OptiNews - Friday 13 to Thursday 19 January 2017

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 13/01/2017 00:10:48

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| Liverpool’s ELC player ratings: Southampton 1-0 advantage after first legFANSIDEDRUSHTHEKOP |
| | What’s hot and what’s not from the EFL Cup semi finalsSHOOTCOUK |
| | Sturridge Struggles – The Best And The Worst Rated Liverpool Players vs SouthamptonSOCCERSOULS |
| | West Ham face competition from Southampton as Bilic turns to old target for goalsSPORTWITNESS |
| | Pray Performance At Southampton Won’t Be Carried To Old Trafford – Liverpool LegendINSIDEFUTBOLCOM |
| | Is Reds Current Form Just A Blip?THEKOPITEVIEW |
| | Southampton 1-0 Liverpool: Five talking pointsTHEHARDTACKLE |
| | Puel lavishes praise on Van DijkSPORTSMOLE |
| | Claude Puel hopes to build Southampton confidence despite Jose Fonte standoffBTSPORT |

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All news is good news

Don’t be a cunt

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 13/01/2017 01:10:56

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| FLashback: DANNY WALLACE WondeRGOAL - Southampton FCDUGOUT |
| | Pundit: This defender was dodgy after Liverpool transfer but is back to his best now | FootballSPORTREVIEWCOM |
| | Reds should be interested in Van Dijk - he’d improve any club in the worldGOLIVERPOOL |
| | Rumour Mill: United plot £80m Juve raid; Everton eye £30m ace - TEAMtalk | Latest Football News & Transfer RumoursTEAMTALK |
| | Interview: Talking Mamadou Sakho with Sam McGuireFRESHSAINTS |

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Sourced from talkSPORT article

Premier League Preview Show

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Tom Rennie is joined by the former Manchester United, Southampton & Republic of Ireland midfielder, Alan McLoughlin, to look ahead to Manchester United against Liverpool. Will a win for Mourinho put the Red Devils firmly in the title mix?

Jason Euell, the former Charlton & Wimbledon striker, gives his thoughts ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Leicester, Swansea v Arsenal and Tottenham against West Brom.

Plus, in the extended programme, a look at the rest of the action from the Premier League this weekend and the return of the Predictor Game!

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Sourced from Southampton FC - Official Site article

We need more clean sheets, says Romeu

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Saints shut out Jürgen Klopp’s men for a second time this season, despite them being the highest scorers in the competition going into the first leg at St Mary’s.

And ahead of a trip to Burnley in the Premier League, Romeu reflected on that performance with great satisfaction.

“We needed to win battles but if they don’t feel comfortable they won’t have that confidence playing,” said Romeu.

“Having the chance to win those duels, they felt a little bit more uncomfortable and they didn’t play as well as they could so it was good to win those and those second balls.

“The clean sheet was very important. We need to have more clean sheets because recently we have conceded too many goals.

“Sometimes we score one goal and after five or ten minutes we were not playing as good as we were.

“Today we scored and we kept playing the same in the whole game and I think we’ve learnt from the last games.”

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Southampton boss Claude Puel gives major update on future of Virgil van Dijk

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Van Dijk is being chased by a host of top clubs including Liverpool, Manchester City and French giants Paris St-Germain. The Dutchman enhanced his growing reputation with a superb display in Saints’ 1-0 EFL Cup semi-final win first leg win over Liverpool on Wednesday. But with captain Fonte demanding a move, manager Puel yesterday moved to ease Saints fans’ fears they will also lose Van Dijk. Puel said: “Virgil stays with us. There is no speculation about this and no consideration. He’s an important player for us. Without Jose he is our captain.

“Virgil is a strong player. It’s fantastic what he can do” “He is a quick player and it’s important to keep him with his mentality. I hope we can have strong games in different competitions with him. “Virgil is a strong player. It’s fantastic what he can do. He is always fit, is a technical player and we are lucky to have a player with his qualities and spirit. “He is a winner and he leads by example to the team and young players. Every game he puts in a good performance. He has improved a lot this season.”

Puel also confirmed Fonte will again be left out for tomorrow’s trip to Burnley. The Portuguese Euro 2016 winner has not been selected for Saints’ past two games since director of football Les Reed revealed he had handed in a transfer request. Puel added: “The situation with Jose is the same for the moment. I prefer he stays out of the team to give him the opportunity to study different solutions.” Puel is weighing up a move for Monaco striker Valere Germain.

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Puel talks transfer window progress

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CLAUDE Puel admits there has been “no progress” regarding new players being brought in during this month’s transfer window.

Puel has stated previously that Saints are in no rush to jump into transfers, despite calls for a new striker, and the St Mary’s chief revealed that new signings are not close.

“We make progress with my squad to play this game [Burnley],” he said. “There is no progress to buy some players.

“It’s important to stay focused about our game and our players.

“I’m happy with this squad. I said just if we can improve the squad with another player of course we will see , but for the moment it’s always difficult in January.

“If we can improve because of the injury to Charlie [Austin] or Sofiane Boufal, but it’s always a difficult market and it’s important to keep good energy with the team and the players.”

Saints have been linked with numerous strikers, including Napoli striker Manolo Gabbiadini, but aren’t going to be dragged into big-money bids without careful consideration.

“The window market there are opportunities, the possibilities, the solution to improve the squad," added Puel.

"We know it’s a difficult market in January because it’s difficult to find a good soluation.

“We will stay focused about this. For example we can find the opportunity to improve the squad. I prefer to stay focused about my players, to imrpove with them.

“We have many games this month and the next month also.”

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 13/01/2017 06:03:14

| | Manolo Gabbiadini Makes Decision, Southampton, Stoke, Leicester, West Brom, Watford KeenINSIDEFUTBOLCOM |

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Press conference (part two): Puel on Clarets trip

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Sean Dyche must tweak formation in light of Burnley’s wounded wide men

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Sean Dyche finds himself with an unusual selection issue for Saturday’s home game against Southampton, with plenty of central midfield choices, but not many possible options out wide. Scott Arfield and Johann Gudmundsson both collected hamstring injuries in last weekend’s FA Cup third-round draw at Sunderland and the first-choice pair of wide men are not expected to be available as a result.

George Boyd is one of Dyche’s most trusted lieutenants but after the 31-year-old, the winger cupboard is very bare, with Michael Kightly barely getting a kick of the ball this season, although he impressed in a second-half cameo at the Stadium of Light, where he had what would have been the winning goal ruled out for Sam Vokes being offside.

Dyche has resorted to his favoured 4-4-2 in recent weeks, which has enabled the tenacious striker Ashley Barnes to provide a nuisance factor alongside top goalscorer Andre Gray, but in the absence of Arfield and Gudmundsson the manager could be forced into another tactical change.

Burnley – with seven Premier League wins at home already this season – have had a lot of joy with 4-5-1 at Turf Moor, but Gray appears to be unsuited to playing as a lone striker and it would feel like a waste to ask him to play on one of the flanks, although his pace would be useful on the break. He cannot be left out either, the striker having scored four goals across two festive fixtures at home recently, including a clinical hat trick in the 4-1 mauling of Sunderland.

The Clarets currently have plenty of strength in depth in central midfield, where the return of Joey Barton on a short-term deal until the end of the season has given Dyche quality cover in the most important area of the pitch. Barton’s advanced age – he will be 35 later this year – means he is unlikely to be able to play 90 minutes every week, however, while there remain question marks over the fitness of Belgium international Steven Defour, who completed his first full match for Burnley at Sunderland.

In addition, Dyche can turn to club-record signing Jeff Hendrick, who continues to impress as he settles into life in the Premier League, as well as Dean Marney, who has been a stalwart since his signing in 2010. Hendrick is the most versatile of the quartet, having played high up the pitch as a No. 10 at times this season, while for Republic of Ireland he has also featured ostensibly as a wide midfielder, although with a brief to stay narrow and compact.

Should Dyche prefer to stick with 4-4-2, Hendrick could therefore be asked to fill in on the right flank, potentially enabling the improving full-back Matt Lowton to bomb forward more often. Hendrick came off the bench at Sunderland last weekend to briefly do this job.

The onus will be on Burnley to create chances on Saturday, with Southampton having lost three straight Premier League matches, although a 1-0 midweek home EFL Cup semifinal victory over Liverpool will have been a confidence boost for Claude Puel’s men. Southampton have only scored 19 league goals this season, three fewer than Dyche’s side, with only strugglers Hull City and Middlesbrough less effective in front of goal.

In Virgil van Dijk, the Saints have one of the outstanding defenders in the league, but in the absence of wantaway captain Jose Fonte there could be a weakness alongside him, with Maya Yoshida being prone to poor mistakes. He is certainly a player the Clarets could look to exploit.

Former Burnley starlet Jay Rodriguez is sure to get a fantastic reception, assuming he is selected, with his fellow ex-Claret Charlie Austin still out with a shoulder injury. Rodriguez is a gifted attacker but he does not carry a strong goal threat, with just three Premier League strikes to his name this season, although he will be determined to impress on his return to his boyhood club.

While the Saints have finished in the top eight of the Premier League three seasons in a row, improving in each of those campaigns to reach sixth last year, they sit 10th, a single point above Burnley. With the Clarets having already beaten top-half sides Liverpool, Everton and Bournemouth at Turf Moor, this match has to be viewed as a good chance to earn more points.

A draw would likely be taken by fans of either side ahead of the game, but Dyche’s men have some daunting games around the corner and they will want to continue their strong home form. Momentum is crucial to surviving in the Premier League. Burnley currently have plenty.

Jamie Smith is ESPN FC’s Burnley blogger. Follow him on Twitter @nonaynevernet.

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DAVID WOODS COLUMN: Wayne Rooney should leave Man United this month if he breaks record

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Once Wayne Rooney gets that 250th goal to become Manchester United’s record scorer, he ought to think about an immediate separation. It seems unlikely the 31-year-old will start against Liverpool on Sunday. Even if he did, the chances of him getting that golden goal would not be great - it’s taken him 24 appearances to score four times this season. He fluffed a chance with his left foot in the EFL Cup against Hull on Tuesday and then shot just wide with his right before Jose Mourinho replaced him. But if he does get that milestone goal to pass Sir Bobby Charlton during this month’s transfer window, Rooney ought to grab his chance for a new challenge - something to get him buzzing again.

“Maybe he should consider a return to boyhood club Everton or an adventure in the US” In his dealings with the media last season, what came across so clearly was just how insecure Rooney was about his talent, how aware he was that it was waning, especially when it came to his pace - hence his desire to drop deep into midfield. You sense what Rooney really needs is a change, a new lover if you like, having twice spurned the serious advances of Chelsea during his time at Old Trafford. Maybe he should consider a return to boyhood club Everton or an adventure in the US, like David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole. He revealed his intense desire to be a boss last season as well and you can imagine him being an inspiring player-manager, maybe at a lower league club. I can’t be alone in finding it surprisingly sad to see such a wonderfully talented player struggle in his quest to be the most prolific striker United have ever had.

His boozing antics during the last international break with England also suggest a player finding it tough at the top right now. FOOTBALLERS are now starting to rival politicians when it comes to talking nonsense. Two prime and recent examples are Southampton’s Jose Fonte and Axel Witsel, now at Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian. Fonte has handed in a transfer request at St Mary’s, having undergone some sort of radical transformation in the space of four months. Because back in September, the centre back took issue with claims he was angling for a move away from Saints.

“To make it perfectly clear to everyone that might have some difficulty understanding - I am a Southampton player, and proudly have been since 2010,” he said. “Understand that once I step on the pitch with the Saints shirt and armband I give my blood, sweat and tears for the club and always will no matter what you read or think. “My professionalism means everything to me, and no one can point a finger about it … I am fully committed. #wemarchon.” Now, of course, he’s desperate to march out. Belgium midfielder Witsel - at 27 at the pinnacle of his career - has opted to quit St Petersburg and move to China instead of Juventus.

Juve were only ready to pay him a pitiful £5.2m a year, not the £17.3m on offer in the Chinese Super League. To explain his choice, he came out with this rubbish. “It was a very difficult decision because on one hand there was a great team and a top club like Juventus,” he said. “But on the other there was a crucial offer for my family that I couldn’t turn down.” Yes, imagine the desperate Witsel family having to struggle on £100,000 a week, the cuts they’d have to make, the charity shops they’d need to shop at. Are there food banks in Turin? In truth, his family face probably a tough time getting used to life in China, but maybe the £330,000 a week he’s getting might just help them through.

Manchester United are 4-6 at BetVictor to land the League Cup after their midweek win over Hull with Liverpool 9-4 after their 1-0 defeat at Southampton. It will be a different game back at Anfield where the Reds are 4-6 to win the tie and 5-6 to qualify for Wembley and, in all probability, meet United. The pair face other on Sunday with Jurgen Klopp’s side 5-2 to end United’s run of nine straight wins. The home side are evens and the draw 23-10. Jose Mourinho has taken time to mould his first-choice starting XI but Paul Pogba continues to improve in the number 10 role and is 8-1 to break the deadlock but offers much better value at 6-1 to be named the WhoScored.com Man of the Match. Liverpool are 9-2 second favourites behind Chelsea to be crowned champions and United have come down to 14-1 from 50s after a run of six successive League wins.

They have conceded just three goals in those six games and after witnessing Liverpool’s lacklustre effort in midweek I expect them to use that revitalised defence to inspire victory on Sunday - 11-4 to beat Liverpool to nil and 15-2 to beat the Reds by 1-0. It will be fascinating to see what part United skipper Wayne Rooney plays as he chases the goal that will make him United’s all-time record scorer. I expect Rooney to come on for the final 20 minutes, and with a goal-scoring record in this fixture bettered only by Steven Gerrard, BetVictor make him a 6-4 chance to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s record. He is 7-4 to be carded in a fixture that is historically second only to the Merseyside derby in terms of dismissals (16) in Premier League history.

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 13/01/2017 08:03:45

| | Karius has faith in reaching final despite lossMORNINGSTARONLINE |

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#SaintsFC boss Claude Puel is expecting a difficult test against #BFC in the #PL this weekend: https://grabyo.com/g/v/dnbRHcIzz84

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Puel’s dilemma over splitting up his Liverpool heroes

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CLAUDE Puel admits it’s “not possible” to pick the same team that produced one of the performances of the season against Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final at Burnley tomorrow.

Tinkerer Puel is uncertain about how many changes he will make at Turf Moor, but is adamant that he will have to swap some players around, despite the temptation of keeping a winning 11 together.

Saints are on a three-game losing streak in the Premier League, but built confidence and momentum with a brilliant 1-0 win over Liverpool on Wednesday night in the semi-final first leg.

Puel knows that it would be ideal to avoid dismantling a winning formula, but might be drawn into changes.

“To play exactly the same team is not possible for me. I don’t know for the moment if we go to make some more rotation, but it’s important first to see the recovery of the players,” he said.

“Every player is different. It was a strong game against Liverpool with a lot of rhythm because we didn’t have the possession in this game.

“It’s important to see the players if they can recover well. Every player is different. I will make a point tomorrow (Friday), but for the moment I don’t know the rotation.”

Steven Davis has picked up a knock, but should be available for the Clarets match, which is seen as a big chance to try and put breathing space between Saints and the lower mid-table spots.

Puel would ideally have his best team available but, with potentially six games between now and the end of January, the St Mary’s chief is aware he must think long-term.

Saints have three league games, the second leg of their League Cup semi-final at Anfield and progress from the third round FA Cup replay at home to Norwich on Wednesday will mean another game in last weekend of the month.

“It’s important to get a good result from this game and find good stability, but it’s important to see the recovery of every player and the possibility to play another game three days after the last game,” Puel said.

“It’s just not a game three days after, it’s many games for these players. It’s important to see that for me to start this game to have player in good fitness.”

Burnley have the joint-most home wins with Liverpool and Arsenal so far this campaign and, subsequently, Puel expects a tough challenge.

“It’s difficult to play away to Burnley. It’s a strong and physical team. It will be a different game to the one against Liverpool,” he said.

“Normally we are with the possession, but it’s always difficult to play Burnley at home and it will be important to play with space and quality.

“This team is dangerous in counterattack and free-kicks. We know all this. It’s important for us to stay focused.

“We need to make a good recovery because it was an intensive game against Liverpool. We will see how the players are fit to start this game.

“We lost three and it’s now important to correct this and to stay focused about our game in the Premier League against Burnley,” he added.

“To have the capacity to play this game against Liverpool is an important thing for the squad’s confidence and we can see a good level.

“It’s now important to keep this level every time to continue this work because we’ve lost many points in the Premier League.

“We have to come back with the same spirit and to give a good answer.”

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Saints heading for marathon Premier League record

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SAINTS are on course for their most jam-packed Premier League era season EVER, which Claude Puel believes is an important learning curve for the club.

The most games Saints have ever played in one single campaign in Premier League times was in the 1995/96 season, when Dave Merrington’s side played 48 matches.

But even if Saints drop out of the FA Cup and League Cup in their upcoming ties, Puel’s men will finish the season having played 51 matches.

If they continue to progress in the domestic knockout competitions, they will be approaching the busiest campaign on record, which came when Ian Branfoot’s Saints played 61 games in 1991/92.

That was 42 First Division games, seven FA Cup ties – including three replays – six League Cup ties (including two replays) and six ZDS Systems Cup ties (Saints reached the Wembley final, losing to Nottingham Forest).

Saints will play at least 51 games this season – 38 in the league, six in Europe, five in the League Cup and two in the FA Cup.

Such a volume of games is nothing new to Puel, but accepts the players are learning as they go.

“For me no, for the players, yes [it’s the busiest they’ve experienced],” said Puel. “It’s the first time Southampton have played all these games, with all this competition.

“It’s important to learn, but for me no because I trained many games in the Europa League and Champions League.

“For example with Lille we played 64 official games in the season. We finished second in the table and I qualified for the Champions League and we lost against Sevilla in quarter-final of the Europa League and this time Sevilla won the cup.

“It’s important to have the ability to play all these games and then to recover. It’s important after a loss without thinking it’s a catastrophe.

“After a win for example against Liverpool, okay, it’s finished and now we need have the capacity to think another thing and not just staying about this game.

“Playing so many games is not just physical work it’s always a good recovery with the head, without losing energy outside the games.”

Last season Saints played 46 games, one more than in Ronald Koeman’s debut 2014/15 season, but have had to deal with the Europa League group stages, a long run in the League Cup as well as the usual Premier League matches this time around.

“It’s always a challenge for the players to stay ready because there’s rotation and the many games,” Puel said. “It’s important to keep in many way a good spirit and a good analysis.

“I think without bad things, all this is important. They learn with the capacity to play many games with good feet and especially with the good freshness and lucidity and good mentality.

“It’s new for these players, good experience. It’s the first time for many players to play all these games.”

In an immensely busy season, Virgil van Dijk has been one of a few mainstays in the Saints team.

The key central defender, and captain in Jose Fonte’s absence, has often been a saviour for Puel’s men, and the French boss is not worried about burning him out, despite all the game time.

“It’s a strong player. He can recover easier. It’s fantastic what he can do because he’s physical and is always fit,” he said.

“He’s a technical player and we are lucky to have this player with his quality and spirit. He’s a winner.

“He gives a good example for the team and young players. It’s a stability and this season he finds this regularly and every time, every game it’s a good performance.

“That’s interesting for us and for him. He improves as this season goes on.”

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 13/01/2017 09:04:32

| | 'Defeat at Old Trafford does not bear thinking about’GOLIVERPOOL |
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| Non-league: Killick adamant Poole Town players will fight on despite Tatnam concernsTHISISBOURNEMOUTH |
| | Redmond’s cool finish sinks LiverpoolTHENEWSCOMPK |

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First goal of the week accomplished: win against Liverpool. Next goal: beat Burnley on saturday! #SaintsFChttps://twitter.com/i/web/status/819609578493120512

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EXCLUSIVE: Bookies fear Everton will sign Virgil van Dijk after rush of big bets

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Odds have been slashed for Virgil van Dijk to move to Everton

Ronald Koeman has already reunited with one former Southampton player in Morgan Schneiderlin.

And Paddy Power have tonight taken a rush of bets on Van Dijk following him to Goodison Park.

The Holland defender, 25, was 16/1 to move to Everton this morning.

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 13/01/2017 10:04:45

| | Jan Molby: Liverpool should show interest in Southampton’s Virgil van DijkIBTIMES |

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