Firmino Stars As Liverpool Beat Tottenham

Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (2L) shoots but sees his shot saved during the English Premier League football match against Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on January 11, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

 

Liverpool continued their relentless march towards a first Premier League title in 30 years as Roberto Firmino’s strike earned a 1-0 win at Tottenham to open up a 16-point lead at the top of the table.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have now made the best ever start to an English top-flight campaign after 21 games with 61 points from a possible 63.

There is now a 31-point gap between the sides that contested last season’s Champions League final as Spurs remain in eighth, nine points adrift of even the top four.

However, Tottenham had their chances to take at least a point as Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso missed the target with the goal gaping in the final 15 minutes.

Lo Celso’s miss left Jose Mourinho on his knees in anguish and the honeymoon period for the Tottenham manager is already over after just two wins in their last eight games in all competitions.

Mourinho sprang a huge surprise with his team selection as Japhet Tanganga was handed his Premier League debut in defence.

The 20-year-old was forced into action straight away as he blocked Firmino’s goalbound effort before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the post inside four minutes.

Spurs will be without Harry Kane for most of the remainder of the season after the England captain underwent surgery on a torn hamstring.

Mourinho responded to Kane’s absence by utilising Lucas Moura and Dele Alli in attack as he sat back and hoped to catch the European champions on the break.

Spurs did have openings which could have changed the course of the game early on as both Lucas and Son fired wide from the edge of the box.

However, it was largely one-way traffic before half-time as Liverpool controlled the game and waited patiently for Spurs’ fragile defence to break.

Tottenham have kept just one clean sheet in 13 games since Mourinho took charge and their luck ran out eight minutes before half-time as Tanganga’s inexperience showed as he tried to intercept Mohamed Salah’s pass into Firmino and the Brazilian fired across Paulo Gazzaniga into the far corner.

Salah could have put the game to bed before the break, but pulled his shot wide.

Mourinho’s men showed more ambition in the second period and should have reaped some reward.

Serge Aurier forced Alisson Becker into action before Son’s deflected shot trickled just wide.

At the other end, Gazzaniga kept the home side in the game with a brilliant save low to his left from Sadio Mane’s downward header.

The Argentine’s heroics nearly proved crucial as firstly Son had a huge chance to level when played in by Lucas, but the South Korean uncharacteristically blasted over the bar.

Liverpool were let off the hook again seven minutes from time when Lo Celso was perfectly picked out by Aurier’s cross and seemed to do everything right as he slid in to connect, only to see the ball fly wide and Mourinho fall to the floor in despair.

AFP

Mourinho Says Kane ‘Irreplaceable’ Ahead Of Tottenham, Liverpool Clash

Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho (L) congratulates English striker Harry Kane after the UEFA Champions League Group B football match against Olympiakos at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London on November 26, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

 

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said he would get “depressed” if he wallowed in the news that Harry Kane is to be missing for at least three months.

The Spurs striker has undergone surgery on a torn hamstring that will see him miss the majority of the remainder of the season at club level and in a race to be match fit to lead England at Euro 2020.

“If I speak too much about Harry, I get a bit depressed and then you are going to say he is miserable and in a bad mood,” said Mourinho, ahead of Premier League leaders Liverpool’s visit to north London on Saturday.

“Harry is irreplaceable. You know that we cannot play like we normally play when Harry Kane is in the team. We cannot do it the same way as we do with Harry.”

Spurs have been linked with a move for AC Milan’s Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek as cover for Kane’s absence with Tottenham needing to chase down a six-point gap to Chelsea to qualify for the Champions League next season.

However, Mourinho said he is willing to wait until the summer to add to his squad.

“If the boss arrives with the solution for these difficult months then so be it,” added the Portuguese.

“But if we don’t find the right opportunity or the right solution we are going to wait until summer to make decision for the evolution of the team.”

Kane is just one of a host of absences Mourinho must contend with for the visit of the European champions, who are looking for a record 20th win from their opening 21 games to the league season.

Moussa Sissoko is also absent until April, while Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies, Danny Rose and Tanguy Ndombele remain out.

Club captain Lloris has at least returned to training after three months out with a dislocated elbow suffered in a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Brighton in October.

The French number one has yet to feature under Mourinho, but he is looking forward to being able to call on Lloris’s experience after a difficult spell for Paulo Gazzaniga in goal.

“Lloris has not played a game for me. Ben has played one and did very, very well. It’s good news. By the end of the month we will have two new players,” Mourinho added.

“We have a goalkeeper that is doing his best and we have confidence in him but for Hugo to be back after such an important injury is good for him.”

Liverpool Sign ‘Bumper Kit’ Deal With Nike

 

Liverpool on Tuesday announced they had struck a huge new kit deal with Nike to replace New Balance from the 2020-21 season, underlining the Premier League club’s growing strength on and off the pitch.

The US sportswear giant will supply playing, training and travel wear for Liverpool’s men’s, women’s and academy teams and the coaching and Liverpool FC Foundation staff from June 1.

The club did not give a figure for the “multi-year partnership” but The Athletic reported in October that it would earn Liverpool up to £70 million ($92 million, 82.2 million euros) a year.

It was made possible after the European champions and runaway Premier League leaders won a court battle with New Balance in October.

“Our iconic kit is a key part of our history and identity,” said Liverpool managing director and chief commercial officer Billy Hogan.

“We welcome Nike into the LFC family as our new official kit supplier and expect them to be an incredible partner for the club, both at home and globally as we continue to expand our fanbase.”

Bert Hoyt, vice-president and general manager of Nike Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Liverpool Football Club has such a proud heritage and strong identity.

“The partnership with Liverpool FC underscores our leadership in global football and with the club’s passionate worldwide fanbase and strong legacy of success — they have a very bright future ahead.”

 Man United eclipsed 

New Balance had argued it had triggered a clause in the current deal that would allow it to maintain the contract for another five years if it matched the terms of any competitor’s offer.

The Athletic reported that Nike would pay Liverpool a flat fee of £30 million per season, well short of the reported £40 million New Balance currently pays.

But with royalties of 20 percent on net sales of merchandise — reduced to five percent for footwear — plus bonuses for winning the Champions League and Premier League, Liverpool will be earning substantially more under the new deal.

A judge ruled in favour of Liverpool’s case that New Balance, which had been supplying the club’s kit since 2015, could not match Nike’s enormous distribution network and promise to market the club via “superstar athletes and influencers”.

These include LeBron James, Serena Williams and Canadian rapper Drake.

Reports in the British press on Tuesday said the Nike deal would net the club £80 million per year, eclipsing Manchester United’s Adidas contract, worth an annual £75 million.

Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have the biggest kit sponsorship deals, with La Liga champions Barca bringing in at least 150 million euros a season from Nike.

Liverpool are currently 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League and are closing in on their first English top-flight title since 1990.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are also through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

AFP

Liverpool Kids Bury Everton As Lucas Rescues Spurs

 

Liverpool inflicted fresh misery on Merseyside rivals Everton as a superb strike from teenager Curtis Jones sealed a 1-0 win in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

Jones’ second-half curler sent Anfield in ecstasy as the club’s youth academy graduates handed Everton an embarrassing derby defeat.

The 18-year-old Liverpool-born midfielder was making only his fifth appearance and his memorable match-winner was his first senior goal.

Jones is the youngest goalscorer for Liverpool in a Merseyside derby since Robbie Fowler.

Without a win over their rivals in any competition since 2010 and thrashed 5-2 at Anfield in the Premier League earlier this season, Everton will feel the pain from this defeat against their under-strength neighbours for some while.

Hit by injuries that left him with 12 fit senior outfield players, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had made nine changes, selecting Nat Phillips, 22, and teenage trio Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott, and Jones.

In contrast, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti made just two changes, fielding a strong team as the visitors chased a first win at Anfield since 1999.

Liverpool’s injury problems mounted within 10 minutes when James Milner limped off to be replaced by another teenager Yasser Larouci.

Ancelotti’s side threatened early on when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s strike was pushed away from Adrian, who then repelled Mason Holgate’s header and Richarlison’s shot.

Liverpool’s youngsters had been thrashed by Aston Villa while the senior stars were away at the Club World Cup in December.

But they acquitted themselves much better this time and Japan striker Takumi Minamino, making his debut after joining from Salzburg, glanced a header narrowly off-target before Divock Origi’s low drive was brilliantly saved by Jordan Pickford.

Jones’ moment of magic came in the 71st minute when he played a chipped pass to Origi, took the return ball and curled a stunning effort into the top corner.

Spurs held

Elsewhere on Sunday, Lucas Moura kept Tottenham’s FA Cup hopes alive with the equaliser in their 1-1 draw at second-tier Middlesbrough, while Callum Hudson-Odoi got back in the groove as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

Tottenham haven’t lifted a major trophy since 2008 when current Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate scored the League Cup winner against Chelsea.

Woodgate was on course to dent Tottenham’s bid to end that wretched run when Ashley Fletcher put Middlesbrough ahead in the second half at the Riverside Stadium.

But Brazilian winger Lucas headed the equaliser to send the tie to a replay in north London later in January.

“When we were losing 1-0, at that moment I had the feeling of ‘we are in trouble’,” Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho said.

“We could be out like a few other Premier League teams. But then everyone reacted. I reacted. The boys reacted.”

At Stamford Bridge, there were signs that Hudson-Odoi might be emerging from his sophomore slump.

He opened the scoring against the second-tier side in the sixth minute, just his second goal of the season and his first since September.

Blues boss Frank Lampard had made nine changes, but Chelsea doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Hudson-Odoi’s shot was parried straight to Ross Barkley and the midfielder poked home at the back post.

“I was particularly pleased for Callum, he has had a bad injury, is getting himself fit and getting sharper. His goal was an early settler for us,” Lampard said.

Crystal Palace became the third Premier League club to be knocked out this weekend as second tier Derby won 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Jayden Bogle fizzed a cross to the far post and Chris Martin tapped into the net in the 32nd minute.

In a VAR first in England, referee Michael Oliver used the pitch-side monitor to change a decision, sending off Luka Milivojevic after initially booking the Palace midfielder for kicking out at Tom Huddlestone in the 63rd minute.

Sheffield United avoided a non-league upset with a 2-1 win against AFC Fylde at Bramall Lane.

Liverpool Hit By Multiple Injuries Ahead Of Everton Clash

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp sends on Liverpool’s Belgium striker Divock Origi during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sheffield United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 2, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he has some tough decisions to make ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup meeting with Everton after the injury toll mounted for the Premier League leaders.

Midfielder Naby Keita became the latest player to be added to the injured list, having sustained a groin problem before Thursday’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United, which restored Liverpool’s 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

With defenders Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne, midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho and forward Rhian Brewster all out, Klopp finds himself down to just 12 senior outfield players, plus new signing Takumi Minamino and a number of youth team members for the Merseyside derby.

“I won’t tell Carlo Ancelotti my line-up, but I will do what I think is right to do,” said Klopp, who fielded a youth team in the League Cup quarter-final defeat at Aston Villa last month as his senior side were in Qatar winning the Club World Cup.

“Some things I can decide by myself, and some things the medical department will tell me.

“I don’t know what the line-up will be at the moment, but it will be the best possible for us at the moment.

“I’m pretty sure Carlo won’t make a lot of changes. He has started already really well and this is an opportunity for Everton to win at Anfield for the first time in a few years.”

Everton, who suffered their first defeat under new manager Ancelotti at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday, have not beaten Liverpool at Anfield since 1999.

Everton ‘opportunity’

Ancelotti, an FA Cup winner with Chelsea in 2010, on Friday urged his players to seize a “fantastic opportunity” in the third-round tie.

“It is a fantastic challenge but also a fantastic opportunity,” said the Italian, who is the only manager to get the better of Klopp this season.

“We are going to play against the best team in this moment, they are world champions so congratulations to them, but this is a fantastic challenge for us.”

Ancelotti guided Napoli to a 2-0 Champions League victory over Liverpool in September and took a point from a 1-1 draw at Anfield in November before he was sacked by the Italian club.

Asked the secret to beating Klopp, the 60-year-old offered a shrug and a smile. “Score more goals,” he said.

“Everyone knows how Liverpool play,” he added. “They are a fantastic team, fantastic on the counter-attack, fantastic in transition and in recovery of the ball and quick attacking. You have to do the perfect game to beat them.

“You cannot defend for 90 minutes and we do not want to defend for 90 minutes. We want to have the possibility to play our football.”

AFP

Liverpool Defeat Sheffield To Maintain A Year Unbeaten Run

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (L) celebrates with Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino after he scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sheffield United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 2, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool made it an entire calendar year without a Premier League defeat as the runaway leaders beat Sheffield United 2-0 on Thursday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side moved 13 points clear of second-placed Leicester thanks to goals from Egypt forward Mohamed Salah and Senegal winger Sadio Mane at Anfield.

Liverpool’s 19th win in 20 league games this season completed an incredible 12 months for a team at the peak of their powers.

The Reds haven’t lost in 37 league games since a defeat at Manchester City on January 3, 2019, and it looks certain they will win the English title for the first time since 1990.

READ ALSO: Swedish Teenage Sensation Set For Juventus Move

With a game in hand to further bolster their advantage, it would take an astonishing collapse to deprive Liverpool of their holy grail.

Winners of their last 18 home league games, Liverpool are unbeaten in 51 top-flight matches at Anfield dating back to April 2017.

As if it wasn’t hard enough to beat Liverpool already, they are proving more impregnable than ever lately.

This was their fifth consecutive top-flight clean-sheet — the first time they have managed that since 2007 — and they completed more passes than any team in one match in the Premier League era.

After a golden 2019 saw Liverpool crowned European and Club World champions, the next target is ending Manchester City’s two-year spell as champions after narrowly missing out last season.

Their sights set on domestic bliss, the new year started just as the old one finished, with Liverpool setting standards of excellence that rival anything achieved by City’s breath-taking team.

Premier League immortality is within touching distance as Klopp’s men are already over halfway towards an unbeaten league season that would replicate the incredible feat of Arsenal’s 2003-04 Invincibles.

Even the strain of Liverpool’s sixth game in 16 days, which had left Klopp claiming he was down to 13 fit senior outfield players, couldn’t derail the leaders.

Liverpool hadn’t even kicked off when that number dwindled further as Naby Keita suffered a groin injury in the warm-up and was replaced by James Milner.

But Liverpool are far too polished to lose focus and they were in front within four minutes.

Flushed With Success

Their win at Bramall Lane in September had come thanks to a mistake from United keeper Dean Henderson and once again Liverpool benefitted from a Blades blunder.

When Virgil van Dijk played a long pass towards Andrew Robertson, it should have been easy for George Baldock to deal with.

But Baldock lost his footing and fell over, allowing Robertson to advance and cross low to Salah, who got in front of Jack O’Connell to steer in a clinical close-range finish for his 14th goal of the season.

David McGoldrick tried to drag United back into it with a dipping strike from the edge of the area that Alisson Becker tipped over.

Salah went close to a second when his instinctive half-volley was pushed over by Henderson at full stretch.

Ahead of their first visit to Anfield for 13 year, Chris Wilder’s down-to-earth side took the unusual decision to train alongside the public on Stanley Park in the shadow of the famous stadium.

The session was interrupted when a dog decided to use one of the training cones as a toilet.

That unpromising omen proved apt as the visitors’ hopes of a shock result were flushed away.

Salah was a constant menace and he met Trent Alexander-Arnold’s superb pass with a first-time drive that Henderson turned away for a corner.

Liverpool’s ability to press any opponent into submission and deliver the knockout blow with their lethal front three has made them virtually unplayable over the last 18 months.

United were the latest victims as Mane wrapped up the points in the 64th minute.

Running onto Robertson’s pass, Mane broke into the area and took Salah’s return pass before firing gleefully into the roof of the net after his initial shot was saved.

AFP

Liverpool’s ‘Brilliant’ 2019 Just A Building Block For Klopp

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp takes part in a press conference at the training ground on the eve of a UEFA Champions league quarter final football match against Porto on April 8, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists the European champions must build on a “brilliant” 2019 to turn a 13-point lead at the top of the table into a first Premier League title in 30 years.

Klopp’s men were not at their flowing best and needed the help of two VAR reviews to continue their relentless march towards the title with a 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday.

Liverpool have now won 18 of their first 19 league games of the season and lost just once in the calendar year in the league, on top of winning the Champions League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

“2019 was brilliant but it’s not important because we count seasons, not years, so the 2019/20 season is not over,” said Klopp.

“We are halfway there, we still have 19 games to play and probably 18 or 19 of them will be like this tonight, for different reasons.

“Who cares about points in December? We just created a basis which we will work with from now on, that’s all.”

Fuming at VAR

Wolves were angry even before the VAR controversies as the Premier League Christmas scheduling meant they travelled to Anfield just 45 hours after a thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester City.

In the match they were left fuming at the two calls that went against them in quick succession towards the end of the first half.

Mane swept home his 14th goal of the season from Lallana’s knockdown with his shoulder and referee Anthony Taylor’s initial decision was overturned.

However, Wolves were unhappy that another claim for handball against Virgil van Dijk earlier in the move was not checked.

Wolves’ frustration was compounded in first-half stoppage time when Pedro Neto’s equaliser was ruled out.

Jonny was adjudged to be offside by the tiniest of margins in the build-up to add to a number of Premier League goals over the past two days ruled out for the most marginal of offside calls.

“Anfield is amazing but they were celebrating a non-goal. It doesn’t make sense. The referee should sustain his decision,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

“The VAR referee is miles away taking decisions on a lot of things happening here. Who is inside the game? Who feels the intensity and the flow? The referee here.”

Nuno was booked among the Wolves protestations, but the Portuguese coach’s decision to start with top scorer Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore on the bench meant he had weapons up his sleeve come the second half.

Traore’s pace was unleashed on the hour mark and Jimenez followed shortly after, but only after Diogo Jota’s fierce strike forced Alisson Becker into a smart save.

The visitors had lost just once in their previous 14 league games to move into contention for a top-four finish and they did not go down without a fight in the final stages.

“If it would be easy to win that number of games a lot more teams would have done it,” added Klopp.

“It is not easy and you have to fight with all you have. Sometimes we have more and sometimes less and the boys do that all the time, so I couldn’t be more proud of what they did again. To get that result over the line is just impressive.”

Jimenez had the best chance to claim an equaliser, but was denied by a block from Joe Gomez before Joao Moutinho, Romain Saiss, Ruben Vinagre and Traore all fired off target.

Liverpool Ride Their Luck To Beat Wolves 1-0

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (R) embraces Liverpool’s English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) at the end of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England, on December 29, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool needed the aid of VAR to re-establish their 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday as a late Chelsea fightback inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Arsenal in Mikel Arteta’s first home game in charge.

Manchester City remain 14 points adrift of the runaway league leaders, but closed the gap on second-placed Leicester thanks to second-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne to beat Sheffield United 2-0.

Sadio Mane scored the only goal of a controversial clash at Anfield as Liverpool extended their unbeaten run at Anfield in the league to 50 games.

“It was a tough test and rightly so. We play for big stakes, and try to be successful and be as good as possible,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Mane’s strike three minutes before half-time was initially ruled out for a handball by Adam Lallana in the build-up, but a VAR review overturned referee Anthony Taylor’s on-field decision.

Moments later Wolves thought they had levelled when Pedro Nieto fired low past Alisson Becker, but again the VAR review went against the visitors as the goal was ruled out for a fractional offside against Jonny.

“We feel massively hard done by, I can’t get my head around it. It is ridiculous,” said Wolves captain Connor Coady.

“For me it is not working. Some people are saying it gets the right decision but we’re the players on the pitch and it doesn’t feel right to me.”

Wolves had less than 48 hours to recover from a thrilling 3-2 victory over City on Friday, but still had plenty of chances to secure at least a point after the break as Becker denied Diogo Jota before Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore had shots deflected wide in the closing stages.

Just a second league defeat in 15 games means Wolves fall five points behind Chelsea in the fight for a top-four finish after Frank Lampard’s men staged a dramatic turnaround at the Emirates.

‘Awful’ Chelsea Beat Arsenal

Arsenal seemed set to give Arteta a first home win in the league since October as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener was just reward for one of the Gunners’ best performances of the season.

However, the defensive blunders that have blighted Arsenal’s season under three different managers cost them again when goalkeeper Bernd Leno came and missed a Mason Mount free-kick to allow Jorginho to tap home an equaliser seven minutes from time.

Chelsea capped the comeback four minutes later when Tammy Abraham led a counter-attack from one end to the other before finishing from Willian’s cross.

“We were so awful for 30 minutes; slow, lethargic, nervous,” said Lampard, who made a tactical change to bring on Jorginho after just 34 minutes.

“The second half was nothing to do with tactics, it was all to do with spirit and desire.”

However, Arsenal were furious Jorginho was still on the field to equalise as he escaped a second yellow card at 1-0 for a foul on Alexandre Lacazette.

VAR also had a big role to play at the Etihad where City were again far from convincing but did enough to inflict a first away defeat in nearly a year on Sheffield United.

The Blades had a goal ruled out by a VAR review before half-time for another close offside call against Lys Mousset.

The Frenchman also wasted another good chance when one-on-one with Claudio Bravo and the visitors were punished by a characteristically clinical finish from Aguero as he rifled home De Bruyne’s through ball.

De Bruyne then doubled City’s advantage eight minutes from time with a fine low finish.

Liverpool Thrash Leicester To Stretch Lead In Premier League

Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (R) heads home the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Liverpool at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on December 26, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool stretched their Premier League lead to 13 points by outclassing second-placed Leicester in a 4-0 win on Boxing Day as Manchester United and Tottenham cut the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea.

Mikel Arteta got off to an underwhelming start as Arsenal manager with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth, but Carlo Ancelotti had a more positive impact on his Everton bow as Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s brilliant diving header earned a 1-0 win over Burnley.

Chelsea beat Tottenham in a big win for Frank Lampard over his former mentor Jose Mourinho on Sunday, but the gap between the two is back down to three points as the Blues lost 2-0 at home to lowly Southampton.

Spurs came from behind to beat Brighton 2-1 thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli, while United moved just a point further back in seventh as they too overturned a poor start to thrash Newcastle 4-1 with Anthony Martial scoring twice.

Liverpool lay down a marker 

Liverpool’s trip to their closest challengers was the top billing of a busy Boxing Day card, but there was no contest as the newly crowned world champions showed their class.

Roberto Firmino’s header was scant reward for a dominant first half display as Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah wasted big chances.

However, three goals in seven minutes in the final quarter ensured the scoreline fairly reflected their control.

James Milner doubled the visitors’ lead before Firmino’s classy finish made it 3-0.

Trent Alexander-Arnold helped set up all of his side’s first three goals and rounded off a stunning individual display by drilling home the fourth from outside the box.

Tottenham, Man Utd close on Chelsea 

After the highs of Sunday, Chelsea again struggled when faced with breaking down stubborn defensive opponents in Southampton.

The Blues have now lost to West Ham, Bournemouth and the Saints in their last four home league games.

“We are being asked a different question at home. At the moment we are not answering them,” said a frustrated Lampard. “We do not manage to pick up that final pass.”

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl’s decision to rest in-form talisman Danny Ings paid off as his replacement Michael Obafemi scored just his second Premier League goal with a calm finish into the top corner.

The visitors then secured a second straight win to move up to 14th when Nathan Redmond prodded past the onrushing Kepa Arrizabalaga 17 minutes from time.

Spurs were still feeling the after-effects of that Chelsea defeat with Son Heung-min suspended and confidence low when Adam Webster headed Brighton ahead midway through the first half.

Kane swept home at the second attempt after his first shot was saved by Mat Ryan before Alli then delivered all three points with a delightful chipped finish from an acute angle.

“It’s an unbelievable finish,” Kane said admiringly of Alli’s winner. “The ball is cut back to him, comes to hit Kieran – rounds him so quickly and it’s a kind of scoop over the goalkeeper – it’s fantastic.”

United were also beaten 2-0 at bottom-of-the-table Watford on Sunday and another frustrating evening seemingly beckoned when Matty Longstaff scored his second Premier League goal – both of which have come against the Red Devils.

However, unlike when the Magpies beat Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s men 1-0 in October, the response from United was emphatic.

Martial fired in at the near post with the help of Newcastle ‘keeper Martin Dubravka before a thundering finish from Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford’s header made it 3-1 before the break.

Another defensive error then teed up Martial to dink over Dubravka for the fourth early in the second half.

Arteta’s slow start 

Arteta got an early lesson in the flaws that have blighted Arsenal’s season as they were caught out trying to play from the back to concede the opening goal when Dan Gosling put Bournemouth in front.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang again rode to the Gunners’ rescue to equalise just after the hour mark, but a point leaves Arsenal still down in 11th.

“It was intense, I was so excited, I just wanted to pass that energy to the players and I really enjoyed it,” said Arteta.

Sheffield United are sixth, behind Tottenham only on goal difference, as they missed the chance to close to within a point of Chelsea in a 1-1 draw with Watford.

Gerard Deulofeu gave the Hornets an early lead, but that was quickly cancelled out by Oliver Norwood’s penalty.

Crystal Palace climbed up to eighth thanks to Jordan Ayew’s brilliant individual run and finish a minute from time to beat West Ham 2-1.

Aston Villa won the battle of two of the bottom three as Conor Hourihane’s fine strike was enough to beat Norwich 1-0.

AFP

Liverpool Target Premier League Trophies After Club World Cup Triumph

Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) lifts the trophy after winning the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup Final football match between England’s Liverpool and Brazil’s Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on December 21, 2019.
KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

 

Liverpool have made winning trophies a habit in 2019 and Jurgen Klopp’s side return to England and to their push for the Premier League title galvanised after being crowned world champions in Qatar on Saturday.

It is an honour the Anfield side had never before claimed but which is now theirs after Roberto Firmino’s extra-time goal secured a 1-0 victory over Flamengo in a hard-fought Club World Cup final in Doha.

The latest piece of silverware is Liverpool’s third in little over six months after they won the Champions League in June and began this season by winning the UEFA Supercup on penalties against Chelsea.

“The year 2019 for the club has been outstanding,” said defender Virgil van Dijk.

“But we shouldn’t be satisfied with it. We should keep going, keep striving for more, and keep wanting more trophies.”

READ ALSO: Liverpool Beat Flamengo To Win Club World Cup

Van Dijk returned against Flamengo after illness kept him out of the 2-1 semi-final victory against Monterrey and that determination to be back playing summed up Liverpool’s attitude towards the competition.

The Club World Cup is not held in the highest regard in Europe, coming in the middle of a busy club season.

That is in contrast to South America, with Flamengo’s huge support in Doha showing just how much Saturday’s game meant to them.

“It might have been different had we got beat, then maybe some people would have said we were wasting our time or whatever,” acknowledged Andy Robertson.

“But for us even if we did lose it was all worthwhile because we had a chance to win a trophy that the club had never won before.”

He added that “2019 has been incredible, we have won three trophies and hopefully in 2020 there is a couple more for us.”

Liverpool will continue their defence of the Champions League with a last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid in February, and host local rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round on January 5.

However, the Premier League is the one they really have in their sights as they seek a first English title since 1990.

Leicester Beaten

As well as the trophies in 2019, Klopp’s team have not lost a league game since their very first outing of the year, at Manchester City. They have won 25 and drawn one of their last 26 in the Premier League.

There was more good news for them on Saturday as nearest rivals Leicester City lost 3-1 at Manchester City, leaving Liverpool 10 points clear at the top with a game in hand.

Klopp’s squad have little time for celebrations, however, as they return to England to prepare to visit Leicester on Thursday.

But while a week in Qatar might have seemed like an unwanted distraction for some in a busy schedule, Klopp was keen to point out that his team have still played the same number of games as their challengers.

“If we hadn’t played here tonight we would have played at West Ham, so the same number of games, the same situation, and the difference is the climate, even if it was not as warm as probably Europeans would have expected at the moment,” said the German.

“It is still something we have to adapt to. But that is the only thing that is special, so it’s all good, and we need to make sure that we come home safely, and recover in the plane already, and then prepare the Leicester game.”

With several players already out, however, the downside was seeing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain go off hurt in the second half against Flamengo, and the midfielder may be set for another spell on the sidelines.

“When he was landing he got a kick and rolled over. It is far away from being perfect, but we will see if the ligament is only stretched, or ruptured partly,” Klopp said.

“It’s a big shadow again but that’s how it is in a contact sport.”

AFP

Liverpool Beat Flamengo To Win Club World Cup

Liverpool’s players lift the trophy following the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup Final football match between England’s Liverpool and Brazil’s Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on December 21, 2019. KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

 

 

Roberto Firmino was again the hero for Liverpool as the forward’s extra-time goal allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to beat Flamengo 1-0 in the Club World Cup final in Doha on Saturday and lift the trophy for the first time.

Firmino was picked out by Sadio Mane and waited for goalkeeper Diego Alves to commit before slotting low into the net in the 99th minute of an absorbing contest at the Khalifa International Stadium.

It was the moment that finally punctured the hopes of the Brazilian side and their vibrant support, after Liverpool had been denied a penalty by VAR at the end of normal time.

The Qatari referee initially gave a spot-kick for a foul on Mane by Rafinha on the way into the box, but changed his mind following a lengthy review, forcing the contest into an extra 30 minutes.

Still, the European champions had enough to come out on top, with Firmino repeating his semi-final heroics, when he scored an injury-time goal to secure victory against Monterrey of Mexico.

The win allows Liverpool to complete a fabulous year with a third piece of silverware to go with the Champions League and UEFA Supercup.

Having earned the title of world champions, if Klopp’s team can see out their huge lead at the top of the Premier League this season, they will have a case to be remembered as the finest side in the illustrious history of the club.

Flamengo had been hoping to repeat their win over Liverpool in the old Intercontinental Cup back in 1981 and thereby become the first non-European winners of the Club World Cup since fellow Brazilians Corinthians beat Chelsea in 2012.

They fell short, but they certainly gave the Premier League leaders a game in what was their last outing of a long season.

– Van Dijk back, Firmino hits post –

Klopp had welcomed back Virgil van Dijk after the inspirational Dutchman sat out Wednesday’s semi-final due to illness.

That allowed skipper Jordan Henderson to return to his usual midfield berth, while Firmino, Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all recalled after starting on the bench against the Mexicans.

Firmino, Naby Keita and Alexander-Arnold all came close for Liverpool in the first six minutes as they came flying out of the traps.

Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (R) shoots to score during the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup Final football match between England’s Liverpool and Brazil’s Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on December 21, 2019. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

 

Fielding the same team that started their semi-final win over Al Hilal, the Brazilian and South American champions gradually settled into the game, spurred on by their raucous travelling support.

Bruno Henrique, the star of their semi-final victory, had their best opportunity in the first half, coming inside from the left to meet a long ball forward by goalkeeper Alves before seeing his shot deflected past.

The Rio giants, with veteran Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus on the touchline, matched the European champions for much of the first half but were lucky not to fall behind at the beginning of the second period.

Less than two minutes after the restart, Firmino controlled Henderson’s ball forward and sent a shot off the inside of the post before seeing it rebound away.

However, Liverpool also needed goalkeeper Alisson to come to the rescue with a fine stop from a Gabriel Barbosa strike, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then went off injured as extra time began to loom.

Then Alves stretched high to his left to tip a net-bound Henderson shot from 25 yards over the bar before, with the match in injury time, the English side thought they had a penalty for Rafinha’s tackle on Mane.

However, referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim dramatically cancelled the decision after coming across to review the footage on a pitchside monitor.

Liverpool finally found a way through nine minutes into the first half of extra time though, with Mane finding Firmino after being pushed wide of goal by Rafinha.

Firmino made no mistake, and Flamengo were unable to respond.

AFP

Club World Cup: Liverpool, Flamengo Fight Into Extra Time

Flamengo’s defender Rafinha (L) tackles Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane during the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup Final football match between England’s Liverpool and Brazil’s Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on December 21, 2019. KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

 

 

The Club World Cup final between Liverpool and Flamengo in Doha on Saturday went into extra time after finishing 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes.

Looking to lift the trophy for the first time, Liverpool thought they had won a penalty in stoppage time at the end of the game after Sadio Mane appeared to have been caught on his way into the box while taking a shot.

However, the Qatari referee overturned the decision after a VAR review.

Liverpool also had the best chances before that at the Khalifa International Stadium, with Roberto Firmino hitting a post and Jordan Henderson being denied by a brilliant Diego Alves save.

AFP