EPL

Klopp on Man City resting players at Chelsea: Pep should play poker

By Sports Desk June 24, 2020

Jurgen Klopp joked Pep Guardiola should play poker after the Manchester City boss hinted he may rest some key players for Thursday's trip to Chelsea.

The reigning Premier League champions travel to Stamford Bridge before playing Newcastle United less than 72 hours later in an FA Cup quarter-final at the weekend.

City must win against Frank Lampard's side to keep the title race alive, mathematically at least, after Liverpool moved closer to being crowned with a resounding 4-0 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday.

Asked about Guardiola's comments on leaving out some of his leading names against Chelsea, Klopp told Sky Sports: "What? He said that? Pep... he should play poker probably."

Klopp had exalted Guardiola's squad before the game against the Eagles and was again effusive in his praise after the victory, admitting his Reds cannot expect to play in a similar manner.

"Manchester City - I couldn't respect them more," the Liverpool boss added.

"The football they play, I really like it a lot. We are different, we have to be different. We cannot be like Manchester City. 

"We probably celebrate different things when they happen. There are different ways of football and I like them both."

After a 0-0 draw away at neighbours Everton on Sunday, Liverpool rediscovered their scoring touch to brush aside Palace and move to the brink of glory, albeit the ongoing coronavirus pandemic meant no fans were inside Anfield to enjoy the occasion.

"Imagine if the stadium was full today and all the people could have experienced that live – it would have been amazing," Klopp said.

"I don't think the game would have been better, to be honest. My boys played like everybody was in the stadium. The atmosphere on the pitch was incredible. 

"It was for sure the best counter-pressing game I've ever seen behind closed doors. It was exceptional. 

"The attitude shown by the boys was amazing, I liked it a lot - and the football we played as well."

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    Copenhagen had conceded more than one goal just twice in their previous 42 games in Europe. They knew the onus was on United to dictate and, presumably, also knew the difficulty the Red Devils have had in breaking down sides this season. Their approach was not a surprise, and nor was United's inability to unsettle them.

    Luck was against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, it's true. Mason Greenwood had a goal disallowed for offside, a penalty was overturned because of Harry Maguire straying beyond the last man, and Greenwood, Fernandes and Victor Lindelof each hit the woodwork.

    There was also an inspired Karl-Johan Johnsson in the Copenhagen goal. In a remarkable performance, he made 13 saves, the joint-most of any keeper in a Europa League match since the competition's rebranding from the UEFA Cup in 2009. The best came against Martial, who grew increasingly dangerous as the game wore on and was the only United forward to drive at the Copenhagen defence and destabilise their impressive rearguard.

    That's where Sancho would be invaluable. The 20-year-old has plundered the Bundesliga in a Dortmund side where he is encouraged to run straight at a full-back or centre-half at every available opportunity. Against a team like Copenhagen, built around zonal marking and covering the space in front of the box, that kind of approach can shift matters in your favour.

    Of course, United should be expected to beat teams like this without an extra-time penalty or the need to spend around £100million on a new winger, and they certainly created enough to have made the scoreline more comfortable. The inescapable truth remains that Solskjaer's side lurch from dazzling to tedious, too often attacking down blind alleys while trying to follow the trumpeted United Way.

    Sancho would change that - assuming he would want to go.

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