Jurgen Klopp’s cheeky request to Chris Wilder during monster Konate display

With Ibrahima Konate setting a new record for Liverpool with his dominant display against Sheffield United, Jurgen Klopp considered a cheeky request.

On his return to the starting lineup following a long-term ACL injury for Joel Matip, Konate was in the thick of it at Bramall Lane.

Per FotMob, won 19 of his 24 contested duels on the night, with 14 out of 14 won in the air, which according to Squawka is a Premier League record for a Liverpool player.

No other player came close to winning as many headers – Wataru Endo, Jack Robinson and Vini Souza were next closest with five – while Dominik Szoboszlai won the next-most overall duels (11).

Konate was busy throughout the 2-0 win, then, which included his share of hairy moments as the Blades looked to impress in front of returning manager Chris Wilder.

In his post-match press conference, Klopp touched upon the volume of headers Konate was required to make, joking that he was “close to asking” if Wilder would change his approach.

“Ibou played a fantastic game, I don’t know how many headers he had to do,” Klopp said.

“I was close to asking Chris if they could shoot the ball for once on the other side so Virg could go in these challenges!

“Then obviously all of a sudden [Ibou] felt the intensity a bit, he gave two balls away, and then it was a bit tricky in these moments.”

It should perhaps have come as little surprise that Konate had shaky points on Wednesday night, as he was required to keep a game Sheffield United attack at bay.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 6, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Sheffield United FC and Liverpool FC at Bramall Lane. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Games are decided in moments, you don’t need to have like 80 percent possession to win a football game; 10 percent is enough sometimes, you just have to do the right stuff with it,” the manager continued.

“Obviously we had much more than 10 percent, but that gives you more chance to make mistakes. You could see.”

The aerial battle was key for Liverpool, and along with Konate winning 100 percent of his battles, it was notable that the rest of the back four of Van Dijk (80%), Joe Gomez (80%) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (100%) along with Endo (71%) all dominated in the air.

Sheffield United attempted 60 long balls over the course the evening, with only 10 finding their man (16.7%), and goalkeeper Wes Foderigham was successful with just three of his 24 attempts (12.5%).