Have you recovered from that Arsenal game yet? What did you make of the 5-5 thriller and penalty shootout win?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life following Liverpool, it’s that nothing is ever easy and they like to put your through the ringer – Wednesday night was certainly no different! Where do you start really. It was thrilling, mind-bending, good old fashioned fun.
But on a serious note, there were far more positives than negatives which is strange considering we let in five goals at home. The youngsters proved they’re nothing short of an extension of the first team mentality monsters and showed phenomenal character to keep going and find ways to come back.
Yes, defensively it was far from our finest hour, but we had two teenage debutants, a rusty first teamer and James Milner at the back ahead of a youngster making his home debut. It was never going to be plain sailing. I’m just delighted the kids showed that they are indeed all right.
Five players made their Anfield debuts against Arsenal as a host of youngsters featured. Did anyone in particular catch your eye?
As against MK Dons, Harvey Elliott showed that he has some of the assets he has in his locker that certainly look like he could develop into a really good player. His pace, vision, trickery and strength all really impressed.
Neco Williams was also solid at right-back, but I think Kelleher looks really mature for his age. A number of times he was calm with the ball at his feet when being closed down, has good distribution, is a great shot stopper and of course made himself a hero with the shootout save from Ceballos.
I think he could really blossom at the club and learn a lot from Alisson and become Liverpool number one some day.
Liverpool have got a hectic fixture schedule for the rest of the year and going into January. How much of a priority do you see the Carabao Cup as now?
It’s a tricky one really. Obviously the side are competing for five honours at this point in time, and if you were to have to sacrifice, for want of a better word, any of the competitions, the Carabao Cup might be one of those that is. Of them all, the Premier League is the one that we all still yearn for.
However, I’d just love to see us win as many trophies as possible this season. The festive period will be really tough, and we’ll need to utilise the squad to its full potential to avoid burnout and risk of injury to key players.
It’s going to take a lot of good game management, but the squad is in a really good moment right now, so I’m feeling optimistic. As long as we don’t drop silly points in the league or crash out of European competition too early, I’ll be happy.
Pep Lijnders took the pre-match press conference ahead of Arsenal. How impressed were you by him and do you think he could have an even bigger future at Liverpool one day?
Like Klopp, Ljinders is a right character! I love his enthusiasm, zest and passion for the club – he really does seem to be cut from the same cloth as Klopp himself. You wondered what might have been when he left to peruse his own managerial career, but since he’s come back, Klopp seems to have placed even more responsibility on his shoulders.
It does feel as though Klopp is lining him up to take over when he departs his role at Anfield, but it’s still far too soon to say how that’ll go. I just hope Klopp instills as much of his knowledge into him as he can.
It’s Villa away in the cup and Villa away in the league at the weekend. What kind of game are you expecting on Saturday?
One thing is for sure, we can’t take either game against Villa away for granted, and the weekend is no different. I think it could be a game similar to that against Sheffield United, when Villa have nothing to lose and have a bit of a go at us.
But I can’t see anything but another Liverpool win. Villa will likely try to have a go at us for the first 15-20 minutes, but weather that storm and the Reds will likely take control. It could then that Villa go compact and try to limit space for our wing backs as we’ve seen a few teams do of late, but I think our quality will tell eventually.
Their defence can’t be looking forward to coming up against Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and a red hot Sadio Mané, that’s for sure.
Man City is on the horizon. What are your early thoughts looking ahead to the Anfield showdown in November?
For the four or five years, the fixtures against City have always been ones fans look for at the start of the season. They’re sometimes spectacular, sometimes they don’t live up to the hype, but they’re always crunch matches. City are City, no matter what their situation is, they’re a very good side with a plethora of talent in all positions that isn’t really rivalled in world football.
But I always think that they do look vulnerable if you have a go at them, and Klopp often seems to have sussed Guardiola out. Of all the teams in the league, we’re best equipped to do them some real damage. Our current win at all costs mentality will serve us well in this game, but I can see it being a very close, possibly even cagey affair.
As it’s at Anfield, you have to fancy Liverpool what with our excellent record at home. We just need to ensure we’ve got a good points cushion going into the game so even if we do lose, we’re still the ones to catch at the top.
Any other business?
The only other business I have is with Naby Keita. I’m just starting to get a tiny bit concerned.
I know it’s hard on him, and Klopp speaks a lot about rhythm and how important it is to players, but for a man that came in with so much hype, I don’t think he’s delivered much yet. I just hope that he shakes off his latest knock and comes on strong from there.