London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has urged Tottenham to be “brave” when they face quadruple-chasing Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday in a match that could prove pivotal for both teams.
Spurs are two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool similarly need the win if they are to catch Manchester City, who are one point clear at the top of the table.
The Reds have only dropped two points in the Premier League since January 2 — a draw against Pep Guardiola’s City — and this week booked their place in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Klopp’s men already have the League Cup in the trophy cabinet and face Chelsea in the FA Cup final later this month as they hunt an unprecedented clean sweep of silverware.
“When you arrive at this point of the season and you are in a race for every target, it gives you a big, big push to do something incredible,” Spurs boss Conte said on Thursday.
“I think Jurgen Klopp is doing a fantastic job with his team. It is not easy, especially for an English team to arrive at the end of the season to stay in the race for all the competitions that you compete (in).
“It is incredible. You can see Liverpool’s players run a lot, they have not had many injuries. Their enthusiasm is not 100 percent, it is 200 percent. You don’t feel the fatigue when you reach this point.”
The Italian, desperate to secure Champions League football next season, said he wanted his side to play their own game at Anfield after drawing 2-2 against Liverpool at home earlier in the season.
Spurs have also beaten Premier League leaders City home and away during the current campaign.
“I said this to my players, we need to play a good game and be brave when we have the ball, don’t be scared for all the pressure and to find the solution,” said Conte.
“We have improved a lot. We are in this race for a place in the Champions League and for this reason we need to get points in every game. Every game is a big chance for us to improve the table. In this game we have to try and beat Liverpool.”
Conte also said at his pre-match press conference that loan star Dejan Kulusevski was “100 percent” a Tottenham player.
The Swede, who has impressed since joining from Juventus in the January transfer window, is on an 18-month loan but Spurs have the option to buy, which would turn into an obligation should certain on-field criteria be met.
Conte has no concerns about Kulusevski’s future, saying: “He’s a Tottenham player, 100 percent in every aspect. Not officially but he’s 100 percent a Tottenham player.”
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