The Anfield Wrap’s match preview before Liverpool v Manchester United in the Premier League at Anfield, with Jürgen Klopp in fine form before the game…
I STARTED religiously watching Jürgen Klopp’s press conferences at the beginning of the 2017-18 season.
I’m sure I’d watched a couple before then, but I began hosting a show that dissects them at the start of that season. I often wonder how much other people watch them and, more specifically, does anybody watch them as much as me?
I practically know the meaning behind every facial expression six years on. His body language is practically my second language, and I mean that in the least erotic way possible.
My Anfield Wrap colleague Mo Stewart has a theory that his mood in press conferences may indicate how training had gone that week. Well, if that is the case, then his pre-Manchester United briefing provided some good signs.
He was broadly asked the same question in a number of different ways — Liverpool bad, Manchester United good — but his answers did get more and slightly more revealing as it went on.
The highlight, for me, was him saying: “We have to make sure we really show it’s still incredibly difficult to play against us, because when we played there it looked incredibly difficult to play against them.”
Because that, to me at least, is the kind of mentality that will help The Reds pull closer to United. Don’t get dragged down to their level; instead, drag them down to yours. It’s a philosophy the manager has expressed in the past, and one that will need reinforcing ahead of a game like this.
The message won’t really change too much, or at least it shouldn’t. Just keep it tight again, don’t be afraid to get to half time goalless, because things will continue to shift as the game wears on.
With that being said, the team will pretty much pick itself, especially given how the manager has spread the minutes over the last two.
Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson will make up the first-choice back five that will hope to provide a solid foundation for The Reds to secure all three points.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson should come back in for Harvey Elliott — though the latter put in perhaps his best proper midfield display of the season on Wednesday — alongside the returning-to-form Fabinho and young player of the season shoo-in Stefan Bajcetic.
Upfront, there’s a good chance that Diogo Jota retains his place so long as the sports scientists give him the all clear, but if not then Cody Gakpo will be a more than worthy starter between the increasingly devastating duo of Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez.
It’s a game that traditionally comes with a lot of emotion attached, and Klopp was careful not to shy away from that in his press conference. His team is an emotional one, he wants them to ride the wave that Anfield’s atmosphere can provide with some encouragement.
This should be all about what Liverpool’s players and fans can produce.
Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Bajcetic; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez