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John Aldridge: Jurgen Klopp needs to change his ways in Man City showdown

Liverpool’s all-out attack a potent weapon, but hitting Pep Guardiola’s men on the break could serve them better

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ahead of his side’s match at Luton (Zac Goodwin/PA).

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp might tweak his tactics for the Manchester City game. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai. Photo: Getty

Roy Keane

Manchester City continue to find ways to win even without key players such as defender John Stones. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

John Aldridge

Jurgen Klopp should consider a change of approach when Liverpool take on Manchester City in the biggest game of the Premier League season so far next Saturday.

Klopp generally only has one way of playing, and that is on the front foot, pressing the opposition and trying to outscore them.

Yet, I don’t think that is the best way to take on Pep Guardiola’s City right now.

The best managers adapt their tactics to fit the circumstances in front of them and that might be where Stephen Kenny went wrong during his reign as Ireland manager.

Ireland don’t have the players to play the kind of football Kenny has been asking them to play, and while Klopp is famous for his ‘rock and roll’ brand of entertainment, I’d advocate something a little more cautious for this match.

Are Liverpool as good as City in a straight shoot-out?

Possibly, but that is not the most likely route to success at the Etihad Stadium and I feel the chance is there to get a positive result as Liverpool have taken huge strides forward in recent months.

We can certainly say they are a lot closer to them now than they were a year ago, but not many teams go to the Etihad Stadium and beat City at their own game.

It’s not that the atmosphere is a factor at City’s home as it tends to be like a library with the amount of part-time fans and tourists they have filling their seats.

Yet for all my reservations over how City have got to this point of almost total dominance in English and European football via their bookkeeping that some have described as ‘financial doping’, you can’t deny they are a great team.

In a season when they have suffered injuries to key players like Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones, they continue to find a way to win.

So, I think Klopp will be making a mistake if he goes there next Saturday with an all-out attacking plan.

It would also be taking away the best asset of his team, which is their ability to hit teams on the break with probably the most dynamic attacking line in the Premier League.

Liverpool showed they can play with the defensive handbrake on when they went down to ten men at Newcastle and found a way to win.

They then came within seconds of collecting a heroic point after going down to nine men at Tottenham on a night when they were robbed by some scandalous refereeing and VAR decisions.

So Klopp and his players have a blueprint for how to play with a little more caution in their game and it could be the recipe for success against their biggest rivals.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola

Liverpool’s counter-attacking pace and efficiency have been so impressive over the first couple of months of the season, with the variety in Klopp’s forward line making them tough to contain.

Mohamed Salah is still the leader and can win a match with a moment of magic, while Darwin Nunez offers a more traditional attacking option.

Diogo Jota takes chances in the box, Cody Gakpo brings a different dimension to the attacking line, while Luis Diaz is a real threat on the counter and breaking in from the flanks.

Given all that attacking firepower, I would expect Liverpool to score against City, but they also need a few other factors to go in their favour to get what would be a huge win.

Allison Becker needs to have a nine out of ten game in goal, they probably need City striker Erling Haaland to have an off day, and given everything we have seen this season, they need to get the rub of the green with the referee and VAR.

Then they need to take their chances in front of goal as they try to end City’s run of 21 successive Premier League wins at home.

I’m sounding a little downbeat about Liverpool’s hopes of beating City, but they should be encouraged by what we have seen from Guardiola’s side at times this season, as they have dropped points in a few matches in unexpected fashion.

Their defeat at Wolves was a big surprise and then we saw them let in four goals in that crazy 4-4 draw at Chelsea last Sunday.

They have also looked edgy in other games and we know Guardiola always sees Liverpool as his biggest rival, so his players will also sense that tension ahead of this game.

The wild card in this game may be the scheduling of a match that should be given the prime time slot on a Sunday afternoon.

Instead, Klopp and Guardiola will get their players back from this latest badly timed international break on Wednesday and Thursday, giving them a couple of days to get ready for a match that could be crucial in the destiny of the Premier League title.

Liverpool have faced this scenario 14 times after international breaks and while TV may want Klopp’s team in the lunchtime slot as they are a big draw for audiences, it’s not fair that they get this slot over and over again.

Klopp has expressed his annoyance about this issue, but it always feels like they are mocking him by putting Liverpool in the early Saturday game at this stage.

Yet the decision has been made and Liverpool have to make the most of a bad lot by getting something out of the game against the title favourites.

A draw would be a great result, but a Liverpool win at the Etihad Stadium would send out a massive statement that we will have a title race to savour this season.

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