Liverpool can compete with Manchester City next season - but only if we're more ruthless, says Jurgen Klopp

City’s success has been built in part on their impressive consistency, with only 12 points dropped in 33 league matches - something Liverpool have not been able to emulate this season

Mike Whalley
Friday 20 April 2018 14:54
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Jurgen Klopp is confident his side can build upon this season's success
Jurgen Klopp is confident his side can build upon this season's success

Jurgen Klopp has suggested that Liverpool will be capable of competing with Manchester City for the Premier League title next season if they are more ruthless.

City were confirmed as champions with five games to spare last Sunday, and are 13 points clear of closest challengers Manchester United at the top.

Liverpool are 17 points behind Pep Guardiola’s team, in third, ahead of Tottenham, yet have proved effective when playing against them this season, winning three of their four matches.

Klopp’s side ended City’s unbeaten Premier League start at 22 matches with a gripping 4-3 victory at Anfield in January, then defeated them home and away earlier this month to knock them out of the Champions League.

City’s success has been built in part on their impressive consistency, with only 12 points dropped in 33 league matches. Liverpool, despite having the Premier League’s only unbeaten home record, have been unable to match that, losing four times on their travels, including a surprise defeat at relegation-threatened Swansea in January.

Klopp takes his team to bottom club West Brom on Saturday – a side who earned a 0-0 league draw at Anfield in December before returning to knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup the following month.

As far as the manager is concerned, it is those kind of slips that need to be eradicated if his team are to be title contenders.

He said: “Of course I don’t fear the challenge. This year, if City had played a normal season, which they didn’t do, then it would have been really close until the end because we are now all close together.

“United are four points ahead of us, Tottenham are two points behind or whatever. It’s a real fight for all positions.

“All big six pretty much delivered this year but City delivered the best. It’s difficult to deal with success, as it is difficult to deal with other things in football, but I’m pretty sure they will be strong again. It doesn’t make life easier but it’s not impossible to step a little bit higher.”

Klopp knows Liverpool need to eradicate costly slip-ups if they're to challenge for the title next season

Both Liverpool and City have squads with a nucleus of young players; Klopp’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are all in their mid-20s, while Guardiola has a nucleus of players under 25, including Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling.

Klopp said: “The gap between us and City didn’t happen in the games against them, it happened in the other games.

“It’s not important how good City will be, it’s about how we can get all the other points plus the points we got so far again.”

Among Klopp’s young players is 19-year-old right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has emerged as a contender for the England World Cup squad after a series of impressive performances this season.

The Liverpool manager would rather the defender had the summer off, but is confident that he will cope if called up for Russia.

“Yes, of course I would prefer that he rests, but I am not the person who wants to say to Gareth Southgate: ‘Don’t take him.’ Everything is ready and Trent is obviously in a good moment. England has one or two issues but the right back is not among them.

“Is he ready? Yes, I think he is ready for a lot of things. He is not finished in his development and a lot will come, which is good news. But with regard to the World Cup, somebody has to make that decision and thank God it is not me.”

Klopp, meanwhile, is set to delay a decision on the future of striker Daniel Sturridge, loaned to West Brom in January but currently out injured.

He said: “We don’t have to make these judgements yet. There will be a pre-season next year and he is still contracted here, so we will see.”

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