Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius growing in confidence but knows there's still room to improve

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Karius has improved after his horror shows over the last two seasons.

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius has understandably grown in confidence since being installed as first choice by manager Jurgen Klopp but admits he still has plenty of improvements to make.

The German was a relative passenger in the goalless draw at home to Porto which secured their progress to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in nine years thanks to their 5-0 win in Portugal.

Karius, who was Klopp’s choice for European matches from the start of the season even before his promotion to full-time number one, has conceded just six goals – three of which came in a mad 45 minutes in Seville – in eight matches, the best record in the competition.

Tuesday’s shut-out was his fifth in his last seven appearances and 10th in 19 matches this season, justifying his manager’s decision to make the change he did in January.

“Of course I’m confident. We’re playing well and getting good results, so there’s no reason not to be confident,” he told liverpoolfc.com.

“But you can’t rest on that, you have to show it week in, week out. I want to develop more, get better every week and have good games for the club. Hopefully it’s only the beginning.

“It was an aim for us, to build on the recent form of not conceding many goals and having a lot of clean sheets. That’s always a good thing for me and for the whole team.

“Ninety per cent of the time if we keep a clean sheet we win the game because we score up front.”

Karius believes Liverpool’s firepower – they were the Champions League top scorers heading into this week’s round of matches – makes them a threat going into the last eight.

And they are particularly strong at Anfield, where Klopp has lost just two of his 23 European matches, scoring 51 goals in that time.

“I don’t think anyone would be happy to come here. We know that,” added Karius.

“But it doesn’t really matter who the next team is; if you want to win this competition you have to come up against them eventually.

“We’ll take it as it comes. But I don’t think anyone wants us.”

Defender Dejan Lovren believes the club have every chance of adding to their five European Cups.

“We are ready for everything; whoever comes, we are ready to fight,” he said.

“I think if we are ready and prepared to fight until the end, I am a big believer that we can see ourselves into the final.”

Before they get ahead of themselves, however, Liverpool head to Manchester United on Saturday in the battle to be the Premier League’s best of the rest behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

“It will be a massive game – one of the biggest games in Europe,” added the Croatia defender.

“It will be a tough game and let’s see what will happen, but we are full of confidence and it will be a big fight for second place.”

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Liverpool target Timo Werner admits he would prefer a move to Manchester United

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Timo Werner is a fan of the colour red, but would prefer a move to Manchester United over Liverpool.

He’s long been linked with a move to Liverpool, but perhaps the Anfield side’s interest in Timo Werner will cool ever so slightly following news that the RB Leipzig striker would prefer to wear a slightly different shade of red – Manchester United red to be precise.

Werner, who has scored 37 goals in 65 appearances for the Bundesliga outfit, admits he has a soft spot for Liverpool but insisted that the Red Devils would be his ideal destination if and when he does finally decide to experience life in the Premier League in the future.

“Yes, playing in the Premier League is a dream for me,” Werner, 21, said in the April edition of FourFourTwo magazine.

“I would like to play for two or three clubs, and Manchester United are one of those clubs. But probably not in the next few years – later, when my English is a little bit better. I’m very comfortable at RB Leipzig, though.”

Germany international Werner has been linked with a move to Merseyside several times in recent seasons and while he would struggle to break into the Reds’ current attacking triumvirate, Jurgen Klopp is said to be a big fan.

Capable of playing in a front three or a front two, Werner would be a welcome addition to most Premier League squads, but compatriot Klopp’s interest may have cooled ever so slightly.

Jurgen Klopp is said to be an admirer of his fellow German.

Jurgen Klopp is said to be an admirer of his fellow German.

Werner said he grew up watching both clubs and asked who he would prefer to join, he said United.

He said: “Manchester United and Liverpool were the teams I watched quite a lot in England. They were the two that I’m a little bit a fan of, because they have so much history. When Alex Ferguson was the coach, United won everything and were outstanding.

“In Liverpool it’s also their stadium and the atmosphere. But when I have to decide, I’m more Manchester United than Liverpool. I’m now at a point where at some stage in the future I’d like to play in a team that wins titles.”

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Man Utd fighting spirit cannot be questioned, but glaring attacking issues remain

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Jose Mourinho (c) has attacking issues to solve, despite two rousing wins.

No one can now question the fighting spirit engendered within the Manchester United ranks by manager Jose Mourinho after a week that featured two rousing comebacks.

From Jesse Lingard’s fine header in the 2-1 triumph against Chelsea to Nemanja Matic’s stupendous sliced half-volley during the latest remarkable 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace, the Red Devils have valiantly scrapped to avert crises in consecutive run-outs.

The sight of Belgium centre forward Romelu Lukaku roaring in unalloyed celebration and pounding the turf following both winners borne of high drama typify the attitude imbued within a squad now shaped by the ceaseless Special One.

After several seasons detailed by meek surrenders under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson wilderness, the change is a welcome one.

A comparison to the feckless performances put in by disintegrating Arsenal during this period details the different trajectories these – once bitter – rivals are on.

But beyond these memorable moments, a pressing issue remains. Especially with rampant Liverpool up next at Old Trafford for Saturday’s scrap for second place in the Premier League.

If United are to hold any realistic pretensions of keeping pace with champions-elect Manchester City next term, an attacking identity to match this warrior ethos must be found.

The other side of the coin when comebacks are required is: why were you in this losing position in the first place?

Both matches have followed a similar script. Losing starts caused by disjointed first halves have been salvaged by impressive retorts after the break.

For a team of United’s collective talent, assembled at a cost only dwarfed by their City neighbours, this should not be occurring with frequency.

We are approaching the two-year mark since Mourinho’s appointment. Yet it is impossible to pin down a style of play.

This is not an issue for Pep Guardiola’s Blue machine.

A revolutionary utilisation of two central playmakers, unyielding belief in ball rotation and burning desire to press for the ball high up the pitch has crafted a side on course to break numerous records: 2016/17 Chelsea’s 30 wins in a Premier League season, 2004/05 Chelsea’s record 95 points, 2009/10 Chelsea’s 103 goals, 1999/2000 United’s 18-point winning margin and 2004/05 Chelsea’s 15 away wins.

An imposing standard has been set. It is now up to Mourinho to cure the attacking ails which still bedevil his side.

Since the heady days of the autumn when United kept up with City’s points and goals tally, they’ve steadily turned into a trying watch.

These faults were glaring at Selhurst Park.

Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United celebrates scoring at Crystal Palace.

Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United celebrates scoring at Crystal Palace.

Superstar January addition Alexis Sanchez was dispossessed eight times as he moved into the clustered centre, or dropped deep from the left-wing position detailed on the team sheet’s 4-3-3 formation.

This movement restricted the space of Paul Pogba, with the pair regularly stumbling into the same space. In a repeat of the Chelsea win, the France centre midfielder’s performance mirrored his team’s – awful in the first half, better in the second.

His freedom has been stifled by both Sanchez’s arrival and the Chile forward’s current deployment. No assist has been registered by him in the top flight since January 15’s 3-0 rout of sorry Stoke.

United’s struggles to escape second gear were typified by the presence of secondary defensive midfielder Scott McTominay. A 91.3-per-cent pass accuracy is impressive on paper, but his lack of adventure with the ball increased the log jam.

Only when the adventurous Marcus Rashford was thrown on at half-time to provide required width did an upturn arrive. In the Premier League, the England youngster had not played since February 2 and not started since December 30 – with four successful dribbles in 45 minutes in south London, this situation must change for the good of the team.

Mourinho is renowned for diligently drilling his defence and applying a laissez-faire approach to his attack.

Since Sanchez’s recruitment in late January, several different line-ups have been selected. Chemistry has proved elusive.

For all the glory of Chelsea and Palace, misery at Tottenham and Newcastle should not be forgotten.

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