Jurgen Klopp has challenged his Liverpool players to embrace the hostile atmosphere that will await them at Goodison Park on Sunday.
The Reds go into the Merseyside derby with a one-point lead over Manchester City at the Premier League summit and face an Everton side seeking revenge, after Divock Origi’s last-gasp goal secured all three points for Klopp’s men in December’s reverse fixture.
Everton are winless in 18 matches against Liverpool in all competitions – their longest ever slump against their local rivals – and Klopp wants his players to replicate the intensity that awaits them in the stands.
“Football players like that [a hostile atmosphere],” he told a media conference.
“Of course, the fans of Everton don’t want us to win anything and for our fans it’s the same [feeling towards Everton].
“I hope the game will be very emotional and passionate. That’s how football should be.
“Let’s go there and use the atmosphere because, of course, it will be loud and wild – we have to deliver that on the pitch as well.”
A big clash with @Everton awaits…
Join Jürgen Klopp live, as he gives key fitness updates ahead of Sunday’s fixture.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 1, 2019
Premier League meetings between the two sides have produced more red cards than any other fixture in the history of the competition, but Klopp is confident his players will not let their emotions spill over.
“We always want to be very aggressive in the best football way,” he explained.
“We are ready to hurt ourselves and not the other guy. The crowd wants to win and the best way to do that is to keep 11 players on the pitch.
“There have been a few situations in the past where the red cards have been a factor but not recently.”
Klopp admitted that he does not know whether Roberto Firmino will be fit enough to feature against the Toffees after missing Wednesday’s 5-0 thumping of Watford with an ankle injury.
The Brazil forward has returned to training but, should he fail to recover in time, Klopp will have no hesitation in playing Sadio Mane in the central striking position again after his double against the Hornets.
“Sadio is coming to an age where things are becoming more natural for him,” Klopp said of the 26-year-old. “He’s not having to convince people now.
“We all know that he’s a world class player and he has started realising that for himself. Mix it up with his attitude and his work rate, it can be a really decent career – even better than it was up to now.
“He has scored a lot of goals for us and, if not, then he was always a proper threat, who gave us the space to score from another area.
“He’s in a good moment of his career and he’s in the best age group now, which they all are. Now he should continue and develop in the next few years, because there is still a lot to come from these boys.”
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