Crunch time in Liverpool's trophy hunt: Joe Gomez, Latest Football News - The New Paper
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Crunch time in Liverpool's trophy hunt: Joe Gomez

Klopp keeps Mane, Fabinho fresh for Atletico, as Liverpool enter crucial stretch

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez declared it is now crunch time in his team's quest to win trophies in three different competitions.

While the Reds' 1-0 win at Norwich City yesterday morning (Singapore time) continued the seemingly unstoppable march to their first English Premier League title, they will also face tough FA Cup and Champions League tests in the next three weeks.

On his side's fight for trophies on multiple fronts, the 22-year-old England international told Liverpool's website: "We've had the winter break and now it's down the home stretch.

  • Champions League

    • Feb 18: v Atletico Madrid (Away)

    • March 11: v A. Madrid (Home)

    English Premier League

    • Feb 24: v West Ham (H)

    • Feb 29: v Watford (A)

    • March 7: v Bournemouth (H)

    • March 16: v Everton (A)

    March 21: v Crystal Palace (H)

    FA Cup

    • March 3: v Chelsea (A)

"We know how important this run of games is as it's an intense period of the season and it's crunch time really. It's the most important part."

Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp hinted that he had rested Fabinho and match-winner Sadio Mane with an eye on the Champions League last 16, first leg with Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday morning (Singapore time) .

He said: "Sadio could have started today, of course, but I wanted to have a free decision for Tuesday, actually.

"I don't think too often and too much about these games but when two players are back from injuries, like Sadio and Fabinho, you don't think they can play two games...

"Fabinho coming on was very important for the organisation. Sadio was fresh and he helped us to win the game."

Mane, who came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 60th minute, drilled home a fine finish from inside the area in the 78th minute at Carrow Road.

It was his first appearance since going off injured in Liverpool's win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Jan 23 and he marked it by claiming his 100th goal in English football.

On Mane, ex-Reds midfielder Jamie Redknapp said on Sky Sports: "I don't think he realises how good he is and that's what makes him so great. You can look at the full repertoire of goals - he's brilliant in the air, left foot, right foot.

"Marginally, you'd say his right foot is better but he's also happy to hit it early and hard on his left foot...

"He's a wonderful player but I think it's an example of what Liverpool are. They're a team without any real egos."

Yesterday's win was Liverpool's 34th in their last 35 league games and their 17th in succession, one shy of Manchester City's record.

They have scored in 35 successive EPL games, are unbeaten in their last 43 and have conceded only once in their last 11 league games.

Fifteen more points will guarantee them the title as they have collected 76 points out of a possible 78, 25 ahead of champions Manchester City, who have played a game less.

Norwich manager Daniel Farke praised his side's performance but bemoaned their profligacy, saying: "When you are two-on-one on the goalkeeper it must be a goal, but sadly we missed that chance."

Former Liverpool defender Jaime Carragher, meanwhile, praised Reds goalkeeper Alisson who denied the Canaries when Lukas Rupp and Teemu Pukki were clean through.

He said on Sky Sports: "Liverpool have got the best goalkeeper in the world. He has showed it yet again...

"This season he has elevated himself to the No. 1 goalkeeper in the world. You only have to look at Liverpool's defensive record and how often he saves big chances.

"People talk about Virgil van Dijk's impact on this team, he (Alisson) is exactly the same."

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