It’s derby day. Liverpool host Everton at Anfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup and Jürgen Klopp is bullish over the home crowd’s power to rally the Reds to victory on their trip to domestic silverware.
The manager is expecting a difficult match against the Merseyside Blues and a match that shouldn’t be see as an extension of the two teams’ last fixture that ended in a 1-1 draw.
“The schedule and the impact on both teams,” said Klopp, “allied with the fact that it’s likely but not certain that both starting line-ups will be different in some way, mean this game should be viewed in it’s own right, not a continuation of the league encounter.
“Sam will have his team focused with the highest of motivation for this. His players will be extremely hungry to end our involvement in this season’s FA Cup.”
The atmosphere inside Anfield is expected to be wild for this one. The winner progresses and the loser walks. There’s local pride and tribalism at play but, more importantly, both clubs will be dead set on moving closer to that shiny trophy at the end of this competition’s rainbow.
“Derby matches are wonderful, intense occasions at the best of times,” Klopp said, “but add in that this is in a knockout competition and under the lights so early in the New Year and that means both teams will recognise the importance and emotion involved with a game like this one.
“With such a big following coming from across the park, the atmosphere inside Anfield will be different as well. Their numbers are greater than for the league game, but I know that will only inspire our supporters even more for the job they have to do tonight.
“I think back to the Leicester game on the 30th and the away end at Turf Moor on the first of January and remembering the noise and encouragement the team got from our supporters sends a tingle down my spine.
“They gave our players the extra yard, the extra spring you need when facing the highest quality opposition, against the backdrop of a schedule designed to test every facet you have.
“Anfield needs no team talk tonight. It knows it can play it’s part in helping us get the job done. And for that we are always grateful.”