Football: Firmino, Mane set to return to Liverpool's starting lineup for Stoke clash

Liverpool's Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring a goal.
Liverpool's Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring a goal. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unfazed by the prospect of heading for a cold winter night in Stoke, as he called on the travelling support to provide his team with ammunition in the Premier League clash today.

"When we were at Stoke (2-1 win last season) the weather was good. This time it will be dark and probably windy," the German said of the match scheduled to kick off at 8pm at the bet365 Stadium.

"They're a good side with a fantastic manager - very experienced. Their team is experienced. They live for moments like this, home games and floodlight atmosphere. But we are not going there to suffer, we go there to get the points."

Klopp also suggested that last week's 3-3 Champions League draw at Sevilla after throwing away a 3-0 lead could have been avoided if Liverpool fans had shown better support like how they do at Anfield.

The 50-year-old added at his pre-match conference yesterday that he wants a "home" atmosphere at away games.

"Football only works when we all work together. You feel it. You can imagine, it's the difference. That's how it is for us. We can perform better when the atmosphere is there," he said, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.

When asked by reporters if Liverpool - who are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City - are still in the title race, Klopp said: "As long as City keep winning, then no one else has a chance. But I don't care about this at the moment. If anyone struggles, we need to be there."

The Liverpool manager has pledged to keep rotating Liverpool during the Premier League's most hectic period after leaving out some of his biggest names against Chelsea last Saturday.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were among those on the bench for the 1-1 draw, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner benefiting, while the in-form Mohamed Salah kept his place.

Klopp hinted that Firmino and Mane are likely to start today.

"Probably but they are not the only two. We had to make a few changes, this is the part of the season to use the strength of your squad. It is not completely unlikely that they will start," the German said.

Premier League top scorer Salah is in sparkling form, with 15 goals in his first 20 games for the club, but Stoke manager Mark Hughes has warned his team to be wary of the impressive array of Liverpool's attack and not just focus on the Egyptian forward.

"We are facing a player in Mohamed Salah who is clearly in the best form of his Liverpool career," he told reporters.

"He has real technical quality and crucially, pace. But we can't be overly concerned with one player though because they have match winners all over the pitch."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

STOKE V LIVERPOOL

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp wants 'home' atmosphere in away clash at Stoke'. Print Edition | Subscribe