The Big Match

Football: From unlucky to lucky 7?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be counting on Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho to produce the goods against a rampant Manchester United, who have yet to lose this season.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be counting on Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho to produce the goods against a rampant Manchester United, who have yet to lose this season.PHOTO: REUTERS

Klopp hopes formbook gets thrown out of window in EPL's most famous fixture

LONDON • Under-pressure Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is likely to dread seeing the No. 7 in recent times.

His team are currently seventh in the Premier League table with seven games played, seven points behind leaders Manchester City and Manchester United, and have won only once in the last seven games in all competitions.

However, ahead of the league clash at Anfield against United today, the German issued a defiant response to his critics in his pre-match conference yesterday.

"I don't think I'm perfect but it's difficult to find better options," the 50-year-old said, as reported by Sky Sports. "If 99 per cent of Liverpudlians think we're going the right way, then it's okay.

"The good old times where we dominate for 20 years will not come back either. Our job is to fight with every point.

"If they sacked me now, I don't think a lot of managers would do the job better. I am calm and cool with all the things we have still to do."

Klopp made it a point to criticise England manager Gareth Southgate for overusing midfielder Jordan Henderson during the recent World Cup qualifiers.

He was frustrated that Henderson played the full 90 minutes in England's matches against Slovenia and Lithuania.

Klopp was particularly unhappy with his selection for the fixture against Lithuania, which was played on an artificial pitch, because England's World Cup place was already secured.

Henderson has had to cope with a troublesome heel problem which saw him miss the final three months of last season, and Klopp fears the needless workload puts him at risk.

RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB

I don't think I'm perfect but it's difficult to find better options. If they sacked me now, I don't think a lot of managers would do the job better.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, feels that he can bring the glory days back to Anfield.

"I was not happy that Hendo was on the pitch to be honest, with all the problems he's had in the past," said Klopp.

"It made no sense. But we cannot be involved in this. They all make their own decisions. We watch it, we wait until they come back and we take what we get."

Klopp had already suffered a major blow over the international break with the loss of forward Sadio Mane for up to six weeks.

Mane suffered a hamstring injury in the 89th minute of Senegal's World Cup qualifying win over Cape Verde.

Klopp was, however, relieved to learn Brazil internationals Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino arrived back on Merseyside with no fitness problems.

Liverpool have not beaten United in their last six league meetings. However, Klopp has a good record against United manager Jose Mourinho.

He has locked horns with the Portuguese seven times dating back to when he was at Borussia Dortmund and Mourinho at Real Madrid.

Only once has he suffered a defeat and even on that occasion in April 2013, Dortmund still knocked Real out in the Champions League semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

Klopp has three wins to his name with three other games against Mourinho ending in draws.

"We know they have big quality but we are still positive," the Reds boss added.

"We look forward to it, it is one of the most special games in world football."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'From unlucky to Lucky 7?'. Print Edition | Subscribe