EPL

Coronavirus: UK sports minister welcomes planned return of Premier League

By Sports Desk May 28, 2020

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  • Klopp dismisses Premier League title talk amid Liverpool slump Klopp dismisses Premier League title talk amid Liverpool slump

    Jurgen Klopp dismissed talk about the Premier League title race after Liverpool's surprise 1-0 loss to Burnley.

    Liverpool's 68-game unbeaten home league run came to an end after Ashley Barnes netted a late penalty.

    Reigning champions Liverpool have gone four league games without scoring and are winless in five, leaving them six points adrift of leaders Manchester United.

    Klopp said it would be ridiculous to discuss the title race given his side's form.

    "Look, how silly would that be if I sit here now, losing against Burnley, didn't score for the last three or four games – I don't know exactly – and now I talk about the title race? How silly would that be?" the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

    "It's just we have to win football games – it was always like this. For this we have to score goals, there is no doubt about it. That's what we have to change and have to do better. If things don't work, you have to work harder, do the right things more often, longer and more consistent, all these kinds of things.

    "But not talking like it is an easy situation, it's not. It shows a lot of things. It's incredible how consistent the boys were but that was never something that anybody should have taken for granted because now we see they are all human beings, that's how it is. And now I have to make clear about what we have to do in the right moments and then we will score goals again."

    Liverpool had 27 shots without scoring against Burnley, the most they have had in a single league match without finding the back of the net since April 2013.

    Klopp said his players were lacking some confidence amid their poor run of form.

    "We can do more with this group, we can play much better football, that is my concern. That is what I am thinking about," he said.

    "The confidence is not on the highest level, I think that is so obvious that I don't have to mention it – you can see it in specific moments. It is like 90 per cent of all what the boys did all of the time is still there, but the decisive 10 per cent in the moment is missing.

    "So, now we have to work on this decisive 10 per cent. That's how it is – we always work on them, but now we have to dig a little bit deeper to get them back."

    Liverpool face Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday before visiting Tottenham four days later.

  • Australia still planning for Olympics amid reports Tokyo Games could be cancelled Australia still planning for Olympics amid reports Tokyo Games could be cancelled

    The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it is continuing to plan for the Olympic Games, despite reports the rescheduled showpiece event in Tokyo could be cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    COVID-19 forced the 2020 Games to be postponed, with the Olympics now due to held in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8 this year.

    But with coronavirus continuing to wreak havoc globally, there are reports claiming Japan has privately concluded the Olympic Games will have to be called off.

    The AOC responded to the reports in a statement on Friday, which read: "Both Japanese prime minister Suga and IOC president Bach have this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games going ahead in July this year. 

    "The AOC is continuing its planning to ensuring the Australian Olympic Team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safe and COVID-free.

    "The AOC, Federal Government, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council are continuing to progress the candidature for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032 – and that process continues."

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach also insisted the Games will take place this year, despite surging COVID-19 cases in Tokyo.

    Amid growing doubts, Bach told Kyodo News on Thursday: "We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

    "This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful."

    "You may not like it but sacrifices will be needed. This is why I'm saying, safety first, and no taboo in the discussion to ensure safety," added Bach after hinting at the possibility of reduced spectators.

    Bach said: First of all, let me be clear that you cannot compare March 2021 with March 2020 because there is such great progress in science, medicine, vaccination and [virus] tests.

    "All this was not available in March last year. Nobody knew yet how really to deal with the pandemic, and now we know much more."

  • Liverpool v Burnley: Anfield streak ends but goal drought continues as Pope saves all Liverpool v Burnley: Anfield streak ends but goal drought continues as Pope saves all

    After thrashing Crystal Palace 7-0 on December 19, Liverpool were six points clear at the Premier League summit. 

    Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were all on target in the clinical rout at Selhurst Park, after which Jurgen Klopp said: "It was really difficult to play against us."

    The reigning champions had seemingly found top gear again. 

    Fast forward to January 21 and, following a stunning 1-0 loss to Burnley at Anfield, Liverpool were left to wonder just where it had all gone so badly wrong.  

    For a fourth successive outing in the league they had failed to score, while the shock result sees them stuck in fourth position in the table, six points behind leaders Manchester United. 

    Never mind moving through the gears: the wheels have well and truly come off. 

    BARNES HARMS AILING CHAMPIONS

    Ashley Barnes' penalty condemned the Reds to a first home defeat in the league since April 23, 2017. It had been three years and 273 days since former Liverpool player Christian Benteke struck twice for Palace in a 2-1 triumph. 

    The run of 68 games unbeaten was the second longest in English top-flight history. During the streak, there were 55 wins, 176 goals scored and 36 clean sheets. A total of 43 players were used, too.

    Joel Matip, Georginio Wijnaldum, Firmino and Divock Origi were also in the starting XI that were beaten by Palace, managed by Sam Allardyce, nearly four years ago, while Trent Alexander-Arnold came on as a late substitute.


    GOAL-SHY LIVERPOOL MISS CAPTAIN

    Since Mane's early strike in the 1-1 draw against West Brom on December 27, Liverpool have registered 87 shots in the Premier League without managing to find the net. Eighty. Seven. Shots.

    It was not for a lack of trying against Burnley, admittedly. They had 27 total attempts, their most in a single league match without scoring since April 2013 versus Reading (28).  

    The absence of Jordan Henderson did not help. Even prior to kick-off, Liverpool had lost more of their 11 Premier League games without their captain (3) than they had in 45 games with him (2) since the start of last season.

    KLOPP STREAK CAUSES CONCERN

    This is not yet uncharted territory for Klopp at Liverpool; he previously went five league games without a win between January and February in 2017. 

    That barren run four years ago included fixtures against Sunderland and Hull City – clubs now in the third tier of English football – and a home defeat to current Championship side Swansea City, who were celebrating at Anfield thanks to goals from Fernando Llorente (two) and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

    However, Klopp has never previously gone four without a goal during his Reds tenure. The previous time that happened in his coaching career was while in charge of Mainz, who suffered a drought in the Bundesliga late in 2006.


    POPE SAVES ALL AS REDS PAY THE PENALTY

    Nick Pope excelled when Burnley ended Liverpool's 100 per cent home record in their title-winning campaign – and the goalkeeper was once again in outstanding form on Merseyside.

    The England international made six saves to keep a clean sheet, having produced eight in his side's 1-1 draw in July at the same ground. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, no keeper has made more saves against a single opponent in the Premier League than Pope against Liverpool (19).

    Barnes' penalty was the second spot-kick Liverpool have conceded at home this season too – they had only given up two penalty goals at Anfield under Klopp before 2020-21.

    There is plenty for the German to ponder, then. While retaining the trophy is far from out of reach, what appeared to be a temporary blip is in danger of turning into a full-blown crisis.

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