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FAN FOCUS: The Liverpool Offside Talk SAFC v Liverpool

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Fellow SBNation site The Liverpool Offside stops by to talk to Rory Fallow about this weekend's game and, erm, a few other things.

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Jurgen Klopp seems to have given Liverpool a great boost in confidence since taking over from Brendan Rodgers but results have still been inconsistent. How do you feel about him as your manager so far?

In the beginning, Fowler said, "Let there be light," and there was light reflecting off of Brendan Rodgers’ brilliant veneer, and into the Field of An. And, suddenly, that light shone upon another set of formidable chompers, rattling with the unrestrainably joyous chortles of a German messiah of normalcy, Jürgen Klopp. And his light not only shone brighter, but it countershone in a way that was really obvious in youtube clips. And so it has kind of been, sometimes, on matchdays. So it is hoped it shall been on matchdays come the morrow.

So, he’s cool. It’s casual, whatever.

Due to the injury set backs of Danny Ings & Daniel Sturridge and the erratic form of Christian Benteke & Roberto Firmino, Liverpool have struggled for consistency up front this season. Is it fair to say that this has had just as big an impact on them as their substandard defensive displays?

To paraphrase many, you have to put the ball in the net more times than the other team to be successful in this game. If Daniel Sturridge isn’t injured, Brendan Rodgers might be leading a Champions League team right now. If Danny Ings isn’t injured, Christian Benteke would be third choice striker right now. Roberto Firmino is glorious, how dare you.

But nothing—not a solitary thing—has been more substandard this season than Liverpool’s defensive displays on set pieces. We’ll take a strike partnership of Martin Skrtel and Steven Caulker for the rest of the season if it means no more set piece goals conceded.

Your only permanent January signing was the young Serbian international Marko Grujic (who was immediately loaned back to Red Star Belgrade) and there was also the loan signing of Steven Caulker. Do you think Klopp did the right thing by waiting until the summer to make signings or could you have done with some new faces sooner?

Steven Caulker was desperately needed and feels like it could lead to an easy purchase in the Summer if injuries and form break a certain way.

Grujic is a young talent, settled as an in-form starter for a title tilting side. To uproot that just to get him into a relatively packed Reds midfield mix six months early seemed a shortsighted move at the time. That feeling doesn’t really change with the closing of the January window.

The Alex Teixeira approach was reasonably close, and is one that few Reds would bemoan were it to come off in the Summer. But a critical part of the whole Jürgen Klopp experience is the development of the entire group, and he’s still figuring out what exactly the group at his disposal is. For one or two guys to move the needle any more than a healthy Coutinho, a sharpening Firmino, or a maturing Origi would, they would have to be absolutely top tier talents.

So, we’ll have two, please.

Liverpool have a couple of ex-Sunderland players in their side, of course. Simon Mignolet has been struggling lately (despite his new contract) but Jordan Henderson seems to have flourished in his time at Liverpool. What's the general consensus on both players?

Simon Mignolet is better than the form he has sustained for most of this season, but that form has gotten so bad that there kind of is no way to go but up. He’s been so far off on his calling card of quick-twitch shot stopping that we’re half expecting him to start actually landing his goal kicks in bounds. As such, we look forward to another half decade of his tenure in between Liverpool’s sticks.

When Jordan Henderson was a baby, Fowler dipped him into the River Styx to enhance his invulnerability. In doing so, the lad was dipped in hair first and was held by his heels. Needless to say, nary a hair on his head has been out of place since, and this is also why he’s been battling through these fascia/Achilles issues all season.

Where do you see yourselves finishing in the Premier League this season and how do you see yourselves progressing in cups? Win the Carling Cup final, falter in the FA Cup, and meander inconsistently to a 7th or 8th placed finish in the league en route to the most hotly anticipated Liverpool offseason since the halcyon days of the Dalgish-Commolli era.

Is there anyone in our current squad that you're particularly fearful of?

Khazri. Because, like a poorly paced slasher film, Kirchoff’s headed goal on a set piece is too obviously telegraphed to be completely scary.

Who should Sunderland be most wary of in the Liverpool side?

Roberto Firmino is in the midst of a developmental season both within this team and his own game, so the performances aren’t consistent week to week. But when things break for him in a game they do so in a way that’ll bring a passing weakness to the knees and raise a blush in the cheeks.

How to do you see yourselves lining up for the game?

4-3-3 with Roberto Firmino leading Lallana and Milner in a fluid trident ahead of a Henderson, Can, and Lucas midfield three. The backline of Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, and Moreno will be shielding the goalkeeping of Sunderland old boy Simon Mignolet. Don’t be surprised if Joe Allen comes in to midfield, do be surprised if Benteke starts, and pray Jon Flanagan doesn’t come in to defense.

Finally, a score prediction please?

2-0 Liverpool.