Jurgen Klopp has challenged Liverpool to be smarter in the final third as his side prepare to take on Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.
Liverpool suffered a 2-0 defeat away to league leaders Leicester City this week and have failed to score in their last three matches in all competitions since the dramatic 5-4 win away to Norwich City.
The Anfield outfit failed in their pursuit of Shakhtar Donetsk star Alex Teixeira in the transfer window and the form of Christian Benteke – who last scored in the league in December, against Sunderland – means the return of Daniel Sturridge to training this week serves as a timely boost for the club, even though he remains short of match fitness.
Klopp, however, insists the goals will come for his side if they sharpen their decision-making in the final third.
“Our problem was not to run more or to run more intensively, our problem was when we had the ball in the right position we made the wrong decision. That’s all,” he said.
“We had the ball in their box, we didn’t shoot and one second later, [Jamie] Vardy shot from 35 yards and the ball was in. That says most about the game.”
Philippe Coutinho (hamstring), Divock Origi (knee) and Martin Skrtel (hamstring) are all due to resume training this week and have a slight chance of making welcome returns to Klopp’s side as they aim for their sixth win in seven league meetings with Sunderland.
Sam Allardyce was active in the January transfer window, bringing in Wahbi Khazri, Lamine Kone, Dame N’Doye, Jan Kirchhoff and Steve Harper, while allowing a number of departures.
All except Harper featured in Sunderland’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday, as Allardyce’s men turned in an impressive display against Manuel Pellegrini’s title-chasers.
Khazri could make his first start for the club this weekend, with Jeremain Lens (groin) struggling, while Younes Kaboul is set for a first appearance since December after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Yann M’Vila (foot) is a slight doubt and Sebastian Larsson (knee) remains sidelined, but Allardyce was buoyed by his new recruits in midweek.
“It was a simple gamble on the basis that I had the players for a considerable amount of time and results hadn’t gone as well as I expected,” he said of his transfer business.
“Performances and consistent performances were not at the level they should be and, with the window open, we had to take advantage of that to try make the squad better and hopefully it makes results better.
“The early indications, without judging too quickly, are that the lads made a good contribution on Tuesday along with everybody else.”
The match has largely been overshadowed by the threat of a walkout from supporters in protest at an increase in Anfield ticket prices.
The Liverpool Supporters’ Committee has called on fans to leave the ground in the 77th minute after branding the decision, which raises some season ticket costs to £1,000, as “morally unjustifiable”.
Key Opta Stats:
– Sunderland have scored in each of their last seven Premier League away games; their best run in the competition since April 2013.
– Christian Benteke has scored six goals in seven Premier League appearances against Sunderland and is two goals away from netting 50 in the Premier League.
– Roberto Firmino has scored four goals in his last four Premier League matches for the Reds; this after scoring just once in his opening 17 apps in the competition.
– Liverpool averaged more points under Brendan Rodgers in the Premier League this season (1.5) than they have under Jurgen Klopp (1.4).
– Sunderland have the worst points per game average of any current Premier League side in the month of February (0.63).
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