Huddersfield targeting Liverpool scalp

David Wagner and Jurgen Klopp will put their friendship to one side when Huddersfield entertain Liverpool in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Premier League
30 January 2018
Gameweek 25
Kick-off 22:00 CET
Venue: John Smith’s Stadium

Referee: K. Friend
Assistants: S. Bennett, M. Scholes
Fourth official: J. Moss

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Huddersfield 76 31 17 28
Liverpool 76 28 17 31

Previous encounter:

Liverpool 3-0 Huddersfield 28/10/2017 (Premier League)

Liverpool goalscorers: D. Sturridge (50′), R. Firmino (58′), G. Wijnaldum (75′)

Players to watch:

Laurent Depoitre is the Terriers’ top scorer in the league this season with five goals, although he has gone five games without finding the back of the net. Steve Mounie is just one goal off the pace, but he too hasn’t scored in his last five top-flight outings. The Benin striker did manage to get on the scoresheet on Saturday, however, as Wagner’s side drew 1-1 with Birmingham to secure an FA Cup fourth-round replay.

The Reds’ defensive frailties reared its ugly head again on Saturday as they crashed out of the FA Cup following a 3-2 defeat at West Brom, where Joel Matip scored a crucial own-goal. Virgil van Dijk was brought in for a whopping £75 million fee from Southampton earlier this month in a bid to sort out their problems in defence, and the Dutchman will be key to keeping the hosts at bay.

Team form and quotes:

The Terriers have yet to record a top-flight win in the new year, with their last three-point haul coming on December 16 when they beat Watford 4-1 at Vicarage Road.

Wagner’s side come into the midweek clash on the back of a six-match winless run in the league, having lost their last three games against Leicester (3-0), West Ham (4-1) and Stoke (2-0).

But the German coach believes in the character of his squad as they look to overcome another sticky patch that sees them sitting just two points clear of the relegation zone in 14th position.

“First and foremost, we must be focused on ourselves. We had a similar period in November and we turned it around because we were focused on ourselves and this is what we have to do now. This is a great opportunity in front of our home crowd and this is exactly what we would like to do,” Wagner said in his pre-match press conference.

“It is different and special as well. We [Jurgen Klopp] have a friendship and a relationship which is extraordinary, but at tomorrow at 8 pm it doesn’t matter. It’s all about Huddersfield and Liverpool and we are both in situations where need the points.

“Liverpool can have all the points in the Premier League but not tomorrow night, we will try for everything and fight for every yard.

“I like to make one thing totally clear, I will never question the character of this group. This makes no sense, I cannot criticise the character of my players for two and a half years. Now when we have a less successful period I can’t question the character, this makes no sense, these are great characters.”

The Reds are aiming to bounce back from the disappointing 1-0 reverse to Swansea last time out in the league, which halted an impressive 14-match unbeaten run, and 18 in all competitions.

Klopp’s men remain in the driving seat for the final Champions League spot and are just three points adrift of third-placed Chelsea with 14 fixtures left to play.

Klopp insists his players will take away valuable lessons from the defeat in Wales and says they need to match Huddersfield’s determination.

“It is how football is, how life is. Two weeks ago we had an 18-game unbeaten run and then you lose twice and everything feels different,” the German told the press.

“That’s OK because for us it is important you feel it and don’t think it is not important. We have to make it much better from now on. If you use a defeat to learn from then it is still bad but it is OK. If you don’t learn from it you are silly.

“I don’t look ahead four or five weeks and think ‘that’s an important game’ so it has not changed for Huddersfield. We need to show we are really ready for that. Huddersfield is a special place, the whole city fights for the league.

“They don’t expect brilliant football, they expect a proper fight and that is what Huddersfield Town is ready to deliver. We need to deliver as well.”

Team news:

The hosts are expected to recall Aaron Mooy, Alex Pritchard, Christopher Schindler and Jonas Lossl, with the quartet rested for their FA Cup against Birmingham at the weekend.

Danny Williams missed the visit of the Blues with a dead leg and the midfielder is rated doubtful to face the Merseysiders. However, Terence Kongolo could return to the fold after recovering from a knock.

The visitors are considering whether to hand skipper Jordan Henderson his first start in over a month. The midfielder returned to action from a hamstring injury with an appearance off the bench against West Brom on Saturday.

But Ragnar Klavan and Adam Lallana are expected to miss out once more with muscular problems.

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