Jurgen Klopp was under no illusions how well his Liverpool team would have to play to get a positive result away to Hoffenheim. Thankfully for all Reds fans, their team was up to the challenge. There was a bit of luck along the way in the first leg with Andrej Kramaric’s poor penalty miss and an own goal but Liverpool’s 2-1 win gives them a great chance of qualifying for the Champions League group stage. Liverpool must now maintain those levels during the second leg at Anfield because this Hoffenheim side are no pushovers.
It will be a case of friends reunited at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. Paul Clement was a key member of Jose Mourinho’s coaching staff during his first spell in charge at Chelsea and the two men share many similar views on how football should be played. After their master and apprentice relationship with Chelsea, Clement and Mourinho meet as equals for the first game of the Premier League’s second weekend.
There is Group 3 action at Newbury this weekend with the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. The ante post betting includes plenty of high quality horses to excite those who head to the course and those following along on TV. Frontiersman tops the early betting but Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old will have to be at his very best if Roger Varian’s Defoe takes part ahead of his likely appearance at the St Leger.
Justin Thomas brought the 2017 majors to a close by displaying a serious combination of grit and talent to win his maiden major championship at the US PGA Championship last week. This week it’s time for the Wyndham Championship to bring the regular PGA Tour season to a close. The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup rankings come Sunday evening will be entered into the first leg of the Playoffs, the Northern Trust. Everybody else will have to head to Tour School or find another way of keeping their card for next season.
Stoke away is probably the game that Aaron Ramsey looks forward to least every season. The Arsenal midfielder has become the focal point for the Potters fans’ ire ever since the fallout from having his leg broken by Ryan Shawcross in 2010. Back then, Arsene Wenger claimed that the horror tackle was the logical conclusion of the aggressive approach that Stoke and other teams routinely took against Arsenal. That was refuted by then Stoke manager Tony Pulis but the suggestion that Stoke were an unfair team to play against stuck and ultimately led to Pulis being replaced by Mark Hughes with hopes that the former Wales manager would get the team playing more attractive football. Things have changed for Stoke in Hughes’ tenure but their opening 1-0 defeat against Everton heaped more pressure on the shoulders of a manager who was criticised by his own supporters last season. Hughes and Stoke desperately need a big performance when Arsenal visit the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday but if you believe the bookies’ odds, Hughes’ position won’t be any stronger come Saturday night.