Jürgen Klopp said he had invited his Liverpool players to follow his lead in shutting out the noise surrounding their title scrap with Manchester City and insists his team are “still chasing like mad” after returning to winning ways at Aston Villa.
Sadio Mané’s clever winner cut City’s advantage to just goal difference before they visit Wolves on Wednesday, and Klopp conceded the leaders had signed a “beast” in Erling Haaland.
Asked how easy it is for Liverpool not to concern themselves about City, Klopp replied: “For me it is absolutely no problem. I have invited the boys to follow my mindset. We are still chasing like mad. We just know we have to win and now we have to recover and then to play the FA Cup final [on Saturday] because there is no mercy nowhere because of this situation [where we are] qualifying for all finals. We play an incredibly big game and from Thursday on we will prepare.”
Douglas Luiz scored early for Villa but Liverpool hit back three minutes later through Joël Matip before Mané’s clever header from Luis Díaz’s cross midway through the second half secured victory.
Klopp praised the mentality of his players and Alisson for making a world-class save to deny Danny Ings an equaliser. The manager confirmed Andy Robertson was rested for Saturday’s final against Chelsea, for which Fabinho is a doubt after being forced off with a muscle problem.
When asked how much stronger Haaland will make City after his £51m move from Borussia Dortmund, Klopp could not help but smile. “A lot,” he said. “City was and will never be a team that wins games because of one player, because of the specific way they play. I think Erling will certainly score a lot of goals. He is a real beast. He was injured a couple of times at Dortmund but when he is fit he is a real beast. Unfortunately, he is a really good signing.”
The Villa manager and former Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, conceded Ings would play missed chances “over in his head on the way home” but was delighted with his side’s display. “We’re slightly frustrated we didn’t score more than once,” said Gerrard, who reiterated his intention to sign Philippe Coutinho on a permanent deal from Barcelona.
“We’ve got to take those big moments we created. The big positives for me are that we were brave, courageous and went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the world. We knew at times we would have to suffer.”