Liverpool: Klopp opens up over lack of league goals
The Premier League was action-packed as always this weekend although the pick of the matches saw a 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Manchester United. Express Sport reporter Matthew Dunn has all the main talking points.
FIRMINO TOO SHACKLED BY LOCKDOWN
The brilliance of Liverpool’s three pronged-attack is that it still worked even if one of the prongs was not functioning properly,
But not two of them.
With Sadio Mane on a run of just two Premier League goals in his last 13 games, the burden has become too much for Mohamed Salah.
Roberto Firmino’s playmaker qualities have previously excused him from achieving the sort of numbers you would expect from a title-winning striker.
Since he arrived he has only ever ticked along at one goal every three games.
During lockdown, though, that has dropped to six in 27, with two of those in the 7-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace.
Time to step up to the plate, Bobby.
Premier League talking points after a busy weekend of action
SHEDDING STONES HAS MADE ENGLAND TOO LIGHTWEIGHT
Forget the free-scoring 100-point-threatening seasons we have been spoiled by recently – titles are usually won by defences.
And right now the inspired John Stones and new best mate Ruben Dias are providing perfect protection for Ederson. Nine Premier League games, they have won together – nine wins, nine clean sheets.
His personal resurrection is even more remarkable after he was landed the burden of blame for England’s Nations League semi-final defeat to the Netherlands and all but cast out from the England fold.
Back in favour with Pep Guardiola, Stones is due a bit of faith. And rather than ignore him, the challenge for Gareth Southgate is to identify an English Dias so we can go into the next World Cup with the back four we need to give us the flexibility further up the field to end all those years of hurt.
WHEN KANING IT FAILS, ONLY THING LEFT IS A BALE OUT
There was a moment in the second half yesterday that showed the length Harry Kane is prepared to go in order to be a winner. It’s about 100 yards.
He headed clear from a Sheffield United corner and, from the centre-circle, John Fleck played the ball all the way back to Aaron Ramsdale. Kane chased it all the way to put pressure on the Sheffield United goalkeeper.
The effort he is putting in for his team right now is remarkable, but compare that to the sight of Gareth Bale merrily skipping along the touchline on his weekly unrequited warm-up. You can almost hear those Champions League medals jangling in his pocket.
Why should he go the extra mile – he has already achieved his lot in football?
Kane, on the other hand, is more conscious than ever that for all those impressive numbers, he has still won nothing.
With Tottenham in four competitions still, if they come up empty-handed again it may just be enough to persuade him that there is no more he can do personally to change his luck. He might just have to head elsewhere.
The Premier League title race is hotting up
MOUNTING A CHALLENGE
Timing is one of those hard skills to master in football, but Mason Mount appears to be right on top of it.
Any other season in Chelsea’s Abramovich-funded clamour for honours, his chances would likely have been swamped by the latest overseas arrivals to be brought to the Bridge.
But the transfer ban gave a rare opportunity for young English talent to emerge through the ranks and benefit from the education Champions League experience can bring, together with the greater opportunities afforded by playing for a team expected to dominate the game.
Too often, young Chelsea talents have been farmed off to lesser Premier League rivals and spend their careers chasing the shadows of players from bigger clubs.
But Mount got his chance and he took it. Now he is the one keeping his place while £200m-worth of talent is rotated in and out around him.
His composure, intelligence and energy makes him vital to Frank Lampard, and now the Chelsea manager is looking to him for goals, too.
By the same token, can England afford to do without those qualities in the summer? Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Jordan Henderson, Phil Foden… and Mount. It’s beginning to look a bit crowded up to with Gareth Southgate hell-bent on a back three and wing-backs.
ALLARDYCE IS FINALLY ROLLING
It has taken Sam Allardyce longer than usual to crank his escape plan into gear, but it started in earnest in Saturday.
The timing of the West Brom goals if nothing else tell you how much the Baggies will be relying on Allardyce to drive them to safety – all three came within 11 minutes of either his pre-match or half-time team-talks.
Of course, as Sheffield United are all too aware after yesterday, a single victory can quickly be forgotten, and with the bottom three looking a little bit cast adrift, it is going to take a decent run of results to save any of them.
Even though it is reportedly well-worth his while to keep West Brom in the top flight, Allardyce would not have risked his record of never having been relegated from the top flight lightly.
Somebody always crashes out of mid-table comfort – Wolves fans could be forgiven for wondering if 2020/21 is their turn.