Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool are ignoring what title rivals Manchester City are doing – while his under-pressure Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho still believes in a top-four finish.
The Reds returned to the top of the table, one point ahead of City, with a 3-1 win over United, who are already 19 points off the pace and 11 behind the top four.
There was no doubting whose ambition was greater at Anfield, where the hosts had 33 shots to their opponents’ five, in a game where Mourinho sent on Marouane Fellaini at half-time with the score at 1-1 and Klopp responded by introducing Xherdan Shaqiri with 20 minutes to go
The Switzerland international proved to be the match-winner with his two goals.
It was an important response after City briefly went back to the top of the table but Klopp stressed he has no interest in Pep Guardiola’s side, who they lead by one point with a chance to extend that in Friday night’s match at Wolves.
“We ignored it completely. I didn’t mention it one time,” Klopp said of City’s 3-1 Saturday lunchtime win over Everton.
“We know the table, just are you focused on it or not. We played against Man United and not Man United and City.
“When we eat and train together we are not saying, ‘Did you see what City did?’.
“We are focused on what we need to do and will there come a moment in the season where we are still around them and we start hoping they drop points or whatever.
“But at the moment we respect them a lot and they respect us. We meet them on January 3 and then we will think about them.”
Mourinho’s hopes of making the top four already look remote as they are so far off the pace of even Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League place.
But asked if he was confident of making up that margin, Mourinho said: “Yes, I think (we can).
“What gives me that belief? It gives me the belief that we are going to make much more points in the second part of the season than we did in the first part.
“I know that we lost some other matches, but we played away at Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City away – probably the three best teams apart from Tottenham.
“But we play with them away. I think we have more possibility to do more points in the second part of the season than the first part.”
To make up that ground his side will have to show more ambition than they did at Anfield, where they were lucky to be level at half-time after Sadio Mane’s brilliant opener was cancelled out after a howler by goalkeeper Alisson Becker saw Jesse Lingard score from close range.
However, a bold approach paid off the for the hosts, with Shaqiri making a massive impact coming off the bench.