LONDON • The four-point lead Liverpool have at the top of the Premier League even after a 2-1 defeat by rivals Manchester City on Thursday was still impressive given their lack of title-winning experience, according to manager Jurgen Klopp.
The match in Manchester was billed by many as an early title decider, where a Liverpool victory would have given them a 10-point lead at the top with 17 games to go, having played City home and away.
However, goals from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane, either side of a Roberto Firmino equaliser, ended Liverpool's unbeaten Premier League start and moved City to 50 points and within touching distance of top spot.
"I have so much faith in (my) players you cannot imagine," Klopp said.
"If somebody would have said after both games against Man City that we would have had a four-point lead, I would have paid good money for this, as I thought it was not possible.
"If we would have won the title five times in the last 10 years, then things would be different. We don't have the experience like this. We are still in a very good position so I am happy for this.
"I knew that City could beat us, that is not new. They beat us 5-0 last year. It did not have anything to do with mental strength on one side or the other. It was just unlucky."
Klopp was also unhappy with one decision that did not go his side's way, when City captain Vincent Kompany received only a yellow card for a lunge at Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
"Situations like this happen. A player goes to ground, and he took the risk. If Mo is on his feet, not jumping, then we all know what happen. Mo can go through," he said.
"Kompany saw him, hit him, and you can make your own opinion."
Despite the loss, former Liverpool captains Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher believe the Merseyside club still have the advantage in the Premier League title race.
"Liverpool are in great shape," Souness told Sky Sports. "Ask both managers what position you'd rather be in right now.
"You're going to take the four points sitting top of the league, especially with the run-in that Liverpool have."
Having played Arsenal and City back-to-back, Liverpool do not play another top-six side until Feb 24 when they travel to Manchester United.
January matches Liverpool have lost out of 25 (W8 D7 L10) in all competitions under Jurgen Klopp.
Carragher also echoed Souness' sentiments and alluded to Liverpool's recent form against teams outside the top six.
"The form they have shown, certainly against sides outside the top six, they have got a lot of those games coming," the former defender said.
"Four points clear is still a really good position to be in. Liverpool just need to relax, get some wins under their belt, maybe improve that lead if they can over the next month to six weeks."
But now comes some hard work indeed. When Firmino had scored what Klopp hoped would finish as an equaliser, he had clutched a water bottle like it was the league trophy itself, but now the finish line must seem a long way off.
Liverpool next play Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux in the third round of the FA Cup on Monday.
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS