A central figure during the 228th Merseyside derby will be Jürgen Klopp and his passionate cajoling from the touchline. Klopp is fascinating to watch as he engages players, fans, and officials like a mad genius conductor of the day’s proceedings. Although Klopp does this in every game, his appetite for a contest becomes part of a managerial duel with his counterpart in big games.
Success in derbies is a quick way for a manager to endear himself to a club’s fans, but Klopp does not need to understand the importance of such games. For a manager who thrives on the connection between the club and the fans, his thoughts on local rivalries are hardly surprising.
“There are not too many other cities around the world with two clubs of this size and importance,” Klopp pointed out ahead of his third Merseyside derby. “I think I am not skilled in a lot of parts of life, but maybe I am a genius in understanding derbies because I didn't need a second to understand this.
“The world stops for 90 minutes in a city. Football is not the most important thing in the world but in a a few moments we love to think it is. In the stadium it's still our ground. I'd really love to show this fact. Be aggressive, but not too aggressive and fight for everything to try to make our supporters happy.”
Happiness for supporters will involve keeping the Premier League’s top scorer and March player of the month relatively quiet at Anfield. Romelu Lukaku may be in the final months of his Everton career, but the Belgian striker looks focused and hungry. The 23-year-old has been formidable in recent months, but Klopp is looking to curtail the striker’s influence while making home advantage count as much as possible.
“Lukaku is a really good striker,” Klopp admitted. “He has our respect. He needs passes, support from other players. How can we avoid this? My main thing. Everton is a good team. They had a really good run. Obviously confident. But we are Liverpool, we play at Anfield and nobody should underestimate the power of Anfield.”
A derby win at Anfield isn't about titivating a season in the slightest when there are loftier aspirations than just local bragging rights. Top four is the goal, and “the power of Anfield” can set the Reds up for a final flourish to secure Champions League football.