Liver­pool’s lighter sched­ule is not ti­tle ad­van­tage: Klopp

Liver­pool lost to Wolves in the FA Cup last week and are also out of League Cup

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp de­nied yesterday that his Premier League lead­ers will have the up­per hand over Manch­ester City and Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur in the ti­tle race de­spite a lighter sched­ule after crash­ing out of both do­mes­tic cup com­pe­ti­tions.

City trail Klopp’s men by four points, with Tot­ten­ham two points fur­ther back, but both of Liver­pool’s ri­vals are still in­volved in four com­pe­ti­tions. Klopp mean­while made nine changes for Mon­day’s 2-1 defeat at Wolves in the FA Cup, with his fo­cus on end­ing the Reds’ 29year wait to win the ti­tle, and his team were knocked out of the League Cup by Chelsea back in Septem­ber.

“There’s no ad­van­tage. If you have all your play­ers avail­able, it’s bril­liant that you can al­ways play them, it’s re­ally good,” said Klopp ahead of today’s trip to Brighton.

“We have to use the time. You can do a lot of wrong things when you have a week to train, that’s pos­si­ble. We have to use the time and re­ally be, week in and week out, in the best shape we can be.”

De­jan Lovren was one of only two play­ers Klopp re­tained against Wolves from a 2-1 defeat to City in their last Premier League out­ing, but the Croa­t­ian picked up a ham­string in­jury after just six min­utes at Mo­lineux. Klopp now has a de­fen­sive cri­sis on his hands. Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have also been side­lined in re­cent weeks, but Matip may be fit in time to re­turn against Brighton. “It’s quite spe­cial if you would bet on hav­ing three cen­tre-halves in­jured in the same mo­ment — you could win a lot of money for that be­cause usu­ally it doesn’t hap­pen. Here it hap­pened, it was a bit of bad luck. That makes it quite a bit tricky.”

Klopp re­it­er­ated his be­lief that Lovren’s in­jury is a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for why he was right to rest play­ers such as Vir­gil van Dijk, Mo­hamed Salah and Roberto Firmino against Wolves after a hec­tic fix­ture list over the fes­tive sea­son.

“We had to make changes for the Wolves game. The play­ers we didn’t line up in that game were ei­ther a lit­tle bit in­jured, or in­jured, or played all the games in De­cem­ber, plus the City game at the be­gin­ning of Jan­uary. Bring­ing them again in that mo­ment, as you saw with De­jan, who played pretty much all these games as well, is a risk — it’s a proper risk.”

Defeat at City on Jan­uary 3 was Liver­pool’s first in the league this sea­son and Firmino stressed the im­por­tance of bounc­ing back im­me­di­ately at Brighton to not give cham­pi­ons City an­other chance to cut the gap when they host Wolves on Mon­day.

“That’s what the Premier League is all about — it’s in­tensely com­pet­i­tive. If the team at the top stut­ters, the second place will over­take them,” the Brazil­ian told Liver­pool’s web­site. “We know we can’t go to sleep and lose silly points. We must main­tain our fo­cus un­til the end of the sea­son.”

FIX­TURES (ALL TIMES 1500GMT UN­LESS STATED)

Today: West Ham v Arse­nal (1230), Brighton v Liver­pool, Burn­ley v Ful­ham, Cardiff v Hud­der­s­field, Crys­tal Palace v Wat­ford, Le­ices­ter v Southamp­ton, Chelsea v New­cas­tle (1730)

To­mor­row: Ever­ton v Bournemouth (1415), Tot­ten­ham v Manch­ester United (1630) On Mon­day: Manch­ester City v Wolves (2000)

(AFP)

Jur­gen Klopp’s Liver­pool lead Premier League by four points over Manch­ester City.

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