EPL

Liverpool have made ‘statement’ but must now maintain winning run – Jurgen Klopp

By Sports Desk March 01, 2024

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes their current status as Premier League leaders has made a “statement” but knows the situation can quickly unravel.

Their lead over Manchester City is a point and two over third-placed Arsenal, but Klopp admitted maintaining their winning run was the only way to stay ahead of the chasing pack and their advantage was balanced on a knife edge due to injuries ravaging his squad.

There are similarities to two years ago when Liverpool also had 60 points after 26 matches – although that was only good enough to be three points behind City – and were chasing another quadruple.

On that occasion they finished with a domestic cup double but finished runners-up in the league by a point on 92 and lost the Champions League final.

However, with 10 first-team players still currently sidelined, Klopp said the two campaigns were not comparable.

“It is only one point above City and two points above Arsenal but that means nothing,” he said.

“Sixty points is a statement for that moment in the season but stay on 60 and I am not sure you qualify for the Champions League to be honest so we had better continue winning football games.

“It was a much more comfortable squad situation (two years ago). As far as I remember we could make massive changes between competitions.

“You cannot really compare it but it showed us you can fight for everything and win something.

“Some people will be happy with that and some will tell you it was not enough but for us, it was a successful season and let’s hope we can make a successful season out of this one.”

Leading scorer Mohamed Salah is set to return to training next week, probably two weeks behind schedule, but Klopp will have fellow forward Darwin Nunez and midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai available for Saturday’s trip to Nottingham Forest after missing three and six matches out respectively.

“I don’t think Mo is too far off. It’s like touch and go but I think next week at any point, it is possible,” added Klopp, who also expects to be able to call on midfielder Wataru Endo after his ankle injury at Wembley and left-back back Andy Robertson, who was ill in midweek.

Since their second league defeat of the season at Arsenal a month ago, Liverpool have won five successive matches – one of them being the Carabao Cup final and another an FA Cup fifth-round tie – with a depleted team.

But Klopp denied the result at the Emirates Stadium had given them extra incentive.

“The results are incredibly important but I wouldn’t call it ‘a response to the Arsenal game’, we didn’t use it in that way,” he said.

“I didn’t say ‘Look at that, now we have to show a reaction’. We always have to show a reaction. But first and foremost you have to show a reaction to yourself.

“It was a one-off: Arsenal were really good, we were not as good as we could have been and that can happen in a season.

“But if you can only reach your targets when you win all your games, it is really difficult – not even City did that even when they came close.

“You have to use the lesser good things as much as you have to use the good things and against Arsenal, unfortunately, there were a few more lesser good things.

“But we never used it, it was not ‘Come on boys, we have to show we are not as bad as we were that night’, not at all.”

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