- Liverpool manager returns complement to Pep Guardiola’s side
• ‘City will be ready and we have to make sure we are ready’
Andy Hunter– The Guardian
Jürgen Klopp has said Manchester City remain the best team in the world despite the recent slump that has left them trailing Liverpool by seven points before Thursday’s game at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola bestowed that mantle on Liverpool following their run of nine consecutive Premier League victories. His Anfield counterpart accepts that may be true on form but insists Liverpool’s unbeaten league campaign faces the biggest test imaginable against the champions.
“It is one of the most difficult games you can play in the modern football world, away at City,” Klopp said. “We felt that plenty of times. It’s a really strong team with an outstanding manager. We have to be prepared as good as possible, we have to be brave, full of desire, angry – all that stuff, like in all the other games.
“The opponent, for me, is still the best team in the world. It’s 100% my opinion because of the way they play, the things they achieved, the ability and all that stuff. Nothing changed. Only the points changed but not the preparation for the game.”
As for Guardiola’s praise for Liverpool, Klopp said: “I heard it. He said: ‘In the moment’. Yes, with the record we had in December – I’m not sure if another team had a record like this in December – we are in a good moment. And we are a very good team as well so that’s why we have the amount of points but we prepare for one game.
“Would I say they are the best team in the world if nobody would ask me? No. But we talk about it. It sounds like we go there and we are more likely to win then they are. It’s just not true.”
Liverpool trailed City by 18 points on 3 January last year but have taken 16 points more after 20 games of this campaign, while Guardiola’s team have 11 fewer.
“I trust my players 100% but you never feel certainty,” Klopp said. “I will never be so sure to say ‘we will deliver again’. It is an open question: ‘Can we do it again?’ You don’t know. I played football. You win four games in a row but what does that mean for the fifth game?
“These boys are of a different level and quality, that is true. We are all in this situation. We are all in the same mood 100%. That is the mood in which we go to City. After City, we can talk about what happened there.”
Klopp has James Milner available following injury. He also believes the finest goalkeepers in the world will be on display, with Alisson and Ederson eclipsing Manuel Neuer for quality on the ball.
He said: “Coming from Germany and knowing how important Manuel Neuer was with his football playing on top of his goalkeeping skills, you can’t imagine that two can come along with the same skills and maybe even a bit better. What I would say is these two boys do not have to hide.”
Klopp admits the showdown provides an opportunity to turn the season either way. “You have to ask Pep why he said it. If we would be 10 points behind then would my first thing after the game be to say: ‘We still will catch them!’ Of course not. It’s difficult with the qualities all the teams have but it’s just not important what happens. It’s the third of January, it’s a very important game for both teams and I would use it as motivation for the other team.’
Klopp added: “These kind of six-point games, it’s how it is, we play against each other and can pretty much go in all directions. It’s a motivation for them, 100%. They will be ready and we have to make sure we are ready, that’s all.”