Ahead of Liverpool’s match with Manchester City this weekend, manager Jürgen Klopp was asked to speak on City’s phenomenon at striker — Erling Haaland — who has scored 20 goals in 13 matches.
Klopp was careful to stress that Haaland poses a challenge specifically because he’s not City’s only threat:
[Haaland is] probably best striker in the world so we have to make sure he doesn’t get many balls. That’s what we will try. Against City is if you close Haaland down with too many players you open up gaps for all the other world-class players. Doesn’t make life easier.
Further, to Klopp his threat for Liverpool specifically comes in his awareness of things like where the high line will be set:
He has the combination of being pretty physical and technical. He knows where the offsides are, reads it well. So many things to make a striker, and at City has some of the best players around him setting up goals. It’s a perfect fit.
His finishing skills are exceptional but he moves really smart. You can only use speed if you use it in a smart way. His whole package makes it special.
The Liverpool manager also pointed out that we’ve played against Haaland before — and not just in the Community Shield, where he failed to score:
Salzburg, we played them. What is it about him? Even when he was very young you could see the potential. I don’t think he started at Anfield but we were already pretty busy thinking about him and how to close him down. He scored anyway!
Erling Haaland — and the rest of the City side — will be a big challenge for a Liverpool side that continues the pattern of conceding first.