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West Ham attempt another upset in FA Cup replay with Liverpool
Jürgen Klopp’s first and foremost concern as Liverpool take on West Ham United an FA Cup Fourth Round replay tomorrow will be his own person health. The German recently had surgery to remove his appendix, forcing him to miss Liverpool’s draw with Sunderland at the weekend, and said he will be careful to hold back on any extravagant touchline celebrations, per The Guardian. “I won’t jump around, because I have a few holes in my body,” he laughed. “Hopefully the water will stay in.”
“The surgeon was great, a Liverpool season ticket holder,” he added per the Independent. “I am feeling really good, that is why I am here. If I wasn’t fit, I would be at home.”
He’ll then turn his attention to attempt to patch up his team’s leaky back-line after they disappointingly let slip a two-goal lead against Sunderland at the weekend. It was an all-too-familiar story this season, with the club having conceded ten goals in the final fifteen minutes of their Premier League matches. They have dropped twelve points from winning positions in the league this season, fewer only than newly-promoted Bournemouth, and West Ham have been their biggest nemesis outside of the big six.
Liverpool haven’t won in their three previous meetings with the Hammers this season, nor even scored a goal. Back in August, Slaven Bilić’s side produced a counter-attacking masterclass to beat the Reds 3-0 during Brendan Rodgers’ final few weeks in charge at Anfield, and a goalscoring man-of-the-match performance from Andy Carroll gave West Ham a 2-0 win over Liverpool last month. Most recently, the two sides battled to a a tight, scoreless draw at Anfield.
Klopp will stick to his favored gegenpressing style of football when defending the Hammer’s star playmaker, Dimitri Payet, saying, per Liverpool’s official website: “We should not try to find a solution only for Payet, the solution is to avoid the passes to Payet. If he doesn’t have the ball too often then it’s not possible to have the biggest influence on the game, that’s how football should work I think. We have no player we can say, ‘come on, follow him, if necessary to the restroom’. We play our football. He can decide games, for sure, but only if we give him the opportunity.”
He added: “We haven’t decided about the starting line-up. We now have a very important session.
“[Sturridge] was fit enough to be on the bench. He was impressive in the last session on Friday night, so we thought ‘come on, if there’s a chance for 10 or 15 minutes, we should try it’.
“Divock [Origi] and [Philippe Coutinho] will be in training today too and are in the squad, hopefully, for tomorrow.
“It’s a little bit complicated because extra-time is possible. We have to look at who will start – they can’t all start together, that’s not possible because we know we would have to change three times because the whole game would be too much in this moment.”
On the opposite touchline, Bilic said his side are prepared regardless of who starts: “We have played Liverpool many, many times, this is the third in a short space of time. They were different line-ups every time. Whoever they play, they have good players, they are all Liverpool players. We are well prepared for whatever team they come with. I don’t see it as a big problem.”
It will potentially be the club’s last FA Cup game at Upton Park, fanning the flames of what is set to be an intense fixture, although Bilic said that his side are simply focusing on the task at hand.
“It is important but it would be as important if there wasn’t a story about the Olympic Stadium,” he said. “It’s not about a farewell to Upton Park. OK, it adds a little bit, but it would be the same and we would put our strongest team anyway. It has nothing to do with the stadium. We are very determined. We are not thinking about Norwich [on Saturday] for one second. We are thinking and we are totally focused on the game tomorrow night. We are going to do everything we can.”
He also credited Klopp’s resilience to play through injury, a situation he has been in before.
“I don’t think he will be back because of the pressure,” said the Croat. “He will be back because he is like that. He would be back even if they were top of the table and 10 points clear. It’s why he is a leader. That’s why he’s Jürgen Klopp.
“It’s not that this situation forces him to jump out of bed and go back into training. He’s Jürgen Klopp and he’s a successful man in his job because he is like that. He likes to work. For him it’s natural, he wants to be back and that’s why he is doing it. He probably isn’t going to run with the guys on the pitch but is going to be there, it is his presence.”
Homepage photo credit: By joshjdss (West Ham Vs Birkrikara) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons