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Resurgent Everton ‘a genuine threat’ Jurgen Klopp warns Liverpool ahead of Merseyside derby

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp must lift Liverpool’s shattered spirits as the Reds aim to bounce back from their latest European setback in a crucial Merseyside derby against resurgent Everton on Sunday.
Marco Silva takes Everton to Anfield with the blue half of Merseyside looking for their first victory on their hated neighbors’ turf since 1999.
Everton enter the weekend in sixth place in the Premier League, having recorded five victories and just one defeat in their last seven games.
Their optimism stands in contrast to the first real signs of problems in Klopp’s camp this season.
While Liverpool remain unbeaten in the league, and stood two points behind leaders Manchester City ahead of the weekend fixtures, successive away defeats in their Champions League group at Red Star Belgrade and Paris Saint-Germain have raised questions about their trophy-winning potential.
Reds boss Klopp insists in-form Everton have been revitalized under new boss Marco Silva and pose a genuine threat to Liverpool’s derby supremacy.
“He has the best squad. They brought in players he wanted. Richarlison, what a player he is, last year already (Theo) Walcott came in, this year Bernard came in, (Andre) Gomes, (Yerry) Mina,” Klopp told reporters on Friday
“Since I’ve been at Liverpool, Everton was always really busy but now it’s the best-tuned squad.
“One or two years ago (Wayne) Rooney came back, (Gylfi) Sigurdsson came, they said they could not play because of lack of speed, but everything is there.
“The development and improvement is obvious. Analyze Everton and tell me it will be an easy game, tell me their weaknesses: they defend really good, have good players in all positions.
“It will not be the most easy game in the world but no-one expects that in a derby and we shouldn’t do that this time so we will not.”
Reds defender Virgil van Dijk is at a loss to explain Liverpool’s issues of late, but he refuses to panic.
“It can happen. But the frustrating thing is how we conceded the goals and then it’s always difficult to come back,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s any explanation for that right now because I can’t think of one, otherwise we should have used it already.”
Roberto Firmino was the latest member of last season’s impressive Liverpool forward line to come in for criticism following a 2-1 defeat in Paris on Wednesday which leaves his team facing an anxious final group game against Napoli as they seek to guarantee progress to the knock-out stages.
Liverpool remain 11 points ahead of Everton and have not lost to the Toffees since 2010, but their slump has come just as their local rivals have put together their best run of the campaign.
Meanwhile, ahead of their clash with AFC Bournemouth today, Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City have done everything in their power to keep Brahim Diaz, but he will not try to stop the young star from leaving in the new year.
The 19-year-old Spanish midfielder, who is out of contract with the Premier League champions next summer, has been frustrated at his lack of first team opportunities under Guardiola.
“We want him, we want to extend his contract and we’ll do everything, but it’s in his hands,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“My advice if he doesn’t want to stay, he has to leave. Before we arrived it was the same with Jadon, Phil. He has to decide and it’s no more than that.”
Jadon Sancho is another City academy product who opted to move abroad — in his case to Borussia Dortmund — and has seen his career blossom with three full England appearances having come his way under Gareth Southgate.
Phil Foden, meanwhile, has suffered similar frustrations to the pair in trying to break into Guardiola’s team, although City are confident that his local roots will convince him to sign a long-term deal.

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