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Premier League

Klopp hails Hazard before big clash against Chelsea

Chelsea's Eden Hazard vies for the ball against Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is well aware of the threat Chelsea – and Hazard – pose.

“Eden Hazard on his day he can be the world’s best immediately. He had a brilliant career, and it’s not over. He has a lot of things I like in football, his joy, his cheek, strong, quick, he’s a good player,” said the Reds boss.

“But like all good players, he has to play against us, and we try everything to deny at least a couple of his skills and that would help us. Maybe we will take 13 players and two will play only against Eden!

“The best way to try to make sure that he cannot shine is to avoid passes to him. React a little bit better than other teams did.

“It’s not easy, because when he has the ball it’s already too late. You try to read the game, read the passes, but in the end, in a one versus one situation you cannot defend him. You need help from somewhere else.

“I like footballers like this. If he plays his best game, we have to deal with that.

“But, come on, we are in good shape as well. It’s Anfield and I said it a few times, we have to create the power of Anfield and use it again.”

Klopp also said Liverpool do not need any reminders of a 2-0 defeat by Chelsea that effectively ended their Premier League title hopes in the 2013-14 campaign.

Former skipper Steven Gerrard famously slipped and lost possession five years ago, allowing Demba Ba to score as Chelsea dented Liverpool’s title push with a famous victory at Anfield in a season when Manchester City ended up champions.

“I’m not sure that’s in anyone’s mind. You can tell all the fans out there to ignore it,” Klopp told a news conference ahead of Sunday’s home clash with Chelsea.

“It’s all about the game on Sunday. Only the colours and the names are the same pretty much. Anyone who wants to talk to any of my players about what happened years ago – don’t do it.

“We have to be positive and front-footed, (it’s) how we’ve done it for the whole season.”

Goalkeeper Mignolet, in goal for that game and one of only three Reds’ survivors along with Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, stressed the circumstances are entirely different.

“The way we play now, after six years at the club, is completely different to what it was then,” said the Belgium international, who will watch this weekend’s game from the substitutes’ bench having been deposed by Alisson Becker this season,

“We had a big chance but we were relying on the quality of Luis Suarez’s goalscoring, whereas now we are more together.

“We don’t concede many goals, and the threat comes from different angles rather than just one player.

“In that sense we are more solid than when we were back then when we were relying on individual quality and individual players.

Leaders Liverpool have 82 points, two more than City in second, although Pep Guardiola’s team have a game in hand.

Klopp said the team and fans had to believe if they are to end a 29-year drought for a league title.

“We are trying to keep this dream alive and at the moment it’s all good. But Chelsea are a really difficult team and they are in a good moment,” Klopp added.

“Our previous form means nothing this season. They want three points and we have a job to do. But we try to use the fan power and give them a boost by things we do on the pitch.”

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