Jürgen Klopp has insisted that Liverpool have proved that they can cope with pressure after their 4-0 demolition of West Ham on a “perfect afternoon” at the London Stadium all but confirmed a top-four finish.
Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi scored either side of a Philippe Coutinho brace, the Brazilian putting in a masterclass to send the Reds four points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.
The Gunners have a game in hand over Liverpool, against Sunderland in midweek, but a win at Anfield for Klopp’s side on Sunday against already-relegated Middlesbrough will confirm their return to the Champions League.
Liverpool gave Arsenal a chance of catching them by drawing 0-0 at home to Southampton last week, where James Milner missed a penalty, and Klopp said that result made too many people question his side’s ability to perform under pressure.
“Part of our life is to handle pressure – to ignore the bad part of pressure and use the good part of pressure. That’s our job,” said the German after the game. “I thought we did really well.
“We drew the last game and didn’t score with the penalty, everyone said ‘they can’t deal with pressure’. The penalty was used as whether we could deal with pressure or not.
“These players have done so good this season. We are in the situation we are in, it is 73 points and we have worked for it and today I thought we saw a really convincing performance.”
Liverpool have struggled against the lower-placed teams this season but if they overcome that tendency with victory at home to Boro on Sunday then they will make certain they will be in next season’s Champions League, something that is not lost on the players.
He said: “The first thing the players said when they got into the dressing room was ‘one more time, one more game’.
“We will stay focused 100 per cent. We know about the situation, the difficulty of the next game – no one will underestimate this.”
West Ham had chances to take the game to Liverpool, with Sam Byram at the start of the first half and most notably when Andre Ayew missed what Klopp described as “one of the biggest chances I have ever seen in my life”.
And while he admitted Liverpool rode their luck at times, he was unsure if the game could have gone much better for the visitors, who ended Tottenham’s title hopes last week.
“There were a few moments when the game could have changed but we were really deserved winners,” said Klopp, who also revealed Roberto Firmino is touch and go whether he will play for Liverpool again this season.
“They had absolutely one of the biggest chances I have ever seen in my life but they didn’t score so it was a lucky moment for us.
“We played really good football, we were more direct. We could have scored more but it’s completely okay that we didn’t. It was the perfect afternoon.”
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