Friday 13 December 2019

Jurgen Klopp fires warning to Manchester United as Liverpool close in on second

Jurgen Klopp with Virgil van Dijk and (inset) Jose Mourinho
Jurgen Klopp with Virgil van Dijk and (inset) Jose Mourinho

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has his sights firmly set on Manchester United and second spot in the Premier League.

Goals from Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah sealed a 2-0 win away at Southampton for Liverpool just hours after Manchester United were beaten 1-0 at Newcastle.

Yesterday's results leave Klopp's Reds just two points behind United in second and with Manchester City all but crowned Premier League champions, Klopp has fired a warning to Jose Mourinho's United.

"I didn't know United had lost before the game but we know we're not far away," said Klopp.

"We play against them one more time this season at least, so that's good. For us, 54 points is important.

"What the other teams have we have no influence on. We just need to make sure we keep on winning to keep up the pressure."

Klopp felt £75million defender Virgil van Dijk coped admirably with the hostile reception on his return to Southampton.

Holland international Van Dijk, who arrived at Anfield last month having requested to leave Saints, was jeered from the first whistle to the last at St Mary's.

Klopp revealed he spoke to the 26-year-old about the occasion ahead of kick-off but had no doubts about playing him.

"He did really well and dealt with the situation fantastically," said Klopp.

"We had a little talk before the game, asking him what he thought - 'No, I'm fine, boss'.

"I didn't want to make him nervous if he isn't, obviously he wasn't.

The crowd is there to make life difficult for the opponent, but it wasn't too difficult for him from this point of view and I'm happy about that."

Firmino and Salah now have 49 goals between them this season in all competitions.

And Klopp believes they have regularly shown they are two of the finest players in the division.

"I really think (Sergio) Aguero and (Harry) Kane and a few others are really good players as well, but our boys are important for us," said the German.

"I love them because of their skills, their attitude but their work-rate is outstanding.

"They profit from our style of play as well. They play in areas where they like to have the ball.

"But, in this strong league, you cannot be third without fantastic players. They are two of them."

Additional reporting by PA

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