Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp cannot help but think he would rather not have to praise the team across the park but even the German concedes ahead of the 237th Merseyside derby that Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton look a real threat.
In the Premier League’s biggest match of the weekend, leaders Everton will, for the first time since September 1989, head into the cross-city clash above their neighbours in the table thanks to their 100% start to the season.
And even though the Toffees, three points clear of their rivals, have not won any meeting between the two for a decade – Saturday is the exact 10th anniversary of their last victory – Klopp dismissed that record.
“I have lost enough derbies in my life to know how it feels so I don’t need that experience to be honest,” said the German, who has won seven and drawn four of his matches against Everton.
“We always respected Everton and that is what we do this time, for a good reason because they are a good team and this season they look especially good.
“Carlo (Ancelotti) is a sensational manager and so it was always clear when he has the time to build something he will do that and if he has the resources to build it he will do that.
“This team looks really, really good – I would like to say something different but it is not possible. Of course, it is a proper challenge.
“It is 10 years (without a victory) for them and from my point of view long may it continue but we never thought about it once before we played them.
“It is the hardest work for us tomorrow and we will be ready for that.”
Klopp will be boosted by the return of Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara, who both missed their shock 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa immediately before the international break after testing positive for Covid-19.
There remains, however with players having flown back in from around the world this week, the potential for more positive tests with Naby Keita already unavailable after a coronavirus outbreak within the Guinea squad.
Klopp will again be without first-choice goalkeeper Alisson, who missed the defeat at Villa in which stand-in Adrian was at fault for the opening goal that set the tone for a sobering night.
The Reds boss was able to offer an encouraging update on the Brazil international’s recovery from a shoulder injury sustained in training which looks set to keep him out until next month.
“Very, very positive with Ali. Looks really good. Made big steps. I don’t have a time frame but it looks really good,” Klopp said.