There’s a match coming up in a couple days against league leaders Manchester City who have if I may say been playing with a bit of Pep in their step. City are a thousand points clear at the top of the Premier League and haven’t showed too many signs of slowing down between now and May. It’s quite a points gap and not one that Liverpool have any hope of overcoming but that doesn’t mean Jürgen Klopp isn’t going to try and give Guardiola his first loss of the 17/18 season on Sunday.
This one’s not just about points. I mean, obviously, it is about points. In fact it’s only about points but allow me to whisk you away to a day not long passed. It was September 9th and it sucked pretty bad. Liverpool lost 5-0 to City at the Etihad, not only conceding those precious three points to the now run-away leaders but also setting in motion a period of sporadic success that saw Liverpool struggle to find their rhythm while City just went from strength to strength. So, this one’s not just about points. It’s about mettle and changing the narrative from the last match up. It’s about a new rivalry.
“We played there a few months ago,” Klopp reflected. “It was for me one of the stranger games in my life.
“We were really good in the game. Slightly better side, slightly better chances. Open game, both teams not fantastically defending but both on the front foot. Nice game.
“And then we had the red card that obviously changed the game. And maybe for Man City, the season.
“In a football way, I think we should try to clarify something. In a game like this you need to show that you can cause them problems, more problems than other teams do. Make their life difficult and try to win.”
Pep Guardiola has transformed Manchester City from a team of great players into a great team. The Spaniard has all his pistons firing and has his players bonded onto his footballing ethos. But since that fateful meeting in September, Liverpool have more than fine tuned their own engine and the players will have all the confidence and determination they need to right the wrongs of the Etihad debacle.
“The biggest strength of Manchester City is their tactical discipline,” said Klopp. “What they do they do. And they do it again and do it again and do it again. Offensive tactics plus defensive, counter pressing, stuff like that.
“The good thing is it’s not completely unpredictable. The only problem is they have in each position a world class player who can do the best he can in his position. You can defend it, of course, but it’s really difficult.
“Obviously, on a good day we have a really good level but we had a few days when we didn’t do that with the same consistency. Again and again and again.
“Until the City game I think we were pretty much level. And after that game we struggle a little bit and City didn’t. They used the momentum and we suffered a little bit. We got five (goals against) and lost a player early in the season.
“But since we found our way.”
Expect a right old game of football on Sunday featuring two of England most exciting, attacking teams. One of whom will surely end City’s amazing but overstayed unbeaten run.
“We know it’s possible,” Klopp said. “That’s why you play twice against each other so sometimes you get an opportunity to put things right.”