While it was disappointing for Liverpool to lose their first game back after the World Cup, there are few lessons to be drawn from a narrow defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup, and the main focus was always on the first game back in the league this month.
On that front, Aston Villa poses the real challenge for Jürgen Klopp—and it’s a challenge in part because they have a new manager who’s had the World Cup break to work on his side. Klopp, though, thinks he can have some idea what to expect from Unai Emery.
“I think what you can expect is that Unai stands for a specific kind of football and he was really successful and did an incredible job at Villarreal,” Klopp noted. “What you saw in the first few games they played, it looks quite similar because it is a good way to play.
“It’s his way and it’s how he wants to organise a team. So, yes of course we don’t know exactly what to expect, like you never know exactly what to expect, but at least we have an idea how they will try to cause us problems. So, that’s what now we will prepare for.”
Emery has also had spells at Arsenal and Sevilla, making the manager’s approach to the game a fairly known one—and one that has met a lot of success with historically mid-table sides trying to challenge for the European places and then to challenge in Europe.
It’s not just the one game Klopp and Liverpool have been preparing for, though—it’s the restart generally. And on that front, Klopp says he’s liked what he’s seen from his players over the past few weeks and has high hopes that the season can be got back on track.
“All the players who are back from the World Cup now and look really on it so we are really looking forward to what is coming up but we know it is intense,” the Liverpool manager added ahead of the match. “There are never guarantees out there but that’s how it is.”
“We obviously left a gap between us and the much more exciting spots in the table, but we consider ourselves in the moment within punching distance and that means we have to chase and that’s what we will do. We are really looking forward to what is coming up.”