Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has stated his side are “a bit closer” to Manchester City this season but remains wary of the strength the Premier League champions possess ahead of their meeting on Saturday.
The last time the two sides met in the league, City ran out comfortable 4-1 winners at the Etihad Stadium and went on to finish the season 22 points ahead of Liverpool.
But after refreshing the squad in the summer, particularly in midfield with the arrivals of Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister and Ryan Gravenberch, Klopp’s team now finds itself in second place, a point behind City
“Saturday is a tough one, it’s the strongest team in the world for the last few years. Our record [at the Etihad] is not great you will tell me! They are extremely strong, nothing I can say makes them weaker otherwise I would say it on repeat. Last year is just a memory,” Klopp said in his news conference on Friday.
“If we make it uncomfortable we have a chance. If they are comfortable in their game, no team has a chance. It feels like we are a bit closer [this season] but we need to win decisive battles on the pitch.
“I’m far off sitting here and thinking ‘we’ve got City’. It’s not ‘City beware’. They are extremely strong.”
The Merseyside club are the only team apart from City to have won the league since 2018, and have twice been pipped to the crown on the final day of the season by Pep Guardiola’s side.
Despite the fierceness of their past encounters, Klopp stated he wasn’t sure when asked if it was the biggest rivalry in the Premier League.
“Is the rivalry the biggest? I don’t know but it’s the toughest game you can play for years. The fans will decide the rival but football wise we needed time to become a rival on the pitch,” he said.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Liverpool announced in a statement that the upper tier of the expanded Anfield Road End stand will be partially opened for the visit of Manchester United on Dec. 17.
The reopening hinges on the club getting a license from Liverpool City Council after a public test event has been conducted.
Liverpool also plan to have additional seating in the Anfield Road End stand for their home fixtures versus West Ham United, Arsenal and Newcastle United.
Anfield’s capacity, which is currently at 54,000, will rise to 61,000 once the expansion project is completed.