Football: Liverpool boss Klopp positive despite injuries

Liverpool's Naby Keita going close with a shot against Burnley in their 3-1 win on Wednesday at Turf Moor. Manager Jurgen Klopp is pleased with his work rate and creativity.
Liverpool's Naby Keita going close with a shot against Burnley in their 3-1 win on Wednesday at Turf Moor. Manager Jurgen Klopp is pleased with his work rate and creativity.PHOTO: REUTERS

Klopp says Bournemouth are no pushovers but plans to carry on with squad rotation

LONDON • Liverpool can go top of the English Premier League table momentarily today with a win, but manager Jurgen Klopp has warned his depleted team that opponents Bournemouth are no pushovers.

The Reds are second on 39 points, two behind leaders and champions Manchester City, who play at Chelsea five hours later.

Ahead of the clash at seventh-placed Bournemouth, Klopp's squad are facing an injury crisis amid a hectic schedule.

Speaking at a pre-match conference yesterday, the manager said: "There's a big job to do. Bournemouth are in a good moment. They are full of confidence.

"To be first in the table would be nice but it would probably only last a few hours. I don't think City feel any pressure. Our first target is to perform at the highest level against Bournemouth."

He will be without Joe Gomez, who broke his leg on Wednesday during the 3-1 win over Burnley and will be out for at least six weeks.

Fellow defenders Dejan Lovren (concussion) and Nathaniel Clyne (long-term back injury) are also unavailable, while striker Dominic Solanke (groin) and forward Sadio Mane (foot) are doubts.

Klopp may also have questions about his team's strength in depth despite two league successes in four days. He made seven changes and was lucky with a come-from-behind win at Burnley.

There were good reasons for it even with a healthy squad. The match came hot on the heels of last Sunday's dramatic late 1-0 win over Everton - the start of a frenetic month that features home games against Napoli, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Yet Liverpool were second-best for the opening hour against a Burnley side who had been winless since Sept 30, and turned it around only when Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino came on.

Despite their struggles, Naby Keita's display at Turf Moor did give Klopp reason to be positive.

The Guinea midfielder's impact has been restricted by injury problems since his arrival from RB Leipzig in July but he is starting to look at home in the English game.

His creativity is likely to be crucial, given that the Reds have been short of such a player following the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona and because of the long-term knee injury suffered by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Keita not only showed he was willing to fight for the ball but also provided impetus once he got it, almost scoring with a shot that Joe Hart saved brilliantly.

Klopp, with the next few matches in mind, also explained his enforced rotation system yesterday.

"We needed fresh legs at Turf Moor. And we will need to do that in the next few weeks. It's clear we need all the boys. Burnley showed that," he said.

As a whole, though, Liverpool still lack the strength in depth of Manchester City. It raises the question as to whether they can afford to go full out for both the Champions League and the Premier League.

Failure to get the right result against Napoli in their vital final European group-stage game on Tuesday, and the answer will be clear.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2018, with the headline 'Reds boss positive despite injuries'. Print Edition | Subscribe