InterviewRobertson on Real rematch, Spurs clash and a big Saturday night
Liverpool swiftly parked their joy at reaching the Champions League final to refocus on gaining maximum Premier League points, said Andy Robertson.
The Reds came from two goals down to beat Villarreal 3-2 in Spain on Tuesday night, sealing an aggregate win that set up another European Cup showpiece against Real Madrid on May 28.
Before then, of course, they will continue their pursuit of the league title, with Tottenham Hotspur the visitors to Anfield on Saturday for a 7.45pm BST kick-off.
Victory over Spurs would take Liverpool to the summit, with Manchester City not in action until Sunday when they host Newcastle United.
Ahead of the clash with Antonio Conte’s Tottenham, we sat down with Robertson at the AXA Training Centre to get his thoughts on this weekend’s game and the rematch versus Real…
Andy, firstly, we know who we’ll be facing in Paris in the Champions League final, it’s Real Madrid. What are your thoughts on that?
Obviously when we got through we knew we were going to face a quality opponent. The way they have got through is pretty special and it’s going to be a difficult game. We’ve played them in the final before and obviously it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. We want to be trying to put that right. And obviously they knocked us out last season as well, although we had a pretty depleted squad at that time, but still it hurt getting put out in the quarter-finals. We look forward to it; there’s still a lot of games before then, so we focus on that closer to the time but two massive clubs, two of the most decorated clubs in the European game. It’ll be exciting and we’ll look forward to it when the time comes.
It’s Tottenham next on Saturday in the Premier League. How quickly did the focus switch from celebrating on Tuesday to this one?
Straight away, to be honest. Tuesday night, obviously the changing room was lively when we got in and rightly so, we’ve just qualified for a major final, which we should never take for granted. And then Wednesday morning, straight up and straight into recovery. Straight away we were focused on it, we’ve got to be ready for it. We’ve had so many big games lately, we need to be ready for this one next. Every game from now until the end of the season is huge for us, so important. We know if we drop our standards at any point then we’ll get punished for it. They’re in a good moment, they’re fighting for top four, they’re hoping they can maybe catch Chelsea or compete with Arsenal for the fourth spot. So, they’ve got it all to play for – a really tough game and we have to be at our best to get something from this game.
It was an even game in the reverse fixture, ending in a 2-2 draw and, as you say, they’ve got plenty to play for. So how dangerous will they be?
Yeah, I think they’re in a better moment now than they were then, made some good signings in the January window, signings that have made a big difference to them. And that’s probably now why they’re competing for the top four. Their best players are playing at the top level just now. So we need to be wary of their threats, they’ve got many, but we also have to believe we can punish them in areas we can hurt them. That’s what we’ve got to do. We have to be at our best, we can’t drop below that standard and if we do that we believe we can win any game of football, and that’s no different on Saturday. But it’s going to be incredibly tough, we know that. Conte always sets up a team really tough to beat and we’ll look to win. They need three points probably and I’m sure they’ll come to win but we’ve got a lot to play for, fighting for the league and we need to win that game to stay in the race.
We play before Manchester City again this weekend. How are you finding the rhythm of the title race and is it helpful to play first and put pressure on them?
Not really, no – we don’t look at the league table probably as much as maybe our fans do. We know the situation we’re in, we know it’s very close and there’s only a point in it. We’ve both been on a really good run of form in terms of winning games. You just try to switch off from it. Unfortunately from our point of view, we’re not in control of our own destiny – if we win all our games, it doesn’t guarantee us the Premier League. But if Man City do, it guarantees them to be champions. It’s out of our hands but we have to just keep applying pressure when we can. We’ve just got to try to keep winning our games and if we do that and if we fall short, at least we know we played our part and we did all we could. We have to win all our games and we have to believe Man City can potentially drop points; it doesn’t look likely at times, the way they play and the way they dominate teams. But we’ve got four games left – as long as we get 12 points, at least we know we’ve given it our all.
It’s a Saturday night league game, which doesn’t happen too often. It should be a big atmosphere at Anfield…
Yeah, it’s rare. Usually it only really happens near the end of the season when we’ve got a hectic schedule. [In 2019] when we played Barcelona we had a late kick-off against Newcastle. We need the fans, we need everyone at full voice, we need them to get right behind the team in good moments and tough moments, and we need their support. Their support has been second to none this season, they have followed us up and down the country and abroad. We never take a packed away section for granted, we never take a packed Anfield for granted. We need them in full voice on Saturday; hopefully we can give them a performance it deserves and hopefully another huge three points towards what we’re hoping to achieve.