Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan relishing competition with Virgil van Dijk

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Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan has welcomed the arrival of Virgil van Dijk despite the fact the £75million signing is likely to reduce his own chances.

Klavan became the first Estonian to score in the Premier League with his header deep into added time securing a 2-1 win at Burnley.

However, while that may prove to be crucial in Liverpool’s season it is unlikely to be of much help to the 32-year-old in the short-term with Van Dijk keen to get his Reds career under way after completing his move from Southampton on New Year’s Day.

Klavan, a £4.2m buy from Augsburg in July 2016, is fourth-choice centre-back but he is not deterred by the big-money arrival.

“He is a good addition to our team. It is like it is for everyone: there is competition and competition is good for all places,” he said.

Klavan was teed up for his goal by fellow centre-back Dejan Lovren as Liverpool came from behind to win for the second time in 48 hours.

It made it four wins in five matches and maintained their momentum heading into January, which 12 months ago was when their unlikely title bid stumbled as they won just once in nine matches – and that an FA Cup replay victory over League Two Plymouth.

What was just as significant was the win was achieved without injured top scorer Mohamed Salah or Philippe Coutinho, and Roberto Firmino playing just the last 18 minutes as a substitute having been rested.

“It was good. We kept on fighting and got three points,” added Klavan, whose only other goal for the club came in a League Cup win last season.

“That’s part of the game. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t.

“Those were three really important points but I’m not really one who wants to shine in the light. 

“It was a good moment for me and for the team to get the three points, which is what we came here for, and that’s it for me.”

Everton are next up in Friday’s Merseyside derby home FA Cup third round tie, a month after their neighbours secured a 1-1 draw at Anfield with a controversial penalty.

Having dominated that game but ultimately been frustrated, Klavan feels they need to make sure this time around.

“It is always a special game,” he said.

“It was a little bit unlucky with everything which happened around the game but we just keep on going.
“When we are at our best there is a great chance we will succeed.”

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Arsenal boss Wenger promises Sanchez and Ozil will be replaced by world-class players

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Arsene Wenger moved to allay the fears of Arsenal fans on Tuesday saying he would replace both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil with class acts should they end up leaving.

Both Sanchez, who came close to moving to Manchester City on the final day of the last transfer window in August, and Ozil’s contracts are up at the end of the present season.

Sanchez’s attitude and commitment to the club have been questioned by fans and some of his team-mates did not congratulate the 29-year-old Chilean after he scored a double in the 3-2 Premier League win over Crystal Palace last Thursday.

Wenger, whose transfer dealings have been a sore point with sections of the Arsenal support, said he would also be on the look-out for players in the present transfer window.

“We are open to any position for the exceptional player that can give us a plus. It depends a little bit on the injuries as well,” said the Arsenal manager on the eve of their match with reigning Premier League champions Chelsea.

“On the other hand it depends if we manage to extend the contracts of the players who are at the end of their contracts in June.

“It will depend on that as well. We have to take the consequences of those decisions and respond to it.

“How we cope with that, first of all we have not lost them yet, and secondly we will respond to that by bringing in players of top quality.

“This club has lost many, many big players and has always responded well.”

However, the 68-year-old Frenchman refuted suggestions he was targeting Chelsea’s Brazil centre-back David Luiz or French international midfielder Thomas Lemar from Monaco.

The failure to sign 22-year-old Lemar back in August led to the collapse of the Sanchez move to Manchester City.

“I don’t want to think about any special names, but these reports are wrong,” said Wenger, whose side are currently fifth in the table, six points behind Liverpool in fourth but with a game in hand.

As for catching runaway leaders City, Wenger said there is the slimmest glimmer of hope for their rivals given their two recent performances — a 1-0 win away at struggling Newcastle United and then a 0-0 draw on Sunday against relegation-threatened Crystal Palace.

“They have shown signs of being less dominant,” said Wenger, whose side are 21 points behind City.

“One of the teams behind need to have a perfect run and they (City) need to collapse a bit.”

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Man United boss Mourinho hails Lingard after wonder goal fires United to victory over Everton

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Jesse Lingard

Jose Mourinho saluted Jesse Lingard‘s impressive progress after the Manchester United winger’s wonder-strike sealed a 2-0 win at Everton on Monday.

Mourinho’s side were holding onto a slender lead given to them by Anthony Martial when Lingard took possession with nine minutes left at Goodison Park.

Seconds later the points were in the bag as the 25-year-old weaved through the Everton defence and curled a fine finish into the top corner.

It was Lingard’s 10th goal of the season and his fourth in his last five appearances.

After spending much of his United career struggling to hold down a place, Lingard has thrived under Mourinho, who was full of praise for his development.

“One thing is to be a young talent, another thing is to be a very good player,” Mourinho said.

“Some players are not capable of that jump. They go from great potential to normal players. Lingard is giving that jump.

“He is more consistent, he is adaptable, he understands better the game, he is going in a good direction.”

Lingard’s contribution wrapped up United’s first win in four games after a run of draws had left them lagging behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Mourinho was delighted with the performance of his stars on Monday.

United are still 12 points adrift of their Manchester rivals, but Mourinho, who has criticised his stars recently, took heart from the way his players battled to subdue Everton.

“Our pride, our effort, everything was top class and on top of it we played very well,” he said.

“It wasn’t a performance of tired boys, with the worst possible calendar that you gave us.”

Mourinho has called for substantial backing from United’s owners as he plots several signings in a bid to catch City.

Asked if he would be bringing in new faces in the January transfer window, Mourinho added: “I don’t know about transfers.

“In this moment we are in trouble, in two to three weeks time maybe we recover and we breathe in a different way.

“Can we improve now or do we wait util the summer? I cannot say.”

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