Liverpool will host Leeds in an unusual 7:45pm kick-off time on Saturday, owing largely to the Reds’ Champions League exploits. Jurgen Klopp will want a positive result against the relegation-threatened Whites after suffering a disappointing Premier League defeat by Nottingham Forest last weekend.
A late evening kick-off time at the weekend is rare in the top-flight, with matches usually occupying slots at 12:30pm, 3pm and 5:30pm. But the 7:45pm start is due to Liverpool’s participation in Europe.
Klopp’s side beat Ajax 3-0 on Wednesday to secure a place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. The Reds successfully argued to the Premier League and broadcasters that they would have had fewer than 48 hours to prepare for Saturday’s fixture had it been played any earlier.
It is a similar argument put forward by Manchester United earlier this season. The Red Devils beat Everton at the start of October in a Saturday game that also started at 7:45pm. Sky Sports are set to show Liverpool’s clash with Leeds at Anfield.
JUST IN: What Klopp ‘told’ Tottenham’s Son as Liverpool transfer on the cards
“Saturday night, 7:45, a great time to play a football match. I hope people (fans) are ready,” Liverpool boss Klopp, who has escaped a touchline ban despite his red card against Manchester City, said ahead of the game.
The German has also offered a staunch defence of Darwin Nunez’s start to life at Liverpool. Nunez, a £65million summer arrival from Benfica, has hit form after a tricky first few months.
He was sent off for head-butting Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen on his home debut, but has now scored four times in his last five appearances. Klopp has urged the exciting 23-year-old striker to stay fit.
“Darwin came here after a short break, flew straight to Asia [for pre-season], didn’t speak English, new team, and the price – and then everyone judges straight away. Started well, scored v Man City and Fulham, then red card. He was embarrassed. Confidence was knocked.
Liverpool called out for ‘turning a blind eye’ after transfer blow
Liverpool star Nunez had Ferdinand ‘scratching his head’ in Ajax win
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has theory for Nunez’s dreadful Ajax miss
“He’s involved in a lot, a lot of finishing moments. It was a great month for him.
“Darwin is so exciting but he has to stay fit and be available all the time. We work on all different areas and the potential is incredible. Speed, attitude, a real worker, it’s all possible to develop and learn. It’s really exciting.”
Meanwhile, Leeds boss Jesse Marsch insists he has the backing of the club’s hierarchy despite his side sitting 18th in the Premier League. They have not won any of their last eight games.
The American said on Friday: “The [hierarchy] have been very supportive. I’ve spoken with Angus [Kinnear], Victor [Orta] and Andrea [Radrizzani] multiple times. We’ve talked about adding staff and we’re looking carefully at things like psychologists.
“But I’m not dumb. I understand that if we don’t win games, I put them in a very difficult situation to continue to support me. So my focus is entirely on what what is necessary for the next three games.”