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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Klopp: League title is up for grabs

Liverpool boss sets the bar high as he juggles his strikers

Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA Wire
Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA Wire
Daniel Sturridge trained fully yesterday but is likely to be eased back into action by Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA Wire

Confident Jurgen Klopp has thrown Liverpool's hat into the ring as potential Premier League champions as the curtain rises on the most open season in many years.

Claiming that "everything is possible", before Liverpool travel to the Emirates for a season opener against Arsenal, Klopp believes that nobody can make a true assessment of the race ahead until the window slams on the transfer window in two weeks' time.

Liverpool are currently luxuriating in the possession of six strikers, even if one of them is Mario Balotelli, and Klopp clearly believes that he still has work to do in the transfer market.

With all of the top clubs in a similar state of flux, Klopp is playing a waiting game.

"Having six strikers is too comfortable. But we won't be giving presents to other clubs," he said.

West Brom and Crystal Palace are in the market for Christian Benteke and Klopp's words would suggest that there is some negotiating to do before that deal will be done.

"At 11pm on August 31 is the time for everyone. Until then we will be ready to react to different scenarios," he said.

Targets

Klopp has set ambitious targets for his players and clearly believes that his squad can challenge for the title.

"We will all have problems and it's about finding the solutions. We have tried to prepare for that in this pre-season," he said.

"We want to fight for everything. We're not looking for excuses. In this moment, for Liverpool everything is possible," claimed Klopp.

The German will offload Balotelli and Benteke before the deadline if he can and allow Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings and David Origi to slug it out with new signing Saido Mane for the right to lead the Liverpool line.

But he will leave it to natural competition and the evidence of his eyes to decide on which pairing works best. He will allow results to dictate his selections.

"That depends on the results we have actually. When everything is perfect, it's all about timing.

"If you're involved in the perfect game and it looks like you can perform in the next game, it's a better position for the player who's involved that's for sure.

"But I don't make decisions four weeks in advance, why should I?" he asked.

"The quality we have, there's obviously quality, we have to use and that's another challenge.

"The players who won't start for example, making sure that they're still confident and feel they are an important part of our game. Their performance and shape are really important for us and they can't have the feeling we don't care about them.

"That's all we have to do but it's pretty unlikely we'll start games with four or five strikers in one game.

"In this moment I have a clear idea of how we want to start but it's only the start, nothing else."

Sturridge trained fully yesterday, now recovered from a hip injury but Klopp will tread warily with his brittle striker.

"Daniel was involved in team training but he missed a lot of sessions in his pre-season. He started later and then missed a few sessions. We have to make a decision what we do with him."

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is already feeling the heat created by a summer of massive spending and the arrival of some galactico managers.

"I'm feeling even more anxiety. The top clubs have new ambition so it promises to be a very exciting season and difficult one as well," he said.

He may be the elder statesman among Premier League managers but with his reputation on the line while he tries desperately to deliver Arsenal's first title since 2004, he will renew an old and bitter rivalry with José Mourinho and trade blows with Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Klopp. .

Wenger has also told Arsenal supporters not to be concerned by the news that Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are yet to agree new deals with the club. The pair have less than two years to run on their respective contracts and talks have been taking place for some time.

"They (Arsenal fans) have no reason to be concerned. At the moment we have priorities, and most of the time contract extensions are done outside the window because it gives you a bit more time and focus on that."

ARSENAL v Liverpool, TOMORROW, 4pm, Sky Sports 1

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