London (AFP) – For the first time since he arrived at Liverpool Jurgen Klopp is in the midst of a crisis to the extent that a win on Tuesday at home to Premier League leaders Chelsea is obligatory.
The 49-year-old charismatic German — who replaced Brendan Rodgers in November 2015 — has seen his side knocked out of two Cup competitions inside a week and a further loss to Chelsea would be the first time since 1923 they have lost four successive games at Anfield and only the second time in their 125-year history.
However victory over Antonio Conte’s side would reduce the gap between them to seven points whilst should Arsenal beat out of form Watford and their north London rivals Spurs beat bottom side Sunderland they would be just five and six points off the leaders respectively.
Klopp, though, accepts some confidence has seeped away from his side with just one win in eight games in January and the free-flowing, eye-catching football they were playing seems a distant memory.
“We spoke about confidence a few months ago and I said it’s a little flower,” said Klopp after his side had been knocked out by second tier Wolves from the FA Cup on Saturday.
“If something bounces on it, then it’s away. Obviously, that happened kind of, but it’s not that we play without confidence.
“I can see a lot of moments when we really still believe in our skills and all that stuff. So we don’t have to make it too big, but it’s not that difficult.
“It’s not that I say there’s no chance until Tuesday to make a real turn.
“Somebody asked me a second ago if this is the lowest point of my Liverpool time until now — I don’t know. But if it is, it’s the perfect point to turn because it’s not possible to go lower. That’s all we have to think about now.
“It is a home game against the leader of the league and we need everyone for the game.”
Conte’s side arrive bursting with confidence and having safely navigated their way into the next round of the FA Cup depsite like Klopp making several changes to personnel.
Since they lost consecutive Premier League games to Liverpool and Arsenal in September, they have won 17 of 19 games in all competitions since but perhaps face a pivotal week as regards the title race with Tuesday’s game followed by a home match with Arsenal.
“It’s important to think against Liverpool, to have a good performance and to try to have a good result,” said Conte.
“Then we’ll think about Arsenal.”
Arsenal will enter their home game with Watford bursting with confidence on the back of a 5-0 whipping of rivals Southampton in the FA Cup — Watford by contrast were sent packing by third tier Millwall.
Particularly encouraging for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is the return to fitness and form of Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck who scored halt-trick and a double respectively against a limpid Saints outfit.
It offers Wenger more firepower up front and may see one or both play a role against Watford, who despite a horrible loss of form are still eight points above the drop zone.
“It was great to see he hasn’t lost his runs or his finishing; it shows as well when you are able to transform that frustration in not playing into efficiency that he’s a special guy,” Wenger said of Welbeck, who has fought back from two serious knee injuries.
Spurs had an almighty scare against fourth tier Wycombe in the Cup and while the largely second string line-up made it into the next round it left their boss Mauricio Pochettino praying he doesn’t suffer injuries to key players in their title challenge.
“If you cannot play in this type of game then we will have a problem,” stormed the 44-year-old Argentinian of their displays against Wycombe.
Fixtures (kick-offs 1945 GMT unless stated)
Arsenal v Watford, Liverpool v Chelsea (2000), Sunderland v Tottenham, Bournemouth v Crystal Palace, Burnley v Leicester, Middlesbrough v West Brom, Swansea v Southampton.
Manchester United v Hull (2000), West Ham v Manchester City, Stoke v Everton (2000).
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family