Klopp puts pressure on Spurs

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Image: SpursWeb

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has ramped up the pressure on Tottenham by challenging them to come to Anfield and win to keep alive their title hopes.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side trail Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester, who host Southampton on Sunday, by five points but with seven matches remaining they cannot afford any slip-ups.

Spurs’ record at Anfield is poor, with just four wins in the last 69 league meetings on Merseyside, and, although Klopp’s side are inconsistent at home with just five league wins this season, he has put the pressure firmly on the visitors.

“Usually it is not important for us to think about the situation of the other team, but in this special case I think it makes sense to know about it,” he said.

“If I were not the manager of Liverpool maybe I could enjoy the stories of Leicester and Tottenham more.

“This is a pretty good year to become champion because a lot of clubs who fight for this title are usually not involved. There is pressure for teams at the top and we will see who handles it better.”

Saturday’s match pitches two of England’s top strikers against each other in Daniel Sturridge and Harry Kane.

Both are vying for a starting spot in Roy Hodgson’s side for Euro 2016 and, despite his injury problems, Klopp would be more than happy for Sturridge to go to France rather than have the summer off to recuperate.

“There are a lot of good strikers in England, so congratulations for that,” the German said.

“If I say I wish Daniel could have a real holiday and doesn’t have to go to the European Championships, what kind of manager would I be?

“It is the European Championships and playing for your country is the best thing a player can do, and I really wish for him to be part of it.”

Klopp is short on strikers again as Christian Benteke returned from international duty with a knee injury, although Belgium team-mate Divock Origi has recovered from a thigh problem.

“Divock Origi couldn’t play the games for Belgium because of a little muscle issue but he has been back in training since (Thursday) and is available,” said Klopp.

“It is completely different with Christian Benteke as he is not available and we have to wait for further assessments to know how long it will be, but for this game he has no chance.

“It will be close for Roberto Firmino. We have to make a decision maybe (on Saturday) but we cannot bring pressure in this situation and we have to wait to see how he feels.”

Firmino faces a late fitness test on his hamstring injury. Midfielder James Milner returns from suspension while defender Alberto Moreno is back in training after a hamstring problem.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino believes Leicester deserve to be in pole position in the title race but has urged his players to focus on themselves.

Winning at Liverpool will see Spurs cut the gap behind Leicester to two points before the Foxes play Southampton on Sunday.

”We need to give the credit to Leicester,” the Argentinian said.

”Today they are top because they deserve to be. From the beginning of the season they were fantastic. We cannot take the credit from them.”

Tottenham are gunning for their first league triumph since 1961 but even qualifying for the Champions League would represent an excellent season, as they sit 11 points clear of fifth.

Their progress has been all the more impressive given they boast the youngest squad in the Premier League, but Pochettino believes Spurs also have the maturity to hold their nerve during the run-in.

”We are young but we are mature enough to realise the situation to compete with different teams,” Pochettino said.

Toby Alderweireld has recovered from a stomach bug and is expected to be passed fit for Tottenham. Alderweireld suffered the illness on international duty with Belgium.

Striker Kane has been cleared to play without a face mask he has been wearing for a broken nose.

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