Big Match

Klopp wants angry reds

Jurgen Klopp wants his players to show aggression without going over the top when Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield tomorrow. But he faces a selection headache with key defenders Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold sidelined by
Jurgen Klopp wants his players to show aggression without going over the top when Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield tomorrow. But he faces a selection headache with key defenders Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold sidelined by injury.PHOTO: REUTERS

Liverpool boss rallies troops ahead of Anfield clash, Mourinho says it's trophies that matter

LONDON • Liverpool remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League this season and 16 points ahead of tomorrow's visitors Manchester United but Jurgen Klopp knows better than most that form often goes out of the window against their fierce rivals.

Down the years, the biggest game in English football has always been a tempestuous affair, notably in 2015, when then captain Steven Gerrard was sent off for a stamp on Ander Herrera just 38 seconds after coming on at half-time.

While referee Martin Atkinson will again be taking charge of the game and is sure to clamp down on any transgressions, Klopp wants his players to show aggression without going over the top.

At his pre-match press conference yesterday, the German said: "We have to be angry on Sunday and we will be. We will fight for those points on Sunday."

The 51-year-old knows how heated rivalries can get, having been in charge of Borussia Dortmund for their "Der Klassiker" matches against Bayern Munich.

He added: "It's a big one! It is a very important game and it is very special.

"When I was back in Germany, I tried everything I could to watch it. Very often, it was very intense. Now I'm here, it's always tight.

"In Europe, we were good against them and I don't remember bad results too much."

His opposite number Jose Mourinho sought to gain a psychological edge ahead of his side's trip, noting that it was trophies in the cabinet that counted, not plaudits for playing style.

While Klopp has won widespread praise for his brand of "heavy metal football", he has yet to achieve silverware in his three years on Merseyside.

He has also yet to get the better of United under Mourinho, having not beaten them since the 55-year-old took charge in 2016, drawing three times and losing once.

The Portuguese made a sly dig at his pre-match press conference, saying: "Trophies matter, it matters, especially when you have the potential to fight for trophies and especially when you clearly say the objective is to win the trophy.

"Jurgen told already they want to win the Premier League (title), (that) is their objective."

He also suggested that structural issues at Old Trafford were to blame for his United team being a long way from playing in his image.

But, while Mourinho claimed that United were far from "living in an amazing house" and will travel without the injured trio of Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof and Alexis Sanchez, Liverpool have problems of their own, too.

While their issues, unlike the Red Devils' deep-seated ones, are relatively short term, they will have a direct impact on Klopp's selection as Liverpool will be without three defenders, two of whom are usual starters.

Joel Matip joined Joe Gomez, already ruled out for six weeks with a fractured leg, on the sidelines after breaking his collarbone against Napoli in their Champions League win on Tuesday.

Klopp bemoaned the injury that Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered in the dying moments of that same match, calling it "not top-class news".

"It's our situation. Crisis is only a crisis if you feel it," he said.

"Trent is not as serious as the other two boys. It was unlucky as well, like with Joel."

While James Milner can fill in at right-back with Alexander-Arnold set to miss at least two games, Klopp hinted that forgotten man Nathaniel Clyne could be in line to make his first league appearance since May.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

LIVERPOOL V MANCHESTER UNITED

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2018, with the headline 'Klopp wants angry reds'. Print Edition | Subscribe