Jürgen Klopp discussed Liverpool's top-of-the-table showdown with Manchester City at length during his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

The Reds resume direct battle with the reigning champions at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night having surged into a lead at the summit of the Premier League during December.

Klopp insisted his team will face the world’s best side but are excited and prepared for the prospect of a heavyweight tussle that could go ‘in all directions’.

The manager also assessed the influence of Kevin De Bruyne’s potential involvement in the match and how his players are dealing with leading the league.

Read on for a summary…

On Thursday’s game…

It’s a normal game against Manchester City, a very difficult one. It’s one of the most difficult games you can play in the modern football world. We have felt that plenty of times. They are a really strong football team with an outstanding manager. We have to be prepared as well as possible. We have to be brave, we have to be full of desire, angry again, all that stuff – like in all the other games – but with the knowledge that the opponent is, for me, still the best team in the world. I said it weeks ago because it’s 100 per cent my opinion; the way they play and all the things they have achieved and the things they will achieve. Nothing changed, only the points changed, but not the preparation for the game.

On Pep Guardiola saying Liverpool are the best team…

I heard it. He said ‘in the moment’. I’m not sure if any team had a record like this in December; we are in a good moment, 100 per cent. And we are a very, very, very good football team as well. That’s why we have the amount of points, that’s why we had the results, that’s 100 per cent clear. But we prepare for one game. Would I say they are the best team in the world if nobody would ask me? No. But we talk about it. So it sounds like we have to go there and we are the more likely to win the game than they – that’s just not true. A couple of weeks ago we were behind. It’s only talk, it’s nothing to do with the reality. A big part of the football world is talking about it before it happens; but we are there to let it happen. We are in a normal and very excited [mood] because it’s a very interesting – difficult, but interesting – game we have to play. We’re looking forward to it. But apart from that it’s a normal situation.

On the excitement among fans for the rest of the season…

People like how the boys are performing and playing, and people love the results. But it’s a bit of lack of respect to think our fans want to celebrate now already. We created an atmosphere where people like the steps we make and they like being part of these steps. We are not the group we were 10 or 15 years ago, or even 20 years ago. The world changed, the football world changed; there are different opponents now, different challenges. We are in a really good position in that group of challengers, that was the first achievement. And the people are now really happy that it looks like there could be something special. The season so far is already special and they enjoyed it so far. If they are smart – and they are smart – we will enjoy it until the last matchday and then we will see what it brought.

On whether Liverpool’s approach will change if De Bruyne plays…

We cannot specially prepare for Kevin De Bruyne. He is an outstanding player. Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva are probably the three midfielders who played most of the time in the title-winning season – and missing a player like him is a massive blow. He played from time to time and was unbelievably influential immediately, he scored fantastic goals. He is just a world-class player. I expect it that he’s back. I’m happy he’s not seriously injured again, I said that before. I was really happy when he was back, I love the player; everybody who loves football must love Kevin De Bruyne. He looks like a really humble person and is an outstanding player on the pitch – a leader and all that stuff. It would make a difference but on the other hand, since he was out – and Pep said it as well – he thinks the football they played this season is better than the football they played last season. It’s more flexible, they involve different things on the pitch. Bernardo Silva played an unbelievable season, Ilkay Gundogan played brilliantly. They have a lot of options and obviously if he would play, it would give them a massive boost.

On whether his players are ‘enjoying themselves’ being top of the table…

I see their attitude and the right mood and all that stuff in the games and the training sessions. We are all individuals, but there is nothing that we have to talk about in the case of something is going in the wrong direction. Results and performances give confidence. We’ve had results and really good performances, and the boys have the quality. As I have always said, as long as we mix up our potential with attitude, it will be quality. That’s what the boys have shown so far and what we have to do again. I think we got rid – finally – of the backpack when we reached the Champions League final. We didn’t win it, yes, but not 20 teams in the past reached the Champions League final, so that was the moment when the boys did something really special. Yes, we didn’t win it but the ride there was unbelievable and so, since then, it feels different, that’s true.

On Guardiola’s comments on what a defeat would do to City’s title chances…

I don’t know exactly, you will have to ask Pep. If we were 10 points behind then would my first thing to say after the game be, ‘We still will catch them’? Of course not, it’s difficult with the qualities all the teams have. But it is just not important what happens now. It is January 3. It is a very, very, very important game for both teams, obviously. I would use it as motivation for the other team. It is a kind of six-point game, we play against each other, it can go in pretty much all directions. It is a motivation for them, 100 per cent. They will be ready and we have to make sure we are ready.

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