Liverpool legend hails current Reds full-backs and excited by Jurgen Klopp's management

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Robertson a real steal

Liverpool‘s most-decorated player Phil Neal believes Jurgen Klopp‘s current full-backs have all the potential to emulate him.

It is almost impossible to think they could ever hope to match the ex-defender’s three European Cups, one UEFA Cup, eight league titles, four League Cups, one UEFA Super Cup and five Charity Shields.

However, the 67-year-old sees a huge amount of talent in Trent Alexander-Arnold (19), Joe Gomez (20) and Andrew Robertson (23).

“I love both of them (Alexander-Arnold and Robertson) and I’ve also said to Gomez – I bumped into him in a sponsors’ lounge the other week – ‘You can achieve just as much as me if not more’ and I’ll say that to the other kids, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold,” said Neal at the launch of Forever Reds, Liverpool’s official former players’ association.

“I would say to them ‘I love you to bits’ because I see a Phil Neal in all of you.

“A certain Scottish friend who I played with, Alan Hansen, once said you don’t win anything with kids – so let’s prove him wrong.

“I am saying in reality ‘Keep going boys because you are doing excellent with decent people around you’.

Trent Alexander Arnold

“That’s what was in the mix for me to win all those trophies consistently over 11 fantastic years I had.”

Neal has also been energised by what he has witnessed on the pitch this season with Klopp’s side pushing Manchester United hard for second place in the Premier League and with one foot already in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after their 5-0 first-leg win over Porto.

But in echoing Klopp’s comments at the weekend the full-back has sounded a word of caution about players getting ahead of themselves.

“I am experienced enough that when it comes to this time of the year to take each game at a time,” he added.

“You don’t ease up, you try to win, but you have to take one at a time when games come this time of the year.

“I don’t want to tell anyone their business but I am excited for the future with Klopp at the helm.

“I know I could play for him now! I’d run my socks off for that man because of his attitude and his love of the game.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Man City back focused on Premier League after Carabao Cup win, says Pep Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola is confident Sunday’s Carabao Cup success will not affect his players’ focus as they return to Premier League action.

The runaway leaders switch their attention back to the title race for the first time in almost three weeks as they travel to Arsenal for a rearranged game on Thursday.

City overpowered the Gunners to win at Wembley at the weekend, securing their first trophy under Guardiola, but the Spaniard insists celebrations are done and players are concentrating on business once again.

“To win more trophies is to win another game,” said Guardiola, whose side will bid to restore a 16-point lead at the top at the Emirates Stadium. “In football, always forget what you have done, good or bad, and think in the next one.

“The fact we are fighting for the most important title of the season by far, the Premier League – more than the Champions League, more than the FA Cup, more than the Carabao Cup – is enough argument to focus and stay focused.

“Our next six fixtures are terrible in terms of the quality of the opponents. We have four (away) games and of course we have a good position but it is not already done. We have still to win five games, six games.

“When you think Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, (Manchester) United and our away games at Stoke City, who are playing (to avoid) relegation, and Goodison Park, where always it is so tough, we have a lot of tough games still to play and we have to remain focused.”

Arsenal were heavily criticised after their lacklustre showing at Wembley, where they were outplayed and lost 3-0 to City.

Guardiola claims that will have little bearing on Thursday’s encounter.

He said: “Arsenal is always a hard game and when they play, they are a tough, tough, tough team at the Emirates.

“Maybe they were not consistent enough but at home they are so strong. I don’t know how many points they dropped but not too much. The times I have always been there with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City have always been tough.”

City will be without midfielder Fernandinho, who suffered a hamstring injury at Wembley, and forward Raheem Sterling is again doubtful with a muscle problem.

Fernandinho’s absence could present an opportunity for veteran Yaya Toure to return to the fray ahead of his expected departure from the club this summer.

Toure, 34, has featured just 11 times this season and has not been in a matchday squad for the past four games.

Asked about the possibility of Toure being involved, Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference: “It depends on him. It is simple like that. If he is coming back who he is, he is going to play.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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What Arsenal need to change to avoid another humbling against Man City

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Arsenal were exposed, brushed aside and humiliated in a desolate performance that saw them suffer a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday… and now they get to do it all over again in the Premier League.

Perhaps they don’t need to relive the nightmare though. Here’s how The Gunners can, finally, learn from their mistakes.

WRONG MIDFIELD SET-UP

Arsenal were immediately at a disadvantage once the team sheets were out. Wenger opted for a 3-4-3 formation and their central midfield two of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka was always going to be outnumbered and outmanoeuvred by City’s three in the middle.

In the absence of Raheem Sterling, Pep Guardiola chose to play Kevin De Bruyne in a wider role and solidify his central midfield with a double pivot of Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho while the elusive David Silva operated ahead of them to ensure there was no shortage of creativity from the middle.

Wenger effectively looked at the area in which Guardiola’s side could hurt his the most and decided to give them free reign of the midfield territory.

The likes of Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere were caught in between dropping into midfield to get involved and helping the largely isolated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front. They wound up doing neither. If Arsenal are to have any chance against City on Thursday, they need to get the balance in midfield right.

Granit Xhaka (R) and Ilkay Gundogan

Granit Xhaka (R) and Ilkay Gundogan

CENTRAL DEFENSIVE THREE

With only Sergio Aguero leading the line for City, he gave Arsenal’s three centre-backs the runaround. Often two of the central defenders were left without a man to mark while there was confusion as to who picks up whom especially when the Argentine dropped off and the likes of Leroy Sane and Silva made runs forward.

Arsenal would’ve been far better served employing a 4-3-3 system like they did against Tottenham, a game they lost 1-0 against superior opposition but at least made it a contest while the formation worked in their victory over Chelsea back in January.

Shkodran Mustaf

Shkodran Mustaf

LACK OF INTENSITY

Wenger set his team up to press City but apart from a few good spells at the start of the game, they didn’t pull it off. While the system was flawed, the players have to accept responsibility for the lack of intensity in their play. Guardiola’s side were miles ahead in terms of energy and invariably emerged victorious from 50-50s.

Apart from Wilshere, no Arsenal player really put up a fight, especially after going two goals down. The foundation of so many City attacks is laid down by their build-up play from the back and on Sunday, they were allowed to have it all their own way as Arsenal didn’t close them down quick enough. It’s not just about their energy off the ball though.

Once they gained possession they didn’t move it quickly enough or through the right channels. Arsenal need to get Ozil and Wilshere on the ball sooner and they can in turn attempt to release Aubameyang. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will offer another line of supply for the Gabon striker on Thursday but he can’t be relied on to work hard off the ball.

Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere

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