Liverpool were lovely to face last season weren't they? A League double and the distinct pleasure of knocking them out of the Cup at Upton Park. Those were the days... The red half of Merseyside is a different beast now with Klopp's infectious Heavy Metal Football in full effect and a possibility of a title challenge.
On Sunday, we travel to Anfield and face a serious uphill battle to get anything. We spoke to Zachary Marx from our sister-site The Liverpool Offisde to get the home side's perspective ahead of the game.
Before the season started, I tipped Liverpool for the title. Should I be feeling as smug as I currently am or is it too early to be calling Liverpool title contenders?
Well, any Liverpool fans who started feeling confident were in for a rude awakening in the last few weeks. Since going top of the league in that 6-1 romp over Watford, Liverpool have only picked up 4 points out of 9, and now sit 3rd, 4 points off the pace. In addition to the recent struggles, we've lost the likes of Adam Lallana (now healthy again), Philippe Coutinho, and Daniel Sturridge. Plus, we'll lose Sadio Mané for the African Cup of Nations. Basically, if Liverpool can get through January in roughly the same position they are now (or better), then watch out, it could be an exciting final few months for Liverpool. Otherwise, just enjoy the ride in the meantime.
What has Klopp done to make Liverpool this good?
Wow. What a question. What hasn't Klopp done? In no particular order: he has the players fully devoted to the cause, ready to run through brick walls and never giving up the fight. He gets the most out of every single player on the pitch, several of whom are playing out of their "natural" position (Lallana in central mid and Milner at left back were strokes of pure genius). He identified areas of weakness and upgraded them early in the summer (Mané and Matip were great signings, Karius has potential to be great). And he has the fans trained as well: bringing back the atmosphere to Anfield in a big, big way. In this moment, everything is cool.
Do you need to make some moves in January to keep it up or are you sorted?
Losing both Coutinho--who has been world class for us this season--and Mané--who currently leads the team in goals--for January has the potential to really derail our season, especially with games coming thick and fast. So, look for Klopp & Co. to dip into the market for a quick, attacking player. If you read the transfer rumors, you'll see we've been linked with roughly all of them. All the attacking players.
So Daniel Sturridge... can we have him please? I promise we'll take good care of him.
Well, someone needs to take good care of Sturridge! Sad injury jokes aside, you can probably have him in the summer. He's still an integral part of the team (when healthy), and we've missed having him as an option to come off the bench in the last few games. Perhaps it's not fair to him as an excellent striker in his prime to be coming off the bench, but that's what's best for the team at the moment.
Where are your weak points? How can we beat you?
Although Liverpool have been slightly better at defending set pieces and big target men than in years past (largely thanks to Matip), that's still probably your best bet. So, I guess lump it into Carroll and hope for the best? He loves getting revenge on us anyway.
Finally, what's your predicted line up and score prediction?
Line-up (4-3-3): Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Lallana, Can; Mané, Firmino, Origi
Score: 4-1 to Liverpool (sorry, I think Klopp will have them up after the last defeat)
Massive thank you to Zachary Marx for taking the time to answer my questions. We did the same thing over on The Liverpool Offside so make sure to go and have a gander!