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Salah wins BBC African Footballer of Year

Football
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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

2017/2018 Season

POS TEAM W D L PTS
3 Chelsea 10 2 4 32
4 Liverpool 8 6 2 30
5 Arsenal 9 2 5 29
View Full Table »

Jurgen Klopp defends 'proper captain' Jordan Henderson following criticism

Jurgen Klopp says Mohamed Salah has nothing to prove against his former club Chelsea.
Jurgen Klopp challenges Liverpool to prove they can perform at their best consistently ahead of their clash with Chelsea.
Liverpool's Simon Mignolet denied a late Diego Costa penalty to preserve a 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

Jurgen Klopp has defended Jordan Henderson after receiving criticism earlier this week, insisting the Liverpool midfielder is a "proper captain."

Henderson and Liverpool's midfield came under fire as the team surrendered a three-goal lead at Sevilla to draw 3-3 on Tuesday night.

But Klopp has no doubts about Henderson's ability to play in a holding midfield role and feels he suffers from unfair comparisons with Steven Gerrard, who he succeeded as Liverpool captain at the start of the 2015-16 season.

"Jordan is a proper captain," Klopp said. "He wasn't when I came in but only because he didn't know how to do it because nobody had to think about how to be captain at Liverpool because they had one for around 20 years [in Gerrard].

"So from the first moment whatever he [Henderson] is doing, it is not good enough because even when he is good he is still not as good as the other one was.

"I have no problem with that. We can all improve but it is not about the position No. 6 or whatever. We had to do much better in all positions. In this situation, when I saw we don't play football [in the second half], we talk about Gini [Wijnaldum] and Phil [Coutinho] at this moment: 'Come on, where are you? Show up.'

"Mo Salah was not involved, he was not involved in this game, he was always waiting for the ball in behind and that is not his game. He has to mix it up.

"We spoke about a lot of things but not about the role of Jordan Henderson in this specific formation because it was not an issue.

"He was not better than the others unfortunately, but he was not worse. How you can say he needs to be better because he has the captaincy, I will never get this kind of talk. I don't understand that."

Klopp added: "Of course Jordan can play the No. 6. He played it for England, he played it for us. In this game, I would love to see one of the big pundits being on the pitch and in a game like this be the person who changed the whole game. That really is [a] f---ing legend."

Meanwhile, Henderson believes Saturday's encounter with Chelsea is the "perfect" opportunity for Liverpool to move on from the disappointment in midweek.

"It's another massive test -- one of the biggest considering they are the reigning champions in England, but in many ways this is the perfect game for us," he wrote in his programme notes. "We have to see it as an opportunity. That has to be our mindset.

"I think we've shown this season already that, when at our best, no one can live with us. But we've also shown when we stop doing the basics, the quality of opponent we face means you get punished immediately and that punishment really hurts.

"It's a cliche in sport that you have to 'move on' from an experience like we had against Sevilla and of course a big part of that is true.

"If you dwell on it, it can have a negative effect and we can't allow that to happen given how healthy our positions in the league and the Champions League are and how much there is to play for this season.

"But, as the manager tells us regularly, there is a big difference between dwelling on an experience and learning from it."

Ahead of the Chelsea game, Philippe Coutinho says the Liverpool manager's job to pick a starting XI is becoming ever more difficult because of the levels of quality in training and Adam Lallana returning from injury.

"I think we're a very focused team. We have a lot of players who are now coming back from injury, that's important for the group," Coutinho told the club's official website.

"This is a period in which there are a lot of games, it's a very important period so all of the players are all very focused -- there are a lot of big games.

"It gets ever more difficult for the manager to pick the starting XI because in training you can see everyone has got great quality and everyone is giving their utmost.

"So, that's good for keeping the team strong and, as I said, we've got players coming back from injuries like Adam among others. In the end, that's big news for our team and very important for us to have everyone fit."

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.

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