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Klopp waiting on Van Dijk fitness; looking to close the ‘right spaces’ against Chelsea

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Pre-match words from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool v Chelsea - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Chelsea host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Saturday in what has turned into an early-season six-pointer thanks to Liverpool’s expected excellence and Chelsea’s surprising supremacy. Should Chelsea win, just like on Wednesday in the League Cup, we’d in fact jump ahead of the visitors in the table, but probably remain behind Manchester City on goal difference (they are expected to destroy Brighton at the Etihad).

Liverpool’s mission is to not allow that to happen. And they will have an almost fully fit team to do so, though Virgil van Dijk remains a concern for them.

“Pretty much all of them [are available]. Trent [Alexander-Arnold] trained yesterday completely normal. It was not a knock, Trent was a bit ill, but that [looks] pretty good. [Wijnaldum] trained as well, so, all good.”

“With [Virgil van Dijk], we have to wait. He didn’t train with the team so far but I can’t say anything more about that.”

Similar to Chelsea sweating over Rudiger’s situation, while Klopp does have options to replace VVD, none of them would be on the same level as the most expensive defender of all time.

“Virgil is a world-class player, there’s no doubt about that, and if you miss a world-class player it’s not cool.”

“But Dejan Lovren [played] his first game after round about 10 weeks [against Chelsea] - most of the time he was that injured that he couldn’t even think about training because that part of your body it’s something that you cannot do fitness. And after that long period he played an outstanding game.

“Joel Matip, long been injured, now he played two games in a row, played fantastic, and both full-backs didn’t play in [this] season so far.

“So, if Virgil is fit and can play, he will play. But, if not, then obviously we have options and that’s really good.”

-Jürgen Klopp; Source: Evening Standard

Even more concerning for Klopp will be dealing with Chelsea’s own game. Amidst the disappointment of losing at home in the League Cup, Klopp assured that he will learn from the game and be even better prepared for this second chance. It may be tough to stop Chelsea’s best players, especially when they’re in the mood, but not impossible.

“Stop passes to [Hazard]? Good idea? Being close? Good idea, but he likes players being close sometimes. We all know we could have stopped that goal but he used that situation. No player is not defendable.”

“We have to close the right spaces. I know exactly how good he is. He’s a special player and he enjoys these one vs one situations. I didn’t need that game to find out about that.”

-Jürgen Klopp; source: Metro

“[...and] how do we defend Jorginho? We have Hazard and him. And Willian and maybe Morata or Giroud. And Kovačić running with the ball like a Formula One car. And then Kanté, don’t forget him. Come on!”

-Jürgen Klopp; source: TeamTalk

Certainly some nice words and strong praise, but obviously Klopp will back his own team any and all. But if those Chelsea players live up to Klopp’s billing, we might just notch a second victory in four days over Liverpool.