In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves, Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool cannot use “dreaming or wishing” to end their Anfield goal drought, only hard work as they prepare to face Manchester City, live on Super Sunday.
For a team renowned for their free-scoring strike force, hitting a dry spell in front of goal hardly comes naturally. Last month, Liverpool went four games without scoring and haven’t scored in any of their last three Premier League home games, with their current goalless run at Anfield standing at 348 minutes.
The Reds have never gone four consecutive home league games without scoring in their history and will attempt to avoid an unwanted record against Man City this weekend. Dauntingly, Pep Guardiola’s side have only shipped 13 goals this season, by far the lowest in the league.
But despite the challenge ahead, Klopp is sure that work on the training field can help them rediscover their scoring touch at home.
Speaking to Shreeves, the Liverpool manager told Sky Sports: “The creating of the moment [to score] is not really different and that means we come into similar positions but we don’t score. Can we be more often in these areas? 100 per cent.
“We don’t think and don’t feel we do everything and destiny is against us, it’s just the situation we are in. There’s no dreaming or wishing, it’s all about working and that’s what we do.
“Am I concerned? In a normal way, yes of course, because these are the things we have to do in training. We work on things to bring the boys as close as possible to the point where they have to take the final kick. That’s what we’ve always tried and we’ll carry on with that. That we change our approach in moments because of the opponent is clear as well. In the end, we have to make the right decisions.”
‘My players know there are no guarantees to be champions’
It’s the nagging question on everyone’s minds – can Liverpool retain the title, despite being seven points behind leaders City?
Ever the realist, Klopp is only focused on picking up three points each week and insists that enjoyment of football does not solely come from trophies.
He said: “You don’t have to enjoy football when you can only become champions and you don’t only find results when you can become champions. There are a lot of different things you have to fight for and first and foremost, it’s three points at the weekend.
“If you do that often enough, then you have a chance in the end to fight for the league. Nobody knows what will be at the end of April or May but in this moment, we don’t really think about. If nobody asked, we would never mention it.
“My players are not silly, they know there is no guarantee to being champions. Imagine if I would sit here and say ‘the only thing we’re going for is winning the league, I’m angry with my boys because it looks like we don’t have a chance’. But that’s not my job.
“My job is to take it step-by-step and so far, that’s worked pretty well. Two years ago, we wanted become champions because we were close enough and when you are, you want it with all you have. When you are not close enough, you have to make sure you get closer and that’s the situation we are in.
“For us, even last year, the first thing you have to try to do is make sure we play in the Champions League the year after. This is a very strong league, a lot of teams will have that target and so it makes it so difficult but so important as well. You can plan differently for the year after with the money you can count on from the Champions League, it can change everything. But that’s how we’ve always seen it and how we see it now.”
‘An unbelievable sensation if we win PL title after injuries’
Liverpool’s title defence has been rocked by a string of key injuries. First choice centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez remain long-term absentees and fellow defender Joel Matip has recently joined them.
Discussing the injury issues at Liverpool this season, Klopp said: “I’m not sure you ever saw an injury situation like we had this year. Not one day have we had our three centre-halves fit together. That can happen obviously which is why you have a squad, but very early in the season, two of them were out and one of them was in and out for the rest of the season.
“On top of that, there were a lot of other injuries which just leads to a difficult situation. If I mention it, it sounds like an excuse, but it’s not, it’s just the situation.
“Our situation is so strange that if we would become champions, it would be an unbelievable sensation.
“We still try to give our absolute everything and sometimes, the hammer hits the boys because they have to play a lot of games or they’re not fit long enough or stuff like this. That’s our situation but in the end, it’s still Liverpool – same team as last year, same club, just not the same circumstances.
“We will go with all we have to squeeze each single point out of this season and then we will see what we get for it.”
‘We want to cause City problems’
Despite difficulties this season, the stats bode well for Liverpool. They have lost one of their last 29 home league matches against Man City (W19 D9) and the away side has won just one of the last 24 Premier League meetings between the two sides, with Liverpool winning 4-1 at the Etihad in November 2015.
It’s a game that will test Klopp’s side, but what will Liverpool gain from a victory on Saturday?
“A very good feeling, confidence probably,” Klopp said. “If you can beat City, which doesn’t happen too often, that’s always good. It is one of the toughest games you can have and it will not be easy but we have to make sure it’s not easy for City as well. First and foremost, three points, that’s enough for me to go with all we have.
“I’m looking forward to the game. Man City are in good shape, they won two days ago, we lost two days ago, that’s a difference but that doesn’t mean a lot in one specific game.
“We played two outstanding, good games in London against Tottenham and West Ham and then we were not good enough for Brighton. I said after the game that the boys looked kind of fatigued in that game, to explain all the things we did in the last few weeks, but that’s over and we have a day more [to prepare].
“It [fatigue] is not a general problem we have, it’s just the situation we are in. If we can get some freshness back, which we will, then we will be a better opponent for City, and that’s the plan.
“You always need luck and stuff like this but City look a little bit more the likely champions but it’s a little bit early, no one knows. A lot of things can happen, a lot of teams have chances, we just don’t think about it. Why should we? It’s a completely different situation and we have to sort our things.”
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