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Liverpool

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.

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Liverpool

Dejan Lovren epitomises Liverpool’s progression since previous Real Madrid meeting

Max Cohen

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Dejan Lovren
Photo: Getty Images

The last time Liverpool played Real Madrid in the Champions League, the approaches of the two clubs could not have been more different.

The clubs played twice in the 2014 group stage, with Los Blancos smashing Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield and winning 1-0 at the Bernabeu.

Dejan Lovren was particularly culpable for the Reds’ first loss at home, as he was torn to shreds by the combination of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Nonetheless, much has changed at Liverpool since those weak performances more than three years ago, with centre-back Dejan Lovren representing the Reds’ progression from continental lightweights to European Cup finalists.

In an interview this week with The Guardian, the Croatian defender claimed that the current Liverpool side is unrecognisable from the team that surrendered to Real Madrid in their 2014/15 Champions League campaign.

“The only thing that is similar is the name, Liverpool,” Lovren told the Guardian. “I am so much more confident in the team now than I was then. I feel the team is ready to battle against every team in the world.”

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

These confident proclamations mark a fitting response from a player who has come a long way since he first arrived at Anfield.

Lovren has come under immense criticism for his performances at Liverpool, lambasted for a lack of pace, propensity for lapses in concentration, and poor decision making.

And even as recently as October, the Croatian was horribly found out during an abysmal first half performance against Tottenham Hotspur.

Yet, Lovren admirably picked himself up from past disappointment and has become an integral piece of Jurgen Klopp’s defence alongside Virgil van Dijk.

The 28-year-old has played every single minute of the knockout stages in Liverpool’s Champions League campaign, and will surely play a massive role in stifling Real Madrid’s high-octane attack in Kiev.

Dejan Lovren will be hoping for a far different response from Liverpool than their performance some three years ago, and his personal improvement will determine the Reds’ success on Saturday.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa would be the perfect platform for Harry Wilson if they are promoted

Josh Kerr

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Photo: Getty Images

Aston Villa are 90 minutes of football away from a return to the Premier League, and they are already looking at potential signings for next season if they are promoted.

The Midlands side face Fulham at Wembley on Saturday in the Championship play-off final with a place in the top flight up for grabs. And, should Villa bring an end to two years outside of the promised lands of the Premier League, they will be determined to recruit properly to prepare themselves for next season.

According to the Scottish SunLiverpool are looking for a loan fee of £250,000 to snag impressive academy prospect, Harry Wilson, in a deal that would also see financial penalties issued should he not get the required amount of first-team action.

Wilson has been one of the brightest prospects in the Reds academy for many years and his recent form in the Championship is highlighting why there is such a buzz for this talented youngster and why the Villains should swoop.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Since departing for a temporary move to Hull in the January window, the 21-year-old has been in fine form, netting seven goals in 13 appearances to help Nigel Adkins’ side avoid the drop.

The youngster also made his international debut in his first start for Wales under new boss Ryan Giggs and netted a maiden goal for his country against China.

Despite the winger’s talents, it seems impossible to think that Wilson could break into Liverpool’s irreplaceable ‘fab three’ which means another loan move would be the best option for his development, and Villa’s potential promotion to the Premier League could set up the perfect platform in the top-flight for the youngster.

Loan deals are never ideal, permanent signings are what supporters want to see, but this is is a move that could be a benefit for both parties and something Steve Bruce should strongly consider.

The Villains likely have enough quality at their disposal to compete strongly in the Championship again next season, if they don’t win their play-off, Wilson could give them serious depth.

The winger is an elegant and languid play maker in the mould of Jack Grealish, and the combination of the two could get fans very excited for next season.

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Liverpool

Liverpool should use Alberto Moreno in Jamaal Lascelles pursuit

The Spaniard is struggling for first-team football at Liverpool.

Mathew Coull

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Liverpool have had an excellent season, making it to the Champions League final and finishing in the Premier League top four. But the building for next season is also set to get underway soon and Liverpool still want to further improve their backline. A new centre-back is set to be targeted and The Independent believe that Jamaal Lascelles could be the man Liverpool turn to, with James Tarkowski of Burnley also mentioned.

Lascelles would obviously be a top option. The Newcastle captain has been an inspiration for the club this campaign and many were surprised he did not make it into Gareth Southgate’s plans for the World Cup.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

But he will not come cheap and after Liverpool spent big on Virgil Van Dijk in January the Tyneside club will be pushing the price up.

However, could Liverpool have a secret weapon in the form of Alberto Moreno?

Back in 2015 Rafa Benitez very nearly signed Moreno. The deal with Liverpool was done but, with Alvaro Arbeloa sticking around, Benitez decided Moreno was no longer needed and the deal was pulled off the table.

That was whilst manager at Real Madrid. Moreno would be an excellent option to further improve Newcastle and provide some competition to Paul Dummett in the left-back position.

(during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Liverpool and FC Porto at Anfield on March 6, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Liverpool paid Sevilla around £12 million, as reported by The Telegraph, to sign Moreno back in 2014 but he has struggled for consistency since his arrival at Anfield. This season he has been replaced by Andrew Robertson, after spending most of last season behind James Milner in the pecking order.

Throwing Moreno into any deal would have to see Newcastle decrease the fee they might ask for to let their captain go this summer. Newcastle would be getting their hands on a 25-year-old Spanish international and a handsome sum of money, whilst Liverpool would get their defensive target.

It would be a fine piece of business for both clubs.

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