Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his team have the perfect opportunity to strike back in a clash with Manchester United that he has labelled ‘THE game’.
Liverpool have won just five times at Old Trafford since 1990 and only one of those triumphs have come since 2004; their last victory, a 3-0 blitzing in March 2014, was the catalyst for an assault on the title that came up just short. The stakes around this latest meeting are huge. Liverpool would go three points clear at the top of table but, for all that Klopp does not want to get caught up in the hype, it would mean so much more in terms of the impetus it would provide. Klopp is carefully managing his squad and is not placing any extra demands on them in terms of ramping up what is at stake. He appreciates, however, that this is not really an ordinary fixture and hopes it inspires Liverpool to produce their most compelling performance of 2019.
‘If we would see it like a lot of people see it, that it is THE game, that is too much pressure on everybody,’ said Klopp. ‘You cannot do it like that… If we lose the game – and I don’t think about losing the game – then we are still level on points with Manchester City. That is the worst thing that can happen. The only thing people can make of it is that we are not in a very good moment and other teams are in a good moment. You always have to strike back from different things in a season, from a draw, from a win that we were not convincing. We have a chance to play an outstanding last period of the season, with one of the most difficult games as the start.
‘You play away at Manchester United and even if we are 20 points ahead of them, there is no guarantee we will win it because it’s Manchester United. There is always a reason why they especially want to beat us. Now it is a really big one. I know that, I respect that. You think it is only a big game for Manchester United? If you go in our dressing room they are all long enough here and if you are not long enough here the other guys will tell you. That’s the massive thing. Everybody knows in football that Manchester United against Liverpool is one of the biggest games in world football. We have to prepare for that and still play a game.’
Klopp was sounded out by Manchester United about the prospect of becoming their manager and Sir Alex Ferguson felt the German would be perfectly suited to the role in 2014 but the move never appealed to him. What is clear, though, is the respect and admiration Klopp has for Ferguson. I always admired him,’ said Klopp. ‘From a distance, it’s easy. I’m not sure how it would have been if I was here 20 years at Liverpool and you always have this battle all the time then maybe it’s different because he was a very competitive guy saying some things before he played against Liverpool. I’m pretty sure when he was in charge he didn’t want us to be successful. Maybe he doesn’t want that now but the opinion is probably not that strong anymore because he said already a couple of times, I heard, that he likes what we are doing here. That’s the thing. He is a fantastic person.’
EPL: Chelsea finally tell Real Madrid how much to pay for Hazard
Real Madrid will have to pay a huge amount to sign forward, Eden Hazard, away from Premier League giants, Chelsea this summer.
The Spanish giants are eyeing Hazard as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, who after nine years, left the Santiago Bernabeu for Juventus in an £88million deal last summer.
According to Belgian outlet, HLN, Chelsea wants at least £98.5million for Hazard after rejecting Real Madrid’s opening offer for the 28-year-old.
Hazard is a huge admirer of Zidane as a coach and named the French legend as his idol growing up.
The Belgium international has so far refused to sign a new long-term deal with Chelsea as he enters the final 12 months of his current contract at Stamford Bridge.
FA Cup semi-final fixtures revealed [See full draw]
Manchester City will play Brighton and Hove Albion in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
City came from two goals down to defeat Swansea City in the quarter-final on Saturday, while Brighton needed extra time to see off Millwall today.
Watford face Wolverhampton Wanderers, who eliminated Manchester United yesterday.
The games will take place over the weekend of April 6.
Both fixtures will be played at Wembley Stadium.
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