15:00 BST, Saturday 28th October, Anfield (Liverpool, England)
Just when it appears Liverpool have turned a corner, it’s revealed they’ve actually come full circle instead. With only two wins from their last nine games in all competitions, Jurgen Klopp’s side have fallen into a grim reality following a prosperous August. Their unbeaten form inside Anfield remains one positive for them to cling to but, after three consecutive draws, there’s pressure building for them to record a win.
Fresh from victory over Manchester United, the Terriers will have no fear in facing a team who have looked on the ropes for many parts of this season. David Wagner has got his Huddersfield side performing well at home but their away form still requires further work with only an opening day win over Palace providing them with any goals from their travels in the league. A win this weekend, could see David Wagner take his team above that of his best friend’s with Huddersfield currently trailing Liverpool by a solitary point.
Last Time Out
Tottenham 4-1 Liverpool (Premier League)
It was another sobering afternoon for Jurgen Klopp’s team as once again their defensive frailties were laid bare for the world to see. Twice in the first 12 minutes Dejan Lovren failed to deal with high balls which led to Spurs goals and Klopp reacted by hauling off the struggling defender with only half an hour on the clock. Simon Mignolet was also at fault twice, with the first and fourth goals greatly aided by mistakes that should have been dealt with better by the Belgian keeper.
Mohamed Salah was one positive for Liverpool. However, too many players went missing and it was a lacklustre display which was punished by Spurs to leave the Reds with their due rewards from the match.
Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United (Premier League)
Huddersfield produced the performance and result of the weekend in a game which even José Mourinho admitted saw the better side win. The Terriers took advantage of some sloppy defending by Victor Lindelöf to give them a quick-fire two goals and a deserved lead going into half-time.
The second-half saw them fall under increasing pressure as Manchester United mounted a spirited response. While it could be argued that the Terriers sat too deep at times, Christopher Schindler was again monumental at the back for the home side while a much-improved Mathias Jorgensen defied his recent form, constantly sweeping up danger before making a last-ditch block in the dying seconds to ensure a famous victory.
Jurgen Klopp will still be without the services of the injured trio of Nathaniel Clyne (muscular), Sadio Mané (hamstring) and Adam Lallana (thigh). Georginio Wijnaldum is also expected to be ruled out after he missed the Tottenham match with a knee injury. It’s also highly unlikely that Dejan Lovren will start this weekend with Joel Matip being partnered by the Estonian Ragnar Klavan in central defence.
Michael Hefele (Achilles) and Jon Gorenc Stankovic (knee) are still unavailable for the Huddersfield defence while Philip Billing (ankle) and Kasey Palmer (hamstring) miss out in midfield once again. Elias Kachunga (back) is unexpected to start after leaving the field during the first half against United last weekend. However, Steve Mounié is back in contention after playing the final 20 minutes last weekend – although Laurent Depoitre would feel rightly aggrieved if he was to miss out after an influential game against the Red Devils.
Key Battle: Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool) vs Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield)
After being used in the forward-left attacking position for the past three games since Sadio Mané was injured, Philippe Coutinho is needed to drop deeper into a midfield role this weekend. With both Mané and Adam Lallana due for an imminent return to the side, Coutinho’s future almost certainly lies in a more central area.
Playing on the left has seen bursts of inspiration from the Brazilian recently but his creative powers serve the team much better from deep and Liverpool have played better with Coutinho allowed more time and space to operate on the ball. To unpick a tight Huddersfield defence, Klopp would be wise to deploy Coutinho in this way.
Aaron Mooy is a player moving in the opposite direction. Having moved up from a more holding midfield role to the number 10 slot, his creativity was a key factor in his sides surprise win last weekend. With Liverpool unlikely to man-mark him and plenty of space to exploit between defence and midfield, it could again be a fruitful afternoon for the Australian playmaker.
With Klopp flitting between the use of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, neither of them are yet to convince as a long-term solution to wear the team’s gloves. A growing sentiment is starting to build on Merseyside that Danny Ward should be given the opportunity to stake his name on the team-sheet.
With young goalkeepers such as Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope proving they can follow the example set by the likes of David de
Gea and make an impact at a young age, many believe Ward should be given a chance to shine. However, this would be little more than applying a band-aid to a severed leg.
While Klopp still plays without a true holding midfielder, his centre-backs will continue to be exposed during games. Furthermore, while Liverpool are in need of a holding midfielder, a centrally-based player who can bring communication and organisation to the team is a much more pressing requirement for the Reds. Exactly how Klopp can implement that from his current squad is the biggest defensive problem he currently faces.
An Apprentice’s Graduation
David Wagner will be well aware of his rival in the opposite dugout this weekend as he both played for Mainz and began his coaching career at Borussia Dortmund alongside Jurgen Klopp. Having served as the Best Man at Klopp’s wedding, there lies a strong friendship between the two managers who even share a similar taste for both beards and baseball caps as they stand on the sidelines urging their players to press.
With a similar style of pressing football borne out of the Dortmund stable, the fundamental difference between these sides is the balancing point between defence and attack. With a smaller budget, Wagner has not been able to sign attacking players of the calibre found in Liverpool’s squad. This is likely to see Liverpool make most of the running during this weekend’s fixture, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the Reds will be more likely to finish the game on top.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Huddersfield Town
One swallow does not make a summer and, while Huddersfield will travel to Anfield in confidence, their away record does not suggest they will have an easy time on Merseyside. Klopp will be bloody-minded about seeing a reaction from his players and, although he may not get a much-needed clean sheet, his side should have enough to avoid any further bad headlines this weekend.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?