Football Soccer Klopp plans to tune out Arsenal City
Football Soccer Klopp plans to tune out Arsenal City

Football: Soccer – Klopp plans to tune out Arsenal, City games to keep heart rate down

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has no plans to watch fellow title chasers Arsenal and Manchester City play on Wednesday, with his side holding a two-point lead atop the Premier League and nine games remaining in the tightest race in years.

Either of Liverpool’s rivals could provisionally take first place with victories, although Liverpool can then reclaim the lead when they host last-placed Sheffield United on Thursday.

“I didn’t even know that (Arsenal and City) play tonight,” Klopp told reporters. “I expect them always to win. So, it’s not about that, we need to get our points in, we need to win our football games, so I’m honestly not interested.

“Years ago, when I watched a game and wanted Leicester to win, didn’t happen, that was the last time I did that. You learn from the past, so when they play, my heart rate doesn’t go up.”

Klopp’s team have 67 points, two ahead of Arsenal, who host Luton Town, and three ahead of City, who host Aston Villa.

While Liverpool are huge favourites against Sheffield United, who have just three wins and 15 points this season, Klopp dismissed the notion he might rest players to focus on clash against Manchester United on Sunday at Old Trafford.

United eliminated Liverpool from the FA Cup in a 4-3 quarter-final thriller after extra time two weeks ago.

“If I would talk now about Manchester United, I think our people would have the right to think I am already too long in the chair. It makes no sense,” said Klopp, who plans to leave Liverpool at the end of this season.

“You cannot play football, you cannot win football games by not respecting the opponent. I have no chance to influence the Manchester United game in this moment,” he added.

“We will play the players who are available. Sheffield United deserves our full respect and will get that.”

TOUGH PERIOD

Midfielder Curtis Jones, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury, is in contention to play against the Blades, Klopp said, after he returned to full training this week.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker has stepped up his training, but is not expected to return to full team training until next week.

Klopp also expected the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold, Stefan Bajcetic and Diogo Jota to return to first-team training next week — welcome additions amid the squad’s quest to win their first league title since 2020.

“We need everybody who can come back,” Klopp said. “It’s really, really a tough period, but obviously exciting as well. They’re all difficult (matches) for different reasons, but we are really looking forward to it, cannot see it differently.”

Liverpool skipper Virgil van Dijk told ITV he was dreading Klopp’s departure from Anfield at the end of the campaign.

“I’m a very emotional person and I don’t like to say goodbyes,” the Dutch international defender said.

“Being the captain now as well, it’s going to be horrible in that sense, because probably I’ll have to speak a little bit, and like I said – that day I’ll be dreading.

“It makes it a lot easier if we have success.”

Klopp appointed Van Dijk captain last year and the two have a close relationship.

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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