Jurgen Klopp does not often get the chance to watch many of his rivals in real time. He tuned in to watch Manchester City on Monday – for analysis reasons, he said, and understandably given that they could meet four times in April – but only for 65 minutes. “I was surprised when I saw the result,” he said.
Crystal Palace had secured a stalemate and reframed the title race. Liverpool could close the gap to Manchester City to a solitary point with victory at Arsenal on Wednesday. It left Klopp sounding more bullish about Liverpool’s prospects. “Now everything is in front of us: attack it, chase it, go for it,” he said.
City are still the favourites, he readily concedes, but Liverpool intend to irritate them. “That is the plan, that we keep being as annoying as possible but we have to win our football games,” he said. “It is final after final after final after final after final after final that we play. If I sit here and say we win 10 games that doesn’t sound very likely but as long as it is possible, we will give it a proper try.”
And Liverpool have won their last eight in the Premier League. He has identified a few “especially tough” games in the run-in. One is against an Arsenal side who have reeled off five straight victories in the top flight themselves.
It is, Mikel Arteta thinks, they best they have consistently played since his arrival. Having ended August in last place, they are fourth now and with games in hand; one complication is that their rearranged fixtures will also include Chelsea and Tottenham. They come laced with danger and a manager whose side have already dropped out of the Champions League places once this season is sounding cautious.
“We haven’t done anything [yet],” the Spaniard said. “There are better teams in the country because that's what the league table shows.” The results show that Arsenal have the wrong sort of 100 per cent record against the three above them: played four, lost four. The second heaviest defeat of their season came at Anfield in November when Liverpool won 4-0.
The biggest difference since then, Arteta said, was “it’s five months later.” It has been a transformative time and City required an injury-time goal to defeat Arsenal in January. “We have the right level of confidence, belief and understanding with each other and everything clicks better and quicker,” Arteta added.
Brighton 0 Liverpool 2: player ratings
“A big name, back on track,” praised Klopp. “Other teams may not like it.” He has liked what he has seen of the Arteta revolution. “I see them playing now: clear structure, clear idea, proper team, really well tuned,” he said. “It is possession based and young, full of talent, full of joy.”
If it is a mutual admiration society, Liverpool could represent role models for Arsenal. “They have created a huge cultural understanding of who Liverpool is,” Arteta said.
Part of Liverpool’s identity stems from their top scorer. Mohamed Salah limped off at Brighton on Saturday with a minor foot injury but has not missed a game due to injury since 2019. He has been passed fit. “Mo is a tough cookie,” Klopp said. As Salah has preyed on Arsenal in the past, it may not be good news for them but Liverpool beat the Gunners in the Carabao Cup semi-final without both the Egyptian and Sadio Mane.
Now they have their eyes on a bigger prize. “We want to be in and around these most decisive moments,” Klopp said. “We really enjoy it a lot. But it is intense as well so it is not a holiday trip but we enjoy that as well.”