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Liverpool seek to avenge Aston Villa mauling


London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp has told Liverpool to “put things right” when they welcome Aston Villa to Anfield on Saturday following their 7-2 mauling at the hands of Dean Smith’s men earlier this season.

It is a loss that lingers in the memory for Klopp, who dismissed suggestions a 4-1 FA Cup win in January counted as any sort of payback as Villa fielded an academy side following a coronavirus outbreak among the first-team ranks.

“No, we played a different Aston Villa that night,” he said on Friday. “Of course we have to put things right, that’s clear. You cannot put a game like this to one side immediately, that’s not possible.

“We had to work with it. A lot of things showed us in that game which were a problem that day, some of the problems we had before, some of the problems we never had before.”

“Things like this should not happen but it happened to us,” he added. 

“It was a really strange game. I have the game in my mind and which way I will use it I am not sure yet.”

Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick in Villa’s 7-2 win and his goals have helped his team establish themselves in the top half of the table, just five points behind faltering champions Liverpool.

Liverpool are desperate to end their Anfield jinx as they seek to return to the top four, at least temporarily — Klopp’s men have lost their past six Premier League games at home.

They will also be looking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat at Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final this week, when Naby Keita was withdrawn before half-time.

It was just the Guinean’s second European start of the season but the gamble backfired as he was replaced by Thiago Alcantara with Liverpool’s midfield in disarray.

“The substitution in the last game was a decision I made in that moment,” said Klopp. “We had to sort the game for us and it was difficult to do that without making a change.

“After the game, yesterday, we spoke and everything is OK. I explained the decision and he accepted it, obviously, so now we carry on.”

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