Sunday, September 26, 2021

Anfield fans of more interest to Klopp than Burnley revenge mission

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Aug 2021

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Jurgen Klopp is relishing the opportunity to lead Liverpool at a full Anfield again, insisting memories of the previous meeting with Burnley are far from his mind.

The Reds will be backed by a capacity home crowd for the first time since March 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic meaning fans missed their subsequent Premier League title triumph.

Supporters were also absent in 2020-21, as Liverpool struggled a little, although they maintained an outstanding unbeaten run at home until coming up against Burnley.

Klopp’s men had not lost in 68 league matches at Anfield prior to the Clarets’ 1-0 victory in January, a game in which Liverpool had 26 shots to the visitors’ six and 72 per cent of the possession.

But Burnley have not won consecutive away league matches against Liverpool since their first two attempts back in the 1894-95 and 1896-97 seasons, while the Reds could become the first team to beat them 11 times in the Premier League.

Form is in Liverpool’s favour, too, with their 11-match undefeated streak – including nine wins – the longest ongoing run in the top flight, while Burnley could lose five in a row in the competition for the first time.

Klopp still expects a stern test, but he is determined to see his side put on a show and enjoy themselves in front of the Kop.

“I didn’t even think about it,” he said of the previous clash. “If I think about that game, it was a strange one. Yes, we lost it, Burnley won it.

“That’s how football is – well deserved – but it obviously has nothing to do with the game now.

“We will try to have our first home game in front of our crowd for 520-something days, I think. We want to enjoy that. Football is only possible to enjoy when you play in a positive way, when you just go for it.

“There are no guarantees out there, not at all – especially not against Burnley, because they can make your life really uncomfortable.

“They defend well, have really good footballers in the team, Sean is doing a brilliant job there. He sets them up not only being annoying but they can be annoying as well.

“Good set-pieces, all this kind of stuff, a clear way of playing – that’s what we prepare for, not for any kind of revenge.”

Fabinho has had a family bereavement, but Klopp said fellow midfielders Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara “look fine”, are “much closer” to a return and, now, it is “up to me to make some decisions”.

Asked of any developments with captain Henderson’s contract situation, the Liverpool boss replied: “No, still all good.”

Klopp will hope Henderson and Thiago settle in again as seamlessly as Virgil van Dijk, who showed no ill effects of his long lay-off in the opening win at Norwich City.

“I was not impressed in a surprised way,” Klopp said. “He had a four-and-a-half-week pre-season, maybe five or maybe, if you put in all his rehab stuff as well, the longest pre-season of all time.

“I saw him obviously in training every day and he played like he trained before, so I was not surprised. Virgil is a good football player, so I am really happy to have him back.”

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