Jürgen Klopp has said the punishing demands of a title race with Manchester City ensure Liverpool can never afford to "get a bit soft" in their pursuit of the Premier League leaders.
Klopp's team can close the gap to three points on Wednesday by winning their game in hand on City against Leeds at Anfield. Liverpool, who recently trailed Pep Guardiola's team by 12 points, have won their past eight matches and suffered only two defeats in 48 games in all competitions. Klopp admits that relentlessness must continue to reclaim the title from City.
The Liverpool manager said: “Obviously both teams were able to do some special stuff, I have to say. With all respect, what Man City is doing is incredible and we are pushing each other as well. It is not only us because there is also Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Tottenham, whoever is there. I don’t forget all the other teams.
“But I think we can say we are pushing each other. It keeps you going. There is no chance to get a bit soft or whatever because the other one will be there immediately to catch you.”
Guardiola jokingly referred to Liverpool recently as “a pain in the ass all the time” given the continued threat they pose to City in the Premier League and Champions League. Klopp concurred: “I think Pep said we are the pain in the . . . lower back. That is a good description and that is how it should be.
“We try to be as annoying as possible until we have a chance to overtake. I don’t know when that will be or if it will be the case but in the decisive moments of the season – which is not now in February but in March or April – you have to be close enough to make a decision in your direction.
“We have to be at our absolute best to play the best possible season for us. And unfortunately only twice a year we face the ‘other team’ in the Premier League. The first one was a draw when we were not brilliant but good enough to get a point. The next one has not been played yet and we play all the others as well.
“It is just difficult, but what the boys did over the past four years is pretty special. I am happy with that but not overly happy where I think that is enough. We have to go from now on. So far it is not a bad season but the decisions will be made later. We just have to make sure that we are always in and around when these decisions are made.”
Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will again be absent against Leeds as they recover from ankle and muscle injuries respectively. The strikers have not been ruled out of Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Chelsea but Klopp cautioned: "They are not on the pitch for training and that is not a good sign." – Guardian