Klopp: City lead not as big in ‘normal’ season

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said that the gap between his side and runaway leaders Manchester City in the Premier League title race would be closer in a “normal season.”

The reigning champions find themselves 16 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men and in a battle to remain in the top four. Liverpool are in sixth position, two points behind Chelsea and West Ham United.

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Klopp conceded that Liverpool were out of the title race after suffering three consecutive league defeats but said his side would have been challengers if they were luckier in terms of injuries.

When asked at a news conference how the club could once again compete at the top after winning the league in 2019-20, Klopp replied: “It was never the case that we thought how can we overtake City, how can we become the finest team again in English football whatever that means.

“We never saw it like this, we wanted to be the best version of ourselves. We have that chance again and if that’s good enough then it’s good enough. And if not, if another team is better, then they’re better that’s how sports work.

“You cannot do more than being the best version of yourself, that’s what we’ll try again [next season] as a team. For that, we need a little bit more luck and a few other things as well. In the beginning, if we had slightly more luck with injuries, that would already help and we could be closer.

“I think we all agree that, I would say and even Pep would say, that in a normal season for both teams, we would not be 16 points away but we are and that’s how it is. We accept that but this season is not our concern on how close can we come to City, our concern is how far can we go in the table.”

Liverpool have suffered a number of injuries to key players with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Naby Keita unavailable for the majority of the campaign.

Liverpool bounced back to form with an impressive 2-0 win over RB Leipzig in their midweek Champions League clash ahead of the Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield on Saturday.

Klopp also expressed concerns that the upcoming international break between March 22 and March 31 could lead to more absentees.

“Yes, I have concerns but not more information,” he added. “We are internally in constant talks and we’re trying to talk to the specific organisations but at this moment, I cannot tell you exactly how it will be or how we will sort that.

“It is clear that if a player goes away and has to come back and then quarantine for 10 days, that’s obviously difficult to accept.”

Last week, Guardiola also feared that the break could have a negative impact on City’s title bid.