Liverpool are in chasing mood, says Klopp
LONDON – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has sent a warning to his Premier League rivals that his team are ready to pounce, as they prepare to host Leicester City on Friday.
The Reds returned from the World Cup break with a 3-1 league win at Aston Villa on Boxing Day, while Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes lost 3-0 at home to a high-flying Newcastle United side.
Despite three straight Premier League wins, Liverpool are still in sixth place in the standings, but Tottenham Hotspur’s draw with Brentford means they are now just five points behind the fourth-placed Spurs (30), who have played a game more.
Klopp knows that momentum is key and he believes his team are not out of the running for the Champions League spots yet.
“We are in the chasing mood. We have to be very uncomfortable to be everyone who faces us,” he said on Thursday.
“Aston Villa was super intense, I loved the start, was really different to a lot of games we played this season. We need it again.
“With the break we have had, we feel really fresh. But we were also pretty busy in the break. We worked a lot on these kind of things, the solution sometimes you have to work a bit longer to find a way.
“We are really excited to go again.”
On Leicester, the Liverpool boss said that he expects a tough game as the Foxes will be seeking a reaction following their loss to Newcastle.
“They could change their system which makes it more difficult. But we have to push through what we want to do – it’s been a long time since we played at home,” Klopp said.
Only one of Liverpool’s last 31 Premier League home games has ended in a loss, so Klopp can be confident heading into Friday’s clash. They have also scored in every match of that run since a 1-0 loss to Fulham in March 2021.
With forwards Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino out injured, Klopp moved swiftly to sign Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven.
The 23-year-old Dutchman was persuaded to join Liverpool by Netherlands skipper Virgil van Dijk, a key defender for the Reds.
Gakpo, who scored three goals at the World Cup before the Dutch went out in the quarter-finals to eventual champions Argentina, joined on Wednesday for a reported initial fee of £37 million (S$60 million).
“He’s a really, really good player so the package is really interesting. That’s why we were very interested to get him in and I’m really happy we could do it. Big for him. Big for us. Great day,” said Klopp.
“It’s about timing and getting players in at the right moment. He made the next step. We believe in our process, when players, especially offensive ones, they all make a step forward it’s because of the way we work and we can help them.”
Gakpo will be officially completed at the start of the January transfer window and is likely to be eligible to make his debut against Brentford on Monday, although Klopp has also said he is not too hopeful “because of the bank holiday”.
In the meantime, he will also be without the injured Arthur Melo, James Milner and Curtis Jones.
Leicester are in 13th place and four points clear of the relegation zone, so they will enter the new year above the dotted line no matter what happens in this weekend’s fixtures.
The Foxes will be encouraged after recording four consecutive away victories in all competitions, scoring 11 and conceding none.
Rodgers is wary of the huge threat Liverpool can pose, but has urged his men to embrace the challenge.
“They’ve got the same identity, press and be aggressive. Those aspects you’ve seen over the past number of years,” he said of his former team.
“They want to score goals. Always a difficult game and nobody knows that more than myself. But challenges are there to be overcome.”
Leicester will be without Ryan Bertrand, Ricardo Pereira, James Justin, Jonny Evans and James Maddison – who is seeing a specialist regarding his knee issue – while Dennis Praet is a doubt after suffering a knock against Newcastle. - REUTERS