Premier League title race: Klopp and Dalglish issue rallying call to Liverpool
Reds are urged to keep calm and carry on in battle with Manchester City
The Premier League is back after a two-week hiatus to accommodate international action, and the title race is once more the focus of attention.
Liverpool lead Manchester City by two points in what is now a two-horse race but the Reds have played a game more than their rivals and Jurgen Klopp knows that his side can ill afford any slip-ups between now and 12 May.
While Pep Guardiola’s City should have little trouble picking up three points against relegation-doomed Fulham on Saturday (12.30pm), Liverpool have a more challenging match against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (4.30pm).
Reds were on a roll
Spurs visit Anfield looking to consolidate third place ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United, while exploiting any nerves that may be forming on Merseyside as the prospect of a first league title in 29 years grows stronger.
The Reds were on a roll before the Premier League pause and now they have to hit the ground running this weekend.
“It is nice to have a little bit of a rest in between, but on the other hand you want to keep it going in a situation like that - we won three games in one week and could have played pretty much the next day,” said Klopp in an interview with the Liverpool website.
Asked if he was excited by the next few weeks, Klopp replied: “Absolutely. That’s what we were always talking about - a season is like that, you constantly prepare a basis for the final weeks.
“We are now in the final weeks and there will be no interruption any more, there will only be game after game after game and they all are very, very important. We created a wonderful base, now let’s use it.”
On paper, Liverpool have an easier run-in than City with the Reds on the road at Southampton, Cardiff and Newcastle in the coming weeks while hosting Chelsea, Huddersfield and Wolves.
The Sky Blues, on the other hand, host Cardiff, Tottenham and Leicester at the Etihad and also travel across Manchester to Old Trafford to take on rivals United. City also play away at Crystal Palace, Burnley and Brighton.
Significantly, while the pair are both still in the Uefa Champions League, City also face Brighton in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
But it’s on the pitch and not on paper where the title will be decided, and which club best handles the pressure in the next six weeks is key.
To that end Kenny Dalglish, manager of the Reds when they last won the title in 1990, issued a rallying cry to the squad.
“You are where you are because you deserve to be there,” said Dalglish. “There’s no point in being apprehensive in any way, shape or form. There’s no point in being complacent. Just be normal, just do what you’ve done.
“We’ve just got to continue to do what we’ve done before. Nobody needs reassurance about their ability to play or their ability to win games - they’ve shown it. And you’re not getting carried away, you’re not taking anything for granted [by saying that], I think it’s just common sense.”
Upcoming Premier League fixtures and TV guide
Saturday 30 March (3pm unless stated)
- Fulham vs. Manchester City (12.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Southampton
- Burnley vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield Town
- Leicester City vs. AFC Bournemouth
- Manchester United vs. Watford
- West Ham United vs. Everton (5.30pm, live on BT Sport)
Sunday 31 March
- Cardiff City vs. Chelsea (2.05pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur (4.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
Monday 1 April
- Arsenal vs. Newcastle United (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
Tuesday 2 April
- Watford vs. Fulham (7.45pm)
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester United (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports)
Wednesday 3 April
- Chelsea vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (7.45pm)
- Manchester City vs. Cardiff City (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace (7.45pm)