As the last of the celebrations finish after the greatest victory in our history, Town fans have gone from feeling a sense of dread and expected humiliation to a very quiet optimism.
After the sensational 2-1 victory against the (arguably) biggest club in world football, Manchester United, Town now travel to Anfield in search of another giant-killing.
The game is the stuff of lazy journalists’ dreams with Klopp’s former assistant Wagner reuniting but this time on opposite dugouts.
We have all gotten bored of the constant comparisons to Klopp when people talk about Town but this week this will be ramped up to the Nth degree. We just have to grin, get on with it and hope it dies down after Saturday.
On that note, I’m also slightly annoyed by people claiming Wagner will ‘step out of Klopp’s shadow’.
People seem to forget that Wagner was actually assistant coach at Dortmund during their Bundesliga title and their Champions League final so he wasn’t exactly the kit-man.
It is also very interesting to see the criticism aimed at Klopp following Liverpool’s continued defensive problems and Klopp’s inability to rectify it.
What Town fans have known for a while is that Wagner was probably as much to do with the Dortmund Bundesliga titles as Klopp was.
Wagner has addressed every glaring problem Town have had in successive transfer windows, something that Klopp hasn’t done.
Maybe it will take the YouTube pundits and over-paid ex-players a little longer to realise that in fact, we might actually have been right all along when we sing “He’s better than Klopp”.
Going into Saturday, many Town fans will probably all expect a bit of a backlash from the wounded animal that is Liverpool right now and if they are on their game from an attacking perspective, there are few defences in world football that can stop them.
However, their defensive buffoonery will be of great interest to Wagner and he will know that they are vulnerable and can be broken down.
It will be up to his tactics, the game plan he comes up with and the players to execute that on the pitch if we are to succeed.
I expect an unchanged team on Saturday.
You’d be daft to drop in-form striker Laurent Depoitre after his excellent display against United and the returning Steve Mounié clearly looked massively short of match-fitness when he came on as a substitute.
The 4-1-4-1/4-3-3 we played against United worked brilliantly, cutting off their forwards players ability to drop into pockets of space in-between our midfield and back-four and our ‘gegenpressen’ was second to none, with Mooy, Hogg and Williams hunting in packs to starve Martial, Mata and Lingard of time and space on the ball.
If we are to get another result against Liverpool, our set-piece delivery must be precise and their centre-backs error-prone nature will need to be exploited by Depoitre and Mooy to produce goal opportunities. We must also be as clinical.
The goals we scored against United were our only gilt-edged chances along with a couple of other decent opportunities and we must finish these off if we are to stop Liverpool punishing us later on in the game.
You only have to look at Norwich’s defeat to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup as an example of how not to kill off a top 6 team away from home.
Roberto Firmino vs Christopher Schindler
I am quickly running out of superlatives to describe our German rolls-royce at the back, Christopher Schindler.
He had Lukaku in his back-pocket all game last week and if it wasn’t for the rain stopping the ball from running out of play after his tackle that led to United’s goal, it might have been even better.
However, Firmino will offer a different threat to Lukaku.
The Brazilian’s elusiveness, guile and pace will be a constant threat to Schindler and he will have to be on his guard and vigilant to stop the Liverpool striker from poaching a goal or two.
Mohamed Salah vs Chris Loewe
After much debate as to whether Scott Malone should get a run in the side ahead of Chris Loewe, Wagner showed his excellent man-management skills once again this week.
He took Loewe out of the firing line and allowed Malone to make his case to start him regularly against Swansea.
However, this performance clearly wasn’t enough to satisfy him and Loewe was brought back in where he put in a much improved performance.
Bar one dodgy tackle that might have cost us a breakaway goal on another day, he was excellent, marshalling Martial and Mata well when they attacked down his flank.
He will have another speedster in Mohamed Salah to contend with on Saturday.
The Egyptian has made a flying start to his Liverpool career and whilst question marks may hang over his finishing ability, he has still added several goals to his tally in the short time he has been at Anfield already.
He is easily one of the fastest players in the Premier League and Loewe will have to show patience, determination and have some help from his winger if Salah is to get no joy down his flank.
Tommy Smith vs Philippe Coutinho
Smith had an excellent game against United and successfully shut out Martial to the extent that he got wound up, hit out and was subbed off by Mourinho at half-time.
Against him this week will be former want-away midfielder Coutinho who has a penchant for spectacular goals and orchestrating Liverpool’s midfield to great effect.
Playing in a wide-role against Tottenham, Klopp may deploy Coutinho more centrally to get the best out of the Brazilian and exploit his talents more effectively.
There is some confusion about whether or not, Coutinho will feature but if he is deployed wide again, it will be up to Smith to stop his mazy runs and prevent any more spectacular long-range strikes.
Emre Can vs Aaron Mooy
The ‘Wizard of Oz’ is in fine form at the moment, scoring the opener against United and orchestrating our play superbly.
His absence against Swansea looks ever more impactful on the result by the day and he is the fulcrum of this Town side.
Emre Can had an uncharacteristically poor performance against Spurs which is juxtaposed with his excellent early season form.
His marauding runs and strong defensive capabilities have made him a fixture in Jurgen Klopp’s side and Mooy will have to bypass him if we are to make inroads into Liverpool’s defence.
Thoughts of the Gaffer
Ahead of the game, we selected what we thought were the highlights of David Wagner’s pre-match presser:
“It was an ordinary week with an extraordinary game in front of us.”
“Of course such a result with such a performance gives everybody a boost and confidence from what we have to do in the future”.
“This helps every single player and every person at the club and gives them belief and trust in what we are doing” I’m totally sure this will help us not just for this weekend but for more than just the next weekend”
“It’s extraordinary because he (Klopp) is my best friend but also manager at Liverpool, one of the biggest teams in the world. The real extraordinary story is that Huddersfield Town meets Liverpool…in the Premier League. Nobody should forget this”
Stats to look out for
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 10 league and cup games against Huddersfield (W7, D3).
- Huddersfield’s last top-flight win – and top-flight goals – at Anfield came in a 3-1 victory on 6 March 1954. Gerry Burrell scored twice, with Tommy Cavanagh also on target. Liverpool were relegated that season after finishing bottom of the table.
- This will be the first league meeting between the sides since 1972 and the first competitive encounter since the Reds won 2-0 away from home in the FA Cup third round in December 1999.
- he Reds have conceded 16 goals, their worst record at this stage of a league season since 1964 when they leaked 20 in their first nine matches.
- However, only one of the 16 Premier League goals they have conceded has come at Anfield. Only Manchester United have a better defensive record at home this term prior to the weekend.
- Liverpool’s only defeat in their last 42 Premier League home games against newly-promoted sides came against Blackpool in October 2010 (W32, D9).
- The Reds could lose back-to-back league matches for the first time under Jurgen Klopp.
- Huddersfield can become only the fourth newly-promoted side to defeat both Liverpool and Manchester United in the same Premier League season, and the first since Portsmouth in 2003-04.
Both teams’ identities and manager’s willingness to play good football will mean this should be a cracker for the neutral and should produce goals. If Town are to get a result, they must produce the same defensive performance like they did against Liverpool and eradicate all silly mistakes. Liverpool’s defence can be got at; it is just a matter of whether we have the ball long enough to make a dent.