Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius heads into probably the biggest match of his career confident in his position as Jurgen Klopp‘s new first choice.
The German has taken over from long-time number one Simon Mignolet for the last three games but the visit of Manchester United on Monday represents the former Mainz player’s biggest challenge to date.
Despite the often precarious nature of being a goalkeeper, when one mistake can lose you your place, the 23-year-old insists there is no ill-will between him and Mignolet, who in three unchallenged years in the team failed to properly establish himself beyond doubt.
“It’s not about being best friends but we get on well,” he said of the Belgian.
“On the pitch we know we are rivals but that doesn’t mean you wish anything bad on the other.
“It’s very professional and all in all we are a good group. We try to help each other if there is something we can do for the other one.
“You prepare for the game any way so it doesn’t really make a difference if you know a month before, a week before, a day before, because it won’t really change anything in your training.”
Karius has played against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in his homeland but with Mainz’s standing as a relatively small club in Germany the Premier League clash of England’s two most successful clubs is on another level entirely.
When asked if it would be the most significant outing of his career he said: “Probably. With all the history of both clubs, the rivalry, it’s a very big match.
“It’s always hard to say which is the biggest but it’s a really big match.
“Manchester United has a good, strong team but we have a great team and we play at home.
“We have respect for them but we’re not scared of them and we know we want to win the game.
“We’ll have a good plan—or more than one plan—so we will be well prepared.”
Captain Jordan Henderson has plenty of experience of the rivalry in his five years at the club and knows exactly what to expect.
And he admits the biggest problem is not being ready for the game but being in control when it kicks off.
“It is the rivalry, the success both clubs have had and it’s like a derby,” he told LFC TV.
“The atmosphere is incredible and that transcends onto the pitch. I don’t think it is one you have to get yourself pumped up for it.
“You can get pumped up for games and sometimes you can cross the line very easily in big games with the adrenaline going.
“You have to make sure you use that in the right way but I am sure it won’t be a problem.”
Henderson has been utilised in a different position this season after being asked by Klopp to perform the deeper-lying role in midfield.
It is something he has excelled at and that has helped make life easier for his back four.
One of that number Joel Matip, who is set for his first appearance in the fixture, has been impressed with the club captain’s performances.
“He does a very good job. He always has the ball and sometimes I think he is everywhere,” said the centre-back, whose only previous United experience was for Schalke in a 2011 Champions League semi-final 6-1 aggregate defeat.
“That’s always good, especially for the centre-backs like me because you always know he is there and he will help you.
“You can always play [the ball] to him and he gives the team a lot of strength and calm – and sometimes he scores, so perfect.”