Sunday 20 October 2019

I love scoring from set-pieces – Klopp keen for Liverpool to add to goal threat

Centre-back Virgil Van Dijk trebled his tally for the season with a brace against Watford in midweek.

Manager Jurgen Klopp wants to see more players like Virgil Van Dijk add to Liverpool’s goal tally (Richard Sellers/PA)
Manager Jurgen Klopp wants to see more players like Virgil Van Dijk add to Liverpool’s goal tally (Richard Sellers/PA)

By Carl Markham, Press Association Sport

Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to be more potent from set-pieces and for other players to chip in with goals to supplement the work of his prolific front three.

Mohamed Salah (17), Sadio Mane (14) and Roberto Firmino (nine) have scored 40 of the club’s 64 Premier League goals this season.

Of the rest, 10 other players have found the scoresheet but Xherdan Shaqiri is the next-highest scorer with six and the rest are on three goals or below.

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Roberto Firmino (left), Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (right) have between them scored 40 of Liverpool’s 64 Premier League goals this season (Mike Egerton/PA)

Virgil Van Dijk trebled his tally for the season with a double in the 5-0 midweek drubbing of Watford and Klopp admits any contributions from defenders – and midfielders – will help as they try to hold off Manchester City.

The Holland defender accepted this week he needs to score more and Sunday’s Merseyside derby opponents Everton present a realistic opportunity for him to do that.

A third of the league goals conceded by the Toffees this season have come from set-pieces and that area is viewed as one of weakness.

I love scoring from set-pieces, you have a lot of them in the game and you need to use them. Jurgen Klopp

And Reds boss Klopp wants the likes of 6ft 3in Van Dijk to help the Reds increase the amount of goals they get from dead-ball situations.

“Of course you need goals from set-pieces, that’s very important,” said Klopp said.

“You need to be ready in all departments. Set-pieces helped us especially in the beginning of the season quite a lot then it disappeared a bit.

“But now hopefully we can get it back. I love scoring from set-pieces, you have a lot of them in the game and you need to use them.”

Van Dijk benefited from two crosses from either flank by full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

The impressive Alexander-Arnold completed a hat-trick of assists in the match and with teams playing defensively against his side Klopp knows his defenders can provide an extra dimension.

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Virgil Van Dijk is a powerful presence at both ends of the pitch for Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It’s important. That’s modern football. If you ask a young boy ‘What’s your favourite position?’ I don’t think a lot of boys will say ‘I want to be a full-back!’” he added.

“But football has changed. They became much more important.

“In that (Watford) game it was exceptional. I don’t think I was ever part of a game where somebody had a hat-trick of assists. It was special.

“He (Alexander-Arnold) wanted the match ball, so he got it. Now let’s try to do something like that again.”

Sadio Mane, playing in a central role with Roberto Firmino injured and still a doubt for Sunday, also scored twice in that game.

His 14-goal tally is his best in the league since arriving at Southampton from RB Salzburg in 2014.

“Sadio is coming to an age where things are becoming more natural for him. He’s not having to convince people now,” said Klopp, who is looking to extend his unbeaten derby record to eight matches.

“We all know that he’s a world-class player, and he has started realising that for himself.

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Sadio Mane is enjoying a prolific season with Liverpool (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Mix it up with his attitude and his work-rate, it can be a really decent career – even better than it was to now.

“He’s in a good moment of his career, and he’s in the best age group now, which they all are.”

Liverpool are unbeaten in a record 16 derbies, have lost just one of the last 24 in the league and if they avoid defeat on Sunday they will set a club-record of eight games unbeaten in succession at Goodison.

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