Jurgen Klopp railed against the news of Steven Gerrard’s retirement overshadowing the clash between Liverpool and Sunderland on Saturday, insisting it will be a difficult assignment.
Klopp’s pre-match news conference on Thursday was dominated by the former captain’s decision to hang up his boots, forcing the German manager to publicly acknowledge the 36-year-old is welcome to seek a coaching role back at his old club.
For now, though, the team’s focus needs to be on the visit of David Moyes’ resurgent Sunderland to Anfield this weekend, the Black Cats having won successive matches away to Bournemouth and at home to Hull City to climb off the foot of the table.
“You don’t want to ask about the Sunderland game,” Klopp said. “It’s like the points are already counted.
“It will be the opposite of easy. Very difficult. That’s what we have to show.
“Everything is prepared for a good football game – if we do our job. Until now it’s good but the next job is already there. We have to do the good things again.”
Klopp picked out veteran striker Jermain Defoe and former Everton centre-forward Victor Anichebe as key factors behind Sunderland’s recent improvement.
“Everyone knows everything about Defoe,” he said. “Good striker, experienced, still really quick.
“[And] especially Anichebe. A physical, strong guy. Maybe they have played better games than against Hull and Bournemouth but they won. They have confidence now.”
Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw away to Southampton last time out and sit joint second with Manchester City, one point behind leaders Chelsea, prompting Klopp to try and contain the mounting expectations of supporters.
“If anyone was disappointed about us not being in the first position after last weekend, that’s crazy,” he said.
“We need to improve to keep this position.”
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