Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is vowing to battle on after seeing his weary troops record three new positive Covid-19 cases ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The Reds slipped nine points behind leaders Manchester City in midweek having slipped to a 1-0 loss at Leicester. That, coupled with City’s tight win at Brentford the next night, leaves Klopp’s side very much off the pace. And with the games still coming thick and fast, they face a strong Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge in a battle of second versus third.
The Reds boss declined to name the trio as they were still awaiting PCR test confirmations. However, in training pictures released by the club on Thursday, notable absentees from the group included goalkeeper Alisson Becker and Roberto Firmino.
“We have three new Covid cases in the team and a few more in the staff so it’s not so cool at the moment,” Klopp told a press conference on Friday.
“I’m not able to say who it is because we have to do the whole process, get a proper PCR. But you will see the day after tomorrow on the team sheet it will be pretty clear who is affected or infected.
“We never had this proper outbreak where 15 to 20 players had it. For us it is every day, another one, stuff happens more and more often.
“It’s like a lottery in the morning, waiting for the result. It is pretty much day-by-day, always one case, then another one.
“We have to wait as the boys are not in yet. In this moment (we will) probably not (ask for a postponement) but we don’t know how it will look in a few hours.”
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In addition to the three Covid cases, Takumi Minamino and Thiago Alcantara will miss the trip to Chelsea on Sunday.
“Taki is probably closer (to fitness). Taki is running outside, Thiago not yet,” added Klopp.
“For him it will take a little longer, it is a hip issue. However, we don’t have an idea where it’s coming from so we have to be patient with that.”
Klopp realistic over title chances
Klopp realises that they face a tough ask in halting Manchester City from a second successive title.
He’s also realistic enough to know his side cannot win every game, esepcially during a hectic period.
“You cannot win the league properly in the winter. It’s unlikely but what City have now is a gap, they deserve it, but let’s just give it a go. Only one team can be champions. A decisive moment in April, you have to be close enough then. So many games to play, oh my God.”
Klopp also knows the absences of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah – due to travel to Cameroon for AFCON duty – will also hinder his plans.
“We’ve known it for long time now,” he added. “Some Covid absences for the first Arsenal game too so we have to sort it with football solutions. Long-term plans, I know how we can play if everyone is fit but I don’t know who can play from January 3 onwards.”