JURGEN KLOPP’S toothy grin could not have been wider and his praise of Jamie Vardy was pretty expansive, too.
The plan, no doubt, was that by lauding the Leicester striker he was showing how confident he is in his side’s ability to handle him tonight.
Yet Liverpool’s boss will be worried deep down that Vardy will keep up his impressive scoring record in this fixture.
The Foxes frontman, 32, arrives on Merseyside having netted seven league goals in his last six appearances against Liverpool.
Only former Premier League stars Andy Cole (11) and Thierry Henry (eight) have scored more.
Klopp said: “Vardy is a fantastic striker. He has all the qualities — the finishing skills, the speed.
“Every part of his body is about the decisive situation, always waiting for the ball over the shoulder.
“These days he is more involved in defending, but that doesn’t make it easier to defend against him.
“He’s still a massive threat and we have to be sure we defend well against him.”
Vardy’s ability to score with such regularity against his team is clearly eating away at the German.
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Klopp even joked that one of those seven strikes should be chalked off, adding: “There was one against us that maybe Lucas Leiva should get an assist for.
“I think I would have scored that goal. I don’t know why exactly he has that good record against us — minus that one goal, as I say.
“But he is a very, very good player and that is the main reason he is such a threat. And Vardy is not the only threat.
“There is James Maddison, Demarai Gray, Mark Albrighton, Ben Chilwell up and down that left flank. And they like playing against the top sides.
“They don’t give you lots of space. I am sure they are not happy with their position.
“They’d have been happy with their position a few years ago, but not after winning the league and playing in the Champions League.
“They have invested a lot of money in the team.”
So have the Reds, who hope £75million defensive linchpin Virgil van Dijk is over a virus picked up during their Dubai training camp.
Van Dijk has managed to train during the last two days and Klopp is optimistic he will continue his run — the Dutchman has played in every one of Liverpool’s past 36 Prem games.
Injuries to Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander–Arnold, plus James Milner’s one-match ban, will mean a rejigged backline against Vardy’s pace.
Klopp, hinting he may use wing-backs, stressed: “We need to squeeze everything we can out of the players.
“I’m just glad it is a Wednesday night game and hope our supporters feel the need to show real support.
Virg was a little bit ill but he trained yesterday. We will see.”