Klopp downplays personal angle as Liverpool prepare for major test

League leaders can send out a major message if they effectively end Arsenal’s title hopes with a victory at the Emirates

Some unscrupulous chancers are hitting the jackpot thanks to Jürgen Klopp’s leaving of Liverpool.

Lower main stand tickets for his final game at Anfield are priced at £12,000 on one resale site (well, they are right behind the dugout) and a seat on the Kop is going for £4,250. They will get it too, and possibly more nearer the time, should the price of a ticket for Wolves on May 19th include the presentation of the Premier League trophy to a departing idol.

Klopp was asked on Friday whether he had contemplated the perfect Premier League send-off.

“I am not a dreamer,” he replied. Having lost out by a single point in two other title races with Manchester City, and with 16 matches to go, it pays not to be.


But the grounded realism of a 56-year-old and City’s reputation for hitting their stride at this time of year will not diminish the dreams of those around the Liverpool manager. His players have responded to the shock of his planned exit with nine goals in two games.

Norwich and Chelsea felt the force of a team that, Klopp believes, have taken the next step in their development since the goalless draw against Manchester United before Christmas.

Liverpool dismantled a fallen Chelsea with two of their most influential players this season, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah, on the bench and in the treatment room respectively.

It is testament to the strength of Klopp’s rebuilt squad that Alexander-Arnold’s undisputed reign at right-back is being challenged by the emergence of Conor Bradley.

Another victory at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday would not only take Liverpool eight points clear of Arsenal and the defending champions, who would have two games in hand, but intensify what Klopp calls “the outside talk” surrounding a title-winning farewell.

On paper at least, Arsenal represents the toughest away assignment that Liverpool have left.

“If I wouldn’t have announced what I announced a week ago, what would be different?” Klopp asked. The cost of tickets for Wolves for a start.

“It is: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to win another Premier League, wouldn’t it be nice to win that, wouldn’t it be nice to do that after all the things we did over the years and how close we were?’ It’s all the same. The only little difference is that now they say: ‘For Jürgen’. That’s the only thing. Nothing else changed and that is the mood I’m in.

“Of course I want to win the league. Do I know if we have a chance, really? It looks like we can be around it but there are so many games between now and then. We have to play them all and we have to win them all, which is absolutely crazy. I just cannot think about it. I am not a dreamer.

“But if you ask me if it would be nice then, yes, very nice for everybody involved and the whole Liverpool world. But it’s not difficult to block that out because it is no different to other years before. If it can generate a few extra per cent it would be good but I’m not sure that’s needed because we are already at 100 per cent and that is fine.”

City’s pedigree leaves Liverpool with little margin for error even at this stage of a title race. Klopp’s team finished 18 points clear of their closest rivals when ending a 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England in 2020.

Better to lead than to chase is the opinion of a manager who was unable to celebrate that long-awaited triumph with his own supporters due to the pandemic. The opportunity to party together at the end of his final season increases the importance of Liverpool’s chase.

Klopp, who has an injury concern over Darwin Núñez, said: “We have only been ahead of them once properly and then we won it, and that was by 25 points at one point before Covid kicked in and all these wonderful people wanted to null and void the league. I forgot Rio Ferdinand was quite front-footed on that and I gave him an interview the other day!

“The best way to do it is to be out of reach, but it’s just not possible really. In the other fights when we were slightly behind them we lost the race. It was one point for five or six weeks and it stayed one point because we both won all of our games.

“You can’t compare. It’s really not too important. What we know is if you want to win the Premier League you better win an awful lot of football games.”

Klopp believes his team must and will improve on their last performance at Arsenal four weeks ago, a 2-0 FA Cup win that owed much to the hosts’ profligacy. More dominance in possession and better control of the opponent is his demand.

“We are becoming a better version of ourselves,” he said. “And there is still so much space for improvement.”

He added: “This is the best league in the world and we are top of the table, what does that say? Are there any bad players in this team? No. But the job now is not to reflect on what they did and how fantastic they are or how good looking they are on top of it. It is about us digging deep into the season, hold your breath, buckle up and go for it. The base is good and still to be extended. Make sure we are in a good position for the run-in and then we will see.”