EPL

'Why would you do that?' - Klopp unhappy with scheduling of Liverpool's trip to Newcastle United

By Sports Desk April 12, 2022

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has once again taken aim at the Premier League and broadcasters for their scheduling of games.

The Reds have five fixtures remaining in a busy April across three competitions, with a potential sixth game if they get past Benfica in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Liverpool remain a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race after their 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with a repeat fixture against Pep Guardiola's men to come in the FA Cup semi-finals next weekend.

Klopp was particularly unhappy with the decision to schedule his team's trip to Newcastle United on Saturday April 30 for a 12:30 (BST) kick-off, as it would be the next game after a potential Champions League semi-final first leg.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the game against Benfica at Anfield, Klopp was asked about the potential of winning four trophies, having already claimed the EFL Cup earlier this season.

"The only game I am concerned about is tomorrow night, Benfica," he said. "Then, because of the success we had so far we play Saturday, City.

"Then we play [Manchester] United [on Tuesday, April 19], then we play Everton [on Sunday, April 24], then if we get through tomorrow night we have the [Champions League] semi-final, then BT and the Premier League give us Newcastle away at 12:30.

"It's just not okay. If we play a Champions League semi-final, if you find another league in the world and another broadcaster where they put one team who is in the semi-final, might be two, might be three English teams, on a 12:30...What? What are you doing? Why would you do that?

"So that's why it's so difficult [to win four trophies], but nothing happens because nobody cares."

The German coach insisted his line-up against Benfica will not be influenced by Saturday's FA Cup semi-final being on the horizon, despite having a 3-1 advantage heading into the second leg.

"The next game has absolutely no influence on the line-up for tomorrow night, but the last game [against City] has, so we have to see. Obviously we have a really super intense schedule.

"There is nobody injured as far as I know, but we have to have a look who is fresh enough for this game.

"We see it as a super important game. We tried so hard last year to get qualified for the Champions League, and now we can make it to the semis, which is incredible and that's what we want to show tomorrow night, that it really means a lot to us."

Klopp was also asked for his thoughts on Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez, who scored Benfica's goal in the first leg in Lisbon last week.

"Extremely good-looking boy," he joked. "Really good, really good. He played pretty much in front of me, with his tough battles with Ibou Konate. Physically strong, quick, was calm with his finish.

"If he stays healthy, it's a big career ahead of him."

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    Arne Slot should block out any noise around trying to catch Manchester City and instead set his sights on compiling 90 points in his first season in charge of Liverpool.

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    While Klopp lifted the EFL Cup in his final campaign as manager, James feels it is very difficult for Premier League teams to set any targets relating to any silverware due to the consistent dominance of City under Pep Guardiola.

    City have won an unprecedented four straight Premier League titles and will face rivals Manchester United this weekend at Wembley in an attempt to win back-to-back FA Cup crowns. Guardiola also has four EFL Cup trophies to his name.

    James feels Slot should therefore focus only on what he can control and believes 90 points is an aspirational target that will at least put the Reds in contention.

    Liverpool made it to 82 points in 2023-24, which saw them finish nine behind Man City and seven adrift of second-placed Arsenal.

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    "As we have seen under Jurgen Klopp, the fantastic manager, there are teams around in the Premier League who don't really care what you think you want to do, namely Manchester City," James said to Stats Perform when asked what Slot's minimum target should be.

    "There could invariably be a situation where whatever it is, such as if Pep decides it is his last season, then it might be fairytale stuff again, that he goes for the quadruple and he does it.

    "Then it doesn't matter [what your targets are], no one wins anything domestically. 

    "The minimum requirement, which Pep can't stop you from doing, has to be qualifying for the Champions League of course. But beyond that, I think it's just getting the performances. 

    "If you get 90 points, and I know this has happened to Liverpool and they have got records to prove it, but if you get 90 points or even more and still don't win the league, then it's not down to you doing something wrong, it's down to the excellence of whoever finishes above you. 

    "I would say minimum Champions League qualification and then just going for 90 points and see where it takes you. As I say, 90 points is the benchmark in the Premier League.

    "You know, it isn't that difficult to achieve when you think about it. You can literally lose to the four best teams, again subjectively, four best teams, home and away, and as long as you beat the others, the other 30 games, that's 90 points.

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    "This wasn't just about Jurgen leaving, this was the whole staff going. This is a massive shift, and everybody [left at the club] has their opinion [on the squad], even the analysis guys.

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    "The conversation with Slot will be a whole room of [new] opinions added to a data analysis group [trying] to find replacements because some of the players are leaving. 

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    Only four teams – Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle United – had a better expected goals (xG) figure than Chelsea (75.3) in the Premier League in 2023-24, while only three – City, Liverpool and Arsenal – had more shots on target than the Blues (215).

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