EPL

Klopp won't throw Davies and Kabak into City showdown

By Sports Desk February 05, 2021

Jurgen Klopp will not throw in new signings Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak for Liverpool debuts alongside one another against Manchester City on Sunday.

Davies and Kabak completed moves to Anfield from Preston and Schalke respectively on transfer deadline day, as Klopp moved to address an injury crisis in the heart of defence.

Joel Matip will miss the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage, joining long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez on the sidelines.

Davies was an unused substitute as a Liverpool team with Nat Phillips and captain Jordan Henderson at centre-back went down to a 1-0 midweek defeat against Brighton and Hove Albion - a result that leaves the champions seven points behind Premier League leaders City having played a game more.

Klopp conceded it will be helpful when he feels able to play the likes of Henderson and Fabinho in their favoured midfield roles but he will not make those switches at the expense of his team's overall stability.

"Now we have different options and that's good, the best news we could get," he said.

"Now we have to make sure the new boys get all the information they need as quick as possible.

"In another position, you can say 'play, try, we will see' but in defence the things we do are really clear.

"It's about holding the line, it's about dropping at the right moment - there are a lot of things that all teams do differently. We will see how quick we can do that."

Asked whether he would like to play two new central defenders at the same time, Klopp shook his head and replied: "No, if I don't have to, no."

City are on a winning run of 13 matches in all competitions and Klopp knows his men have to be on the money at the back, whoever is selected.

"Obviously City at the moment are in a slightly different moment than we are. We should not forget that," he said.

"One thing is clear, if you do not defend on your highest level against City you cannot even think of getting anything out of the game.

"But then there are the other moments where you have to be brave and that's what we try to be as well.

"There are other moments where you have to control, not the game but the situation, and we'll try that as well."

City last won at Anfield in 2003 and Guardiola has drawn one and lost five of his encounters against Klopp on Merseyside.

For plenty of those games, the visitors have been confronted by a febrile atmosphere - something that obviously will not be a factor this time around.

"Our situation is not talking about supporters in or out because we all know how much they help," Klopp said.

"We knew it always. For a long time we could ignore that, at least results wise. Now not in the last few weeks.

"We have to make sure that atmosphere, good or bad, doesn't make a difference.

"It's a football game. They don't have an atmosphere, we don't have an atmosphere. Let's go for it with all we have."

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    It wasn't so long ago that the notion of Juventus hoovering up talent from Serie A rivals would have been seen in a negative light by most Italian football fans.

    But while their domination of Italy's top division only really ended last season when Inter brought the Bianconeri's nine-year subjugation of Serie A to a halt, their current situation would make you think it was far longer since they were a challenger.

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    Fiorentina hadn't been shy about their desire to cash in on the Serbian, who turned 22 on Friday. They have been very public about how they simply could not afford to lose out on a transfer fee, a situation that was quickly threatening to become a real issue given his contract was due to expire in 2023.

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    Vlahovic's impact on Italian football, particularly over the past 18 months, has been significant. Some have suggested he's Serie A's answer to Erling Haaland – perhaps a slight exaggeration, but there's a reason Juve are investing in a guy who in 2021, let's not forget, became only the second player in the past 60 years to net 33 Serie A goals over a single calendar year.

    Juve's attraction to him makes absolute sense when you consider a metric as reductive – yet, crucial – as goals. Following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit last year, the Bianconeri were left with a gaping maw in terms of finishing ability. The faith placed in Alvaro Morata to pick up the slack was as optimistic as it was naive, as the Spaniard has five in 22 Serie A games.

    Vlahovic should, in theory, provide them with a number nine who is dedicated to goals. As Fiorentina's focal point this term, he has recorded 87 shots (second-most among Serie A players) and scored 15 non-penalty goals across all competitions.

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