Jürgen Klopp

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Klopp: “A club like Liverpool needs to be in the Champions League”

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Jurgen Klopp‘s first full season in the Premier League is over and, by just about any reasonable expectations, it was a hugely successful campaign.

[ RECAP: Liverpool take care of business on final day, finish 4th ]

Liverpool are back in the UEFA Champions League next season — a competition which Klopp said in emphatic terms following Sunday’s season final against Middlesbrough that Liverpool “needs to be in.” On the whole, Klopp seems just as jovial in May, after 38 games, as he did in August — quotes from the BBC:

“It is a long season and when our timing got better we were unbelievably dangerous. I could not imagine this morning it would be like this. I couldn’t think it would be really tight until the end. I am really happy about this. I think people deserve this opportunity for us to be able to qualify for the Champions League.

“I asked for the results at half time and not before, so I had no idea about the Arsenal score. You have no influence and again the boys delivered.

“We are Liverpool. We have to deliver. We did it again. We have to improve and we will but for now, today, it is a big relief.

“A club like Liverpool needs to be in the Champions League. Other clubs have the same target so it is not easy to be there consistently. I am proud of the boys, we worked a lot and everything is good. Now we have to build on it.”

[ MORE: Man City win to finish 3rd | Arsenal 5th | Man United 6th ]

Three major roadblocks stand out in thinking back on Liverpool’s season: 1) early defensive struggles; 2) long-term injuries to key players through the campaign; 3) their five games without a win to begin the 2017 calendar year.

With some marked improvement in those departments, and some serious investment in the transfer window this summer, the Reds should be able to continue their climb toward title contention in Klopp’s second full season in the PL.

Klopp: We need fast start vs. Boro as UCL hangs in balance

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Jurgen Klopp knows the import of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, which is why his Reds will come charging out of the gates on Sunday against relegated Middlesbrough.

Liverpool has everything to play for at Anfield, a win guaranteeing that Arsenal cannot catch it for fourth-place in the Premier League.

[ WENGER: Decision soon after FA Cup Final ]

Klopp reiterated what everybody knows, that top players are wooed by UCL play. More importantly, its absence can make the difference between both players finding Anfield as desirable as the Etihad Stadium, or Westfalenstadion, or the Vicente Calderon.

So, yeah, go get ’em, boys. From Sky Sports:

“The best thing would be if we are 4-0 up after two minutes but that won’t be possible.

“Football games develop – and that always depends on the start. The start is important but if it is not good it does not mean we will stop. We will fight, that’s clear. But Middlesbrough are a football playing side. They have good players. They are good counter-attacking, quick wingers, very experienced striker.”

There would almost zero question about this fixture and Arsenal’s hopes — the Gunners host Middlesbrough — but Liverpool has a number of question marks regarding their record against lower half sides.

Klopp raves after blowout: “Nobody gives you 73 points as a present”

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Liverpool has left it late or left it wanting often this season when it comes to facing teams below it on the Premier League table, but Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds did no so thing on Sunday.

With one exception — a pair of posts from Andre Ayew — West Ham failed to threaten Liverpool much at all and the Reds exploded for four goals in a blowout 4-0 win at the London Stadium.

[ RECAP: West Ham 0-4 Liverpool ]

The win boosted the Reds two points clear of Man City and four ahead of Arsenal with a week to play in the season, handing the pressure back to their rivals. Speaking of pressure, Klopp was quite pleased with how his men handled the situation.

“It’s obviously a good sign. Part of our lives is to handle pressure; to ignore the bad part of pressure and use the good part of pressure. That’s our job. I thought we did really well. We drew in the last game, we didn’t finish, we didn’t score with the penalty, so maybe then people said, ‘Yeah, well they can’t deal with pressure’ but the only sign for this was using a penalty or not.

“These players did so good this season that we are in the situation we are, 73 points – and nobody gives you 73 points as a present. Take it and use it, we had to work for it. The boys did it and today we saw a really convincing performance and no doubt about anything.”

Finishing in the Top Four remains a must for Klopp as he tries to engineer a champion at Anfield, and few will care how the Reds made their way to the UEFA Champions League when the bright lights shine down next Fall.

Klopp will truly quiet many of his critics with another emphatic display Sunday at Middlesbrough.

Klopp bemoans dry pitch, technology failure in Saints draw

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Jurgen Klopp gave a few excuses for his team’s drab 0-0 draw with Southampton that left their top four status still in question.

The Reds saw a James Milner penalty saved, but had few other chances on net, with Fraser Forster doing the business between the sticks to keep them out.

Klopp was particularly unhappy with the state of the Anfield pitch, although he fell short of throwing his grounds crew under the bus.

“I know nobody wants to hear it but I am brave enough to say it – the pitch was really dry [with] the wind and it was difficult,” Klopp said in his post-match press conference. “You could see it, a lot of passes you thought ‘why are they playing this?’ but it was difficult.”

[ RECAP: Liverpool draws 0-0 with Southampton ]

“In a possession game, you need to have if possible, in a home game especially, the best circumstances. Today we couldn’t have this. That’s nobody’s fault, it’s only a description.”

To be fair, Milner also briefly mentioned the pitch condition after the match, calling the field “a bit sticky.”

Klopp was also upset that the headset for fourth official Anthony Taylor failed, leaving the referee Bobby Madley on his own on the pitch without help from the sidelines. “We had three, four situations which the fourth official saw saw exactly like we did. For example, the shot from Emre [Can] was a clear corner but the headset didn’t work anymore and I thought maybe he could have given another sign. It was a clear corner but that’s how it is. It was very emotional as you can imagine.”

The German manager was incredibly animated throughout the match, throwing water bottles and screaming constantly. He was clearly incensed with the particular decision he referenced in his quotes, pointing emphatically at the fourth official when the corner was not given, as if to say the fourth official agreed but could not communicate it to the referee.

Premier League Preview: Watford vs. Liverpool

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  • Liverpool won 6-1 on Nov. 6
  • Watford won fixture last season
  • Reds lead all-time 19W-3D-5L

Liverpool hopes to keep its Top Four advantage alive and Watford seeks revenge for an earlier beatdown when the two sides meet at Vicarage Road on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s onto the next one for Jurgen Klopp, who says the Reds need at least three wins to best Man City and Manchester United to a Top Four spot in the Premier League. Liverpool is level with City and a point ahead of United before kickoff, and can set the bar for both Manchesters with a win.

Walter Mazzarri‘s Watford was stunned by 10-man Hull City last weekend and has to pick itself off the mat following two losses in three, the outlier being a less-than-impressive win over Swansea City. The Hornets beat Liverpool at Vicarage Road last season, but can look to the clubs’ first meeting this year as a threat of what the Reds can do when rampant.

What they’re saying

Watford backstop Heurelho Gomes on the team’s form: “It wasn’t a normal loss against Hull because we lost to ten men. We needed to  pick oursleves up, and go again because that’s the way to recover when you lose a game like we did. We were training hard this week, because we know this game will be very tough for us.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on its UCL hopes“If we win no games in the last four, it will be difficult to be in the Champions League. If we win one, it will be unlikely. If we win two, it’s not really likely. But if we start winning three, it can work. If we win four, I would say it’s more likely it will happen. So that’s how it is. We know all this. But the only way to do this is to win the next one, and that’s what we should try.”

Prediction

Liverpool is finally on level terms with Man City and Manchester United in terms of matches played, and won’t waste its chance to set the table for another week. Reds win, 3-1.