Free-scoring Liverpool faces Benitez exam at Anfield
LIVERPOOL – Agence France-Presse
Liverpool’s free-scoring form faces a challenge as their former manager Rafa Benitez returns to Anfield with Newcastle in the Premier League on March 4.
Optimism is high for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who climbed briefly into second place after beating West Ham 4-1 last Saturday, before Manchester United moved back above them with victory over Chelsea a day later.
The latest win at Anfield offered another example of the thrilling football that Liverpool have played under Klopp this season, scoring 103 goals in 40 games in all competitions.
Of those goals, 66 have been shared between the formidable front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool should know that former boss Benitez knows how to set up a team to frustrate opponents. Liverpool must be wary of falling into the trap that caught them when they suffered their most recent defeat, 1-0 at Swansea on January 22.
That night, Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal suggested that Liverpool were like a Formula One car stuck in a rush-hour traffic jam, referring to the way his players had worked to stop Salah, Firmino and Sane.
Klopp’s side have scored 18 goals in six games since then, but both the manager and his players are aware that Newcastle could prove awkward.
“It is a very, very important game for everyone and I think everyone is looking forward to the match,” said Liverpool midfielder Emre Can said.
“I think we have a good basis now for the end of the season. We are third in the Premier League, we are still in the Champions League and I think we are in a very good position.
“Each game is like a final. We have to look from each game to each game and now on Saturday [March 4] it will really be a very tough game against Newcastle.”
Klopp is hopeful that midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and striker Danny Ings will recover from illness to be considered for selection; the only other fitness problem in the squad concerns full-back Nathaniel Clyne, who is recovering from a back injury.