- Klopp says Liverpool should not fear Christmas advantage
• Trent Alexander-Arnold expected to be fit for Newcastle
Andy Hunter– The Guardian
Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool should “enjoy the ride” of pursuing a first Premier League title since 1990 and not fear the pressure of leading the race at Christmas.
Liverpool have a four-point advantage following Manchester City’s surprise home defeat by Crystal Palace and have delivered the club’s best start to a season with 48 points from 18 unbeaten games. Only twice in the last 10 years have the team top of the league on Christmas Day not gone on to win the title and on both occasions it was Liverpool, in 2013-14 and 2008-09. Klopp insists the statistic is irrelevant to his team’s prospects in 2019 and that Liverpool’s attempt to win a 19th league championship should be embraced at Anfield.
“We don’t want make ourselves smaller than we are but I can feel it,” the Liverpool manager said. “Nobody here is used to dealing with the success of Liverpool but a lot of people feel for this club. Somebody already asked me after the Wolves game: ‘Is it your’s to lose?’ He asked me that! Wow! That is really crazy.
“If you want to have guarantees, go for another sport. If you want to be sure that in May it will be something really special but you don’t want to see the way to that day, then take a holiday. I don’t know where the Premier League is not broadcast but find a little country where it is not and go there.
“If you want to enjoy the ride, and want to try everything you can to be as successful as possible, then welcome, let’s go for it. That is all we can do. Nothing else, and not because our grandfathers did or didn’t do it. That has no influence.”
Klopp maintains he does not feel any added pressure given Liverpool’s commanding start and slender advantage over City, whom they visit on 3 January. “There is no pressure, I don’t see the pressure,” he said.
“There is pressure because we want to win against Newcastle and that is difficult enough. If I saw someone in a pre-match interview asking a player about May and stuff like that, I would take the mic and throw it somewhere. Only because that is not fair. We have to play football, not think about what we can do in the summer.
“If we are not first in the table on 3 January for example then we would probably have lost a game. Does that mean that everything we have done so far is shit? If we lose a game one day and everybody immediately starts saying we showed we cannot deal with the pressure, there are still 17 games to go or whatever. There is no extra pressure on us because of a four-point gap.”
Klopp, who expects to have Trent Alexander-Arnold back from injury for the Newcastle game, said his team will keep their focus.
“Nothing is taken for granted,” he said. “Don’t think because we have that amount of points and Newcastle have that amounts of points [we will win]. If you think that, then that’s the moment when things go wrong. And they can still go wrong, that’s how life is. We have to be focused. We all have to be. Not nervous.
“I’ve heard how many times in the last 10 years that when you’re first at Christmas you win the title but only Liverpool don’t. It’s all bullshit. What is it? What does it mean? It’s a different team, a different time, everything was different. It’s not interesting. If it wasn’t the case and Liverpool [always] went on to become champions, would I think now halfway through the season that the job is done? Of course not. Nothing has happened so far; we don’t have to think about May. We have to think about 26 December against Newcastle. Let’s try everything we have to win that game. After that, Arsenal is coming.”