To beat City, Reds need to be brave in attack, says Klopp - GulfToday

To beat City, Reds need to be brave in attack, says Klopp

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Liverpool players at a practice session ahead of their all-important English Premier League summit clash against defending champions Manchester City on Sunday. Reuters

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said on Friday that his team must be brave in attack in addition to being perfect in defence if they are to beat defending Premier League champions Manchester City in Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at Anfield.

While League leaders Liverpool are unbeaten in 11 games this season and lead City by six points, the latter have won 11 of their last 12 away matches. Klopp’s side are also unbeaten in their last 43 league games at home.

The two teams were involved in a title race that went down to the final day last season, where City pipped Liverpool by one point, and Klopp said the rivalry was only getting “bigger and bigger”.

“In the last two years each game we play is the most decisive. Not one where anyone says ‘we can lose that’,” Klopp told reporters. “It’s a big game, two really good teams. The best news is that it’s at Anfield under the floodlights.

“Everything is on a plate, nobody hides anything. If you’re not brave against Man City you don’t have the chance of even a point. You have to create, but your positioning and protection must be perfect.

“It’s a lot, it’s an interesting game. We really try to adapt to what the opponent is doing and make sure they cannot do that. It can lead to other things, like you cannot be as creative, you cannot be as offensive.” Liverpool’s young full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson combined for 23 league assists last season and Klopp said their runs on the flanks were crucial to stretching and breaking down tight defences.

“Modern football now is like this, we need to be strong on the wings,” Klopp said. “The area around the goal is crowded, we need to find a way through.

“We try to use the skills of the two boys. They’re good crossers, lively, brave and very fit, endurance-wise. They can work the transitions and they’ve done well so far.”

Liverpool will face former player Raheem Sterling, who has already scored 18 goals for City and England since August, but Klopp said the 24-year-old was not the only threat.

No player bears the brunt of that bad blood more than Sterling on his return to Anfield.

Sterling shot to fame as a teenager in the 2013/14 season as a rollercoaster ride took Liverpool agonisingly close to ending their long wait to win a league title. Two years later, he left in acrimonious circumstances with Liverpool going backwards on the field and disputes over his contract off it.

Four-and-a-half years on, there is no doubt who got the better end of the £50 million deal that took him to City.

Sterling has flourished under Guardiola, becoming a vital part of City’s two title-winning campaigns in the last two seasons, while Liverpool’s wait for a league crown has now stretched to 30 years.

“All the credit is for him,” said Guardiola after Sterling’s recent Champions League hat-trick against Atalanta.

“His physicality is incredible. He’s strong the day after the game, he could play another game. He can play on both sides, is fast, defensively help us a lot, so is an extraordinary player.”

Sterling’s input at both ends of the field will be key if City are to somehow halt Liverpool’s momentum and inflict a first league defeat at Anfield for the hosts since April 2017.

“Raheem Sterling is always a big threat and he is always improving. He’s a fantastic footballer,” Klopp said.

“I can’t say anything bad about him, (he is) outstanding. He’s not the only threat unfortunately, that’s the problem we have.”

Klopp confirmed centre back Virgil van Dijk and midfielder Jordan Henderson were both fit but Joel Matip, Nathaniel Clyne and Xherdan Shaqiri are still out with injuries.

Meanwhile, Manchester City suffered a huge blow ahead of the match, with goalkeeper Ederson ruled out through injury.

The Brazilian international came off at half-time during Wednesday’s 1-1 Champions League draw at Atalanta with a muscular problem.

“He’s not able to play,” said City manager Pep Guardiola at his pre-match press conference.

City ended that game in Milan with right-back Kyle Walker in goal after Ederson’s replacement Claudio Bravo was sent off 10 minutes from time for bringing down Josip Ilicic outside his box.

Bravo endured an error-strewn first season in England back in 2016/17 when City finished third in the Premier League.

The Chilean has been replaced by Ederson as Guardiola’s first-choice stopper over the past two seasons as City have won the league.

However, Guardiola rejected suggestions that Bravo will be a liability at Anfield on Sunday.

“We have another top ‘keeper,” added Guardiola.

Agencies