Jurgen Klopp has hailed Maurizio Sarri’s transformation of Chelsea and described it as the most dramatic – and quickest – change to a team he has ever seen.
Liverpool’s manager is wary of the threat Chelsea pose to his side’s ambitions this season and tomorrow’s Carabao Cup meeting at Anfield is the first of two showdowns in the space of four days; Klopp has huge respect for the side from Stamford Bridge and believes they are title contenders.
But it is the way that Sarri has got Chelsea playing so far that has most struck a chord with Klopp.
The Italian believes it will take him a year to get his team to Liverpool’s level but Klopp made a point of explaining how difficult it will be to contain them.
‘It is the biggest change I ever saw in such a short space of time,’ said Klopp, who has confirmed Simon Mignolet will start in goal for the first time since January 27.
‘Wow. The style is completely different. What a manager he is, to be honest.
‘I’m pretty much a supporter of his since I saw him playing at Naples. Outstanding football, and now doing it in a very interrupted pre-season. Eden (Hazard) was not there, (Olivier) Giroud, (N’golo) Kante. Starting the season and you see immediately the impact? All my respect.
‘It’s really good to watch. Good job so far. People were always talking about Manchester City being clear, and completely forgot Chelsea. This team is really experienced. It won the title before – 80 per cent won it twice, and they know how it works. That’s a really strong football team.’
Klopp, meanwhile, has indicated that Dejan Lovren could make his first appearance of the season, having come through a series of training sessions without issue.
There could also be opportunities for Dominic Solanke and Fabinho but neither Adam Lallana nor Divock Origi are ready.
‘Dejan looks actually quite good,’ said Klopp.
‘He trained completely normal now, four times. He looks ready. Divock is not far away but it’s an ankle thing, and we will be very careful. The ankle was his problem after the Everton game years ago, so he will be back, I’m pretty sure next week or so.
‘Adam trained with the team, not the full session, but will now come back step-by-step. He’s in a good way. Dom is completely back.
‘The only position I will confirm today is Simon [Mignolet]. Simon will start. All the rest, you have to wait until tomorrow. But it will be a good team, believe me!
‘Each game is an opportunity. It’s all about the situation, is the player ready, all the things you have to consider when you think about a line-up. It will be a very good side tomorrow.’