EPL: ‘We take 13 players this time and two play only against Eden’, Says Klopp

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp joked he needs 13 players on the pitch with two solely marking Eden Hazard to stop the Belgian from shining at Anfield on Sunday.

The Reds face a serious test in their bid for a first league title in 29 years with Chelsea needing a win to strengthen their case for a top-four finish. 

Hazard is a man in form, dazzling in a recent win over West Ham at Stamford Bridge, and having netted a stunner at Anfield earlier this season to knock Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup, Klopp is well aware of the difficulties in stopping him.

When asked by reporters if he had devised a specific plan solely on Hazard, the former Borussia Dortmund coach laughed, before joking he was going to make it 13 against 11.  

“We take 13 players this time and two play only against Eden,” Klopp said. 

“The best way to try and make sure he cannot play as he is able to is to avoid passes to him, that’s how it is. We must react better than other teams did – I would never say it is easy. 

“You need to try and read the game, read the passes but in the end in a one-on-one situation you cannot defend him. I like footballers like this so if he plays his best game we have to live with that.”

Hazard is being monitored closely by Real Madrid ahead of the summer with his contract at Chelsea close to expiry. 

His form this season has once again been impressive and Liverpool, having seen Hazard change the game off the bench back in September. 

For Klopp, there is no question whatsoever that the crafty Belgian can, on any given day, be the best player in the world.  

“He is really pure, a really good player but Hazard we don’t have to talk about that,”  the Liverpool boss added when pressed on facing the player this weekend. 

“On his day he can be the world’s best immediately. He has had a brilliant career so far. He has a lot of things I like in football. He has joy, cheeky as well, strong, quick and yeah he is a good player. 

“All good players have to play against us as well so we have to try and deny everything in his skills.”

Hazard is the key man helping push Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea side into the Champions League spots come the end of the season and currently posts 19 goals and 12 assists in all competitions this season.  

Liverpool could go into Sunday’s game in second if Manchester City, who face Crystal Palace earlier in the day, win their game to return, at least temporarily to the summit. 

The Reds currently hold a two-point advantage over Pep Guardiola’s City side but have played a game more and Klopp is under no illusions that his side cannot afford to concede points so late in the campaign.