Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to stay motivated to reach their target of a place in next season’s Champions League by the end of the season.
Klopp has acknowledged ahead of Liverpool’s clash with bottom side Swansea at Anfield on Tuesday that a Premier League title challenge is beyond them given they trail leaders Manchester City by 20 points.
But the German believes there is still plenty for the fourth placed Reds to play for and they should not get complacent just because City are so far ahead.
“We have to qualify for the Champions League. We have to finish as high as possible,” Klopp said.
“It looks like we could be second, third or fourth this year, that’s a fantastic situation. Not the dream but a fantastic situation.
“That’s what we are working on and for this we have to improve in all departments.
“This year, I don’t think that anyone apart from Manchester City and maybe Manchester United are thinking too much about how they can win the league.
“In a very difficult league, performance-wise we are really consistent so far. If we stay consistent and avoid our mistakes, mistakes like in the 3-3 draw with Arsenal, we will win much more games than we lose or draw.
“As it was and so it will be against Swansea, we have to perform first of all and then we have to see how the other team can react.”
Even though Swansea are at the foot of the table, Klopp does not want his players to assume the result will be a foregone conclusion.
“They are under pressure and that’s clear because they fight for the league, 100 percent, and that will not change before Boxing Day,” Klopp added.
“But we will be ready and we will perform, if possible, like against Arsenal but avoid the mistakes we made.
“I don’t really remember the game from last year, to be honest. I remember that we lost it. But that’s not the plan!”
Step by step
Klopp confirmed Liverpool will be without captain Jordan Henderson after he limped out of their 3-3 draw with Arsenal last Friday.
Defender Joel Matip could be fit enough to feature after he recently returning to training following a muscle injury while striker Daniel Sturridge has recovered from illness.
Alberto Moreno (ankle) and Nathanial Clyne (back) remain on the sidelines.
Swansea caretaker manager Leon Britton will take charge of his second game following the sacking of Paul Clement last week.
Britton is a modern-day Swansea great with more than 500 appearances to his name, and guided the club to a 1-1 draw in his first match against Crystal Palace.
A match against free-scoring Liverpool at Anfield, however, will present a somewhat more difficult prospect for the South Wales club.
Swansea striker Jordan Ayew admits the draw against Palace, in which he scored, has helped them take at least some confidence into the trip to Merseyside.
“We all have a job to do. I think we responded well,” Ayew said. “We will take it day by day and see what happens in the future.
“We will do our best to get something out of the game against Liverpool. We will build step by step and things will get better. It is important for us to get a good result.”
Swansea will give a fitness test to striker Wilfried Bony (hamstring) and midfielder Leroy Fer (back), who both missed the game against Palace.