Jurgen Klopp has told Liverpool to “put things right” when they welcome Aston Villa to Anfield today following their 7-2 mauling at the hands of Dean Smith’s men earlier this season.
It is a loss that lingers in the memory for Klopp, who dismissed suggestions a 4-1 FA Cup win in January counted as any sort of payback as Villa fielded an academy side following a coronavirus outbreak among the first-team ranks. “No, we played a different Aston Villa that night,” he said. “Of course we have to put things right, that’s clear. You cannot put a game like this to one side immediately, that’s not possible. We had to work with it. A lot of things showed us in that game which were a problem that day, some of the problems we had before, some of the problems we never had before.”
“Things like this should not happen but it happened to us,” he added. “It was a really strange game. I have the game in my mind and which way I will use it I am not sure yet.”
Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick in Villa’s 7-2 win and his goals have helped his team establish themselves in the top half of the table, just five points behind faltering champions Liverpool.
Liverpool are desperate to end their Anfield jinx as they seek to return to the top four, at least temporarily — Klopp’s men have lost their past six Premier League games at home.
They will also be looking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat at Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final this week, when Naby Keita was withdrawn before half-time.
It was just the Guinean’s second European start of the season but the gamble backfired as he was replaced by Thiago Alcantara with Liverpool’s midfield in disarray.
“The substitution in the last game was a decision I made in that moment,” said Klopp. “We had to sort the game for us and it was difficult to do that without making a change. After the game, yesterday, we spoke and everything is OK. I explained the decision and he accepted it, obviously, so now we carry on.”
Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard is a revitalised player since joining West Ham on loan from Manchester United, where he had become a forgotten man. The England midfielder flourished in the early days of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign at Old Trafford but became an increasingly peripheral figure as Bruno Fernandes assumed the main creative role.
But the 28-year-old has made up for lost time since arriving at the London Stadium in January, scoring six goals in eight Premier League matches. He has also won back his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
West Ham, who host Leicester tomorrow, are fourth in the Premier League table, one point clear of Chelsea with eight games remaining. Lingard, who scored a spectacular goal and played a part in the other two in Monday’s 3-2 win against Wolves, has urged his team-mates to stay level-headed.
Newcastle, who have been flirting with the relegation places, could find themselves in the bottom three by the time they kick off tomorrow if Fulham beat Wolves. Steve Bruce’s side have won just two of their past 21 games in all competitions but the manager has dismissed suggestions of a split in the camp.
The Magpies can take some confidence ahead of the game against Burnley from last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham.
Bottom-placed Sheffield United appear doomed but there is a flicker of hope at 19th-placed West Brom, who hammered 10-man Chelsea 5-2 last week.
Fixtures (All times GMT)
Today: Saturday Manchester City v Leeds (1130), Liverpool v Aston Villa (1400), Crystal Palace v Chelsea (1630)
Tomorrow: Burnley v Newcastle (1100), West Ham v Leicester (1305), Tottenham v Manchester United (1530), Sheffield United v Arsenal (1800)
Monday: West Brom v Southampton (1700), Brighton v Everton (1915)
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