Jurgen Klopp taking nothing for granted despite Liverpool topping Premier League table
LONDON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said the fact his side are top of the Premier League table heading into the busy holiday period counts for little.
The Anfield club are four points clear at the summit going into their Boxing Day clash at home to Newcastle, with champions Manchester City second and Tottenham Hotspur six points adrift in third place.
Liverpool, however, have not won the English title in the Premier League era — their last domestic Championship crown came back in 1990.
And with Tottenham having hammered Everton, Liverpool’s local rivals, 6-2 on Sunday, Klopp does not expect to have things all his own way during the rest of the season.
“You (the media) make these stories about who is in and who is out,” said Klopp.
“I saw the game against Everton who played absolutely more than okay and then they (Spurs) hit pretty much everything and it was really impressive how Tottenham did.
“The same will happen to Arsenal and Chelsea. No decision has been made, why should it be? Nobody should feel safe, no one should feel out of the race. It is not a time to think about it.
“For me they (Tottenham) were never out so why should people be surprised they are now in? A lot of teams are in whatever you call the title race and that is how it should be.”
The German added: “That is maybe only the difference to last year when pretty much nobody was in any more at this time and that is good for all supporters out there.
“Being unbeaten in the league until December is not something I had too often in my life. We did really well so far, and we have to do even better from now on. That’s the challenge for us.”
Liverpool fans know only too well that being top at Christmas is no guarantee of the league title.
There may have only been two occasions in the past 10 years where the team top on December 25 failed to win the Premier League but in both instances it was Liverpool, in 2008 and 2014, who could not complete the job.
Only James Milner among Liverpool’s current squad knows what it’s like to win the Premier League, having been a member of Manchester City’s victorious squads in 2012 and 2014.
But Klopp, who won the Bundesliga title with Borussia Dortmund in 2011 and 2012, insisted: “I know that all players who have won the title, at one time it was their first time.
“You don’t know what is more important, is it experience, potential, attitude, desire or joy, being completely fresh having never had it before?
“Experience is always good if you are young enough to use it. We have to use all experience from the last games, especially from the last season, and that’s much more important.
“Character is always very important but with these boys there is no doubt about that because we achieved already in the past big things: finals, good positions in the league.”
Meanwhile, Rafael Benitez believes it will be “another miracle” if his Newcastle side retain their Premier League status.
Speaking ahead of the match with Liverpool, the Spanish manager said finishing 10th last season was an extraordinary performance but added that would be matched simply by beating the drop this term give the fact that the Magpies’ relegation rivals had all outspent the north-east side in pre-season.
Newcastle’s position has also been complicated by owner Mike Ashley being frustrated in his wish to sell the club.
“We have to be realistic and understand that we will be in the bottom half during the whole season,” said Benitez ahead of the Boxing Day clash away to his former side Liverpool who are looking to cement their lead at the top of the table.
“For me, it is almost clear and if we can be better than three teams, it will be another miracle.
“It was a miracle last year. People were thinking, ‘Oh, you finished 10th...’, but with a couple fewer wins, we could have been in the bottom five, so it was a miracle.
“If we do the same this year with teams spending even more money than last year, it will be a miracle.”