Jurgen Klopp has dismissed suggestions Manchester United will head into Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool as underdogs.
The Reds welcome their fierce rivals to Anfield this weekend knowing a win for either side would provide a huge confidence boost in what appears to be a wide-open Premier League title race.
United will arrive on Merseyside as league leaders, and would open up a six-point lead on Klopp’s side if they could secure a first win at Anfield since 2016. Victory for Liverpool, though, would send them back to the summit after a three-game winless run.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed on Friday that it would be “an upset and a shock” if his side were to win. “We are the challengers, they are the champions,” the United boss told his pre-match press conference.
Klopp, though, rejected such claims.
“I have been five years in England and United was never an underdog,” he told reporters. “They cannot be. It is just like it is.
“[They are] always a good team, always great players, always really good managers and coaches. It was always there and now they are top of the table. That is how it is.
“They cannot be underdogs, but we play at home and we don’t see ourselves as an outsider or whatever just because they are ahead of us. We have to be dominant in the games.
“Usually they change system against us. They played 10 times with four at the back and against RB Leipzig they played with five at the back, so maybe they will change that.
“Those are things we have to think about - not who is the outsider. It is Liverpool vs United and that in itself is a massive game.
“Wherever I would be in the world I would watch it definitely. This is the game!”
Liverpool head into the game searching for form. They may have won their last game, a bizarre FA Cup tie against an Aston Villa youth team, but they were beaten by Southampton in their previous league outing, and failed to beat both Newcastle and West Brom before that – results which saw them surrender their advantage at the top of the standings.
“We are now in a place where we want to be,” Klopp said. “We know what we have to do. We know what went wrong. We want to change. Now, we have to put in place on the pitch. That is the situation.
“I’m really looking forward to this game, to be honest. I know Ole said that this is the best moment to play against Liverpool … yeah? Let’s see!”
He added: “These boys did not go for an excuse in one second that I was here. Not for one second. But that does not mean things cannot go wrong.
“Obviously we did not do outstandingly well since mid-November. But who cares? We still have 33 points. Yes, we are not exactly where we want to be, but we have learned a lot from this season. The circumstances, dealing with the situation, that kind of thing. It is not because of the boys’ attitude. It’s just because it didn’t work out.
“Still, we have scored the most goals in the league, which is absolutely crazy. It’s not that it disappeared somewhere. It’s just not that it has been exactly as it should be.
“Why should one team click all the time and the other team not? That’s exactly how it is. We just had to step a little bit back, work on the basics and get strong – as strong as we can be again. That’s what we did. That is what we will do. I think that can work.”
Klopp will make late checks on the fitness of defender Joel Matip ahead of Sunday’s game. The Cameroon international has not featured since limping off in the draw against West Brom on December 27, but was due to resume training at Kirkby on Friday.
Naby Keita, though, will miss out, joining Diogo Jota, Kostas Tsimikas, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk on the sidelines.