Rafa Benitez and Jurgen Klopp in opposite dugouts for a top half clash in front of a 52,000 sell-out crowd in the premier league. If anybody had told me this 2 years ago I’d have asked for some of what they’ve been taking. On this weekend in 2015 we got hammered 6-1 at Man City (albeit in a game in which we could have scored about 5) which made it 0 wins from our first 9 fixtures. We had suffered Pardew, Carver and Mcclaren over the previous 12 months; it’s just so mental where we find ourselves here this weekend.
Last weekend’s naff result at Brighton was a set-back, but it’s nice to talk about a set-back that leaves us in a respectable 10th in the league for a change. A number of our first teamers underperformed last week and this will no doubt open the door to some changes. I’d expect some ruthless changes from Rafa after that last week as this is a big one.
When True Faith was invited into Rafa’s office to talk football last season, one thing was clear. The man HATES losing. More impotantly, the man REALLY HATES losing to his peers. He is so, so competitive and the games this season against the likes of Mourinho, Guardiola and Conté will mean everything to Rafa who constantly want’s to prove himself against the best. Jurgen Klopp is a different kind of prospect. He hasn’t quite got the CV of the others mentioned yet, but he sits as Liverpool manager and his success or lack of at Liverpool is just another factor which Rafa will want to measure himself against.
Klopp has been at Anfield for 2 years now and this is a big season for him. Questions are now being asked as to whether Liverpool are any better now than they were before he arrived. So far, from the outside looking in, they have the same problems with consistency and still look miles away from the top three that they so desperately wish to be a part of. That said they are anything but dull to watch.
Liverpool’s 6 league games this season have produces 23 goals. Only the Manchester teams have scored more goals than Liverpool this season; however it’s defensively where they’re making all the headlines. 11 goals conceded is the same as Bournemouth in 19th.
In contrast, only 3 teams in the league have conceded less than us. We can defend, they can’t. This should be a really interesting game for that reason. I have no idea what kind of team Rafa will pick as he will have been planning for this one since June. Each player will have very specific instructions and I’m really looking forward to seeing what is produced.
It’s easy to look at our defensive record and think we will be fine. However, a front three of Coutinho, Firmino and Salah with Sturridge and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench is a terrifying prospect for our budget defence. The key here is Rafa who, no matter which back four lines up for us, will have the lads absolutely drilled in everything they could throw at us. I think if everything goes our way we are capable of keeping a clean sheet if everyone is on their game for 90 minutes PLUS STOPPAGE. I have no worries about our ability to score goals in this game either so….
1 1 Because ‘everything going our way’ never happens. This would still be a great result.
SIMON CAMPBELL – Follow Simon on @simoncampbell11