The Big Match

Football: In 'good mood' but not ready to play

Philippe Coutinho training in Barranquilla, Colombia ahead of Brazil's World Cup qualifier on Tuesday. He came on as a sub against both Colombia and Ecuador earlier but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants him to be better conditioned before returnin
Philippe Coutinho training in Barranquilla, Colombia ahead of Brazil's World Cup qualifier on Tuesday. He came on as a sub against both Colombia and Ecuador earlier but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants him to be better conditioned before returning to Premier League action.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Coutinho needs more training after recovery but Liverpool's new boy The Ox raring to go

LONDON • Philippe Coutinho has been left out of Liverpool's squad to face Manchester City in the biggest Premier League clash of the weekend, manager Jurgen Klopp said yesterday in his pre-match conference.

He added that the Brazil international, who was linked with a move to Barcelona during the summer transfer window, was in "a good mood" after returning to Merseyside following international duty.

Coutinho has not yet played for Liverpool this season, with the club citing a back injury, but he joined his national side for World Cup qualifiers and made two substitute appearances against Ecuador and Colombia.

Klopp confirmed that the playmaker would not feature against City today because he needs training time to make up for his disrupted pre-season.

"We have got all the numbers (on Coutinho) from the Brazilian FA - the training, the intensity of the training, stuff like that, and it was all okay. And he played twice - I think about 15 or 20 minutes," said the German.

"He could have played 15, 20 minutes again in the City game, maybe longer, but I think really it makes sense to leave him out.

"We have seven games in the next three weeks. Before he went to Brazil he couldn't train (because of injury). So that means we have to now prepare him for the rest of the season, which is difficult with our fixtures and our schedule.

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  • Minutes Coutinho has played for Liverpool this season.

"I decided to leave him out for City. We can use this four or five days for real and proper training."

Klopp added that there were no hard feelings between him and Coutinho.

"He agreed completely, so it was not as if he said 'no, I don't need training, I want to play'. It was a good conversation," the 50-year-old said.

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One player itching to start work with Klopp is new signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who said that playing in the German's swashbuckling team had been a key motivating factor for his move from Arsenal.

"Watching him, (you see) his passion and how much he cares about the game," the 24-year-old English midfielder, known as The Ox, said.

"The thing that stood out for me was his relationship with the players, how close he seems to bond with the players on and off the field.

"That's massive and it's definitely a big plus when you're looking to progress, having that relationship with the manager."

The praise was mutual as Klopp also said that Oxlade-Chamberlain would be one player who can help the squad a lot.

"He's good in small spaces, really good in big spaces, good dribbler, good passer, there are lots of things I really like. It means you want to have him on the pitch as often as possible," the German said.

Liverpool, who thumped Arsenal 4-0 in their last match before the international break, are second in the Premier League after three matches, with two wins and a draw.

Pep Guardiola's big-spending City have the same number of points but trail Liverpool on goal difference.

"City are outstandingly strong and we have to not let them do what they want to do," Klopp added. "Both teams are strong on the counter-attack. It's a really interesting game and I really enjoy the preparation."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'In 'good mood' but not ready to play'. Print Edition | Subscribe