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Do Liverpool have squad depth to compete on two fronts?

Do Liverpool have squad depth to compete on two fronts?

first_imgOf the seven players brought into the starting line-up by Klopp at Burnley, Keita made the strongest case to retain his place at Bournemouth, where there will have to be at least one change, with defender Joe Gomez sidelined for up to six weeks after fracturing his leg.At Turf Moor, Keita showed he was willing to fight for the ball but also provided forward impetus once he got it, almost scoring with a shot that Joe Hart saved brilliantly.“He started the season brilliantly and obviously then getting an injury set him back a little bit. But you can see how good a player he is,” said captain Jordan Henderson.“That shot with the left foot and the save from Hart was fantastic. In his overall play he is comfortable on the ball and he helps build up play from the back. He drives the ball forward, which is big for us. I thought he was outstanding.”As a whole, though, Liverpool lack the strength in depth of Manchester City, the team they will have to surpass in order to become champions of England for the first time since 1990.City had a rather more comfortable night at Watford on Tuesday, despite only winning 2-1, as Pep Guardiola rotated his squad.It raises the question as to whether Liverpool can afford to go full out for both the Champions League and Premier League. Fail to get the right result against Napoli in their final European group-stage game next Tuesday, and the decision will be made for them.Henderson, though, is remaining positive.“The games are coming thick and fast, a lot of games in a short space of time but we showed we can use the squad and still perform to the level we know we are capable of and win games — and that’s a big plus for us,” he said.Share on: WhatsApp Bournemouth, United Kingdom | AFP | Naby Keita has started to show he can add creativity to Liverpool’s midfield but Jurgen Klopp may question his squad’s strength in depth despite securing two Premier League wins in four days.Klopp is likely to revert to his tried-and-trusted first choices at Bournemouth on Saturday, having been a little lucky on Wednesday to emerge with a 3-1 win at Burnley after making seven changes to his line-up.There were good reasons for so many changes — the match came hot on the heels of Sunday’s dramatic late derby victory over Everton, at the start of a frantic month that features home games against Napoli, Manchester United and Arsenal.In addition, full-back Andy Robertson and forward Sadio Mane were injured, and so Klopp would have had to shuffle his players around even if rotation had not been on his mind.Yet Liverpool were second-best for the opening hour at Turf Moor against opponents without a victory since September 30, and only turned the match around in the final 30 minutes, when Klopp brought on Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.It was evidence of just how important Salah, Firmino and Sane are to the Liverpool cause, even if they have not necessarily been at their best this season.During Liverpool’s struggles on Wednesday, though, the performance of Keita did give Klopp reason to be positive.The Guinea midfielder’s impact has been restricted by injury problems since his arrival from RB Leipzig in July but he is starting to look at home in the English game.His creativity is likely to be crucial, given that Liverpool have been short of such a player following the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January and because of the long-term knee injury suffered by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in April.– Keita makes his case –last_img read more

Champions rise above the rim in 40th All-Star Classic

Champions rise above the rim in 40th All-Star Classic

first_imgSTARS NIGHT OUT—Dallas Maverick NBA superstar DeJaun Blair, home for a rest and visit following NBA playoffs, with Champions CEO Bill Neal and former NBA Star Myron Brown.There was no shortage of star power, future and past, at the 40th Annual Champions All-Star Basketball Classic, recently held at the Thelma Lovette Centre Avenue YMCA, in the Hill District. The All Star hoops classic featured the top middle school boys teams in the area, the Pittsburgh Bullits vs. the Carnegie Crusaders, and The Myron Brown led Champions Legends vs. The Pittsburgh Job Corps. The 200 plus crowd was treated to classic basketball, future stars, current pros, line dancing, vendors and educational pep talkers presented by former football legend and coach Ron Graham.Special thanks goes to co-sponsors the Centre Avenue YMCA, Highmark, Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Judge Dwayne Woodruff, Penn Avenue McDonald’s, Myron Brown, Marcus Robinson and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity alumni.PITTSBURGH BULLIT star and owner Marcus Robinson teams up with former pro Myron Brown.PITTSBURGH CITY LEAGUE BOYS set to jump ball in middle school tournament.FUTURE STAR in action sharing the skills yet to come at the next level.PLAYING TOUGH DEFENSE—Former European pro star and Connie Hawkins League MVP Warren Wilson D’s up on the Pittsburgh Job Corps. team coached by Debbie Coleman.THE KINGS from Penn Hills representing the WPIAL set to get it on!last_img read more

Gopal Challenges Beck for Senate Seat

Gopal Challenges Beck for Senate Seat

first_img“It’s time for a change,” he said.Beck this week released a statement where she was quick to counterpunch against the prospective opponent.She called Gopal “Camden County’s hand-picked candidate,” looking to link the Monmouth County Democrat to the Norcross South Jersey Democratic machine, which has provided financial support for some Monmouth County races in the past.Beck continued by alleging Gopal had “decided that the only path to victory is to try and discredit his opponent rather than speaking about his accomplishments.”Gopal was planning to resign as county chair effective Thursday at noon. Vice Chair woman Mary Forster, Middletown, will step up and serve as acting county chair until a county convention can be convened to name Gopal’s replacement, he said. The 11th District has Allenhurst, Asbury Park, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold Borough and Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbour, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean, Red Bank, Shrewsbury Borough and Township, Tinton Falls and West Long Branch.Monmouth County has largely remained solidly Republican for its state legislators for years, with an occasional Democratic victory. With the most redistricting completed in 2011, the district skews more Democratic with such strongholds as Red Bank, Long Branch and Asbury Park, but Republicans had been able to continue to secure the two Assembly seats and Senate seat in Trenton. That is until November 2015, when an influx of cash and an indifferent GOP campaign caught the Republicans flat-footed, with Democratic challengers Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey ousting Assembly-women Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande. After years of building, his business ventures have reached a point where he can step back and concentrate on his own political campaign, Gopal said.Gopal made an unsuccessful run for the Assembly in 2011.Gopal criticized Beck for lack of progress, even with eight years of a Republican governor. He also chided the incumbent for flip-flopping on a variety of issues during her legislative tenure. “I think she’s been on both sides of nearly every issue,” he charged, pointing to Beck’s views on different property tax relief proposals and gay marriage. With the end of Republican Chris Christie’s increasingly unpopular gubernatorial term this year and a wide-open Governor’s race, Democrats suspect there is opportunity to increase their legislative majority and take additional seats in deeply red Monmouth County.And while he is an entrenched party voice (but is genuinely liked by many Republicans) Gopal said this week “I’ll tell you I’ll go there (Trenton) and be an independent voice of the people of the 11th District.”center_img Gopal said there have been a handful of candidates who’ve expressed an interest in taking the reins, though he declined to name them.There were two other Democrats who were considering seeking the 11th District nomination, who Gopal said, now voice support for his campaign.Gopal has been critical of Monmouth County Republican Chairman Shaun Golden for holding the party position as well as serving as county sheriff, an elected position. Gopal charged that Golden holding both jobs opens the door to ethical conflicts of interest. “And I’m not going to be hypocritical,” leading to his stepping down as the county party head. By John BurtonTwo days into the new year and political attention is turning toward the coming political races, with county Democratic chair Vin Gopal announcing his intention to take on Republican Senator Jennifer Beck.Gopal on Monday fired the first salvo in the race for the 11th Legislative District with his announcement to run for the party’s nomination for the Senate seat.“I really think I bring a different set of eyes to some of the problems we’re facing in Trenton,” Gopal said this week.He hopes to challenge Beck, 50, a Red Bank resident who has been in the Senate since 2008, having served one two-year term in the Assembly.Gopal is a 31-year-old Long Branch resident who has been the county Democratic chair since 2012. He owns and operates Direct Development, a Hazlet-based marketing, public relations and business development firm. In addition, Gopal publishes Community Magazine, a free publication which is distributed to approximately 30,000 homes around Monmouth County. He has been a board of director’s member for the Monmouth County Chamber of Commerce. He also has established a not-for-profit organization that assists local charities.last_img read more