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Monday 24 July 2017

Klopp has no more excuses as rivals hand him gilt-edged chance

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp faces Watford tonight with a great chance of pushing on for a top four Premier League spot
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp faces Watford tonight with a great chance of pushing on for a top four Premier League spot

Talk about an open goal. Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have no excuse for missing out on Champions League football now.

Every time they lose momentum and drop points to lesser clubs, rivals Manchester United and City do the same and this time they cancelled each other out in the derby last week to leak two more dropped points.

Only Chelsea remain strong and consistent, able to repair damage done by surprise setbacks and to be fair, Spurs continue to show that they have made progess.

Every time circumstances have asked a question of Antonio Conte, he has come up with the right answers. The only real blip was at Old Trafford but they bounced back from that quickly and should now drive on to the line.

I know Everton have been patchy but a 3-0 win at Goodison Park is a result to put in the bank and backs up Conte's promise to finish the season as champions and avoid a dogfight with Spurs.

Impressed

I've been impressed with the way Tottenham have stuck with the task and are showing up clubs with much bigger budgets.

Mauricio Pochettino is a realistic man, perhaps too realistic for the Premier League and when he talked about how proud he is because his players are now talked about as title contenders in a serious way, eyebrows were raised.

He was mocked for that by some but I think he was simply telling the truth and not trying to tout Spurs as something they are not.

He doesn't believe he has the finished article yet and he's right. I like that honesty.

What I like most about Spurs is the defence and it's great to see there are still some good defenders around. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have been stand-out performers all season.

Klopp could do with them or a few like them. He has been a straight talker so far but that defeat by Palace stretched his patience to the limit and his defenders cost three points.

I've been happy to run with the narrative that he needs better players and when he has them, Liverpool will have a real chance. He really must spend well this summer.

I think the impact of the stadium development at Anfield on his ability to spend big money has been understated and provides a ready explanation for why he has done very little business in three transfer windows.

Arsene Wenger got stuck in a rut because of financial restrictions and we are seeing the final act in that drama play out but I don't expect Klopp to be so stingy or his employers to be restrictive.

I don't want to hear a word about a transfer committee, just good news about good players coming to Anfield.

I'm hoping he will get cash and I'm hoping he can keep his brittle players on track for Champions League football to make sure that John Henry hands over the cheque book.

As things stand, I'm very nervous about Watford and that is ridiculous. Why am I looking through their line-up for potential problems and terrified that Liverpool's weak underbelly will reappear?

It struck me watching Liverpool lose at home to Palace again last week that I would love to have played against this team, a sentiment I'm sure Sam Allardyce would understand.

These Liverpool players look like they are easy to rattle, easy to get at physically and once you're under their skin, easy to beat.

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