Liverpool news: Jurgen Klopp admits Tottenham will provide daunting test for frail defence | Football | Sport

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But he backed the £75million Dutchman to hold firm against a blizzard of attacking football when the two clubs go head-to-head in a “six pointer” at Anfield tomorrow.

Van Dijk became the most expensive defensive signing in history in January following a move from Southampton and produced two towering performances in his first two matches against Everton and Swansea.

But following that promising start, the Dutch international’s fitness has since been called into question, he was shaky against West Brom in the FA Cup, and then he was dropped for the midweek fixture against Huddersfield.

Predictably, Klopp launched a solid defence of his new signing. “I am very happy with Virgil’s progress but we will see him at his best after the summer,” he said.

“But our defending is different to Southampton and Holland so it will take some time to get used to it.”

It was former Reds defender Jamie Carragher who said Van Dijk was carrying too much weight, a suggestion Klopp laughed off yesterday.

“I’m sure Jamie needs to lose a bit of weight but Virgil doesn’t,” he said. “But he has had a long injury, then he played, then he didn’t [during the protracted transfer], so it’s not a consistent season so far.”

Van Dijk was a Saints player when Spurs humbled a sorry Liverpool 4-1 at Wembley in October – a performance which saw Klopp subbing Dejan Lovren at 2-1 after just half an hour, a decision which angered the player.

Klopp, who insisted he has smoothed things out with Lovren since, warned his side of a similar assault from Mauricio Pochettino’s side who are two points behind third-placed Liverpool in fifth.

And particularly an examination of the pace at the heart of his defence.

“Harry Kane is always on the shoulder waiting for balls over the top. [Heung-Min] Son as well and that is a specific threat of Tottenham,” said Klopp. “We played them before and that was also the strength then.

“But there are plenty of other situations they can score from and they use pretty much each angle you can score from. Son and Eriksen from distance, Dele Alli always in the box, Kane everywhere.

“I only mention these four guys but there are a few more who are able to do things. Toby Alderweireld is back as well and that makes another set piece threat.”

On the plus side, Klopp’s side have conceded just seven goals at home this season – only Manchester United are more watertight at home with five – and they have not found scoring too much of a chore, either.

Pochettino will be determined to improve the club’s miserable away record against top sides which the Argentine claims cost his side the title.

In 18 trips to his fellow Big Six sides, Spurs have won just once since he arrived in 2014, while at home the club’s tally of 35 points against the same opposition has not been bettered by anybody over the same period.

Pochettino is at a loss to explain the contrasting fortunes home and away but says that it was results on their travels over the last two seasons which cost them in the chase first of Leicester and then of Chelsea.

“It is why maybe we missed a title, why we don’t win the Premier League,” he said. “Maybe because we are the younger team in the Premier League, maybe we need time to mature. There are many reasons why this happens that we cannot win most of the games that we play away from home.

“We finished second last season, third the season before, and of course if in the case that if we had won more games away from home, I’m sure that we would have won the title. But we miss something to achieve that.” Tottenham spent £25m in the transfer window to sign Lucas Moura from PSG in a bid to patch up one hole in his squad, but Pochettino advised the club’s fans not to expect it to be one of the bigger ones.

“We signed a player that is not playing at PSG,” he explained after all but ruling him out of tomorrow’s game after Moura had to return to Paris on Friday for “private things”.

“Of course Lucas Moura is a name that for our fans is an exciting name. And he came from PSG, a big club. But it is different if you sign Neymar or Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

“It is not a signing that, if he doesn’t score goals from the beginning, it is a mistake. That is why we need to be calm.” 



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