Jurgen Klopp is predicting the tightest title race in years as he insisted Liverpool will not become intimidated by Manchester City’s relentless title defence.
Despite 26 points from a possible 30, Liverpool trail the champions on goal difference.
Klopp’s side travel to Arsenal on Saturday, The Emirates a venue the Merseyside club has won only twice in 15 visits.
With City threatening another season of front-running, the Liverpool manager warned of the pitfalls of becoming obsessed with matching the leaders’ results at this stage of the season.
“It doesn’t make sense to think like that because it puts you in a situation where you feel like you are not in charge. You react on what they do,” said Klopp.
“If they play on Friday and we play on Sunday, you think for two days from Friday until Sunday about the pressure being more on us because they have won already. But then you miss Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, United or whatever.
“It’s like it is, and hopefully it stays like this until the end of the season. It is probably the most exciting season for years. In Germany they were constantly complaining about Bayern and everybody knowing who will be champion by October.
“Last year a few teams played really good seasons but there was no chance to catch City because, by October-November, the gap was already that big. I remember when we played City last season, when we lost there 5-0, that was the day that City really clicked. In that game they got all the confidence and we got the opposite and it led to a 25-point gap or whatever. For us it is not important what other teams are doing, only if we play them. We are really focused on us, really focused on us, and that’s the only way I know it will work.”
With eight wins from 10, Liverpool have passed plenty of tests to this point. “So far, so good,” was how Klopp put it.
He wants his side to be judged on its own performances, not against Pep Guardiola’s side.
“We are in a good place but we go to Arsenal and if everything depends on winning at Arsenal or not, if that means we are in a good place or not, then something is wrong,” said Klopp.
“We have to go there and try everything but if they are brilliant and we are brilliant but unlucky – the post, the crossbar, whatever – they can win the game.
“That can happen unfortunately, that’s how football works. I cannot judge week in week out. That’s why I say so far, so good. We don’t feel satisfaction. We don’t feel, ‘Wow! We are really good’. We have that feeling for maybe two minutes after the game, from the dug-out to the dressing room, and then it’s gone. We won, cool, let’s go again – that’s exactly how it is. At the moment it looks like we are ready but we have to prove that many times this season.”
Liverpool will be without their captain Jordan Henderson this weekend. He returns to training on Monday. Naby Keita is still out with a hamstring problem.