Liverpool's Klopp has 'no reason' to talk to Gerrard before title climax

Manchester City welcome Aston Villa at the Etihad, while Liverpool host the Wolves at Anfield on Sunday

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Liverpool rally to beat Southampton to stay in contention. — Reuters
Liverpool rally to beat Southampton to stay in contention. — Reuters


Published: Wed 18 May 2022, 11:45 PM

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he’d no intention of contacting club great Steven Gerrard to offer words of encouragement before the climax to a thrilling Premier League title race this weekend.

Klopp’s much-changed side beat Southampton 2-1 on Tuesday to move just one point behind leaders Manchester City with one match to play.

Liverpool, seeking to become champions for the second time in three seasons, complete their campaign at home to Wolves on Sunday, hoping an Aston Villa team now managed by Gerrard can do them a major favour away to City.

Klopp is confident Villa, who also host relegation-threatened Burnley on Thursday, have sufficient motivation of their own to pull off a shock result at the Etihad Stadium. “No, of course not,” replied the German, when asked if he planned to speak with former Liverpool captain Gerrard.

“Stevie prepares now for Burnley, who are fighting for everything. It’s Villa’s last home game. They will play that game and then collect the bones (freshen up) and go again on Sunday.

“There’s no reason to talk to him. We all know that Villa wants to win because Villa wants to win — that’s it.”

Klopp made nine changes to his side at St Mary’s following Saturday’s gruelling FA Cup final win over Chelsea in a penalty shootout.

Liverpool fell behind against Southampton to Nathan Redmond’s superb early opener but equalised through Takumi Minamino before Joel Matip headed a crucial second-half winner. Victory kept alive Liverpool’s hopes of an unprecedented quadruple, with the Reds having already lifted both domestic cups ahead of a Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28.

Klopp rated Liverpool’s chances of winning the Premier League as “not likely but possible.

“Of course it is unlikely because City play at home against Aston Villa. It is possible, not likely but possible. That is enough,” Klopp said.

“It is our last home game of the season, the atmosphere will be outstanding, and we will try to use it.

“Of course it could happen. Football is a tricky game sometimes. The only chance we had tonight was to win. We did our job. We never give up.”

Klopp’s side will be expected to do their part of the equation against Wolves, especially now their refreshed key players can return to the team.

Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz, Andrew Robertson, Thiago Alcantara and Trent Alexander-Arnold were among those left out against Southampton, while Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were sidelined with injuries suffered at Wembley.

“I never had a group like this. They push each other constantly. In the end, it is absolutely outstanding and tonight is really special,” Klopp said.

“We would have had much more problems today if we’d played the guys who played 120 minutes on Saturday.

“If it hadn’t worked out, it would have been 100 per cent my responsibility. Now it worked out and the boys should be really proud of that.”

City boss Pep Guardiola said he planned to watch the game on television and if he tuned in, it would have made for frustrating viewing as Southampton squandered the lead. But it was Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty in the final minutes of City’s 2-2 draw at West Ham on Sunday which had given Liverpool renewed hope of catching the leaders.

And the Reds, hoping to become the first English club to win all four major trophies in one season, will settle their bid for history in the last two games of their incredible, marathon campaign.

First, Liverpool will try to avoid a repeat of 2019, when they beat Wolves on the last day but were still pipped to the title by City.

Then they head to Paris to face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28.

Matip said the team must not become distracted by events elsewhere.

“We can only look at our game,” he told Liverpool’s website.

“It will be tough enough to play against Wolves and our full concentration is on Wolves -- that’s the only thing we can change and that’s what we are doing.

“It will be hard enough and if our head is somewhere else that would make it even more of a tough challenge.”

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