Klopp demands ‘different level’ for City rematch | Jota fitness doubt
Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool were not at their best in their 2-2 draw at Manchester City last weekend and believes his side “can perform to a different level” when the two sides clash in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.
Liverpool were forced to come from behind twice in a thrilling 2-2 draw with City at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday that leaves the Premier League title race still on a knife edge.
Having also drawn 2-2 with their Premier League rivals at Anfield earlier in the season, Klopp is aiming to go one better this weekend and secure a return to Wembley for the final.
When asked whether the two sides can surprise each other any more, Klopp said: “We think a lot about these games. We have to. City were really strong last week and we were not at our best.
“So, I’d like to see a game where we are at our best. It would be interesting so why don’t we give that a try? That would be nice, it could be a surprise if all of a sudden, we are good.
“The boys did a lot of good stuff in the game, but there were a couple of things and I know that we can perform to a different level.
“Then it’s a cup game, a one off, and if it’s 2-2 again then it’s 120 minutes then it’s penalties, that would be really crazy to go all the way.”
We had it last week before we played City (in the league). We had an away game and arrived the next day. Travelling is intense. Will it give an advantage? I have no idea. For both teams I think their games were intense.
Klopp: Good chance Jota will be fit to face City
Meanwhile, Klopp is confident Diogo Jota will be fit to face Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday.
The Portugal international came off with a knock just before the hour in Wednesday’s 3-3 Champions League draw with Benfica, however, Klopp believes the forward will be fine.
The German said: “Diogo pulled up slightly directly after the game.
“It’s Diogo: there’s a good chance he will be all right but we need to have a look tomorrow. That’s it.”
‘It means everything to us’
Klopp on the importance of the FA Cup to Liverpool:
“The FA Cup is a massive competition. So far, we couldn’t even get to the semis, so it’s our first experience of a semi-final at Wembley, but better late than never. Now we are there is means everything to us. I hope the fans can get to London, I think the trains have stopped, and we have the atmosphere a semi-final between Manchester City v Liverpool deserves.”
Klopp on resting Salah: ‘He hates that’
One player that should be fit and ready to face Manchester City is Mohamed Salah.
Against Benfica on Wednesday the Egypt international was rested for only the third time, excluding cup matches, this season – and one of those occasions was just a couple of days after he had returned as a defeated Africa Cup of Nations finalist.
Salah, who came off the bench just before the hour in the Champions League quarter-final second leg 3-3 draw which secured a last-four spot against Villarreal, has played 49 matches for club and country already. There is the possibility he could be required for another 12 if Liverpool maintain their progress in Europe and the FA Cup, where they face Manchester City in a semi-final on Saturday, and that means his time will still have to be managed.
Klopp said the decision to start him on the bench, alongside the likes of Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara, against Benfica was planned had nothing to do with his form, with Salah not having scored from open play since mid-February.
“The reason for Mo not starting is easy,” Klopp said. “It was about, yes he played City but after that we hopefully have 12 games. That’s why when we have an opportunity, we change. That’s all.
“Even if Mo had scored four goals in the last game, he wouldn’t have started yesterday. That’s how it is. Nothing to do with anything, there’s no story to make of it. It’s just a necessity.
“Mo played in January and February six times 120 minutes. Now we can just close our eyes and say, “Who cares?” Even he is just a human being. That’s why it’s clear there will be games he doesn’t start and games where we take him off. He hates that, that’s clear.
“People might think what I’m doing the whole day. I’m thinking about these kind of things when these things are really necessary to do. It was clearly the case and I think the game proved it 100 per cent.
“We spoke afterwards about conceding the goals. Yes, it was in moments not good defending. But it’s nothing. A bit flat-footed and hoping for offside, that’s not how you should do it. The intensity of the game showed me it was 100 per cent to change seven times. That’s why Mo didn’t start. I just hope the boys can play at their highest level as often as somehow possible. That’s what we try to do.”