Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to be ready for a “massive” showdown with Tottenham on Sunday as his struggling side battle to save their season.
The Reds are languishing in ninth place in the Premier League after a wretched run that includes successive defeats against struggling Leeds and Nottingham Forest in their past two top-flight matches.
Liverpool are eight points adrift of the top four and 10 behind third-placed Tottenham ahead of this weekend’s vital clash in north London.
Klopp knows another loss would be a huge blow to the team’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
“Massive game and difficult as well, Spurs away,” Klopp said on Friday. “I didn’t count the points distance between us and them but we have to go for it.
“We know it is difficult, we all know Tottenham is a side that is well-organised, defending an extremely high level and counter-attacking is a massive thing.
“Spurs is in a good moment, turned their last two games around in the last minute and the last one was an extremely big one in the Champions League so they are confident and strong.”
Despite their domestic woes, Liverpool are through to the last 16 of the Champions League, rounding off their group stage campaign with a win over in-form Napoli in midweek.
That result served as proof for Klopp that his team are still capable of competing against top-quality opposition, although the German remains concerned about Liverpool’s defensive vulnerabilities.
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“Our problem, why we changed system, one is the availability of players and the other is we were not as solid defensively,” he said.
“You can always point a finger at the things you don’t do well or you give a completely new text book and that is what we tried. Our problem in these moments was defending as a unit.”
Klopp also said Liverpool handled James Milner’s concussion injury correctly against Napoli.
Milner will miss the Tottenham game after being forced off early in the second half following a head injury before the interval.
Premier League rules allow for permanent concussion substitutes in addition to the regular five replacements if a player sustains a head injury but there is currently no similar provision in European football.
Klopp said the necessary checks were made and it was only when Milner returned to the pitch after the break that he reported a problem.
“It is difficult,” said the Liverpool boss. “It is not that easy because you need two sources, one is the doctor, one is the patient.
“For me it was clear — he got a real check on the pitch and he was fine when it happened. In the dressing room, in our meeting, Millie was completely fine and, after calming down, came out into the floodlights and was like ‘Woah, what is going on here?’.
“He realised and then that is the most important source, the player realised ‘that is not good’ and that is when we stopped and he sat down and we took him off.
“Everybody takes it really seriously. Nobody wants to push a player through with a concussion.”