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Liverpool Will Have “No Excuses” At Sunderland

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Should fixture congestion follies be forgotten and never brought to mind?

Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Thanks to some slightly ludicrous scheduling on the part of the Premier League, Liverpool will travel to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light less than 48 hours after a draining contest against Manchester City at Anfield. It’s a situation about which manager Jürgen Klopp has voiced his displeasure, but it’s also one that Liverpool have known was coming since their rescheduling request was denied back in November of last year.

With Jordan Henderson having picked up an injury yesterday, and with a couple of key players in Philippe Coutinho and Joël Matip all but ruled out for tomorrow, Klopp has suggested that team selection for the visit to Sunderland will be driven in large part by the aftermath of Liverpool’s gritty victory over Pep Guardiola & Co. And as for actual preparations to face Sunderland? There isn’t going to be much time for any of it.

“I will wake up and watch Burnley-Sunderland,” said Klopp. “The other games, I already saw. Hopefully I will see some weaknesses and then I will make a line-up when the medical department gives me the opportunity to.”

Faced with an extremely brief turnaround and a scenario in which players will almost certainly struggle to be at their best, some managers might be tempted to downplay expectations. Klopp, however, was having none of it.

“If I have no choice, then the players who are fit will play,” noted the manager. “That’s how it is. No excuses for anybody. That’s how everybody obviously wants it and we have to deliver. And we will deliver.”

Sunderland, for their part, face a similar schedule crunch, having played Burnley at Turf Moor earlier on Saturday. Like Liverpool, David Moyes’ side have some injury issues to contend with: striker Victor Anichebe and defender Lamine Koné were both substituted having picked up knocks during their match, and they are unlikely to face the Reds. Both clubs will hope that tomorrow’s contest doesn’t claim any additional victims.