‘I love playing at 12:30’ – Klopp tells Liverpool players to make ‘rivals’ Man City ‘uncomfortable’

Jason Soutar
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hugs Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola before a match.
Jurgen Klopp hugs Pep Guardiola before a match.

Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool must “make it uncomfortable” for Manchester City when his players take on the European champions on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds take on the Treble winners at the Etihad in the early kick-off on Saturday, much to Klopp’s delight.

The German manager was keen not to ‘waste time’ during a press conference bemoaning the kick-off time.

“My English isn’t good enough to waste our time to make sure you understand,” he told reporters on Friday.

“[Thomas] Tuchel explained calmly a situation and German newspaper said he had a rant. That wasn’t a rant. No one wants to hear it. I love playing at 12.30.”

Manchester City thrashed Liverpool 4-1 at the Etihad in April and Klopp knows it is going to be another “tough” encounter against their title rivals.

“Saturday is a tough one, it’s the strongest team in the world for the last few years,” he said. “Our record [at the Etihad] is not great you will tell me!

“They are extremely strong, nothing I can say makes them weaker otherwise I would say it on repeat. Last year is just a memory.

“If we make it uncomfortable we have a chance. If they are comfortable in their game, no team has a chance. It feels like we are a bit closer [this season] but we need to win decisive battles on the pitch.

“Is the rivalry the biggest? I don’t know but it’s the toughest game you can play for years. The fans will decide the rival but football-wise  we needed time to become a rival on the pitch. Big games.”

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Klopp added that there are no fresh injury concerns after a productive international break for his team.

“Everyone came back from international break [in form], so we have decisions to make,” he noted. “We will look in their eyes, talk to them and make the decisions.

“They all had a good international break. [Darwin] Nunez is in a good moment, we want to use him as often as possible.”

On the relationship of Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez up front, Klopp said: “You can’t become a Liverpool player if you’re not football-smart. Darwin and Mo look for each other but it’s not like they cut out the other boys. It’s just a different way of playing.

“Mo supports the boys. Darwin came here, big expectations, and Mo probably understood the situation best and saw his potential and wanted to help him.

“Without having the longest conversation, that was for sure the start of a pretty special partnership.”

Salah has ten Premier League goals in 12 appearances this season but Klopp believes the Egyptian can still improve.

“Of course he can improve,” the Liverpool boss said. “We expect that from him.

“Why would he be first in the building and last out if he didn’t want to improve? But he has gained experience over the years that he knows much more about the game. Completely different to when he arrived here.

“He is really good with his team-mates, and the forward players. He is pretty special. Long may it continue.”

The Reds have been without a natural No. 6 in their midfield this season and Klopp says he is a big fan of Alexis Mac Allister – who moved to Anfield from Brighton in the summer – in that role.

“I understand why people ask about positions, but it’s about how the team is set up,” Klopp said. “Is Macca a natural born six? No. Has football developed in the last few years in ways we wouldn’t have imagined? Yes. Does that mean Macca can play six? Yes

“I like him there a lot, actually. As a team we can benefit from it if we have a really compact formation. That is what we will need tomorrow”

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