Upbeat Klopp wants to ‘attack’ next season’s title

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side will be the hunted rather than the hunters next season but he says they will not be defending their Premier League title, rather attacking the next one. Manchester City became the first Premier League team to win successive Premier League titles for a decade last season, proof of the competitive nature of England’s top-flight.

Liverpool will be given a guard of honour by City’s players when the top two sides meet at the Etihad on Thursday. While accepting the gesture, Klopp knows City, together with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, will come back stronger next year to challenge Liverpool’s superiority.

“We will not defend the title next year, we will attack the next one,” the German told a virtual news conference. “We feel we are in the middle of something not at the end of something. It will be the end of something when we finish our careers, that’s the end of this period.

“When you think you have reached the pinnacle, you are already on the way down and we don’t feel that. I don’t feel finally satisfied, honestly. It’s just another step, an unbelievably big one, but not the only thing I want to talk to the players about when we meet in 20 years’ time.”

Klopp’s side lead the table by 23 points and could set a new record for a winning margin, surpassing the 19-point gap City enjoyed two seasons ago when they amassed a record 100 points.

“There is a gap there and I don’t think there will ever be a similar gap, although we need to see how big it is at the end of the season,” Klopp said. “It’s obvious City are an outstanding team, (Manchester) United are in outstanding shape and Chelsea are in really good shape and doing some interesting business so that’s clear. Tottenham will not sleep, Arsenal will not sleep, Leicester are there… lots of teams.”

Klopp received some good news this week when the African Cup of Nations was moved from January next year to 2022 – meaning he will not be without the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita during what could be a crucial stage.

“I like that Afcon is postponed but don’t like the reasons for it,” Klopp said. “It’s good for us but not a decision to celebrate.”

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