Jurgen Klopp has criticised the scheduling of Liverpool’s Premier League trip to leaders Manchester City.
The top-of-the-table clash at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, November 25 will be the third successive time this season that Klopp’s side have been given the 12:30pm kick-off slot straight after an international break.
Liverpool moved up to second place with an emphatic 3-0 win over Brentford on Sunday with Klopp admitting that preparations for the game against City will be far from ideal with so many players away on duty with their national teams.
“The boys responded sensationally well, but now they all go and when we come back we can only train once before we play Man City,” he said.
“We won so no-one can say I’m moaning but how can you put a game like this on Saturday at 12.30pm? Honestly, the people making these decisions, they cannot feel football, it is just not possible.
“If that is the moment where the world pays the most to see a football game then nobody has to tell us. I don’t know if that is the case or not, I really don’t know.
“You have these two teams who have altogether probably 30 international players. They all come back on the same plane by the way, all the South American players. They all fly back (together), we put them on the plane from Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia. One plane and they arrive here. It’s mad. But we just have to make sure we are ready.”
The game will be shown live on Sky Sports and was announced with the rest of the television picks for the 13th round of matches back in October, with Arsenal’s trip to Brentford to be played at 5.30pm GMT later that day.
It is not first time that Klopp has queried his side playing in the early Saturday slot following an international break.
He said earlier this season: “12.30 kick-off is not a problem if you have a week to prepare. The only problem is the lack of recovery time. We have four international breaks until March. Two of them we have the early kick-off.
“If I say more about it the whole world goes again and says ‘he’s moaning again’. This is a joke.
“But this is like it is, we cannot change that, they will never change that, whoever we talk to. Now the TV channel has a different name but that doesn’t change anything at all. They just don’t give a ‘bleep’ about that.”
Klopp, Liverpool’s 12.30 ‘joke’ – and the numbers that reveal why he’s angry
Do Liverpool have a problem with the 12.30 slot?
Liverpool had six Premier League games in that slot last season and won none of them, taking three points out of a possible 18. And it was not as if the opponents were all drawn from the upper end of the table: only one finished the season in the top nine (Manchester City, who beat Liverpool 4-1). The other teams Liverpool faced were Fulham, Everton and Chelsea (all draws), while they were beaten by Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth.
They scored just three goals across those six matches despite attempting a total of 83 shots – a conversion rate of just 3.6 per cent. They created 13 big chances with an xG (expected goals) of 8.56.
The trip to Manchester will be the 14th Saturday lunchtime kick-off Liverpool have had in the Premier League immediately following an international break during the German’s Anfield reign.
That’s more than double the number faced by any other top-flight club. Tottenham and Chelsea have had that scenario on six occasions, Manchester United five and Manchester City four.
(Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)