This sea­son will only be con­sid­ered a suc­cess if Pool

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY DAVID CHARLESWORTH

JURGEN Klopp be­lieves the ex­pec­ta­tion placed upon Liver­pool fol­low­ing their finest ever start to a Pre­mier League sea­son means only be­com­ing cham­pi­ons will qual­ify as a suc­cess.

De­spite eight wins and three draws in their open­ing 11 matches, Liver­pool sit only third as de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City and Chelsea have em­u­lated the Reds’ un­beaten start.

The Merseysiders un­der­lined their ti­tle chal­lenge in the early part of the cam­paign with some flu­ent dis­plays al­though a dif­fi­cult run of fix­tures has since stalled their progress.

Liver­pool suf­fered a sur­prise Cham­pi­ons League de­feat to Red Star Bel­grade in mid­week and Klopp is look­ing for some re­siliency when they re­turn to do­mes­tic ac­tion against Ful­ham to­mor­row.

“The sea­son so far, points-wise in the Pre­mier League, has been re­ally suc­cess­ful,” the Ger­man said. “But it doesn’t re­ally feel like that be­cause there are two rea­sons in com­par­i­son with last year: free-flow­ing foot­ball in a few games and Man City and maybe Chelsea and a few oth­ers have a very good sea­son as well.

“It feels a bit like this sea­son can only be a suc­cess if we be­come cham­pi­ons — in a year our com­peti­tors are the cham­pi­ons of last year, the cham­pi­ons of two years ago, a more re­freshed Arse­nal and a more ex­pe­ri­enced Tot­ten­ham and Manch­ester United.

“That’s a re­ally tough job but we have no prob­lem with that.

“We have to build on our sit­u­a­tion, we have to get bet­ter, to get more con­fi­dence out of the sea­son.

“It’s all okay but the game on Tues­day was a rather mas­sive knock which was not ex­pected and now we have to re­act in the right way.”

Mid­field­ers Jordan Hen­der­son and Naby Keita are both in line for a re­turn at An­field fol­low­ing their re­spec­tive ham­string in­juries.

Only Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain re­mains on the treat­ment ta­ble among play­ers in the mid­dle of the park and Klopp ad­mit­ted the avail­abil­ity of Hen­der­son and Keita leaves him with tough de­ci­sions to make.

“It’s good to have them back and it’s prob­a­bly the first time that all mid­field play­ers, apart from Ox, are avail­able,” Klopp said.

“It’s an­other thing to do, mak­ing de­ci­sions about who starts with who. It’s all about fit­ness lev­els and form, shape and then we will see.”

Ful­ham made an en­cour­ag­ing start fol­low­ing pro­mo­tion from the Cham­pi­onship but have slid to the foot of the ta­ble af­ter a

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