Friday 24 January 2020

Firmino admits Reds hit post in title run last time

Attacker believes momentum better for Liverpool this term

Roberto Firmino is fully aware that the title was within Liverpool’s grasp last season
Roberto Firmino is fully aware that the title was within Liverpool’s grasp last season
Liverpool’s Fabinho is back in full training
Liverpool’s Joel Matip, pictured with Jurgen Klopp, is back in full training

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino insists the players have to keep their heads in the right place as they seek to close out the club's first title in 30 years.

The Brazil international said the Reds "hit the post" after they finished a point behind Manchester City with a record tally for a second-placed team last season.

But having established a 14-point lead, with a match in hand, having dropped just two points from a possible 63 in the current campaign, many pundits are already handing the championship to Jurgen Klopp's side.

However, Firmino stressed the squad are not thinking like that.

"Last year we hit the post in the Premier League, we were upset of course that we didn't win," he told Premier League Productions.

"We have a chance this season, it's in our hands. We need to keep it up, working hard, following this path with our heads in the right place and a winning mentality.

"We'll take things game by game and keep this strong champions mentality up until the end and see where it takes us.

"Of course we're more confident this season. We've been winning all our games, this increases our confidence game by game.

"We have to continue with this momentum."

Klopp has once again declared his appreciation for Firmino after the win against Spurs, describing the forward - voted 17th in the Ballon d'Or rankings last month - as "super".

The relationship between manager and player has been strong since the moment Klopp was appointed Reds boss, with Firmino now on 75 goals for the club having been integral to the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup triumphs in 2019.

Asked how Klopp has changed his game, the 28-year-old said: "A lot, I knew him from playing against Dortmund in Germany.

"I was happy, of course, when I found out he was coming here, as he was German and I'd played there as well and I have a bit of the German mentality.

"He changed the club a lot generally, in every way, tactically, mentally. Today we are what we are, not just because of him but he's responsible for a large portion of our transformation, so I'm really happy to be playing under him, he's a great coach."

Liverpool duo Fabinho and Joel Matip returned to full training yesterday ahead of the massiveSunday clash with Manchester United.

Midfielder Fabinho has been out since an ankle injury forced him off in the 1-1 draw with Napoli on November 27, while centre-back Matip has not played since Liverpool last met Manchester United on October 20 when he suffered a recurrence of the knee injury he first picked up in the win at Sheffield United.

Dejan Lovren is also recovering well from his hamstring injury but the defender has not returned to full training yet.

Nevertheless, his comeback is not too far away which has enabled Red boss Jurgen Klopp to send Nathaniel Phillips back on loan to Stuttgart after he was recalled for the Merseyside derby in the FA Cup and to provide cover from the bench against Tottenham.

It means Klopp is now close to having his four main centre-backs fully fit.

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