Per­fect Pep-ara­tion stokes Klopp

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Liver­pool

Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp said he is rar­ing to re­new his ri­valry with Manch­ester City coun­ter­part Pep Guardi­ola af­ter the Reds fought back to beat Stoke City 4-1 in the Premier League on Tues­day.

The Merseysiders moved back above City into se­cond spot, and to within six points of leader Chelsea, af­ter earn­ing their third straight win and main­tain­ing their un­beaten streak at An­field this sea­son.

The vic­tory, se­cured by goals from Adam Lal­lana, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Stur­ridge and a Gian­nelli Im­bula own goal, pre­pared Liver­pool per­fectly for its New Year’s Eve home clash with City, whose man­ager Guardi­ola was a spec­ta­tor at An­field.

Klopp was Guardi­ola’s main do­mes­tic when they were in charge of Borus­sia Dort­mund and Bay­ern Mu­nich re­spec­tively in the Bun­desliga.

“I’m not sure whether he watched a lot of games in the last few weeks in other sta­di­ums. That is the first sign it is a spe­cial game,” Klopp said.

He joked it can be dif­fi­cult to see op­po­si­tion teams in ac­tion be­cause the Premier League’s su­per­star man­agers risk spend more time sign­ing au­to­graphs than watch­ing matches.

“I re­spect them a lot also but I have not been at their sta­dium this sea­son. Maybe he just wants to watch good foot­ball,” Klopp quipped.

“It’s a dif­fi­cult game for both teams but ex­cit­ing ... and the best thing is it’s at An­field. They are an outstanding side and we are not too bad.”

Liver­pool has won eight and drawn two of 10 matches at home this sea­son and has not lost in front of the Kop in 23 games since Jan­uary.

City faces a daunt­ing task, but Stoke — the last vis­i­tor to win at An­field — looked like it could spring a sur­prise af­ter Jonathan Wal­ters gave the Pot­ters the lead in the 12th minute.

Lal­lana equal­ized and Firmino’s fine strike be­fore half­time made it 2-1 be­fore Liver­pool ran away with the match in the se­cond pe­riod.

Brazil­ian Firmino’s goal, his sixth of the sea­son, came three days af­ter he was ar­rested and charged for im­paired driv­ing in Liver­pool.

How­ever, Klopp said there had been no prospect of the 25-year-old be­ing dropped.

“No, be­cause he was the best man in train­ing so there was no chance to leave him out. No chance. He was outstanding,” he said.

‘We can do bet­ter’

There were im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tions from Sa­dio Mane, who forced Im­bula into turn­ing into his own net, and Stur­ridge, who came off the bench and sec­onds later scored his first goal of the sea­son.

Reds cap­tain Jor­dan Hen­der­son was also ex­cel­lent, but Klopp said it was “not the mo­ment” to shower praise on in­di­vid­u­als.

“I don’t think they need it. In this mo­ment they are all happy about the team per­for­mance, the re­sult, about the goals we scored,” the man­ager said.

“If we speak about one player we speak al­ways about the past, but I am al­ready think­ing about the next game and hope­fully we can do bet­ter.”

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has never won at An­field as a man­ager and the for­mer Manch­ester United and Ever­ton striker rued de­fen­sive er­rors that con­trib­uted to his team’s down­fall.

“We de­servedly took the lead. The dis­ap­point­ment is that we al­lowed them back into the game just be­fore half­time.

“We went in 2-1 down feel­ing a lit­tle bit hard done by,” added Hughes, whose team is win­less in four matches and goes to Chelsea next.

“We made a cou­ple of in­di­vid­ual er­rors again for the next two goals and it was very dif­fi­cult to come back.

“Be­cause of in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive er­rors we have been beaten by four goals, which is a lit­tle bit un­fair on us.”

It’s a dif­fi­cult game for both teams but ex­cit­ing ... and the best thing is it’s at An­field. They are an outstanding side and we are not too bad.” Jur­gen Klopp, on the New Year’s Eve clash with Manch­ester City


Adam Lal­lana reels away in cel­e­bra­tion af­ter net­ting Liver­pool’s first goal against Stoke City dur­ing their English Premier League match at An­field on Tues­day. The Reds won 4-1 to leapfrog Manch­ester City into se­cond spot in the stand­ings.

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