending off in a Merseyside derby in the Premier League era, with the Toffees having had 15 players dismissed.

    The incidents left a sour taste for Wijnaldum, with the Dutchman believing Everton – who had four players carded on Saturday compared to Liverpool's two – have a track record of being too robust in derbies.

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    While Richarlison issued an apology for his tackle on Thiago, it was confirmed on Sunday that Van Dijk will require surgery and Wijnaldum acknowledged that the squad are hugely concerned for their star defender.

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    Van Dijk's injury was the result of a poor challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, which was neither punished by the referee nor video assistant referee, or indeed retrospectively.

    Thiago Alcantara also ended up on the wrong end of a red-card tackle from Richarlison late in the same game, and Klopp was clearly still angered by both situations, expressing frustration that Liverpool have been the only ones left to "deal with the consequences".

    Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match at Ajax, which Thiago will also miss, Klopp said: "You judge us, you judge everybody. A couple of days ago something happened that should not have happened in a football game. And it’s not the first time. I see it similar to my players.

    "Both challenges were difficult to accept. What we all can do is try to change these kind of things. I spoke the day after, it’s really hard for us, yes he’s a world-class player, injuries happen.

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