This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Jurgen Klopp has continued the mind games with Manchester City after stating that their performance at Anfield last season “was probably the biggest show of respect” he faced as a manager.
The German’s comments come not long after Pep Guardiola and Sadio Mane went back and forth about the claims of the Senegal international diving. Now, it seems the Liverpool boss wants to keep the ball rolling.
Klopp told Sky Sports: “In the last couple of years, we both gave a lot of respect for each other. City’s performance at Liverpool last season was probably the biggest show of respect one of my teams ever got. That’s how it is.
“They played differently to what they usually do – that’s true. But, that’s football. We all have to make a plan for one game, and in this specific case against one of the best sides in the world.
“We play at home, and last season we played a game at theirs where we lost by 11 millimetres otherwise the ball was in [John Stones’ clearance on the goal line] and it was another draw.
“I think that would have been deserved, so there are tight games and that’s how it is when high-quality teams face each other, so I expect another tight game.”
As the two met at Anfield last season, both clubs were laying down a marker for an early title chase. The draw left both sides on 20 points after eight games, extending City’s winless run at Anfield to 15 years.
However, Riyad Mahrez had a glorious chance to snatch three points and surely alter the course of the upcoming season. The winger blazed over a penalty in the dying seconds of the game in a moment that saw City squander an opportunity to stamp their authority on the title race.
Now, this time around, things may be just as close. City have a growing injury list and are visiting the stadium where they never win. Last year, City had just 51% of the ball against the Reds, which in a Guardiola side, does show an awful lot of respect.
Later in the season, Stones’ clearance off the line was saved by millimetres at the Etihad, as the champions went onto win the title by a point.
It was a title race defined by the finest of fine margins and, despite the fact Liverpool could go nine-points clear this weekend, it looks like we could be set for a similar scenario this season.