Liverpool look to sign off in style as Vardy hunts record

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp (C) attends a training session at Melwood in Liverpool. (AFP)
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Updated 13 December 2019

Liverpool look to sign off in style as Vardy hunts record

  • Jurgen Klopp’s men are eight points clear of their nearest pursuers

LONDON: Liverpool will seek to sign off their pre-Christmas Premier League duties in style against their whipping boys Watford this weekend while Leicester attempt to stay in touch before a summit meeting later this month.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are eight points clear of their nearest pursuers as they prepare to jet out to Qatar for the Club World Cup. On Friday, Klopp agreed a contract extension with Liverpool until 2024. 

“For me personally this is a statement of intent, one which is built on my knowledge of what we as a partnership have achieved so far and what is still there for us to achieve,” the 52-year-old Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.

“When I see the development of the club and the collaborative work that continues to take place, I feel my contribution can only grow.”

Meanwhile, Watford, with new manager Nigel Pearson at the helm, will not be relishing the trip to Anfield, where they have lost 6-1, 5-0 and 5-0 on their past three visits.

Pep Guardiola takes his stumbling Manchester City team to face Arsenal while Manchester United look to keep up their push for a top-four spot at home to Everton.

Jamie Vardy, who turns 33 next month, is out on his own at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts, with 16 goals in 16 games.

Those goals have helped Leicester win a club-record eight consecutive top-flight matches by an aggregate score of 25-3. The former England man has struck in all of those victories.

In an ordinary season, Brendan Rodgers’ side might be top of the league but they are doggedly pursuing a Liverpool team who have won 15 of their 16 games.

If Vardy nets against Norwich and Manchester City in Leicester’s next two games, he would give himself the chance to equal his own Premier League record of goals in 11 straight games against Liverpool on Dec. 26.

Vardy says he is more concerned about results for the team than finding the back of the net.

“I’m obviously over the moon,” said the forward, referring to his goalscoring record this season. “But first and foremost, the points are for Leicester.”

Frank Lampard is desperate not to squander the good work he has done with his young side in the early months of the season but is weighing up where he can strengthen now he is able to sign players in January.

The club’s FIFA-imposed transfer ban following violations in the recruitment of minors, was reduced on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last week.


Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

Updated 52 sec ago

Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

  • The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match

PARIS: Serena Williams suffered another blow in her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title as the American withdrew from the French Open on Wednesday with an Achilles injury, while 12-time champion Rafael Nadal raced into the third round.

The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match against Tsvetana Pironkova citing the injury that prompted her to skip the Rome tuneup event.

“The Achilles didn't have enough time to heal after the US Open,” said Williams, who admitted last week she was not fully fit after her run to the semifinals in New York.

“I'm struggling to walk, so that's kind of a telltale sign that I should try to recover.”

The injury likely means she will miss the rest of 2020, leaving the Australian Open in 2021 as her next chance to equal Margaret Court's all-time majors record.

Nadal looked in ominous form as he stepped up his pursuit of Roger Federer's 20 major titles with a crushing win over 236th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald.

The Spaniard batted aside McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in exactly 100 minutes and will meet Japan's Kei Nishikori or Stefano Travaglia of Italy for a spot in the last 16.

“The aim was to play as well as possible. I'm very happy. I have another difficult match next,” said Nadal. The 34-year-old needs one more major to pull level with long-time rival Federer and owns an astonishing 95-2 record in Paris going back to his triumph on debut in 2005.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem swept into the third round with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) victory over American qualifier Jack Sock, saving three set points to close out the match.

The Austrian third seed will play Norway's Casper Ruud, seeded 28th, or American Tommy Paul for a place in the last 16.

“I'm very happy with my game in the first two rounds. It was not an easy draw at all and I'm very happy not to drop a set,” said Thiem, who defeated 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic in round one.

Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens had to be taken off court in a wheelchair after a fiery win over former finalist Sara Errani.

Bertens triumphed 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 9-7 in a three-hour 11-minute clash which left her in cramps and Italian Errani screaming an obscenity as she left the court.

"After one hour, she's injured but then she's running around like never before," said Errani.

"She leaves the court in a chair and now she's in the locker room and eating in the restaurant, perfect. She exaggerated."

Bertens is due to meet Katerina Siniakova next while Elina Svitolina overcame Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

The Ukrainian third seed is coming off a title at Strasbourg last week and will next play Russian 27th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, but was briefly taken aback by a sonic boom.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open winner, followed up his demolition of Andy Murray with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 defeat of Germany's Dominik Koepfer.

Sebastian Korda, the son of 1992 Roland Garros runner-up and 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, also progressed after a four-sets victory over fellow American John Isner.