Klopp not keen on league title talk

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring Liverpool's second goal at Stamford Bridge on Friday. The visitors beat Chelsea 2-1, adding to key victories against Arsenal and reigning champions Leicester City this season.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring Liverpool's second goal at Stamford Bridge on Friday. The visitors beat Chelsea 2-1, adding to key victories against Arsenal and reigning champions Leicester City this season.PHOTO: REUTERS

Reds manager happy with points haul after win over Blues but says form must continue

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp refused to countenance the suggestion that his side might be Premier League title contenders following their impressive 2-1 victory at Chelsea on Friday.

Dejan Lovren's close-range volley and Jordan Henderson's sublime 25-metre curler earned Liverpool victory at Stamford Bridge, with Diego Costa replying for the home side.

Liverpool have also beaten Arsenal and defending champions Leicester City this season, but Klopp was no more willing to discuss their title chances than he had been after their 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge last October.

"I'm really not interested," he said when asked about Liverpool's title prospects. "Someone asked me that when we won 3-1 last season against Chelsea. My answer was: 'Are you crazy?'

" We have 10 points. That's fantastic. I'm really happy after these difficult fixtures. We know we can play good football, we're convinced about our quality. We just have to keep it up."

The only blot on Liverpool's league record was their surprise 2-0 defeat at newly promoted Burnley.

Their performance on Friday was notable for its intensity, with midfielders Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum and Henderson helping to prevent Chelsea gaining a foothold in the game.

Klopp was dismissive when it was put to him that his players might struggle to sustain such a rhythm and said their dominance of possession in the first half had actually helped them save energy.

"I've managed for 16 years and I get asked that all the time," said the German, whose side visit second-tier Derby County in the League Cup on Tuesday. "It's not about intensity. It's about finding a solution for the opponent.

"The most intense football is if you make a mistake and have to run in the wrong direction, as we did for their goal. We have to improve, but we don't run like crazy all the time."

Antonio Conte handed a second debut to Brazilian centre-back David Luiz, who returned to the club on transfer deadline day after two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain.

It was Conte's first defeat as Chelsea manager and the first time he had seen one of his teams beaten at home in a league game since Juventus lost 2-1 to Sampdoria in January 2013. The former Italy manager said both of Liverpool's goals had been the result of defensive inattention from his players.

Philippe Coutinho was allowed to take a short free kick before crossing for Lovren to put Liverpool in front in the 17th minute, while Henderson's goal stemmed from a throw-in.

Chelsea slumped to a disappointing 10th-place finish last season and Conte warned his players they risk meeting a similar fate this term if they do not sharpen up.

"I don't want to repeat a bad season like last year," he said. "For this reason we must pay attention in every single moment of the game, in every minute."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'Klopp not keen on league title talk'. Print Edition | Subscribe