Break brought welcome respite for Liverpool players, says Klopp

Liverpool players celebrate their victory over Southampton. The first-ever Premier League mid-season break has pleased the club’s coach Jurgen Klopp. (AFP/File)
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Updated 15 February 2020

Break brought welcome respite for Liverpool players, says Klopp

  • Liverpool coach takes his players to bottom-placed Norwich on Saturday

LONDON: The first-ever Premier League mid-season break pleased Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp as it allowed the runaway leaders to rest their aches and pains following the hectic festive period.

The 52-year-old German takes his players to bottom-placed Norwich on Saturday holding a 22 point lead over two-time defending champions Manchester City.

Klopp said the break will have done his squad the world of good as he knew from his own playing experience.

“I was a player myself. When I look back it feels like I played through 80 percent of the time with pain,” he said at his eve of match press conference.

“Nobody appreciated that because I played bad so it didn’t help. Nobody asked then. It is completely normal for a professional football player to play through pain.

“After that long period in December-January, there was no player in the squad who had no pain. Everybody had something.”

Klopp — whose Champions League holders travel to Atletico Madrid next week in their last 16 first leg clash — has also been boosted by the return to fitness from hamstring injuries of Senegal attacker Sadio Mane and veteran James Milner. Sane has missed the last four matches while Milner has been out since January 5.

“Millie (Milner) and Sadio are back. When they are back you consider them immediately,” said Klopp.

“Apart from (Xherdan) Shaqiri, (Nathaniel) Clyne and (Paul) Glatzel, all the players are in training. We have some good options. Hopefully, it stays like this for the rest of the season.”

Klopp says Norwich may be struggling at the bottom — they are 7 points adrift of safety — but he is full of respect for their adventurous style of play.

“I really admire that Norwich stick to their principles. It’s really good football, super coaching,” Klopp said.

“You can see all the patterns on the pitch, all the movements — that’s from the training ground. They’ve caused 95 percent of all teams real problems.

“They’ve lost a lot of these games, that’s why they’re in the situation they are, but for me, on the outside, it looks like a club that really sticks together.”



Mike Smith wins Jockey Challenge, as female riders make history ahead of Saudi Cup extravaganza

Updated 13 min 37 sec ago

Mike Smith wins Jockey Challenge, as female riders make history ahead of Saudi Cup extravaganza

  • Smith also praised the dirt course ahead of the Saudi Cup the following day

RIYADH: The International Jockeys Challenge proved the perfect curtain raiser to the Saudi Cup as eight races brought some of the world’s best female and male riders to the King Abdulaziz Racetrack for the first time.
On a fine sunny day in Riyadh, the action started at 3.20pm with 1400m (7f) Saudi Bred Maiden, which was won by Etsaam, ridden by Aldaham. Abu Thamer came second with Dayaan third.
The second race of the day, the Equestrian Club Award, saw Saodad, ridden by Irad Ortiz, come home ahead of second place Ibtahej, and Rabiae Blaady.
But it was the the first International Jockeys Challenge of the day that got the swelling crowd going. Run over 1400m (7f), it saw Lisa Allpress, riding Matmon, storm to a win and create history as the first female winner in Saudi Arabia.
“I honestly came here with a very open mind,” Allpress said. “We’ve been very looked after…like I said I had no expectations. I decided to come out with open mind and just enjoy it.”
The win saw her take the early lead of Jockey’s Challenge with 15 points while Olivier Pesilier on Motayammen came in second with Sibylle Vogt on Dolma in third . Crowd favorite Frankie Dettorie, on Moshaghebah, came fifth, behind A Alfouraidi in fourth.
The second Jockeys Challenge, and fourth race of the day, followed shortly afterwards with Mike Smith on Sun Hat leaving the rest of the field in his dust to claim an easy 15 points. Mickaelle Michel on Seif Alsharq came second with Vogt on Laurence in third.
“Really loved this dirt course, I hoping that America takes look at it, it’s a really nice course,” Smith said after the race. “I was blessed to come here many, many years ago at the old track, so I hadn’t been back since. To get started for the big day tomorrow, it’s good way to get started.”
The Equestrian Club Award, Saudi-bred fillies was won by Jennifer, giving jockey Alfouraidi his second win of the day. Shadawah and Qaatefah came in second and throw respectively.
The Jockeys Challenge was hotting up and a familiar name was about to make a break from the rest of field in the sixth race of the day.
The third Jockeys Challenge saw Smith win again, this time riding Paris, to lead the table with a maximum of 30 points. Yutaka Take came second on Makhbour and Camilo Ospina third on Walad Almeterfah.
The fourth and final Jockeys Challenge race of the day went to Vogt, riding, Sabeq’hom, followed by Emma-Jane Wilson on Alshatherwan in second and Frankie Dettori on Sha’erah in third. The results meant that Smith, who came in fifth, won the overall challenge with 33 points.
“It was fun way to start with the International Jockeys Challenge,” Smith said. “The first time that women given the opportunity to ride here and they proved that they belong here, they’re brilliant riders.
Smith also praised the dirt course ahead of the Saudi Cup the following day.
“It’s probably one of the best dirt courses I’ve ever been on, and I’m not just saying that,” he added. “I’m telling you, America should take a page out of you book and do something like this.
Vogt couldn’t hide her delight at claiming her 97th career win, especially as it meant beating a very special opponent.
“My idol is Frankie Dettori and I’m so happy he was behind me,” she said.
In the day’s final race, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman Universty Prize, Angel Moreno finished victorious on AlHajjrafee in a very tight race with Mohammed Alnefzi on Heloo Algharam and Morales and Yeshrah Albaal breathing down his neck.