The options are few at Liverpool for those two center back positions. Injury and the strange case of Mamadou Sakho have paved the way for Ragnar Klavan to see more of the pitch than was perhaps intended upon his summer arrival. Joel Matip seemed to be on the verge of a return against Stoke City at the start of the week, but the new, fresh information says that the German, magical-mystery defender is a lock for a cozy seat in the stands when Manchester City visit Anfield on Saturday.
So, it’s Klavan again. And it’s weird, I know. The guy has done well, but months ago the very idea of an extended Klavan/Dejan Lovren partnership at the back would have brought a shiver of revolt. Now, we’re going into an incredibly important match against the Pep City powerhouse with exactly that partnership and no matter how well Klavan has been or how much Lovren has improved, the emotional emotions outside of the pitch towards those two will be turned up to eleven.
For Klavan, of course, he is a footballer who came to Liverpool for exactly the sort of opportunity he has ahead of him this weekend. Up against Manchester City, under the lights of the Anfield faithful, two of the world’s best managers standing on the touchline. And testing your style against one of the best strikers in the world in Sergio Aguero.
Peter Crouch was one thing. And Ragnar locked that threat down pretty well. But, Aguero with the spins and runs and shots and devastation, is quite a different problem.
“You don’t change the way you approach the game,” Klavan told the club’s official site.
“But of course you have to know what kind of striker you are up against. It’s a big difference if it’s Peter Crouch or Aguero. You are a little bit tuned in to that, but not too much.
“It’s the same for City, as well. We also have a really amazing front line.”
We do. And the worry is that the match turns into a tit-for-tat goal fest as both offenses punish out-of-shape defenses. Good for the neutral, sure. But, bad for Liverpool and City supporters, alike.
The team was able to pull it together after going one down against Stoke and much has been said of Liverpool’s in-game resiliency to adapt and turn a game. Against Manchester City, though? Klavan and the boys cannot afford to start sluggish.
“Manchester City have even more quality,” Klavan said, throwing shade at Mark Hughes’ men.
“If you are not in the game straight away, they can punish you. City are a really good side but we are as well and we play at home.”
Will this match be the biggest thing that Ragnar Klavan has yet experienced? I don’t know. But, yes.