Can Klopp plug holes in de­fence?

Cape Times - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Liver­pool and Manch­ester United’s globe-trot­ting squads must shake off the ef­fects of in­ter­na­tional duty for one of English foot­ball’s most ea­gerly-an­tic­i­pated clashes to­mor­row.

Ac­cord­ing to Sky Sports their play­ers clocked up 222 000km tak­ing part in World Cup qual­i­fiers since the last Premier League ac­tion, but all roads lead to An­field as the English top flight re­sumes after a two-week hia­tus with a po­ten­tial cracker.

The stop­page was badly-timed for United who won their last three Premier League games with nine goals scored and none con­ceded, al­beit against sides in the lower half of the ta­ble.

Jose Mour­inho’s side, joint lead­ers on 19 points from seven games with Manch­ester City, will hope to con­tinue that mo­men­tum in what will be their big­gest test of the sea­son to date.

Liver­pool’s form has been less im­pres­sive and Jur­gen Klopp’s side, be­set by de­fen­sive prob­lems, are seven points off the sear­ing pace be­ing set by the two Manch­ester ri­vals.

They are also with­out a Premier League vic­tory over bit­ter ad­ver­saries United in their last six meet­ings, but Mour­inho says re­cent his­tory will have no bear­ing.

“These kind of matches, every sin­gle mo­ment plays a part,” Mour­inho told Sky Sports.

“We are play­ing against a good team with very good play­ers. Form doesn’t mat­ter, the mo­ment doesn’t mat­ter. It’s a match of three points.”

United will be miss­ing mid­fielder Marouane Fel­laini, who hurt his knee play­ing for Bel­gium against Bos­nia, while Paul Pogba is still out with an in­jury.

Liver­pool have a po­ten­tially more sig­nif­i­cant ab­sen­tee, how­ever, with for­ward Sa­dio Mane fac­ing a six-week lay­off after in­jur­ing his ham­string rep­re­sent­ing Sene­gal.

City, who have built up a goal dif­fer­ence of plus-20 dur­ing a stun­ning start to the cam­paign, host Stoke City with striker Ser­gio Aguero pos­si­bly in con­tention for a squad place after re­cov­er­ing from in­jur­ing his ribs in a car ac­ci­dent last month.

Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, in third place, will at­tempt to lay their Wem­b­ley jinx in the league at the fourth time of ask­ing as they host Bournemouth, while fourth-placed cham­pi­ons Chelsea, beaten by City be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break, visit Crys­tal Palace.

Tooth­less Palace are the first top-flight side to lose their open­ing seven games since Portsmouth in 2009 and the first in 129 years of the Foot­ball League to do so with­out scor­ing.

Fifth-placed Ar­se­nal are at Wat­ford, while Burn­ley, so far in sixth, will fancy their chances of when they tackle West Ham at Turf Moor.

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has leapfrogged Ever­ton’s Ronald Koe­man as favourite to be the next man­age­rial ca­su­alty after his side’s woe­ful start.

Koe­man’s side travel to Brighton on Sun­day.

JUR­GEN KLOPP: Liver­pool seven points off the pace

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