Tottenham defender Danny Rose has played down fresh talk of a rift with manager Mauricio Pochettino, calling for an end to “silly” rumours after he was substituted against Apoel Nicosia.
The England player was taken off in the 70th minute at Wembley on Wednesday after a tussle with Roland Sallai left him needing stitches around the top of his left eye.
After returning from nine months out with injury in October, Rose is desperate to regain fitness and he reacted to his withdrawal by disappearing straight down the tunnel but re-emerged soon after to take his place on the bench.
Rose, linked with a move to Manchester United, was fined by Tottenham in the close-season and forced to apologise for an interview in which he criticised the club’s wage structure and hinted he wanted to leave.
Last month he admitted he was “fuming” at being left out of the squad for Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal but the defender said there was nothing in this latest incident and is fed up with talk of a rift.
“This is getting silly now,” he said. “The manager said it was best I came off and I didn’t want to come off. That was it.
“I’ve seen already that people are saying we exchanged words. There is no issue between me and the manager. There has never been an issue. And people trying to put stuff in the media is not welcomed.
“For the last three-and-a-half years, four years, the manager has been my biggest fan. He’s given me nothing but love and respect.”
Pochettino himself played down any problems after the match, admitting Rose was unhappy at coming off but saying he had needed treatment.
“I wouldn’t like Bayern,” he said. “But we don’t fear anybody. The manager would prefer us to have one of the top teams. He relishes those sorts of games.
“We’ve proved this season that we do turn up in these games in the group stage and we’ll be looking forward to the draw.”
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The Brazil international was frustrated when his transfer request was rejected in the summer as the club rebuffed three bids from Barcelona.
Since then speculation has continued to encircle the 25-year-old, who captained the side and scored a hat-trick in the 7-0 demolition of Spartak Moscow which booked their place in the knockout stage of the Champions League, with his Catalan suitors reportedly ready to make another approach.
“I am at Liverpool and I always do my best when I have the opportunity to play, respecting the jersey and the supporters,” said Coutinho, who has scored nine goals in 13 appearances this season.
“I do not know how the future is going to be. What will happen in January, we will know it in January. I do not know if there will be an offer.
“Last summer there was a job offer in the same way that happens with any employee and I was interested in it. Since I stayed I have played with will and desire.
“Of course a lot happened in the summer but my will is always to play and do the best wherever I am – that has not changed.
“I am here (at Liverpool), we have a lot of games and I try to do my best to help.”
Coutinho’s hat-trick was his first for the club and he hailed the achievement of making the latter stages of the Champions League as a significant moment.
“It was a special night due to the result and because I had the armband in such an important game playing for a club like Liverpool,” he added.
“For sure this is my most important hat-trick. In the Champions League it was my first one, I scored one for Brazil but this was more important.”
Defender Joe Gomez believes Europe’s top clubs have every reason to fear Liverpool.
They finished the group stage with 23 goals – second-highest in the all-time list behind Paris St Germain’s 25 from the current campaign – and although they avoided the likes of PSG and Barcelona, potential last-16 opponents include Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid.
“We believe we can beat anyone and we have to have that mentality,” said Gomez.
“We have great quality and they can be scared of us the same way we can be wary of them so that’s good.”
Liverpool have kept seven clean sheets in their last 12 matches and that could come in handy when they host Merseyside rivals Everton and their new manager Sam Allardyce on Sunday.
“I think they will probably be fired up and motivated,” said Gomez.
“I think we have seen some teams come to Anfield and sit off but I think with the derby I don’t think they’ll come too defensive-minded.
“We want people to come here and for it to be difficult for them to score and hopefully we can continue that.”
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Here are a few pointers to guide you ahead of Gameweek 16.
After a disaster in Gameweek 14 where Eden Hazard was my pick but was benched against Swansea, I decided to keep the faith and it paid off in the last round.
The Belgian scored twice and picked up three bonus points, adding up to 15 points that doubled to 30.
This week, I’m tempted to go with the Chelsea star yet again. He was excellent in the second half against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League as well, creating the chance that led to a Stefan Savic own goal.
He looks like he’s at the very top of his game and could really have had four of five goals against Newcastle but for some excellent shot-stopping by Karl Darlow.
He’s still only owned by around 13% of managers and it’s advisable to take full advantage of this differential while it lasts. Remember, Harry Kane (12.8m) is stilled owned by over 37% while Mohammed Salah (9.9m) has over 54% ownership.
MOHAMED SALAH has provided a goal, assist or more in the last seven GWs straight. That’s phenomenal form and makes him a dream FPL midfielder to own. Everton could put up a fight this week but on this form, you’d back Salah against any opposition.
HARRY KANE (12.8m) was afforded a good rest in midweek and should be fresh when Stoke visit Wembley this weekend. It’s hard to see The Potters keeping a clean sheet away from home this season and so Kane should score. Unlike Salah or Hazard though, he is far from his best at the moment and doesn’t look set to rip a defence to shreds like he has in the past.
WAYNE ROONEY (7.3m) looks set for starring role at Everton, especially with Sam Allardyce in the picture now. He’s playing in midfield but at this stage of his career, he’s more likely to score goals making late runs into the box than if he were to lead the line. How he would love a goal against Liverpool to help his side win at Anfield in the league for the first time in 18 years.
PHILIPPE COUTINHO | LIVERPOOL | 8.9M
Step aside, Mo Salah! Well, not quite. The Egyptian is still on fire. But Philippe Coutinho is red-hot form as well. He provided three assists and a goal in GW15, scoring 18 points and followed that up with a hat-trick in the Champions League against Spartak Moscow.
Liverpool have the Merseyside Derby next up and while the Brazilian may not be nailed on to score against the Toffees, the following fixtures are pretty inviting.
MAMADOU SAKHO | CRYSTAL PALACE | 4.9M
With Roy Hodgson making an impact on Crystal Palace now, they’ve gotten far better defensively, conceding just six in their last six games. Mamadou Sakho’s been central to that form, scoring 28 points in the last three GWs including one goal and two clean sheets. He’s also a front-runner for bonus points.
LEROY SANE| MANCHESTER CITY | 8.8M
It’s hard to let go of a player who had five double-figure hauls over seven GWs but it seems as if Leroy Sane’s purple patch has run out. He’s blanked in four of the last five GWs and has the Manchester Derby this Sunday. There’s also Raheem Sterling to consider who is 0.5m cheaper.
PAUL POGBA | MANCHESTER UNITED | 8.0M
Just when so many managed to bring him in as well! Paul Pogba is a frustrating one. Having just returned from injury, he showed some great form but his sending off against Arsenal means he will sit out of the following three rounds. With the number of midfield options at the moment, it doesn’t make sense to hold on to the Frenchman.
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