Liverpool Deserved A Second Penalty – Klopp

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his team was denied a second penalty in their Premier League match against Manchester City at Anfield.

After equalizing through Alexis Mac Allister’s penalty kick at the start of the second half, Klopp was confident his team deserved a second penalty kick when Jeremy Doku’s foot hit the Argentinian’s chest in stoppage time.

“Hit his chest. Did he touch the ball before that? Yes. Does it make a difference, anywhere on the pitch, if the leg goes up like that?

“You can kick the ball before that, but when the foot is here (Klopp points to his chest) and you miss,” Klopp said.

John Stones opened the scoring for Manchester City in the 23rd minute before Mac Allister equalized early in the second half.

The draw keeps Arsenal at the top of the Premier League on goal difference over Liverpool, while Man City are third with only a point difference.

However, the referee did not consider Doku’s foul as a penalty offense and VAR did not intervene to confirm the decision.

Top Four EPL Getting Tougher – Fernandes

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester United received another blow in their bid to qualify for the Champions League late last night but the nature of neighbors Manchester City being the demise is secondary, said captain Bruno Fernandes.

United’s 3-1 defeat to City at the Etihad Stadium left them 11 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa with 11 games remaining.

“Every time you don’t win a match it’s a loss at this club,” said Fernandes. “We know what this club wants and we want to win every game we face.

“We didn’t get three points today but there’s still a long way to go. We know it’s not all in our hands because other teams need to lose points and we need to do our job perfectly.”

Marcus Rashford gave United an unexpected lead in the eighth minute with a powerful shot traveling at 116 kilometers an hour.

His goal came days after he responded to criticism in a column for The Players Tribune and was the only player to intervene for United, who had just three tries to City’s 27.

The defeat intensified ongoing talk about manager Erik ten Hag’s future, which has only intensified since new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe took over football operations with changes expected off the pitch.

United have lost 11 of their 27 league games this season, two more than last season. The previous two seasons with 12 league defeats (2013-14 and 2021-22) led to the manager’s dismissal.

United had not lost in their previous 143 league games when leading at the break with 123 wins and 20 draws – a stunning run that ended late last night.

Ten Hag referred to the nature of Rashford and Jonny Evans being injured last night.

United also lost striker Rasmus Hojlund, who scored in six consecutive league games before being ruled out with a muscle injury along with defender Harry Maguire.

“It was clear they were fighting, the togetherness and performance was very good,” said Ten Hag. “On another day we might have won this game – a narrow win.”

Ten Hag said the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Fulham last week was more disappointing. United had not lost in five consecutive league games before that.

“This year we have really improved and you need to get points back,” he said.

“Any team can beat any team and things can change in the blink of an eye. Number five (in the league) can also be a position to qualify for the Champions League so we need to fight to get it.”

Liverpool Is The Most Successful English Club

LONDON: Liverpool has officially been crowned as the most successful club in the history of English football.

Yesterday, Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 after extra time in the English League Cup final, also known as the Carabao Cup.

Captain Virgil van Dijk’s 118th-minute header proved to be the difference at Wembley, as Jurgen Klopp entered the final year of his nine years as Liverpool boss with another championship trophy.

Van Dijk’s header – his 42nd attempt of the match – not only helped his club to the title but also made history.

Liverpool have now collected 68 trophies in their history, including domestic and international competitions and the Super Cup.

Before yesterday, Liverpool were tied with arch-rivals Manchester United with 67 trophies, but now Reds fans can officially declare their club the most successful in English football history.

United are level with Liverpool on 67 when they won the final of the same competition last season, after Erik ten Hag’s men beat Newcastle United 2-0 at Wembley.

Liverpool are in a comfortable position to continue their dominance as the most successful club in England.

Klopp’s team currently tops the English Premier League, one point ahead of Manchester City and among the favorites to lift the FA Cup.

In Europe, Liverpool will face Sparta Prague in the last 16 round of the Europa League.

Several young players played a key role in yesterday’s victory at Wembley and made the victory even sweeter for Liverpool fans.

With the likes of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai unable to feature due to injury, Klopp turned to inexperienced youth players including Conor Bradley, Bobby Clark, Jayden Danns, Jarell Quansah and James McConnell to overcome Chelsea.

Bayern Eyes Solskjaer To Replace Tuchel

MUNICH: Bayern Munich are monitoring former Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager in case they sack Thomas Tuchel, according to reports in Germany.

The Bavarian giants suffered three successive defeats which saw them fall eight points behind in the Bundesliga and face a one-goal deficit in the second leg of the last 16 of the Champions League.

Tuchel faced a lot of criticism with yesterday’s 3-2 defeat at Bochum increasing the pressure on the former Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund boss.

Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso has been linked as a long-term replacement, while former manager Hansi Flick has also been touted for a role until the end of the current campaign.

However, according to Sky Germany , Solskjaer appears to be another name on the radar to take over at the Allianz Arena.

Journalist Florian Plettenberg alleged last night that the 50-year-old coach was being scouted as a potential replacement, even though the club bosses are still trying to keep Tuchel at this level.

There is no concrete agreement between the two parties but Bayern sporting director Christoph Freund has ‘followed Solskjaer’s every step for many years.’

The news is somewhat surprising considering Solskjaer’s lack of management experience, including his failure to manage his former club.

The Norwegian citizen has not had any coaching duties since being sacked at Old Trafford in 2021 following a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Watford which completed his record of seven defeats in 13 matches.

Solskjaer now serves as UEFA’s technical observer, attending Champions League matches and providing reports throughout the season.

Arsenal Is Back – Arteta

LONDON: Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s “mercilessness” as they recorded a vital 3-1 win over Premier League leaders Liverpool earlier this morning that helped brighten their championship-chasing chances.

Arteta’s second-placed side narrowed the gap to two points against Liverpool following a dynamic performance at the Emirates Stadium and helped by a misunderstanding between Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker and defender Virgil van Dijk.

After taking the lead through Bukayo Saka’s early goal, Arsenal were tied again at the end of the first half through Gabriel Magalhaes’ own goal.

But Liverpool awarded Arsenal victory after the break when Alisson rushed out of his area to handle a long pass and failed to touch the ball with Van Dijk also failing to react in time when Gabriel Martinelli kicked in the gaping goal.

Liverpool then saw Ibrahima Konate sent off at the end of the match before Leandro Trossard’s injury-time goal went through Alisson’s groin after being caught by Van Dijk.

Defeats at the hands of West Ham and Fulham in the league during Christmas celebrations, plus a third round FA Cup exit to Liverpool, made Arsenal’s prospects even worse.

However, Arteta realized that they had managed to open the championship competition with those three valuable points.

“We were ruthless when we had chances and it was like a big win,” he said.

“At the moment Liverpool are probably the best team in Europe and at the stage they are at, they are an extraordinary team.

“We’ve come this far and now need to do it consistently. Liverpool have done that for six or seven years.

“He gave us momentum and the way we did it was clear we were back. I’m really thrilled.”

Arteta is also aware of the need to beat Liverpool, who could be eight points ahead if they return from the Emirates with a win.

“It’s a big match that will change where we are and where we will be,” he said.

“What the players produced was extraordinary. Especially our performance in the first half and the chances we created, the way we scored was really impressive.

“Tonight we will enjoy it because we worked hard to win it.”

Fans Fought, Wolves-West Brom Action Was Stopped

WEST BROMWICH: The FA Cup clash between Wolves and local rivals, West Bromwich Albion was stopped today after supporters fought until some were injured.

Play was stopped by referee Thomas Bramall late in the second half at the Hawthorns when fans stormed the pitch as a brawl broke out in one corner of the stadium.

A supporter was seen being escorted out with blood flowing from a cut on his head.

The ugly incident happened in the first meeting between the two rivals with fans allowed to watch the match after 12 years.

Violence erupted shortly after Matheus Cunha scored to give Wolves a 2-0 lead in the 78th minute of the fourth-round clash.

West Brom football hooligans appeared to attack Wolves supporters sitting in the away section.

Police and stadium guards rushed to the scene of the fight as objects were thrown and punches broke out between fans.

Both teams left the pitch to return to the dressing room, with West Brom defender Kyle Bartley holding his son in his arms after carrying him away from the area near the brawl.

Prior to that, there were numerous incidents including flares being thrown onto the pitch after Wolves opened the scoring in the first half and objects being thrown at Tommy Doyle as he prepared to take a corner.

There are no signs of the match continuing and it may have been stopped for safety reasons.

Middlesbrough Shock Chelsea In League Cup Semi-Finals

MIDDLESBROUGH: Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino blamed his attacking line-up for a 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough in the League Cup semi-final first leg at the Riverside.

Hayden Hackney scored the only goal of the game in the 38th minute to overcome a line of Chelsea stars who once again failed to produce a convincing performance away from home.

Chelsea have lost five of their last six away games and 21st time overall away from Stamford Bridge since the start of last season – the most for any Premier League side.

The Blues need to recover in a return action at home on January 23 to ease the pressure on Pochettino in his first season with Chelsea.

“If we evaluate the overall performance, we were the better team, had more goal chances but weren’t sharp enough and failed to take advantage of them. It happens often this season,” said Pochettino.

Boro manager Michael Carrick lost his leading scorer Emmanuel Latte Lath just three minutes into the game.

Carrick also had to take Alex Bangura off early in the first half, but that didn’t stop the second division club from taking the lead ahead of the second leg.

“It’s very special. I know it’s two rounds and the challenge isn’t over, but with what we’ve had to go through, injuries to players, to beat a team of Chelsea’s quality is unbelievable,” said Carrick, the former Manchester United midfielder.

Middlesbrough have never conceded against Chelsea in 17 years. In the previous nine games between them, Chelsea won all of them by an aggregate score of 21-0.

Another semi-final action features a clash between Liverpool and Fulham.

Ten Hag Not Disturbed By Ratcliffe

LONDON: Less than a week after British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe became a minority shareholder in Manchester United, manager Erik ten Hag is focused on the next game against Nottingham Forest and is undaunted by the latest developments.

The Dutchman has yet to speak to anyone from Ratcliffe’s INEOS group as he is busy over the Christmas period, which saw United beat Aston Villa 3-2 on Tuesday and then face Forest at home early tomorrow morning.

“I am looking forward to it. They want to work with me, I want to work with them, we will discuss, meet,” Ten Hag told reporters referring to the INEOS group which will take over the day-to-day affairs of the club’s football operations.

“I’m focused on the match so far, so I said no (discussion). At this point I don’t want any distractions. In the next few days, next weeks, there will be time for us, then we can negotiate.

“I think it’s a good thing, it’s very positive. We’re really looking forward to working together. INEOS wants to work with me in this structure and I want to work with them.”

The manager is also waiting for players to return from injury but not for the visit to Forest.

“It’s the same squad as against Villa,” Ten Hag told reporters.

“In mid-January we expect a lot of injured players back. Mason (Mount), Casemiro, (Lisandro) Martinez, (Tyrell) Malacia, so we also expect Harry Maguire, of course.”

At mid-season, United were seventh in the league, 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Despite their injury problems, United came from 2-0 down to beat Villa, something Ten Hag was very pleased about.

United face Forest, fresh from a 3-1 win over Newcastle United at home on Tuesday, in the second game under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo.

Klopp Is Proud That Liverpool Beat Fulham 4-3

LIVERPOOL, England: Liverpool scored two late goals within a minute including Trent Alexander-Arnold’s winning goal in the 88th minute before overcoming Fulham 4-3 in the English Premier League action late last night.

Wataru Endo struck in the 87th minute, while Alexis Mac Allister’s opener and an own goal by Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno following a stunning Alexander-Arnold free-kick lifted Juergen Klopp’s men to second in the table with 31 points.

“Honestly it’s mental strength,” Alexander-Arnold told Sky Sports.

“A very up and down game. Leading twice, then clearly behind with about five minutes to go, got the equalizer and then the winner.

“It was an incredible match, full of emotions. Just so happy to get the win and manage to deal with the challenge of the opponent.”

Liverpool are two points behind leaders Arsenal, while Manchester City, who drew 3-3 with Tottenham Hotspur, are third on 30 points. Fulham is in 14th place.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with so many exciting goals,” Klopp told Sky Sports.

“We scored amazing goals today, but we conceded three times and we have to say that too. We did very well in this game, but it’s 2-2 and deservedly so at the break.”

Fulham looked capable of ending Liverpool’s unbeaten record at Anfield in the league since October 2022 before Mohamed Salah fed Endo who shot hard from distance.

After rushing back into the middle, Alexander-Arnold met Kostas Tsimikas’ header to fire home the winner from the corner of the penalty area.

“I already guessed it, watching the ball come towards the edge of the goal,” said Alexander-Arnold. “I thought I was just trying to get the shot right but obviously it hit the net. You can see how much this goal meant.”

Harry Wilson, Kenny Tete and Bobby De Cordova-Reid scored for Fulham who came back two goals down.

Man United, Nice Compete For European Slots

MANCHESTER: Manchester United risk dropping out of Europe next season after Jim Ratcliffe, who also owns Nice, took over the Old Trafford club.

Ratcliffe and his company, Ineos, already own Nice and will complete the purchase of 25 percent of United’s shares in the next few days.

Ahead of next season’s Champions League, France’s top flight is given three automatic slots and one play-off while the English Premier League gets five automatic slots.

Under European Football Union (UEFA) multiple ownership rules, the only way for Nice and United to compete on the European stage next season is for one club to automatically qualify for the Champions League and the other for the European Conference League.

Nice are now just one point behind Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain, while United are sixth in the Premier League.

If both clubs qualify for the European Champions League, the higher-placed team will play and the other will be banned from the tournament.

If Nice and United finish in the same position, England’s ranking on the European stage allows Erik ten Hag’s squad to qualify for the European Champions League compared to the French club.

In another situation, if Nice are fourth in Ligue 1 and lose the play-off, while United remain sixth in the English league or win the FA Cup, the Red Devils will still be banned from the Europa League.

United can only aspire to European competition by qualifying for the Conference League through seventh place in the league or winning the League Cup.

The UEFA rules also have an impact on Manchester City and Spanish club Girona, which is owned by City Football Group.

Girona made a surprise in La Liga this season when they topped the ladder ahead of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.