WOLVERHAMPTON, England — Jurgen Klopp played down the significance of his Liverpool side sitting atop of the Premier League at Christmas due to the strength of competition this season.
Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday sees them move four points clear of reigning champions Manchester City, who host Crystal Palace on Saturday.
“Somebody said the last four times, the team who was first in the table at Christmas won the league, but was it ever such a tight race?” Klopp said at a news conference.
“If all the other teams win tomorrow, then I think three or four teams have more than 40 points, which is really exceptional.
“If you want to do the headline ‘Klopp says you need 105 points to become champion’ then do it, but we don’t think about it.
“I didn’t think before, and I don’t think about it after. I just try to answer in a polite way.– Breaking down ESPN’s scoring system
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring at Molineux with a clinical finish in the 18th minute before Virgil van Dijk scored his second goal for Liverpool later in the second half.
“Very mature,” Klopp said of Liverpool’s performance. “Such a difficult game to play, because all the things we want to do, everything you usually do, you take a bit of a risk. Especially with the rain tonight, heavy rain, it made it a little bit more complicated.
“The best thing to do to stay in charge of the game is to keep the ball. We did that in the first half an hour and in the second half — the last 15 minutes of the first half we had a little break and they immediately fired the ball from right to left or left to right, and then you have to run like crazy. It’s a good decision to stay in charge of the game, and second half we could do that again.
“Both goals really were nothing to do with what we did in the game. We were really quick in mind around two set pieces which was brilliant.
“Good game, deserved win at a difficult place. All good.”
Van Dijk overcame illness to deliver an outstanding performance against Wolves that earned the acclaim of his manager and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.
The world’s most expensive defender has been key to a Liverpool backline that has kept 11 league clean sheets so far this season. The last time Liverpool won the top flight in 1989-90 they recorded 12 shutouts in total.
“It was a bit of a tough day for me anyway,” the centre-half told Sky Sports. “I had a bit of a cold, so I wasn’t 100 percent.
“But these nights are very important for us and we won here. Obviously that’s a big step for us.
“We know how to grind games out, we know how to keep it tight, especially with our midfield in front of us. Teams are getting dangerous, but it’s how we react. I think today there were a couple moments when they were dangerous, but we did well.”