Jürgen Klopp has claimed Liverpool’s FA Cup exit does not hand his team an advantage in the title race despite Manchester City’s heavier workload.
Whereas City remain in both domestic cup competitions Liverpool have several free weeks ahead of league duties, having been knocked out of the FA and Carabao Cups in the third round. Klopp will have a week to prepare for Crystal Palace following Saturday’s visit to Brighton, then 11 days before hosting Leicester at Anfield, plus five clear days before games against West Ham, Bournemouth and Manchester United.
Liverpool also have a 10-day break before their Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich, because of their departure from the FA Cup. However, with several defensive injuries to contend with, Klopp maintains the schedule provides no clear advantage over their title rivals. “There’s no advantage. If you have all your players available it’s brilliant that you can play them always and make little changes. Usually centre-halves you don’t have to change too often because they could play pretty much a whole season. Like we did in the first half of the season, it was brilliant, we could make changes and everything.
“That’s not different to if we came through December without injuries – unfortunately we didn’t come through 100%. I think if you want to put a bet on having three centre-halves injured in the same moment you could win a lot of money. It happened and was a bit of bad luck. That makes it a bit tricky but that’s all and now we have to use our situation.
“Why should we compare it with other situations? Other teams played more games, they are still in competitions, but they can deal with it. We could deal with it as well with the right number of players, that’s how it is, but that’s all. There’s no advantage, we have to use the time. You can do a lot of wrong things when you have a week to train. You have to use the time and really be week in, week out the best shape we can be.”
Dejan Lovren will be sidelined until after Palace’s visit on 19 January having sustained a hamstring injury in the Cup defeat at Wolves on Monday. Joël Matip is back in training following a shoulder injury but unlikely to start against Brighton, meaning a central defensive role for Fabinho.
Klopp also said Rafael Camacho, the 18-year-old who is a target for Sporting Lisbon, would not be allowed to leave on loan this month.