Reds ready to dig deep to defend title: Klopp

Virgil van Dijk climbing over Newcastle's Javier Manquillo to loop a header into the goal's top corner for Liverpool's equaliser. The Dutchman became the fifth outfield player to play every minute for a Premier League winning team when he started and
Virgil van Dijk climbing over Newcastle's Javier Manquillo to loop a header into the goal's top corner for Liverpool's equaliser. The Dutchman became the fifth outfield player to play every minute for a Premier League winning team when he started and finished their 3-1 win.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Liverpool were relentless until the end.

Heading into the final minute of the final game of their title-winning season, Sadio Mane hustled to keep a move alive when it would have been easier to let Roberto Firmino's pass drift towards the touchline, before scoring to seal a 3-1 win at Newcastle.

The Reds finished with 99 points, the second-highest haul in Premier League history after Manchester City recorded 100 points en route to winning the title in 2018.

"This goal really sums the season up," said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. "It is difficult but not impossible, so give it a go. That is what the boys did the whole year and what they did in this moment.

"It was just a brilliant piece of football. This was a victory for the whole squad, like the whole season.

"This group of players is really exceptional and they will be remembered forever. The boys don't only win games on their perfect days, they are ready to really dig deep on the not so perfect days."

Liverpool found themselves behind after just 26 seconds but goals from Virgil van Dijk, Divock Origi and Mane ensured they would enjoy a winning end to a season that saw them capture their first league title in 30 years.

All the pieces are in place for them to win consecutive titles for the first time since 1984, with Klopp, who joined in 2015, signed to a long-term contract and key stars van Dijk, 29, Mane, 28, Mohamed Salah, 28, and Jordan Henderson, 30, all in their primes.

But the German insists Liverpool will take nothing for granted when the new campaign kicks off on Sept 12 because he expects a renewed push from City and stronger challenges from Manchester United and Chelsea.

"We see United coming up," said Klopp. "People thought they had no chance but we see with one or two players how good they are and how good they can be, and for sure they will not be worse next season, and now there is Chelsea as well.

"It will not be about City and us. For the last two years pretty much the top of the table was City and us, and City for four or five years before that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


A season of milestones for Liverpool

7

The Reds sealed the title with seven games to spare, eclipsing Manchester United (2000-01) and Manchester City (2017-18) who won their titles with five games left.

8

Liverpool became the first team to win the league in eight different decades - 1900s, 1920s, 1940s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2020s.

32

Their 3-1 victory against Newcastle United was their 32nd win of the season, equalling City for most victories in a league campaign. They also set a new club record of 14 away wins in a season.

24

The 2-0 win on July 5 over Aston Villa extended their record of successive home wins in the league to 24. The previous record was City's mark of 20.

18

When they beat West Ham United in February it was their 18th consecutive league win, equalling Manchester City's record.

25

They beat Southampton 4-0 on Feb 1 to move 22 points clear of City at the top of the table for the biggest lead in Premier League history. That grew to a record 25 points after a 1-0 victory against Norwich City later that month.

61

Their 1-0 win at Tottenham on Jan 11 put them on 61 points - the most in any of Europe's "Big Five" leagues after the first 21 games.

19

Liverpool's 2-0 victory against West Ham on Jan 29 marked the first time they had defeated every team in a single top-flight campaign in the club's 127-year history.

18

The Merseyside club won 18 of their 19 games at Anfield, matching the achievements of Chelsea (2005-06), City (2011-12, 2018-19) and United (2010-11). They drew with Burnley.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2020, with the headline 'Reds ready to dig deep to defend title: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe