Saturday Star

Klopp: Fans can spark a revival

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LIVERPOOL: Manager Jürgen Klopp has denied that Liverpool are suffering from fatigue after last weekend’s setback at Hull City, and urged fans to get behind the team when Tottenham Hotspur visit Anfield in the Premier League today.

A run of dire performanc­es has seen Liverpool drop from second in the table on December 31 to fifth place, with Klopp’s team winning one game in 10 in all competitio­ns and none at all in the league since the start of the year.

Klopp refused to elaborate on Liverpool’s lethargic display at relegation-threatened Hull, but said the team would have to raise their game to have any hope of beating second-placed Tottenham, who are on a run of nine league games without defeat.

“I can explain performanc­es from the first half against Hull, but that’s for me,” the manager told reporters yesterday.

“We had no sign in the week that this would happen. We had a good game against Chelsea… It’s not a physical issue. We were better in the second half against Hull.

“I was not happy. Even if we had won I’d have been angry about the first half.

“Against a team like Tottenham, we need everything we have. It’s a strong opponent. If we play like we did in the first half against Hull, no chance. If we play like we did in the second half, better chance – but we should play better.”

Not for the first time this season, Klopp appealed to Liverpool fans to ramp up the atmosphere inside Anfield, in the hope that it will help spark a revival.

“It would be really nice if we could create an outstandin­g atmosphere,” the German added. “Let’s use that time in the stadium. I can’t force it.”

Midfielder Adam Lallana and defenders Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are all doubts for the game, Klopp said, adding that there was no truth to rumours that he planned to drop goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and replace him with Loris Karius. Meanwhile, Chelsea will face a much tougher game tomorrow than their straightfo­rward 3-0 win in August over Burnley because of the latter’s remarkable home for m, manager Antonio Conte said yesterday. The Italian has done his homework on the statistics. “They’re really strong at home, they’re third in the table for home games with Chelsea top and Tottenham second,” he told a news conference. Burnley have taken 28 of their 29 points this season from matches at Turf Moor, losing at home only to Swansea City on the opening day, Arsenal in October and Manchester City in November. Since then they have won seven successive home games in the Premier League and FA Cup. “It’s a fantastic achievemen­t,” Conte added. “The style is always the same. They fight a lot, play a lot of long balls and put a lot of pressure when we have the ball.”

After taking four points from games against Liverpool and Arsenal, Chelsea’s players were given extra time off.

“I thought they deserved it because we had three games in seven days,” said Conte, who took the opportunit­y to return to Italy. “It’s important to have two or three days off, to relax with the family, and come back fresher.”

Despite having a ninepoint lead at the top of the table, with only one defeat in the last 18 league matches, Conte insisted the top six teams can still win the title.

“If we think that with a nine-point lead we are close to winning the title, it’s a big mistake,” he said. – Reuters

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