Just a little more Klopp, this time in video form via Liverpool’s Twitter, talking about the question of the availability of his Brazil players, who went to play for their country and now (officially) need to be in quarantine:
Klopp is asked if he is happy with Liverpool’s business in the transfer window and gives a short and sweet answer: “Good … all OK … we sold some players, we put some players on loan … we brought Ibra [Ibrahima Konate] in … all good.”
The next question is about the possibility of Trent Alexander-Arnold becoming a midfielder: “If you watch our games, you see Trent’s position has already changed,” Klopp replies. “layers play everywhere, especially good players … on the right wing, he is everywhere on the pitch … why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder? As if the right-back position is not as important as the others? I struggle to believe how you can think that … being more influential than Trent Alexander-Arnold in the last … I don’t know how long he’s been playing for me … is really tricky … In the end, the right-back is the one who defends the right side.”
“A pair of 5-0 wins in their last two outings suggests Manchester City are starting to find their form and will fancy their chances of avenging last month’s Community Shield defeat against Leicester.”
Paul Doyle previews Leicester v Manchester City:
The Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is speaking now. He is asked about Virgil van Dijk’s injury in midweek with the Netherlands: “He had one injury, a really difficult one [his long-term knee injury] … I saw it, of course I was concerned, but then my broadcaster switched off … I spoke with my assistant who watched in on Dutch TV. I asked him: “Is he OK?” and he replied: “Not sure …” so it was not a good moment. But after, he gave the thumbs up, so it was OK.”
On the match at Leeds: “The game itself is already tricky … the two games with them [last season] were really exciting … they have a specific way of playing the game, with strict man-marking idea, in defending. Very flexible, very brave, very dynamic in possession … it’s a really good football team and we have to be at our best.”
Klopp is asked about Fifa’s idea to have a World Cup every two years: “It’s all about money. That’s how it is … it’s not why we started in football, but we get loads of money as well … the Premier League and clubs. But at one point, somebody has to start understanding, without the players, the most important aspect of this beautiful game, it’s not possible … if there is a World Cup every two years we can be sure there will be a European Championships every two years, too. That means the will play a big tournament every year … that means a three-week break every year … For them to play without a break, in the long-term, for sure not [possible] … it’s not important what I say of course because nobody listens.”
The Watford head coach Xisco Muñoz has been talking Wolves up before they visit Vicarage Road tomorrow, despite the fact Bruno Lage’s side have zero points from three matches:
“I don’t want the people to maybe think about that they have no points; no, no, no,” Muñoz said. Yes, it is true they don’t have points but they have very good players, a good style and a good manager.
“They are very good in transition and we need to give 100 per cent to take the points because it is important for us to continue with the same attitude as the last games, but also important we have a little more ambition to take points.
“We know we have in front a strong team and for sure it will be a good game. I think we need our fans even more for this important game. It is our second (league) game at home and we need everyone to live with passion and power from the first minute.”
Thank you Gregg, and good afternoon all. A spot of Sergio Agüero news to begin, courtesy of Reuters:
Sergio Agüero said he has no regrets over signing for Barcelona despite the fact that close friend Lionel Messi left the club in the same transfer window. The Argentinian, who arrived on a free transfer from Manchester City, said he was happy with the decision he had made even if it meant taking a paycut. “No doubt I’d sign for Barça again. Just for the name of the club, many players are open to giving up money in order to come,” Agüero told Spanish radio station RAC1.
“When we spoke to Barca we knew about their finances, but I told my agent that I didn’t care about money – all I wanted was to sign for Barça, even if it meant not earning what I was at City. Aguero admitted he did speak with Messi about his situation, however, he denied media reports he had a clause in his contract allowing him to walk away if his countryman left.
“He told me at the Copa América that it looked like the deal was done, but that’s all we spoke about the situation,” Agüero said. “When we came back he said they were still trying to come to an agreement but then the famous Thursday happened and I was left in shock, like everyone. Someone invented that I had a clause that allowed me to leave if Leo (Messi) did. What actually happened was I was injured when I was due to be presented and it happened just a couple of days after Messi left.”
Mikel Arteta is hoping that the fit-again Thomas Partey can be the midfield “boss” his limp Gunners have been lacking. Partey is set to go straight back into the side to face Norwich, given fitness doubts around Albert Sambi Lokonga and Mohamed Elneny, as well as Granit Xhaka’s three-match suspension for a “brutally surprising” (his words) red card against Manchester City. Here’s what Arteta had to say about Partey:
He has been missed for the last year or so, because he missed almost six months of competition last year, which is a lot, because he came very late as well in the transfer window,” Arteta replied when asked how big a role Partey can play this season. He is a player that has to be one of the leaders, he has to be the boss in midfield and one of the senior players that has to carry responsibility out of the young players and lead. We have been missing that big time. He is a player that has that winning culture, because he has won a lot in the game already.
And with that update I am going to hand over to Luke McLaughlin for the rest of the afternoon. Farewell.
Son Heung-min’s fitness is in doubt and Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez are all unavailable as Spurs take their 100% record to Crystal Palace. Here’s our match preview:
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Some more from Steve Bruce on Miguel Almirón’s availability despite the Fifa ban. The Newcastle manager doesn’t reveal the detail of the conversations that led to the turnaround but does divulge the Paraguayan’s nickname.
[Discussions have] gone on behind the scenes constantly. What I can say is on behalf of Miggy, he is available – we’ve had confirmation of that, so we are obviously pleased about that – but I think there are still live debates going on as we speak. But as far as we’re concerned, we’re quite happy with Miggy being available … maybe the government has to get involved the next time.
My colleague David Tindall has been looking at Ronaldo’s stats before his return and just by trotting out on to the Old Trafford pitch the striker will break a record.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s last Premier League appearance was in May 2009 against Arsenal – if he plays for Manchester United in this game it will set a new record for longest gap between appearances in the competition’s history (12 years 118 days).
● Ronaldo’s last Premier League goal came 12 years and 124 days ago, against Manchester City in May 2009. Assuming he scores again for United, only one player has ever had a longer gap between Premier League goals – Matt Jackson (13 years and 187 days between May 1993 and November 2006).
● Ronaldo has scored 48 hat-tricks in all competitions in his club career – the first of these came against Newcastle United, in a Premier League match in January 2008.
In a nice touch, Chelsea’s programme for the match against Aston Villa tomorrow features a tribute to the comedian and huge Chelsea fan Sean Lock, who died in August. It’s written by his close friend Jonny Vaughan who was grateful to have been able to watch the match in such good company for many years and will feel his loss intently tomorrow. Here’s what Vaughan had to say on Chelsea’s website:
After a chance meeting at Stamford Bridge, we became friends and Sean soon started to sit with my friends and me. We just became close mates and the rest has become history – a history that is bound together by our love of Chelsea. It was a great experience having Sean as my friend. Since he passed away, it’s been a very difficult and sad time for everyone. I just keep thinking about how privileged I was. I got to go and watch Chelsea every week for the best part of 28 years with the funniest man in the country. It was brilliant and I miss him so much.
Chelsea’s midfield looked strong before deadline day – and then the club snaffled Saúl away from Atlético to give themselves an embarrassment of riches. Here’s Sid Lowe on how the Spaniard hopes to play more as a No 8 after stagnating in Madrid.
Do the British football supporters want a biennial World Cup? Not according to a YouGov poll that has been carried out in which 64% of 1,000 fans surveyed came out against Fifa’s plans to cut the gap between its showpiece event. Overall only one in five (21%) support the plan, and only 8% were strongly in favour. Forty per cent strongly opposed the plan, with a further 24% somewhat opposed.
Uefa and the world’s major leagues have already given the proposals the thumbs-down with European football’s governing body threatening a boycott. European Leagues, a group which includes the Premier League and the EFL, said its members “firmly and unanimously” opposed the plans brought forward by Fifa’s head of global development Arsène Wenger, the former Arsenal manager.
Antonio named Premier League’s player of the month
Aston Villa manager, Dean Smith, has been talking about his frustration at not having Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia available after the farcical scenes which saw Argentina’s game against Brazil abandoned on Sunday. The duo are currently training in Croatia after returning from South America.
It was a no-win situation all round. Each club had to come up with the best solution for themselves. Legally I don’t think we had any right to ban our players. It’s a World Cup, they have a right to choose whether they want to go and play for their countries or not. I didn’t want them to travel but when I saw the passion they had we had to come up with a compromise for all parties. We all had a predicament – players, club teams, national teams – on do we allow them to go across and play for their countries and potentially miss two or three games? We were all in a rock and a hard place. Once our players made it clear they had spoken to other players in Argentina and wanted to play we had to come to a compromise. We managed to find that, they played the one game and they are quarantining now and back ready to play against Everton next week. They are in Croatia, we spoke with the relevant authorities and government officials to make sure it was the right thing to do. They are training over there.
Steve Bruce has got his press conference in early. He has revealed Callum Wilson will not be fit to face Manchester United but Miguel Almirón, who had been subject to a ban this weekend after not travelling out to play for Paraguay, is now available.
It’s a difficult one for the players because the ultimate is to play for your country. They’ve been drawn into a difficult situation. However, a bit of common sense has prevailed and he’s available for selection so we’re extremely pleased.
That news is perhaps heartening for the Premier League clubs with Brazilian players but only time will tell. Bruce also spoke about his frustration at being unable to spend more in the transfer window.
In simple terms, there is one pot of money and spending in one area reduces the amount available for others.
For further reading on Bruce piping up and revealing his transfer-kitty frustrations, this piee by Louise Taylor is worth your time:
Bruce also thinks Cristiano Ronaldo is the Best Player in the World TM.
He’s incredible for his age. He’s been a quality, quality player and to hit the heights you can’t get any higher than where he’s been. But we have to stop him tomorrow. [Facing] the best player in the world – that’s what we’re in this for. To take on the biggest and the best. It’s always going to be tough and obviously the added spice of Ronaldo coming back has added to it. But make no mistake, they’ve got quality players all over the pitch, so whenever you go to Old Trafford, the one thing you’re going to have to do is enjoy it … enjoy the challenge of playing against one of the big, big teams of this country and relish the opportunity to go and see if we can spoil the party a bit.
The transfer window may be shut but that has not stopped my colleague Will Unwin from breaking transfer news!
The Fifa ban on Brazilian players this weekend is still hanging over Premier League sides. There is still a possibility that the Premier League and Fifa come to some sort of late agreement given the unprecedented circumstances that led to them not travelling but, as yet, nothing has been thrashed out. Five teams are affected: Liverpool (Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino), Manchester United (Fred), Manchester City, (Ederson and Gabriel Jesus) Chelsea (Thiago Silva) and Leeds United (Raphinha). I’ll bring you any news as it comes in.
Good morning. All eyes will be on Manchester United’s returning No 7 at Old Trafford on Saturday. Expect cameras to focus on every stretch, yawn and mumbled word if, as expected, his second coming begins on the bench. If you’re in the UK, don’t expect to see such riveting TV live, as the 3pm blackout means you will have to wait for Match of the Day. There’s nothing wrong with that, mind. It’s nice to be reminded that, even in this “gotta have it NOW!” society we can still be made to wait. For further reading on Ronaldo, this piece by Max Rushden is a good one on why the Portugal star’s return should provoke awkward conversations as well as excitement.
Here are the full weekend fixtures in the Premier League (Sat 3pm BST unless stated otherwise):
- Crystal Palace v Tottenham (Sat 12.30pm)
- Arsenal v Norwich
- Brentford v Brighton
- Leicester v Man City
- Man Utd v Newcastle
- Southampton v West Ham
- Watford v Wolves
- Chelsea v Aston Villa (Sat 5.30pm)
- Leeds v Liverpool (Sun 4.30pm)
- Everton v Burnley (Mon 8pm)
Of those matches, the basement battle between Arsenal and Norwich looks to be a vital one for Mikel Arteta. The pressure will be intense if the Gunners fail to win that one against a side who are more than a little generous in their defending. Tottenham, meanwhile, have the chance to extend their 100% record under Nuno and take a five-point lead at the top before anyone else plays.
Leeds v Liverpool at a packed-out Elland Road on Sunday brings back memories of some fine clashes of old. I’ll also bring you any news on Fifa’s plans for a biennial World Cup after Uefa threatened a boycott. Julian Nagelsmann travels back to Leipzig as Bayern manager on Saturday evening and, in case you missed it last night, Lionel Messi was in scintillating form for Argentina, scoring a hat-trick to break Pelé’s record as South America’s top male international goalscorer. There’s a full schedule of WSL matches this weekend, too. I’ll keep you up to speed on any news ahead of those.