Football

Reds’ attackers like Jurassic Park velociraptors: Lijnders

Liverpool's assistant manager hails 'whole package' that allows attackers to thrive

Liverpool's fearsome front trio are like velociraptors in Jurassic Park, the Reds' assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders said yesterday, following Sunday's 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United.

Mohamed Salah bagged a hat-trick after midfielder Naby Keita and forward Diogo Jota had put the Reds in front, while Roberto Firmino was also praised by Juergen Klopp for his performance as a false No. 9.

FOURTH ROUND
PRESTON NORTH END LIVERPOOL

The humiliation of the Red Devils took the Reds' tally to 27 goals in nine English Premier League matches this season, with Salah (10), Sadio Mane (5) Roberto Firmino (4) accounting for 19 strikes. Jota, who started in place of Mane at Old Trafford, also has four.

"You can never judge scoring just by the goals scored," said Lijnders, ahead of the League Cup fourth-round tie against Preston North End tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

"It's how we move the ball from out the back, it's how we are protected, it's the whole package that allows our front players to constantly get good positions to score.

"And then the quality of our front three. We said they look like raptors in Jurassic Park. They go for it, they are lethal. If you score in the right moments then these games - for example Man United - can happen.

"But did we change anything? No, we always just want to improve. Sometimes, improving is just going back to basics and that's what we did in pre-season.

"Also, top players need a break... because if you want to reach consistency, you have to respect the process of recovery."

The Reds are widely expected to rest the bulk of their first team for the trip to Deepdale, where Preston have been unbeaten in their last six Championship games, conceding just four times in the process.

Midfielder James Milner will definitely be out after injuring his hamstring at Old Trafford.

UNAVAILABLE

The 35-year-old will be unavailable until next month's international break, said Lijnders.

But there was good news as it emerged that midfielder Keita had avoided serious injury after a poor tackle by United's Paul Pogba that resulted in a red card for the Frenchman.

Both Milner and Keita were substituted in that game.

"Luckily, Naby's foot was not on the ground and it was just a bruise," said Lijnders, who confirmed that Thiago Alcantara was closing in on a return after a calf injury, while Fabinho has shaken off a knee issue that ruled him out of the United game but is not ready to face Preston.

The Reds have granted 19-year-old defender Sepp van den Berg, who is on loan at Preston, permission to face his parent club. He has made 17 appearances for Preston this term.

Lijnders said: "It's like, if you want to be a chef, you need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

"So, what would our message be if we sent our players on loan to get good games and then there's a good game coming and not letting them play?"

Van den Berg is set to face some of his peers, with the Reds almost certain to field a second-string side.

But Preston manager Frankie McAvoy believes that it doesn't matter which players Liverpool put on the pitch.

"They're one of the biggest clubs in the world," he told iFollow PNE. "And at the moment, they've probably got one of the top coaches in the world.

"They're magnificent. You watch them, they pass, they move, their front three are electric, and even the ones who don't get a game for them at the moment are fantastic players.

"You just need to look at the last round where they went with what people say is a second string and they turned over Norwich 3-0 at Norwich, so we know the task that we're facing. It's a monumental task."

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