Premier League • England

Klopp hints at factor that could help Liverpool make crucial change to beat West Ham

Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate stood next to manager Jurgen Klopp 2021

The Jurgen Klopp press conference has made it clear he is not thinking about “chasing” Manchester City as he prepares his Liverpool side to face West Ham United at the weekend.

Liverpool have worked their way back into the title race in recent weeks. They are now just six points behind reigning champions Man City, with a game in hand. After winning the Carabao Cup at the weekend, they have hopes of more silverware.

But manager Klopp is not getting carried away. With 12 Premier League matches of their season still to play, he is refusing to think about all the permutations.

Instead, he wants them to merely focus on improving their performance from the reverse fixture against Saturday evening’s visitors West Ham, who beat them 3-2 at the London Stadium in November.

At the Klopp press conference, the Liverpool boss said: “I enjoy the situation we are in, but I don’t enjoy the questions about it because it is like we have won the games already.

“I really want to win tomorrow. But if we lose, you will come here and say the title race is over.

“I don’t have enough capacity for all these scenarios. I cannot think about what we can win.

“I’m barely smart enough for enough concentration and focus for one game.

“We are not in the worst moment but there are so many challenges ahead of us.

“I am not in a chasing mood. I just hope we’re ready for West Ham in a better way than we did when we played them there.”

Liverpool man starring in perfect new-found role

Liverpool man starring in perfect new-found role

Takumi Minamino hasn’t proved the most crucial player for Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, but he has settled perfectly into his role this season.

West Ham are one of only two teams – the other being Brentford – to have scored three goals in a league game against Liverpool so far this season. As such, Klopp wants to see more defensive resilience from his side on Saturday.

He added: “In the game at West Ham we weren’t ourselves, at least not 100%, which is what you should be.

“You should make it more difficult for the other team to score than we did that day.

“We have to be better than the first game.”

One defender who did not play in the reverse fixture was Ibrahima Konate. However, Klopp has since been impressed with the way things are going for the summer signing.

Although the manager can see a higher ceiling for the Frenchman, he is already deemed to be starting from a good point.

Klopp said of Konate: “His quality helps, obviously. He has all the skills you need to be a good centre-half.

“Always like it is with young boys, sometimes your concentration level drops here and there. He can be so much better, but he is really good so that helps.”

It means Klopp has another element to rely on from an already dependable unit.

Of his entire backline, he claimed: “Our centre-halves have a sensational relationship so they all learn from each other and help each other.

“They don’t play other positions so that helps and they are so close.”

Klopp press conference includes Liverpool team news

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates after they beat Crystal Palace, January 2022

With the West Ham game on the horizon, the Klopp press conference gave some insight into who may be available.

The manager confirmed: “Strength in depth is important but we have some who aren’t available. Pretty sure Thiago [Alcantara] is not available. Curtis [Jones] is not bad but good enough for tomorrow? We’ll see.

“[Joel] Matip is ill, not Covid.”

One man who is nearing a return, though, is Roberto Firmino.

Klopp announced: “Bobby not for the weekend. The plan is he trains on Sunday for first time.”

Meanwhile, the manager remains unclear as to whether Naby Keita will be fit for the match.

Whichever players he can call upon will be aiming to preserve a record that has seen West Ham boss – and ex-Everton manager – David Moyes never win at Anfield.

Klopp has much respect for his counterpart, so is ready for a tough test.

Of Moyes’ record at Anfield, Klopp said: “Long may it continue. I am sure he was close [to a win] a few times since I was here.

“I am really pleased for David. He’s a nice colleague. After all the things in the past after a successful spell at Everton, and now being himself again at West Ham and making smart transfers. They’re a strong side.”

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