‘Mind games are starting’ says Michael Owen, ahead of Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp showdown at Anfield tonight December 16, 2020 – Posted in: Soccer
Michael Owen insists Liverpool’s injury woes are far more comprehensive than Jose Mourinho acknowledges ahead of Wednesday night’s top-of-the-table showdown at Anfield.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has been extremely vocal regarding his push for the five-substitute rule to return, amid a growing number of casualties within his first-team squad this season.
The German is already without several key players, most notably Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, with Diogo Jota also potentially out for up to two months after picking up a knee injury during last week’s Champions League dead rubber against FC Mitdjylland.
However, Mourinho has questioned Liverpool’s injury concerns, with just goal difference separating the two sides at the summit of the English top flight.
“Every club has injuries now and again. Liverpool has a big injury, which is Van Dijk,” the Portuguese boss said.
“Injuries are normal. James Milner is injured, [Erik] Lamela is injured.”
In addition to Van Dijk, Gomez and Jota, Klopp is also set to be without James Milner, Kostas Tsimikas, Thiago Alcantara and Xherdan Shaqiri against Spurs while Naby Keita and Joel Matip are major doubts.
Mourinho added: “I think Alisson is not injured. [Trent] Alexander-Arnold is not injured. Matip, I believe that he’s going to play. Fabinho is not injured.
“[Andrew] Robertson is not injured. [Jordan] Henderson is not injured. [Georginio] Wijnaldum is not injured. [Mohamed] Salah is not injured, [Roberto] Firmino is not injured, [Sadio] Mane is not injured.
“Van Dijk is injured and Van Dijk is a very good player of course. But give me Liverpool’s list of injuries and compare that list with what is the best Liverpool team.
“I can give you a list of 10 injuries at Tottenham. We have two kids of the Under-16s with injuries, we have two others in the Under-21s and two in the Under-23s, we have Lamela and [Japhet] Tanganga. And here is a list of 10 players.
“But is [Hugo] Lloris injured? No. [Toby] Alderweireld injured? No. [Eric] Dier injured? No. [Sergio] Reguilon injured no? Harry Kane injured? No. Son [Heung-min] injured? No. Lucas [Moura] injured? No. So where are the injuries?”
Speaking on Wednesday’s talkSPORT Breakfast, Owen stated his belief that Mourinho is merely playing ‘mind games’ ahead of the crunch meeting.
“At this present moment Liverpool have got a few injuries back, but then again they’ve lost [Diogo] Jota recently so he’s a big player that they will miss,” the former England striker said.
“Lots and lots of players have been injured already during this season. There’s a few of their main players out for the season – I’m talking their centre defensive partnership [Joe] Gomez and [Virgil] Van Dijk.
“I think there’s a few more out than Jose actually mentions, however I do get his point and obviously mind games are starting ahead of this game.”
He continued: “In terms of Liverpool they have had so many injuries, but they have got such a big squad.
“They’ve got a couple of youngsters coming through as well. Thiago’s injury has dragged out a little bit too, so that’s been an big injury as well for them.
“He’s the absolute master isn’t he [Klopp]? We’ve seen managers over the years when they’ve got a problem they deflect it. The five-sub rule has certainly been one that Jurgen Klopp has been deflecting with.
“I must be honest though and the the first half [performance] against Fulham was as bad as I’d seen Liverpool for a long, long time. They got their act together in the last five minutes of that half and they were quite dominant thereafter.
“It was a worrying performance in that first half, it was almost like they didn’t have any answers. It was a horrible 35 minutes to watch and then they got going again.
“There going to need to be right on the top of their game to face this Tottenham side.”