Klopp looking for Daniel Sturridge to show his 'robust' side

David Cooper 26/11/2015
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Wanting to see more: Klopp.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he will not rush injury-prone striker Daniel Sturridge back into first-team action until the England international can prove he is more “robust”.

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The 26-year-old was on the bench for Saturday’s 4-1 demolition of erstwhile Premier League leaders Manchester City, the first time he has featured in a matchday squad following Klopp’s arrival.

However, the German said that is no guarantee Sturridge will get a run-out in Thursday night’s Europa League tie at home to Bordeaux, with Klopp stressing the striker needs to be able to prove he won’t suffer any more injury breakdowns.

Sturridge, who netted 21 goals during the 2013-14 campaign as Liverpool finished runners-up to City, made just seven league starts last season as he was sidelined by thigh and calf problems before undergoing a hip operation in May.

“Daniel is coming closer and closer so he can train now seven or eight times in a row – that is the longest period since I’ve been here – and that will help him and in the end help us,” Klopp said.

“My decision you will see (tonight) but it is closer and that is very good. The most important thing in these weeks is he can train without problems. “We have to try to bring in a situation where he is more robust.

“If he is feeling in a good moment maybe a few minutes – or more – we will see in the game.”

Elsewhere, Monaco host Anderlecht with the Ligue 1 side looking to preserve Group J’s only unbeaten record, while leaders Tottenham make the long trip to Azerbaijan to play FK Qarabag.

Celtic’s midfield has been decimated ahead of the visit of Ajax with Scott Brown set for a three month lay off with a knee injury joining Kris Commons on the sidelines while fellow midfielders Nir Bitton and Stefan Johansen suspended for the vital Group A clash.

Borussia Dortmund are already through but the Germans will finish top of Group C with a draw away at second-placed FK Krasnodar.

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Muller confident Bayern are on course for UCL glory

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Feeling positive: Muller.

Thomas Muller believes Bayern Munich are on track to win the Champions League this campaign, but has stressed they cannot afford to let up.

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Pep Guardiola’s men beat Olympiacos 4-0 on Tuesday to book their ticket for the knockout stages, clinching top spot in Group F in the process.

The Bavarian side have crashed out of the competition at the semifinal stage in each of the last two years, but Muller feels this could be his side’s year to reclaim the European title.

“We have to keep it up. We have to continue on our course as a team. It’s what’s expected, from us and the fans,” the Germany international said.

“But the road ahead is still tough. We want to win the thing. Obviously, that’s not exactly a given, as there are a few teams with the same target. It’ll be much tighter once we get to the quarters and semis, but we’re well on track.”

Guardiola while happy with Munich’s win insisted they gave their opponents too much of the ball. First-half goals from Douglas Costa, Robert Lewandowski and Muller saw the Bavarian side race into a three-goal lead after just 20 minutes.

The hosts had defender Holger Badstuber sent off soon after the break at the Allianz Arena, yet they still managed to add to their tally with a header from Kingsley Coman.

“I am very happy,” he said. “We now have the Champions League in the pocket until February. “The players have a great mentality, but we were not perfect with the ball, we lost many easy balls.”

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UCL: Per Mertesacker confident Arsenal will advance

Mark Bryans 26/11/2015
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Looking forward: Per Mertesacker.

Per Mertesacker insists he and his Arsenal team-mates now believe they can get out of their Champions League group following their ‘nightmare’ start to the competition.

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The Gunners recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night meaning they now head to face Olympiacos in Athens in a fortnight with progression to the knock-out rounds in their own hands.

That was not the case heading into a nervy contest against the Croatian champions as Arsene Wenger’s side had lost three of their four previous Group F matches.

Needing Bayern Munich to beat Olympiacos in Germany and keep up their end of the bargain at the Emirates, Arsenal got what they needed as Bayern cantered to a 4-0 success to top the group while a Mesut Ozil header and two goals for Alexis Sanchez sealed a vital three points.

Having lost in Zagreb and at home to Olympiacos, as well as being thrashed 5-1 in Munich, Arsenal’s start to the campaign left them in a position that still requires them to win by two goals in Athens – but Mertesacker believes the squad now feel they can go on and get the required result.

“We believe and before the game we knew we were capable of doing special things,” he said. “We dropped a lot of points which is disappointing but there is still a chance so we believe. It is a nightmare how we played the first two games.

“We have to face the truth and that is that we have to score more than one goal against Olympiacos.”

German World Cup winner Mertesacker also feels Olympiacos will be under more pressure as they can afford to lose by the odd goal – as long as Arsenal score less than three – and progress.

“We have a good chance,” he added. “We believe that we can score goals. You saw that we are always capable of doing that. Let’s go there without fear, respect our opponent but keep patient until the end.”

Ozil and Sanchez, Arsenal’s two biggest signings in their history, showed their class to steer Arsenal to the win as both excelled in their own position.

Before he headed in the opening goal Ozil had been instrumental and shown off an array of passing that has seen him rack up assist after assist this season.

Sanchez meanwhile was full of life, quite the accolade for a man who could easily be battle-worn after an extended spell in the sides of both club and country, and his willingness to run, hassle and battle for possession does not go unnoticed.

“They got on with each other and we are happy for them,” Mertesacker said of the influential pair. “They could have scored even more but obviously we need them in good shape and with a good understanding for the rest of the season.”

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