Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool welcomed the intensity of their title race with Manchester City after recording a 10th consecutive Premier League win in a hard-fought contest against Watford.
Klopp marked his 250th league game in charge of Liverpool with a 160th victory as Diogo Jota scored his 20th goal of the season and Fabinho sealed the points with a late penalty. The win took Liverpool briefly top of the table before City’s win at Burnley, having trailed the reigning champions by 14 points on 15 January, and Klopp admitted there can be no margin for error in his team’s attempt to reclaim the title.
The Liverpool manager said: “You can’t give an inch. To keep in the title race we have to win our football games, otherwise it will be really tricky. The next Premier League game is a big one [against City next Sunday], we can’t hide from that, but before then we have an important Champions League game to prepare for at Benfica.
“I really appreciate the situation we are in. I said to the boys yesterday that if someone had told us in the summer that in early April we would be in this situation - won one trophy, in three competitions, full squad available - we should all take it.
“The only better situation would be to be 20 points ahead of City but that’s not possible. That’s why it is all fine like it is. I don’t think we are favourites in one of the competitions we are in but who cares, we will give it a try.
“It’s not about managing the situation or the pressure. People see the situation like pressure – I’m not sure I can change that. We create a basis which we can use but no one knows because opponents have their own targets and go for it. People thought Watford would be an easy game but we saw what happened. We cannot see situations like that.”
Klopp admitted Liverpool were far from their best against Roy Hodgson’s well-organised team and had to fight throughout before claiming a 10th successive league win at Anfield.
“It is unlikely after the international break that it will be the best game of the season,” he added. “We had to work through this game. At 1-0 down nothing changed, they still had counterattacks and that makes it uncomfortable, but once we scored we kept it in control and that was important.”
Hodgson was unhappy with VAR alerting referee Stuart Attwell to the foul by Juraj Kucka on Jota that led to Liverpool’s penalty. “That was the only sad moment for me today,” the Watford manager said. “Nobody saw it – the referee, Jürgen or me – not one Liverpool player complained, but the game is stopped and Liverpool are given the chance to win 2-0. It leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.”