Jurgen Klopp responded to Pep Guardiola’s suggestion he may rest players for Manchester City’s potential title-decider against Chelsea – by comparing his rival to a poker player.
Liverpool’s thumping 4-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday night means City will relinquish their Premier League crown if they fail to win at Chelsea on Thursday.
Guardiola had suggested he could rest players for the Stamford Bridge clash, with Sunday’s trip to Newcastle providing a much more realistic route to silverware for City as they bid to retain the FA Cup.
A 5-0 win over Burnley on Monday saw Guardiola make eight changes from the team which had beaten Arsenal 3-0 five days earlier, with the likes of Raheem Sterling on the bench and Kevin de Bruyne limited to a subs’ role.
But Klopp wasn’t convinced that Guardiola would do Liverpool any favours in his team selection to face Frank Lampard’s fourth-placed side.
“Pep, he should play poker probably,” said Klopp when asked if he thought Guardiola would rest his top players.
Klopp’s side have blown away City’s Premier League title defence this season, but the Liverpool boss insisted he had the utmost respect for the Reds’ rivals.
“Man City, I couldn’t respect them more,” he said. “What a football team that is, it is unbelievable. The football they play, I really like a lot. We are different, we cannot be like Man City.”
Meanwhile, Klopp hailed his “exceptional” and “amazing” Liverpool team as they prepared for the formality of a first league crown in 30 years.
“My boys played like the stadium was full,” said a delighted Klopp after Liverpool swept Palace aside in a one-sided contest at Anfield.
“The atmosphere on the pitch was incredible. It was exceptional, amazing, I liked it a lot.
“You should not underestimate how much this teams wants it.
“The attitude and passion shown was exceptional and so was some of the football.
“They were all brilliant goals and I would not choose one above the other.
“The counter-pressing was amazing. Towards the end, we had four players pressing one poor Palace player as though he had the only ball on this planet.”
Palace were brushed aside by first half goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah and second half strikes from Fabinho and Sadio Mane.
And Salah said: “Since I came here I said I wanted to win the Premier League. We haven’t won it for a long time. Now is our time to win it.”
If City do beat Chelsea on Thursday night, Liverpool can clinch the title by avoiding defeat at the Etihad next Thursday.
“I will watch City’s game not because we could become champions but because we play them next week and we have Chelsea to play as well. I have to watch it,” smiled Klopp.
“We are not planning celebrations or anything. It will happen when it happens.”
Already without first-choice keeper Vincente Guaita, Palace lost Wilfried Zaha early on and never posed a remote threat to the champions-elect.
Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “Liverpool’s desire and determination is amazing. I congratulate them on two amazing seasons.”
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