Jurgen Klopp responded to Pep Guardiola’s suggestion that he could rest the players for Manchester City’s decisive potential against Chelsea, comparing his rival to a poker player.
Liverpool’s overwhelming 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Wednesday night means City will relinquish its Premier League crown if they fail to win at Chelsea on Thursday.
Guardiola had suggested that he could rest the players for the Stamford Bridge clash, with Sunday’s trip to Newcastle providing a much more realistic route to silverware for City while trying to keep the FA Cup.
A 5-0 win over Burnley on Monday saw Guardiola make eight changes from the team that had beaten Arsenal 3-0 five days earlier, with players like Raheem Sterling on the bench and Kevin de Bruyne limited to a substitute role.
But Klopp was not convinced that Guardiola would do Liverpool any favors in his team’s selection to face Frank Lampard’s team in fourth place.
“Pep, you should probably play poker,” Klopp said when asked if he thought Guardiola would rest his best players.
Klopp’s team has eliminated the City’s Premier League title defense this season, but the Liverpool boss insisted he had the utmost respect for the Reds’ rivals.
“Man City, I couldn’t respect them any more,” he said. “What a soccer team it is, it’s incredible. The soccer they play, I like it a lot. We are different, we cannot be like Man City.”
Meanwhile, Klopp praised his “exceptional” and “surprising” Liverpool team as they prepared for the formality of a first league crown in 30 years.
“My boys played as if the stadium was full,” said a delighted Klopp after Liverpool swept Palace off in a one-sided competition at Anfield.
“The atmosphere in the field was incredible. It was exceptional, incredible, I really liked it.
“You shouldn’t underestimate how much these teams want it.”
“The attitude and passion shown were exceptional and so was part of soccer.
“They were all brilliant goals and I would not choose one over the other.
“The back pressure was incredible. Towards the end, we had four players pressing a poor Palace player as if he had the only ball on this planet. “
Palace was ignored by the first half goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah and the second half attacks by Fabinho and Sadio Mane.
And Salah said: “Since I came here I said that I wanted to win the Premier League. We haven’t won it in a long time. Now is our time to earn it. “
If City beat Chelsea on Thursday night, Liverpool can secure the title by avoiding defeat at Etihad next Thursday.
“I will watch the city game not because we can become champions but because we play them next week and we also have Chelsea to play for.” I have to see it, “Klopp smiled.
“We are not planning celebrations or anything. It will happen when it happens. “
Without first-choice goalkeeper Vincente Guaita, Palace lost Wilfried Zaha from the start and never posed a remote threat to the elected champions.
Palace Chief Roy Hodgson said: “Liverpool’s desire and determination is amazing. I congratulate you on two incredible seasons. “
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