Jürgen Klopp insists Liverpool relish the pressure of Champions League race ahead of West Ham trip

Jürgen Klopp insists Liverpool relish the pressure of Champions League race ahead of West Ham trip

Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp believes to be under pressure at this stage of the season should be a viewed as a positive because it means the Reds are competing for something meaningful.

Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp insists he is relishing the pressure of Liverpool's run-in as the club look to seal a return to the Champions League.

The Reds travel to West Ham United this Sunday in their penultimate Premier League game of the season knowing that another victory would leave them just three points off a return to Europe's top table.

Klopp's charges control their own destiny but with Arsenal having the opportunity to close the gap to just one point if they win their game in hand, they cannot afford any slip-ups for it to remain that way.

But the manager insists Liverpool should not let the weight of expectation get on top of them.

Asked about the magnitude of this weekend's trip to the London Stadium, Klopp declared it "as significant as the last few" and said: "I've said it before, it always felt like if we don't win then this and this happens. It's something you have to learn by."

He acknowledged that "the pressure is coming at the end of the season" but looked at it as a positive, insisting that "you don't go for anything" at this stage of the season "if you have no pressure."

The German explained that Liverpool have "this kind of pressure" because of where they are in the table and because their competitors are "really strong."

But he insisted that Liverpool "are strong also" and that while they face "a difficult game" against West Ham, it is "more than 100 per-cent possible" that they can win a "very important" game.

"We are focused already and we will be focused on our job," Klopp continued. "I'm in a positive mood actually because I really like it [this pressure]. I'm really looking forward to it. They are the things you want to have in my job, situations like this." 

"We are expecting to face the best West Ham"

The Hammers overcame a top-eight team for the first time this season last time out as they defeated Tottenham Hotspur at home, ending their nine-game winning streak in the process.

And Klopp noted the improvement that Slaven Bilić's side showed in that 1-0 victory, calling it "in a few parts their best performance for a long time."

The Liverpool boss noted that "the physical data" showed "a big, big jump in all the stats" compared to previous games, in particular their "running, high-intensity running and all that stuff" which showed "what they are capable of."

"I don't know enough about it but what I got aware of was that obviously Bilić was, if only from the media side, a little bit under pressure and the team wanted to show that they want to work together [with him] in the next season," he added.

Klopp hailed "a good performance" against Tottenham though he suggested the North London side were "not at their best on this night" while Spurs "were very aggressive", "defended really well" and also "used their opportunities."

But he warned that is is one single piece of information "out of a lot" that they can consider going into Sunday's meeting, insisting that they "always expect the strongest opponent because nothing else would make sense."

"We know about their qualities but also about ours, and that's what we want to bring in the game," said Klopp.

Klopp claims he knew West Ham would steer clear of bottom three

West Ham have altered their approach in recent weeks, injuries resulting in a change to a three-man back-line in the last three games. 

Bilic’s team have put together a five-game unbeaten streak in the top flight, with the Croatian employing a three-man central defence for their last three matches.

Klopp was asked for his view on the improvements the Hammers have made in recent weeks and noted how long-term injuries to "very decisive players" such as Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll meant they needed "time to adapt."

"You have a few runs [of results], [some] positive, sometimes negative, and now again positive but of course, everybody knows with the quality of West Ham there is no chance of [them] getting relegated," Klopp said.

The Reds boss insisted that he was "never in doubt" over the Hammers' quality, revealing he knows the manager and the assistant manager "even better" so he "always knew they would have a solution for the season."