Everton host Liverpool in the Goodison leg of the Merseyside Derby, and the Reds manager Jurgen Klopp is concerned that the Blues will bring their physical game tomorrow. Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the German seemed to insinuate that the Toffees tend to be overly aggressive in this fixture in his experience.
The Derby certainly does bring out the worst from both sides, with the 21 red cards handed out in this Premier League matchup, the highest of any other pair of duelling teams. 14 of those dismissals have gone to Everton over the 51 games, but Liverpool are not entirely blameless either when the roughhousing comes up. Former captains for each side Steven Gerrard and Phil Neville have each been sent off twice.
Klopp and his side are riding high after dismantling Premier League champions-elect Manchester City in the Champions League midweek, but saw his star player Mohamed Salah hobble off and is fighting to regain fitness.
“I have nothing to say on Everton’s season – that’s not my job. All I know is that, this weekend, they will be motivated to the highest level.
”They have a very good home record. If they struggled – I don’t know if they see it like that – it was away, but now they have won at Stoke. Their last game was Man City, but that’s a different game obviously.
”They are a really good team. Yannick Bolasie is back, Theo Walcott is a new signing, Cenk Tosun is in a good moment. They have it all together, except Gylfi Sigurdsson is injured. That’s a good football team. In defence, they are very experienced.”
Tomorrow’s game is going to be interesting with neither side really having anything to play for. Everton’s season has limped along aimlessly under Sam Allardyce and really the only thing the Blues will be playing for is pride with no Derby wins since 2010. However, it appears that even pride is not enough of a motivator when you look at some of the performances this season.
“I think each Evertonian thinks that, at Goodison, there must be a few extra per cent of desire (in a derby). We need to be ready for that, 100 per cent, but I hope at the end it is still a football game.
”In the last few years, it was always like that. There is always at least one harsh challenge – overly harsh challenge. In all the derbies I have played so far, one [player] has thought I need to do this overly hard.
”I hope we can go through the game without that. We all have our targets that we need to have the players for. We will be ready for hard challenges – 100 per cent. It’s a derby.
”We need to be on fire again, then we will have a good chance.”
For the visitors from across Stanley Park, they have a key Champions League second leg coming up on Tuesday and Klopp has already been at his sanctimonious best with complaining about the Derby being moved a few hours earlier for television.
Youngsters Rafa Camacho, Curtis Jones and Conor Masterson are all likely to be in the squad tomorrow after being left out of their Under-23s side that plays Arsenal tonight.
His hypocrisy and mindgames are well known, especially when his skipper is Jordan Henderson, aka ‘Captain Leave My Studs In Just a Little Too Long To Where It Doesn’t Look That Dirty But Is an Asshat Tackle After All’, so it’ll be interesting to see what referee Michael Oliver makes of it.