EPL

Klopp considers Mascherano-type at centre-back amid Liverpool injury crisis

By Sports Desk October 30, 2020

Jurgen Klopp said he could use a Javier Mascherano-type solution amid Liverpool's injury crisis in the centre of defence.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip sidelined, Liverpool were dealt another blow on Tuesday, when Fabinho – playing at centre-back instead of midfield – hurt his hamstring against Midtjylland in the Champions League.

Joe Gomez is the only senior centre-back available for Saturday's clash at home to West Ham, while Nathaniel Phillips, 23, Billy Koumetio, 17, and Rhys Williams, 19, are also options.

Klopp said he had expected Phillips, who was on loan at Stuttgart last season, to leave the club.

The Liverpool manager also said it was possible he could use Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner or Andy Robertson at centre-back, in a similar way to what Mascherano – initially a defensive midfielder – did during his career.

"I know Nat [Phillips] the longest so I was really happy with this development. Since I know him he made big, big steps and is an exceptional character," Klopp told reporters.

"I said it before that the little problem was that we were all convinced, how it looked all the time… there were a lot of clubs interested in him and in the end, maybe because of the coronavirus crisis, nobody had the money to do it but we expected him to leave the club, to be honest. Thank God he didn't, but that's the reason why he is not in the Champions League squad, the only reason.

"He cannot be on the bench in the Champions League but he is available for the Premier League like all three are and now I have to make a decision.

"And we have still, obviously, other options like Hendo or Gini or James – or Robbo can play centre-half as well. They are all not smaller than Mascherano, for example, and he played pretty well in that position.

"So yes, we have obviously still one or two options and one of them, we will choose. Which one, you have to switch on the television tomorrow night."

Liverpool have collected 13 points from their opening six Premier League games of the season to sit second in the table.

Related items

  • MLS: Columbus, New England into Eastern Conference finals MLS: Columbus, New England into Eastern Conference finals

    Columbus Crew will face New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference finals after their respective wins in the MLS Cup play-offs on Sunday.

    Gyasi Zardes inspired Columbus in extra time of a 2-0 victory over Nashville.

    The United States international's cutback found Pedro Santos to score the opener for the hosts in the 99th minute.

    And, just four minutes later, Zardes sealed the win with a clinical finish in a one-on-one after being played in by Luis Diaz Espinoza.

    Zardes has been directly involved in seven goals (five goals and two assists) in four matches against expansion sides over the past two MLS seasons, according to Opta.

    It was enough for Columbus to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in four seasons, and New England await.

    After finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference, the Revolution beat Thierry Henry's Montreal Impact in the play-in round and stunned Philadelphia Union in the first round.

    They continued their run with a 3-1 win over Orlando City on Sunday.

    Carles Gil's 17th-minute penalty opened the scoring before Gustavo Bou made it 2-0.

    Junior Urso pulled a scrappy goal back for Orlando after the half-hour mark, but their hopes of victory were hurt by Mauricio Pereyra's red card for a dangerous challenge in the 60th minute.

    Still, Nani had a chance to equalise for Orlando in the 74th minute, only to see his penalty saved by Matt Turner.

    The penalty save was just the second by a Revolution goalkeeper from the previous 23 on-target spot-kicks they had faced dating back to March 2016, according to Opta.

    Instead, Bou got on the end of Gil's pass to poke in the sealer four minutes from time, sending New England to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2014.

  • Arsenal need Aubameyang goals to succeed – Arteta worried by captain's form Arsenal need Aubameyang goals to succeed – Arteta worried by captain's form

    Mikel Arteta is determined to rouse Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from his scoring slump after the Arsenal captain continued to fire blanks in the Premier League defeat to Wolves.

    Arsenal head coach Arteta said Aubameyang's form is his "biggest concern", pointing to how important the Gabon international's goals have been to the Gunners, who lost 2-1 at home to Wolves on Sunday.

    Aubameyang took five shots and had nine touches in the opposition penalty area against Wolves – both personal highs for the season – but only one of those shots was on target.

    The 31-year-old has not scored in open play in the Premier League since Arsenal began their campaign by easing past Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage in September.

    Aubameyang's penalty allowed Arsenal to beat Manchester United at the start of November, but the familiar dependable flow of goals from the former Borussia Dortmund star has been stemmed this season.

    Asked if he was worried, Arteta said: "I think we all are because the main goalscorer of the club at the moment isn't scoring goals, so my biggest concern is how to help him more to score goals because we need his goals.

    "How important Auba has been for this club in the last two years and how the goal sheet has been shared among the squad tells you his importance.

    "He needs to be scoring goals if we want to be successful."

    Aubameyang scored 22 of Arsenal's 73 goals in the 2018-19 season as they finished fifth in the Premier League, then fired another 22 from a meagre 56 Gunners goals as they trailed home eighth last term.

    Arteta will want goals to come from all areas of his team, but the reality is that they have been reliant on Aubameyang's consistency in recent seasons, and with his input declining the team are struggling.

    Arsenal sit 14th in the Premier League with 13 points from 10 games, having lost three successive home games in the competition, and are eight points behind the leaders, who happen to be their north London rivals Tottenham.

    The points tally is their lowest from the first 10 games of a campaign since a slow start in 1981, when Arsenal mustered a mere 12 points from their opening 11 matches before winning six in a row.

    Arsenal travel to Tottenham on Sunday, and to get the better of Jose Mourinho's side they may need Aubameyang to rediscover his shooting prowess.

    If Arsenal need any reminder of how a line-leading striker can perform for his team, they need look no further than Tottenham's Harry Kane, whose league-high 16 goal involvements (seven goals, nine assists) have helped Spurs edge ahead of champions Liverpool on goal difference at the summit.

    Aubameyang's two goals and one assist is a meagre return, given he has started every game, with his minutes-per-goal average declining from one every 142.64 last season to a dismal one every 448.5 this term.

    Tottenham's Son Heung-min, who has netted nine times in the Premier League this term, has got those at one every 91.22 minutes, with Kane not far behind with a goal every 127.71 minutes.

    With an off-key Aubameyang, it could make for a grim derby day for Arteta.

  • Diego Maradona dies: It hurts and we cared more than ever against Roma – Napoli's Insigne Diego Maradona dies: It hurts and we cared more than ever against Roma – Napoli's Insigne

    Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne said Diego Maradona's death hurts as the city suffers after the Serie A side donned Argentina-style shirts to honour the club great in their 4-0 rout of rivals Roma.

    Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player who led Napoli to their only Scudetto honours in 1987 and 1990 – died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

    After beating Rijeka in the Europa League on Thursday, Napoli played their first Serie A match since Maradona's passing on Sunday and it was an emotional occasion at the Stadio San Paolo.

    Napoli sported a Maradona-themed jersey, which consisted of light blue and white stripes instead of the iconic all-blue shirt and it proved an inspirational strip as the Partenopei equalled their largest margin of victory against Roma in Serie A, having also routed the capital club 4-0 in 1980 and 1971.

    Insigne – born and bred in Naples – opened the scoring with a free-kick on the half-hour mark before reaching for a Maradona shirt and kissing it as he celebrated.

    Fabian Ruiz, Napoli's all-time leading goalscorer Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano were also on target.

    "The atmosphere certainly gave us extra motivation, as we wanted to pay homage to our idol," Insigne, the only player since 2012-13 to score at least one goal and assist at least one in each of the past nine seasons, told Sky Sport Italia.

    "It hurts and we cared more than ever tonight to put in a great performance for him and the city that is suffering."

    Napoli moved up to fifth position in Serie A, six points adrift of unbeaten leaders Milan.

    Gennaro Gattuso also earned his 50th career victory as a head coach in the Italian top flight, while becoming the first Napoli boss to win his first two Serie A encounters against Roma.

    "There is a sense of sadness, but at this moment I think the city must also show common sense," Gattuso said. "I am seeing too many people going around without their masks.

    "Maradona is a legend, everyone knows that, and I understand the desire to express that affection, but I hope from tomorrow the city will get back to being sensible, or we'll all pay the consequences later."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.