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LONDON, May 6, 2018 (News Wires) - Antonio Conte and Chelsea are back in the hunt for a top four finish after they edged out Liverpool 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

A first half winner from Olivier Giroud, in for the injured Alvaro Morata, means the west Londoners are now breathing down the necks of Tottenham in the Premier League table ​after their shock defeat to West Brom on Saturday, and their hopes of finishing among the Champions League places have been boosted.

​Chelsea took their time getting going in the game, and it was the visitors who dominated possession in the first 20 minutes.

Roberto Firmino stung the palms of Thibaut Courtois early on with a low half volley after a great through pass from the converted centre midfielder Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The Reds' danger man throughout the half was Sadio Mane, who threatened a few times from central positions. In the 23rd minute he unleashed a fierce drive with his weak foot, which was well parried by Courtois.

Moments later, the Belgian had to be called upon again to thwart the Senegal star. After trying to curl one in the corner which Courtois was equal to, he then tried to prod a follow up attempt into the bottom corner but couldn't generate enough power.

Liverpool were made to pay for their missed opportunities when the hosts went ahead after half an hour. Victor Moses floated in a tantalising cross which was attacked by Giroud who got across Dejan Lovren well at the near post - his fifth goal in his last six starts.

LONDON, May 6, 2018 - Liverpool and Egypt forward Mohamed Salah has been shortlisted for the Premier League Player of the Year award, in association with EA Sports.

Salah has netted an incredible 43 goals so far in his debut season at Anfield which has seen Liverpool reach the Champions League final where the Reds face Real Madrid in Kiev on May 26.

Liverpool’s No.11 has already been named the PFA Players' Player of the Year and Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year.

The Egyptian is among six players nominated for the accolade with the shortlist also including Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), David De Gea (Manchester United) and James Tarkowski (Burnley).

You can play a part in the voting and the poll closes at 12 noon BST on Thursday May 10.

By: Eddie Bower, The Guardian

CAIRO, May 6, 2018 - The village where Mohamed Salah grew up is a cluster of red-brick houses threaded together by dusty unpaved streets and surrounded by a shimmering sea of green fields.n In its centre, Ahmed al-Masery sits in an empty coffee shop watching highlights on a tiny, wall-hung TV of his old friend playing for Liverpool against Roma. “I used to play football games on PlayStation with him back in the day,” says the 35-year-old, gesturing at the screen.

Back then, Salah would pick Liverpool to play video games with his friend. Now the player is the Merseyside club’s favourite adopted son, a striker whose goals have inspired his team into the Champions League final later this month. Fans are devoted to their “Egyptian king” – one song includes the line “if he scores another few, I’ll be Muslim too”.

For the people of Nagrig, a small farming community two buses and a train-ride north of Cairo, Salah’s rise is scarcely believable. The 25-year-old comes back to the village about once a year, al-Masery says, but he’s been totally unspoilt by fame.

“He doesn’t even drive when he comes here,” he says. “He walks around the streets like everyone else, speaking to anyone who wants to talk to him.”

In Britain, Salah is an emerging phenomenon. In Egypt, his progress has been watched and charted for years. It’s difficult to overemphasise his popularity – his face is everywhere.

Every coffee shop has a Salah poster. Murals featuring him alongside other icons of Egyptian culture, such as singer Umm Kulthum and novelist Naguib Mahfouz, have appeared around the capital.

He beams out from billboards, selling everything from chocolate bars to soft drinks, mobile-phone tariffs and bank accounts. Such is the power of the Mo Salah brand, that when he lent his name to a government-sponsored anti-drugs campaign, they reported a 400% increase in calls to their hotline.

Much has been made in the Egyptian press of Salah’s charity work. It’s been widely reported that he regularly helps newlyweds furnish their new homes with everything they need for marriage, although the recipients of these gifts have never come out publicly.
Newspaper columnists and talk-show hosts delight in sharing examples like these of Salah’s good nature, but al-Masery is one of many Nagrig residents who are sceptical. “Most of these stories are just hearsay,” he says.

One particularly popular Salah story came after LE 30,000 (£1,250) was stolen from Salah’s father. The thief was caught and in act of forgiveness, Salah’s family did not press charges. Retellings of the story in the press, however, have Salah intervening personally to help the man find work. One version even has Salah giving the man a wad of cash.

“The media just wants to talk about Salah, Salah, Salah,” al-Masery says. “He’s a nice guy, and very respectful, but not everything written about him is true.”

Not everybody shares al-Masery’s scepticism about the Salah story. In Cairo, where 200 punters crammed onto the pavement at an outdoor coffee shop to watch Liverpool secure their place in the Champion’s League final, 29-year-old football fan Omar Salem says he “doesn’t care” if certain details about the striker are false.

“People want to believe these things about him,” he says. “At this point he’s so loved that nobody would ever deny them.”

Before last July, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone here supporting the Merseyside club. That’s all changed this season, though, with football fans regularly turning out in force, for every Liverpool game. “It would just be amazing to have an Egyptian player win the Champion’s League,” Salem says.

Salem says it was Egypt’s match against Congo in October that marked the beginning of his status as a national icon. Salah’s penalty, four minutes into injury time, put Egypt ahead at the 11th hour, securing the team a place in its first World Cup in 28 years. “When he celebrated that goal,” says Salem, “that’s the image people will remember from that match.”

Salem calls Salah the first big Egyptian player “that people can actually relate to”. “We don’t even know what car he drives,” says Salem. Instead, Salah’s story is that of a humble teenager, who through sheer grit and determination earned the chance to represent his country in the big leagues of Europe.

For the kids of Nagrig, at least, the legend of Mohamed Salah is very real. His former school was renamed in his honour, and to talk to pupils here, you’d think his story was part of the curriculum.

One such pupil, 13-year-old Osama Eid, tells the story of Salah’s rise to fame as if reciting his 12-times-tables. “He’s very respectful and kind,” he says, “and well-mannered and does a lot of work to help the poor.” According to Eid’s friends, he’s the best footballer of their gang. When asked if he’d like to be like Salah one day, he doesn’t skip a beat: “Inshallah.”

 

LONDON, May 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is confident his players can cope with the emotional effects of qualifying for the Champions League final.

The 7-6 aggregate win over Roma in midweek, after a chaotic 4-2 defeat in the Stadio Olimpico, booked their place in Kiev to face Real Madrid on May 26.

Now Klopp’s players, who went back out to celebrate with fans being held back long after the semi-final second leg, have to raise themselves again for a crucial trip to face Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.

“I have not a little bit of doubt about the mindset of my boys,” he said.

“It was a really nice thing to go to the final. The crowd were still in the stadium and the boys went there.

“That gave them a real boost. Before that they were exhausted. Done. Happy, yes, but Chelsea on Sunday.

“This little ‘mind holiday’ was really cool. We have to use the little gaps you have. We did that in Rome and then the flight back.

“It’s not a question of ‘are we recovered?’ – we have to be recovered.

“We don’t ask these questions ‘How do you feel?’ after that. It is all the process we are in.

“We have to do ‘that’, and then ‘that, and then ‘that’ – always in the right moment 100 per cent.

“We have times in between the games for the boys to switch off and it is only important we switch on at the right moment and everything can be fine.”

 

PARIS, May 4, 2018 (News Wires) - Liverpool Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool’s prospective transfer targets to “make the right decision” and sign for the club this summer. The Reds manager believes progress to the Champions League final and being on the verge of securing their place for next season through a top-four Premier League finish makes the club even more attractive to potential signings, both financially and from a football point of view.

Liverpool could bank up to £69million if they beat Real Madrid in Kiev later this month, but the kudos of being in Europe’s elite competition is likely to be of more value when it comes to recruiting new players.

“The obvious reasons are there is a financial thing but we are strong enough for that competition and we will be next year strong enough,” said Klopp, whose side completed a 7-6 aggregate semi-final triumph over Roma in Italy on Wednesday evening.

“It is the biggest club competition and we want to be part of it, that is why we do it. We want to be as successful as possible.

“In the moment, the players we talk to, no-one said, ‘If you don’t do it in the end then it was all for nothing what we did in holding talks’.

“We battle and challenge with the best clubs in the world and whatever you can do to bring yourself in a better position to get these players you should do it.

“At the moment we are quite attractive; we pay good wages, we pay obviously transfer fees absolutely OK so we can go for a few really good players but other teams are interested in them as well.

“There are a few soft factors and a few harder factors which help the boys make the right decision, and the right decision would be to join us in the future.

“It is clear, if you are qualified for the Champions League it is easier to convince specific players.”

A point at Chelsea on Sunday would effectively ensure qualification next season due to Liverpool’s superior goal difference.

It means all talk of the final in Kiev will be put on hold to concentrate on the job as, when Klopp was asked whether that was the most important game of his career, he replied: “To be honest, the most important game is the Chelsea one on Sunday. Then Brighton (on the final day) could be very important as well.”

Midfielder Adam Lallana had his first football training session this week after a hamstring injury, although Klopp has not yet decided whether he will be involved on Sunday, but defender Joe Gomez (ankle) will not be fit.

Germany international Emre Can, whose contract expires in June but appears no closer to agreeing a new deal, has not played for nearly two months because of a back injury but Klopp believes he could still potentially be a consideration for the Champions League final.

“His important day is Monday, then we can make the decision if he starts training with us,” the German said. “It would be good news for the final, not for the last game of the (Premier League) season.

“Lallana had his first real football session in Rome the morning after the Roma game. He looked good, but I have to think about (whether to use him).

“Joe Gomez is still waiting for the final assessment to figure out what exactly it is. He is not available for Chelsea.”

 

LONDON, May 4, 2018 (News Wires) - Liverpool feel they can beat any team in the world at the moment and will play without fear in the UEFA Champions League final against 12-times winners Real Madrid later this month, winger Sadio Mane has said.

The Spanish giants are chasing their third European title in four years but Mane said Liverpool, who have scored 40 goals in this year's competition, were charged with confidence heading into the finale in Kiev on May 26.

"We honestly believe we can beat them," the 26-year-old Senegalese told British media.

"I can say at this moment we do have a lot of respect for Madrid, they are one of the best teams in the world, but we are Liverpool - we are strong and we can beat any team in the world.

"We are going to go there and fight for the fans, for the club, fight without fear and win the final. We have the players. We can score goals, we have shown that and there is nothing to be afraid of for us."

The Merseyside club won the European Cup four times in their heyday of the 1970s and 1980s but their Champions League triumph of 2005 bucked a trend of underperformance by the club at the very highest level over the last couple of decades.

Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren has hailed Juergen Klopp for transforming the club as they target their first piece of silverware under the German manager.

Klopp's side lost the final of the League Cup and Europa League in 2016 but Lovren reckons the manager has already forged a winning mentality at the club.

"He has changed many things in the club, not just the players but things around the club - people, he has changed the mentality, how we think," the Croatian told reporters.

"He deserves this. It is not accidental that he already reached the final of the Champions League in 2013 with Borussia Dortmund. He has given the club pride back. Everyone should be proud that we have a manager like him."

 

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