Football

Klopp, Guardiola unite in fight for return of five substitutions

Pep Guardiola and Juergen Klopp united to fight for a U-turn to the English Premier League's three-substitution rule, after Manchester City and Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Klopp's brave team selection, with Diogo Jota joining Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in a front four, was rewarded with a blistering start from the defending champions.

Salah gave the Reds the lead with a penalty in the 13th minute after Kyle Walker upended Mane, but Gabriel Jesus levelled for City before Kevin de Bruyne sent a penalty wide three minutes before half-time.

After a pulsating first 45 minutes, the tempo eased off in the second with Liverpool suffering an injury blow when Trent Alexander-Arnold was forced off with a calf problem.

Guardiola and Klopp have been outspoken advocates of the use of five substitutes, which was utilised in the EPL at the end of last season and is being used in all other major leagues in Europe and the Champions League this season.

However, the EPL's top teams lost a vote for it to remain for the 2020/21 season with fears it only serves to benefit the clubs with bigger squads.

"We speak about how we have to fight again and again about five substitutions," said Guardiola, when asked about the subject of his post-match conversation with Klopp.

"All around the world, there is five substitutions. Here we believe we are a special league with just three players, we don't protect the players.

"Look at Trent Alexander-Arnold, an international English player, he is injured. That's why it is a disaster."

Klopp accused EPL CEO Richard Masters of a "lack of leadership" over the matter, saying: "It's not an advantage, it's a necessity."

A share of the points between the sides that have won the title for the past three seasons leaves Liverpool in third, just a point off leaders Leicester City, while City sit five points further back in 10th, but with a game in hand. - AFP

Football