(Reuters) - Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp believes Manchester United have improved a lot since the teams last faced each other and is keeping an open mind about how Jose Mourinho’s side will set up when they visit Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday.
United’s last trip to Liverpool ended in a scoreless stalemate, with Mourinho’s men sitting deep for most of the contest while looking to hurt Liverpool with long balls over the top to Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford in the reverse fixture ended in another draw, this time 1-1, as United looked once again to stifle their opponents, but Klopp knows they have more ways to hurt his team this time around.
“Jose Mourinho’s teams play like they have to play in different moments,” the German told reporters on Friday.
“In this moment of course they are in a much better situation than they were last year when we played them, but we cannot think too much about it.
“We know how Manchester United is playing. Fantastic players involved in the team and we know about the qualities of (Romelu) Lukaku, (Marcus) Rashford, (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan, (Juan) Mata, all these guys.”
United have been running riot over the opposition this season, with Lukaku’s raw power well complemented by Mkhitaryan plus Rashford’s pace and Mata’s guile.
Mourinho’s men are second in the table, behind Manchester City on goal difference, with both teams unbeaten after seven league games with one draw each. Liverpool are seventh, with three wins, three draws and one defeat so far.
“Against us (United) played often, pretty early, long. Had always a target player,” Klopp added. “Last year Ibrahimovic, this year Lukaku. We need to be ready... but they don’t do that all the time.
“They also build up situations where they try to come between the lines. When they try to use Mkhitaryan with small passes and then he can use his speed or Rashford can use his speed or Lukaku can stretch the formation.
“Or Mata with all the little movements and then making the big difference with the next pass. So obviously the opponent has big quality... but we’re really looking forward to it. It’s one of the most special games in world football.”
Klopp will be missing pacy forward Sadio Mane, who is out for six weeks with a hamstring injury picked up playing for Senegal, but he is confident Liverpool can cope in his absence.
“Thank God that obviously we can still play football without Sadio, because already we’ve had to do this a lot of times - much more often than we wanted,” he said. “It was very unlucky with the injury.”
Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris