LONDON (AP) Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to improve its focus at the beginning of Premier League matches, starting against surprise league leaders Leicester at Anfield on Saturday.
In three of Klopp’s 15 matches as manager of Liverpool, the team has conceded a goal inside five minutes, including at Watford in the 3-0 defeat last Sunday.
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That early goal paved the way for a dominant display by Watford at Vicarage Road and an emphatic defeat for Liverpool. Klopp is eager to see a response by his players.
“We need to concentrate from the first second onwards,” Klopp said. “We make difficulties by ourselves. We have to avoid starts in games like we have done too often this season. I want to defend a 1-0, not strike back after 0-1.”
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Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and central defender Dejan Lovren are set to return for the visit of Leicester.
Mignolet should replace Adam Bogdan, who dropped a corner which led to Watford’s opening goal, while Lovren could fill in for Martin Skrtel, who injured his hamstring at Watford.
Here are some other talking points ahead of Saturday’s Premier League matches:
HIDDINK BACK AT CHELSEA
Guus Hiddink is back at Chelsea for the second time in his managerial career, tasked with salvaging the club’s season after a woeful start cost Jose Mourinho his job.
Hiddink’s first game is against Watford at Stamford Bridge but the new manager has already warned his side, which is currently 15th in the Premier League, that the remainder of the season is going to be challenging.
“It’s not easy to fix,” Hiddink said. “”I shouldn’t be here halfway through the season because it means that things are not going well.”
RANIERI ON THE RUN
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri acknowledged that some supporters are dreaming of winning the Premier League, with the club top of the table at Christmas for the first time in its history.
And while many others think it’s a matter of time before Leicester falls away, Ranieri isn’t excluding anything. He says simply of the team’s title hopes: “Why can’t we?”
He takes his side to Liverpool and, although Klopp’s team has struggled recently, Ranieri is expecting a difficult match.
“The players know we are doing well but we haven’t achieved anything,” Ranieri said. “When the manager and the players make the fans happy, then this is fantastic. But now we are only concentrating on Liverpool, then when we’ve finished that match we will concentrate on the next. Why can’t we continue to run, run, run?”
TOTTENHAM EYES TOP FOUR
With three games coming in quick succession, Tottenham has an opportunity to establish itself in the top four of the Premier League during the festive period.
Its victory at Southampton last weekend, coinciding with Manchester United’s defeat against Norwich, saw it dislodge Louis Van Gaal‘s side in fourth – the final Champions League qualifying place.
Tottenham faces Norwich at White Hart Lane on Saturday and, with the club having lost only twice in 17 league games this season, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side heads into a busy period with plenty of momentum.
But midfielder Tom Carroll believes Norwich is a dangerous opponent after winning at Old Trafford.
“We’re confident,” Carroll said. “It was a great result for them against United last week. They did us a favor as well in terms of the league table, but it shows what they can do.”
The other Premier League fixtures on Saturday include Louis van Gaal demanding “immediate” improvement from his Manchester United team at Stoke, Manchester City hosting Sunderland and Arsenal at Southampton. Swansea plays at home to West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle faces Everton, Bournemouth is at home to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa is against West Ham.