Klopp sees no need to panic

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will recall most of his key men who were rested for their FA Cup third-round defeat at Wolves. But Dejan Lovren's injury leaves him short of options at centre back, with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also sidelined.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will recall most of his key men who were rested for their FA Cup third-round defeat at Wolves. But Dejan Lovren's injury leaves him short of options at centre back, with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also sidelined.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Liverpool manager not too concerned by consecutive defeats ahead of Brighton trip

LONDON • Liverpool have lost their two games this year but manager Jurgen Klopp believes there is no reason to panic, with his side still four points ahead at the top of the Premier League.

The Reds lost 2-1 to second-placed Manchester City, who are on 50 points, before they lost to Wolves by the same scoreline on Monday in the FA Cup third round.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference ahead of today's league trip to Brighton, Klopp said: "So far our season has been really good and now we need to carry on.

"Two weeks ago everyone was so excited about the distance between (us and City). Now we have lost two games, not nice but not a real problem."

Criticism of his decision to make nine changes for Wolves is still fresh in his ears, as the Reds have now been eliminated from both domestic Cup competitions at the first hurdle. But that will be a small price to pay should they land a first league title since 1990.

When asked if there is an advantage now that they can fully focus on the league, Klopp said: "It's my preferred rhythm (having just one domestic game a week).

"It's our situation, it's not that we decided to go out of the Cups. We had to make changes (and play second-string players) because of the intensity of the games."

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He called Brighton a good team, adding: "(Lewis) Dunk and (Shane) Duffy are outstanding centre-halves. (Davy) Propper is playing his best season in England and is a good pairing with (Dale) Stephens."

After that, they have another three very winnable home games against Leicester, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth plus a trip to West Ham before facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Those five games provide them with a perfect platform to at least consolidate their lead, after the disappointment of losing their unbeaten league record to City to give the champions a foothold back in the title race.

Klopp will recall most of his key players who skipped FA Cup duty, but an injury to Dejan Lovren leaves him short of options at centre-back with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also sidelined. Fabinho may have to deputise in defence once more alongside the calming presence of Virgil van Dijk.

Brighton, with 26 points, are well-placed to achieve their principal target of avoiding relegation with a 10-point cushion above the drop zone, thanks in large part to a strong home record.

Only Tottenham and Chelsea have been victorious in 10 league games at the Amex Stadium. But Brighton manager Chris Hughton knows he has a tough task.

"I think he (Klopp) has been outstanding. This season shows what a great job he's done. Liverpool are better prepared and it's all led by him," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2019, with the headline 'Klopp sees no need to panic'. Print Edition | Subscribe