Klopp leaves title race to destiny, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Klopp leaves title race to destiny

Liverpool return to top of the table after gritty win over Newcastle, but injured Salah a concern

There has been so much to admire in the football produced by English Premier League title chasers Liverpool and Manchester City this season with the top two providing the connoisseurs of technique, tactics and finesse with a true feast.

But the final stages of the campaign have also delivered for those who appreciate the game's more earthy qualities - the traditional winning character traits of guts and effort.

City showed all their mettle and steel to earn a 1-0 win at Burnley last week and yesterday morning (Singapore time), Liverpool showed they have the spirit to face down adversity and find a way to win.

Substitute Divock Origi's 86th-minute header - after Liverpool had twice seen their lead rubbed out by a determined Newcastle United - ensured the three points that put the pressure back on City.

Juergen Klopp's side have 94 points and City, who face Leicester City tomorrow morning, are two points behind. Never before have two teams passed 90 points in an EPL season.

On the final match-day this Sunday, Liverpool are at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers and City take on Brighton on the south coast.

Klopp said: "Today was a battle of will but it was a victory of passion, heart and absolute desire - absolutely brilliant."

  • 12

    Liverpool have scored 12 goals in this season's English Premier League via substitutes, the most in the league.

It was all the more impressive given that on Thursday, Liverpool had expended so much energy at the Nou Camp only to end up with a bitter 3-0 defeat.

There was no sign of any hangover from that experience, however.

Klopp said: "Newcastle gave us a proper game. In our situation with all the circumstances around, some people probably expected us to show a bit of nerves and the boys didn't."

Having been pushed all the way by former manager Rafael Benitez's side, Liverpool must now hope that another of their ex-bosses, Brendan Rodgers, can inspire his Leicester side to an upset against City at the Etihad tomorrow morning.

But Klopp says he is resigned to whatever fate will throw his team's way.

He said: "I accepted long ago that we do everything, absolutely everything. The boys throw whatever they have on the pitch, so that means whether we are champions or not, it is destiny.

"We will do everything and we cannot do more - can you get more than 94 points? Can you get more in all the other stuff? Not really.Wow, what a race."

However, the manager's joy at their performance was dampened by confirmation that Roberto Firmino, and potentially, Mohamed Salah, will miss the second leg of their Champions League semi-final clash with Barcelona on Wednesday.

The absence of their forwards could make Liverpool's ambitions to overturn Barcelona's 3-0 advantage even more challenging.

Salah was carried off with a head injury following a clash with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Brazilian forward Firmino - who did not feature in the game against Newcastle - will miss the tie due to a muscle injury.

On Salah, Klopp said: "When we came in, he was sitting in the dressing room watching the game on television.

"So he was then fine, but of course we have to wait.

"He got a proper knock in that situation."

But amid concerns over the loss of key players, Liverpool's fullbacks Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson made history as they became the first defensive duo from the same side to provide 10 or more assists each in a single season in the EPL.

Alexander-Arnold registered two assists against Newcastle to match Robertson's tally of 11.

Robertson, who has been a steady figure at both ends of the pitch for Liverpool, expressed pride at his side's defiance throughout the season after the game.

The 25-year-old told the club website: "How many times have we been written off and people think 'OK, this isn't going to be our game' or whatever?

"But if we don't do it next Sunday and City are crowned champions, we can be proud of what we've done, everyone.

"So we are in there, we've stuck together and hopefully we get 97 points.

"And if that's not enough, then we've done everything that we can.

"It would obviously be gutting but these lads don't know when to give up and that's why these things happen." - REUTERS