EPL

Jurgen Klopp says Man City threat means Liverpool feel need to win every match

By Sports Desk February 03, 2024

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says there is pressure on his side to win every remaining Premier League match this season as even an eight-point lead over Manchester City would not be enough of a cushion.

With City not playing until Monday Liverpool could extend the current five-point gap with victory at third-placed Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola’s side would have two matches in hand but their run-in record in recent years – they won their last 14 games in 2018-19 to pip their north-west rivals by a point and dropped just six points in the final 12 matches of 2021-22 to again win the title by a single point – means there is no margin for error from the Reds.

“Shall I go to the boys in the dressing room and say, ‘If we win against Arsenal we are eight points between us and them…’? Everybody knows that,” said the German, whose team have lost just once in the league.

“If we lose we are still two points ahead (if City win their game in hand as it stands), but then City are the big winner of a game they are not even involved in.

“That’s outside talk and fine. Inside, we just focus on the things we have to do.

“I think what we learned over the years is if you want to be around City then you better win all your football games because they do. That’s all.

“This is the time where City is dominating, that’s how it is. They play incredible stuff and would probably consider themselves not playing their very best season but are where they are.

“We play a very good season and are in the moment two points ahead of City. We will try to make it as hard as somehow possible for everyone who wants to finish the season above us.”

While there is a doubt over striker Darwin Nunez, who has a foot injury, Liverpool are almost back to full strength fitness-wise with only Mohamed Salah (hamstring) and Wataru Endo (Asian Cup) still unavailable in the short-term.

And while the forward line has so far not missed the input of Salah the midfield too has coped without Endo, their only genuine defensive midfielder.

Alexis Mac Allister has been tasked with the job for most of the season to allow Endo time to acclimatise to English football but the Argentina international was also learning a new role himself.

In recent weeks the defensive side of his game has improved markedly and in his last two league appearances against Bournemouth and Chelsea he made nine and eight tackles respectively – the most by any Liverpool player in the last three seasons – and won 25 duels across those two matches.

“I’m over the moon. Macca is just like a football doctor,” added Klopp.

“Playing the position the way he plays is very special. (He is) super-smart and his contribution for all our play in possession is extremely important.

“This is the best league in the world and we are top of the table, what does that say? Are there any bad players in this team? No.

“One thing in each footballer’s life, it is always consistency. You want to see it again.

“For the moment, the base is good, still to be extended to make sure we are in a good position for the run-in.”

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    Fulham boss Marco Silva will continue to demand more from Andreas Pereira as the Brazilian looks to maintain his form heading into the closing weeks of the Premier League season.

    Pereira scored both goals in Fulham’s 2-0 victory at West Ham last weekend, which was a first win in four matches.

    The former Manchester United attacking midfielder had not found the net since August, but is top of Fulham’s assists with eight so far.

    The consistency of Pereira, who was born in Belgium, has seen him recalled into the Brazil national team, featuring in both March friendlies against England at Wembley and then Spain.

    Silva feels the 28-year-old, who had a successful loan spell at Flamengo before signing for Fulham in the summer of 2022, still has plenty more to offer.

    “Andreas, last season made a huge impact. Before he joined us, he played more as a second midfielder and not so offensive,” the Fulham boss said.

    “This season, he is going to have one of the best assist records for us – and we will demand more.

    “Last week, he showed the desire to arrive in the right areas.”

    Fulham host Liverpool on Sunday looking to further dent the Reds’ ambitions.

    Jurgen Klopp’s side were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta and also slumped to what could prove a costly home defeat against Crystal Palace to lose ground in the Premier League title race.

    Fulham have pushed Liverpool in each of their three meetings this season, being narrowly edged out 4-3 after a dramatic finish at Anfield in their league match at the start of December followed by what was a tight Carabao Cup semi-final over two legs.

    “Probably some of them (have been) too open for a manager to enjoy, but yes, at Anfield and at the Cottage as well, they have been really – in some moments – emotional games, in other moments entertaining,” Silva said at a press conference.

    “Tight games always, in some of them dramatic ends of the match. But even last season, it was really tough for them to come to play at Craven Cottage (in the) Carabao Cup this season, too.”

    Silva added: “We want to make life really difficult for Liverpool, to give them a match.

    “Let’s hope we can get a different result than the last games that we played against them.

    Fulham could yet challenge for a top-10 finish.

    “I think we are in the best moment of the season,” Silva said. “We haven’t had big injuries in the last month and a half, or two months.

    “It, of course, creates a competition inside our squad that helps myself and the players to reach a different level and good headaches for me to decide, which is always the better situation to plan a game and prepare for the next game.”

  • Jurgen Klopp: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota give Liverpool ‘a chance’ Jurgen Klopp: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota give Liverpool ‘a chance’

    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota gives their title hopes a much-needed boost.

    Defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend saw Klopp’s side drop to third as Manchester City moved into a two-point lead at the top of the table.

    But with results faltering, the performance by Alexander-Arnold in the Europa League win over Atalanta, particularly in the first half, has offered renewed hope.

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    “We need Trent Alexander-Arnold, of course, but we need him in a really good shape and form and that’s what he has to get up to,” said Klopp ahead of the trip to Fulham.

    “It’s not about him and it’s not his fault if he wouldn’t be, it’s just the situation. So how quick can we get him rolling if you want – the same for Diogo.

    “We have to find a way to help the boys in the best way, to bring them as quick as possible into their best form or shape and from there we have to go.

    “Without them we wouldn’t have a chance. With them we have a chance, with them in a really good football moment the chance gets bigger and bigger.”

    Klopp remains positive about their chances despite recent failures and feels six wins could see them snatch the title from the grasp of their rivals.

    Although a Europa League exit on aggregate was disappointing there were positives to take from the game.

    Alexander-Arnold’s display, drifting infield to dictate play and even popping up in the centre-forward’s position on occasions in Bergamo, was one and a first clean sheet in 10 matches was another.

    With struggles up front continuing – Liverpool have scored only two goals in the opening 15 minutes in a league game this season – a more solid backline offers a better platform and that is why Klopp is optimistic.

    “I don’t have a lot of qualities but I am always completely honest. If I don’t feel great the players feel it pretty quickly,” he said.

    “I cannot really deny or just keep it under the carpet so that means after the game against Palace people ask ‘What do you tell the team now?’.

    “But here we are a few days later and I feel absolutely great, I see the good in the situation where we are. It is fantastic.

    “The boys know that I don’t tell them things which I don’t believe in and I am 100 percent sure we can really win all of the games we will have to from now on.

    “What should influence us more: the last game, the last week or is it the chance in front of us?

    “I am fully (of the opinion) that there is a next chance for us and we can turn things absolutely around in all departments. We can make it still an outstanding season.

    “It will be a good season but of course how you look at it is in the end is massively influenced by the last part of it.”

  • On this day in 2018: Arsene Wenger announces his Arsenal exit On this day in 2018: Arsene Wenger announces his Arsenal exit

    On this day in 2018, Arsene Wenger announced he would step down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season after almost 22 years in the role.

    Appointed in September 1996, the Frenchman had presided over a glittering period in the club’s history which yielded three Premier League titles, the last of them famously secured by his “Invincibles”, who went through the 2003-04 league campaign unbeaten.

    In addition, former Nancy, Monaco and Grampus Eight boss Wenger guided the club to FA Cup glory on seven occasions and secured 20 successive seasons of Champions League football during a reign spanning 1,235 matches, 828 of them in the top flight.

    However, his announcement came amid mounting disquiet over the club’s showing in both the Premier League and Europe, with three FA Cup successes in four years failing to placate his critics.

    Wenger said: “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season.

    “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.”

    Majority owner Stan Kroenke paid tribute to the man who had gone toe-to-toe with Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson and Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho.

    Kroenke said: “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport.

    “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene has brought to the club on and off the pitch.

    “His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him.”

    Wenger, described by Ferguson as “without doubt one of the greatest Premier League managers” and by former Gunners skipper Tony Adams as “the greatest Arsenal manager”, bowed out after a 1-0 final-day victory at Huddersfield on May 13, 2018.

    The 68-year-old said afterwards: “I feel that I got a lot of respect not only from our fans, but from England. I would reiterate I loved English football, but I also learned to love England. You do not stay 22 years if you don’t like it.”

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