Jurgen Klopp is wary of a Tottenham rebound at Anfield today so appreciates that he can call upon his own comeback specialist, Gini Wijnaldum.
Tottenham are a shadow of the team that reached last season’s Champions League final, which they lost 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid, and haven’t won an away fixture in any competition this season, which has included a trip to League Two Colchester.
That leaves Klopp — whose own team are Premier League leaders and unbeaten at Anfield in that competition since April 2017 — fearing the wounded animal syndrome.
‘They will be like a trampoline going bounce, bounce, come on let’s show what we are,’ said the Liverpool boss. ‘They have quality and they are in a situation they don’t want to be in.’
Fortunately, Wijnaldum is set to be recalled after a disappointing week that saw him substituted at Old Trafford against Manchester United and then given only the final 16 minutes in the Champions League against Genk. Klopp reckons the 28-year-old Dutch midfielder takes his game to a new level if he receives setbacks.
‘Character is what makes you the person you are,’ said Klopp. ‘He doesn’t really knock on my door but it’s normal there are things he wouldn’t like. The perfect reaction was when I didn’t start him against Barcelona at home and he came on and scored two goals. He used the anger or whatever.
‘Gini speaks on the pitch for the way he plays. It is just so obvious his importance.
‘From the skillset, 100 per cent he is the perfect midfielder. He has all the things you need. There was his header against Barcelona too. He is not the tallest, but he is good in the air. He is a good jumper with good timing, all that stuff. It all makes him a pretty good footballer.
‘That is how it should be. It is not my fault if he goes under the radar. You cannot ask me why he goes under the radar. I don’t set the radar! But he is a presence, he is not the guy who just says yes to everything.’
It underlines the incredible standards at the top of the Premier League that having won 17 games in a row, Liverpool will start to feel the pressure if they fail to take three points for the second weekend running. Manchester City are formidable rivals so every result counts.
Liverpool won the tactical battle in Madrid in May and Klopp, who admits to having watched the celebrations back more than the game itself, said the final showed his team is maturing fast.
‘I’ve learnt that playing a final is not about playing the best football of your life but about winning.’ he said. ‘In nearly all of the finals I have played with my team as a manager, we performed better but didn’t win.
‘This was a final where we were really mature, scored an early goal, defended exceptionally well and then scored a second. That is the maturity we needed to be a champion and we had to learn that. Now we did it and it’s all good. You have to develop and that is what the boys have done.’