Jurgen Klopp laughs at Manchester City’s lack of No 9 as a ‘luxury problem’
Not only are Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola excellent managers, they express themselves more colorfully in a second language than many in their native language.
For Klopp, the fuss over Manchester City not having a recognized striker is a ‘luxury problem’, as the champions have already racked up 14 goalscorers this season.
Guardiola, when asked to describe Liverpool, summarized: ‘Typical Jurgen team, from the Red Bull school’, although other high-energy drinks are also available.
Jurgen Klopp has rejected the suggestion that Manchester City have no real number 9 in their ranks
After the bitterness of Fergie-Wenger and Benitez-Mourinho, it feels strange that the greatest rivalry of this era is based on respect, but no less competitive for that.
Sunday’s fighters at Anfield have shared the last three Premier League titles and the smart money is one of them doing it again with Liverpool, the only remaining undefeated team and City to outclass Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend.
Guardiola’s Achilles heel is meant to be his lack of a natural finisher to replace the departed Sergio Aguero.
At a time of deadly global No9s – Lewandowski, Lukaku, Ronaldo, Kane and Haaland – City are doing things differently, as Klopp has done with the wide man Mo Salah who outshone everyone else at Liverpool.
City have had 14 different goalscorers so far this season and are still ahead
Phil Foden (left) and Gabriel Jesus are among the attackers Pep Guardiola can choose from
Although City have failed to score against Leicester, Spurs, Southampton and PSG this season, Klopp sniffs almost derisively when it is suggested that Guardiola’s team may be missing a lead.
“That’s how they played last year and then Ilkay Gundogan came in 500 times and scored from close range. It would be easier if you just have to mark a number nine,” Klopp said.
“City always has plenty of choice in that decisive area around the penalty area. What number the player has on his back is not important.
“Their wingers are just as influential as ours. I don’t know how many goals City have scored from close range with a square ball in the six-yard box.
Champions City set a marker last week with a statement win over Stamford Bridge
“Teams try to have enough defenders, but in the end they pass and seem to have a player free at the far post.
‘It’s not because the opponents are stupid. It’s because City is doing really well. They pass the ball at the right time, the positioning is almost perfect.
“I know they haven’t scored hundreds of goals this season and the whole world is talking about needing a number 9. Imagine if they had a number 9 on that! It’s a luxury problem, let me put it this way.’
Guardiola believes Klopp has made him a better manager and helped his teams improve
Guardiola produced a tactical masterclass at Chelsea with Phil Foden pushing forward as a false nine.
Jack Grealish, Gabriel Jesus, Ferran Torres, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling bear their own threats, even as last season’s unlikely goalscorer Gundogan is injured.
The Spanish manager appears to have switched from Harry Kane and wants his current crop to be more like foxes in the box. ‘What’s the Plan B, buy two strikers for £250 million?’ He shrugs.
Klopp believes City don’t need the Spurs talisman up front because of their attacking prowess
‘No, we have to play better, get more people in the box. There is no secret in football, the greatest strikers in the world have scored goals because they are in front of the goal.
“Once we get there we need the quality to put in the back of the net, but it’s impossible to score if you’re not close. It’s a Q of math.
“That’s what we have to do – make the process, try to finish before the goal.
Even the top strikers have moments when they don’t score. We are at a high level the way we play, but we can still play better.”
Mo Salah has taken off this season and has scored eight goals so far
Despite winning everything in the match, this showdown at Anfield still fuels Guardiola’s blood.
‘For a manager, the feelings have to be there for these kinds of games; excitement, nervousness, pressure, emotion.
“If you don’t have that feeling for important games, then this isn’t for you.
“Maybe you didn’t sleep well the night before, or after if the performance wasn’t good. That’s why you live this life. You don’t enter the competition like you go to a restaurant with your friends.’
Liverpool are the only team unbeaten in the Premier League after six games
Liverpool have been quiet in the transfer window compared to their rivals, but have still outperformed them all so far.
Klopp is unbeaten in the league and tops the Champions League group with eight goals against AC Milan and Porto, and appears relaxed.
His talisman Mo Salah has scored eight goals in matches and there is more heat between him and Sadio Mane than has been seen in years. Whoever gets the kink between Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino doesn’t weaken the side.
Salah’s (right) relationship with Sadio Mane appears to have improved significantly this year
At 29, Salah sprinted back from one penalty area to another to stop a Porto counter mid-week.
“I can’t praise Mo without mentioning what Sadio often does when defending the far post, but then again, seeing Mo chasing back and winning the ball is a great sign that he’s really feeling good,” he said. said Klopp.
“It’s not like he’s thinking, ‘Oh my God, why do I have to run here?’ – it’s like “Okay, no problem.”‘
The two superpowers appear on par with their respective Brazilian goalkeepers Alisson and Ederson, and leaders in the center of defence, Virgil van Dijk and Ruben Dias.
City won 4-1 at Anfield in February, their first away win over Liverpool in 18 years.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool’s main absentee, means the job of keeping Grealish in check will fall to either James Milner or Joe Gomez.
Dias is the reigning Footballer of the Year, van Dijk was a Ballon d’or candidate. It seems that defenders are finally getting the proper recognition.
“It’s not enough just to win challenges, you have to organize a whole defense, you have to be quick, good on the ball, strong, technical. Center halves are a different animal these days,” Klopp admits.
City have extra insurance for their back four with Rodri whose absence from the Champions League final cost his team against Chelsea.
It will be a long time before Guardiola lets him out of a big game again.
The City boss says: “A player like him, still young at 25, has the hunger and the willingness to listen and say ‘I can do better’.
“The last games he played he was great, both in attendance and with the ball.
“We need him because Liverpool are making a lot of holes with their movement in the back. They play with high intensity in every way, they are a typical Jurgen team, from the school of Red Bull. Yes, fantastic team.’