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Monday 5 December 2016

Mignolet is number one no longer

Klopp prefers Karius but plays down title talk as Spurs' Sissoko banned

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Simon Mignolet is no longer No 1 at Anfield
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Simon Mignolet is no longer No 1 at Anfield

Simon Mignolet will return for Liverpool in the EFL Cup - but manager Jurgen Klopp has made it clear the Belgian goalkeeper is now second choice.

Mignolet has had three inconsistent seasons at Anfield and lost his place to new signing Loris Karius for the Reds' defeat of Derby in the third round of the competition last month.

At the time Klopp said he had no definite number one but, with Karius having now played five games in succession, his thoughts have changed.

Mignolet, however, remains a key figure in the squad and Klopp is keen to have him involved as Tottenham visit Anfield in the fourth round tonight.

Klopp said: "If nothing happens in training then he will play, 100 per cent.

"But in this moment we have a number one and that's Loris Karius. That's the situation and what the goalkeepers know. I cannot leave them in doubt.

"There was a short period with the two or three games we (initially) gave Loris to see a little bit more of him, but after the last international break I spoke to both of them and we made this decision.

"Of course, he (Mignolet) was not happy about this but nobody can see this in training. He is still working hard, improving, (doing) all that he has to do. He is a very serious person and a good professional."

Liverpool have lost just once in 11 games in all competitions this season and Saturday's victory over West Brom has left them joint top of the Premier League with Manchester City and Arsenal.

That has fuelled further talk of a title challenge but Klopp is not interested in outside opinions at this stage of the season.

"I don't care," the German said. "It's normal in football that when you are in a good position people starting talking a little bit more positive.

"But I don't recognise too much what everybody is saying about us. Of course I recognise the mood around LFC and it's good, but we're still in October. There's a long way to go so there is nothing to say about this.

"Nothing we have done up until now has been close to 100 per cent. We have to improve a lot of things."

Liverpool were beaten in the final of the League Cup last season, losing on penalties to Manchester City. Klopp wants to go one better this time but insists putting right February's Wembley loss is not the prime motivation.

He said: "It's a negative sign if we lose a final we say we want to win it next year. It's a very big cup tournament. That is the reason we want to go to the final and win."

Klopp said at the weekend he would welcome the prospect of Steven Gerrard returning to Anfield in some capacity following hints by the former Reds captain he could soon leave the LA Galaxy.

But asked if there had been any further developments, Klopp said at a press conference: "There is nothing else to say about it."

Tonight's opponents, Tottenham, have accepted the English Football Association's violent conduct charge against Moussa Sissoko, expecting the France midfielder to receive a three-match ban.

Sissoko has been charged by the FA for his off-the-ball elbow of Bournemouth's Harry Arter that was missed by officials in Saturday's goalless Premier League draw at the Vitality Stadium.

The £30million summer signing from Newcastle should now be banned for tonight's Cup tie and Premier League matches against Leicester and bitter rivals Arsenal.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino revealed the club will not contest the charge - and refused to criticise the 27-year-old.

"We accept that. We have reviewed the video. We accept the charge and now we move forward," said the Argentinian.

"After the game it was difficult when I was asked about the action.

"It was true that it was difficult for me to appreciate the situation of what happened.

"But when I saw it on TV I need to say there was no intention but the elbow was in the face of Arter, that's clear.

"We accept the charge, and now we need to move forward, and expect a three-match ban."

Arter initially reacted angrily to Sissoko's challenge as both sets of players clashed on the field, but later insisted he hoped the France midfielder would escape a ban.

"I'm not one to hold grudges, he said sorry, he didn't mean it, so that's end of," said Arter.

"It looks like he elbowed me but he apologised and said it was an accident so that's good to me.

"I feel happy with his apology and if he didn't mean it hopefully he doesn't get banned.''

Impending

Asked if Sissoko's impending ban is a blow, Pochettino said: "That is true, because we are in a period that we need all the squad, all the players fit to compete.

"We have a big four games, Liverpool, Leicester, Leverkusen and Arsenal.

Pochettino confirmed he will rest Hugo Lloris tonight, insisting top stars like the France goalkeeper are not "machines".

"It's true that tomorrow we'll play Michel Vorm," said Pochettino.

"Hugo is not a machine, he's one of the best but he's not a machine. Tomorrow is a very good opportunity for Michel, he deserves to play.

"Players like Lloris, they are not machines. And it is very tough to go from international matches, to the Premier League, to the Champions League and back to the Premier League, without any breaks, so we will rotate."

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