Jurgen Klopp happy Liverpool are within ‘beating distance’ of Premier League top four

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he is happy to be within “striking distance” of the top four as he looks to bid for Champions League football in the second half of the season.

Inconsistent results meant the Reds went into the World Cup break in sixth place, seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham – albeit with a game in hand – and a massive 15 off leaders Arsenal.

But a run of eight wins in 10 games before the Premier League’s suspension suggested they had erased those scrappy results and – although their return to action saw the defense of their Carabao Cup end at the hands of Manchester City – Klopp has his eyes on a renewed battle.

“We obviously left a gap between us and the much more exciting places in the table but we consider ourselves at the moment to be within striking distance and that means we have to chase and that’s what we will do,” he said ahead of Boxing Day. trip to Aston Villa.

“I saw good signs [against City on Thursday]. I wasn’t happy with everything, I didn’t like our counter-press to be honest – it was pretty much non-existent.

“But all the players who are back from the World Cup now are really looking at it, it’s very important.

“I think some of them could really gain confidence even when it probably wasn’t that low before, but a good WC, like for Hendo [Jordan Henderson] for example is certainly helpful.

“So we’re really looking forward to what’s to come but we know it’s intense. There’s never any guarantees out there and I can imagine at Arsenal everyone is buzzing to go again, City you saw [on Thursday]they have expectations and ambitions.”

Klopp is likely to restore the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold (illness), goalkeeper Alisson Becker and centre-back Virgil Van Dijk (both rested) in as strong a squad as he can field with only France’s Ibrahima Konate yet to return from the match. World Cup.

For most of his players, the final month in Qatar ended in disappointment – some more than others such as Alexander-Arnold, who managed just half an hour for England, and Fabinho, who managed one game for Brazil.

But after returning to the club fold, Klopp believes there will be no hangover.

“I don’t know who it would be. Virg played a good World Cup but they didn’t go very far, for example,” he added when asked if he had had to deal with the disappointment of some players.

“I don’t think Fabinho or Trent lost any kind of confidence just because they didn’t play that many minutes. It’s not about that.

“Darwin [Nunez], no sign of it and all these things. For some it is a lift and for others it is a normal situation.

“Football players are used to dealing with adversity or missing expectations or goals. It happens pretty much every year, so we don’t carry it with us for too long. No, I’m not worried about that.”

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