Liverpool will be without have makeshift centre back Fabinho for Saturday’s crunch Premier League clash at Leicester City, but despite their injury crisis this season manager Jurgen Klopp expected them to be closer to leaders Manchester City.
Liverpool’s defensive resources have been decimated with centre backs Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all ruled out with serious injuries, leaving Fabinho to fill in, at times alongside fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson.
The Brazilian, who along with Henderson, was an integral part of Klopp’s industrious midfield pressing machine in their run to the title last season, will sit out the match at the King Power Stadium, where fourth-placed Liverpool face a Leicester side a spot above them in the table.
The champions are 10 points behind City having also played a game more, and Klopp says despite their injury woes, he is surprised they are not better placed in the title race.
“Even though I know the reason why we are not flying, I expect us to win more games than we have,” he told reporters on Friday. “That’s what I am concerned about.
“We know we are not completely clueless but we know we have to be successful in the future and that’s what we’ll try to be.
“We will try our absolute best to make the best season from now on. We will go for it. That’s our job.”
Fabinho’s absence could open the door for one or both of Liverpool’s January signings Ozan Kabak, recruited from Schalke 04, and Ben Davies, from Preston North End, although Klopp is wary about the threat posed by Leicester striker Jamie Vardy.
“Vardy is obviously a proper challenge the way he gets set up by his mates but you can only do it with the whole team,” Klopp said.
“You have to avoid the passes to him. Jamie is a world class player in a specific area of the pitch.”
Liverpool have lost four times in the new year, including their last three at Anfield after a 68-match unbeaten run at home. But Klopp refuted the suggestion they are low on confidence.
“Do Leicester prepare to face a team without confidence and rhythm? I don’t think so. We have 15 games to go, a lot of points,” he said.
“It’s not about where are the others or where they end up. It’s just about us.”