In Depth

Jurgen Klopp: I would be a real idiot to doubt my Liverpool players

Reds look to strike back in the cup and league after their shock defeat at Watford

After two defeats in three games are Liverpool hitting a wobbly patch?

Not really. Despite their 44-match Premier League unbeaten run coming to an abrupt end at the weekend against Watford, the Reds are still 22 points clear of Manchester City and on course for their first title since the 1989-90 season.

In the Uefa Champions League the holders were beaten 1-0 by Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 first leg on 18 February.

However, do you remember what happened the last time Liverpool needed to overturn a deficit against a Spanish side in a European second leg at Anfield? 

In last year’s semi-finals Barcelona were walloped 4-0 in front of the Kop as Liverpool progressed to the final against Tottenham.

Jurgen Klopp’s side won’t fear the challenge of overcoming a one-goal deficit against Atletico next week. But before that they have to focus on domestic matters in the cup and league.

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Strike back - but it will be tough

Following the 3-0 loss at Vicarage Road, Liverpool will look to bounce back -  starting tonight at Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round and on Saturday in the Premier League at home against Bournemouth. 

At his pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s clash at Stamford Bridge, Klopp was asked if he doubted the character of his players and how they will respond. 

The German boss said: “Of course they want to strike back. This is an exceptional group of players, they did outstanding stuff. 

“We play against Chelsea and can I think that now, just because we want to respond, that we shoot Chelsea out of their own stadium? No. It will be a tough game, it would have been anyway. 

“If we had beaten Watford, Chelsea would have been a tough game. After that, Bournemouth, tough game; they played really well and could have won their last one against Chelsea. They did really well, they will come to us and they will want to beat us. Surprise. 

“I am not a little bit in doubt about the character of the boys. I would be a real idiot if I would be, to be honest, because they deserve my trust, my faith, and they don’t lose it after a bad game.”

Hunt for the quadruple

With the Club World Cup already in the cabinet, the Premier League title an almost certainty and their continued involvement in the FA Cup and Champions League, Liverpool remain in the hunt for a possible trophy quadruple.

Klopp warned that his squad face a huge challenge over the next three games - Chelsea, Bournemouth and Atletico - and also for the remainder of the season.

However, he insists that his players will give it their all and get their intensity back after the Watford loss. 

He said: “Now we lost the game [against Watford] and we cannot be ‘invincible’, so it means from now on we could lose one or two Premier League games? I don’t understand that, I cannot do that. 

“We play Chelsea with all we have and then Bournemouth with all we have. Then Atletico with all we have. With 100% and nothing else, that’s us. 

“What we really blame ourselves for is that you didn’t see that on Saturday [against Watford]. That’s where we are really critical with ourselves, but that doesn’t mean from now on we will not be doing it anymore. 

“That’s what we want to be, we want to be very, very intense in a good way.”

As well as the match at Stamford Bridge, there’s two other FA Cup fifth round ties tonight. Reading take on Sheffield United at the Madejski Stadium and West Bromwich Albion host Newcastle United at The Hawthorns.

FA Cup fifth round results and fixtures

Last night’s result
  • Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 2
Tonight’s fixtures
  • Chelsea vs. Liverpool (7.45pm, live on BBC One) 
  • Reading vs. Sheffield United (8pm, live on BBC iPlayer) 
  • West Bromwich Albion vs. Newcastle United (8pm, live on Facebook)
Tomorrow’s fixtures
  • Leicester City vs. Birmingham City (7.45pm, live on Facebook) 
  • Sheffield Wednesday vs. Manchester City (7.45pm, live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer) 
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs. Norwich City (7.45pm, live on BBC iPlayer)
Thursday 5 March
  • Derby County vs. Manchester United (7.45pm, live on BT Sport)

Today’s back pages

Arsenal’s young guns ease into FA Cup quarter-finals and Daniel Sturridge is ‘devastated’ by ban

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