Interview'We have to be the best version of ourselves' - Jürgen Klopp's West Ham preview
Jürgen Klopp expects West Ham United to be an 'extremely strong opponent' as Liverpool seek to extend their unbeaten start to the Premier League season this weekend.
The Reds welcome the Hammers to Anfield on Sunday afternoon having collected 13 points from their opening five top-flight matches of 2023-24, thanks in the main to four consecutive victories.
Klopp's side have not lost any of their last 16 games in the division, a run that stretches back to early April, and head into this weekend's contest following Thursday's 3-1 win over LASK in the Europa League.
However, David Moyes' team travel to Merseyside on the back of an encouraging beginning to the Premier League campaign of their own and Klopp believes an excellent Liverpool performance will be required to overcome the visitors.
Read the manager's pre-match preview below.
On enjoying the start to the season...
I enjoy the moment. From the first day since we are back, I enjoyed a lot. I was really excited about the rebuild, I was really excited about the boys, the new way, the new energy. We decided last year already that we have to change a lot – but that we want to change it for good and not because we have to. Yeah, I'm really excited about that and still am. That's it. We are really not there, we are not stable yet, so many things not – but we are a lot of things already. A lot of exciting moments in the games and I think that's a good start, not more. But as a start, it's absolutely OK.
On where he sees this team in terms of its development, and the challenge of West Ham...
I don't know, I don't know where we are exactly because we showed these kind of different phases. But obviously the things we went through now already in this season, that's usually enough for a whole season if you have done these things after 38 games, and we have it after five – twice red card, 10 men, turning games and these things. And now [we] did it again, played a really bad half and a very good half and turned it around again [against Wolverhampton Wanderers]. Again, it's not what you plan, it's not what you want. But when you have it, you have to go through it and that's what we did. So, it shows just the boys already together in a manner and in an extent we probably didn't expect that early. That's it. I cannot make any kind of estimate at all how it will look in the next four or five weeks. The only thing what I can do is work extremely hard to make it as positive as somehow possible.
But there are so many extremely strong opponents – West Ham is one of them when you see them. Really exciting project as well. I'm happy for David that he really built this team now over a few years. Even with Declan Rice out, they look really good, I have to say. [James] Ward-Prowse, super signing. [Lucas] Paqueta is not a new signing but is a super player. With all the other guys they had already, it looks really solid and that makes it really tricky. And then we have all the other teams – top four, five, six, plus, plus, plus. The way you want to start, the way you want to end, the league is extremely strong. It's good for the people but it means for us we have to be the best version of ourselves.
On Jarell Quansah, who made an impressive full debut in the win at Wolves...
In the right moment, in the right club. That's it. He's our boy, fantastic boy, one with the U20s of England, obviously massive, massive competition. [He] played a super pre-season with us, that's really good, and deserved to start the last game against Wolves. Some people might say it's a brave decision, I didn't feel it was a brave decision from us because we had obviously Ibou ready-ish, two days' training. We had centre-halves we had to bring in with half an hour training more or less because the others were not ready in more serious situations. But because Jarell was there, we didn't have to do it and he did really well. I liked it a lot. It's nice to see the smile on his face after the game. It's really like he has now three games under his belly and nine points, I think – that's not a bad record.
On Darwin Nunez's confidence levels given his recent form…
He's good, really good. He's in a really good moment, enjoys his game a lot in the moment and that is fine. You have only a problem as a striker when you don't have any chances. He has chances, opportunities, [and] obviously it is not too long ago he scored the two most incredible goals I saw for a long, long time against Newcastle, it was absolutely insane. Played a super game against Aston Villa then it was the international break, had there a little bit of muscle issue – said he is fine but we read, obviously, what [Uruguay coach Marcelo] Bielsa said, then he had as well very intense travelling so we decided not to start him [at Molineux] but he came on and had a massive impact on the game.
So, he is in a good moment, you see that in training. It's not important in the moment if he scores already or not: for a striker, it's important that in these moments where you don't score but play well, you understand it right and then just keep going and everything will fall in place anyway.