LIVERPOOL boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted he loves watching Eden Hazard and that he has similar appreciation for new Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri’s playing style – because it gives his side more chances to score in matches against the Blues.
The Reds face Chelsea for the second time in four days today when they clash at Stamford Bridge (5.30pm).
Their Premier League encounter follows a mid-week Carabao Cup tie which the Londoners edged at Anfield with a late 2-1 win.
Eden Hazard’s cameo from the bench turned the game in their favour after Liverpool had looked set to progress with quarter-of-an-hour to go.
The Belgian produced a moment of sheer brilliance to win the game for the visitors by slaloming through four Liverpool defenders and drilling a fiercely-struck shot beyond Simon Mignolet into the bottom left corner.
And Klopp insists he has huge respect for Hazard – who was called the “best player in the Premier League” by Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher after his Anfield strike.
Ahead of today’s match in the capital, Klopp said on Hazard and his tactics to try and stop the forward: “You need to be ready and it is more than tough and I have the biggest respect for this player. I love it, what a player, wow!
“But it is not to defend alone. Yes, it is difficult, but we have to do all the things around it: close spaces, make passes more difficult.
“I think one of our biggest chances on Wednesday came when we won the ball off Hazard.
“When Daniel [Sturirdge] hit the crossbar, I think it came from Hendo [Jordan Henderson], a little challenge, winning the ball.
“It is about what we do. We have to think about what we’re going to do when we have the ball.”
Liverpool and Chelsea are set for an intriguing tactical battle between Klopp and Sarri – whose attractive possession-based style of play has made them a potential title candidate.
But despite their obvious threats, which they showed in possession in the cup clash, Klopp actually enjoys Chelsea playing a more expansive brand of football because of what it means for his side on the counter attack.
“We really love that the other team has a football style and approach, passing or whatever,” Klopp said.
“I said before the game on Wednesday I really respect it. The plan is really good. But no plan is perfect unfortunately and I realised that a few times when I thought I had a good one and it didn’t work out.
“Of course it is completely different. The Chelsea team of the last two years were perfectly organised, good defending on the highest level.
“It was not bus parking, but a very good defensive team with world class players on the pitch. Now it is different. We will have our chances. Each team has had chances against Chelsea so far.”
And despite a late reverse against Chelsea earlier in the week, Klopp believes there is encouragement to take from his side’s performance.
He added: “The biggest problem in the first half [on Wednesday] wasn’t adjusting to what they did because we knew they would do that and that we had to fill all the different gaps.
“But when we had the ball, it was a bit too hectic. We tried to immediately be somewhere, but we have to play and prepare the situations to cause Chelsea problems.
“It was not that Chelsea felt really comfortable in that game. They scored the goals and had a few shots from distance but in the box the chances were ours. That’s something else we had to take from that game.
“Saturday will be a different game. But as preparation Wednesday night was really good.”