Klopp rues stalemate at Old Trafford

Manchester United and Liverpool failed to produce a goal in a war of attrition that was low on quality at Old Trafford despite an intense build up.

The point moved Liverpool to the top of the Premier League, a single point clear of champions Manchester City.

The home side will be more satisfied with their work however, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced to make all three substitutions before half-time.

The Red Devils came close to stealing the win when Joel Matip turned into his own net, only for the offside flag to save Liverpool.

Good set up play from Romelu Lukaku had sent Jesse Lingard through on goal in the first half, but Alisson was razor-sharp in getting down at his feet to nick the ball from his toe.

David de Gea meanwhile kept the 100th clean sheet of his Premier League career with scarcely a moment of worry.

United lost Ander Herrera and Juan Mata to injury before 25 minutes had elapsed and then Lingard – on for the latter – had to make way for Alexis Sanchez before half-time having succumbed to injury.

In the circumstances, Solskjaer was content with his team, especially as Marcus Rashford also appeared to be labouring for the entire second half.

"Everything that could have gone wrong in the first half went wrong. We had four injuries – we had to keep Marcus Rashford on – it seemed like it was going to be a tough afternoon," said the United boss.

"I can't remember Liverpool having a chance. Even though they had possession, I can't remember David de Gea making a save.

Roberto Firmino also went off injured during a stop-start first half, something Jurgen Klopp felt disrupted the game. The Liverpool manager ultimately conceded it was a chance missed.

"It was a strange game. We started really well. All the injuries in the game obviously cost us rhythm. It happened to us with 'Bobby' and that was a catastrophe," he said.

"United played with a completely new midfield and three up front. We lost our rhythm and couldn't get it back.

"It was a game without a lot of highlights – it was intense. On days when United are beatable you have to do it and we didn't do it."

Liverpool are now 13/8 to win the title, with Man City 8/15 to defend their crown. Man United meanwhile are 13/10 to win at Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening.

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Reds duo return to training

Jurgen Klopp has indicated that Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson could feature for Liverpool on Saturday in their Premier League match at Brighton.

Both players have returned to training this week – Matip has been sidelined since undergoing surgery on a fractured collarbone while Henderson has recovered from the knock he picked up during the recent defeat at Manchester City.

However, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez are all set to miss the trip to face Chris Hughton's side.

Klopp said: "Joel trained yesterday [Thursday] for the first time with the team, which is already really good but we have to see.

"We have to decide it day by day how he is doing, I am not 100 per cent sure. He feels good and that's good for us, of course.

"Hendo will train today [Friday] for the first time, we see what that then means exactly. Adam [is] out, Dejan [is] out and Joe, of course, [is] out."

Lovren picked up a hamstring injury in the early stages of Monday's FA Cup loss at Wolves but Klopp has hinted that the problem is not serious so the Croatian could return to action later this month.

However, the Reds boss has suggested the central defender may sit out the home game against Crystal Palace on 19th January.

Liverpool, 5/6 to win the Premier League title this season, are 3/10 to beat the Seagulls and 4/5 to keep a clean sheet in the encounter.

Matip could feature at Palace

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hopes that Joel Matip will be fit enough to be involved in Monday's trip to Crystal Palace.

The 27-year-old central defender has not played since suffering a muscle injury during last month's pre-season game against Borussia Dortmund.

However, the Cameroon international returned to full training last week and was involved in a behind-closed-doors match.

"Joel is close to being back," Klopp confirmed. "Hopefully he is able to be in the squad on Monday, so then we will have him."

However, Croatia international Dejan Lovren will miss the game due to a pelvic injury so Joe Gomez could start alongside Virgil van Dijk in the centre of the Reds' defence, as he did in the 4-0 victory against West Ham United.

"He is a very good football player and played the position good," Klopp said of Gomez. "Together with Virgil, they have a very good understanding – on a personal level as well and that's really cool."

Meanwhile, Palace manager Roy Hodgson says he has a fully-fit squad to choose from as he aims to build on the opening-weekend victory at Fulham.

The former England boss said: "The squad is looking very good. We picked up a couple of knocks against Fulham but the players who have had those knocks are now fit, so I now have a full squad to choose from, which is good.

"The new players are coming along in leaps and bounds as their fitness improves so we are happy with all of them."

Former Liverpool players Mamadou Sakho and Christian Benteke are set to start for Palace who are 7/1 to win Monday's match 1-0. Meanwhile, Belgium international Benteke is 10/1 to score the first goal in the match against a Liverpool side that are 15/2 to win 2-0 at Selhurst Park.

Klopp plays down Matip’s injury

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp does not think the injury central defender Joel Matip sustained against Borussia Dortmund on Sunday is serious.

Matip had to be substituted midway through the first half of the 3-1 defeat to the Bundesliga side at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Klopp said afterwards of Matip's injury: "It looks like, hopefully, only a little tear.

"We will see, but we cannot say anymore about it now. It is of course the most negative thing about the day. It’s not cool.

"Things like this can happen, but you don't want them to. In this moment we only know that it was too painful for him to carry on."

Virgil van Dijk headed the Reds in front but the Bundesliga side levelled through a Christian Pulisic penalty midway through the second period.

Pulisic made it 2-1 in the closing stages of the International Champions Cup clash before Jacob Bruun Larsen added a third goal for Dortmund.

One of the highlights for Klopp was Daniel Sturridge's performance in the game.

The injury-plagued striker was sent out on loan to West Brom in the second half of last season, but Klopp hopes he can resurrect his career at Anfield.

He said of the England international: "He is in very good shape. It has been a very intense pre-season so far and he was part of pretty much all the sessions. He looks really good. Who doubts Daniel Sturridge when he is fit? I don't.

"He is an outstanding player. Hopefully he can stay fit and then the future is bright."

Liverpool can be backed at 4/1 to win the 2018/19 Premier League title and at 1/4 to finish in the top four.

Klopp hoping for early return

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp is hopeful that central defender Joel Matip will not be sidelined for too long by a leg muscle injury.

The 26-year-old Cameroon international missed the 5-1 weekend Premier League win at Brighton, with Klopp forced to field an experimental back three comprising Dejan Lovren, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum.

However, the Reds boss hopes to have former Schalke stopper Matip available again ahead of the upcoming busy festive period, although the player will definitely miss the midweek Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow.

He told reporters: "He has hurt his muscle. I don't know how long exactly he'll be out, but he's definitely not playing Wednesday.

"A month? No, I don't think so, but as always it's possible. We have to wait, but it's possible that it will be shorter. We will see."

Liverpool head into the game against Spartak topping Group E with just the one game to play.

However, should they lose to the Russian outfit they could miss out on qualification for the knockout stages, with Spartak able to draw level on points with the Merseysiders if they win at Anfield on Wednesday.

They would then be able to progress with better head-to-head record than the Reds, with Sevilla also qualifying if they win away to Maribor in Slovenia.

Liverpool are available at 2/9 to defeat Spartak and are 6/1 to claim a 2-0 victory, with the Reds 1/5 to top Group E.

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Premier League Team of the Weekend – 15/16 April

Heurelho Gomes

Swansea have blipped of late, but the Welsh club still managed to trouble Watford’s goal on multiple occasions. Gomes has had tougher games this season, but he was solid enough to see through a vital win for Walter Mazzarri.

Daryl Janmaat

Joining his ‘keeper in the defence, Janmaat was near his best offensively. Although his play when asked to defend can be questioned, the former Newcastle man seldom disappoints in the final third.

Joel Matip

Liverpool’s defence may have been a figure of fun for much of this season, but that is in part down to the rarity that have been able to play Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren together.

Matip has been one of the signings of the campaign, in fact, and must be the bedrock of Liverpool’s backline for the foreseeable.

Eric Bailly

Without becoming embroiled in a battle of spite with Diego Costa like Marcos Rojo did, Eric Bailly once again was superb for Manchester United. Giving the Spaniard little aerially and reading the game well when required, Chelsea’s previously potent attack with completely calmed.

Vincent Kompany

Kompany should be in the conversation as one of the Premier League’s all-time greats. Injuries have stopped that, unfortunately, but the Belgian is evidently desperate to make up for lost time and it looks as though Pep Guardiola could yet place faith in his club captain.

Commanding in defence and scoring a bullet header, Saturday was an example of vintage Kompany.

Christian Fuchs

Leicester’s improvement as a unit under Craig Shakespeare has perhaps raised more questions than it has answered.

Christian Fuchs’ form, though, has been arguably the greatest change. From inept early in the season to the form that made him a lynchpin in their heroics last season, he has been superb. He was again this weekend, using his strength defensively and providing quality in the final third.  

Ander Herrera

Few players can single-handedly keep Eden Hazard as quiet as Ander Herrera did on Sunday afternoon.

A sublime pass to assist Rashford and a generous deflection made Herrera the standout performer in a Mourinho masterclass.

Christian Eriksen

Eriksen at his best might just be my favourite player to watch in the league. Once again he was conductor-in-chief as Spurs dismantled Bournemouth, as the Dane’s superb second half of the season continues.

If he can add some level of consistency, Eriksen might yet become the player everyone expected him to be when he left Ajax.

Xherdan Shaqiri

Stoke have lacked guile and quality for much of this season. That was no such worry with a fully fit, firing Xherdan Shaqiri.

Aside from his magical 30 yard strike, the pocket rocket was sensational, just as he was against Liverpool last weekend.

Kevin de Bruyne

It’s no coincidence that Kevin de Bruyne notches more assists than anyone in the league. Two more were added in City’s comfortable win at St Mary’s as the Belgian continues to make a claim for the status of best player in the league.

Marcus Rashford

The decision to leave out Zlatan Ibrahimovic was an odd one and it showed Jose Mourinho was prioritising the Europa league.

That said, however, it was great to see Rashford given a chance and the youngster was brilliant. Occasionally taking on three or four Chelsea defenders at a time, he was just too hot to handle.

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