Wednesday 24 April 2019

Jurgen Klopp sets target for Liverpool as title pursuit hots up

The Reds are two points clear of Manchester City having played a game more.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has set his sights on a club-record points haul in their close title race with Manchester City (Peter Byrne/PA)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has set his sights on a club-record points haul in their close title race with Manchester City (Peter Byrne/PA)

By Carl Markham, Press Association Sport

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has set his sights on a club-record 97 points as the race for the Premier League title enters its final month.

A 2-0 win over Chelsea restored the Reds’ two-point advantage at the top of the table after Manchester City, who have a match in hand, had briefly taken back first place with a win at Crystal Palace earlier in the day.

The Reds now have 85 points, five short of their previous league best of 90 from 40 matches in the 1987-88 campaign in which they were champions.

City won the league with 100 points last season but Klopp is targeting four more wins to push their rivals all the way over the closing few weeks.

“The biggest challenge for us is always facing the world outside, you (the media) and other people. We play our game,” he said

“If City lost and we find out five minutes before the game that’s not a help. You lose your focus then.

“We only try to collect as many points as possible. What is it now, 85? Four games to play. 97 (possible). Let’s try.

“And if that’s enough, then perfect. If not, we cannot change it. And we didn’t lose it here or there or whatever.

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Mohamed Salah with Jurgen Klopp (Peter Byrne/PA)

“Very smart people will come out and say ‘Yeah, if you would have won against Leicester you would be champions’.

“It’s all bulls**t. People and idiots bring something like this up.

“We see it game by game. We go to Porto now (holding a 2-0 lead in the Champions League), which will be a tough one.

“We know that they get at least two players back, Pepe and (Hector) Herrera, so they will be an interesting and difficult challenge.

We only try to collect as many points as possible. What is it now, 85? Four games to play. 97 (possible). Let’s try Jurgen Klopp

“Then we play Cardiff and everybody knows that is a tough place to go.”

The victory over Chelsea was encapsulated in a couple of two-minute episodes in the second half.

Sadio Mane’s header from a Jordan Henderson cross was followed moments later by a world-class strike from Mohamed Salah, his 22nd of the season, as he cut in from the right to unleash a left-footed shot into the top corner.

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri was forced into a change, introducing Gonzalo Higuain and moving Eden Hazard from a false nine role into his usual position on the left, which brought immediate results.

Hazard beat Alisson Becker in a one-on-one only for his shot to rebound off the post before firing a first-time, close-range shot straight at the goalkeeper when he seemed certain to score, with Higuain also missing a chance soon after.

“We were a little bit unlucky for the second goal, for the timing,” said Sarri, who was genuine in his congratulations for Salah after bumping into him after the game.

“The second goal of Mo was wonderful and then we were a little bit unlucky because in three minutes we had three goal opportunities, two with Hazard and one with Higuain and we hit the post for the 35th time in our season.

“But I am really happy with the performance because we stayed in the match very well. Two or three months ago we would not have done.”

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