Mauricio Pochettino responds to Klopp rejecting ‘big favourite’ tag – “He’s clever enough”

Earlier in the week, Jurgen Klopp rejected the idea that his side were “big favourites” for Sunday’s final, but Mauricio Pochettino is sensing some mind games from the Liverpool manager.

After the win over Luton in midweek, Klopp was quoted by the BBC as saying: “Will we be big favourites [for the final]? Definitely not.”

Counting his absences, which was 11 players on Wednesday, Klopp acknowledged he didn’t know who would be available for Wembley while also praising Chelsea‘s improvement.

His quotes were somewhat taken out of context with it twisted to say that Chelsea were “definitely” favourites, which was not the case.

Nevertheless, Pochettino was asked about Klopp’s comments in his pre-match press conference on Friday, and he felt it was a “clever” move from the Liverpool boss.

“He is one of the best coaches, with Pep [Guardiola], in the world, and he is clever enough, and he knows, that when you arrive and play a final, there are always circumstances that can happen,” Pochettino said.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 31, 2024: Liverpool's Conor Bradley celebrates after scoring the second goal, his first for the club, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Of course, if they are not the favourites, then we are not the favourites.

“If he said that, this means Liverpool are favourites because after eight years, in the last few years, they have the experience to compete like a team and be involved in different finals.

“For me, our players are not only new in this competition, in the Premier League or the Carabao Cup, but for some of them it is maybe their first final.

“That is why it makes them favourites. But he’s clever enough to say 50-50.”

When pressed to answer if Liverpool are the favourites, the Chelsea boss responded: “For sure. He knows that it is like this.”

On paper, the Reds are the favourites, but they could be short on senior players once again should Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai fail to prove their fitness.

The trio have less than two days to prove they can play a role for the team, though Liverpool are unlikely to take any risks after two suffered a reoccurrence of their previous injury.

It is hard to dispute Pochettino’s “clever” tag, Klopp knows how to get the best from his team and create an atmosphere where they can thrive, and this feels no different.

See you at Wembley, Mauricio!