Liverpool fans were surprised to see Sadio Mane’s name in the starting line-up for this evening’s clash against West Ham at the London Stadium.
Jurgen Klopp said Mane could be ready to play “at least 20-25 minutes” when he spoke to the media on Friday as the Senegalese returns from a hamstring injury, but there he was in the starting line-up when they were announced an hour before kick-off.
But Klopp admitted before kick-off that Mane showed he was ready for more minutes at Melwood.
“It looked so good and he has worked really hard,” the German said. “It was the first time training [with the team this week] but he did a lot in all of the other sessions.
“He could have trained earlier – it was only because we were not there that he could not train with us. He has been in normal training for around about a week – so we let him start.”
Liverpool entered the game off the back of a 3-0 win over Maribor in the Champions League in midweek.
Yet they faced a West Ham side that has started to show something in recent weeks, beginning with the win against Tottenham in the Carabao Cup and then leading Crystal Palace until the death last weekend.
Still, Joe Hart must have been expected to be in for a busy evening and he was called into action early on when he denied Roberto Firmino from close range.
It was a good way to settle the nerves, and based on Hart’s efforts in the warm-up, there were plenty of those.
Hart dropped a clanger in the warm-up
BT Sport’s cameras captured Hart making an embarrassing blunder before kick-off, allowing a shot through his legs.
As Jake Humphrey said, at least it happened in the warm-up.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Hart’s mistake.
Hart spoke about Liverpool in match programme
With West Ham sitting just one place above the Premier League’s relegation zone at kick-off, the England goalkeeper knew the importance of the contest.
“Liverpool at home is a big game and very exciting,” Hart said in the match programme, per the Evening Standard.
“They bring a lot with them, they have great support, great players and an exciting manager in Jurgen Klopp.
“They have shown what they are capable of on their day, and that’s what we’ve got to prepare for. It’s going to be a hard game.
“It will take us playing at a really high level and with high concentration to give ourselves a chance of beating them.”
Liverpool raced into a 2-0 lead in the first half, Mohamed Salah and Joel Matip with the goals.
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