Fatigue takes toll on over-worked Liverpool
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits tiredness looks to be catching up with his players ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash against Sunderland.
Klopp’s side played nine games in all competitions in January before kicking-off their equally hectic February schedule with a lacklustre performance in a 2-0 defeat at league leaders Leicester in midweek.
“Leicester had 10 days off and we had three games, so if we could have played at the same intensity, absolutely even, like them then I think they would have done something wrong,” said Klopp after two goals from Jamie Vardy handed Liverpool a third defeat in five league games.
The Reds have won just once in that run to slip to eighth place in the table and there is little time for rest with the visit of Sunderland, fighting for their lives as they look to avoid relegation, the first of six games in the space of three weeks, culminating in the League Cup final against Manchester City on February 28.
No major new signings in the January transfer window have reduced Klopp’s ability to freshen things up as he continues largely with the squad he inherited from Brendan Rodgers last October.
On the plus side, he does have a couple of attacking players on the way back from injury as he looks to keep Liverpool challenging in the league, the FA and League Cups and the Europa League.
Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi were both due to resume training on Thursday and could be back to face Sunderland, who were beaten 1-0 by the Merseysiders at the end of December.
England international Daniel Sturridge has also resumed training following another spell on the sidelines but the injury-hit striker, whose last appearance was at the start of December and who has played only five league games this season, is not expected to return on Saturday or for Liverpool’s FA Cup fourth-round replay at West Ham next Tuesday.
– Distraction –
Klopp will therefore need to continue to look for goals from elsewhere following a three-match goalless run as Liverpool play their only league game of the month.
Some supporters plan a walk-out in the 77th-minute in protest over increased ticket prices, but the players will hope that is not a distraction as they to bounce back from their midweek defeat and record a first home league win since Boxing Day.
“You can’t really change anything anymore, so the only thing you have to do is learn from the mistakes you made and take the positives into the next game,” said Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
“When we play at home against Sunderland we have to take the three points.”
Wahbi Khazri insists Sunderland can still avoid relegation as the 24-year-old prepares to make his full debut for the club.
The Tunisia midfielder impressed as a second-half substitute in the 1-0 midweek defeat at home to Manchester City that leaves Sam Allardyce’s side second bottom and four points adrift of safety with 14 games remaining.
Sunderland’s decade-long stay in the top flight is under threat after just two wins in their last 10 matches, but Khazri said: “We’re in a difficult position in the league, it’s very serious and we need points.
“But there are still a lot of games left and plenty of points to pick up if we work together. A couple of quick victories will really help us.
“We put in a good performance against a top team in City, so let’s see if we can do the same against Liverpool.”
Allardyce reports no fresh injury concerns, with Khazri set to replace Dutch international Jeremain Lens in the starting line-up at Anfield, where Sunderland haven’t won in 17 visits since 1983.