EPL

Klopp sets counter-pressing challenge as Firmino ruled out of Forest clash

By Sports Desk April 21, 2023

Jurgen Klopp told Liverpool's forwards counter-pressing will always be the "ticket" into his starting lineup, as Roberto Firmino was ruled out of Saturday's game against Nottingham Forest.

Liverpool ended a five-match winless run by thrashing Leeds United 6-1 last time out, with attacking quartet Cody Gakpo, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez all on target.

Liverpool are looking to move within six points of the Premier League's top four when they host Forest, before Champions League contenders Newcastle United and Tottenham face off on Sunday.

The Reds will be without Firmino for their next game after he sustained a muscle injury, which could also force him to sit out meetings with West Ham and Tottenham next week.

"Unfortunately Bobby picked up a muscle issue, we'll see how long that takes," Klopp said.

"It's not too serious, but he's definitely out for tomorrow and next week we have two more games. I'd say those are impossible as well, we will see. We have to take it day by day."

With Luis Diaz's return from injury adding to Liverpool's options in attack, Klopp was asked how he selects a three-man frontline from the six elite forwards in his squad.

"The ticket into this team will definitely be counter-pressing," he said. "That's where everything started, I wouldn't say that we lost it a little bit… but we had so many games where I didn't like that.

"That's a pretty strict thing. All five available right now – six with Bobby – can do it pretty well. But if you do it in the games you play, you have the chance to start again.

"Everybody's super important and everyone will play, but again, the ticket will be the desire to win the ball back as soon as we lose it, because we had so many times where that made a difference."

The fierce competition for places in Liverpool's attack has seen Nunez start their last two games on the bench, and Klopp says the Uruguayan is still adapting amid a difficult debut season.

"Darwin is a player with a different skillset to all our other players. He's a real handful and he already scored a decent number of goals," Klopp said.

"Of course, he's still adapting, his English is still not great if it exists at all – we are working on that. 

"It's not helpful to go through a difficult debut season for the whole team. How can a striker shine when the whole team is struggling? 

"It's no problem at all, this is a long-term project. I understand that he wants to play from the beginning, but we have to find a way of playing that works for us, then fit in the players." 

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