EPL

Klopp claims Salah faced 'social pressure' to attend wedding

By Sports Desk November 20, 2020

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp claimed Mohamed Salah will have felt "social pressure" to attend his brother's wedding, a decision that sparked controversy after he tested positive for coronavirus.

Salah contracted COVID-19 while away on international duty with Egypt and missed his country's fixtures against Togo.

The 28-year-old was criticised after videos emerged of him dancing in a crowd of people at his brother's wedding a few days before he was due to play for Egypt.

He will miss Liverpool's Premier League clash with leaders Leicester City and his availability for their Champions League meeting with Atalanta on November 28 is also in doubt.

Salah has scored eight goals in eight Premier League appearances for Liverpool this season.

Klopp confirmed he had spoken to Salah about the issue but refused to discuss what internal action Liverpool had taken against the player.

"A brother's wedding is a very special moment," Klopp told a media conference on Friday.

"In other countries, in other situations, there's more social, I'm not sure if it's the word but, pressure, and stuff.

"He's probably back today. We are obviously in close contact with him all the time.

"How it always is in these cases is that when you have a negative test the process really starts. He's in a good place. He feels well. No symptoms.

"There is nothing to say in public about it. I have talked to my players about it. Nothing for the public. We are in the situation we are in.

"The rest is between Mo and me. We did that [talk] already and we are fine.

"What I can say about my players is they are incredibly disciplined. Football players in general are very disciplined."

Salah's absence with the virus added to Liverpool's ever-lengthening list of missing players as Klopp lost more key men to injury during the international break.

The most significant was Joe Gomez, who underwent surgery after he sustained a serious knee injury while on England duty.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, meanwhile, felt "a bit of tightness", according to England coach Gareth Southgate and Klopp said he will not be fit to face the Foxes on Sunday.

Virgil van Dijk is a long-term injury absence with a knee issue, while fellow defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is still nursing a hamstring problem.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still continuing his rehab from a knee injury, but midfielders Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara are edging nearer to a return to fitness.

Klopp added: "They [Thiago and Fabinho] are all closer, but we’ll see if it's close enough for the weekend."

The Reds boss remains hopeful Liverpool's injury problems can help foster a sense of esprit de corps among his players.

He said: "We are a unit. A proper, proper unit. The more problems we have, the closer we stick together. 

"We don't go for excuses, we have the situation we have, we don't like the injuries we have because it is really hard for the boys who have the injuries, but all the rest is working on solutions. That's what we always do.

"We have solutions in our mind. Maybe we think we have the worst situation possible, but the season is long and we have only played eight games, so there will be a lot of problems.

"I have always said, whoever deals best with the problems in front of them has a chance to be really successful. That’s what we try to be."

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  • Man Utd have stopped scoring against the big sides – that must change at Liverpool Man Utd have stopped scoring against the big sides – that must change at Liverpool

    Manchester United's record against the so-called 'big six' of the Premier League this season reads zero wins, two defeats and two draws.

    They have conceded seven goals, six of them at home to Tottenham, and scored just once – a Bruno Fernandes penalty two minutes into that 6-1 hammering in October.

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    Since the end of the 2019-20 shutdown, United have played seven games against the big six and won none of them, if you include domestic cup losses to Chelsea and City.

    In league football alone, they have drawn against Tottenham, Chelsea and City and lost to Spurs and Arsenal, with just two Fernandes penalties to show for it. All their previous three such games were at home and they have not scored in any of them.

    In their first 14 league games against these sides under Solskjaer, United won six times and lost only four, scoring 16 goals and conceding 13 – a decent record given their real problems with consistency.

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    In fact, narrow that down to results against teams in the top half of the table in the same time frame, and United have lost the fewest games (two) of any side, with 21 points taken from 13 games, just three behind Jurgen Klopp's side.

    So, why the recent drop-off against the very best?

    Solskjaer's most dependable attacking weapons have been Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, all three of whom will almost certainly start at Liverpool, barring injury.

    They were all involved in their last big-six contest in the league, a 0-0 draw at home to City in December. Rashford managed only one shot all game and created no chances for anyone else; Martial, a late substitute, created one chance but had no shots himself. Fernandes, ever the fulcrum of United's attack, had four shots and created two chances.

    The previous game was a staid goalless draw with Chelsea that made the derby look positively thrill-a-minute. That day, with Martial banned, Rashford was more involved, with three attempts at goal and two chances created; he was outdone by Fernandes (three shots, four chances created).

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    United's best attackers, then, are keeping their performance levels consistent against the big six. They're just meeting greater resistance. That becomes clearer looking at expected goals.

    In their most recent three league games against these sides, United have had xG of 0.6 against City, 0.7 against Chelsea and a lowly 0.4 in a 1-0 loss to Arsenal. In those same fixtures in 2019-20, those figures were 1.6 (in a 2-0 win against City), 2.2 (in a 4-0 win over Chelsea) and 0.9 (in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal). Interestingly, though, Chelsea and Arsenal had higher xG numbers in those games last season, even though they suffered worse results, and City's only increased this term by 0.7.

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    Bruno Fernandes hit back at Jurgen Klopp after the Liverpool manager complained about the number of penalties awarded to Manchester United.

    Klopp was unhappy his side were not given a penalty during a loss to Southampton earlier this month and the German pointed to the number of spot-kicks United had been awarded.

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    United visit champions Liverpool with a surprise three-point lead atop the table.

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