Klopp’s Red revolution gathers pace
Having qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League, Liverpool return to the Premier League on Sunday with an ideal opportunity to continue their revival under Jurgen Klopp when struggling Swansea visit Anfield.
Liverpool have lost just once since the former Borussia Dortmund manager took over nine games ago – a defeat to Crystal Palace in their last home league game.
Since then, Klopp’s side have won 4-1 at Manchester City and on Thursday beat Bordeaux 2-1 at Anfield to secure their progress to the knock-out stages of Europe’s second tier competition.
Next, Liverpool are at home to the Swans, who have won just one of their last 10 matches to slide down to 14th in the Premier League.
Liverpool are ninth, eight points leaders Leicester, who play second-placed Manchester United on Saturday.
Klopp is refusing to focus on the top of the table but wants to get closer to the leading pack, who remain in touching distance thanks to Liverpool’s resurgence since the German replaced the sacked Brendan Rodgers.
“I don’t know in this moment who will win the league and I don’t care,” Klopp said.
“At this moment it’s only important to be concentrated on your own situation and your progress.
“If it would help to think about the end of the season I would do it.
“But it’s always important how far you are away from the position you dream off. It’s better to be eight than 20 but two would be better than eight, so we have to try and close this gap if possible and that’s what we try.”
– Injury problems –
Liverpool are likely to be without joint leading scorer Philippe Coutinho due to a hamstring injury, while Daniel Sturridge is also expected to continue his injury absence after pulling out of a planned midweek comeback with a foot problem.
Klopp has told Sturridge he may have to play through the pain to improve his appearance record after a catalogue of injuries.
But provided Christian Benteke is able to play a second game in four days following his own recent injury problems, Klopp – who is also without long-term absentee Danny Ings and suspended midfielder Lucas Leiva – insists he is not concerned about his attacking resources.
“It’s not the most difficult situation with the strikers because we have Christian Benteke, Divock Origi and Roberto (Firmino),” he said.
“But of course we need all of them because of the big number of games.”
Swansea’s recent problems have placed pressure on manager Garry Monk.
But Monk, who guided the club to their best ever Premier League finish of eighth place last season, insists he retains the backing of club chairman Huw Jenkins and has been charged with leading an upturn in fortunes.
“I know Huw and the board very well. We all want to get through this period, we want points on the board,” he said.
“We discuss that. He is supportive. He wants improvement, but he knows how things are. He’s given me his full backing. He’s been extraordinary and he knows how it works.
“The way he has talked to me is about how successful we have been. He knows the way I work. He’s shown nothing but support.”
Swansea will be without suspended former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey as they look for their second away win of the season and first ever league victory at Anfield.