Klopp eyes ‘spe­cial’ City clash af­ter Liver­pool sink Stoke

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp is look­ing for­ward to pit­ting his wits against Pep Guardi­ola again af­ter see­ing the Reds fight back to beat Stoke City 4-1 in the Pre­mier League yes­ter­day. The Reds moved back above Manch­ester City into sec­ond place in the ta­ble, and to within six points of lead­ers Chelsea, af­ter claim­ing their third con­sec­u­tive win and main­tain­ing their un­beaten record at An­field this sea­son. The win, se­cured thanks to goals by Adam Lal­lana, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Stur­ridge and a Gian­nelli Im­bula own goal, set Liver­pool up nicely for their New Year’s Eve home clash with City, whose man­ager was in the An­field crowd do­ing a spot of scout­ing. “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 and we are al­ready look­ing for­ward to it,” Klopp said.

The Ger­man-a direct ri­val of Guardi­ola’s when the pair were in charge of Borus­sia Dort­mund and Bay­ern Mu­nich re­spec­tively-ad­mit­ted that it can be dif­fi­cult to go to see op­po­si­tion teams in ac­tion th­ese days be­cause the Pre­mier League’s su­per­star man­agers risk spend­ing more time sign­ing au­to­graphs than ac­tu­ally watch­ing games.

“I re­spect them a lot also but I have not been at their sta­dium this sea­son. Maybe he just wants to watch good foot­ball,” he joked. “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 have won eight and drawn two of 10 games at An­field this sea­son and have not been beaten in front of their own fans in 23 games go­ing back to Jan­uary.

City can there­fore ex­pect to face a daunt­ing task but Stoke-the last vis­it­ing team to win at An­field-looked like they could spring a sur­prise af­ter Jonathan Wal­ters put them in front in the 12th minute. Lal­lana equalised and Firmino’s fine strike just be­fore half-time made it 21 be­fore Liver­pool ran away with the game in the sec­ond pe­riod. The Brazil­ian’s goal, his sixth of the sea­son, came three days af­ter he was ar­rested and charged for drink driv­ing in the cen­tre of Liver­pool, and Klopp said there had been no prospect of the player 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 the ball into his own net, and Stur­ridge, who came off the bench and sec­onds later had his first goal of the sea­son.

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,” he said. “If we speak about one player we speak al­ways about the past but I al­ready think about the next game and hope­fully we can do bet­ter.” Stoke boss Mark Hughes has still never won at An­field as a man­ager and he was left to rue 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 half-time. We went in 2-1 down feel­ing a lit­tle bit hard done by,” said Hughes.

“We made a cou­ple of in­di­vid­ual er­rors again for the next two goals and it was very dif­fi­cult to come back from that. Be­cause of in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive er­rors we have been beaten by four goals which is a lit­tle bit un­fair on us,” added Hughes, whose side are with­out a win in four and go to Chelsea next.

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