Jurgen Klopp warns Liverpool fans: it will be the toughest season we will all face
Premier League kicks off with the European champions taking on the Championship winners at Anfield
The Premier League is back and after the drama of deadline day it’s unlikely that Anfield this evening will witness the same level of excitement in the season’s opening match.
Liverpool host Norwich City and it’s hard to see how the newly-promoted Canaries can defeat the Champions League winners.
Unbeaten at fortress Anfield in the last two seasons, the Reds haven’t lost at home since April 2017, the month before Daniel Farke took over at Norwich.
Like Jurgen Klopp, the 42-year-old Farke includes German giants Borussia Dortmund among his previous clubs, having managed the reserve squad from 2015 to 2017.
“We don’t know each other, we were at the same club but at different times,” explained Klopp. “When I left, he arrived, pretty much the same year I think, he followed on from David Wagner, who went to England as well.”
Nonetheless, Klopp was lavish in his praise of his compatriot who has steered Norwich back to the Premier League after a three-year absence.
“I respect him a lot,” said the Liverpool manager in an interview with Australian broadcaster Optus Sport.
“He’s doing an incredible job and a lot of my former players play for him at Norwich... Mario Vrancic, [Christoph] Zimmermann, [Marco] Stiepermann, Moritz Leitner, we became champions together in 2011-12, which was really a good time.
“So I’m looking forward to seeing them and meeting Daniel Farke for the first time.”
While Klopp extends his respect towards tonight’s opponents, he’s also demanding a ruthless start to the season from his players in order to send a warning to their Premier League rivals.
“What’s very important, even as a team who won the Champions League last year, [is] we have to stay the team who nobody wants to play against,” he explained at the pre-match press conference.
“Not because of the name or the quality we have, but because of the intensity we put into the game. That’s what I will ask the boys for and what we have to show for the first time this season.”
29 years and counting...
Despite last season’s Champions League triumph, Liverpool are still without a domestic top-flight title since 1990 and the challenge is likely to be even greater this season given that every club will want to try and beat the European champions.
“Maybe it’s like this but that’s what we have to be ready for,” replied Klopp, when asked if they’re the club everyone wants to beat, even more than reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
“When Liverpool is coming or somebody is showing up at Anfield, it always looks like a very special game. Can it be even more special? I don’t know in the moment but we have to be ready for that.”
‘It’s going to be tough’
Writing in the programme for tonight’s match Klopp has called on the Kop to enjoy what will be the toughest season of his reign at Anfield.
He wrote: “Here is what I know for certain: it will be the toughest, most challenging season we will all face, and that is because of the quality we compete with.
“Starting tonight we face outstanding players, led by brilliant managers and coaches week in and week out – it doesn’t stop. But it’s the challenge that makes it so fulfilling and so enjoyable.
“Let’s never lose sight of what we are all involved in; it’s about energy and joy, it’s about shared experiences. There is so much in the outside world that is not to enjoy at the moment, so much that is divisive.
“Football at its best is the antidote to this, albeit we know it can only often be brief respite. Football offers the chance for people from all backgrounds and all communities to come together and focus on achieving something amazing through collective effort.”
On your toes
As for who is expected to start tonight’s match, Klopp was giving nothing away, although he confirmed that James Milner has shaken off an injury and Sadio Mane is raring to go after returning to the club from international duty only on Monday.
“We have a lot of options, I could have a lot of different line-ups,” said Klopp. “But then with the first whistle we have to be in the season and in the game, all of us. Just be on your toes, like in the best game.”
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures
Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off sees champions Manchester City travel to West Ham United. In Sunday’s big game Manchester United host Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Friday 9 August
- Liverpool vs. Norwich City (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 10 August (3pm unless stated)
- West Ham United vs. Manchester City (12.30pm, live on BT Sport)
- Bournemouth vs. Sheffield United
- Burnley vs. Southampton
- Crystal Palace vs. Everton
- Watford vs. Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa (5.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
Sunday 11 August
- Leicester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (2pm)
- Newcastle United vs. Arsenal (2pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Manchester United vs. Chelsea (4.30pm, live on Sky Sports)