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We 'won't slip up this time'

Mohamed Salah, who played for Chelsea in that fateful 2014 league win over Liverpool, will hope to turn the Reds' fortunes around.
Mohamed Salah, who played for Chelsea in that fateful 2014 league win over Liverpool, will hope to turn the Reds' fortunes around.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Reds not haunted by 2014 near-miss and in fighting mood

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp has insisted his team are driven in their pursuit of the Premier League title by the pain of last season's Champions League final and not a slip-up against Chelsea five years ago.

Dismissing any link between today's crucial fixture at Anfield and Chelsea's visit at a similar stage of the 2013-14 season, when a 2-0 defeat derailed their title ambitions, the Liverpool manager feels "it is not important to talk about what happened as it is too long ago".

The 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid in Kiev last May, however, is still fresh in the memory, with Klopp admitting their determination to make amends has been a factor in their title tilt this term.

Ahead of today's match - his 200th fixture in charge - he said: "We have enough reasons to be positive about ourselves. This season, it was already different when we came back because of the negative things we experienced ourselves in the last game of last season.

"The boys did really good so far and that is why we are still in the fight for the championship. That has nothing to do with other games.

"There will be nervy moments, difficulties in the game, but in this moment, we all looked ready for dealing with it and that is why I am happy with that."

  • 2012

    The last time Chelsea lost at Anfield (4-1). It is Liverpool's longest home run without winning against any opponent in the Premier League.

His team's growing "maturity" in the run-in can also be seen in the intensity of Liverpool's recent displays, with Klopp attributing their step-up to his players "using each fibre as it is the last part of the season and in the last 100m, you go with all you have".

The German said: "What I really want to ask for is that all of us are in a real fighting mood, all at Anfield and whoever is in front of the TV, in a proper aggressive, positive mood. Go for whatever we can go for."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, one of the few survivors from the 2013-14 squad, echoed his boss' assertion that what happened five years ago had little bearing on this campaign, with Klopp's men faring far better in defence compared with Brendan Rodgers' team.

The England midfielder, who missed that game due to suspension, added: "We still had that belief when we were going for the title a few years ago, but the biggest difference is the clean sheets and defensive record. That season, we conceded quite a few goals though we might have been winning games. We weren't as strong as we would have liked to have been."

However, Klopp conceded that Chelsea, who are unbeaten in their last eight visits to Liverpool in all competitions and whose last league defeat on Merseyside dates back to 2012, are "in a good moment".

He added: "From the first second, we have to be a completely different opponent to all the others they have faced in recent weeks."

But, while Maurizio Sarri's players will be hopeful of extending their fine record at Anfield - Liverpool's longest winless run against an opponent - they will be wary of the home team riding the crest of a wave of emotion.

Not only will there be a tribute to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, a day before its 30th anniversary, but the crowd will also be paying their respects to former captain Tommy Smith, who died on Friday at the age of 74.

Calling him an "icon", pundit and former teammate Phil Thompson told Sky Sports: "Liverpool owe this guy a debt of gratitude. He drove the team, he was incredible."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 14, 2019, with the headline 'We 'won't slip up this time''. Print Edition | Subscribe