Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they are not feeling any pressure in their title tussle with Manchester City as it was a race they were not even in three months ago.
A 2-0 win over Watford at Anfield in the lunchtime kick-off ensured next weekend’s trip to the Etihad Stadium remains a hugely significant one in the context of deciding who will be Premier League champions.
Diogo Jota’s 20th of the season via a first-half header and a late Fabinho penalty sealed a 10th successive Premier League victory, the Reds becoming the only club after City to achieve the feat five times.
“I actually didn’t have a lot of alternatives for it to be different because we had important games,” said Klopp when asked what belief he held in January when they were 14 points behind Pep Guardiola’s side.
“Fourteen points behind City means you are in trouble of qualifying for the Champions League. You cannot be champions, we had to qualify for the Champions League.
“We had no chance to influence City since then. I saw some of their games and the performance level was incredible.
“We wanted to qualify in the Champions League, we wanted to come (win) into a cup competition, and the rest just happened while trying to play the best football possible.
“We didn’t play the best football possible today but it was enough, I was really happy we came through.
“I didn’t expect we would be flying. It is unlikely after the international break it will be the best game of the season.
“To keep in the title race we have to win our football games, it will be really tricky. The next Premier League game is a big one, we can’t hide from that.”
Defeat for Watford left them 18th in the table and still three points from safety, with Everton immediately above them having three matches in hand.
Manager Roy Hodgson was not too down-heartened by the loss, although he was particularly unhappy with the award of the late penalty after referee Stuart Atwell was advised by VAR to view Juraj Kucka’s challenge on Jota.
“It is the only sad moment for me today,” said Hodgson.
“VAR has done a lot of very good things since it has been introduced in English football, this year better than last year, but I still find it hard to see a situation where literally no one sees the incident.
“Not one Liverpool player complained about being fouled – but the game is stopped in the 88th minute and they are given the chance to make it 2-0 and that leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
“Whether we would have got back is another matter but there was a possibility we would have got a chance.”