Liverpool ran away with the Premier League title two years ago and after injuries knocked them off their pace last year, Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently unbeaten and a point off the summit
Jurgen Klopp had zero doubt his team would rise again from the ashes of their injury scorched title defence.
In fact, he didn’t even offer it a second thought – because of the desire and mentality of a squad who have the look of champions again, after a remarkable run of 23 matches unbeaten in all competitions.
That is the best since the great Liverpool side of the late 1980s, who went 24 games unbeaten from January 1 to May 26 1989, a run ended only on that dramatic night when Arsenal ’s last minute goal snatched the title.
Klopp’s men can match that run against Brighton at the weekend, and asked if there were any doubts his team would come back to their best, he replied: “I didn’t doubt it, I didn’t really even have to think about it.
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“You all forgot how massive a difference it is when you lose pretty much your whole defence in October. Everyone still expects you to win all the games, you are Liverpool.
“When we solve that problem, it was clear we will be better again and that is the situation again. It doesn’t mean we will win but it gives us a chance.”
And asked if this Liverpool – which has had their best goalscoring start to a Premier League campaign ever – is even better than the title winning one, he replied: “I think the team didn’t change too much.
“Are we better than 18 months ago? It’s not too important; you have to be as good as you can be in the moment. The world is like this: you win 5-0 against United and everything is perfect but it was not.
“So far it clicked a lot so we had some pretty impressive scorelines, but we don’t expect it to happen all the time. We have no problem winning a game 1-0. Absolutely not.”
Klopp’s only problem is keeping all his players happy, with his rotation policy seeing even the likes of Sadio Mane rested.
Only Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk have started every Premier League game so far. And the manager admits they all want to start every game.
“Yes, Mo wants to play every minute of every game…that’s true, but still he never did it.
“None of them want to be rested actually, and if they do then it is always in other games…it’s never the game I choose to rest them in. But to rest players against Brighton would be a crime, they are much too good to do that.”
Klopp knows that makes players unhappy, but he said: “I don’t think that’s possible to keep them all happy, and ask all the players – I don’t think I have, to be honest.
“When you play for Liverpool, the thing you have to do is win games, and as a footballer you learn early that you have to accept the decisions a manager makes.
“My team is doing that obviously – that doesn’t mean they are always happy about the decision, they just accept it.”
They are more than accepting it, Liverpool are now many people’s favourites to lift the title, but Klopp believes they will have to be perfect to do it.
“This is just the standard of the league. To be in this position in March, April or May you really have to perform at an incredibly high level and be incredibly consistent…and that’s the thing you can never be sure about.”