Klopp bank­ing on Chelsea to slow City

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Collin Ma­tiza Sports Ed­i­tor

LON­DON. — Jur­gen Klopp will be des­per­ately hop­ing Chelsea can slow down Manch­ester City’s English Premier League soc­cer ti­tle charge this week­end as he bal­ances his Premier League am­bi­tions with a Cham­pi­ons League decider against Napoli.

Un­beaten Liver­pool are cling­ing on in the ti­tle race — scor­ing deep into added time against Ever­ton last week and re­cov­er­ing from a goal down to beat Burn­ley on Wed­nes­day to move just two points be­hind City.

Else­where, all eyes will again be on the next in­stal­ment in the Old Traf­ford soap opera, with stut­ter­ing Manch­ester United host­ing bot­tom club Ful­ham.

Tot­ten­ham - yet to reg­is­ter a sin­gle draw in the Premier League this sea­son are away to Le­ices­ter. Arse­nal play lowly Hud­der­s­field. Chelsea were un­beaten in their first 12 Premier League games, de­ter­minedly THE coun­try’s premier mo­tocross event - the Zim­babwe Sum­mer Se­ries - has re­vived its ro­mance with top riders from the United King­dom with news that Bai­ley John­ston, the 85cc (small wheel) Bri­tish Cham­pion, will grace this year’s com­pe­ti­tion slated for next week at the iconic Don­ny­brook Park in Harare.

The Zim­babwe Sum­mer Se­ries is a three-day an­nual mo­tor­cy­cling event which is held dur­ing the sec­ond week of De­cem­ber and it marks the end of the mo­tocross sea­son in this coun­try.

Apart from lo­cal riders, it usu­ally at­tract top junior and se­nior male and fe­male bik­ers from Botswana, South Africa, Swazi­land and Zam­bia.

And the Bog­wheel­ers Club, who run this ex­cit­ing mo­tor­cy­cling sport of mo­tocross in this coun­try, have re­vealed that this year’s Zim­babwe Sum­mer Se­ries, which will be held on De­cem­ber 12, 14 and 16 at Don­ny­brook, will be graced by one of Bri­tain’s “hottest prop­er­ties” in junior mo­tocross - Bai­ley John­ston.

“Ex­cit­ing news for our Junior riders, we are happy to an­nounce that the 85cc Bri­tish Cham­pion, Bai­ley John­ston, will be tak­ing part in this year’s Sum­mer Se­ries,” the Bog­wheel­ers Club posted on their Face­book wall yesterday through their sec­re­tary Yas­min Manuel. hang­ing on to the coat-tails of Manch­ester City and Liver­pool.

But if they lose to Pep Guardi­ola’s league lead­ers at Stam­ford Bridge to­day they will be look­ing at a yawn­ing gap of 13 points and it would be their third de­feat in four league games. Chelsea de­fender Mar­cos Alonso has urged his team­mates to for­get about the gap, which al­ready looks omi­nously big. “If we lose we are go­ing to be 13 points from the top and that’s a lot of points but we have to think, pre­pare for the game well and not pay at­ten­tion to the ta­ble at the mo­ment,” he said. “It’s the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to come back.”

Jose Mour­inho is des­per­ately cast­ing around for solutions to the malaise at Old Traf­ford - but is all the chop­ping and chang­ing hin­der­ing, rather than help­ing?

Manch­ester United have made a to­tal of 46 changes to their start­ing XI in the Premier League so far this sea­son, in­clud­ing seven changes on Wed­nes­day against Arse­nal - more than any other team in the com­pe­ti­tion For­mer United de­fender Rio Fer­di­nand is con­cerned over the tin­ker­ing.

“Some­thing needs to be done,” Fer­di­nand said in his role as a pun­dit for BT Sport. “The com­mon thing that we’ve seen with this team un­der Mour­inho is changes ev­ery week - changes, changes, changes.

“That doesn’t bode well for me in terms of the play­ers and for the team be­cause you need to form re­la­tion­ships within a team and you can’t do that when there’s chop­ping and chang­ing, week in and week out.”

Liver­pool’s Jur­gen Klopp made seven changes for his side’s mid­week match against Burn­ley - start­ing with­out any of the front three of Sa­dio Mane, Mo­hamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the first time since Septem­ber 2017.

De­spite a scare at Turf Moor, Liver­pool won 3-1, tak­ing their tally to 39 points af­ter 15 matches - more than any other An­field side in his­tory.

On Tues­day they face Napoli at An­field with the prospect of crash­ing out of the Cham­pi­ons League group stage just over six months af­ter reach­ing the fi­nal — but first they must ne­go­ti­ate a trip to high-fly­ing Bournemouth.

For a side that is un­beaten in 20 matches, Arse­nal have the cu­ri­ous record of not once lead­ing at half-time in a Premier League game this sea­son. Wed­nes­day was no dif­fer­ent, as Manch­ester United pegged them back to reach half-time at 1-1.

But Arse­nal have scored more sec­ond-half goals than any other team - 25 - and four points in their past two games against Spurs and United sug­gest Unai Emery is adding steel to a side that had flat­lined un­der Arsene Wenger.

Mean­while, Arse­nal de­fender Rob Hold­ing will be out for up to nine months af­ter rup­tur­ing a lig­a­ment in his left knee in Wed­nes­day’s 2-2 draw with Manch­ester United, the Premier League club said yesterday. English cen­tre back Hold­ing, who has played 10 league games for Arse­nal this sea­son, left the pitch on a stretcher dur­ing the first half of the match with United and is set to un­dergo surgery in the com­ing days.

“Fur­ther to the in­jury sus­tained dur­ing our match at Manch­ester United on Wed­nes­day night, we can con­firm that Rob Hold­ing has rup­tured the an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment of his left knee,” Arse­nal said in a state­ment.

“Rob will un­dergo surgery to re­pair this in the com­ing days. The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process is ex­pected to take be­tween six to nine months. “Ev­ery­one at the club will now be work­ing as hard as we can to en­sure Rob is back on the pitch as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Hold­ing’s in­jury could speed up club cap­tain Lau­rent Ko­scielny’s re­turn to the start­ing team, with the French­man fit again af­ter un­der­go­ing surgery on his Achilles ten­don in May.

Arse­nal are fifth in the ta­ble with 31 points from 15 matches and host Hud­der­s­field Town in the league to­day.

English Premier­ship Fix­tures (all 5pm un­less other­wise stated)

To­day: Bournemouth v Liver­pool (2:30pm); Manch­ester United v Ful­ham; West Ham United v Crys­tal Palace; Burn­ley v Brighton & Hove Al­bion; Cardiff City v Southamp­ton; Arse­nal v Hud­der­s­field Town; Chelsea v Manch­ester City (7:30pm); Le­ices­ter City v Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur (9:45pm).

To­mor­row: New­cas­tle United v Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers (6pm).

Mon­day: Ever­ton v Wat­ford (10pm). — AFP.

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