Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp discusses the possibility of signing a new centre half
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is expecting another physical challenge against Watford tonight but insists his team have changed a lot since last season's "very bad" 3-0 defeat at Vicarage Road.
The anxiety epidemic has once more engulfed Anfield after last weekend's defeat by Crystal Palace and tonight's venue is one where Liverpool have struggled recently.
"I'm not sure if it was the worst game but it was very bad," Klopp said. "Watford are different since then. You can't compare. We have to deal with throw-ins and all that."
As so often, Klopp has no problem analysing the flavour of the match before kick-off - long balls, direct football, set-piece mayhem and the targeting of his centre-backs. Dealing with it is a different matter.
In defence of his players, Klopp observed that the demands of being a centre-back for Liverpool are significantly different to clubs who prefer cautious football.
"A centre-half for a top team is playing with a lot of space at the back," said Klopp. "You cannot be offensive with two players in a counter-attack."
That poses the question of what difference spending £50m on another centre-back this summer will really make.
Virgil van Dijk excelled when fit for Southampton in the first half of the season, but the Saints too are a highly defensive side. He will have to adjust to an open style should he choose Liverpool.
"If we go for a centre-half we need to know how he acts in big spaces," said Klopp.
In the meantime, the Merseysiders are starting to resemble that London Marathon runner stumbling towards the line, desperate to just finish. They will hope Adam Lallana, fit again, makes a difference.
"I do not feel fear - not one second so far," said Klopp.
When Liverpool hammered Watford 6-1 at Anfield back in November the win took them top of the Premier League. Since then injuries have scuppered their title bid, but with a top-four place still to play for, the Reds boss said the stakes were still high.
"Is there more pressure? No," he said. "Nobody should be in doubt that we will fight there.
"In this moment, everything for us is possible, and that's what we should try to show.
"When we met here months ago, when we were first or second in the table, I said the only thing we can do is to be in the battle for the interesting positions at the end of the season."
Striker Daniel Sturridge is back in training after missing the Crystal Palace defeat with a sore hip. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
- Watford v Liverpool, Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0