Jurgen Klopp claimed Liverpool „do not have Manchester City on their toes yet“ in the Premier League title race despite their 2-0 home victory over Leicester.
It was a largely routine win for Liverpool at Anfield thanks to goals in either half from man-of-the-match Digo Jota, whose performance was praised by Klopp, along with that of new signing Luis Diaz.
The victory sees Liverpool go nine points behind Pep Guardiola’s side at the top of the Premier League while having a game in hand, but Klopp does not think the gap is enough to trouble the reigning champions.
„I am not sure we’re in a position to get them on their toes, to be honest,“ he said. „Actually, we have no chance to catch them, but it doesn’t mean we won’t play the best possible season for us.
„First and foremost, we have to win our football games and this club is massive. Since I’m here, I can’t remember a game we lost and everyone said ‘yeah, we can lose that game’, so it’s always the same situation.
„There’s a game, we put on the shirts and we have to win it. It doesn’t work out all the time, but thankfully it’s happened a couple of times.
„It was really important tonight for us to win because there’s not only Man City to catch or whatever, there are lots of teams behind us who want to get closer and that’s a very important task as well.
„I don’t think they smell our breath already, but we just try to win football games.“
‘Diaz already looks like a Liverpool player’ | ‘Jota has not hit his limit’
Klopp handed a Premier League debut to January singing Diaz against Leicester, and it was an impressive showing as the winger looked to have already adapted well to life at Liverpool.
The manager said of his new player: „When we saw him playing for Porto, we thought ‘yes, that’s exactly what we want him to do as well’. On top of that, he seems to be a really smart footballer and has obviously watched us quite a lot.
„We don’t want to overload new players with information in the first week and tell them everything we want from them in one week. But we took a look and he looked like a Liverpool player, it’s true.
„The situation was made for it because Sadio (Mane) only came home last night and is probably still in bed. Mo, after four times with 120 minutes [at AFCON], it was clear he would not start as well so the situation was there and he enjoyed the game.“
Jota took his tally to 17 goals for the season as he popped up again with more decisive goals for Liverpool, with Klopp sure the forward has not yet hit his full potential.
„He is obviously in a really good goalscoring moment, which is incredibly helpful. It is always helpful, but it was now in the absence of Mo and Sadio extremely helpful,“ said Klopp.
„We knew he was good, but we had no idea how good, or where his limit is, or where he can go and I am not sure he is already there, he is just improving.
„If you speak to him you will realise he is a really smart person, so he will judge all that right and then will use that for the next steps.
„Diogo was not a bargain, it was not as if we got him for free. The first thing that was obvious about him was his potential that was there, the work-rate that he puts in – that was the most important.
„If you have that then there is always space for improvement. He’s still a really young lad so you have to make the next steps in the team with us where we create much more chances than, with all due respect, Wolves did.
„You need a bit of fantasy for that and imagination, but we really thought he would be an outstanding player. He was already when he came here but he has improved.“
Rodgers: Tonight about restoring pride
For Leicester, there was a clear reaction to their FA Cup exit at the hands of Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest. They were improved from the weekend defeat, even though the result did not go in their favour.
Manager Brendan Rodgers told BT Sport: „Tonight was not just about the result but about restoring pride. You saw the supporters clapping the players off. They gave everything and had moments of quality.
„We kept a really tough team in it until the very end. We just lacked that bit of care in the final third of the pitch otherwise we could have made more chances.
„You have to be tight and organised and when you have the ball, have the courage to play and I thought the boys did that. I think our two centre-halves did great. Wilfred Ndidi got caught in the pack for the first goal and Virgil van Dijk had a free header. It’s been an ongoing problem for us. It’s definitely an area we have to improve on.
„You have to grind it through. The players are much happier with that performance and the spirit. It’s a challenge after a challenge. When you get that consistency with centre-backs it gives you balance and unfortunately that’s been difficult for us. We will keep pushing and take that spirit into the next weekend.“