Liverpool boss Klopp hits out at Carragher over defender comments

‘If anyone wants to tell us we made a mistake – I think Carragher mentioned already – there are a few reasons why they don’t do this job’: Jurgen Klopp hits out at Liverpool legend for criticism of recruitment – before pundit responds on Twitter

  • Liverpool are expected to be without Virgil van Dijk for the rest of the season 
  • The Dutchman suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage against Everton 
  • Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool are now a man light in the centre-back role 
  • But Jurgen Klopp has claimed he could not have kept another defender happy
  • Carragher responded and insisted he did not think Klopp had made a mistake 

Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Jamie Carragher after the former Liverpool defender questioned why the club were reluctant to sign a centre-back in the summer.

The Premier League champions are expected to be without star defender Virgil van Dijk for the rest of the season after he suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage following a reckless Jordan Pickford tackle during the weekend’s Merseyside derby.

Carragher believes that Liverpool are now short at the back as a result of van Dijk’s injury and should have ‘gone big’ in the summer, but Klopp has taken umbrage with his comments and claimed he could not have kept another centre-back happy. 

Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Jamie Carragher over his comments about signing defenders

Carragher suggested Liverpool should have signed another defender in the summer window

‘We went into the season with three centre-backs plus Fabinho as cover and some youngsters,’ Klopp said.

‘It’s hard to have four world-class centre-halves.

‘If anyone wants to tell us we made a mistake – I think Carragher mentioned already – there are a few reasons why they don’t do this job.’

He also claimed Liverpool are now a centre-back short following Virgil van Dijk’s injury

But Klopp responded to Carragher and said he could not have kept another defender happy

Carragher however then defended the comments, tweeting: ‘Not once this season have I said it was a mistake for Klopp not to buy a centre-back for the exact reason he states.’

On Sky Sports on Monday, Carragher said on Liverpool’s defensive situation: ‘Dejan Lovren went and they didn’t replace him so they only have three centre-backs and one of those, Joel Matip, is always injured.

‘There are question marks now about Joe Gomez. So there is no doubt that Liverpool had to go big in the transfer market.’

Carragher defended his comments saying Klopp has not made a mistake in not signing one

It was those comments that made Klopp angry, but Carragher’s fellow Sky pundit Gary Neville saw the funny side of it, reacting to the former centre-back’s riposte by tweeting: ‘In-fighting already’ with the boxing glove emoji and laughing faces.

Carragher however did call on Klopp not to make the same mistake again and believes the Anfield club should target RB Leipzig and France centre-back Dayot Upamecano early in the January transfer window.

The former England international also put Wolves captain Conor Coady in a sticky spot following their 1-0 win over Leeds, asking the current England defender if he would consider a return to Liverpool after claiming Klopp was eyeing him, which was laughed off.

Carragher however did encourage Liverpool to go after Dayot Upamecano in January

He also cheekily asked Wolves captain Conor Coady if he would like to re-join the Reds

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With Van Dijk out for months, it's time for Gomez and Matip to step up

It’s time for Joe Gomez and Joel Matip to step up for Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk out for the season… but the pair have NEVER started together at centre back and must hit the ground running with six matches in 18 days

  • Virgil Van Dijk’s season is all but over after suffering an ACL injury on Saturday
  • His long-term absence presents a problem for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
  • Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are set to step in without Mr Reliable alongside them
  • Gomez and Matip have never actually started a match together at centre back 
  • Fabinho and a host of youngsters could also be used as defensive alternatives 

One rash tackle, one grimace of pain, one season-ending injury to Vigil Van Dijk. Suddenly, the mood around Liverpool has changed dramatically. 

The Reds’ talismanic centre back requires surgery on his ACL injury suffered in Saturday’s Merseyside Derby, as a result of Jordan Pickford’s horror challenge in the early stages which, remarkably, went unpunished. 

With the transfer window closed until January, Jurgen Klopp has a defensive problem he must have dreaded. Van Dijk has been an ever-present since his £75m signing in January 2018, having played 93 consecutive Premier League matches, and replacing him is a near-impossible task. 

Virgil Van Dijk suffered a knee injury on Saturday after a horror challenge from Jordan Pickford

Liverpool are set for months without their best defender, with Van Dijk requiring surgery

He even started against Lincoln and Arsenal in the Carabao Cup this season – his durability and supreme fitness is as much a strength as his all-round superiority and control at the back.   

Irreplaceable? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Van Dijk won the UEFA Player of the Year award in 2019 as well as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award. Respected by onlookers and his fellow players, his influence on Klopp’s juggernaut in the past three years has been monumental. 

So, what now? Until the opportunity to bring in new players arises again in the New Year, Liverpool face 17 matches in 10 weeks and – in the short-term – six games in 18 days, starting with a trip to Amsterdam on Wednesday to face Ajax as the Champions League returns this week. 

It’s a schedule made even more gruelling by Van Dijk’s absence. Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are now the only senior centre backs in the first-team squad, with Fabinho – who played admirably in defence against Chelsea last month – an alternative to drop back from his usual role in defensive midfield. 

On the fringes, Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and Billy Koumetio could all play a part in the upcoming months too – if not from the start, perhaps from the bench. 

Now though, without their calming Dutch presence next to them, Gomez and Matip will have to learn how to play alongside one another – and fast. 

Strikingly, despite being at the club for over four years together and starting 21 matches alongside one another, the pair have never actually started a match together at centre half.  

Before Van Dijk’s arrival, it was actually Dejan Lovren who was the regularly-used man at the heart of defence. Gomez was used often as right back in Klopp’s early years too. 

Yet now, the Croat’s £11m departure to Zenit St Petersburg in the summer seems like a rash decision. Or rather, the lack of a reinforcement seems even more puzzling. 

The sale of Dejan Lovren to Zenit in the summer now leaves Liverpool short in central defence

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp now has only two senior centre backs following Van Dijk’s injury

Nevertheless, in Gomez and Matip, the Liverpool manager knows he has two players in the prime of their careers who are now needed to show their abundance of quality more than ever.

Gomez, who was used as a makeshift wing back throughout the early part of his Anfield career, emerged as Van Dijk’s regular partner last season, with Matip out injured for a long period. 

Quick, aerially dominant and confident on the ball, Gomez made his England debut in November 2017 as he became a reliable first-team squad player for his club. 

It was at the beginning of the 2018-19 season where Gomez first truly impressed though in his favoured central position, with his consistency only curtailed by a cruel fractured leg suffered against Burnley in December. 

Joe Gomez, who has been short of form, will now be needed to deputise in Van Dijk’s absence

He missed virtually the rest of the season after requiring surgery, but did come on as a late substitute in the 2019 Champions League final victory against Tottenham. 

Yet Gomez’s injury gave Matip a long-term chance to shine alongside Van Dijk that season and like the man he replaced, Matip came into his own. 

The Cameroonian was as reliable as Van Dijk and won over a number of supporters as the Reds pushed Manchester City all the way in the Premier League title race and won on the European stage. 

Joel Matip started for the first time against Everton on Saturday following four months out

In fact, in the Champions League final where Van Dijk was named man-of-the-match, Matip was arguably as instrumental, particularly given he laid on Divock Origi’s trophy-clinching goal late on. 

But, like Gomez, Matip has had his injury problems. His 2019-20 season was plagued with injuries, as he picked up three different knocks at different points of the season. 

Now, with Van Dijk a long-term absentee, that situation cannot afford to repeat itself. On the contrary, both Gomez and Van Dijk need to strike up a partnership and hit the ground running amid a congested schedule. 

That is easier said than done. Gomez arguably had his worst performance in a Liverpool shirt when he last started, in the shock 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa before the international break, while Matip only made his first start after a long-term injury against Everton on Saturday following four months out. 

Gomez and Matip (centre) will need to work on their partnership on the training pitch

One is short of form, one is short of fitness – Matip actually required a scan after Saturday’s derby, yet no major issue wad detected. 

In the long run though, who will shift over to play on the left-hand side? Who will take the onus in terms of leadershIp? Are they both compatible together without the colossal Van Dijk next to them? 

These are all questions which will be put under the spotlight, probably for the rest of the season. And it is not hyperbolising when saying that the answers to those questions could well define Liverpool’s season.  

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Virgil van Dijk out for at least five months with ACL tear

Virgil van Dijk is expected to miss the majority of the season after results confirmed he had suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament tear.

The Dutchman was unable to continue in his side’s draw against Everton on Saturday after a nasty challenge from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Van Dijk was able to walk off the pitch but the swelling quickly increased and he left Goodison Park on crutches, with the club doctor fearing the worst.

Scan results have now shown the worst case scenario in that the former Celtic man has suffered an ACL tear.

Van Dijk will undergo surgery and the minimum he can be expected to be out is five months – which would be the best case scenario.

In a brief statement, Liverpool refused to put a timeframe on Van Dijk’s injury.

‘Liverpool FC can confirm Virgil van Dijk will undergo surgery on the knee injury he sustained during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Everton,’ a statement read.

‘The centre-back damaged knee ligaments following an incident involving Blues goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after six minutes at Goodison Park.

‘Van Dijk was required to be substituted and further assessment on the injury has revealed an operation will be needed.

‘No specific timescale is being placed upon his return to action at this stage.

‘Following surgery, Van Dijk will begin a rehabilitation programme with the club’s medical team to enable him to reach full fitness as soon as possible.’

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Johanna Konta pulls OUT of Ostrava Open due to coronavirus fears

Johanna Konta pulls OUT of Ostrava Open due to coronavirus fears with British No 1 ending her disappointing 2020 season following early Grand Slam exits at French and US Opens

  • British number one Johanna Konta has struggled since the coronavirus hiatus
  • The 29-year-old exited the French Open and the US Open in the early rounds
  • Konta has withdrawn from next week’s Ostrava Open due to coronavirus fears
  • The world number 13 does not feel comfortable travelling in the current climate

Johanna Konta will not play tennis again this year after pulling out of next week’s Ostrava Open in the Czech Republic. 

The British number one does not feel comfortable travelling while coronavirus cases are spiking, meaning she will use this time to focus on the 2021 season. 

Konta’s final game of 2020 saw her crash out of the French Open first round to 16-year-old American talent Coco Gauff in straight sets. 

Johanna Konta has withdrawn from next week’s Ostrava Open due to Covid-19 health fears

The 29-year-old has been in London this week, with the English capital moving into a Tier 2 lockdown phase which means members from separate households cannot meet indoors. 

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has seen several new cases of the virus hit the population, with new infections trebling since the start of October. 

The Ostrava Open, a WTA hard court event in the Czech city, begins on Monday, with fifth seed Elina Svitolina currently the highest rank player taking part.

The British number one exited the US Open (above) and the French Open in the early rounds 

Konta will not play again in 2020 and she split from coach Thomas Hogstedt (right) this year

Konta’s defeat to Gauff earlier this month saw her move to 13th in the women’s singles rankings, which compounded her second round defeat to unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea in September’s US Open. 

Before the tournament in Flushing Meadows, Konta split from coach Thomas Hogstedt, who had previously worked with Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki. 

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Kevin De Bruyne out of Man City's clash with Arsenal on Saturday

Kevin De Bruyne has been ruled out of Manchester City’s Saturday night Premier League game at home to Arsenal.

De Bruyne had to withdraw from the Belgium squad after he was substituted during the second half of last weekend’s 2-1 loss to England.

City boss Pep Guardiola does not think the injury is too serious but is not sure how long De Bruyne will be absent.

“I don’t think it is much but the next games I think he will be out,” said Guardiola.

“But we will see day by day, how it is going on.


Manchester City

“I cannot answer [exactly how many games De Bruyne will miss] because I do not know.”

There was better news for City fans concerning forward Sergio Aguero, who is closing in on a first appearance of the season after knee surgery.

“He is training well and we are happy,” said Guardiola.

“Every team needs a striker and we have played without them the last two, three games [Gabriel Jesus is also out injured at present].

“He has been training well and we are happy to see him back on the pitch after a long, long time.”

Will Arsenal make a statement at Man City?

Mikel Arteta takes Arsenal to Manchester City on Saturday to face his mentor Pep Guardiola – but will the Gunners pull off a statement win to underline their improvement under him?

Former City coach Arteta has come up against Guardiola and City twice already in his short managerial career, losing 3-0 at the Etihad when the Premier League restarted in June and then pulling off a shock 2-0 win in the FA Cup semi-finals en route to lifting that trophy.

Ex-Arsenal striker and current Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith has been impressed by Arteta’s work at the club since he took charge last December and fully expects Arsenal to improve on their eighth-placed finish last season in the Premier League.

“I think Arsenal fans will be looking forward to this one,” Smith told the Pitch to Post Preview podcast. “More so than a year ago when going to the places of the big boys would have filled them with a bit of dread as to whether they were going to get turned over, embarrassed even.”

“But nowadays, win lose or draw, Arsenal fans are fairly confident they’ll go up there prepared, organised, and they’ll give City a good game.”

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You read correctly. The £1m Super 6 jackpot is up for grabs for one last time this weekend. Play for free, entries by 3pm Saturday.

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Premier League WILL bail out League One and League Two clubs

Premier League WILL bail out struggling League One and League Two clubs with £50m in grants and interest-free loans… but the Championship misses out on cash injection as clubs vote to scrap Project Big Picture

  • The Premier League will bail out struggling League One and League Two clubs 
  • The top flight announced it will provide £50m in grants and interest free loans 
  • However, it was decided Championship clubs will miss out on the cash injection 
  • The move comes after Project Big Picture was scrapped by the top flight today 

The Premier League has announced that League One and League Two clubs will be bailed out with £50m in grants and interest-free loans, but Championship clubs will miss out.

The 20 Premier League clubs met on Wednesday via video conference to discuss the controversial Project Big Picture plans, which were put forward by Liverpool and Manchester United last weekend.

But the 20 clubs swiftly rejected the proposals and instead agreed to a widespread strategy review and also gave the green light to a new bailout offer to the EFL after their opening attempt was rejected. 

Premier League will bail out struggling League One and League Two clubs amid coronavirus

The top flight will make available £50m in grants and interest-free loans for the two leagues 

And it was agreed among top flight clubs that they would make available a rescue package to help League One and League Two clubs as they risk going out of business as a result of financial ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, a statement by the Premier League outlined that the rescue package was for the bottom two divisions in the EFL, meaning the Championship clubs will miss out on the cash injection.

The reasoning behind this was that, in the top flight’s view, League One and League Two clubs have been more seriously impacted by the lack of matchday revenue caused by behind-closed-doors games.

The two leagues have been impacted most by lack of matchday revenue due to coronavirus

‘At today’s meeting it was agreed to make available a rescue package which aims to ensure that League One and League Two clubs will not go out of business as a result of the financial impact of COVID-19 and be able to complete the 2020-21 season,’ a statement from the Premier League read.

‘League One and League Two clubs rely more heavily on matchday revenue and have fewer resources at their disposal than Championship or Premier League clubs and are therefore more at risk, especially at a time when fans are excluded from attending matches.’

The statement went onto outline that the renewed offer will consist of grants and interest-loan fees totalling £50m. The Premier League had given £27.2m of solidarity payments to League One and League Two earlier this year.

The Premier League have vowed to help the EFL after rejecting Project Big Picture today 

Liverpool’s John W Henry (L) and Manchester United’s Joel Glazer (R) were behind the plans

EFL chief Rick Parry supported the plans that would have afforded more power to the Big Six

The Premier League added that discussions as to how to financially support Championship clubs will continue. 

The EFL rejected the Premier League’s initial £150million rescue package – a £40m grant and £110m loan dependent on a series of conditions.

The lower divisions would have had to give top-flight clubs control of the calendar, their spending levels and post-Brexit work-permit arrangements, as well as scrapping the League Cup and accepting there will be no promotion from the Championship in the event of curtailment unless 75 per cent of fixtures have been completed.

The EFL have been seeking a bailout from the Premier League to help them cope with the Covid-19 crisis since May, when a rescue package was made mandatory if the Government was to support Project Restart.  

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Edinson Cavani speaks out on decision to wear Man Utd's iconic No.7 shirt

Edinson Cavani insists he won’t be daunted by the pressure that accompanies his decision to accept the responsibility of wearing Manchester United’s iconic No.7 shirt.

The Uruguay international moved to Old Trafford on transfer deadline having been released by Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season.

Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had other priorities to address in the market, the Norwegian was conscious of the need to add an experienced central striker to his squad to ease the burden on the likes of Anthony Martial.

Cavani, 33, has cemented his reputation as one of European football’s most lethal forwards over the course of the last decade and will provide Solskjaer with a different option at the sharp end of the pitch once the former Napoli star is up to full speed.

United’s No.7 has been warn by some of the most illustrious players in the club’s history, including the likes of Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo, and Cavani is sure he will do the shirt justice.

He told United’s official website: ‘It’s a great number, I got to wear it with the national team as well. But I honestly believe that the number you wear is more of an off-the-field thing.

‘That’s where it counts for more. I know that once you’re out on the pitch, the number you have on your shirt has no influence.

‘But when you get the chance to pull on the no.7 shirt at Manchester United, which has been worn by some top, top players who have been legends here in this country and at this club, it really is a nice responsibility to have.

‘I enjoy challenges and, as I said to you, I hope that I can do it great justice and leave it in as high regard as the many great players who have worn this shirt before me.

‘It’s a fantastic challenge, and an exciting responsibility too, which I’m accepting with the best will in the world, and like I said, I’ll be working really hard to perform at my very best so I can leave that number, that shirt, just how it was left by those players you just mentioned.’

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Chilwell ruled out of Belgium game due to non-Covid related illness

Ben Chilwell set to miss England’s match against Belgium on Sunday due to non-Covid related illness after being omitted from Wales clash after ‘Rule of Six’ breach during birthday party at Tammy Abraham’s home

  • Ben Chilwell will miss England’s game versus Belgium with a non-Covid illness 
  • Chilwell missed win versus Wales after breaching Government’s ‘Rule of Six’
  • Defender attended Tammy Abraham’s birthday party along with Jadon Sancho
  • Abraham and Sancho set to link up with squad following coronavirus tests

Ben Chilwell will miss England’s Nations League game at home to Belgium on Sunday due to a non-Covid related illness.

Chilwell was absent for the victory against Wales on Thursday after he was delayed from entering the England camp along with Tammy Abraham and Sancho.

The three players attended a surprise birthday party for Abraham at the Chelsea stiriker’s flat last weekend, with the gathering having around 20 guests, therefore breaching the ‘Rule of Six’ put in place by the Government.  

Ben Chilwell will miss England’s game against Belgium with a non-Covid related illness

Gareth Southgate will have to use an alternative option on the left side of the defence

Following England’s 3-0 win against Wales, manager Gareth Southgate said that Chilwell, Sancho and Abraham would be permitted to link up with the squad if they passed a UEFA-mandated coronavirus test.

While Sancho and Abraham have taken the test, Chilwell’s reintegration into the squad has been delayed further still due to a non-Covid related illness. 

Even with Chilwell unavailable again, Southgate has several options to consider when deciding who he should select at left-back against Belgium.

Chilwell had been delayed from entering the England camp after breaching coronavirus rules by attending Chelsea team-mate Tammy Abraham’s birthday party

Jadon Sancho, who also attended the party, is set to join Abraham by linking up with the squad

Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka started against Wales, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles is also capable of playing there and Kieran Trippier was used out of position on the left side of the defence during the last set of international fixtures. 

The party at Abraham’s flat took place just hours after Chelsea’s win against Crystal Palace last Saturday in which the striker and Chilwell were both involved.

Abraham issued an apology last Sunday, saying: ‘I arrived home to find a small surprise gathering.

‘Though I was totally unaware this was planned, I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for the naivety shown for the organisation and attending of this gathering.

All I can do now is learn from it, apologise to everyone and ensure it never happens again.’ 

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hits out at Tottenham star after Manchester United defeat

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has blasted Tottenham star Erik Lamela for getting Anthony Martial sent off during Spurs’ 6-1 victory over Manchester United.

Martial was shown a straight red card after an altercation with Lamela during the first half of Sunday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford.

While Solskjaer admits it is ‘inexcusable’ for Martial to raise his arm to Lamela, the Red Devils boss was furious with the Tottenham star’s reaction as he fell to the ground holding his face.

Tottenham were 2-1 up when Martial was sent off and Jose Mourinho’s side scored four more goals after Manchester United went down to ten men to inflict a painful defeat on Solskjaer’s team.

Asked about the red card, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: ‘There’s no excuse [for Martial] but the boy [Lamela] must be having an operation on his throat.

‘It’s a bad reaction from Anthony and there’s no excuse because we are still in the game by then.

‘But if that [Lamela] was one of my players I would absolutely hang him up to dry because you don’t go down like that. He should not react like that.’

Manchester United made a superb start to the fixture, with Bruno Fernandes scoring from the spot after Martial won his team a penalty.

Tottenham bounced back immediately through Tanguy Ndombele and then Son Heung-min gave Spurs the lead, before Martial was controversially sent off.

Son and Harry Kane added two more goals before half-time and Serge Aurier scored Tottenham’s fifth shortly after half-time.

Captain Kane scored his second and Tottenham’s fifth of the afternoon from the spot after Paul Pogba bundled over Ben Davies late on.

Solskjaer added: ‘It is the worst day of my career as Manchester United manager and the worst day for all of them as United players.

‘It is not the worst day in Manchester United history, we have bounced back before.

‘To explain now is quite difficult. We have been beaten 6-1 at home by a very good side but we have contributed a lot to our own downfall.’

Tottenham boss Mourinho, meanwhile, said: ‘Very good, very impressive but not a surprise for me.

‘The result is a surprise, you don’t expect to come here and win 6-1. I could come here 20 more times and not win by the same scoreline.

‘It happened because the team is phenomenal and has great character and great confidence.

‘We were the best team for all of the first half, we had to respect the club. We had to respect the history of Manchester United. They never give up. But we managed to get the three points.’

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Top seed Halep bundled out of French Open by teenager Swiatek

Simona Halep of Romania is out of the French Open.Credit:Getty Images

Paris: Romanian Simona Halep, the women's top seed, crashed out of the French Open on Sunday, losing 6-1 6-2 to Poland's Iga Swiatek in the fourth round.

The 19-year-old Swiatek, ranked 54th in the world, had lost to Halep 6-1 6-0 at the same stage last year in the claycourt Grand Slam at Roland Garros.

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