Koeman cools Van Dijk concerns

Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman expects central defender Virgil van Dijk to be okay to feature for Liverpool at Huddersfield Town this weekend.

Van Dijk played and scored in a 3-0 Nations League win for the Oranje over Germany on Saturday, but will be absent when the Dutch take on Belgium on Tuesday evening, as he is dealing with a rib problem.

However, Koeman is confident that Van Dijk will be clear to return to action in the Premier League on Saturday, the former Celtic and Southampton defender having managed his injury for a number of weeks.

Koeman told De Telegraaf: "Virgil has played with two broken ribs in the last few weeks. He wanted to play against Germany and you have to give (his) club something back now.

"He's back in Liverpool, but he is ready to play for next week. He's taken a rest and spoken to his manager.

"The medical staff of the Dutch national team spoke to the medical staff of Liverpool and made the decision that he was playing only the Germany game and then after that back to Liverpool.

"He is ready to play next weekend."

Van Dijk cost the Reds a world record fee for a defender when he joined from the Saints in December 2017, with the deal worth in the region of £75million.

He has since scored once in 32 appearances in all competitions for the Merseysiders, helping Liverpool reach the final of the Champions League last season.

This season the Reds are available at 9/4 to win the Premier League title, while they are 8/1 to go all the way and triumph in the Champions League.

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Koeman keeps feet on ground

Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman has refused to get carried away by a 3-0 victory over Germany insisting his team are far from the finished article.

Germany's troubles after a poor World Cup 2018 continued in Amsterdam with Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum on the scoresheet in Holland's biggest ever win over their close rivals.

It was a morale boosting win after they missed out on qualifying for Russia this summer but Koeman was cautious after the third win in his seven games in charge of the national side.

The former Everton boss said after the game: "We were waiting a long time for this, but I'm not the kind of guy who pretends that we've become world champions.

"I'm proud because finally we got the result we needed and we can say 'yes, there is development in the team'. That's what we needed. You could also feel that in the stadium, in the atmosphere.

"But if I tell the players that everything was great, it's not good. We need to grow with each other."

The Netherlands lost to France in their opening Nations League game last month and they end the group stages of the competition next month.

However they play Belgium in a friendly on Tuesday to try and build on the Germany result against a side who reached the semi-finals in Russia.

Netherlands are 5/1 to win the game with Belgium 4/7 and the draw 11/4.

The Netherlands are 9/2 to top Group 1 in the Nations League.

Koeman's side go into Tuesday's game without Liverpool defender Van Dijk who misses out with a rib injury sustained when playing for the Reds in the Premier League last month.

His Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah is another to miss his country's second match in this international break, returning to his club after a muscle injury suffered in Egypt's win over Swaziland on Friday.

Liverpool are 9/4 to win the Premier League this season.

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Fabinho talks up Mane talent

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has the ability to become one of the best players in the world, according to his Reds team-mate Fabinho.

Fabinho is yet to have much of an impact at Anfield following a summer switch from Monaco but the Brazilian has been impressed by what he has seen so far from his Senegalese colleague on Merseyside.

Mane has been one of manager Jurgen Klopp's standout performers this term, netting four times in the Premier League, to help the club enjoy a strong start.

Fabinho feels the former Southampton forward can continue to improve and says Mane has the attributes to go on to become one of the best in the game.

"Sadio Mane is an excellent player," Fabinho told Goal. "Before I came to Liverpool, I saw him on TV and I liked him a lot.

"He is very fast and very intelligent. He has everything to continue growing to become one of the best players in the world.

"I hope he continues with us for a long time. It is a pleasure to play alongside him."

Liverpool are 9/4 to win the Premier League this season, while the Reds are 8/1 to go all the way and win the Champions League this term.

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Egypt cool Salah injury fears

Egypt assistant coach Hany Ramzy has played down the seriousness of the thigh injury sustained by Mohamed Salah during the 4-1 victory over eSwatini.

Liverpool forward Salah was forced to leave the field late on in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, having earlier scored direct from a corner for his side.

Afterwards, Ramzy was calm about the problem, with initial treatment suggesting that Salah has suffered a strain rather than anything more serious.

He told beIN SPORTS: "The primary diagnosis confirms it's just a strain and no muscle rupture is apparent, but the player will need to undergo scans to determine the full extent of the injury and the time needed to heal.

"It's nothing major and we'll do the best we can to help him recover. We hope he will return without being affected by the injury as soon as possible."

Twenty-six-year-old Salah enjoyed a stellar first season with Liverpool scoring 44 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions.

This term he has netted three times in 11 outings, having seen his World Cup 2018 finals campaign disrupted by a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.

The Merseysiders return to Premier League action following the international break with a trip to Huddersfield Town on Saturday 20th October.

Last season both meetings of the two teams ended in 3-0 victories for the Reds, who are 13/2 to win by the same scoreline next Saturday, with Liverpool 8/13 to keep a clean sheet and 5/1 to claim a 2-0 success.

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Klopp feels the need for success

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp accepts that he needs to deliver some silverware to be considered a true success at Anfield.

The German has led the Reds to the final of the League Cup, Europa League and Champions League, but they are yet to make that final step during his three-year reign.

And Klopp is well aware that he needs to take his team all the way, especially in the Premier League, with Liverpool without a domestic league success for nearly three decades.

He told the Liverpool Echo: "Nobody wants to look back in 10 or 20 years and say the best time we had without winning anything was when Klopp was in, it was so funny, all that stuff. That's not really something you want to achieve.

"We have still time to do something special, we know that. To underline our progress and development, we have to.

"But times have changed. It's much more difficult than it was in the past. We are maybe in the best moment for ages, but a few other clubs have made the same steps and that makes it difficult.

"In most sports, coming second in the Olympics you come home with a silver medal. In football, it's nothing and it's nothing for me as well. I want to win it and I know that's a responsibility."

Liverpool currently lie in third place in the Premier League table, level on points with both reigning champions Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Merseysiders can be backed at 9/4 to be crowned champions this season, with the Citizens available at 4/6 and the Blues 9/1.

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Salah will come good

Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler feels Mo Salah will soon be scoring goals regularly, though he suggests it will be tough to scale the heights of last season.

The Egyptian scored 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season and claimed both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and Football Writers' Player of the Year awards in a remarkable campaign.

Salah has so far managed just three goals in 11 games this term, half the tally he had bagged by the same point last season.

Fowler says people shouldn't be too quick to criticise the former Roma forward.

"I'm not saying he's having a bad year so far. He's still a good player, he's still an excellent player but to replicate what he did last year will be unbelievable," Fowler told Sky Sports.

"I think he'll still score goals, I think he'll still score a lot of goals."

Salah blazed a second half shot over the bar against Manchester City in Sunday's stalemate with the Premier League champions at Anfield.

For Fowler, it is very important to see the Reds talisman still getting himself on the end of chances, something he firmly believes will bring the goals back.

"What I like about Mo Salah is that his work ethic is brilliant, he doesn't shy away from anything. What I would be more worried about is if he wasn't getting chances," Fowler added.

"He will bang the goals in. I'm not sure he'll hit the heights he did last year but he is still a magnificent player."

Salah is 13/2 to finish as the Premier League's leading scorer this season again, while Liverpool are 9/4 to take the title off Manchester City.

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Robertson plays down two-horse race

Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson is adamant there are more contenders than themselves and Manchester City for the Premier League crown this season.

The Reds and the Citizens played out a goalless draw at Anfield on Sunday and many have predicted the two clubs will go head-to-head for the right to call themselves champions of England this term.

However, Scotland skipper Robertson believes that is not the case and feels the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal can be in the mix come the business end of the campaign.

"We feel we can compete with any team but people seem to be just dismissing other teams and making it a two-horse race, which is not the case," Robertson told Sky Sports News.

"We played Chelsea last week, who were excellent. They have been on a great run.

"You see teams like Arsenal with a new manager putting great results together so there is a long way to go and there will be a lot of teams competing but we hope we are one of them."

Liverpool are 9/4 to win the Premier League this season, while Manchester City are 4/6.

Chelsea can be found at 9/1 to claim the title, while Arsenal are outsiders at 40/1.

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Stalemate at Anfield

The top of the table clash between Liverpool and Manchester City ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Chelsea's win earlier in the day put them temporarily top but the winner at Anfield would have replaced them.

As a result of the goalless draw City go back to the top on goal difference but the champions had a golden opportunity to claim all three points, Riyad Mahrez missing a late penalty.

Mohamed Salah had the first chance of the game, shooting wide after just three minutes but, despite Liverpool edging the opening exchanges, it was far from the anticipated classic.

The home side were hampered by James Milner's withdrawal after half an hour, the midfielder, who has been in such good form for the Reds, hobbling off to be replaced by Naby Keita.

The Anfield crowd were struggling to create the atmosphere befitting a genuine top of the table clash with neither side creating much in front of goal.

The second half began in a similar fashion with chances few and far between. City did have a penalty appeal turned down when Virgil van Dijk was ruled not have handled the ball in the area, then Mahrez showed good skill and control to get a shot in that went narrowly wide.

At the other end Salah also had a shot, the first on target in the game, but it was comfortably saved by Ederson.

The game entered its latter stages with both sides looking happy to collect a point only for City to have a golden late chance to snatch all three.

With just four minutes of normal time remaining they were awarded a spot-kick after Van Dijk fouled Leroy Sane in the area.

Mahrez took the penalty but it was a poor kick, going over the bar to the relief of the majority of the crowd.

Mahrez has now missed five of his last eight Premier League penalties and his latest miss means that the points were shared and both teams, along with Chelsea, remain unbeaten and go into the international break on 20 points from eight games.

Both teams are next in action on 20th October, Liverpool travelling to Huddersfield and City at home to Burnley.

City are 4/6 to win the Premier League title with Liverpool 9/4 and Chelsea 9/1.

Liverpool are 12/1 to not finish in the top four while City are 28/1.

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Premier League: Mahrez Penalty Miss gifts Pool a Point

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City

It was a tight game between the Premier League’s best two sides and it always looked likely to be decided by a single goal, but the goal never came.

On 85 minutes Riyad Mahrez had the game in his hands when he prepared to take a penalty. But he skied it and blew City’s chance to go clear at the top.

Billed as the Premier League showdown this game promised to give goals, but Liverpool looked tired and City just couldn’t turn their superiority into a win.

The earlier Premier league 2018 results from this weekend saw the other ‘big six’ teams all winning, Spurs and Manchester United narrowly, Chelsea at a stroll and Arsenal with a swagger. And now only two points separate the top five.

Highlights of the game

In a hectic start Riyad Mahrez tried to get in behind the Liverpool defence but was flagged narrowly offside, then the first chance of the game came to Mo Salah, but the Egyptian screwed his shot wide.

Jurgen Klopp made two changes to his defence, introducing Joe Gomez at right back and giving Dejan Lovren his first start of the season. But Raheem Sterling gave Gomez a torrid time from the off, and the two defenders got away with a real scare on 20 minutes. Gomez messed up a clearance which fell to Sergio Aguero and Lovren appeared to kick the Argentine as he set himself to shoot, but referee Martin Atkinson controversially gave a corner.

The Reds were forced into an early substitution when the injured James Milner was replaced by Naby Keita, but Liverpool struggled to get into the game. While there were few attempts on goal, Manchester City stroked the ball around in comfort while Liverpool chased the shadows. But despite City’s fluent approach play, we reached half time without a single shot on target.

It was a brilliant goal from Daniel Sturridge that earned the Reds a vital point away to Chelsea last week; but Klopp started with his big three up front, Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane but only Salah had had the merest sniff of a goal.

Mohamed Salah's reaction after missing a good opportunity to score against Manchester City in the Premier League

Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah gestures after missing a good chance to score against Manchester City

Manchester City continued to control the play in the second half and Riyad Mahrez came close, turning Andy Robertson inside out before shooting narrowly wide. The game began to come alive as Mahrez had another chance but this time Alisson collected his low shot.

Pep Guardiola played his first big card, bringing off Sergio Aguero to give Gabriel Jesus his chance. But as Liverpool made their first really fast break Salah beat the offside trap only to blast his shot way over. Then Klopp gave Sturridge his chance, hooking Firmino with 20 minutes to go.

Bernardo Silva drove City forward with a powerful run and when the ball fell to Mahrez, Alisson saved well, low at his near post. The Lovren looked in trouble again when he stuck a hand in Jesus’ face but again, the referee was unmoved.

As the game became more stretched Gomez crossed for Sturridge, but the sub couldn’t get enough pace on his header to trouble Ederson.

And then came the big moment. Leroy Sane outpaced Virgil van Dijk and the big Dutchman tripped the winger. With Sergio Aguero already subbed, up stepped Riyad Mahrez and he nearly hoofed his spot kick into the second tier of the stand!

Gabriel Jesus wanted to take the penalty but Mahrez had pushed him away.

Oh dear.

Key statistics

After a tight first half, things opened up a little in the second and we could, and should have seen some goals.

But Aguero’s substitution had two effects. Firstly he has failed to score at Anfield in ten appearances. And secondly Riyad Mahrez has now missed four of his last six penalties.

Add to that Liverpool are now unbeaten in 18 home matches against Manchester City and those facts becomes all the more shocking for City fans. Meanwhile, the Reds have kept a clean sheet in each of their last nine Premier League games at Anfield.

What’s next?

According to Premier league 2018 odds the title is likely to be decided between Liverpool and Manchester City and this result doesn’t change anything.

Liverpool lacked their customary dynamism in the Champions League defeat to Napoli and appeared to be well off the pace again here. Chelsea then Napoli and Manchester City is one heck of a week. There are no easy games in the Premier League, but a trip to Huddersfield is as near as it gets. The Terriers are yet to win a game this season.

The Sky Blues host Burnley after the break. Sean Dyche’s team has looked weary itself after its early season Europa League exploits, but has picked up seven points from the last three games, and is one of a few teams to take a point off the Champions last term.

A word of advice us fans… don’t bet on a repeat of that!



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Firmino ‘dreams big’ under Klopp

Roberto Firmino makes no secret of the fact Liverpool are "dreaming big" this season, though he warns they must "stay grounded" to achieve their aims.

The Reds host Premier League champions Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, with the pair unbeaten and locked together on 19 points after seven games, Pep Guardiola's side enjoying top billing only on goal difference.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 17 home matches against Manchester City in all competitions. They ended City's unbeaten Premier League run with a 4-3 win in January and blew their visitors away during a 3-0 Champions League success in the spring.

Klopp's side are also unbeaten in 24 Premier League home matches and Firmino, 13/8 to score against Man City on Sunday, says they have big aspirations this season.

"We've been doing well, we made a good start under him and we're dreaming big. We want to keep working hard and win trophies," said the Brazilian forward.

"We've only been working together for three years, but it seems like it's been longer.

"I've been learning a lot from Klopp ever since he came in. He's brought everything together and got that across to the team. We're doing that well now."

Liverpool are 6/4 to win at Anfield, with City 15/8 to end their 15-year winless streak at the Merseyside ground and the draw priced at 13/5.

Firmino described the atmosphere during the January win over City as 'incredible', though he knows Liverpool must try and manage their ambitions properly, particularly at this early stage of the season.

"The adrenaline, combined with the atmosphere on the pitch during such special games, is always incredible," the forward added.

"The club is always aiming to win trophies and competitions. We've made a very good start, but we have to stay grounded, because the season has only just started.

"We're taking it step by step, trying to play well and win games. We're just looking ahead and will see where that takes us."

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