Jurgen Klopp has insisted he will not look to reign in Liverpool's attacking tendencies in a bid to nullify the threat of Chelsea's Eden Hazard when the two teams meet on Saturday - even if his star defender Virgil van Dijk is ruled out of the clash.
A scintillating cameo from Hazard, 27, in the League Cup on Wednesday condemned the Reds to their first defeat of the season, and the Belgium international has the opportunity to wreak havoc once more as Liverpool aim to establish a five point buffer on their Premier League rivals.
However, despite being handed a reminder of the damage Hazard can cause, Klopp remained adamant that he will not be reduced to man-marking the attacker as he has unwavering belief in Liverpool's ability to collectively defend against him and punish Chelsea in their own right.
“When Dortmund played Real Madrid [in the 2013 Champions League semi-final] I played Mario Götze against Xabi Alonso but no, I will not man-mark Hazard, because he is much more flexible,” Klopp told reporters in his pre-match press conference, via the Guardian.
“He is all over the park. With Xabi Alonso it was clear where he was playing. That is a big difference. I have the biggest respect for this player. I love it, what a player, but it is not to defend alone. Yes it is difficult, but we have to do all the things around it: close spaces, make passes more difficult.
“I think one of our biggest chances on Wednesday came when we won the ball off Hazard. When Daniel [Sturridge] hit the crossbar, I think it came from Hendo [Jordan Henderson] winning the ball, past the next one, Daniel has the ball - crossbar. All these things are possible. It is about what we do.
"In the game against Real Madrid it was still a very front foot approach. Mario played a really good game against Alonso that day. Alonso should have been sent off for two ugly challenges by the way but he wasn’t. It worked that day."
Even if Van Dijk is only at 70% tomorrow, I say we risk it. Rather a 70% fit Van Dijk than a fully fit Matip/Lovren. This game could quite literally decide the title come the end of the season...use the Napoli game midweek to rest him. Tomorrow is far more important.— Dharma Bhagalia (@Kloppholic) September 28, 2018
However, the Reds' key defensive pillar in Van Dijk remains under a fitness cloud for the encounter after aggravating a lingering rib injury in the win over Southampton - which forced him out of the midweek clash.
Klopp revealed the Dutch defender has been unable to train throughout the week and will be subject to a fitness test before he makes his final decision over his team selection.
“I will decide if he plays,” he said. “If the player goes out and says ‘No chance,’ then I cannot decide, but in all other situations I will decide.
"Virgil will try everything to be ready and I know how this sounds but as long as you are not seriously injured, like something broken or ruptured or a proper strain, then the boys play constantly with pain."