Klopp says Premier League schedule will cause injury crisis

Trent Alexander-Arnold limped off in second half of Liverpool’s draw with Man City

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne reacts after missing a penalty in the draw with Liverpool. Photo: Shaun Botterill/AFP via Getty Images

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne reacts after missing a penalty in the draw with Liverpool. Photo: Shaun Botterill/AFP via Getty Images

 

Jürgen Klopp accused the Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, of a “lack of leadership” regarding the decision to abandon the five substitutes rule after Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City, in which Trent Alexander-Arnold picked up an injury that ruled him out of England’s upcoming matches.

Gabriel Jesus’s 31st-minute strike equalised Mohamed Salah’s penalty in a match in which Kevin De Bruyne missed a spot-kick.

After Alexander-Arnold limped off in the second half with a suspected muscle problem, Klopp was scathing of the strain placed on players as the result of a hectic schedule, compressed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool’s manager questioned why the five replacement rule, brought in when last season resumed following lockdown, was jettisoned. Fifa sanctioned the continued use of five substitutes in all competitions until August 2021 but a majority of Premier League clubs, arguing the rule favours teams with bigger squads, voted to revert to three substitutions.

“In my understanding it is a lack of leadership,” Klopp said. “You go in a meeting and Richard Masters [presents it wrong], saying, ‘You want three subs or five subs?’ It is not an advantage [for bigger clubs] – it is a necessity. In all other countries it happens. Richard Masters sold it completely wrong [at the vote] .

“Trent will be out for England. What [injury] he has we don’t know but he cannot play for England and he is not the first and will not be the last that Gareth [Southgate] will miss. He’ll have a scan, then we will see.”

European Championships

Klopp suggested the rearranged European Championship to be staged next summer could be ruined by injuries. “Hopefully we can play the Euros. Let’s see which players can be part of that,” he said.

Klopp supports Ole Gunnar Solskjær following the Manchester United manager’s criticism of a schedule in which his side travelled to Everton for Saturday’s 12.30pm kickoff after playing in Istanbul on Wednesday.

“We played [last month] after the international break at 12.30 on Saturday at Everton. Some of my players were coming back from Peru,” Klopp said. “These kinds of things should not happen. I spoke about two weeks ago – in a meeting with the person at the Premier League who organised the fixtures. We cannot change it [I was told]. It is not about Manchester United, Liverpool and City.

“Usually in the season we all have a [busy] November and December. This year the October is like a December, the November is like a November and the December is still like a December. The 12.30 game is a killer. If the Tuesday [Champions League-playing] teams are in contention for the Saturday 1230 that is okay but the Wednesday teams should not be.”

Klopp urged broadcasters to resolve the problem: “Sky, BT, the Premier League – they have to talk.”

The stance was supported by Pep Guardiola. “Today the right-back for the national team of England is injured. Tomorrow it will be another player,” City’s manager said. “It is so demanding for the players [and is] the same for all teams. I don’t understand how the Premier League [sees] the situation.”

“They [broadcasters] cannot come together because each one looks for himself and his business. My business is to protect my players. LeBron James won the NBA and is now on holiday for two, three months. Our guys have eight days [for pre-season] because of BT and Sky.”

Handball rule

While stressing he did not have a clear view of the incident, Klopp made himself the latest manager to complain about the handball rule after Joe Gomez conceded City’s penalty as the result of De Bruyne driving a cross that hit the defender’s arm.

“Handball, offside, all these things – I don’t know why we get asked and not the people who can make a difference.

“They seem to be the only people who think it [the rule] is exactly right. I can’t wait for the first time a player scores a goal with the armpit,” he said.

The draw leaves Liverpool third with 17 points, while City are 10th with 12, having played a game fewer.

– Guardian

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