Big Match

Klopp ignores 'banana skin'

PHOTO: REUTERS
PHOTO: REUTERS

While he warns Reds not to be overconfident, he brushes off Solskjaer's 'mind games'

LONDON • The talk in the British media ahead of the big Premier League clash today has mostly been about how Liverpool will swat aside a misfiring Manchester United, but Jurgen Klopp believes that could be creating a potential "banana skin" for his team at Old Trafford.

The Reds top the table with eight wins from as many matches, and will equal Manchester City's record of 18 league victories in a row with a triumph today.

United, meanwhile, have made their worst start to a campaign in 30 years having collected only nine points and scoring just nine goals compared to Liverpool's 20.

The poor form of United's players prompted Sky Sports pundit and former City defender Danny Mills to exclude them entirely from a "Best combined XI" ahead of the match, but Klopp rejected such talk.

"On Sky when you made a combined line-up and had 11 Liverpool players... that's like a joke. It's building a banana skin, that's what everyone wants to see," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

"The world at the moment is a circus, we're in the centre. A couple of people want us to win and a couple of people want us to lose... I'm not influenced by it. I'm 100 per cent aware of the strength of Manchester United."

The German also dismissed the "mind games" used by United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who called on his players to rise to the challenge of facing Liverpool, citing it as the "perfect game" to motivate his struggling side.

FOCUS TO WIN

It's building a banana skin, that's what everyone wants to see. The world at the moment is a circus, we're in the centre... I'm not influenced by it.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, rejecting talk of his team's dominance.

"They said it - we are the perfect opponent. But I don't think there are too many teams who want to play against us at the moment. It looks like Man United are the only one," he said.

"They are in a situation that they don't like and they want to change it. We just have to make sure that if they want to change it, they start a week later and that's all.

"I would do the same if the situation was the other way around. This is the game we can change the world, that is the way I would prepare it. That's how all these (mind) games are played. No problem with that."

He will be wary, however, having not won at Old Trafford - drawing three and losing once - in his managerial career since he joined Liverpool in 2015.

The 52-year-old delivered a firm message to his side, urging them to be "very, very lively" today to clinch a win.

"We have to be as emotional as allowed, we have to be fluent, we have to be very clear in a lot of moments and we have to respect their strength. That's what we do," he added.

United will be without the injured midfielder Paul Pogba and goalkeeper David de Gea, while Anthony Martial and Aaron Wan-Bissaka remain doubtful.

And Klopp expects the Red Devils to improve once they get a number of key players back.

"They had a lot of injuries," he added. "A number of really decisive players for them. No one can play the same football when five or six first-team players are out. That will change."

By contrast, Liverpool could head to Old Trafford with a clean bill of health, with goalkeeper Alisson Becker set to return for the first time since the opening weekend of the season, while Joel Matip and Mohamed Salah have recovered from knocks.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 20, 2019, with the headline 'Klopp ignores 'banana skin''. Print Edition | Subscribe