Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool will not have one eye on their season-defining clash with Villarreal when they visit Swansea City in the Premier League on Sunday.
Liverpool welcome Villarreal to Anfield next Thursday for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final having suffered a 1-0 defeat in the first meeting at El Madrigal.
First, though, Klopp’s side travel to south Wales, and while the German is irked at the Premier League’s decision to schedule the match for a midday kick-off – meaning the Reds have a little over 48 hours to prepare after their exertions in Spain – he is also adamant that Swansea have his full attention.
“We have to think about the line-up for Sunday. It’s not about next Thursday, if you think now about that you have no chance Sunday. We will always respect the Premier League,” Klopp said at Friday’s pre-match media conference.
“We need to have a look at the players [before deciding who plays]. It’s intensive and busy.”
Klopp used Liverpool’s Premier League fixture against Stoke City – which fell between their Europa League games against Borussia Dortmund earlier this month – as an opportunity to rotate heavily, and also did the same for their trip to AFC Bournemouth a fortnight ago.
Liverpool duly beat Stoke 4-1 and came away from the Vitality Stadium with a 2-1 win, meaning Klopp has confidence that his second string could pick up a positive result at the Liberty Stadium.
“We have to make a few difficult decisions because of the intensity of our schedule. We need fresh legs and fresh minds at Swansea,” he added.
“We will go there and try to win. Bournemouth and Stoke was impressive and that’s very important – hopefully these players can do that again.”
Daniel Sturridge surprisingly remained on the bench for the entirety of Liverpool’s defeat to Villarreal, so the England striker could be recalled at the Liberty.
Klopp – who will be without Jordan Henderson (knee), Divock Origi (ankle), Emre Can (ankle) and Mamadou Sakho (suspension) – hinted that reserve goalkeeper Danny Ward could come in for Simon Mignolet after he made an assured debut at Bournemouth.
Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin, meanwhile, believes his team, who will be all-but safe from relegation should they win, will be ready for Liverpool, despite heavy defeats to Newcastle United and Leicester City in their last two outings.
“It is an important game for us and for Liverpool. They are a great club and an important team in Europe,” said the Italian.
“They will be focused on every game, whether it is in the Europa League or in the Premier League. They have a good manager and lots of good players, so it is an important challenge for both myself and my team.”
Guidolin will be without Leroy Fer and Alberto Paloschi (both hamstring).
Key Opta stats:
– Swansea City have won just one of their nine Premier League meetings with Liverpool, losing the last four in a row.
– Daniel Sturridge has scored four goals in four Premier League starts for Liverpool against Swansea.
– Liverpool have scored 17 goals in their last six Premier League away games.
– The Swans have kept six clean sheets in their last nine Premier League matches at Liberty Stadium.