Jurgen Klopp wary of threat posed by returning Agüero
Liverpool manager dismisses speculation linking club with Oxlade-Chamberlain
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA
Manager Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to concentrate on isolating returning Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero when the teams meet at Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday.
Agüero is back after a four-match ban for violent conduct for third-placed City, who travel to second-placed Liverpool in search of their first Premier League win at Anfield since May 2003.
“What can I say? He’s back,” Klopp told a news conference on Thursday. “Good striker. I have never made a secret of it. That makes life not easier for us – but we knew it before.
“He can only score goals if somebody gives him the ball. We have to avoid easy passes. We can defend really good. So we need to be concentrated. That’s the biggest challenge in this game.”
Klopp’s men are undefeated at home this season and the German is hoping that playing at their historic stadium will hand them the upper hand.
“This is a very big game for both,” he added. “Six clubs fight for four or one positions. Each game is kind of a final.
“City have the highest quality in the team and highest quality on the bench.
“The advantage is that it’s at Anfield. We must try to use this. It will be really difficult for both teams. I’m really looking forward to it. We love playing against the best.”
The German will be without defender Joel Matip (ankle) for the fourth game in a row, while midfielder Philippe Coutinho will also miss out.
Coutinho, one of Liverpool’s chief attacking threats, has not featured since injuring an ankle against Sunderland at the end of November and Klopp said it was unlikely he would be back for the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light on January 2nd.
Despite the injuries and the impending loss of Sadio Mane to the African Nations Cup next month, Klopp played down the significance of the January transfer window.
“If we think a player can help us in January, February, March, April and May then, yes, we will do something. I’m not sure it will be important for us this year,” he added.
The manager also shot down speculation that Liverpool were interested in signing Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, describing British media reports that the club were contemplating a January bid as “nonsense”.
City manager Pep Guardiola is regarded as modern football’s greatest innovator but Klopp’s results against him have been as good as anyone’s, with four victories – albeit three in cup competitions – in eight meetings during their time in the Bundesliga.
Klopp insists recent history counts for nothing but accepts that in Guardiola, City have a man of huge influence. “We know everything about how Pep played with Bayern but that is not important any more because it is different players and different systems,” said the
Liverpool manager, whose record against City since arriving last season is two resounding league wins and a Capital One Cup final defeat on penalties. “We are a different team so at this moment both sides cannot be sure which idea the other team has.
“In Holland it was Johan Cruyff and Total Football. He was very nearly perfect with Barcelona, he had a big influence with Bayern and changed their style completely.
“He is an outstanding manager, 100 per cent. I am not interested too much in giving things a name but you can see on the pitch he is an influential manager.
“He has a clear idea and a pretty much good idea. He has had a fantastic career until now.
“He had a nice style with Barcelona and was really good with Bayern and now he is at City and he is there to be successful. That is how we all are. We want to help our team.
“He is very influential but the Barcelona style is not possible for each team to play. It depends a lot on the players you have.
“If a Sunday morning team tried to play like Barcelona it would be pretty difficult. You always adapt to your players and that is what he is doing and it is what we do.”