clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fan Focus: Do Liverpool Supporters Think A Win This Weekend Is A Foregone Conclusion?

Liverpool have been fantastic to watch this season and This Is Anfield writer Henry Jackson is in an optimistic mood ahead of the game on Merseyside this weekend.

RR: It can't be said enough just how dangerous this Liverpool team looks going forward. It must be an absolute joy to watch every week and the fans seem to be fully in love with Klopp. Are you daring to have dreams of the title yet?

HJ: It's certainly a great time to be a Liverpool supporter, and although we have had many false dawns in the past, this does feel like the start of something genuinely special.

I honestly don't think there is a manager in world football better suited to managing the Reds than Jurgen Klopp, and he just 'got' the club from minute one. He's made an incredible difference in just over a year, in terms of quality of football, uniting the fanbase and making us dream again.

The style of play hasn't been this exciting since the late 1980s, and even though we've scored five or six goals against some teams, it's no exaggeration to say it could've been 10 on those occasions!

If you're a Liverpool supporter and you don't like him, there's something badly wrong with you.

RR: It feels like Liverpool have had new life breathed into them since Klopp became manager. Just how much of a lift has he given the place?

HJ: As I said above, he's just brought a feel-good factor back that was missing during the end of Brendan Rodgers' reign. Even when we nearly won the league in 2013/14, he was still a divisive character.

It's almost impossible not to love everything about Klopp - even our rivals find it impossible to dislike him - but the most important thing of all is that he's a world-class manager with amazing man management skills. He has instilled a winning mentality in his players, and got the likes of Dejan Lovren, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana, among others, playing with such confidence, having struggled at times before his arrival.

RR: Not to be too negative but how concerned are you about the defence, given you've only kept two clean sheets this season? I suppose Joel Matip becoming established in the team will help things but are there any doubts about Loris Karius?

HJ: To be honest, I'm not worried at all about our defence in open play. Loris Karius, who is growing into his role after a nervy start, has barely had to make more than five meaningful saves since coming into the team in September, which shows we are not easy to get through. Joel Matip has been a fantastic signing, and could become our modern day Sami Hyypia.

What I must stress, however, is that our set-piece defending remains woeful. There seems to be a mental issue with it all now, and whenever Liverpool concede a corner or free-kick out wide, you can sense the fear. It's something Sunderland can definitely exploit on Saturday.

There have been a few signs of late that it's improving, but I'm just waiting for the next mishap to occur.

RR: One player I'd be interested in hearing a fans view on is Adam Lallana, he's been excellent for club and country lately. He looks like he's really gone up a level but what is it in particular that he's improved? How much has working under Jurgen Klopp aided his development too?

HJ: He's having a brilliant season, and he will be a big loss this weekend, assuming he is still out.

It certainly took a while for him to get going at Anfield, but I'd say the key difference in his game is that he's added substance in the final third. He used to flitter about and look good, but not chip in with enough goals and assists, but that has completely changed. Klopp has found a role for him in central midfield, and he's been a revelation.

He and Klopp have an excellent relationship - they are neighbours - and both clearly think very highly of each other. I'd say he England's best player now, without being too biased.

RR: Onto the game, is there any Sunderland player in particular you're worried about?

HJ: I can't admit to having watched Sunderland avidly this season, but Jermain Defoe always strikes fear into me. He's just such a ruthless finisher. He showed that at Anfield last season, when you got the most unlikely of 2-2 draws.

I've been impressed with Duncan Watmore from what I've seen, mainly in terms of his work ethic and general attitude, while Victor Anichebe is playing well and will be desperate to silence the home crowd, having previously been at Everton. Jordan Pickford also looks an excellent young goalkeeper - he made some superb saves against Hull City last weekend.

RR: On that note, who should Sunderland fans be keeping their eye on? I suppose there's quite a few!

HJ: There are, I'm not going to lie!

Philippe Coutinho is the obvious one, and his form in the last month or so has been better than any player in the league, but I love Roberto Firmino as a player. His work both on and off the ball is so crucial to how Liverpool play, and he has a subtlety to his game that means he's not always as appreciated as others. He is such a clever footballer.

Sadio Mane has added a much-needed extra dimension in the final third, in terms of pace, movement and end product, and to have someone like Daniel Sturridge on the bench shows exactly how devastating our front-three has been. James Milner can become influential from his new left-back role as matches reach their latter stages, while Emre Can has started adding more goals from central midfield.

It's not about individuals, though, with Klopp always stating the importance of the team. That's been the secret behind their success this season.

RR: I expect Liverpool to be taking the game straight to us but how do you think you'll approach the game overall, and how will you line up?

HJ: I think it will be exactly what we saw at home to the likes of Leicester City, Hull, West Brom and Watford. We haven't actually started games particularly well in the first 10 minutes, but then we've gone up an almighty gear and been impossible to live with.

I expect us to have a huge amount of the ball and to press relentlessly, and an early-ish goal will ease any potential nerves inside Anfield. Sunderland will be feeling fairly confident after two wins on the bounce, though, so we have to wary of the threat they may pose on the counter-attack, and especially, from set-pieces.

Karius will continue in goal, as will the first-choice defence of Nathaniel Clyne, Matip, Lovren and Milner, while Henderson will anchor the midfield, as he has so brilliantly in the last few months.

With Lallana probably out, Klopp is likely to go with Can and Georginio Wijnaldum ahead of Henderson, although I'd be tempted to play Coutinho there in place of one of them, with Sturridge in between Firmino and Mane up front.

With all due respect to Sunderland, these are games when we should be able to play a more attack-minded starting line-up and not worry too much about being caught out.

RR: Can we have a prediction as well please?

HJ: Anyone who knows me will tell you that I've been the ultimate Liverpool pessimist down the years, but the sheer impact of Klopp is changing me for the better.

I'm slightly worried about Moyes doing a job on us, simply because he hates the Reds and will want to shut us up, but I just can't see the Black Cats containing us for 90 minutes.

I'll go 3-1, with Firmino scoring a brace, Sturridge getting his first league goal of the season and either Defoe or Anichebe finding the net for Sunderland.


You can check out This Is Anfield on their website, and be sure to follow Henry on Twitter.