Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp professes love for Mohamed Salah's goals

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Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah‘s goalscoring exploits continue to steal the headlines but it is the team behind him which is impressing manager Jurgen Klopp.

The Egypt international scored his 32nd goal of the season in a comfortable 2-0 win over struggling Newcastle and he tormented Jamaal Lascelles so much he could have had a penalty and got the Newcastle captain red-carded in the closing stages.

However, the driving run by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain created Salah’s goal while an incisive rapid passing movement, topped by a brilliantly threaded through-ball by Roberto Firmino, was the key to Sadio Mane scoring after the break.

That second goal, almost instinctive with the way the ball was pinged around, highlighted the argument being made by Klopp, who admits he did not have a goal target for Salah when he signed him from Roma in the summer.

“I had no numbers in my mind. We knew he was a very offensively-orientated midfield player. If you are that then you need goals from players like this,” he said after the Egyptian scored in his 26th competitive match, a return better than anyone in Europe’s top five leagues.

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“I love the goals he scores, I love his assists. I really love this player, how he is doing so well and thank God he is still healthy and fit.

“But all the others have exactly the same importance. He knows he needs a pass: he cannot get a ball in midfield and then run forward to be free in the box it is not possible so it was a world-class situation from Ox.

“The pass from Roberto Firmino I would have a ligament injury in my ankle if I tried that. It was good teamwork in football and I love that the most.”

The contributions of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Firmino deserve a mention as does goalkeeper Loris Karius who had only two shots to save but the second, in first-half added time, was a superb tip over from Mohamed Diame.

It was a key moment and one Klopp felt the goalkeeper was now justifying the decision to make him first choice.

“I wouldn’t say we didn’t have no chance afterwards to win the game but if the ball goes in it changes the game for sure. It was like scoring to be honest,” he added.

“If he is not a good goalkeeper I would be the biggest idiot in world football if I lined him up.

“The start was not so good and then people make their assessment immediately.

“For a goalkeeper timing is very important: the best thing is not to make a mistake in the first 50 games and then people think you are the best and you can then be responsible for three goals in a row and people will still think you are world class.”

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez, warmly received by an Anfield crowd which still reveres him for his 2005 Champions League victory with the club, admits it is coming matches against their fellow strugglers which will determine their Premier League future.

“To come here (to Newcastle) to try to get points, it doesn’t matter which teams are coming up or who you face, you have to win games,” he said.

“Southampton will be dangerous, they are struggling but they are a very good team, Huddersfield are very dangerous, it doesn’t matter that you are home.

“It would be a massive achievement for everyone (to survive) because we are still a way from it.

“We need to just concentrate on every game.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Victor Lindelof's emergence gives Man United defensive stability

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Manchester United‘s title hopes may be over, but Victor Lindelof‘s long-awaited adaptation to the physical nature of the Premier League has provided the foundation for a potentially successful end to the season.

Jose Mourinho‘s side head to Crystal Palace on Monday trailing Premier League leaders Manchester City by 16 points.

But although City are out of sight, United could still bring home silverware in the Champions League and FA Cup.

They face Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 second leg on March 13, having drawn 0-0 in Spain, and host Brighton in the FA Cup quarter-finals four days later.

If United are to enjoy a trophy-filled climax, Lindelof could find himself unexpectedly cast as a key figure in Mourinho’s plans – something that looked unthinkable in his early months in Manchester.

After joining United from Benfica for £31 million (35 million euros, $42 million) in June, Lindelof endured a difficult start with his new club.

His shaky performances in pre-season and in training convinced Mourinho to limit the centre-back to only three appearances in the first two months of the campaign – and those came in the League Cup and two undemanding European fixtures.

When Lindelof came off the bench as a first half substitute at Huddersfield, United conceded twice in a shock league defeat.

But gradually the 23-year-old began to find his feet and, playing alongside Chris Smalling at the heart of the United defence, he has started their last three games with notable assurance.

Mourinho’s men have conceded only once in those fixtures, which included the Champions League stalemate at Sevilla and an important win over Chelsea.

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Lindelof already feels a better player after less than a season in England and his confidence is rising as he shows that development on the pitch.

“I think it’s been good. I think everywhere you go, it’s always going to take some time to adapt but I feel good,” he said.

“Every day I work out and I work hard to try to help the team. I’m always trying to be myself on the pitch and trying to do what I think I can do well.

“Of course, I think I’ve become a better player since I came here. I’m just trying to improve on those things that I’m already good at. I think I develop every day.

“As a player, you always want to play games and that’s what I’ve been doing over the last few games and I’m very happy that I can help the team on the pitch.”

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Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard aiming to hit top form as Man City take on Chelsea

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Man City can take a step closer to winning the Premier League by beating Chelsea on Sunday.

City need 15 points from their next 10 matches to clinch a third title and first under Pep Guardiola.

With that in mind we take a look at the key facts ahead of the clash at the Etihad Stadium.

– Manchester City won the reverse fixture 1-0 back in September – they’ve done the Premier League double over Chelsea twice before; in 2009-10 when Chelsea won the title, and in 2015-16 when Chelsea were reigning champions.

– Chelsea won this fixture 3-1 last season, but haven’t won back-to-back league games at the Etihad Stadium since a run of four wins between 2005 and 2008.

– Indeed, Man City have won only one of their last four home league games vs the Blues (D1 L2), 3-0 back in August 2015.

– Man City have won their last 13 Premier League home games, netting at least twice each time. The Premier League record for scoring more than once in consecutive home games is 14, by Liverpool in the 2013-14 campaign.

– Chelsea have lost three of their last four Premier League games – as many as they had in their previous 23 in the competition.

– Indeed, Chelsea have lost their last two Premier League away games. They’ve not lost three in a row on the road since March 2013 under Rafael Benitez.

– The Blues have won their last three Premier League away games against sides starting that day top of the table, most recently a 3-1 victory at Man City in December 2016.

– Last season, Antonio Conte became the first manager to record the top-flight double over a side managed by Pep Guardiola. In this game, Guardiola could become only the second manager to do so to Antonio Conte, after Delio Rossi with Sampdoria vs Conte’s Juventus in 2012-13.

– Sergio Aguero has scored five goals in his last four Premier League games against Chelsea.

– Eden Hazard has had a hand in eight goals in his last seven games against Manchester City in all competitions (4 goals, 4 assists).

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