• Manager confirms striker Roberto Firmino remains sidelined due to a hamstring injury
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp is not surprised by the fine starts of their Premier League rivals and said yesterday that dropping points was not an option in another fiercely competitive season. Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool occupy the top three places in the league after the opening four games, with champions Manchester City in fifth.
“I am not too much in the other teams’ situations, but it’s a good start for us,” Klopp said in the build-up to Liverpool’s game against Crystal Palace today. “We’ve played some good football but if you want to be around the really top spots you have to, and you cannot waste points. That’s how it is. We just keep going. I’m not surprised by other teams’ results.”
Liverpool will rotate their squad for what will be their third game in a week, with Klopp saying that his players had done well to come through a gruelling seven days, during which they beat Leeds United in the league and came back from 2-1 down to beat AC Milan in their Champions League opener.
“We spoke about the schedule, this one is normal for us, three games a week... is a tough one so you have to think about this... we’ll make changes again, that’s clear,” the German said.
Klopp confirmed that striker Roberto Firmino remains sidelined due to a hamstring injury but hinted that centre back Virgil van Dijk, who was rested against Milan, could feature against Palace.
“If you like we’re still in extended pre-season for (Van Dijk). I don’t want to talk about injuries, but Ibou (Ibrahima Konate), Joe (Gomez), Joel (Matip) all have had injuries. Now we just make sure we have a proper pair on the pitch.”
Klopp praised Palace’s strength up front, saying that new boss Patrick Vieira had made a massive difference and turned them into “a proper football side”. Palace, who beat Tottenham Hotspur last week to give Vieira his first win, are 11th in the league standings.
Guardiola not apologising for asking more fans to attend Saints match
Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola said he will not apologise for urging supporters to show up in greater numbers for today’s Premier League home game against Southampton. Guardiola had commented on the thousands of empty seats at City’s 6-3 Champions League win over RB Leipzig on Wednesday, which was watched by just over 38,000 fans — well below the Etihad Stadium’s capacity of about 54,000.
Kevin Parker, the general secretary of City’s official supporters’ club, said he was surprised by the remarks and suggested Guardiola should stick to coaching, but the manager said his words were misinterpreted.
“Did I say after the game that I was disappointed that the stadium was not full? I am not going to apologise for what I said,” Guardiola said. “What I said was we need the support. It doesn’t matter how many people come but I invite them to come and enjoy the game because we need the support. I am entirely grateful for the support that we had against Leipzig. I never sit here and ask why people don’t come. If you can’t come then don’t. I will not apologise to him (Parker).”
Guardiola added that defenders Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, who missed the midweek Champions League win with muscle injuries, had not recovered in time for today’s game.
Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated)
Today: Wolves v Brentford (1230), Aston Villa v Everton, Burnley v Arsenal, liverpool v Crystal Palace, Manchester City v Southampton, Norwich v Watford
Tomorrow: Brighton v Leicester (1300), West Ham v Manchester United (1300), Tottenham v Chelsea (1530)
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