Manchester City v Liverpool, Etihad Stadium, 12.30pm, BT Sport 1
Jürgen Klopp has admitted Liverpool’s inconsistency means he does not know which “face” his team will show at Manchester City on Saturday.
Liverpool play City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their next three games in what Klopp has described as a defining period for their prospects of a top-four finish. Klopp believes Pep Guardiola will rightly expect to confront a Liverpool side in top form, and they boast the best record of the current top six in matches against each other this season.
But the Liverpool manager conceded there were no certainties from his team, who followed a 7-0 humiliation of Manchester United with a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth, and said they were “100 per cent guilty” for their league predicament.
“I would love to say: ‘How can you ask this question?’” Klopp said. “But that is the situation we brought ourselves in. That’s the situation we brought ourselves in, that we showed all these kinds of faces. All the talks we had, all the sessions we had, and since we started this week again when the players came back and I spoke to them, everything looks like it goes in the right direction and now we have to show it. And, yes, in this moment nobody can be 100 per cent sure we will be like that but usually we are there and that’s what we will be tomorrow.”
Liverpool trail the Premier League champions by 19 points having won only one point fewer than City over the past four seasons. Klopp believes this season’s divide is an anomaly but that Liverpool have only themselves to blame.
“We are 100 per cent guilty for everything but things happened like they happened,” he said. “We had injuries, and of course it’s completely normal for people to say: ‘That’s not good enough.’ But that’s b*llocks because of what happened in the years before. It doesn’t change overnight – you don’t lose all your brains and fitness. Things happen and you have to react, but it’s really difficult and the league is running away at that moment.
“The football part, we didn’t deal well enough with setbacks through the season. Then three weeks ago it looked like we were back. The [Real] Madrid game was a different competition, I would like to cut it off because it’s Madrid – yes we could have played better there but it’s Madrid and in the end it’s fair they went through. The Bournemouth game, is there a real explanation for it? The reaction after being 1-0 down is again bad.
“The games before we were not 1-0 down in so we could keep building on what we did. That’s something we have to change. If you can only perform when everything is going in your direction, then there’s absolutely no chance. Now we have just to prepare for this game, and not think about United or Bournemouth. It is Man City and they require our full attention and will get it.”
Klopp confirmed Luis Díaz would not be considered against City despite returning to training after a knee injury this week. The Colombia international could face Chelsea or, more likely, Arsenal. Darwin Núñez is fit after missing several days’ of training this week with an ankle problem that forced his withdrawal from international duty with Uruguay. − Guardian