The best writing, art, and design in the football world is here just in time to get you excited about the electrifying months ahead in the 2018/19 season, and the knockout rounds of The Champions League and much more.
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In this issue, you’ll see that we have devoted 23 pages to Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool. His vitality and passion are oxygen to the Kop faithful; his impulsive sprint onto the pitch to embrace his goalkeeper after a fluke, 96th-minute winning goal in last December’s Merseyside derby said “I love football” as much as “We won!” He may have incensed purists, but his unbridled joy reinforced the idea that Liverpool can become the champions for the first time in the Premier League era.Klopp was named Liverpool manager—as Raphael Honigstein recounts—in 2015, after rebuffing an approach three years earlier. In 2014, “The Ordinary One” had also been wooed by Manchester United, but so lame was Ed Woodward’s sales pitch that Klopp called the executive vice-chairman’s vision very “unsexy”.
On our cover, we’re highlighting a Liverpool player who is amazingly underrated: Roberto Firmino. Liverpool’s No. 9 is more of a deep-lying center forward than the traditional model. Klopp calls him “the engine of the team.” When talking to the dazzling Brazilian, our writer, Paolo Bandini, found him to be more concerned about others’ well being than his own, a rare quality among Premier League strikers.
As we enter the business end of the Premier League season, Liverpool share the top of the table with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. His team are playing the best football ever seen in England— not even the 2003-04 “Invincibles” were this good. To avoid bias, however, we invited Will Frears, an Arsenal supporter, to present a contrarian view. Let’s just say that he isn’t exactly enamored of Mr. Guardiola’s shtick.And talking of the Gunners, Unai Emery’s remarkable start as Arsenal’s manager has their long-suffering fans dreaming again of glory. Writer-at-large David Hirshey ended a four-year self-imposed exile from The Emirates stadium, having grown tired of the anger and the constant calling for former gaffer Arsène Wenger’s head on a plate (“Call me crazy but I thought football was supposed to be fun”). Hirshey wanted to see for himself if the Gunners could actually entertain their fans and play to win. His dispatch, a hilarious roller-coaster ride around North London, is punctuated with a cast of characters worthy of Dickens.
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Click here for a free preview of Issue 14!