Liverpool’s perfect start fuelled by desire to be ugliest opponent – Klopp
Manager hints at full debut for Shaqiri, praises his defence and shrugs off Salah’s dry spell
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: I loved how we defended against Spurs and PSG. Photograph: Getty Images
Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool’s 100 per cent start to the season has been fuelled by a desire to be the ugliest opponent in the Premier League.
Liverpool made it six wins out of six with victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and can return to the Premier League summit on Saturday with a seventh consecutive triumph, against Southampton.
The Liverpool manager, who could give Xherdan Shaqiri his full debut against Mark Hughes’ side, insists his team are too busy to feel the momentum building at Anfield and that only silverware will confirm it has substance. But they are succeeding, Klopp claims, in making life as uncomfortable as possible for every opponent.
“We don’t feel that [momentum] to be honest because we play, analyse, prepare; play, analyse, prepare and that is it,” he said. “Maybe it’s because all the jobs are so difficult. There is no game where we have thought: ‘Thank God we have played them.’ None of the results we have this season would have been possible without the greed you have seen or without the aggression you see. No chance.
“We didn’t win anything so far – not in the past and not this season – so let’s use the momentum and create a new momentum. We really want to be the ugliest team to play against. That is the plan, and to do it with good football players. The best news I have had in the last two weeks is how we have changed or reinvented again our defensive skills. We didn’t need them too much in the first few games – it was not that we didn’t have to defend but they were different games. Against Tottenham and Paris I loved how we did it. We still played good football and that was a really big step in the season so far.”
Shaqiri is yet to start for Liverpool following his summer move from Stoke City but, after three impressive substitute appearances, is in contention for a debut. Klopp said: “He is very positive, not only from the performances but as a guy in the dressingroom. Everyone loves Shaq, that is how it is – and without playing plenty of minutes. That is more my mistake than his. He has done everything to play. I made different decisions but his time will come, that is for sure.”
Roberto Firmino is fit to start having fully recovered from an eye problem while Klopp has insisted there are no concerns over the form of Mohamed Salah, who has not scored in his past three games. “It is much too early to be thinking about something like that and making a big thing of it,” Klopp said of Salah’s goals return.
“Last year he had three in six, this year two in six. Yes, there were a few chances where he could have scored. At Tottenham he sprinted on to the backpass but the dry pitch made the ball not roll like he was expecting. He was then too close to the ball. If he is a little bit further on, he shoots in the bottom corner. Last year he missed chances.
“It’s much too early to talk to him constantly about what and when and stuff like that. So long as he is working as he is in this moment, everything will be fine. Will it be 40 goals at the end of the season? Nobody knows.”