'Not exactly the same level' - Jurgen Klopp on Leeds United injuries and fight for Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool will face the same never-say-die attitude from Leeds United even if the Whites are missing star players.

By Graham Smyth
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 1:17 pm

The German's side was the first to welcome Marcelo Bielsa and his Leeds outfit to the Premier League last season and the two played out a thrilling encounter at Anfield which the Reds won 4-3.

Klopp concedes that Leeds, without two key men who featured on the opening day of the 2020/21 campaign and their captain Liam Cooper, are not entirely the same prospect in terms of ability but knows his men are in for a fight.

"Not exactly the level [from the seven-goal thriller] because they miss a few very decisive players," he said.

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"[Patrick] Bamford, [Kalvin] Phillips and Cooper is pretty much the spine and I know how much this can hurt you. In their best periods all these boys could play pretty much all the games.

"I expect exactly the same attitude. The result we had that night is pretty much how Leeds is, they play all in.

"They had a difficult spell in late December but that's over and since then results have got much tighter. The Villa game was really spectacular but Leeds came back. Man Utd went 2-0 up but if you went for a drink at half-time you probably missed the two goals of Leeds.

"It's a really tricky one. I hope we as a unit together with our supporters will be really difficult to beat or play against, then we have a really good chance to win the game. If we are not ready for a fight we will suffer."

BIG BATTLE - Jurgen Klopp anticipates a fight at Anfield when Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United take on his Premier League title chasing Liverpool. Pic: Getty

Victory for Liverpool will take them to within three points of Premier League leaders Manchester City, ahead of Sunday's EFL Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley.

Klopp, as you would expect, is focusing only on Leeds however because he believes Liverpool will have to be at their best to win and he will have to pick a team capable of producing that.

"We're focused on just this one game, a very difficult Premier League game," said the Reds boss, who is without Diogo Jota [ankle] and Roberto Firmino [muscle].

"We have to try everything for this game, that's what we did for Norwich. We needed the fresh legs and intensity for that game and some players needed a rest as well. That's what we'll do now. You can't say you'll rest someone for the final, it never works out in my experience.

"We saw all the faces of Leeds United on Sunday. Very brave and very exciting offensively and defensively you can cause them problems but it's difficult as well because of the man marking. If you're not reading they will eat you.

"Leeds is pretty much leading in three of the decisive running stats in the PL. High speed running, high intensity running, you have to be ready. They never give up, on top of that. We have to make sure we are 100 per cent."

Title talk is heating up once again for the Reds thanks to their proximity to Manchester City, who lost to Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.

Klopp, however, is keeping his counsel on the subject of the top spot ahead of a game against a team scrambling to stay clear of trouble at the other end of the table.

"I have nothing to say about it really," he said.

"We have so many games to play and yes if we could win them all it's a title race. I understand that people get excited and good, because they are not completely out of reach but it's a really tricky situation.

"There are so many things that can happen in football. It's six points and we play Leeds. I cannot count points on our account before we've played the game. We have to be ready for an incredibly intense game, a big fight. They're fighting to stay in the league and they really, really, really never give up. We have work to do."