PreviewJürgen Klopp press conference: Merseyside derby, title race, Alexander-Arnold and more

By James Carroll, Glenn Price and Chris Shaw


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Jürgen Klopp explained how his passion and understanding of Liverpool's clashes with Everton grew exponentially as he prepares for his final Merseyside derby.

Wednesday's showdown between the city rivals at Goodison Park will be Klopp's last taste of the famous fixture while in charge of the Reds, having previously enjoyed victory on 11 occasions.

And to preview this latest Premier League affair, the boss held a press conference at the AXA Training Centre on Tuesday afternoon – read on for a summary of what he had to say…

On his last Merseyside derby and its importance in terms of the Premier League table...

So yeah, super-important for us obviously, that's clear. I think with the last two results, Everton pretty much sorted it, staying in the league. They have us and another home game on the weekend, so three home games [in a row]. Their idea is to win all three and then it should be sorted, definitely. And for us it's clear, the situation is clear [and] we don't have to say that again and again and again. It is really important, like all the other games were as well. We know about the importance, definitely.

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I just had an interview with your colleague from Sky now and he asked me a similar question. The thing is, I don't know exactly when my first derby was? 2016? So, I was already in for a while, but when you come here, I really would think it would not be honest if I would have said immediately, 'That's my game of the year!' and stuff like this. It wasn't; I knew how important it was to all the people, but I didn't feel it then. That's not a problem for coaching a team, but meanwhile [now] I know it, I feel it and everything. It is absolutely clear. My feeling and my understanding developed over the years – and rightly so.

[They are] always difficult games, especially there. At home it was – I am not sure if comfortable is the right way to say it – but more [comfortable] at least. I think we have a pretty good record; only Carlo Ancelotti [won at Anfield], who everybody knows is a really good manager. So, we lost against Carlo, [but] besides that we had good results, good games and now it is not too important what we had in the past. This is a super-important game for us, so whatever we did in the past is not too important for this game. We just should give it a proper try there and that's what we will do.

On how proud he is of his squad this season...

I don't feel [for] a second pride or something like that, I didn't think about it that way and obviously the world is not like this. I would love to go back to whichever point and think, 'Wow, where will we end up? What will exactly happen?' Because how can you know? We are Liverpool, we are always ambitious, that's clear. We knew the last season was not great, so for the club [it was] super-important that we go back and qualify for Champions League – that's the most important thing for the club, definitely, we all know that. So that was clear, we have to go for that and try to do that. It looks good – not set yet – but it looks good in that department and that's all.

We are now here where we are and we want to win all the games, but I can tell you that was from the first matchday the same. It's not that you think that far and think, 'OK, with 38 matches, try to win them.' But you know you try to win them all, it just doesn't happen and you have to deal with all the little setbacks – if it's injuries, if it's results, stuff like this. I wouldn't say it's straightforward but until two weeks ago everything was probably better than anybody would have expected. And then you have this week where the performances were not as bad as the results felt afterwards.

Before that we had one of the best games we played against [Manchester] United but we lost it in the FA Cup, which is really strange but it was – we never dominated United as we did there and didn't win it. That's where things started a little bit and why we don't score enough and stuff like this. If you look at our numbers, yes, there are two teams who scored more goals than us but it's not like they scored 50 goals more than us.

It's always about how can you get the right feeling again for the situation and for the next game and these kind of things – we usually do that. So, I'm really happy now with the response. You win at Atalanta, yes, it wasn't enough to go through but we still won there – but it feels like that doesn't count. You won a football game, you worked your socks off [for] 100 minutes, you won it and it's like, 'Yeah'. Then you win 3-1 at Fulham and I heard people saying it was not really good or whatever, just Fulham were not good. I thought, 'My God, I wish you would play a Premier League game and just feel the intensity of these kind of challenges.'

I'm very positive, not in a strange way where I want to see things brighter than they are. But I know this is the last part of the season and it's not about playing the freshest football of the whole year – that would be strange if that works out with the schedule all the teams had. But you have to win games and I think we know how to do that. But for that, you have to overcome each opponent in specific ways. Now we have today to make sure that everybody understands the way we want to try tomorrow.

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On scoring two goals from open play at Fulham...

The most beautiful [goal] was anyway the set-piece, so we took that as well. No, it's good. But again, Diogo [Jota]'s shot, the goalie has a hand on the ball but cannot save it in the end, right? Five centimetres in the other direction and the goalie saves it, and the other direction and [past] the far post. That's how football is, so you cannot change everything because of inches on the foot and stuff like this. We have to create and we created a lot before. Yes, it feels great if we score from open play but actually in the end it's just important that you score and that you play good.

That's the idea: that you play as good as you can, that you create as much as you can and that you come as often as somehow possible in the positions to finish situations off. Sometimes you have to force that, sometimes you have to calm down to do that and all these kind of things. But in the end [it's] just important to find the back of the net – we all know that. The last two games we won now 4-1, got six points – only three in the league and in the Europa League it obviously doesn't count. If somebody wants to see it like that then we are in a good moment now and we hope to continue that.

On his view of Trent Alexander-Arnold's development as a person over the years…

Everything grew since I've known him. He became a real man. Fantastic player from the first day, outstanding talent turned into an outstanding, world-class football player. It's pretty rare that, as a manager as well, you are part of such a journey for such a long time. Trent never had a different manager in professional football so it will be good for him to get new influences in the future, that's definitely clear. But I think we can be quite happy with the steps he made. When you see him now playing you just see what a good player he is, it's crazy.

I hope it was not misunderstood because after the last game I said Conor Bradley played a few games, but Trent is Trent. I have to say, Conor is Conor. Conor was, for a while, the best player. Came on, was a revelation, unbelievably good, incredibly good honestly. Somewhere I saw the headline and I thought maybe I said that. But it's not what I wanted to say. But I told Conor already, which is much more important. Because he's really exceptional as well. It's really nice to have these kind of players around.

There's nothing bad to say about Trent and his development, he is one of these stories that not a lot of clubs can really write. But he is one of the people that people will talk about in 20, 30 and 40 years, 100 per cent. That's really nice for a boy from West Derby, it's probably the best you can achieve in life.

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On whether being in the title race is an overachievement for Liverpool this season…

First and foremost, it's not important what I think because I don't limit us with expectations, negative expectations. As a club like Liverpool, before the season it's clear, to get all the things going… we didn't qualify for the Champions League last year, that's financially a real problem for a football club [like Liverpool]. That's how it is. No.1, we have to make sure – and that's how you build a squad – that we can fight for the Champions League again. In a league where you have six, seven teams: obviously now Arsenal, [Manchester] City, us, Aston Villa, it was clear they will be around, 100 per cent clear. Tottenham obviously made the next step, was clear. And then not really involved for whatever reason, and you cannot imagine that before the season, United and Chelsea. They are usually there as well.

So you have four spots and you fight for that. That's a massive achievement already. And I don't want it now because it looks like we might qualify for the Champions League, that I have to praise that. That's the job we have to do. And if you are there and it's not a distance too far, then you want to fight for everything. That's where we are now. In general it's more a lesson for life, I'm not sure it's only for football: you should never forget where you are coming from. Just don't forget it. Because that means you can really enjoy the moment and go for it.

Now it looks like in this one week, from that moment we had something to lose. I might not be smart enough, I just don't understand that. I cannot, really, I don't get that. All of a sudden things changed a little bit, like, 'Ooh, wow, I'm not sure if we can still do it' and stuff like this. Why should we not be able to do it now? Yes, we don't have it in our own hands, who had that in the past all the time? City from time to time. We have to be there if somebody struggles, it was always the case. We cannot become the favourite overnight and have something to lose, that makes no sense. And be completely down, really down if we don't do this or don't do that. I cannot change that obviously, that's how everybody wants to see it or doesn't want to see it. It's just not the way I see it. For me, we are where we should be and now let's make really the absolute best of it. That's my idea, and if that means in the end we will win the league, I would be obviously quite happy. As long as there's a chance for that, I think we should give it a proper try.



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