LONDON — The scary thing about this Liverpool side is that they think they can get a lot better.
After their 1-0 win at Tottenham they are 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a game in hand. Their lead can be cut to 14 points tomorrow by Man City, but they’d still have a game in hand.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
Jurgen Klopp has created a ruthless, hungry, efficient winning machine. The German is used to things working like clockwork but it shouldn’t be this easy.
The victory means Liverpool are now on their longest unbeaten league run in club history (38 games) and they’ve had the best-ever start to a Premier League season through 21 games (20 wins and a draw) and the best start of any team in Europe’s top five leagues at this point of a campaign.
But Klopp and his players were a little reluctant to celebrate their ninth one-goal win of the Premier League season.
“We want to analyze the game and be much better, but three points is massive, especially here,” Virgil van Dijk told our partners Sky Sports. “We play Spurs who are a good side. They were in the Champions League final and that must still hurt for them and they will want to bounce back. Second half they pressed and made it difficult for us. The league lead gives us all a good feeling. But you see there is still room for improvement; We are in a good situation but there is work we can do to make it easier.”
Klopp was asked by reporters after the game about their record-breaking start to the season but he doesn’t want to dwell on it: “I really tried to respond in a positive way, but when someone told me I didn’t feel anything.”
Liverpool’s manager and the players were happy at the end of the game as their juggernaut rumbles on. When asked by Pro Soccer Talk about Roberto Firmino’s superb man of the match display, Klopp said the first thing Firmino said to him after the game was that he should have scored more.
“First and foremost the result is the most important thing. One team deserved to win and that was us,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “To win at Tottenham is pretty special. That the game wasn’t decided after 50-60 minutes was our fault. It was very intense for us. You can expect them to defend deep in this stadium, but it was 4-6-0 in the first half. If it was easy to win here, a lot more teams would do it. I’m over the moon about the result, but we have to talk about the performance.
“We should have scored more goals – that’s the truth. We have to be honest with ourselves. We could have scored more and we have to – especially in this stadium against a team like Tottenham. We were on the ground towards the end and they were coming forward. The spell we’ve had, it costs you rhythm. In the second half a couple of our players were slightly exhausted, but we fought through that.”
When Spurs were piling forward late on, Klopp was furiously throwing his hands into the air and barking out orders to his team.
Liverpool are a ruthless winning machine who aren’t satisfied with scrapping through games. They did that against Tottenham on Saturday due to not taking their chances and Spurs badly missing the injured Harry Kane in the final third. But they still found a way to win.
That is why they will win the Premier League title this season and end their 30-year plus wait for the trophy.
Josh Sargent returned for Werder Bremen on Sunday, and any lingering effects of the injury that cost him a month on the sidelines were not apparent.
Bremen met Hannover 96 for a friendly in order to warm up for next week’s Bundesliga restart.
The 19-year-old American scored twice in 45 minutes before departing at halftime.
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The first goal was a swell volley of a tricky first touch, the second a powered header off a cross.
Sargent missed four league matches with a groin injury, and Bremen lost them all by a combined score of 13-1.
He has two goals and two assists in 553 Bundesliga minutes this season, counting six starts amongst his 11 league appearances.
The center forward has been capped 12 times by the United States men’s national team, scoring five goals.
Josh Sargent with a first half brace against Hannover 96 ???? pic.twitter.com/9nMVcCovJa
— Future USMNT (@FutureUsmnt) January 12, 2020
The winner leaves the Bottom Three when Watford visits Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
The host Cherries sit 18th with 20 points, one back of Aston Villa, while 19th place Watford has won three of four and has 19 points.
[ STREAM: Bournemouth v. Watford ]
? TEAM NEWS ?
? Nathan Ake returns to the XI
? Adam Smith is also fit to play
? Mark Travers starts in goal due to a minor injury to Aaron Ramsdale
— AFC Bournemouth (@afcbournemouth) January 12, 2020
? TEAM NEWS ?
2? changes from the last @premierleague game…
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) January 12, 2020
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) The Spanish capital’s two soccer powerhouses will face off on Sunday thousands of kilometers from Madrid in the final of the new-look Spanish Super Cup.
Real Madrid plays Atletico Madrid in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to decide the winner of the first edition of a revamped tournament.
The Spanish federation expanded the competition to four teams – instead of two – and moved it from the start of the season to its midpoint. The federation was not deterred by human rights activists and European football’s governing body who criticized it for taking the mini-competition to Saudi Arabia on a three-year deal reportedly worth 120 million euros ($134 million).
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin had recommended for European soccer teams not to play in countries “where the basic rights of women are not respected.”
Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales has tried to deflect the criticism by highlighting that opening the games to women spectators was part of the deal to play in the country.
Coach Ernesto Valverde, whose Barcelona team was beaten by Atletico 3-2 in Thursday’s semifinal, has publicly said that the games are about making more money.
Amnesty International organized a small peaceful protest in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Madrid on Wednesday to call for the release of women activists who have been fighting for their rights in Saudi Arabia.
On the field, and despite the limited interest the games have drawn back in Spain, the semifinals offered some exciting contests. Madrid showed off the quality of its midfielders to overcome injuries to its forwards in a 3-1 win over Valencia on Wednesday, while Atletico stunned Barcelona with two late goals.
Traditionally the Super Cup was the league vs. cup winner. Barcelona won last season’s Liga, while Valencia claimed the Copa del Rey.
Madrid will still be without the injured Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard. Against Valencia, manager Zinedine Zidane successfully experimented with a line-up loaded with five midfielders, and three of them- Toni Kroos, Francisco “Isco” Alarcon and Luka Modric – found the net.
Zidane, however, was tight-lipped over whether he would repeat the formula against Atletico at the King Abdullah stadium.
“I am not going to tell you how we are going to play,” Zidane said Friday. “The important thing is that we play on the attack, not with a certain scheme. The important thing is to have a balanced side.”
This will be the third time the crosstown rivals have met since the end of last season. Atletico embarrassed Madrid 7-3 in a preseason game in the United States in July. They then drew 0-0 at Atletico’s stadium in a Spanish league match in September.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone said that his two most in-form players, goalkeeper Jan Oblak and forward Angel Correa, have recovered from knocks they received against Barcelona. Oblak made several saves to keep his team alive against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona until Alvaro Morata and Correa struck to flip the score.
“Madrid is a team that we know very well,” Simeone said. “They transmit the sensation that they have to win, and then they do so. We are both teams that are extremely motivated to win this cup and we will both use all our weapons to win this game.”
A roundup of all of Saturday’s biggest transfer rumors, including those involving Premier League outfits.
[ MORE: Premier League January transfer needs ]
Young, 34, has agreed to personal terms with the Italian giants, according to Sky Sports’ Fabrizio Romano.
Ashley Young is getting closer and closer to Inter… talks ongoing with Man United to finalize the deal immediatly. Young agreed personal terms with Inter – contract until June 2021. ? #MUFC #Inter #transfers
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 11, 2020
Both teams will need to come to an agreement on the transfer before the move is made official. Just days ago, Manchester United offered Young a one-year deal, but the English veteran denied.
Giroud, too, is days away from making his switch out of Stamford Bridge official.
The Frenchman has a two-year contract on the table, with negotiations reportedly set to continue over the weekend. As of late, Giroud has fallen out of favor in Frank Lampard‘s pecking order.
Chelsea are expected to receive around a reported $7 million for the 33-year-old’s services.
With Pepe Reina set to join Aston Villa on Monday, AC Milan are looking for a quick replacement for the substitute role.
There has been a lot of talk on Christian Eriksen departing Tottenham, and it seems like it’s coming to an end.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the Danish star has reached a personal agreement to join Inter Milan on a four-year deal.
Spurs are looking to get $22 million for the midfielder, but Inter, who still need to reach an agreement with the English club, are expected to negotiate for less.
Donny van de Beek isn’t making a move to Manchester United – or elsewhere – just yet.
The 22-year-old midfielder declared on Saturday that he is staying at Ajax this winter amid links to United and real Madrid.
“It is not that I can or want to do something at the moment,” Van de Beek told Fox Sports Netherlands. “I have said it before and I will say it again: I will remain at Ajax this season. And maybe next season as well.
“These reports about Real Madrid or Man United are a good sign, but it is not important now,” he aded. “I’ve said I will stay at Ajax and I will do so 100 per cent.”
Gedson Fernandes may not be heading to West Ham after all.
Fernandes, 21, was reportedly on the verge of signing a 18-month loan deal with the Irons; however, last-minute interest from Spurs might send the midfielder to North London.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 12, 2020