Sunday 20 January 2019

Klopp keen to start 'massive week' with table-topping win

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA

Andy Kelly

This time it is Liverpool who will get the chance to strike first.

Jurgen Klopp's side travelled to Burnley in midweek knowing that Manchester City had stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League table to five points 24 hours earlier.

The Reds managed to respond, with a come-from-behind victory at Turf Moor confirming this as their best start to a league season.

A trip to Bournemouth for today's televised lunchtime kick-off means it is Liverpool who can apply the pressure this time, possibly taking top spot in the Premier League, with Pep Guardiola's men facing a potentially difficult visit to Chelsea this evening.

Klopp, though, insists his team are thinking only of themselves in a "crazy" week of games, even if it is difficult to totally believe him.

With no-one else within eight points of City, it is tempting to view the Premier League title as already a two-horse race.

"It is absolutely not a problem for us that we go in the dressing room and see the Manchester City result and they have won again," said Klopp.

Difficult

"We expect them to win all the time apart from the games against us. We have only to try to play the best season we can play, whatever that means.

"In this difficult period you have to focus on your own performance. You cannot play against two teams - the one on the other side of the pitch and the one in your mind. That doesn't work. Whatever they get at the end of the season they probably deserve. It is the same for us"

While a packed December schedule will challenge the strength of his squad, Klopp is embracing the games ahead and believes the likes of Joel Matip and Divock Origi picked up extra rhythm with starts at Burnley.

"Nobody feels like 'Give us a rest'. We want to go now. The good thing with this number of games in a short period is we have a lot of opportunities to win. We will try that.

"The week coming up now is crazy - Bournemouth, Napoli and Manchester United. That's a massive week again and we have already had a few. That is our life and we love it."

Matip could be an important figure in the next few weeks, with Joe Gomez ruled out for six weeks after breaking a bone in his leg under a tackle from Burnley's Ben Mee on Wednesday.

Dejan Lovren is still sidelined with concussion, though it is hoped the Croatian may be able to return for next Tuesday's crucial Champions League decider against Napoli at Anfield.

Klopp had criticised Burnley's tackling in midweek as dangerous - prompting a strong response from Sean Dyche - and, while the German remains firm in that opinion, he cleared Mee of any blame for Gomez's injury.

"Sliding tackles are all different. It's one thing to block the ball, you clear the ball without, like bowling, and you take the player. It's possible you can slide in, take the ball and everything is fine.

"Being aggressive for me, my understanding, is the readiness to hurt yourself and not the other player. I understand that Mee did not want to injure Joe.

"Maybe that was the cleanest tackle of all. I knew after the game it would be like this, if you say an opinion, you've got to be ready to accept that a lot of people see it differently.

"I still see it like this. I love intense football games, press the ball, do all these things, but in the end we have to try to make sure that we all finish the game together with 11 v 11, all kind of healthy. That's what I wanted to say."

With Liverpool and Manchester City both still unbeaten, is there a chance for a side to go on and match Arsenal's 'Invincibles' of 2003/04?

Klopp is dubious: "There are a lot of strong teams. Does anyone want to play against Arsenal at the moment? I don't think so.

"Tottenham, Chelsea, Man United - they are fighting for each yard. Does anyone want to play against Everton in this moment? Bournemouth too, by the way. There are a lot of good teams in a really good moment."

Bournemouth v Liverpool, Live, Sky Sports Premier League 12.30

Independent News Service

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