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Jurgen Klopp is right about Loris Karius turning Liverpool’s season around

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Photo: Getty Images.

Liverpool‘s superb form in the second half of the season has much to do with the defensive improvements that have been evident. Many have pointed to world record fee signing Virgil Van Dijk as the cause, but boss Jurgen Klopp was keen to recognise the role of goalkeeper Loris Karius.

The 24-year-old has made the number one shirt his own since he got a regular run of games in mid-January, for the first time since early on in his debut season for the club.

That run has coincided seven of his nine Premier League clean sheets this season from 17 appearances in the league, compared to Simon Mignolet’s return of seven clean sheets from 19 games.

Klopp feels that his improvements have been key to the general increase in quality across the backline.

“He progressed a lot. I’m really happy with his progress. [There is] still a lot to come, I’m sure,” the German said, speaking before Liverpool face Chelsea on Sunday and as quoted by the official website.

“Having games like he had in the last few weeks and months helps; nothing helps you more as a goalkeeper. Having fantastic moments, having rather not-that-good moments, is all part of development.

“He really took the chance that we gave him a few months ago and was a big part of us being more stable in that period. It’s cool.”

 

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The coach even went as far as to say that he now has the player who he thought he had signed in the summer of 2016 for just £4 million, but an injury impacted his debut season at Anfield and Klopp himself takes the blame for that.

“Before [Karius] broke his hand he was in outstanding shape already and was exactly the boy we signed. After that obviously it was a little bit more difficult, that’s true.

“I’ve said before, it was my mistake; I changed [goalkeepers] too early that time and he was then obviously not ready in that moment, physically not ready. When a player breaks a leg you know that’s quite a harsh thing. If a goalkeeper breaks his hand it’s similar. And I underestimated that a little bit. It’s long ago, so all good.”

The goalkeeper had left many fans not convinced by his displays though he has improved substantially from those early displays, whether they were hampered by injury or not.

He is still prone to some basic errors, including in the Champions League semi-final in Rome when he could have conceded a penalty had Edin Dzeko not wrongly been called offside and he then palmed straight into the path of his former Manchester City team-mate.

Karius is clearly not the finished article yet, but he has taken his game up another level. Whilst Karius matches Mignolet in terms of saves per game at 1.8 on average, a close analysis indicates that despite defensive improvements offering more protection, Karius’ stops are more challenging.

Whilst 0.8 of Mignolet’s 1.8 saves per game come from outside the box, often a figure skewed by weak, speculative efforts from distance, for Karius that figure is just 0.4, meaning he has done more with more threatening attempts from inside the box.

Perhaps even more crucially, Karius is yet to make an error leading to a goal in the Premier League this season. In just 10 Premier League games last season, he made two such errors. In 17 to date this campaign, he is yet to do it at all.

For context, Mignolet has done so twice, whilst Arsenal‘s Petr Cech has recorded six, Tottenham‘s Hugo Lloris has five and even Manchester City shotstopper Ederson has two to his name.

Karius is not yet the top quality goalkeeper that Liverpool need, but he’s showing signs that he could one day be that man.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

Liverpool

Liverpool round-up: Grujic bid rejected; interest in Karius; Brewster nears return

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Photo: Getty Images.

Liverpool have rejected a bid for Marko Grujic

The transfer window may have closed in England but it remains open until Friday in Italy and reports from the Liverpool Echo say that the Reds have turned down an approach from Serie A side Torino for midfielder Marko Grujic. The deal was reportedly a season long loan with an option to buy worth 10 million euros (£9 million).

The Serbian was heavily involved in pre-season after impressing for Cardiff City on loan last season and was expected to return to Wales after helping them earn promotion but a move collapsed.

Besiktas are considering a move for Loris Karius

Turkish newspaper Aksam claim that Besiktas have emerged as candidates to sign German goalkeeper Loris Karius on loan to provide him with an Anfield escape having lost the number one shirt to Alisson Becker after his Champions League final nightmare in Kiev in May.

Jurgen Klopp’s plans for the goalkeeper remain unclear despite publicly giving him a vote of confidence and a loan deal may be an ideal solution. Much could depend on the Turkish team’s pursuit of other targets, including Arsenal‘s David Ospina.

Rhian Brewster is nearing a return to fitness

It was a major blow to Liverpool’s plans for young striker Rhian Brewster when he picked up a serious ankle ligament injury in January, but under 23s manager Neil Critchley has told Goal that he could return to light training as soon as next month after a summer of rehabilitation.

“I’m sure he’ll be doing a few people’s heads in down at Melwood, chomping at the bit and ready to return! He’ll be quite restless. He’s a young boy who loves playing football and wants to play football, so he’ll hugely frustrated at the moment.”

Liverpool under 23s manager Neil Critchley has backed his striker.

The 18-year-old was training alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to rebuild fitness after signing a new deal to commit himself to the Merseyside outfit despite interest from elsewhere.

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Two years after Jurgen Klopp phonecall Liverpool are not missing out on Ben Brereton

Liverpool wanted the young striker, but he is now struggling for football at Nottingham Forest.

Mathew Nash

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When Ben Brereton burst onto the scene at Nottingham Forest it was widely welcomed by Reds fans. The talented teenager had an excellent 2016-17 with Forest and, despite his struggles in front of goal last term, still had another productive season.

It led to plenty of reports of Premier League interest, including from Liverpool.

As reported by The Sun, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was reportedly looking into the signing of Brereton back in the winter of 2017.

The report claimed that after impressing Klopp in an FA Youth Cup game against Liverpool in 2016 the German called Forest academy chief Gary Brazil to ‘personally enquire’ about his services.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Liverpool were again linked with him that summer before the talented youngster signed a new contract at the City Ground.

But, fast forward 18 months and Liverpool fans will probably feel they are not missing out.

The striker can no longer find his way into the Forest matchday squad, after the arrivals of Lewis Grabban and Hilal El-Arbi Soudani this summer.

It has even led to Blackburn Rovers trying to sign him on the final day of the transfer window.

Of course, he is still young and has a bright future in the game. But Liverpool will surely feel he is perhaps not at the level needed to make it at Anfield after his recent struggles.

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Liverpool

Three reasons Joe Gomez can cement a regular starting-role at Liverpool

The Englishman impressed in the Reds’ opening fixture against West Ham.

Liam Thomas

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Joe Gomez
Photo: Getty Images

Multiple injuries to Liverpool‘s back line meant that 21-year-old Joe Gomez has started the season as Liverpool’s centre-back alongside the world’s most expensive defender Virgil Van Dijk.

It has long been argued that the centre-back position is Gomez’ best and, on the opening day of the season against West Ham, Jurgen Klopp gave the nod to the youngster to start in his favoured role.

There is no better time than the present for Gomez to seize the opportunity that has come his way, showcase his talents and lay down the foundations to a potential lengthy partnership at the heart of Liverpool’s defence with Van Dijk.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

1. Seize the opportunity

Gomez has the perfect opportunity in front of him to cement his name into Jurgen Klopp’s plans, and he needs to seize this with some solid performances and clean sheets to match.

You only have to look back as far as last season to see a youngster in the Liverpool ranks take hold of an opportunity.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was given a chance to start in Klopp’s first XI after Nathaniel Clyne was injured during preseason, and remains Liverpool’s first choice right-back this campaign, despite Clyne’s return.

21-year-old Gomez now finds himself in the same position, with the Reds other centre back choices injured or unavailable.

2. Gomez’ performance against West Ham

Gomez and the Liverpool back line had a relatively quiet afternoon against West Ham. However, the youngster performed well when called upon and showed glimpses of a potentially perfect partnership with Virgil Van Dijk.

An attribute Gomez displayed during the game was his ability to play it out from the back – a trait that is extremely useful in Jurgen Klopp’s possession-based setup.

The centre-back had a 92% pass accuracy from the game.

This is something Liverpool’s other centre-back options have struggled to maintain during their time in the first XI, especially Dejan Lovren.

3. Gomez’ time at full-back gives him the edge

Gomez’ time playing full-back for the Reds last season gives him an edge over his counterparts and allows Jurgen Klopp’s defence to have a bit of versatility.

Lovren seems to struggle when he has to be brought out wide, and Gomez looks a lot more comfortable than the Croatian when he has to go into either channel of the pitch.

The 21-year-old also showed glimpses of his ability to get forward during Liverpool’s opening fixture, a trait he has picked up during his time at full-back and an extra weapon for Klopp to consider in his attacking arsenal.

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