Misfiring Liverpool Set For ‘Massive’ Spurs Test –  Klopp

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to be ready for a “massive” showdown with Tottenham on Sunday as his struggling side battle to save their season.

The Reds are languishing in ninth place in the Premier League after a wretched run that includes successive defeats against struggling Leeds and Nottingham Forest in their past two top-flight matches.

Liverpool are eight points adrift of the top four and 10 behind third-placed Tottenham ahead of this weekend’s vital clash in north London.

Klopp knows another loss would be a huge blow to the team’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

“Massive game and difficult as well, Spurs away,” Klopp said on Friday. “I didn’t count the points distance between us and them but we have to go for it.

“We know it is difficult, we all know Tottenham is a side that is well-organised, defending an extremely high level and counter-attacking is a massive thing.

“Spurs is in a good moment, turned their last two games around in the last minute and the last one was an extremely big one in the Champions League so they are confident and strong.”

Despite their domestic woes, Liverpool are through to the last 16 of the Champions League, rounding off their group stage campaign with a win over in-form Napoli in midweek.

That result served as proof for Klopp that his team are still capable of competing against top-quality opposition, although the German remains concerned about Liverpool’s defensive vulnerabilities.

READ ALSO: ‘Potential Heartbreaker’: South Korea Sweats On Son’s World Cup Fate

Concussion concern 

“Our problem, why we changed system, one is the availability of players and the other is we were not as solid defensively,” he said.

“You can always point a finger at the things you don’t do well or you give a completely new text book and that is what we tried. Our problem in these moments was defending as a unit.”

Klopp also said Liverpool handled James Milner’s concussion injury correctly against Napoli.

Milner will miss the Tottenham game after being forced off early in the second half following a head injury before the interval.

Premier League rules allow for permanent concussion substitutes in addition to the regular five replacements if a player sustains a head injury but there is currently no similar provision in European football.

Klopp said the necessary checks were made and it was only when Milner returned to the pitch after the break that he reported a problem.

“It is difficult,” said the Liverpool boss. “It is not that easy because you need two sources, one is the doctor, one is the patient.

“For me it was clear — he got a real check on the pitch and he was fine when it happened. In the dressing room, in our meeting, Millie was completely fine and, after calming down, came out into the floodlights and was like ‘Woah, what is going on here?’.

“He realised and then that is the most important source, the player realised ‘that is not good’ and that is when we stopped and he sat down and we took him off.

“Everybody takes it really seriously. Nobody wants to push a player through with a concussion.”

AFP

Arsenal Boss Arteta Tries To Stay Calm On ‘Heated’ Touchline

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta celebrates on the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021. Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta admitted on Tuesday his behaviour on the touchline can “get heated” as the Arsenal boss accepted it is important for managers to keep their emotions under control.

Jurgen Klopp has been charged with improper behaviour by the Football Association following the Liverpool manager’s red card during the 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday.

Klopp was sent to the stands for his angry reaction towards referee Anthony Taylor and one of his assistants after Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was not awarded a foul following a challenge by Bernardo Silva.

The German’s behaviour and City manager Pep Guardiola’s heated interactions with Liverpool fans in the stand behind during the same game have increased the spotlight on Premier League bosses on the touchline.

Arteta was involved in a heated row with Klopp during Arsenal’s 4-0 defeat at Anfield in November 2021, with the Spaniard restrained by his coaching staff after confronting the Liverpool manager.

READ ALSO: Man Utd’s Greenwood Released On Bail After Attempted Rape Charge

Arteta knows emotions will run high in the dugout, but acknowledged bosses must set a better example.

“We do have a responsibility, not only to the referees but to the game and the way we want it to be played and respected,” Arteta said ahead of Thursday’s Europa League tie against PSV Eindhoven.

“I have enough with my behaviour. I am trying to do the right thing for our club. It is very intense. It gets heated.”

Arteta believes the VAR system has added to the pressure on managers with controversial reviews creating extra flashpoints in the heat of battle.

“There are moments you have seen in the last few games where VAR has to step in and there is a lot of controversy and a lot of moments when the result is in the air because it spins on a decision,” Arteta said.

“It is not easy to manage, but we have a huge responsibility. If I have to watch myself on a camera after a match, there are probably things I would do differently.

“But once you are there, the way you talk, even to your own players, you might do it differently.

“It is something we have to learn. We are all conscious of it. Sometimes the heat of the game makes you behave in certain ways.”

AFP

Portugal Forward Jota Ruled Out Of World Cup With Calf Injury

Liverpool's Portuguese striker Diogo Jota (R) shoots to score his team's second goal as Arsenal's English defender Ben White (L) chases back during the English League Cup semi-final second leg football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium, in London on January 20, 2022. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
In this file photo, Liverpool’s Portuguese striker Diogo Jota (R) shoots to score his team’s second goal as Arsenal’s English defender Ben White (L) chases back during the English League Cup semi-final second leg football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium, in London on January 20, 2022. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Portugal’s Diogo Jota will miss the World Cup after suffering a serious calf injury, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed on Tuesday.

The winger was stretchered off in the closing stages of Liverpool’s 1-0 Premier League win over Manchester City on Sunday.

“Not good news about Diogo — yes he will miss the World Cup,” Klopp said at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s home match against West Ham.

“(It’s a) pretty serious injury in the calf muscle and now the recovery process starts. That’s it pretty much.

“That is the first diagnosis, which was pretty clear, and all the rest will now follow in the next few days. It is very sad news for the boy, and for us as well of course, and for Portugal.”

READ ALSO: Moh’s Magic Moment Ends City’s Unbeaten League Run

Klopp, who said Jota would not need an operation, did not put an exact timescale on his return but is expecting the 25-year-old to be sidelined for months.

“After such a good night at Anfield mine ended in the worst way! In the last minute, one of my dreams collapsed,” Jota posted on Twitter.

“I will be one more supporting from the outside, club, and country, and fighting to be back as soon as possible.”

Jota’s absence adds to Liverpool’s injury woes, with Luis Diaz also ruled out until after the World Cup in Qatar, which starts next month.

Joel Matip will also miss the visit of West Ham, but Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ibrahima Konate could be fit to return to the starting line-up.

Klopp was sent off late on in an emotional encounter with City for taking his protests towards the referee’s assistant too far.

The German coach has so far not received a touchline ban from the Football Association and expects to take his place on the touchline on Wednesday.

“I think I will be there tomorrow because nothing happened yet,” he said. “I don’t think something will happen tomorrow a few hours before the game.

“I still think I should have dealt differently with the situation which I usually do. The whole game led to that a little bit. It was a very, very intense game with a lot of decisions we didn’t understand on both sides.

“This for me was like the one drop that made the bucket overflow. I’m not happy with my reaction but that’s the way it was and everybody saw it.”

AFP

Klopp Blasts ‘Soft’ Penalty As Liverpool Crash At Arsenal

Referee Michael Oliver (2L) speaks to Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp and Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 9, 2022. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) /

 

Jurgen Klopp was furious with the “soft” penalty decision that condemned Liverpool to a damaging 3-2 defeat against Arsenal on Sunday.

Klopp’s side were clinging on for a point until the 76th minute at the Emirates Stadium when Thiago Alcantara was punished for his challenge on Gabriel Jesus.

There was only minimal contact from Thiago as Jesus went to ground in the Liverpool area, but the penalty was awarded after a VAR check.

Bukayo Saka converted the spot-kick to leave Liverpool languishing 14 points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Klopp confronted referee Michael Oliver on the pitch after the final whistle and made it clear he felt the incident was not worthy of a penalty.

“The situation around the penalty, of course, we should have cleared it. Now I saw it and I think you can imagine I don’t think it is a clear penalty, it is a very soft one,” Klopp told BBC Sport.

“I think it is a situation where the referee could have another look at it in real time.”

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Klopp’s frustration was magnified as Liverpool have now won just two of their first eight league games in their worst start for 10 years.

Their latest sloppy defeat was a far cry from the dynamic performances that took them close to winning the quadruple last season.

But Klopp was convinced Liverpool deserved something from the game after they controlled a large part of the first half.

Darwin Nunez and then Roberto Firmino grabbed equalisers before Saka’s winner and Klopp said: “In general it was a good away game against a good side. We caused them a lot of problems, but stand here with no points.

“I saw a team with the right attitude and put in a proper fight. A couple of things went against us, but we are not blind, we see we could have done better in moments.

“I think the game is a draw, but today we have nothing.”

AFP

As He Plots Liverpool Revival, Klopp Says Even Ronaldo Has Confidence Dips

In this file photo, Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo reacts at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 7, 2022. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) 

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says even Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are not immune from confidence issues as he seeks to find a solution to his side’s frustrating inconsistency.

Saturday’s 3-3 draw at home to Brighton, after recovering from 2-0 down to lead 3-2, was an example of the wider malaise affecting the team.

Liverpool are ninth in the Premier League after just two wins from seven matches and are already 11 points behind leaders Arsenal.

Klopp is staying patient but knows Tuesday’s Champions League tie at home to Rangers has become a key game, with Liverpool having already lost once in Group A.

“People can ask how could it happen that these players are not full of confidence,” said the German. “Do you think Cristiano Ronaldo (reduced to a substitute role at Manchester United) at this moment is top of his confidence levels?

“He was for ages the best player in the world and now it is not going his way and it is not exactly the same. That happens to all of us.

“Lionel Messi played last season (his first at Paris Saint-Germain) where it was not exactly the same because these kind of things are really important to all of us and you have to work for it.

“You have to take the little things to take a step in the right direction and be really ready for the moment when it is back and that is what we are doing.”

Klopp has pointed out that it has been difficult to establish momentum due to interruptions in Liverpool’s schedule — two of the club’s matches were postponed after Queen Elizabeth II’s death last month.

The team bounced back from a humiliating 4-1 defeat in Napoli in their Champions League opener to beat Ajax with a last-gasp winner but then went nearly three weeks without a game.

READ ALSO: Holders Lyon Face Arsenal In Tough Women’s Champions League Draw

Fixture headache

The compact schedule this season, made tighter by the looming World Cup in Qatar, adds an extra headache.

“Patience is not 100 percent the right word but we have to be patient to do the right thing again, and again and again until it works out again and then we will be fine,” said Klopp.

“We cannot always start something completely new but if we can help the boys with a way to defend differently we will do that.

“It is the same job I had in the time when you win 10 or 12 games in a row — you have to stay on top of it and work on the details. That is what we do now, just with a different confidence level.”

Klopp said he had sought to reassure recent arrival Darwin Nunez that there were no worries about his contribution or form.

Liverpool signed the Uruguayan forward from Benfica in June for a fee that could rise to 100 million euros ($98 million) but the goals have dried up after he scored two in his first two appearances.

Nunez’s form is in stark contrast with that of Erling Haaland, who has made an incredible impact at Manchester City since arriving in the summer transfer window.

Klopp said Liverpool’s coaching staff had held talks with 23-year-old Nunez.

“We just told him we are really calm,” said Klopp. “It’s really important in our situation that he isn’t looking like he is worrying or whatever.

“The team is not flying, and that makes it not easier for a striker, especially not for a finisher.”

AFP

Klopp Urges Liverpool To Show Madrid Who’s Boss In Champions League Final

In this file photo, Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 13, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to show they can more than match Real Madrid as the European giants collide in a Champions League final on Saturday for the second time in five seasons.

Real were too strong when the sides meet in Kyiv in 2018, but Klopp’s men bounced back to become European champions a year later and are now in their third final under the German.

Liverpool will join AC Milan as the second most successful club in European Cup history with seven titles if they lift the trophy at the Stade de France.

Madrid are well out in front as the kings of Europe with 13 titles, but Klopp is keen for Liverpool not to be cowed by history being on the Spanish champions’ side.

“If you look at the history of the club, if you look at the experience of the other team, the way Real Madrid celebrate the comebacks, I would say it’s Real Madrid (who are favourites) because of experience,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“But I want us to be on the same level, thinking on the same level. I want us to be us in this game.”

Madrid have needed stirring fightbacks to see off Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to get back to the final for the first time in four years.

Liverpool’s path to Paris has been more serene as they prepare for their 63rd game of the season.

Klopp’s men have already won the League Cup and FA Cup and missed out on the Premier League title by a single point to City.

“Once in my life someone told me the more often you win something the more likely it gets you will not win it anymore,” added Klopp. “I’m not sure Real Madrid thinks like that but I have that dream a little bit that it’s the case.

“We obviously played some really, really good stuff this season. We are not here by surprise or we got a ticket or something like that -– we deserved it.

“Being us on the highest level would be cool. If we could do that then we are a really uncomfortable opponent.

“We can talk about what Real Madrid achieved in the past and this season, how good their players are, we probably could write a book together now about this team. But we are good as well and that’s what we want to show.”

READ ALSO: Courtois Ready For Penalties Against Liverpool: ‘It’s A Moment To Shine’

Right Side Of History 

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Madrid also already have silverware to show for their season as they cruised to the La Liga title.

“We are very close to achieving the maximum,” said Carlo Ancelotti ahead of his record-breaking fifth Champions League final as a coach.

Ancelotti won Real’s long-awaited 10th European Cup in his debut season during his first stint in charge at the Bernabeu in 2014.

Thibaut Courtois was on the opposing side that night in Lisbon as the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper and the Belgian is looking forward to being on the right side of history in his first Champions League final since.

“We know when Real Madrid play in finals they win them,” said Courtois. “Now I’m on the right side of that.”

Madrid have enjoyed a more relaxing build-up after sealing the Spanish title nearly a month ago.

But Liverpool are hopeful of having a fully-fit squad to choose from.

Midfielders Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara were doubtful due to muscle injuries, but both returned to training this week and are in contention to start.

AFP

Liverpool And Real Madrid Ready For Champions League Final Rematch

In this file photo, Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Rodrygo (C) vies with Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (L) and Liverpool’s Scottish defender Andrew Robertson during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 14, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Liverpool and Real Madrid meet in the Champions League final for the second time in five years in Paris on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp’s side aiming to end the season with a trophy treble while the Spanish giants will look to Karim Benzema to inspire them to a 14th European Cup victory.

A crowd of 80,000 will be inside the Stade de France for the final, which kicks off at 9 pm in Paris (1900 GMT), including around 20,000 supporters of each side who have officially got their hands on precious tickets for the game.

The final promises to be a fitting climax to the European season, with Liverpool looking to win a second Champions League in four seasons since losing 3-1 to Real in Kyiv in 2018 when Mohamed Salah went off injured in the first half and Gareth Bale scored twice for the Spaniards.

Victory would round off a campaign in which Liverpool won the English League Cup and FA Cup, and finished just a point behind champions Manchester City in the Premier League.

“If you are a football person you know what my boys did so far this season was exceptional,” Klopp said on Friday.

“But we all know you are judged by the colour of the medal after a game.

“I’m more than happy and proud of what we did so far, it’s really special. I will feel better if we win the game and that’s all that I am concerned about,” added Klopp, who has been boosted by the news that midfield duo Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara are fit to play.

 Seventh heaven? 

The Anfield club can win their seventh European Cup, a tally that would see them go level with AC Milan and leave only Real with more victories.

Indeed Madrid are looking to win their fifth Champions League in nine seasons and, ominously, have won on all of their last seven final appearances.

While Liverpool saw off Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal in the knockout rounds, Carlo Ancelotti’s Real produced a series of memorable comebacks to beat Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and then Manchester City.

“It is a great success for all of us to be here. We know very well the demands at this club, the history, but for us to get here is huge,” said Ancelotti, who last year was in charge of Liverpool’s local rivals Everton.

“We are convinced that the season has already been very, very good but now we are very close to getting the big one.”

Liverpool look to have the stronger side on paper, with Alisson in goal, Virgil van Dijk marshalling their defence and Salah and Sadio Mane leading their attack.

Yet Real are pinning their hopes on Karim Benzema, the 34-year-old Frenchman who has 15 goals in the competition this season.

Eyes on Benzema 

He has scored 44 times altogether this season to lead Real to the Spanish title and is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.

“He is for sure one of the best players in the world, probably the best forward in the world, and I’m sure the most underestimated player maybe in history,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told AFP on Friday when asked about Benzema.

“He has more personality and leadership on and off the field now but what has not changed is his quality and he remains as humble as ever,” said Ancelotti, who won the 2014 Champions League with Real in his first spell as coach.

Ancelotti can become the first coach to win the Champions League four times, having also triumphed with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007 — he is currently level on three wins with Zinedine Zidane and Bob Paisley.

 Fans descend on Paris

This will be the third final between the clubs, who also met in Paris in 1981, when the English side triumphed thanks to Alan Kennedy’s goal at the Parc des Princes.

This final — which will be refereed by Frenchman Clement Turpin — is only being played in Paris after Saint-Petersburg was stripped of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There is some concern about the new pitch at the Stade de France which was only laid this week after the venue was used for a concert last weekend — Klopp suggested playing on a brand new surface was “obviously not the best news”.

Around 40,000 Liverpool fans without tickets for the game are also expected to be in Paris, while around seven thousand police will be on duty as part of a massive security operation.

AFP

Liverpool Eye Revenge Against Real Madrid In Champions League Final Rematch

In this file photo, Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Rodrygo (C) vies with Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (L) and Liverpool’s Scottish defender Andrew Robertson during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on April 14, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are seeking to cap a remarkable season by avenging their 2018 defeat against Real Madrid when the sides meet again in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday, but the Spanish giants have their sights on a 14th European Cup triumph.

It is Liverpool’s third Champions League final in five seasons after they followed their 3-1 loss to Real in Kyiv by beating Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid a year later, and they are widely seen as slight favourites at the Stade de France to become kings of Europe for a seventh time.

That would put them level with AC Milan, with only Saturday’s opponents having won the trophy more often, and it would allow the Anfield club to finish the campaign with a treble after they lifted the English League Cup and FA Cup.

“Winning trophies, there is no better feeling,” admitted Liverpool’s Andy Robertson this week.

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For a long time, an unprecedented quadruple was on, but Klopp’s side fell just short in the Premier League, finishing a point behind Manchester City.

“Without the Champions League, it would be a great season. With the Champions League it would be a fantastic season,” said Klopp.

It has already been a memorable few years for Klopp’s side following their loss in Kyiv, when Mohamed Salah was forced off injured in the first half, Lorius Karius endured a nightmare in goal, and Gareth Bale’s brilliance won the trophy for Real.

“I think it is revenge time,” Salah, scorer of 31 goals this season, admitted recently.

Liverpool appear well placed given how much they have strengthened since 2018, chiefly in goal with the arrival of Alisson, while Thiago Alcantara has been a standout in midfield.

Ancelotti Targets Number Four

The problem is that you could be forgiven for thinking that Real’s name is on the cup, as it has literally been so many times before.

While Liverpool saw off Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal in the knockout rounds, it is easy to forget now that Carlo Ancelotti’s Real side lost at home to Sheriff Tiraspol in the group stage, such has been their extraordinary run since.

They were 2-0 down on aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 before a Karim Benzema hat-trick in 17 second-half minutes in the second leg took them through.

Against Chelsea in the quarter-finals they scored late at home in the return leg to force extra time before Benzema got their winner.

The best was saved for the semi-final against Manchester City when they went into the 90th minute of the second leg needing two goals just to force extra time. They duly got them, and Benzema then struck the winner.

The 34-year-old Frenchman now leads Madrid into the final in his home country after a campaign in which he has scored 44 goals, with 15 in Europe and 27 on their run to the Spanish title.

Benzema will surely be nailed on to win the Ballon d’Or if his club triumphs in Paris, where victory would also help Real supporters get over Kylian Mbappe’s decision to snub them.

Madrid are chasing their fifth Champions League in nine seasons, a run that began when they beat Atletico Madrid in Lisbon in 2014.

Benzema was in that team, as was Luka Modric, while Ancelotti was the coach in his first spell in charge.

The veteran Italian can now become the first coach to win the Champions League four times, having also triumphed with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007.

Security Operation

The latter victory came against Liverpool and was revenge for the Anfield club’s win over Ancelotti’s Milan in Istanbul in 2005.

“Playing a final with them is something special. They have won six Champions Leagues, and if they reach seven they would go level with Milan, so I have extra motivation to win this final,” smiled Ancelotti, who had a spell as boss of Liverpool’s local rivals Everton before returning to Madrid.

This will be the third final between the clubs, who also met in Paris in 1981 — then the English side were victorious thanks to Alan Kennedy’s goal at the Parc des Princes.

This final was not supposed to be played here, but Paris stepped in after UEFA stripped Saint-Petersburg of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A crowd of 80,000 will fill the Stade de France, with 20,000 fans of each team officially in attendance.

Around 40,000 more Liverpool fans are expected to travel to Paris without tickets, however, and around seven thousand police will be on duty as part of a massive security operation.

AFP

Salah And Son Heung-Min Share Premier League Golden Boot

A photo combination of Son and Salah holding their gongs.

 

Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min shared the Premier League Golden Boot on Sunday after both forwards scored on the final day of the season.

South Korea’s Son netted twice in Tottenham’s 5-0 win at Norwich to move to 23 goals — one clear of Salah, but the Egypt forward struck late in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at home to Wolves.

Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo finished third with 18 goals in his first season back in the Premier League.

Salah’s goal was ultimately in vain as Jurgen Klopp’s team finished one point behind Manchester City, who scored three goals in five minutes to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

Tottenham’s win secured a fourth-place finish, meaning they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

Son, 29, said it was “incredible” to have the award.

“I can’t believe it,” he told the BBC. “I got really emotional. I dreamed of it as a child. Literally it’s my in hands. I can’t believe it.

“Until my goal I was really frustrated that I missed big chances. I told the players I missed the easiest chances and scored one of the toughest ones.

“I didn’t give up. I wanted to score today. The team helped me a lot at half-time. They wanted to help me, you could see it today.”

Spurs manager Antonio Conte was delighted to see club and individual ambitions realised with the rout of the Canaries at Carrow Road.

“This was our target,” he told the BBC.

“First to get in the Champions League but then when there was a chance to help Sonny reach the top scorer, we enjoyed it,” the Italian added.

“I have seen his team-mates try to help him. The award is for Son but it’s for the whole team. They helped him reach this big achievement.”

AFP

Fuelled By Premier League Dynasty, Man City Crave Champions League Legacy

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy as City players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City’s latest Premier League title triumph established the champions as a burgeoning dynasty, but Pep Guardiola won’t be satisfied until their domestic bliss becomes the catalyst to conquer Europe.

City’s fourth title in five seasons is arguably the greatest achievement of Guardiola’s glittering career as he found a way to hold off Liverpool’s relentless challenge by one point.

“The magnitude of our achievement is because of the magnitude of this rival,” said Guardiola. “Never ever I had a rival like Liverpool in my career as a football player or manager.”

But even Jurgen Klopp’s men, in the midst of one of the best seasons in their history, were unable to surpass City, leaving them with just one Premier League title in 32 years.

Lauding his players’ remarkable staying power, Guardiola said: “You cannot be here over the last five years if you don’t have that resilience.

“We have the desire to win. To win titles, especially the Premier League, is not just how good we are with the ball.”

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) and Manchester City’s English defender John Stones (L) celebrate with the Premier League trophy on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Nothing resembled that resilience more than the manner of City’s latest title triumph.

Losing 2-0 to Aston Villa with 15 minutes to go, City rallied in remarkable fashion to score three times in five minutes.

Yet, while Guardiola celebrates the ninth major prize of his six-year City reign, Klopp will be planning to add another chapter to Liverpool’s rich Champions League history.

Liverpool face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28 and Guardiola would dearly love to swap places with Klopp in Paris.

Since winning the second of his two Champions League crowns with Barcelona on 2011, Guardiola’s relationship with Europe’s elite club competition has been scarred by one agonising failure after another.

This season was no different as City crashed to a devastating semi-final exit against Real Madrid, blowing a 5-3 aggregate lead in the final seconds of normal time before losing in the extra period.

That heartache at the Bernabeu came a year after City’s limp loss to Chelsea in their first ever Champions League final.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

Haaland The Perfect Fit? 

In this file photo, ex-Dortmund’s Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland applauds after the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund v VfL Wolfsburg in Dortmund, western Germany, on April 16, 2022. INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

With that in mind, Guardiola knows City cannot afford to stand still if they are to finally triumph in Europe and keep Liverpool at bay in the Premier League.

A £51.5 million ($63 million) swoop for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland earlier in May was the opening salvo in their bid to achieve those two targets.

Haaland scored a remarkable 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund and appears an ideal fit for City.

The 21-year-old son of former City defender Alfie Haaland will arrive in time for next season, bringing his elite predatory instincts and physical presence to a City attack lacking both those qualities despite their success.

With the Norway international in the fold and Guardiola also looking to upgrade his options at left-back and in central midfield, it would be a major surprise if City were missing from the title race next term.

The only threat to City’s dynastic ambitions comes in the shape of Guardiola’s future plans.

Guardiola’s current contract expires in June 2023, by which time he will have spent seven years with City, three seasons longer than he managed Barcelona and four more than his spell with Bayern Munich.

The 51-year-old revealed amid the title celebrations he is “exhausted” and will not discuss a further extension to his time in Manchester until next season.

However, it is unlikely he would be able to find a better working environment than the one he enjoys with City.

City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners are never afraid to flex their financial muscle in the transfer market and have surrounded Guardiola with the lieutenants of his choice in director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive officer Ferran Soriano.

The quirky Spaniard marches to the beat of his own drum and a game-changing departure cannot be completely ruled out.

But the fierce competitor that lies beneath Guardiola’s urbane demeanour could be the key to his decision.

He sees Liverpool as a worthy opponent and, as a title race for the ages proved, pitting his wits against Klopp is the toughest, and most rewarding, challenge he could face.

AFP

‘Story Of My Life’: Klopp Laments As Man City Pip Liverpool In Title Race

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
In this file photo, Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool’s agonising failure to win the Premier League title was the “story of my life” as the German had to settle for second place behind Manchester City again.

Klopp’s side were within touching distance of the title for a few precious minutes at Anfield on Sunday as they chased a winning goal against Wolves while City trailed 2-0 against Aston Villa.

But, in a dramatic finish to the title race, City scored three times in the closing stages to win 3-2 and take the trophy by one point from second placed Liverpool.

The Reds’ 3-1 victory over Wolves was rendered irrelevant by City’s epic comeback, leaving Klopp to rue a second last-day title blow inflicted by Pep Guardiola’s team.

City had edged out Liverpool in the 2019 title race, while Klopp endured two last-day failures to win promotion to the Bundesliga during his time as Mainz boss.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

“Congratulations to Man City and Pep Guardiola. Thank you to Aston Villa and Wolverhampton for making a proper game of it,” Klopp said.

“It’s not the result we wanted. It was a bit of a rollercoaster. I don’t know the results exactly but I know Villa were 1-0 up –- were they 2-0 up as well? Of course at the moment there’s disappointment here as well.

“92 points is absolutely incredible. We wanted it all, but now it’s OK.

“Finishing second is the story of my life. I’m still record holder for not getting promoted in Germany with the highest points tally. You need to get more points than any other teams, but we didn’t do that.”

Despite Klopp’s lament, he has led Liverpool to FA Cup and League Cup glory this term and can win a third trophy if they beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday.

The German has also won the Champions League and Premier League with Liverpool in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Klopp insisted Liverpool had nothing to be ashamed of after cutting into the 14-point lead City held at the top in January to take the title race to the wire.

Hailing City as the world’s best team, he said: “You can’t do more than give your absolute best and that’s what the boys did again.

“We chased the best team in the world to the wire, that’s absolutely special. We’ll build a team again and go again.”

Klopp’s main concern ahead of the Champions League final is an injury to Thiago Alcantara that is likely to rule out the influential midfielder.

“I think he’ll be out of the final but I don’t know. He’s limping, so it’s maybe not the best sign,” he said.

AFP

Man City Keep Title Fate In Their Hands Despite West Ham Scare

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus reacts at the end of the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester City at the London Stadium, in London on May 15, 2022. Ian Kington / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Manchester City staged a thrilling fightback from two goals down to keep the destiny of the Premier League title in their hands, but Riyad Mahrez’s late penalty miss forced the leaders to settle for a dramatic 2-2 draw at West Ham on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side were in danger of gifting second placed Liverpool a title lifeline after West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen struck twice in the first half.

But City’s stirring recovery showed the character that has already brought them three titles in the last four seasons.

Jack Grealish got one back soon after the interval and Vladimir Coufal’s own goal completed City’s escape act.

It should have been even better for City, but Mahrez’s penalty was saved by Lukasz Fabianski with five minutes left.

While that was a bitter blow to Guardiola, who stood ashen-faced on the touchline, in the circumstances City will be relieved to have moved four points clear of Liverpool with a goal difference seven better than their rivals.

They will retain the title if Jurgen Klopp’s side lose their game in hand at Southampton on Tuesday.

If Liverpool beat Southampton to close the gap to one point, Guardiola’s men can still clinch the trophy with a victory against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on May 22.

A title race for the ages could well go down to the last day of the season, when Liverpool host Wolves, as it did when City pipped the Reds to first place in 2019.

Guardiola said this week he wants players with a “special mentality” as he looks to bolster his squad for next season, personalities who, like him, wake up every day obsessed with winning.

City’s enthralling revival to extend their unbeaten league run to 11 matches showed Guardiola already has plenty of fighters in his squad, although he might not put Mahrez on penalty duties again for a while.

Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho were passed fit in start in City’s defence after suffering injuries in Wednesday’s win at Wolves.

But City were already without injured defenders Ruben Dias, John Stones, and Kyle Walker and they didn’t look comfortable at the back from the opening moments.

READ ALSO: Tottenham Move Temporarily Into Top Four After Burnley Win

On a Knife-Edge 

West Ham United’s Czech defender Vladimir Coufal (L) and Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne speak at the end of the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester City at the London Stadium, in London on May 15, 2022. Ian Kington / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Craig Dawson got behind Oleksandr Zinchenko to meet Pablo Fornals’ cross, but with the goal at his mercy, the West Ham defender headed over.

That early threat seemed to fluster City, who controlled possession but found it difficult to create clear chances with West Ham happy to defend deep and strike on the counter.

Just as City looked set to turn the screw, they were hit with a sucker punch in the 24th minute.

Fornals’ opportunistic pass caught Laporte and Zinchenko trying to play offside and Bowen nipped in behind, rounding Ederson before slotting home from a tight angle.

Although West Ham had nothing to play for, they had already beaten Liverpool and Chelsea at home and this was no easy ride for City as David Moyes’ game-plan exposed the flaws in the leaders’ commitment to all-out attack.

City’s soft centre was exposed again on the stroke of half-time.

Fabianski’s long kick was headed on and Michail Antonio clipped his pass beyond Zinchenko, freeing Bowen to sprint clear and shoot low past Ederson.

Desperately needing a quick response after the break, Grealish gave City a lifeline in the 49th minute.

Rodri’s flick reached Grealish and his shot bounced into the ground, going through Dawson’s legs and past the wrong-footed Fabianski.

That was the signal for City to lay seige to the West Ham goal.

Fabianski saved Jesus’s drive with his legs, then kept out Bernardo Silva’s volley.

City’s relentless pressure was rewarded in the 69th minute when Mahrez’s free-kick was headed into his own net by the diving Coufal.

The drama wasn’t over and City were awarded an 85th minute penalty after a VAR review of Dawson’s trip on Jesus.

Mahrez stepped up with a chance to almost seal the title, but Fabianski dived to his left to make a save that kept the title race on a knife edge.

AFP