The Big Match

Football: Liverpool must be brave for Manchester City wave of attacks

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (right) and Roberto Firmino, together with Sadio Mane (not pictured), will need to step up for the Reds' attack today if they hope to end Manchester City's unbeaten streak in the Premier League.
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (right) and Roberto Firmino, together with Sadio Mane (not pictured), will need to step up for the Reds' attack today if they hope to end Manchester City's unbeaten streak in the Premier League.PHOTO: REUTERS

Klopp says courage the key as Reds hope City extend their 15-year winless record at Anfield

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp has challenged his men to be brave as Liverpool look to end Manchester City's unbeaten run in the Premier League today.

City's visit to Anfield represents Liverpool's first game since the £142 million (S$257.8 million) departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona and it offers the Reds a chance to show they can cope without the playmaker.

"It's interesting to play against City. They play really good and if you don't respect that, you have a problem," said Klopp.

"But if you are not brave in your game, you will also have a problem. You need to show up.

"In a game like this you need to show you can cause them more problems than other teams and make their life difficult."

Klopp no longer has a "Fab Four" but his three remaining big hitters - Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane - will ensure the Reds can threaten to derail the leaders. Still, the Liverpool manager, who boasts five victories against City boss Pep Guardiola - more than any other manager, knows it will not be easy to open up City's defence.

"The biggest strength of Manchester City is their tactical discipline. What they do, they do fantastic," added the German. "The only problem is they have world-class players in each of those positions."

  • HOW LIVERPOOL CAN INFLICT FIRST DEFEAT ON CITY

  • 1) ATTACK THE LEFT-BACK

    Despite Benjamin Mendy’s long-term absence, few teams
    have attacked City’s weakest link – left-back. Liverpool,
    and in particular Mohamed Salah, have to do it, especially if
    central midfielder Fabian Delph returns from a muscle
    injury to take up that position in his makeshift role.

  • 2) WIN MIDFIELD BATTLES

    Liverpool have won the ball in the centre more than any
    other team and they need to stop City from passing their
    way through midfield – by matching City’s high-intensity
    and press high, forcing them to play long balls.

  • 3) USE PACE

    City have been forced into errors by speedsters like Crystal
    Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Manchester United’s Marcus
    Rashford. While City centre-back Nicolas Otamendi has
    improved, the Reds have three pacey forwards in Salah,
    Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, who can be a threat in
    attacking transition plays and expose his lack of pace.

That is one reason why Guardiola's side have turned the title race into a lengthy coronation party, powering 15 points clear of second-placed Manchester United and 18 ahead of fourth-placed Liverpool.

If unbeaten City can leave Anfield unscathed, they will have only 15 more matches in which to avoid defeat as they aim to emulate the achievements of Arsenal in 2003-04 and Preston in 1888-89, who both went an entire top-flight season without losing.

City, still in the hunt for four trophies this term, could also become the first team to win a top-flight match at Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in the same season since Wimbledon in 1986-87.

But to do that City must end their wretched run at Anfield, where they are without a win since 2003, a run of 16 matches in all competitions.

Liverpool are also unbeaten at home this season, where they have conceded just four goals - the fewest in the top flight. And they are enjoying their best run under Klopp. Since losing to Tottenham on Oct 22, Liverpool are unbeaten in 17 matches in all competitions and 13 in the league.

Asked about City's Anfield curse, Guardiola said: "I don't believe in these kind of things, but of course the last time City won was 15 years ago, so it means it is difficult and complicated to play there. But records are always there to be broken."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 14, 2018, with the headline ''Be brave for City wave''. Print Edition | Subscribe