Klopp expects ‘positive impact’ from Gakpo
LONDON – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hinted that new signing Cody Gakpo is in contention to make his debut on Saturday, as the Reds kick off the defence of their FA Cup title with a third-round home clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Klopp’s men head into the match hoping to bounce back from their 3-1 Premier League humbling by Brentford on Monday, while Wolves were held 1-1 by Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Dutch forward Gakpo’s transfer from PSV Eindhoven was formally completed only on Tuesday, meaning that he could not play in the loss to Brentford.
Speaking on Friday, Klopp was excited to see what the 23-year-old can bring to the pitch.
“Cody has been in for two full training days and is a joy to watch to be honest,” he said.
“It’s really nice to have a player who is pretty natural in a lot of things and knows where the goal is. He is obviously full of joy, enjoying each second at the moment.
“He’s a good footballer, good in small spaces, likes to shoot from distance, good finisher and dribbler. He looks really promising and fit. The sessions are intense for him because they’re different.
“But I’m very positive about him. Coming from a new league is always difficult, but we expect a positive impact.”
Klopp also said that he is not looking to rotate his squad and will field a strong line-up.
“If you play Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday then you have to think about it. But we played Monday, then Saturday and Saturday. It’s clear we will line up as good and strong and experienced as we can,” he explained.
“There will not be rotation because of the competition, no.”
Liverpool are seeking to win two FA Cups in a row, having beaten Chelsea in the 2022 final after getting as far as only the fifth round since 2015.
The eight-time winners, however, are without a clean sheet in five matches, and have been eliminated in four of their last seven third-round encounters while they were the defending champions.
Coincidentally, the last time the Reds lost in the third round was against Wolves in the 2018-19 campaign.
When it was suggested to Klopp that teams are cutting through his side’s midfield too easily this season – critics have said Liverpool lack control in the middle of the park and are leaving their defence exposed – the German brushed it off, saying that it is a team game.
“If things like this happen, it is a general problem – not a midfield problem,” he insisted.
“Defending starts up front. The pitch is too big and the other teams too good. But we’ve known that a long time. The way we want to defend is clear. Am I completely happy with the way we play? No. But it’s not a midfield problem.”
Klopp will be without the injured Virgil van Dijk, Arthur Melo, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, while James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson are doubts.
Wolves, meanwhile, have defeated the holders of the FA Cup only once, beating Manchester United way back in the 1949 semi-finals en route to clinching the trophy.
Anfield is an intimidating place for opponents, but Saturday’s visitors are unbeaten in three consecutive away games and manager Julen Lopetegui should be encouraged by that run.
Wolves, however, have a poor record against Liverpool. Since beating Klopp’s men in the 2018-19 third round, they have lost seven successive Premier League fixtures to the Reds.
Lopetegui, appointed in November and has since had two wins, a draw and a defeat, has complained that his side are at a disadvantage with Liverpool having two extra days’ of rest.
“I don’t understand how we play in one competition with two days’ less (preparation) than the opponent,” the Spaniard said.
“Maybe one day (less preparation), it can happen. But two days, it is a lot. It is a big difference for us. They have two days’ recovery more. I don’t understand this.”
Boubacar Traore has suffered an unspecified injury which could rule him out for months, while Chiquinho, Pedro Neto and Sasa Kalajdzic are also all out on the sidelines. AFP
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