Big Match

Hazard 'can be stopped'

Eden Hazard putting his angled shot into the far corner, having taken possession in central midfield and managing to overcome several challenges. The goal gave Chelsea a 2-1 League Cup win at Liverpool on Wednesday.
Eden Hazard putting his angled shot into the far corner, having taken possession in central midfield and managing to overcome several challenges. The goal gave Chelsea a 2-1 League Cup win at Liverpool on Wednesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Klopp says Reds must 'close the right spaces' to contain Blues star, van Dijk touch-and-go

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp has said Liverpool have a "duty" to strike back against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge today, following Wednesday's 2-1 League Cup home defeat by Maurizio Sarri's men.

"Striking back is a duty in sport, a big part of what I love," Klopp told reporters at his pre-match press conference yesterday.

"In a season, you always play twice. It's not easy to play a team in August and then say (later), 'Let's strike back because they beat us months ago' but, in three days, it is possible. Let's try."

Chelsea's wing wizard Eden Hazard came off the bench to score the winner in the third-round tie with a moment of individual brilliance.

Klopp, 51, insisted that the Belgian, who has six goals in seven games, can be stifled if the Reds "close the right spaces".

"I know exactly how good he is," said the German. "Eden Hazard is a special player, obviously, and he enjoys these one-on-one situations or one versus two or three situations. I didn't need that game to know about Eden, it was already clear before.

"We all know we could have defended that goal he scored.

QUICK RESPONSE

It's not easy to play a team in August and then say (later), 'Let's strike back because they beat us months ago' but, in three days, it is possible. Let's try.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, urging his team to strike back at Chelsea.

"Yes, he did well, but we had three challenges. We have to make sure we close the right spaces... No player is not defendable."

While Liverpool can establish a five-point gap over the team that ended their 100 per cent start to the season with victory tonight - which would maintain their perfect Premier League opening run - they might have to do so without their best centre-back Virgil van Dijk.

The world's most expensive defender at £75 million (S$134 million) missed the League Cup tie with a rib injury and his manager confirmed yesterday that he was touch-and-go for the clash between the two unbeaten sides.

"Virgil is a world-class player and, if you miss a world-class player, it's not cool. We can play without Virgil, but I prefer if we can (play him)," said Klopp.

"(Dejan) Lovren played his first game in 10 weeks (in the League Cup), (Joel) Matip, two games in a row, fantastic. If Virgil is fit, he plays. If not, then obviously we have options."

Klopp admitted that the table-toppers had to be more clinical than in their last outing at Anfield.

"Chelsea was an unbelievably interesting game, in the analysis as well. It was a really difficult task, but I was happy how we adapted in the game," he added. "We had the bigger chances, that's the good news but still we lost.

"The result is the most important thing, but the performance is pretty important. We have learnt a lot from that game.

"It was good, but we have to do better because Chelsea will make changes. Hazard will not play only 20 minutes, but give us a few questions over 95."

Klopp also downplayed rumours of a bust-up with the Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri, after the pair were pictured having a row following the Blues' win on Wednesday.

"German newspapers said I had an argument with him on the pitch. To make it clear, I didn't," he said, before telling the summer signing to "be completely free and just play football".

THE GUARDIAN

CHELSEA V LIVERPOOL

Singtel TV Ch102 & Ch227, tomorrow, 12.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'Hazard 'can be stopped''. Print Edition | Subscribe