When a player faces a former club for the first time, it is natural that a lot of focus prior to the match surrounds the individual in question. Christian Benteke, however, isn't just any returning player.
Benteke was signed by Brendan Rodgers in 2015's summer transfer window for £32.5 million to become only second to Andy Carroll as the club's most expensive signing. The 25-year-old scored five goals against Liverpool in an Aston Villa shirt and now plays for a Crystal Palace side that has troubled the Reds in recent years.
Roberto Firmino is currently Klopp's preferred choice in attack with both Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi reduced to support roles. Danny Ings struggles to even make the matchday squad, and when he does when the entire starting line-up is rotated, he only makes the bench. Chances would have been extremely limited for Benteke—a player who was ill-suited to his old club's manager and teammates.
"The most funny thing for me in the whole summer was that everyone told me we needed to sign a new striker," Klopp said. "I was thinking: ‘what do they want?’ We have enough! There are a lot of good strikers here. It was clear that we couldn’t go into this season - without Europe - with all these boys. You have to make decisions in a specific moment.
"It’s never really nice because there’s a lot of expectation from both sides when you make a transfer like this. But in my job I can’t always be nice. I have to make a decision for the club and for the team. It wasn’t an easy decision but in the end I think it was right for all sides."
Crystal Palace rank first for crosses this season, some distance ahead of Liverpool in 14th spot. The Eagles' 264 crosses outstrips the Reds' 161 by a hundred-odd crosses, which in truth, should translate into far more opportunities for Benteke over an entire league campaign. The Belgian international has won more aerial duels than any other Premier League player and has scored his three league goals with his head.
A goal-shy Crystal Palace signed a striker with the quality that suits their style, Liverpool virtually recouped the entire transfer fee for an unsuitable player, and Benteke gained the opportunity to be a talisman for a side that will repeatedly attempt to exploit his strengths on the pitch. Right for all sides indeed.
Jürgen Klopp and Alan Pardew have each secured a victory over the other, but which manager will triumph in their third meeting in English football? Pardew expects Benteke to have something extra against his old club that could upset Liverpool's fine run of form. Klopp, however, will not be encountering new territory when it comes to former players facing his teams.
"Christian is a great player and a wonderful person," Klopp continued. "I have nothing bad to say about him. Unfortunately now he plays for Crystal Palace and now we have to face them. It will be really difficult. He has given them a real boost of quality.
"Will he feel like he has a point to prove? I have no idea. You would have to ask him. It’s not the first time in my life that I’ve played against a player who was in my team the previous season."
Ten goals in 42 appearances last season was decent, but combined with the lack of movement when Liverpool had the ball and wanted to win it back, it simply wasn't enough.