LIVERPOOL (News Wires) - Juergen Klopp admitted Liverpool's flying start has surprised him as they won their sixth successive Premier League game to return to the top of the table.
The comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield was wrapped up by half-time Saturday courtesy of an own goal from Wesley Hoedt, Joel Matip's header and Mohamed Salah's simple finish.
The victory marked Liverpool's best start to a season since they won eight league games in a row in 1990-91.
Klopp's red-hot men have now won seven successive matches in all competitions this term.
Southampton manager Mark Hughes, now without a league win in 12 visits to Anfield with six different teams, admitted the second half was simply “damage limitation” for the Saints.
And Klopp was happy to welcome another unexpected milestone on his team's journey.
“I lost seven games in a row once, that felt different! But then we won game number eight 5-0, very cool,” he said.
“It's a surprise, but all the performances we showed so far were good enough to win the games.
“Different challenges, different styles of opponent, the boys were there, really in the situation and in the game.”
Klopp was also able to offer good news on the only possible downsides on the day for Liverpool, the half time removal of Xherdan Shaqiri and the second half substitution of Virgil van Dijk, who left the pitch clutching his ribs.
Klopp revealed Shaqiri's early substitution in his first Liverpool start was purely tactical despite his involvement in the build up to the first goal - his shot hit Shane Long before going in off Hoedt - and his superb 25 yard free-kick against the bar which led to Salah's tap-in for the third.
“I said to Shaq at half time that I'd never taken a player off at half time after such an influential half,” Klopp said.
“He was not injured, but I wanted to control the game, go back to our normal formation, and that helped us.”
The Swiss international understood the decision, according to his manager.
“He's a fantastic boy so there was no problem. I explained it to him, usually I don’t explain substitutions but I thought today it made a bit of sense,” Klopp added.
“It's just good to have him. You saw the free kick, it was outstanding. What a ball!”
Van Dijk, said Klopp, aggravated bruised ribs which he carried into the PSG game in midweek.
“He had already before the PSG game kind of a bruised rib, which is very uncomfortable, and today he got another hit there,” he said.
“It's not cool, but should not be too serious.
“He said he couldn't shout any more, so that's obviously 60 per cent less of his level!”
Klopp's 600th competitive game as a manager saw Liverpool extend an impressive home league record, unbeaten now in 18 games and 17 months at Anfield.
No opposing player has even scored here in the league since February, with Liverpool scoring 23 in the same period.
While the Saints enjoyed some promising moments they could not find the cutting edge to worry their opponents.
The second half was rather a non-event with Salah's disallowed finish after James Milner's shot was cleared off the line the closest Liverpool came to adding gloss to the scoreline.
LIVERPOOL, September 22, 2018 (News Wires) - Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent record in the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.
Wesley Hoedt’s unfortunate own goal spurred the hosts into life, with Joel Matip’s excellent header doubling their advantage.
Mohamed Salah contributed significantly, shaking away the weight of expectation and rediscovering that smile, wide as the Mersey, having accelerated ahead of Cedric Soares to met a ball which had deflected down from the cross bar and score. The goal sent his side in 3-0 ahead at half-time.
The only sour note for Liverpool was that Virgil van Dijk left the field with what looked to be a rib injury shortly after the break.
The win sends Liverpool back to the top of the table, although Chelsea will able to leapfrog them should they win by two goals against West Ham on Sunday. This also represents the first time in the club's history the Reds have begun a season with seven wins in a row.
ANFIELD, England, September 19, 2018 (News Wires) - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp believes his players have proved there is "no mountain they cannot climb" after stepping up a level to clinch a dramatic victory over Paris St Germain (PSG) at Anfield.
Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino struck a stoppage time winner as the Merseyside club beat PSG 3-2 in a thrilling Champions League Group C clash late on Tuesday.
Having inflicted the first defeat of the season on the French champions, Klopp believes Liverpool have reaffirmed the credentials that took them to the final of the elite European competition last term.
"The cool development of this club is that when you hear Liverpool are playing PSG you don't think we have no chance any more," the German manager told reporters.
"It's still so unbelievably difficult. What the boys make of the match plan is extraordinary. One of them a yard less tonight and it's game over."
Liverpool will look to maintain their perfect start to the Premier League season when they host Southampton on Saturday.
Daniel Sturridge's Liverpool career seemed to be heading for a premature end last season but the striker showed on Tuesday he may yet have an important role after taking his chance during a rare start in the Champions League win over Paris St Germain.
Brazilian Roberto Firmino was left on the bench after suffering an eye injury in Saturday's Premier League win at Tottenham Hotspur, allowing Sturridge to step into the side.
It was the 29-year-old's first start in the competition for Liverpool and his first start in the Champions League since he was part of Chelsea's title-winning team in 2012.
"It was a great performance from Daniel," said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp after their opening Group C game.
Firmino had recovered enough to come of the bench and grab the added-time winner but Klopp was pleased with both forwards, especially as the Brazilian looked set to miss out completely.
Klopp was pleased with the way his side took the game to French champions PSG and dealt with their potent attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.
Barcelona 4 PSV Eindhoven 0
Lionel Messi made a flying start to this season's Champions League by netting a hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-0 drubbing of PSV Eindhoven at the Camp Nou.
Messi scored on 31, 77 and 87 minutes with Ousmane Dembele finishing on 74 minutes as the Catalan giants made an impressive opening to this season's tournament.
Barca had Samuel Umtiti sent off on 79 minutes for a late challenge after being earlier booked for dissent, but it mattered little with Messi completing his treble eight minutes later.
Barcelona top Group B along Inter Milan, who scored twice late on to stun Tottenham 2-1 at the San Siro.
Barcelona were a little sluggish early on, with PSV missing several good chances to shock the Camp Nou with an opener, but not for the first time, Messi halted an opponent’s progress with otherworldly brilliance as he curled a sumptuous free-kick into the top corner - his eighth goal direct from a free-kick already this season.
After the break, Barca pressed for another, with Luis Suarez unlucky to be denied by the crossbar, before Dembele got the goal his excellent display deserved, with the France international caressing a brilliant strike into the bottom corner after driving at the heart of the PSV defence.
Internazionale 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Late goals from Mauro Icardi and Mat?as Vecino ensured Inter Milan began their Champions League campaign with a win, beating Tottenham 2-1 at the San Siro.
The hosts were playing their first Champions League group stage match in seven years, but looked like the more experienced team in the first half. Inter benefitted from the visitors’ sloppiness in building play from the back.
The Nerazurri controlled the midfield and pressed well, but ultimately struggled to create chances in the final third. Striker Mauro Icardi managed just six touches in the first half.
The best chance of the opening half fell to a struggling Harry Kane, who had the ball at his feet with only the goalkeeper to beat. Presented with the kind of one-on-one chance that the England striker routinely converts, his touch instead allowed the ball to roll out of play.
It was a different story for Spurs in the second half, who showed far greater composure and positivity. The breakthrough came when Christian Eriksen charged forward and struck a powerful shot on goal. Samir Handanovic could only parry it back into the Danes’ path, and his second bite of the apple looped into the net via a wicked deflection from defender Joao Miranda.
Icardi, who had looked off the pace for much of the evening, converted a spectacular equaliser with the clock edging towards full time. Kwadwo Asamoah cut a cross back to the edge of the 18-yard box, where the Argentine dispatched a sublime volley.
LONDON, Sept 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says striker Roberto Firmino’s eye injury is not as serious as feared but said it was too soon to know if he would be clear to play in Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Paris St Germain.
The Brazilian had to be substituted in the second half of his side’s 2-1 Premier League win at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday after clashing with the hand of opposition defender Jan Vertonghen.
“We all saw the picture and we were massively worried. But all these worries are away so he will be fine. (But) if he will be fine for tomorrow, I don’t know in the moment,” Klopp said on Monday.
“We are obviously in close contact with him and it improved already — but in this moment I can’t say if he will be available for (Tuesday),” he added.
Should Firmino be unable to take his place at centre forward, then Daniel Sturridge is the most likely to take his spot.
Klopp said that forwards Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi were both ruled out for the visit of PSG due to injuries picked up on Sunday playing for the club’s Under-23 team.
Another decision Klopp will have to make is whether to recall Jordan Henderson to central midfield or stick with Naby Keita and Georgino Wijnaldum, who featured in Saturday’s win at Tottenham.
Henderson, who skippered Liverpool last season on their run to the Champions League final, where they lost to Real Madrid, has been given a restricted start to the campaign after returning late to pre-season after the World Cup.
The England international said he had no problem with the selection choices made by Klopp.
“I came back later than everybody else so I can’t expect to come straight back in,” he told a news conference Monday.
“The lads have worked so hard in pre-season. I can see the benefits already. The rhythm they have — they’re at a very, very high level. They’re winning games.
“It’s normal for me that I’m not playing, I can accept it. Just means I have to keep working hard and take my chance when it comes,” he added.
Liverpool have won all five of their Premier League games so far and Henderson said he needed a break after a marathon campaign last season.
“I totally respect the players around us — how well they’re playing — and the manager. He’s always right. I’ve tried to use this period to refresh my body and mind because last season was long.”
LONDON, Sept 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Jurgen Klopp expects to see the “full Neymar package” when Liverpool open their UEFA Champions League campaign at home to Paris St Germain.
Reds manager Klopp refused to be drawn into criticism of the Brazil international’s diving antics at the World Cup, where he was roundly condemned for rolling around on the floor unnecessarily.
Instead he chose to partly excuse Neymar’s actions in the face of physical treatment from defenders – something Klopp says Liverpool will not be participating in on Tuesday.
“I know people were talking about when it looked like he made more of a situation than it was,” said Klopp, whose team were losing finalists last season.
“For me that is a completely normal reaction because players were really going for him and he wants to protect himself and I understand that as well.
“If an opponent gets a yellow card then he is much closer to a red card so I see it from that perspective.
“I thought it is smart that he saves himself. Everyone doesn’t have to be worried, we don’t go for him against us.
“We play football and we want to win the ball, we don’t try to act in these kind of things; we try to avoid passes to him, try to avoid him winning challenges – which is a big job to do.
“I am not sure if it is 100 per cent possible to avoid his qualities. I am pretty sure it is not. He is a fantastic footballer, an outstanding player.
“I don’t think he is a person who wants to act because if you are like that you cannot play the football he plays.
“I don’t think about these kind of things. He got rested at the weekend so he will be 100 per cent fresh for us, he is not injured any more, so we will see the full Neymar football package.
“We still have to cope with that and that is what we will try.”
Neymar’s Brazil team-mate Roberto Firmino faces a late assessment to see whether he has recovered from an eye injury sustained at Tottenham on Saturday.
The Brazilian suffered an abrasion on the cornea of his left eye after being caught by Jan Vertonghen’s flailing arm and it has impacted on his vision.
However, Klopp remains optimistic the forward – who performs a key role in the side – will be fit.
“Not definitely (fit) but yeah. He couldn’t play today, no chance, but we all hope there is a chance Tuesday. That is good news it will be close,” added the German.
“Everyone who saw the pictures after the game was shocked. It was a big relief for all of us.
“It is painful and no one needs that but he will be fine – we don’t know exactly when. Another 30 hours before the game so we will see.”
If Firmino does not make it that would present Daniel Sturridge with, incredibly, the chance of the first Champions League start of his Liverpool career.
Klopp’s other options are restricted with minor injuries to Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi, although he could also bring in Xherdan Shaqiri and move Mohamed Salah more central.
“He (Sturridge) will be ready,” said Klopp.
“If Bobby can’t play and Dom (Solanke) and Divock (Origi) can’t then we are short of options because both of them are a doubt because they got little injuries in the under-23 game with Swansea.
“We thought it made sense (for them to play) but they did not come through without any problems.
“There is no problem with the first line-up, only with having options.”
LONDON, Sept 16, 2018 (News Wires) - Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Wembley to post a fifth consecutive win at the start of the season for the first time since 1990-91 and banish the memory of last year’s London mauling by Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Chelsea, though, have also recorded a perfect start after Eden Hazard scored a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Cardiff City, allowing them to edge past Liverpool on goal difference at the top of the Premier League.
It is the first time in 110 years that two top-tier English teams have won their opening five games — and it would have been three had Watford beaten Manchester United but the Hornets surrendered their 100 percent record after losing 2-1 in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Liverpool’s goals came from Georginio Wijnaldum — his first away from home in the Premier League -- and Roberto Firmino, who went off with an eye injury but later confirmed it was not serious.
Such was the visitors’ dominance, they could have scored half a dozen times, with Mo Salah twice going close and Tottenham’s defence always looking vulnerable until Erik Lamela’s late strike gave them hope of an unlikely point.
Liverpool held their nerve and look nothing like the team who Spurs ripped apart 4-1 last season.
“We have to show progress,” said Juergen Klopp, who said the performance was Liverpool’s best of the season.
“It was maybe our best against Tottenham in all the years I’ve been here. But only five per cent less and we would have lost. I don’t think Tottenham played bad. We were that good it was difficult for Tottenham.”
At Stamford Bridge Chelsea ran out comfortable winners despite conceding a 16th-minute Sol Bamba opener.
That was the cue for Hazard to take charge, scoring on 37, 44 and 80 minutes, the last goal coming from the penalty spot. Willian added their fourth late on to ensure Chelsea’s goal difference is marginally better than Liverpool’s at the top.
Hazard’s display drew glowing praise from Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, who said: “He can become maybe the best player in Europe in the next two years.”
Champions Manchester City remain two points off the pace after a routine 3-0 win over Fulham, who fell behind on two minutes to Leroy Sane and never looked capable of forcing their way back into the game. David Silva and Raheem Sterling also netted. The only worry for City was an ankle injury to Sergio Aguero.
United hit Watford with a one-two halfway through the first half with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling, whose left-foot volley would have done any forward proud.
Although Watford set up a tense finish with a goal from Andre Gray, United, who had Nemanja Matic sent off late on, held on to allow manager Jose Mourinho another chance to salute the fans at the final whistle.
Bournemouth sprang the surprise of the day, beating Leicester City 4-2. It was a performance to back up manager Eddie Howe’s pre-match assertion that his side, who have won three of their first five games, have closed the gap on the division’s top teams.
The match was effectively over before the break, with Ryan Fraser scoring twice and Josh King adding a third from the penalty spot. Adam Smith made it 4-0 before James Maddison and Marc Albrighton replied late on.
Leicester’s miserable afternoon was compounded by Wes Morgan’s 69th-minute dismissal — his first in four years — for a second yellow card offence.
Arsenal provided further signs that they have put their jittery start behind them by winning 2-1 at Newcastle United, who now have just one point from five games. Granit Xhaka’s excellent free kick opened the scoring with Mesut Ozil ensuring Arsenal won consecutive away league games for the first time since May 2017.
In the day’s other game, Roy Hodgson celebrated the first anniversary of his appointment as Crystal Palace manager with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield Town. The scorer, predictably enough, was Wilfried Zaha, who marked his return from injury with a stunning solo effort.