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Press Conference Analysis: Jurgen Klopp talks Spurs, Sturridge’s position and Balotelli’s future

Jurgen Klopp spoke to the media on Thursday morning following a mixed week with a 5-0 victory over Burton Albion in the EFL Cup masking the disappointment of a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Burnley last weekend. With a trip to White Hart Lane on the cards for Saturday lunchtime, Jurgen Klopp spoke of his feelings ahead of the trip:

“It will be an exciting game. They are still strong and have brought some very good players in. I’ve seen a lot of good signs from us.”

However, the German is clearly pleased by the potential that his side have shown in the opening two weeks of the season. Whilst the Burnley defeat was far from pleasing for anyone related with the club, the cutting edge of Liverpool’s attack at Arsenal was promising and the Reds dispatched of the Brewers with ease in midweek. Klopp said:

“There have been lots of good things. It’s a new season with a lot of expectation. You need to find rhythm – it’s the same for us and Tottenham. We are quite optimistic for the season but we know how tough it will be at Tottenham.”

Tottenham may have had a slow start to the season, but have been picking up points with four taken from a possible six. As Klopp returns to the ground where he started his Liverpool career, he spoke of how the last two games against Burton and Burnley, where the side showed huge inconsistencies, were irrelevant in the build-up. Whilst Klopp will be keen to write off the Burnley defeat as a bad day at the office, he has tried to boost confidence ahead of the trip to London by explaining how different the tie will be:

“This game is completely different to the last two we played. They are a pressing team. They don’t give away a lot of spaces.”

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One of the key topics of discussion was Daniel Sturridge, who produced a woeful display on the right side of a three-man attack last weekend and then scored two in a cameo appearance as a central striker against Burton Albion in midweek. Klopp insisted that whilst Sturridge can play out wide, that isn’t his intention for the England international:

“I don’t want to play Daniel as a wide player but he can play there.”

Klopp instead spoke of how his current attacking trio do not have fixed positions as such. This has been clear with the interchange between the attacking trio in previous fixtures, though Sturridge did largely stick to the right side last weekend. Whether this was on Klopp’s instruction is unclear, but the former Dortmund boss clearly favours a more fluid system:

“Burnley and Burton weren’t games where I needed an offensive winger. It wasn’t a fixed position for him. There is absolutely no problem. It’s not that you play there and wait until something happens. It’s flexible football. It’s about getting in and around the box. Daniel is a very smart player. He’s good at getting himself into positions where it’s not easy to defend.”

Sturridge has spoken this week of his reluctance to play out wide, and these comments seem to allay those fears. With a wealth of attacking options, rotating them all was never going to be easy for Klopp, and in the Sturridge problem he has run into the first case of that only weeks into the season. How he manages this scenario could be vital for Sturridge’s future at the club, though both player and manager seem happy with the current status.

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There was also an injury update on Divock Origi and Emre Can, who both came off before the final whistle at the Pirelli Stadium with injuries.

“A few players are in a bit of doubt. The next game is in two days so we need to wait a little bit. Emre, nothing really serious but it’s the same ankle he has had problems with in the past. It’s the same situation with Divock. It’s not for sure they’ll be available.”

Whether Klopp will be without two key players or he is just holding his cards close to his chest remains to be seen, but Liverpool fans will certainly be hoping for the latter as Emre Can showed his ability to add some much needed defensive bite to the midfield trio, following Jordan Henderson’s poor displays in the deeper, more defensive role.

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Finally, Klopp was inevitably quizzed on what lies ahead in the final week of the transfer window, with Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic the two players with the biggest question marks over their futures. Klopp made it clear that he is happy with his squad and does not expect more additions, saying:

“We have made decisions about these players. We are convinced about these players and now we work together.”

That will ease fears for the likes of Alberto Moreno, who has shown little sign of improvement in his current form and a replacement was one of Klopp’s rumoured priorities this summer. Since the season started the German has supported his left-back, and it is now clear that there will be no more additions. However, some players have been told they are free to leave, though finding a club may be easier said than done, as Klopp said when asked about the futures of Balotelli and Markovic:

“We will wait until the first of September and then we will analyse the situation. Our squad shouldn’t be too big. We don’t have 60 games this year.”

Just how desperate the club are to get rid of Balotelli and Markovic will seemingly become clear over the next week or so as a suitor is found.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Craig Ballantyne.

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