Jurgen Klopp says it will take bravery and “close-to-perfect organisation” if Liverpool are to get a positive result at Manchester City on Sunday.
The Reds travel to the Etihad knowing victory would move them eight points clear of one of their main title rivals – a significant gap even at this early stage of the campaign.
A win for City, though, would move Pep Guardiola’s side to within two points of the champions with a game in hand.
City won 4-0 when the sides last met back in July, shortly after Liverpool had been crowned league champions, and Klopp believes that fixture is the perfect example of what can happen if your team are not completely ready for the challenge.
“If you are not 100 per cent focused on the game against City, you will lose big!” he told reporters. “I am not sure I needed that game as proof, but that is 100 per cent the case.
“It was the first time we won the league, so I had no idea how to prepare the next game to be honest. I didn’t want to overdo it like ‘boys forget what happened three days ago, now let’s show the whole world against City’ blah, blah, blah.
“I know my boys wanted to win that game, but we were not as focused as we usually are in these games. We still played some good football that night but unfortunately we didn’t score and they scored four times.
“But let me say it like this, it was not the most heavy defeat in my life.”
Klopp’s record generally against Guardiola is a good one. In fact, of all the managers to have faced the Catalan six times or more, the Reds boss is the only one to have won more games than he has lost – a record he will maintain if his side avoid defeat this weekend.
“We should meet much more often then, eh?” he joked before adding: “No, I’m happy that we don’t, to be honest!
“I’m not aware of records, but I know that we met from time to time and that we didn’t lose all of the games. But I know that every game was incredibly difficult, incredibly difficult. They are very intense, and that is the only thing I am concerned about, not how we played in the last games.
“We need to be ready to compete in this game, and for that you need to have close-to-perfect organisation, and you need to be really brave, play your own football and cause them problems as well.
“It sounds so easy, it’s not rocket science but it’s still so difficult because they put you under massive pressure.
“But we can do that as well. It’s always an interesting game, and hopefully it will be on Sunday as well, because that will mean we have been good! That’s the first step in the right direction.”
Klopp is likely to recall Joel Matip to his starting line-up, with the Cameroon international expected to partner Joe Gomez at centre-back.
He also faces a decision in attack, with Diogo Jota pushing hard for a start after his Champions League hat-trick against Atalanta in midweek.
Roberto Firmino was left on the bench for that game, but could be brought back in against City - either instead of, or as well as, Jota.
Thiago Alcantara will miss the game with a knee injury, joining Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Virgil van Dijk on the sidelines.