Football: Liverpool must scrap to make top four, says Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool's key midfielder Adam Lallana will be returning to first-team action, following an injury-enforced absence.
Liverpool's key midfielder Adam Lallana will be returning to first-team action, following an injury-enforced absence.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Watford want to avenge their thrashing in the reverse fixture and will be tricky opponents

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has encouraged his team to relish the battle for Champions League qualification as they look to preserve their top-four place at Watford today.

Liverpool topped the Premier League table in November and looked poised to mount a title tilt, but a top-four finish is now the only thing they can now hope to salvage from their season.

While they could be out of the top four by kick-off at Vicarage Road, Klopp wants his players to remain mindful of their privileged position.

"When we were first or second in the table and all that stuff, I said the only thing we can do is to be in the battle for the interesting positions at the end of the season," he said. "It is the last month of the season and we are in the battle. So what else do we want?

"We have to fight for what we can fight for and that's a Champions League place. That's really, really interesting, to be honest."

Liverpool saw a seven-game unbeaten run ended by an unexpected 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace last weekend.

FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL

We have to fight for what we can fight for and that's a Champions League place. That's really, really interesting, to be honest.

JURGEN KLOPP , Liverpool manager, feels his team are in it with a shout for a top-four place.

Klopp hopes to be able to call upon England pair Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge, both of whom resumed training with the first team on Friday.

Midfielder Lallana has been out for over a month with a groin injury, while striker Sturridge sat out the loss to Palace due to a sore hip. Captain Jordan Henderson remains sidelined with an ongoing foot issue, along with Sadio Mane, Ragnar Klavan and Danny Ings.

"Adam is back in team training for the first time, which is very, very good news," Klopp said.

Liverpool last won at Watford in January 2007, having been condemned to a 3-0 defeat on their most recent trip to Vicarage Road in December 2015.

Watford slipped to a 2-0 defeat by Hull City last time out, but they have won their last three home games and have lost only one of their last seven home matches.

They sit 10th in the table and have reached the 40-point mark that is traditionally synonymous with survival. But head coach Walter Mazzarri says his side should be motivated by a desire to avenge their 6-1 defeat at Anfield in November.

"Liverpool will be angry after losing at home (to Palace), but I hope my players will be angrier, as we lost at Hull and conceded six goals at Anfield," said the Italian.

One Hornet who will be especially motivated to damage Liverpool's Champions League bid is Tom Cleverley.

The midfielder played for the Reds' two biggest rivals - Manchester United and Everton - and wants to help his former United team-mates finish in the top four.

"I think it'll be Chelsea and Spurs as the top two, and then the two Manchester clubs making up the top four," he told ESPN FC.

"I might regret saying that with Liverpool coming on Monday night, but hopefully we can do United a favour."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WATFORD V LIVERPOOL
Singtel TV Ch103 & StarHub Ch228, tomorrow, 2.50am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2017, with the headline 'Reds must scrap to make top 4: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe