Monday 26 August 2019

Klopp urges fans to forget Gerrard slip as Chelsea visit echoes 2014 woes

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

Mike Whalley

Jurgen Klopp has told his Liverpool players to prepare for a sprint finish as they aim to end the club's 29-year wait for the Premier League title.

The German has compared his team's five-match run-in as being like the home straight of a 400-metre race, saying that Liverpool need to use "each fibre" of their body to succeed.

Klopp's side are two points clear at the top, having played a game more than Manchester City as they face an eerie echo of their most recent near-miss this weekend.

Liverpool are home to Chelsea tomorrow, while City visit Crystal Palace - which was exactly how the fixtures aligned when a decisive slip effectively prevented the title from heading to Anfield five years ago.

Steven Gerrard's error allowed Demba Ba to set up Chelsea for a 2-0 win at Liverpool on April 27, 2014; later that day, City won 2-0 at Selhurst Park to take control of the title race and they never relinquished it.

Klopp, who took over as Liverpool manager in October 2015, has resisted invitations to draw comparisons with their unsuccessful title bid of five years ago. Instead, he chose to focus of the qualities his team will need to show to give themselves the best chance of victory.

He said: "If you take a 400m race, the runners are all together. After 200m, there are a few less together. At 300m, two runners are together and in the last 100m you go with all you have.

"It is the last part of the season; use all your body, each fibre. That is what we do. It is about preparing, not controlling, preparing direction with the passes to find this or that gap and in between.

"We have a good age group and we have to play like adults. The boys have done this. But I do not want to say much about what we did here and there. I am only interested in the Chelsea game.

"The opponent is so strong and in a good moment. I want us all in a real fighting mood, all at Anfield and whoever is in front of the television, in a proper aggressive, fighting mood. Go for whatever we can go for."

Klopp has credited the Liverpool support for creating a positive atmosphere at Anfield, which he feels is in sharp contrast to the apprehension he used to feel regularly from the stands when he first arrived at the club.

The manager famously said that he felt "alone" as Liverpool fans left before the end of a 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace a month after his arrival.

He feels that negativity has been swept away, commending the home crowd recently for the way in which they cheered Liverpool on to a tight 2-1 victory over Tottenham in March.

Looking ahead to the Chelsea game, he added: "We have enough reasons to be positive about ourselves. The boys learned so much and improved so much in so many different ways.

"The boys have done really well so far; that is why we are still in the fight for the championship. That is brilliant. That has nothing to do with other games (in the past).

"I would really hope that people don't come in the stadium - for their sake, more than ours - and feel like it (remembering the Chelsea defeat in 2014 and getting nervous) because we need the atmosphere to be like it was in the Tottenham game.

"That is why I said it was so special against Tottenham. Four years ago, we lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace and 15,000 people left the stadium because they thought: 'OK, I want to beat the traffic.' That is when I said I felt alone."

Liverpool v Chelsea,

Live, Sky Sports, tomorrow, 4.30

Irish Independent

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