Klopp warns Reds against underestimating Boro

Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring their fourth goal against West Ham with Daniel Sturridge (far left), who himself netted the opener in a 4-0 win. The victory left Liverpool needing three more points to seal a top-four finish and qualificat
Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring their fourth goal against West Ham with Daniel Sturridge (far left), who himself netted the opener in a 4-0 win. The victory left Liverpool needing three more points to seal a top-four finish and qualification for next season's Champions League.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool's 4-0 rout of West Ham United last Sunday proves they can cope with the pressure of fighting for Champions League qualification, but he warned his stars to guard against complacency.

Liverpool's destiny is in their own hands after a dominant display at the London Stadium and victory over relegated Middlesbrough on Sunday will secure a top-four finish in the Premier League.

If Arsenal drop points against Sunderland today, Liverpool will make it back into Europe's elite club competition before the last weekend of the season.

"Part of our life is to handle pressure, to ignore the bad part of pressure and to use the good part of pressure," Klopp said. "We drew in the last game with Southampton, we didn't score with a penalty and maybe people said then, 'They can't deal with pressure.' I thought we saw a convincing performance with no doubts about anything.

"But the first sentence the players said in the dressing room was, 'One more time. One more game.' We will stay focused 100 per cent, we know about the difficulty of the next game, nobody will go into it and underestimate it 1 per cent."

Liverpool will be heavy favourites to beat Middlesbrough, but Klopp warned his players to stay focused.

"Middlesbrough have had a hard season, and it's hard in a season like this to enjoy football," he said. "I'm pretty sure they'll want to enjoy football at Anfield, they'll want to try anything and that makes life difficult for us.

"If we can be as focused as today and as fluent and have as good movements as today, then it will be difficult for them."

Klopp hailed Man-of-the-Match Philippe Coutinho, who scored twice and created striker Daniel Sturridge's opening goal.

Divock Origi added the fourth goal but it was Coutinho who drew Klopp's most fulsome praise.

Often lost stationed out on the wing, Coutinho flourished in a deeper midfield role on Sunday. He has now scored six goals in the last seven games.

"He was never a winger, he's always kind of a playmaker, it's not interesting where he's coming from, he needs to be at one point, in the decisive area in the middle," Klopp said. "He needs to be in shooting situations and finishing situations, that's what he did today."

West Ham ended Tottenham's title tilt in their previous match, but there was never a chance of derailing Liverpool's European bid.

"I wanted the same performance as against Spurs or similar," Hammers manager Slaven Bilic said. "We didn't do it. We wanted to avoid complacency but it was obviously there at least subconsciously."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp warns Reds against underestimating Boro'. Print Edition | Subscribe