Liverpool must steady title challenge as chasing pack close in

Liverpool must steady title challenge as chasing pack close in

© AFP 2022
updated at February 9, 2024 at 2:03 AM
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Liverpool must come to terms with a rare domestic loss as the Premier League leaders fight to get back on track this weekend.

Beaten at Arsenal last Sunday, if Jurgen Klopp's side slip up again at home to Burnley, then either Manchester City or the Gunners could knock Liverpool out of pole position.

AFP Sport looks at three key talking points ahead of the latest round of matches:

Title destiny in Liverpool's hands

Jurgen Klopp has told his Liverpool players to "create their own destiny" in the title race, starting with Saturday's visit from struggling Burnley.

After losing 3-1 against third-placed Arsenal last weekend, Klopp's men are just two points ahead of second-placed Manchester City, with Mikel Arteta's Gunners also trailing the leaders by the same margin.

It was only Liverpool's second league defeat this term and Klopp said: "We didn't lose recently an awful lot of football games, we know that.

"That means dealing with defeats is a challenge, for humankind actually. Nobody here expects that we just will fly over Burnley or whatever."

Klopp, in the midst of his final season in charge of Liverpool, knows his side can ill-afford to crash against second-bottom Burnley and he called on them to seize the moment rather than fear it.

"It's a home game and we can turn things around, meaning the first step, and then we will see," he said.

"Nobody celebrates the champion and nobody is relegated as far as I know, so we have all the chance to create our own destiny."

'Humble' Arsenal ready for photo finish

Arsenal's Martin Odegaard
Arsenal's Martin Odegaard. Photo: Ian Kington / IKIMAGES/AFP/File
Source: AFP

Martin Odegaard insists Arsenal will remain "humble" after being criticised by some pundits for 'over-celebrating' their vital victory against Liverpool.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta embarked on a jubilant jig down the touchline after Leandro Trossard's stoppage-time goal killed off their title rivals at the raucous Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal captain Odegaard led the post-match celebrations on the pitch, taking a camera from the club's photographer to snap the joyous scenes following a result which reignited his team's bid for a first title since 2004.

"I think everyone who loves football, who understands football, they know how much it means to win this game. And if you're not allowed to celebrate when you win a game, when are you allowed to celebrate?" he said.

"We're happy with the win and we'll stay humble. It was a massive game. As you say it could have been eight points (if we'd lost) and it would look a lot more difficult then but we showed up."

Arsenal, who blew an eight-point lead in the title race last season, can keep the pressure on Liverpool with a victory in Sunday's London derby at West Ham.

Champions Manchester City host Everton on Saturday aiming to stay one step ahead of Arsenal.

Blunt Blades face crunch clash

Sheffield United midfielder James McAtee
Sheffield United midfielder James McAtee. Photo: Darren Staples / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has warned his players to block out the narrative that they are destined for relegation.

The Blades sit bottom of the Premier League, 10 points from safety, after last week's 5-0 hammering by Aston Villa.

Time is running out to avoid an immediate return to the Championship and Wilder's side are desperate to beat fellow strugglers Luton on Saturday.

United would cut the gap on fourth-bottom Luton to seven points with victory at Kenilworth Road, but a loss could be fatal to their survival bid.

"The narrative will be how well they're doing as a promoted side and how poor we are at the moment," Wilder said.

"We have to try and turn that into a positive. There's no hiding place in the Premier League."

Fixtures (all times GMT):

Saturday (1500 unless stated)

Fulham v Bournemouth, Liverpool v Burnley, Luton v Sheffield United, Manchester City v Everton (1230), Nottingham Forest v Newcastle (1730), Tottenham v Brighton, Wolves v Brentford

Sunday

Aston Villa v Manchester United (1630), West Ham v Arsenal (1400)

Monday

Crystal Palace v Chelsea (2000)

Authors
© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022