Touchline tussle beckons for Klopp and Conte
London (AFP) – The touchline action could be as explosive as what happens on the pitch at Stamford Bridge on Friday when Jurgen Klopp takes his Liverpool side to tackle Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
Both managers are renowned for the remarkable intensity of their touchline antics and the fourth official is likely to have a job on his hands maintaining order in the two technical areas.
Klopp appreciates the similarities, but it is Conte’s achievements with Juventus and Italy, rather than his conduct in front of the dug-outs, that have won him the German’s admiration.
“I don’t know Antonio good enough to know why he is doing it. I know for myself and, as I’ve said a few times, it just happens to me,” Klopp told reporters at Wednesday’s pre-game press conference.
“He looks quite emotional, even when they don’t score. Obviously he is involved in the game, but that’s not the most important thing.
“The very important thing is he is a great manager, something like the ‘Pep Guardiola of Juventus’ if you want.
“He created their special type of play and had a very successful time there and with the national team.
“It is quite impressive what he has done until now, but I don’t play against Antonio Conte.”
After defeat at Burnley and a 1-1 draw at Tettenahum Hotspur, Liverpool returned to winning ways at the weekend with a clinical 4-1 thrashing of champions Leister City at the newly expanded Anfield.
Chelsea saw their perfect start to the campaign ended by a 2-2 draw at Swansea City in which they went 1-0 up, fell 2-1 down and then rescued a point through Diego Costa’s acrobatic 81st-minute equaliser.
The way Chelsea let Swansea back into the match suggested the vulnerability that plagued them last season, when they finished 10th, continues to hover below the surface.
But Chelsea winger Victor Moses is convinced that Conte’s off-pitch adjustments have set the club on the right path.
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“I think he is the right man for this club,” the Nigeria international told the Chelsea website.
“He came in and changed quite a few things and everyone was expecting that. The food regime and the training have changed and he wants everyone to gel together as a team.
“He speaks to every player and wants the best from each and every one of us, and he will get the best out of us.”
Last season’s corresponding fixture, in late October, saw Klopp pull off the first eye-catching result of his nascent Liverpool tenure as the visitors recorded an impressive 3-1 win.
If the teams’ last encounter, in a pre-season friendly in the United States, is anything to go by, Friday’s game beneath the floodlights could be a spicy affair.
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas was sent off for an ugly foul on Ragnar Klavan, while Liverpool’s Marko Grujic had to go to hospital following a clash of heads with Bertrand Traore.
It could also be spectacular. The two teams average more shots on goal per game than any other sides in the division, while Liverpool’s players have covered more distance than any other team.
Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren is due to return for Liverpool, following a head injury, in place of Lucas Leiva, whose error against Leicester gift-wrapped a goal for Jamie Vardy.
But Germany midfielder Emre Can remains absent with an ankle injury.
David Luiz is expected to make his second debut for Chelsea, five years and seven months after his first appearance for the club, which coincidentally came in a home game against Liverpool.
The Brazil centre-back, 29, returned to Chelsea from Paris Saint-Germain on transfer deadline day for a reported fee of 32 million pounds ($42.2 million, 37.5 million euros).
Luiz, previously a Chelsea player between 2011 and 2014, is likely to replace captain John Terry, who has been ruled out for 10 days with ankle ligament damage sustained at Swansea.