Klopp embracing run-in pressure as Liverpool chase Champions League spot

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The heated battle to finish in the Premier League's top four means the German coach is in his element, with every game having something riding on it

Jurgen Klopp claims he is thriving under the weight of expectation as Liverpool seek to seal automatic Champions League qualification by finishing third in the Premier League.

The Reds hold the final league place that guarantees a berth in the group stages of next season's elite UEFA club competition, with fourth-placed Manchester City, in possession of the qualification play-off spot, three points behind them and Manchester United a point further back in fifth.

Both of those clubs hold a game in hand over Klopp's Reds, who have three matches remaining, starting with Sunday's visit of Southampton to Anfield.

"It is not our job to count points," said Klopp. "It is our job to collect them.

"There is no club who can waste points at this stage. We all have to fight. There is a lot to go for. We're focused on our race.

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"I like this kind of pressure. Fighting for something really special is the best pressure you can have."

Liverpool still have two fixtures in front of their own fans, with memories of a surprise 2-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace last month still fresh on Merseyside.

Klopp, though, is embracing the pressure of getting the job done in front of an expectant Kop.  

"Our plan for Sunday is to use Anfield," he said.

"For some it's a nervy situation, but we need to be brave, enjoy the game and use the crowd.

"I understand absolutely that people are getting nervous, but Anfield is always more than good. What we're going for is for all of us."

Liverpool have a poor recent record against the Saints, losing 1-0 at home and away in the League Cup semi-finals in January and taking just one point from their two previous league visits to St Mary's Stadium, drawing 0-0 in November and suffering a 3-2 defeat in March last year after leading 2-0.

"We know about the quality of the opponent. I like watching Southampton," said Klopp.

"We know pretty much how they will play. That's a good thing in preparation for the game.

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"It wasn't like we didn't create chances against them. We have to defend with all we have – that's the base for success."

Klopp is not sure if Philippe Coutinho, forced off early in the 1-0 win at Watford with a dead leg, will be fit for the weekend, the manager comparing the Brazilian's tentative efforts upon resuming training to Liverpool's 45-year-old goalkeeper coach.

"Phil was back running yesterday," he said.

"He was running a bit like John Achterberg. We can't be 100 per cent sure [of his availability], but in this moment it looks positive."

The status of captain Jordan Henderson, out since March with a foot injury, remains unchanged, but striker Danny Ings is making progress in his recovery from the knee problem he suffered in November. 

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