Klopp relishes pressure ahead of Saints clash

LONDON • Liverpool must find a way to win their three remaining English Premier League games to ensure a top-four finish this season and manager Jurgen Klopp said he liked the fact that his team are under pressure.

The Merseyside club were third in the table on Friday, three points ahead of fourth-placed Manchester City and four in front of Manchester United, both of whom have a game in hand.

However, injuries, inconsistent performances and trademark frailties mean that it is anyone's guess whether Klopp's team will get over the line and qualify for the Champions League.

Liverpool host Southampton today - having lost three times and drawn once against them in their last four meetings in all competitions. And Klopp is banking on home advantage to get past their tricky opponents.

"Fighting for the top four, you pretty much have to win every game," the German told a news conference on Friday.

"I like this kind of pressure. Fighting for something really special is the best pressure you can have.

"Our plan for Sunday is to use Anfield. For some it's a nervy situation, but we need to be brave, enjoy the game and use the crowd."

Klopp is optimistic Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who suffered a dead leg against Watford last Monday, will be available to face the Saints.

But skipper Jordan Henderson is still not back from the foot injury that has kept him out of action since February.

Liverpool must also visit West Ham United before finishing the season at home to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough.

Southampton, who lie 10th and are safe from relegation, showed all the signs of a team running down the clock to the end of the season during last weekend's goal-less home draw with struggling Hull City.

The final whistle of that game was met by boos from Southampton supporters, directed at manager Claude Puel, who admitted the performance had been poor and dismissed reports his position is under threat.

"I came here for a project, to continue this work to improve all these young players," he said.

"I've been surprised to see these reports, because it seems for me it has been an interesting season."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIVERPOOL V SOUTHAMPTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 07, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp relishes pressure ahead of Saints clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe