Jürgen Klopp on being top at Christmas, Mane, Salah and more

Noah Magaro-George Liverpool FC

Jürgen Klopp discussed topping the table at Christmas, Sadio Mane’s form, Mohamed Salah’s goalscoring and Sam Allardyce’s West Bromwich Albion during his pre-match press conference.

The manager previewed Liverpool’s meeting with Albion by speaking with journalists remotely from the AXA Training Centre on Thursday.

Read on for a summary of what Klopp said…

On what it means to be the first team in Premier League history to top the table on Christmas Day for three years in a row…

Obviously it means you are not automatically champions in May when you are the Christmas leader or whatever, otherwise we would have won the league two times before! Look, it’s the best position you can be in in the moment but that’s it, that’s all. We know how tough it was, how tough it is, how tough it will be. We didn’t even play half of the season but [that] probably usually happens around about this time. It’s nice, nothing else, and two years ago when we didn’t win the league after being top at Christmas it was not about a lack of focus or whatever. It was just the quality of the opponents and this quality is still out there, so nothing really happened so far. We collected a few points and if you want to do something special this year then we have to collect even more until the end of the season and that’s what we try. That’s it. 

On Mane scoring against Crystal Palace, his recent performances and his importance to Liverpool…

Honestly, I would have lost everything if I had to bet on it, how many goals Sadio Mane scored in the last 10 Premier League games. One would have been the last [option] I would have chosen, I had no idea that he only scored once. A second ago we spoke about the best goal difference that we have in the league and then I realise that one of our best players, one of the best players in the world, didn’t score for a while… I could just [say], ‘Who cares?!’ He played exceptionally well, he is in really good shape, he is unbelievably difficult to defend. If Sadio has the ball, as an opponent you need to put pretty much two or three players on that side and that opens up for us a lot of things. I was not concerned but scoring then is, for the boys, obviously really important. Bobby obviously liked it – two weeks ago we spoke about him and since then he scored three or four goals. So now if Sadio starts scoring now again I have absolutely no problem with it but it was not about his performances, the performances were really, really good. 

On Salah being in excellent form having scored 13 goals in 13 Premier League appearances this season…

He is, he is. I think there is always things to talk about – he didn’t start the last game… and then he came on and scored two. I think in his first season he didn’t start against Stoke, came on and scored two so obviously he doesn’t need a long time anyway and yes, [he is] in a good moment. I hope it stays like this and that’s the most important thing. All the boys were obviously in a good moment, that’s why we have the points that we have so far, and now it’s much more important that we really keep going because everybody knows that the toughest period of the season is now ahead of us, the Christmas period. It’s always a tough one, this year as well, so we have to make sure that we get through this with the right results. 

On the challenges that will be posed by West Brom under their new boss Allardyce…

Of course, it’s a tricky one anyway. We made the analysis this morning, so it’s a mix of Everton when Sam was at Everton and their last game, his first game, against Aston Villa. What I expect is a tough opponent, it was always tough against Sam Allardyce teams: [they are] well organised, don’t make a big fuss of possession or whatever and in the situation West Brom are in anyway then it will be a proper fight. Sam is a proven specialist for organising teams for these kind of fights so we expect a tough game, obviously. 

On how Allardyce’s arrival has changed the pre-match analysis done by both teams…

I would say they have a lot more information about us than we have about them… Sam only had a few days before the Aston Villa game and now he had a full week, that’s a big difference as well. Not a lot of changes for the first game he was in charge, but now obviously they have to replace Livermore. They could change system, they could do a lot. Most of the time when we prepare a game, we have to use the last three or four games they played before they face us and then we play them and they play a completely different way against us, because obviously with the football my boys played in the last couple of years a lot of people think to change a few things when they face us. So it’s always tricky, but we anyway do it, we do the analysis and we try to get as much information out of it as we can, but we never can be sure. So we focus mainly on the things we can influence and that’s it, pretty much. Hopefully we will have the ball a lot, if we have the ball a lot we have to create. If you create you have to do that together, if you lose the ball in these moments you have to be there for the counter-press, these kind of things. So yeah, I prefer knowing a lot about an opponent but most of the time I don’t know a lot because, how I said, they come to us and when they’ve played six times in a row with four in the back, they come to Liverpool and then they have five at the back all of a sudden. So we will see.

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