Football

Klopp: Mignolet is still No. 1

Liverpool boss says Belgian goalkeeper will start against Man City in next league game

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will start the club's next Premier League match against Manchester City after being rested for yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 4-0 win over Arsenal, manager Juergen Klopp said after the Anfield drubbing.

Mignolet's omission from the matchday squad raised some eyebrows, but Klopp explained that the Belgium international is still his first choice and had been left out to keep him fresh.

"Intensity for a goalkeeper is different," Klopp said.

"It's not a physical intensity, it's a mental intensity. We said we wanted to have three really strong goalkeepers, that's our situation now.

"That means you cannot deal with it like you do when you have a clear No. 3, a clear No. 2 - yes, Simon is a clear No. 1, but the others are not clear No. 2s and No. 3s, they are really strong goalkeepers."

Mignolet was handed the gloves at the start of the season, playing in Liverpool's 3-3 Premier League draw at Watford, the 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace and both legs of their 6-2 aggregate Champions League qualifying win over Hoffenheim.

The Belgian has been criticised over the past few seasons, particularly for his vulnerability in the air, but Klopp said he had earned his spot as first choice.

Klopp said: "He's a machine, he's always there, he's solid, really, really reliable... so he won the race.

"One hundred per cent if nothing happens, Simon will play against City."

Loris Karius came into the team and kept a clean sheet yesterday morning despite a few nervy moments when he hanged on to the ball for too long and was nearly punished by Danny Welbeck.

Klopp hinted he would continue to rotate his goalkeepers.

"(Karius) had a lot of good things, he played really cool football, yes sometimes a little bit too cool and waited a little bit too long but... we all need to learn and get used to playing football in close situations," Klopp added.

Liverpool travel to Man City on Sept 9, when the league resumes after the international break.

While the issue of who reigns between the posts is not in doubt in Klopp's mind, the future of Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who submitted a transfer request this month, is a lot less certain.

Conflicting reports of which club he will turn out for this season continued to surface yesterday, with some suggesting that Liverpool have already accepted Barcelona's bid - their fourth - of £148 million (S$260m).

Despite having yet to play for the Reds this season, the 25-year-old has joined up with the Brazil national team, who will be playing a World Cup qualifier against Ecuador on Friday morning (Singapore time).

Asked if Coutinho will play, Brazil coach Tite did not rule out fielding the player.

"We are going to choose the best team we have at our disposal," Tite told reporters.

Brazil, who are already through to the World Cup in Russia next year, are top of the South American qualifying group.

The Selecao will take on Colombia five days after the Ecuador test. - WIRE SERVICES

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