Liverpool vs Leicester
Venue: Anfield Stadium
Kick off: 5:30pm
Jurgen Klopp said he must “deliver” a Liverpool team that the new-look Anfield deserves after the club officially opened its £115 million Main Stand.
The towering structure increases the capacity by a further 8,500 seats to more than 54,000 and hosts Liverpool’s first home game of the season tomorrow against champions Leicester City.
Klopp believes the stadium expansion will benefit his players, creating a wall of sound at a venue which has been too accommodating to opponents in recent seasons.
Yet the Liverpool manager accepted it is ultimately down to him, and his players, to ensure results improve in front of their own supporters.
“It’s good. It’s close. It’s more. It’s big. I love it,” said Klopp, who will consider Daniel Sturridge for a starting role with Philippe Coutinho having been absent for the first part of the week due to international commitments with Brazil.
“It’s not about coming here and cheering until we arrive at the stadium and then getting bored.
“We have to deliver. That’s what we have to do. We don’t expect people to celebrate with themselves. Let’s try and make the first step in our future.
“Fill it with life. That’s my responsibility. It’s all about the last five or six per cent in a game. How can you bring in the last five per cent? That’s attitude, that’s character, that’s mentality, that’s the crowd, that’s noise. That’s togetherness.
“This stadium was never an excuse, and it’s not now.” On the last five occasions when Liverpool have finished in the top four, they never dropped more than 14 points at home from a possible 57.
By contrast, the amount of points surrendered at Anfield last season was 25. With an extra 11 home points, they would have finished third.
Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, were present 643 days after work began on the redevelopment.
The stand will not transform Liverpool’s fortunes in as much as the extra revenue from it will not outstrip the likes of Manchester United or Manchester City, but FSG’s faith lies in Klopp elevating the club back to former glories.
“I don’t know if I’d say it’s a game changer,” said FSG president Mike Gordon. “It’s a very large step forward and it will help.
“Whether it will mean that we’re going to spend along the lines of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal… I worry more about getting the most out of the money that we spend rather than competing in the transfer market on a pound-for-pound basis.
“I’m really happy with the team that we have, the one that we’ve built over the last several years. We’ve spent a fair amount of money, and I think we’re going to see that on display this season and in the seasons to come.”
The all-seater stand will be one of the biggest in Europe, housing 20,500 supporters, has been paid for by a loan from FSG, who publicly reiterated their commitment amid interest from China in Liverpool.
“I have said repeatedly this club is not for sale,” said chairman Tom Werner. “I don’t know how many more times I can say it. I am saying it again and I am emphatic about it.”