LONDON, April 17 — Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has hailed Leeds United’s fearless approach under coach Marcelo Bielsa and warned his players of the unique challenges the Yorkshire outfit pose, unlike any other team in the Premier League.
The two teams meet at Elland Road on Monday in an important clash for reigning champions Liverpool’s hopes of securing a top-four finish this season.
“(Leeds) are tough opponents and we really respect that,” Klopp told a news conference today, with Liverpool entering the weekend three points behind fourth-placed West Ham United who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.
Leeds made the champions work extremely hard for a 4-3 win at Anfield in their first match of the season.
They also produced one of the biggest upsets of the season last weekend when they stunned runaway leaders Manchester City 2-1, despite going down to 10 men in the first half.
Klopp said he was surprised at how Leeds managed to deliver late counterattacks despite their numerical disadvantage at the Etihad Stadium.
“I watched the game and it was really exciting to see what is possible in football,” Klopp said.
“Leeds, in the moment, is probably the most different game in the league. You can compare a few teams with each other, some play this, some play that. But Leeds is really special, and so for that we have to be ready.”
Klopp said Liverpool’s long-term injury absentees - Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip - are making solid progress in their rehabilitation programmes at the club’s training ground.
“They all are (on track), Joe as well. Joe is outside running now and all these kind of things, which is obviously always a big step after all injuries,” Klopp added.
“He looks fine when he is running, no real reaction in the knee, which is very important. It obviously still takes time but he’s in a good way. Like Virg, Joel and Hendo (are).” — Reuters