KOPPED IT Slav calls for real Star turn
Liverpool v Fulham Alexander-Arnold is paying the price for a hectic summer
FULHAM boss Slavisa Jokanovic is urging his basement boys to take a leaf from Red Star Belgrade when they face title-chasing Liverpool this afternoon.
The Serbian outfit stunned Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League high-flyers in midweek by beating them 2-0 in the Champions League.
That was Red Star’s first-ever group victory in the competition and, according to Jokanovic, proves what his strugglers can achieve at Anfield
– no matter the odds.
Jokanovic, who both played for and managed Red Star’s bitter rivals Partizan, said: “They deserved to win the game. What Red Star did was quite sensational.
“They were seriously fighting all together – and Liverpool were surprised.
“They tried to change their game but found it too hard.
“The fight Red Star showed, the way they worked, is exactly what I want my team to show.
“It showed you never know what happens in this game.
“Anything is possible and any gap can be closed – by being a team and fighting together.”
Those ingredients were sorely missing in Fulham’s performance last Monday when they lost 1-0 at Huddersfield.
But rather than rant and rave post-match, under-fire Jokanovic (below) revealed he gave his flops the silent treatment.
The ex-Watford coach, the bookies’ favourite to be the first Premier League manager sacked, said: “I do not scream at players afterwards. I say everything I need to beforehand and at half-time.
“Right now, we’re not being very clever. We must be more solid and more aggressive.
“But I am not a scared manager. I’m not going to let us sit in our box and wait for nil-nil because that often doesn’t work.”
JURGEN KLOPP claims ‘exceptional’ full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has become a victim of his own dedication to the Reds’ cause.
The defender only celebrated his 20th birthday last month and already has appearances in the Champions League Final and World Cup under his belt during a meteoric start to his professional career.
But his levels have dropped in recent weeks, resulting in his midweek half-time substitution during the 2-0 defeat to Red Star Belgrade.
Alexander-Arnold only had two weeks’ holiday after returning from national duty with the Three Lions in Russia where he featured in the group game against Belgium.
He was offered an extra seven days by his German boss but chose to return to pre-season training early and now may be paying the price.
Klopp said: “Trent has played constantly. I have spoken to him about it – but not along the lines of, ‘This is good or that isn’t’. It’s more general advice.
“He is still a very young boy. He had two weeks off in the summer. That’s really not a lot.
“We constantly try to keep an eye on him and fitness-wise what he needs to do with the group. Actually, he’s in a good place at the moment.
“He has played a lot of football. He will play a lot of football – that’s the good news for him.
“It’s more important he stays injury-free. What’s happening is fine and normal.
“It won’t be the first time or the last time in his life that everything isn’t 100 per cent but he’s still an outstanding player and really important to us.”
With the youngster again called up to represent his country in the next fortnight, there are not too many opportunities for the Reds boss to rest the player.
Involvement in the Champions League has only added to AlexanderArnold’s workload as Klopp (right) admitted he was choosing from almost a fully fit squad for the visit of the Cottagers this lunchtime.
He said: “Trent is important to the way we play but we do have an option to change it. It’s good for us if we have a good number of players to work with. “To be honest, I’ve been lucky. I’ve always worked with good right-backs. I had too many at Mainz. I had Lukasz Piszczek at Dortmund. He was fantastic.
“So for Trent to be performing as he is at his age is quite exceptional.” Klopp chose to sound a rallying call on the eve of today’s match, urging the supporters to, ‘Go to bed early’ and wake up ready for the action.
The unbeaten start to the league campaign has raised expectations but Klopp wanted to clarify his position after letting his mask slip when quizzed about playing non-stop champagne football. In the pre-match press conference he said: “We win a game and afterwards we have to apologise that we didn’t win it the City way.”
But he sought to clear up any confusion and added: “Last season we were in the Champions League Final – we were the better team for 25 minutes. Okay, we didn’t win it. There is space for improvement. In the Premier League to finish one, two or three. “How can you improve? You improve your consistency. We dropped unnecessary points last season.
“So far, we have 27 points. That’s an outstanding number but there is one team who has 29 and a goal difference of plus 47. If you win a game you end up apologising for it. “I don’t want to make too much of it. We have had a good situation. “We don’t want praise. I haven’t put any rockets up anyone this week. We have to enjoy our football and build upon it.” Feb 2014: Fulham 2 Liverpool 3 Nov 2013: Liverpool 4 Fulham 0 May 2013: Fulham 1 Liverpool 3 Dec 2012: Liverpool 4 Fulham 0 May 2012: Liverpool 0 Fulham 1
Liverpool – 39 wins Fulham – 12 wins Draws – 16