Jurgen Klopp shrugged off Pep Guardiola’s claims that “everyone in this country” is supporting Liverpool in the Premier League title race by suggesting only half of the city itself is.
The Reds visit Aston Villa on Tuesday live on Sky Sports aiming to close the gap on Manchester City, who moved three points clear on Sunday by hammering Newcastle 5-0.
Guardiola claimed after the victory that “everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone” with City gunning for their fourth Premier League title in five seasons.
But Klopp, whose side drew 1-1 with Tottenham on Saturday, responded by saying only half of Liverpool would want them to win the title. The Liverpool manager reckons Guardiola’s comments were made in the heat of the moment, just as when Klopp criticized Tottenham’s style following the draw at Anfield.
“I live in Liverpool so, yes, here a lot of people want us to win the league, that’s true, but even here it’s probably only 50 per cent,” he said in his pre-match press conference, referring to rivals Everton.
“As manager, and I had this experience recently after a game (Tottenham), we are massively influenced by the game, the situation, I said – would I say it again, no – after the game ‘they play like they play and are still only fifth’. It was just my feeling in that moment and I couldn’t respect Antonio (Conte) more and what he’s doing.
“After getting knocked out of the Champions League, that’s already difficult enough to take but then, of course, Liverpool made it to the final. You have these kinds of things, ‘they played Villarreal and we played Real’ and you say what you say He’s [Guardiola] right, I was right about fifth place and Tottenham, and he was right we won the Premier League only once.
“I have no idea if the whole country is supporting us, it’s not the feeling I get when we go to places, it’s actually the opposite. Maybe he knows more about that than me.”
Aston Villa vs Liverpool team news
Jacob Ramsey remains out for Aston Villa’s visit of Liverpool.
The player missed Saturday’s 3-1 win at Burnley with a injuryin injury but could return for the weekend’s game with Crystal Palace.
Leon Bailey’s ankle injury will also keep him sidelined, with boss Steven Gerrard expected to have a similar squad to the weekend.
Forward Roberto Firmino is set to return to the Liverpool squad.
The Brazil international has missed the last six matches with a foot problem but had additional training over the weekend to get him back up to speed.
Changes are expected from manager Jurgen Klopp with Joel Matip likely to come in at center-back, while Kostas Tsimikas may be given a rare start on the left of defense in order to rest Andy Robertson.
Liverpool now need to hope City slip up in their three remaining games to give them a chance to win the Premier League, but boss Klopp has stressed the title race is not over.
“It’s clear it is not over because we both have three games to play and my concern is how we can win our games,” he said.
“We have absolutely no hand in how City play their games but before they are played, we should not add on points. We don’t do that and I’m pretty sure City is not doing that. [Until] it’s not reachable anymore, why should we stop believing?”
Klopp will attempt to change the perspective of his players despite falling three points behind City, to lift their mood after dropping points at Anfield for the first time in 2022.
“We can take it exactly like it was, we drew, they won. It makes it three points and the goal difference changed as well. Or you can see it like we were six points behind and they lost and we won,” he said .
“We would be flying and couldn’t wait to play Aston Villa. As human beings we can decide by ourselves how we see it. There are some facts but we are allowed to ignore them and then I try to help the boys see it like me.
- Aston Villa won this exact fixture 7-2 last season – they’ve not beaten Liverpool in consecutive home league games since February 1998.
- Liverpool have won seven of their last eight Premier League meetings with Aston Villa, with the exception being a 7-2 loss at Villa Park last season.
- There have been 20 away wins in Premier League meetings between Aston Villa and Liverpool, with the Reds’ 14 wins at the Villans more than they’ve beaten any other side on the road. In fact, only Manchester City vs Manchester United (21) has been won by the away side more in Premier League history.
- Liverpool have scored 41 away Premier League goals this season, only failing to score in only one away game (0-1 vs Leicester). The Reds have only scored more away league goals in two seasons: 42 in 1946-47 (won the top-flight) and 48 in 2013-14 (finished 2nd in Premier League).
- Aston Villa have won their last two Premier League matches and are looking to win three in a row for only the third time in their last nine top-flight campaigns. Those two runs have come in the last two seasons, a four-game run in September/October 2020, and a three-game run in February/March this year.
“Let’s just assume we won the last game and they lost. It doesn’t make the Aston Villa game easier; it just gives a nicer perspective which I think is important as well.”
Liverpool’s fixture schedule:
Tuesday – Aston Villa (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 14 – Chelsea (Wembley) FA Cup final
May 17 – Southampton (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Wolfs (h) Premier League
May 28 – Real Madrid Champions League final
Man City’s final Premier League fixtures
Wednesday – Wolves (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 15 – West Ham (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Aston Villa (h) Premier League