LONDON, April 2 – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has piled pressure on Tottenham by warning the title chasers they must win at Anfield on Saturday to remain in with a chance of catching leaders Leicester.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side trail Leicester by five points and with just seven matches left they cannot afford any slip-ups if they are to win the English crown for the first time since 1961.
Klopp knows Tottenham have a poor record at Anfield, with just four wins in the last 69 league meetings on Merseyside.
And the German, whose ninth placed side are chasing a Europa League berth, believes the weight of history may prove a significant burden for Tottenham, who need a victory to close the gap on Leicester ahead of the leaders’ clash with Southampton on Sunday.
“Usually it is not important for us to think about the situation of the other team, but in this special case I think it makes sense to know about it,” Klopp said.
“This is a pretty good year to become champion because a lot of clubs who fight for this title are usually not involved. There is pressure for teams at the top and we will see who handles it better.
“This is the decisive third for Tottenham and if you want to become champion of the Premier League, for Tottenham especially, this year is a good opportunity.
“No-one knows what will happen to Tottenham next year, if players leave or not. This year they have a good situation with injuries — no important players were really injured.
“Maybe for Tottenham it is like a final. They have to win it to put pressure on Leicester.”
He added: “When Tottenham play against Liverpool, it is usually not a birthday party — it is a hard fight.”
Leicester continue their unlikely quest to win the title with Alex Ferguson among those backing them to be crowned champions.
Claudio Ranieri’s men host Southampton with their first ever top-flight title within touching distance just a year after they narrowly avoided relegation.
– Unbelievable energy –
For weeks now pundits have been asking when Leicester will slip-up but the long forecast collapse has yet to come and, with seven matches remaining, former Manchester United manager Ferguson does not expect the Foxes to falter.
“Leicester have got the bit between their teeth, they’ve been the best team without question throughout the season and they deserve to win it,” Ferguson, who won 13 English championships during his trophy-laden reign at Old Trafford, told Sky Sports.
“You would think their inexperience would count, but Leicester have unbelievable energy and togetherness that suggests they’re going to see it through.
“For instance, they’ve won their last few games 1-0. I had a season at United where we had eight 1-0 victories and that won us the league.”
Ferguson also praised the contribution of Italian manager Ranieri.
“I don’t see any nerves and that’s down to the manager, he’s brought a calming influence. It’s fantastic, they are a breath of fresh air and it’s great for the game.”
Third-placed Arsenal, currently 11 points adrift of Leicester, are still just about in the title race but Arsene Wenger’s men face Watford on Saturday knowing that any more dropped points are likely to spell the end of their hopes.
“Looking at our season so far, we have to be honest and admit that we screwed up ourselves,” said candid Gunners playmaker Mesut Ozil.
West Ham will continue their push for a top-four place at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday while Manchester United, who also have 50 points, are at home to Everton on Sunday.
Manchester City, clinging on to fourth place, travel to Bournemouth on Saturday.
At the other end of the table, basement club Aston Villa welcome Chelsea to Villa Park in their first match since sacking French manager Remi Garde.
Second-bottom Newcastle are at Norwich, just above the relegation zone, in a crunch match for both clubs while Sunderland, also in the bottom three, face West Bromwich Albion.
Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated)
Arsenal v Watford, Aston Villa v Chelsea (1145 GMT), Bournemouth v Manchester City, Liverpool v Tottenham (1630 GMT), Norwich v Newcastle, Stoke v Swansea, Sunderland v West Brom, West Ham v Crystal Palace
Leicester v Southampton (1230 GMT), Manchester United v Everton (1500 GMT)