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Fabinho, Kelleher, Jones & more – 4 things from Klopp’s pre-Palace press conference

A beaming Jurgen Klopp hailed three Liverpool players and paid respect to Crystal Palace ahead of the Reds’ trip to Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon.

Here are four key points from the manager as he looked ahead to the Premier League clash with the Eagles.

 

Fab back to his best

LONDON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 20, 2022: Arsenal's Thomas Partey (R) challenges Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho', and is sent off as a result, during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fabinho was all-conquering in Thursday’s 2-0 win at Arsenal, winning eight duels and making four out of five successful tackles, as he dominated the midfield battle.

Klopp was clearly delighted with the Brazilian’s display, explaining how he has overcome a Covid hangover and is now looking like his former self:

“It’s not that Fab came back from Covid and we all thought ‘oh my god, he’s back’. I think we all needed a little bit of time, even with no symptoms.

[…]

“But yes, he was outstanding last night. The amount of balls he won, the way he defended, the way he played, in which areas he showed up.

“Yep, that was a really good game, I have to say.”

It goes to show that footballers are only human and Covid impacts them as well – expecting brilliance straight after they return is unfair.

 

Lots of love for Kelleher

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 21, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Caoimhin Kelleher was trusted in the League Cup semi-final victory and he repaid his manager’s faith in him, making a superb save to deny Alexandre Lacazette.

The young Irishman was another player who Klopp gushed over in his pre-Palace press conference.

“He’s No. 2 at Liverpool…I don’t think you can really be much higher at the age he is. We are more than happy with him, absolutely,” he said.

“This is a John Achterberg project. There were a lot of steps to go since I arrived here.

“When I saw him for the first time, a skinny boy from Ireland standing in this big goal, it was like ‘OK, it could take a while until he fills it!’.

“Since then, he made incredible steps and now he’s a top-class goalie, definitely. Calm like you cannot believe, good with the ball and on top of that makes incredible saves.

“So he enjoys the work with John, Jack, Taff and the other goalies, because what can you do better at this age than to learn from the best goalie in the world?

“So all these kinds of things are really good for him and we are more than happy to have him.”

 

Doubts over Matip and Ox

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 11, 2021: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joel Matip was out of sorts against Arsenal and was replaced at half-time, with Klopp confirming that his withdrawal was “not tactical” and came due to fitness concern:

“Joel was not tactical. My god, how good was Joel?

“We thought something was not 100 percent right, and we have Ibou and Joe on the bench, so it’s just that we change it.”

Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain faces a late test before being considered in contention for the weekend, having returned to light training after an ankle issue:

“Ox we hope and pray. He was running yesterday but we don’t know exactly what that means for today.

“It would be helpful if he could train before the game! I don’t know yet.”

 

Jones receives glowing review

LONDON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 20, 2022: Liverpool's Curtis Jones during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Finally, Klopp touched upon the quality of Curtis Jones, who shone in midfield at Arsenal, producing a mature all-round performance.

The manager said he was wowed by him as a teenager and has remained a big admirer ever since.

“Look, you win a football game, a difficult one, you can only win it if all the players are good. But Curtis was really good in the last two games,” he said.

“I’m one of his biggest fans, to be honest.

“I saw him out of my office when I first joined and thought ‘wow, how old is he?’. He was 15.

“We couldn’t have won the game last night without good individual performances and Curtis was one of them.”

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