EPL

Klopp sure Gerrard will 'fight with all he has' on Anfield return

By Sports Desk December 10, 2021

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is expecting Steven Gerrard to "fight with all he has" when Liverpool host Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

Reds legend Gerrard was appointed manager of Villa last month following the dismissal of Dean Smith and has won three of his first four games in charge of the Midlands club.

The former England midfielder won a multitude of trophies during his playing days at Liverpool, including the Champions League in 2005 along with three EFL Cups, two FA Cups, the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

He started his coaching career leading Liverpool's Under-18s side before joining Rangers in 2018, and last season led the Gers to their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade, ending Celtic's dominance.

Speaking ahead of their meeting at Anfield, Klopp was glowing in his praise of Gerrard as a person, saying: "To have this kind of relationship with people says a lot about Stevie.

"Honestly, since I've been here, I haven't heard one [bad] word... 'Stevie is a great player, great player, but…' there was not one 'but'. Everybody's only positive. 

"Then you meet him and you realise what a great guy he is actually. The talent he had could have led to a lot of strange characteristics, but obviously he's a really good guy. Which is nice.

"So everybody's happy for him that he's doing well. Now he's coming back to his club, it is his club. Not for 95 minutes I know, all fine. It will be strange for him, but he will fight with all he has."

Klopp was also asked about the future of Nat Phillips. The centre back started the 2-1 Champions League win against Milan at San Siro on Tuesday, but suffered a facial injury that his manager said is likely to keep him out of action for "four to five weeks". 

Phillips played 20 games for Liverpool last season, with 18 starts, after injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, but his start in Milan was his first in any competition this season, and the 24-year-old has been linked with a move away in the January transfer window.

"I'm very happy that Nat is here, to be honest," Klopp told reporters. "But we will not block anything – I think, at least, it's not the plan anymore. But who knows what happens until January, then we would talk completely new.

"It's of course not the luckiest moment for this, but by the end of January he will be completely fine, definitely – or probably in the middle of January, I don't know exactly.

"So we will see that it will be completely fine. It's not complicated, it's just not cool. We will see what that means exactly, but in the long-term, it's no problem. Everything will be fine for Nat, definitely."

Related items

  • Real Salt Lake v LA Galaxy: Mastroeni sets his sights high Real Salt Lake v LA Galaxy: Mastroeni sets his sights high

    Real Salt Lake head coach Pablo Mastroeni says his team are aiming to be champions and are looking to continue their impressive form against LA Galaxy on Saturday.

    RSL sit top of the Western Conference on 37 points, having lost just two matches so far this season while putting together an astounding 15-game unbeaten run in the league.

    Mastroeni knows exactly where his side are in the table, and he has embraced the challenge that comes with being the leader.

    "It's about connecting to the big picture - we want to be champs," said Mastroeni. "There's all these sayings in sport for a reason, the one I go by is offence will win you games, but defence will win you championships.

    "It always goes back to what we want to achieve as a team. It's about fine-tuning some things and having a real understanding that we're now the hunted and need to get everyone's best game."

    The Galaxy are one of those chasing Salt Lake down, sitting just three points below them in third, having lost just one of their last nine matches.

    Having won their last two games, head coach Greg Vanney was particularly pleased with how his side defended in those two victories.

    "When we're following through on our responsibilities and making the games as predictable as we possibly can, then it helps the group to deal with situations a lot easier and cleaner," Vanney said.

    "We've done a nice job of that in the last two games, and it helps us to defend better. It gives the group a lot of confidence in understanding that if we stick to what we want to do, we can be a lot more efficient, especially in defence."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Real Salt Lake – Cristian Arango

    Arango has scored six goals in six career MLS matches against the Galaxy (incl. playoffs), tied for his most against any opponent in MLS play (Austin, Dallas).

    No player has scored more goals against the Galaxy since Arango joined MLS in August 2021.

    LA Galaxy – Dejan Joveljic

    Joveljic had both a goal and an assist in the Galaxy's win over New York City FC on Wednesday, his second straight game with one of each.

    The only other Galaxy player to have three straight regular-season games with both a goal and an assist is Zlatan Ibrahimovic (September 2019).

    MATCH PREDICTION: REAL SALT LAKE WIN

    Salt Lake have lost only one of their last six regular-season matches against the Galaxy (W2 D3), though that defeat came in their last home league match against them in May 2023.

    The Galaxy have won consecutive regular-season road games against RSL just once, doing so in 2012-13.

    RSL are unbeaten in 15 straight regular-season matches (W9 D6), equaling the longest single-season streak since the Portland Timbers went 15 straight without defeat in 2018. There have only been three longer single-season streaks in MLS history, most recently a 16-match run by New York Red Bulls in 2016.

    Meanwhile, the Galaxy have won four of their last five games (L1) with the last three of those wins coming by at least two goals. It is the first time the team have had three victories by multiple goals in a four-game span since doing so in September-October 2018.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Real Salt Lake – 53.7%

    Draw – 23.8%

    LA Galaxy – 22.6%

  • Colorado Rapids v CF Montreal: Armas has faith in hosts' squad, plots rotation Colorado Rapids v CF Montreal: Armas has faith in hosts' squad, plots rotation

    Chris Armas has full faith in the depth of his Colorado Rapids squad as he ponders potential changes ahead of Saturday's clash with CF Montreal in MLS.

    The Rapids are enjoying an impressive campaign and currently sit fifth in the Western Conference standings, nine points adrift of leaders Real Salt Lake.

    They thrashed St. Louis City 3-0 on the road on Wednesday after overcoming Austin FC last weekend, and at the end of a busy week, Armas will likely make some changes.

    "We'll take a hard look and think about fresh legs and then tactically what makes the most sense, but I have a lot of confidence in our roster," Armas said.

    "I have a lot of confidence in the depth, confidence in players' abilities to suffer and increase the comfort zones to suffer and to endure a little bit more physically. 

    "It's a difficult part of any coach's job. Only 11 guys can start and you only use a finite amount to divvy out. We'll take a close look, but again, I have a lot of confidence. 

    "We have really strong internal competition that's driving the team forward and then I can take the tough decisions, but that's my job."

    Montreal, meanwhile, sit 12th in the Eastern Conference after being pegged back in a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls last time out.

    Midfielder Bryce Duke believes adjusting to the altitude in Denver will be a major test for them next time out, saying: "Getting here two days before the game helps us with our preparation. 

    "It gives us an extra day of practice in these conditions. Our staff is working on a gameplan to help us acclimate to the altitude."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Colorado Rapids – Djordje Mihailovic 

    Mihailovic secured the first hat-trick of his career against St. Louis City on Wednesday, becoming the third Rapids player with a treble in a road game in any MLS competition and the first to do so since 2009, joining Conor Casey (twice) and Jeff Cunningham.

    CF Montreal – Sunusi Ibrahim 

    Ibrahim scored the opening goal in Montreal's draw against the Red Bulls on Wednesday, his 12th goal in MLS play, all before turning 22 years old. 

    That is double the number of regular-season goals scored by any other player before turning 22 in Montreal's MLS history (six by Orji Okwonkwo).

    MATCH PREDICTION: COLORADO RAPIDS WIN

    This will be the first meeting between the Rapids and Montreal since a 6-3 home win for Colorado in August 2019. Those six goals are the most Colorado have ever scored in a match.

    While it may not be as convincing as that win, Colorado are fancied for another victory here.

    They have won each of their last two games to nil. The last time the Rapids had consecutive shutout victories was in March 2022, and the last time they won three straight with shutouts was in August 2007.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Colorado Rapids – 45.3%

    CF Montreal – 27.8%

    Draw – 26.9%

  • France-Netherlands draw sees Kante extend record unbeaten run at major tournaments France-Netherlands draw sees Kante extend record unbeaten run at major tournaments

    France's draw with the Netherlands at Euro 2024 saw N'Golo Kante extend a record run at major tournaments.

    Les Bleus drew 0-0 with the Dutch in a somewhat underwhelming encounter in Leipzig on Friday.

    Kante was the star performer, picking up the Player of the Match award for the second match in a row.

    And the midfielder has now registered 17 appearances at major tournaments for Les Bleus, without suffering a single defeat (not including penalty shoot-outs).

    The 2018 World Cup winner is four games clear of any other European player when it comes to such a streak.

    Italians Simone Perrotta (13) and Fulvio Collovati (12) are second and third on the all-time list, ahead of Andre Schurlle (11), Carlos Marchena (11) and Paul Gascoigne (11).

    Kante has won 12 of his 17 matches at the Euros/World Cup, playing in five draws.

    France's slatemate against the Netherlands leaves them second in Group D, though the favourites are still in a strong position to progress.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.