Jurgen Klopp says it is up to Liverpool to show they are in the chase for a top-four Premier League finish after a 2-0 win at Sheffield United.
Liverpool ended a run of four successive league defeats with victory against the Premier League’s basement club, with Curtis Jones and a Kean Bryan own goal handing them an important three points.
With four of the five teams above Liverpool failing to win this weekend, it boosts the Reds’ chances of finishing in the Champions League places, now two points behind West Ham in fourth place.
It also sets up an incredibly important tie against Chelsea on Thursday evening, live on Sky Sports, with Thomas Tuchel’s side just a point ahead of Liverpool in fifth after their 0-0 draw against Manchester United earlier on Sunday.
Klopp wants his side to prove once again that they remain in the hunt for a top-four finish.
He told Sky Sports: “It was very important [the result] because plenty of people have written us off and that’s completely fine. It’s about us to show we are still there and tonight, we showed that. On Thursday, we play Chelsea and we have to show it again.
“But with all the problems we’ve had, we’re still around the exciting places and that’s where we want to be, where we want to fight for and that’s what we will do.
“I have never thought about controlling the situation or whatever, you just have to win football games, we know that and the rest is controlled by itself and it’s always like this. There’s no way without results into the Champions League and that’s what we need. We got it tonight and now we keep on going.”
Hasselbaink: Chelsea will fancy their chances
Chelsea are yet to lose under new manager Tuchel and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes his former club will have more belief than usual heading to Anfield this week.
When asked if Chelsea will fancy their chances of a victory, he told Sky Sports: “Of course. If you look at the game today, Sheffield United had some chances. Liverpool going forward are a dangerous side, we all know that, but at the moment, you get opportunities against Liverpool that before, you would never have got.
“If you’re at Chelsea, you’ll be looking at that and definitely going to Anfield with a little bit more positivity and trying to win that game and it’s definitely possible.
“For Liverpool, it’s important that they get themselves into the top four, otherwise what’s going to happen with the Mane’s, the Salah’s, the Van Dijk’s if they’re not in the Champions League?
“That story is a little bit different for Chelsea. They’ve got younger players who can have a year without the Champions League. So for Liverpool, they’re under pressure.”
Praise for man of the match Jones
Jones was named as the Sky Sports man of the match for his performance at Bramall Lane, and dedicated his goal to goalkeeper Alisson and his family after the passing of his father last week.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s been a difficult time for myself and the rest of the team and I’m happy that I got on the scoresheet. I’d like to take this time to say that this goal is for Ali’s [Alisson] Dad, so may he rest in peace. If Ali sees this, this is for you bro.
“He’s a strong lad and a big part of the team of course. He’s not here today but we miss him for sure and I’d like to dedicate my goal to him and his Dad and the rest of his family.”
Manager Klopp said of the 20-year-old: “He is a top player, no doubt about that. That’s why he’s playing and tonight, he was very important. Even he has to be more involved in goalscoring situations as well and like everywhere, there is space for improvement so tonight, he was involved so that was good.”
Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness added: “When you watch him play and if you’ve played the game, you realise this boy is full of technique. He can run with the ball, he can dribble with the ball, he takes the ball in tight areas and he puts a shift in.
“At 20 years old, he’s got the chance of being a real player for this club. He’s extremely gifted, the fact he’s a Scouser is a real bonus for the club because of the passion he has for the club and as he gets older, he’ll be an influence in the dressing room. He could have a big part to play in Liverpool’s future.
“He looks to be comfortable at this level. He’s got the ability, he’s got the athleticism, he looks to have the attitude and he’s one of several young English midfield players that have a real chance of being proper players in the Premier League, as long as they don’t get a big head on his shoulders.”
Wilder laments more poor defending
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder pointed to some more poor defending from his side as Liverpool won 2-0, but still saw the same high levels of commitment.
He told Sky Sports: You’ve got to be at your best to beat Liverpool and take no notice of their last two or three games. They’re still one of the top sides in England and Europe so you have to be at your best and have your best players available and be on the top of your form and unfortunately, at the moment, we’re not.
“Aaron [Ramsdale] has kept us in the game in the first half, but I would expect any team like us in the bottom half [of the table] to get a result against Liverpool, your goalkeeper has got to play well, which he did in the first half.
“There were little half chances but it’s another goal that goes with a catalogue of incredibly poor goals. Our defending this year, continuity plays a key but certainly individual mistakes, there’s a mis-timed tackle that led to the first goal and we’ve got enough bodies around the ball for the second goal to cut that out. Obviously it’s a deflection and you’re 2-0 down against some really top players and it turns into a last 20/25 minutes.
“The players mirror the spirit of the supporters, they mirror the club, I believe they mirror how I want my team to play. I don’t think anybody can question their attitude or commitment, they give it everything and sometimes, you’re just not good enough and you haven’t got that quality to really compete. For long periods of this season, we haven’t shown those qualities.”
Sheffield United’s match against Liverpool is the first of three successive home Premier League. They are back in action on Wednesday against Aston Villa; kick-off 6pm. The Blades will then welcome Southampton on Saturday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 3pm.
Liverpool also play twice on Sky Sports over the next week. Firstly, they welcome Chelsea to Anfield on Thursday; kick-off 8.15pm. They will then play Fulham next Sunday; kick-off 2pm.