Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool boss questions Manchester United's 'strange' tactics
Fabinho and Joel Matip "likely" to be in squad; Watch Liverpool vs Man Utd on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm; Kick-off 4.30pm
By James Dale
Last Updated: 19/01/20 5:00pm
Jurgen Klopp has called Manchester United's tactics "strange" and says Liverpool must "protect" themselves against counter-attacking football.
Klopp once again questioned United's strategy ahead of facing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on Sunday, having accused the club of "just defending" whenever they play Liverpool following their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.
Those comments prompted Solskjaer to hit back by describing his team's philosophy as "aggressive", and Klopp has warned his side must be braced for a similar situation at Anfield this weekend.
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"It's strange when you play against a high, high quality team as United still are, and they play the way they play," said Klopp. "It makes life really difficult.
"We had it with Tottenham. That's not normal, how can you expect that? On the other side the counter attacks are of the highest level in the world.
It's strange when you play against a high, high quality team as United still are, and they play the way they play.
"I don't say they only counter attack but it's a main thing they do. People may want to see that as criticism, it's not, but it's just a description of the situation that makes life for us more difficult."
The United attack of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have outscored Liverpool's front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino this season.
Battle of the front three's
|Marcus Rashford||20||Sadio Mane||15|
|Anthony Martial||12||Mohamed Salah||14|
|Mason Greenwood||10||Roberto Firmino||9|
Klopp warned his side must be "perfect" in order to stop United's counter-attacking "train" reaching full speed.
"We want to be dominant, but we have to protect ourselves against this situation," he said.
"Attacking football only works if you use the full width of the pitch in the attacking half and that makes it dangerous when you lose the ball.
"This game is asking us for perfection. You lose the ball in the wrong moment and the train starts going."
Fabinho, Matip set for Utd return
Liverpool are "likely" to have Fabinho and Joel Matip back in the squad to face United, Klopp confirmed.
Midfielder Fabinho has been out since an ankle injury forced him off in the 1-1 draw with Napoli on November 27, while centre-back Matip has not played since Liverpool last met United on October 20 when he suffered a recurrence of the knee injury he first picked up in the win at Sheffield United.
Naby Keita, Dejan Lovren and James Milner are ruled out of the game against United.
"They are getting closer and closer," said Klopp. "Dejan, I think, will train 100 per cent from Monday on.
"With the other two [Keita and Milner], I don't know exactly. I cannot rush it so when somebody tells me they are ready, I take them back in training."
Analysis: Can United get in behind Liverpool?
Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher:
"The real top teams, and certainly City and Liverpool, when they're on the front foot they like to push high, they like to leave space in behind and are very brave in everything they do, both with and without the ball.
"At times this season Liverpool have actually been caught out with a high line, and opposition have gone through on goal, and probably haven't made as much as they should have.
"That's something Ole will be looking at - can they get in-behind this Liverpool team? Liverpool will look to play high, squeeze the midfield and give United less space to play in midfield, so they'll have to be really clever in central midfield to get it to the front players.
"As I said after the Man City win, on their day United's front three can be equally as devastating as Liverpool's; they have the quality, but obviously just lack the consistency."
Analysis: Is this a free hit for United?
Sky Sports News' James Cooper:
"In terms of a win, it would do massive things for United. Simply, they'd be the only team to have beaten Liverpool this season having taken two points off them at Old Trafford earlier in the season. They are the only team not to have lost to Liverpool in the Premier League so far this season so in terms of morale, the mood and the way this club is going, a win would transform it.
"A draw, again, would be a very positive result for United and we are not quite in the territory of free hits here, but a lot of United fans, having seen the way Liverpool, who are reigning European and World Champions and have one hand on the Premier League title, have gone about things, are expecting their team to go to Anfield and do their best but perhaps not be good enough.
"Either way, a win or a draw would be massively positive for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the debate about how long he has got at the helm and where it's going under him. A defeat and things don't really change at all.
"A free hit is a very difficult thing to say to Manchester United fans, who don't want to lose at Liverpool, but I think that's what we're looking at in terms of the game at Anfield on Sunday."