‘It’s fashionable to criticise Liverpool but they have the weapons to hurt Man Utd’ – Fowler | Soccer


There are three teams that have managed to deny Jurgen Klopp a Premier League victory since his appointment as Liverpool manager, but Newcastle and Southampton holding that acclaim will perhaps not sting as much as Manchester United also possessing the honour.

That is largely because in the “salt in the soup” fixtures against the club’s fierce adversaries, as the German described it, his side have turned in performances deserving of celebrations at the final whistle which haven’t yet materialised. 

Klopp’s first sampling of the rivalry was on January 17, 2016, when Louis van Gaal was still at the helm of the Old Trafford club and Wayne Rooney’s strike in the 78th minute secured victory along with a goalkeeping masterclass from David de Gea.

And in both top-flight matches last season, Jose Mourinho’s obstructive approach ensured two draws – one finishing goalless at Anfield with the reverse fixture reading 1-1.

In these league meetings between the clubs since Klopp’s appointment (the 50-year-old dumped United out of the last 16 of the Europa League during his debut campaign on Merseyside), Liverpool have had more than double the shots on target (11) than their counterparts (5), as well as averaged more possession and passes in the final third.

It is intriguing then, that a fixture they have dominated but not won domestically under Klopp comes at a time where that has been their wider problem across all competitions since the previous international break.

Liverpool registered a solitary victory in their last seven games, with four draws, as they have failed to convert chances at one end only to watch the opposition maximise the rare opportunities they carve out – or are gifted – at the other.

But Reds legend Robbie Fowler, who featured in this heated match-up on 14 occasions, scoring six times, believes the negativity surrounding his former club is unwarranted ahead of Saturday’s showdown, despite United’s explosive start to the season.

“As much as it’s not ideal going into this game straight after an international break as you’d like to play these fixtures when you’ve got a great run of confidence with some big victories to build up to it, it could work in Liverpool’s favour,”  he told Goal.

“United went into the break scoring a lot, hardly ever conceding and full of belief in themselves as they were winning games quite comfortably, but now they’ve had the bulk of their players go away – as have Liverpool – for two weeks and they’ve probably not wanted this situation. They would’ve preferred to keep going, while Liverpool were not getting the results they were after despite playing well, so this could be a good restart for them.

Robbie Fowler

“Everyone’s doom and gloom when talking about them at the minute – I really don’t think that should be the case. It’s still relatively early in the season, there are still so many points on offer and I’m not going to sit here and say Liverpool are going to be champions because I’ll sound ridiculous now, but they’re not a million miles away.

“If they get this win on Saturday, then the doom and gloom suddenly fades and the confidence rises for the next game.”

Fowler acknowledges there will be more pressure on the Reds to deliver “the right performance and finally get the right result” in the encounter and he expects Mourinho to be typically disobliging with his approach.

“The match is probably more important for Liverpool given the situation both clubs are in and the onus will be on them because Jose Mourinho’s plan will be to be compact and United don’t have to force things with the results they’ve had,” the ex-tormentor of Premier League defences added.

“Liverpool tend to play at an improved level against their rivals under Klopp and at Anfield they are more than a match for any side, which they’ve proved on several occasions.

“Defensively, of course, Liverpool can be stronger as there’s plenty of room for improvement. Going forward, the finishing hasn’t been what the club would’ve liked, but I’d be way more concerned if they weren’t creating chances because that tells me a lot more.

GFX Liverpool v United PL points since Mourinho

“Eventually – and hopefully it is on Saturday – it will click for Liverpool and they will be converting more. It will definitely turn and a few goals will be struck against an opponent because there’s definitely the players capable of doing that and the qualities of pace, guile and intelligence. Liverpool will have to take the initiative given the way Mourinho will set up and they certainly have the weapons to hurt United.”

The unavailability of Sadio Mane through a hamstring injury sustained on international duty reduces the offensive artillery at Klopp’s disposal and adds to the jinxed atmosphere around the Merseysiders at the moment.

A lot of the discussion on Liverpool has been fatalistic, but Fowler, speaking at the TAG Heuer Premier League Pressure Test event, does not buy into that narrative.

“There are people talking about Liverpool being in a potential crisis – the club are nowhere close to one! It’s fashionable to have a go at Liverpool at the minute, but like I’ve said, it’s still early in the season with so much still to happen,” he noted.

“The chances will eventually go in the back of the net and the focus will become on the positive things Liverpool do. Right now, everything seems to be negative but, pretty soon, I think we’ll be talking about the good things Liverpool are doing and how great they are going forward as opposed to ‘oh, they’ve created so much again without scoring enough’.

“It’s been a tough month for Liverpool but if they get the right result on Saturday and put in a strong performance, the positivity will return.”

The Reds are winless in six league games against United, which is their worst run since an eight-match spell without victory between 2004 and 2008.

The weekend will provide Liverpool with the opportunity to swat that statistic and the sense of defeatism aside to give the club’s boss a first top-flight triumph over their nemesis, while reducing the advantage of Mourinho’s side at the top of the table to four points.

Fowler was speaking on behalf of TAG Heuer, who are the official timekeeping partner of the Premier League





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