Manager Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to concentrate on isolating returning Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero when the teams meet at Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday.
Aguero is back after a four-match ban for violent conduct for third-placed City, who travel to second-placed Liverpool in search of their first Premier League win at Anfield since May 2003.
“What can I say? He’s back,” Klopp told a news conference on Thursday. “Good striker. I have never made a secret of it. That makes life not easier for us – but we knew it before.
“He can only score goals if somebody gives him the ball. We have to avoid easy passes. We can defend really good. So we need to be concentrated. That’s the biggest challenge in this game.”
Klopp’s men are undefeated at home this season and the German is hoping that playing at their historic stadium will hand them the upper hand.
“This is a very big game for both,” he added. “Six clubs fight for four or one positions. Each game is kind of a final.
“City have the highest quality in the team and highest quality on the bench.
“The advantage is that it’s at Anfield. We must try to use this. It will be really difficult for both teams. I’m really looking forward to it. We love playing against the best.”
The German will be without defender Joel Matip (ankle) for the fourth game in a row, while midfielder Philippe Coutinho will also miss out.
Coutinho, one of Liverpool’s chief attacking threats, has not featured since injuring an ankle against Sunderland at the end of November and Klopp said it was unlikely he would be back for the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light on January 2.
Despite the injuries and the impending loss of Sadio Mane to the African Nations Cup next month, Klopp played down the significance of the January transfer window.
“If we think a player can help us in January, February, March, April and May then yes we will do something. I’m not sure it will be important for us this year,” he added.
The manager also shot down speculation that Liverpool were interested in signing Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, describing British media reports that the club were contemplating a January bid as “nonsense”.