We take a look at the key news stories surrounding Liverpool from the day
Jurgen Klopp admitted that he was excited about the prospect of facing Manchester United, as Liverpool continued their preparation for their crunch clash on Sunday. The Reds will travel to Old Trafford as they look to continue their push for the title, but face a United side that have been in brilliant form over the last few games.
The Reds suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss to Southampton in midweek during the first leg of their EFL Cup quarter final, but Klopp feels that Liverpool have nothing to fear and that if they play their game, they can beat United.
“[I look forward to it] a lot. When I woke up this morning, I really thought about why I was [feeling] in good shape and then I realised, ‘Oh yes, only two days!’ It’s good, all good,” he said, according to the club’s official website. “Give me 11 players and we will be competitive.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to go there and show our best,” he continued. “Of course, both teams are – especially now in the long-term – on a good run and in good shape. Maybe United have a little bit less problems with injuries or whatever, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
Dejan Lovren also stressed that Liverpool needed to be mentally tough if they wanted to overcome Manchester United on Sunday, and feels that the Reds have come a long way since their Europa Cup victory over the Red Devils. Liverpool won the tie 3-1 on aggregate in Jurgen Klopp’s first season in charge and they will be hoping for more of the same.
There is no doubt that this will be a game in which emotions will be high and both teams will be looking to prove a point. However, Lovren feels that their mentality will be the most important thing come match day and thinks that everyone will be willing to fight in a match of such magnitude, and that Klopp is a big part of this.
“[Since] last season, we learned something new every day from the manager, his ideas,” said Lovren, according to the club’s official website. “It’s almost the same squad today, maybe a few players changed, but I would say [with] the same mentality – the winning mentality that we want. We need to just improve every game and learn from our mistakes before.”
“We are [approaching] every game differently but he knows what he wants in these kinds of games, the big games,” the centre-back continued. “We have a good talk before the game with him and he doesn’t need to motivate us, but with some kind of words he touches us in the heart. In these derbies, you are ready to fight for everything.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool youngster Joe Maguire has left the club on a permanent basis. Maguire spent 11 years with Liverpool and is a graduate of the club’s academy. Maguire only managed one senior appearance for Liverpool, which came during an FA Cup tie with Exeter City in January last year.
Maguire has spent time on loan at Leyton Orient but failed to impress and could only manage one appearance with the side. The 20-year old was also a part of Liverpool’s pre-season tour in 2015 but has been deemed surplus to requirements by the coaching staff.
Another defender who is still on Liverpool’s books also had a lot to say about the game on Sunday. Alberto Moreno – who has played in the fixture on previous occasions – feels that it now has even more significance given that Liverpool are a real title threat and are above Manchester United in the table.
Despite playing a part in last season’s Europa League victory over the Red Devils, Moreno is yet to be on the winning side in a Premier League meeting with United, with the Reds having not taken three points from a top-flight trip to Old Trafford since March 2014.
Given James Milner’s excellent performances at left-back and Moreno’s own trouble there at the beginning of the season, Moreno himself probably won’t feature in the match but he was still talking about it ahead of the game.
“It’s a great game to look forward to. Both sets of fans, obviously our fans, can’t wait for those sorts of games to come around and the players are no different,” the left-back told the club’s official website. “We know it’s going to be a tough game, it’s a tough ask to go there and do well, and it’s even more important because we’re both rivals in the upper part of the table, we’re both right up there so it’s even more important than ever.”
A former Liverpool player who knows a lot about these fixtures also had words of encouragement for a certain Georginio Wijnaldum. Dirk Kuyt – now at Feyenoord – famously scored a hat-trick against Manchester United at Anfield in a 3-1 win back in 2011.
In doing so, the Dutchman became the the first player since Peter Beardsley back in 1990 to score a hat-trick against their fierce rivals, and Kuyt challenged his former international teammate Wijnaldum to do the same on Sunday :
“I’m glad to see you doing well with a great goal against Manchester City,” he told LFCtv. “I want to know, are you looking forward to the big derby against Manchester United and can you make a hat-trick like me? I wish you all the best and make sure you beat the Mancs!”
Wijnaldum himself was also speaking to LFC TV and admitted that he has been looking forward to the game for months. Liverpool fans will be hoping Kuyt’s challenge will be inspiring enough for Wijnaldum to perform similar heroics, and that will go some way towards making him a cult figure just like his fellow compatriot.