Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp feels Liverpool need to improve in a number of areas defensively if they are to beat Manchester City on Sunday.
Liverpool had a pretty disappointing pre-season, enduring four successive winless results that followed their wins over Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City. The Reds lost against Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla before drawing against Sporting Lisbon. Yesterday, the Champions League winners suffered a 3-0 defeat to Napoli courtesy of goals from Lorenzo Insigne, Arkadiusz Milik and Amin Younes.
Klopp’s side now have to play Lyon in Geneva before playing the Community Shield against Man City. Last season, Liverpool couldn’t register a single win against Pep Guardiola’s men. They held City to a 0-0 draw at Anfield thanks to Riyad Mahrez missing a late penalty before losing 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in January.
When asked about if an improvement was needed for Sunday’s match in Wembley , Klopp told reporters as quoted by Liverpool’s official site: “A lot more than we saw yesterday [in the defeat to Napoli], of course. I think apart from Aguero they are pretty much all in so that means it’s a different situation. Last year, as it will be this year, it’s the most difficult game you play during the season.
“We didn’t defend counter-attacks too well yesterday, we lost the ball in the wrong moments and were not protected and stuff like that. If that would happen against City you don’t have a chance, but we know each other good enough and long enough now to know that it will be different next Sunday. But for this we have to talk a few talks and we have a few training sessions for sure. It’s not about intensity anymore, we had to do intense sessions in the first three weeks then we played the games in difficult circumstances and now we are here.
“How I said, going to Evian, it was always clear it will be the most important week of the pre-season. After City we have another five days to prepare for Norwich, which is exactly as important as the City game, and then Chelsea. So it’s a different start but it’s our start, so we take it and it’s all good.”
The German manager refused to believe that Liverpool beating Manchester City on Sunday will be a defining point for the club. He said: “I don’t want to find excuses before we play them but we had a completely different pre-season. We played the pre-season without six players so I cannot sit here and say ‘that must be the statement for us’, that would be completely mad.
“We have to be as good as possible that day, we cannot change it. I cannot lie to the people and say ‘it’s no problem making a pre-season without six players’. If you have to do it, you have to do it: you have to travel, we have to play in America in difficult circumstances, that’s how it is. But we had the best pre-season of our lives? I cannot say that and you see that in the results. But the sessions were good, really good. The games then, from a freshness point of view, came in the wrong moment but we cannot change that [and] we have to do what we have to do.
“The only problem is we do all the games in public and everybody sees what we are doing. Some people have concerns, some people don’t. It’s all OK, we have to prove ourselves during the season and not in one game and if I would say this must be the statement for the season then I would be really a bit mad. It has nothing to do for me with the rest of the season. It’s a game and if we had only eight players for available for example I would like to try to win it. It’s a final, it’s the first time that I realised that nobody sees it like that to be honest: a ‘curtain-raiser’, it’s unbelievable!
“We think constantly about the game and how can we prepare it and people say ‘Oh, do they really play?!’ That’s not too cool but it’s how it is and we cannot change that as well. We’ll try to be as ready as possible, that’s what I can say, and if we win it, good, does it have an influence on the season? I don’t think so. And if we lose it has it an influence on the season? It’s not allowed.”
Barring Sadio Mane, Liverpool will have all their key players for Sunday’s clash against Manchester City. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Alisson are all set to join the training camp in Evian today.
Sunday’s match will be Liverpool’s first Community Shield since 2006 when they beat Chelsea.