Klopp calls on Liverpool to 'create basis' for season before World Cup break

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Jurgen Klopp emphasised the importance of the three Premier League matches Liverpool will play before the World Cup break as they look to recover ground on their rivals.

Liverpool took the title fight all the way to the final day of the 2021-22 season, narrowly losing out to Manchester City, but they enter this weekend down in eighth, 12 points behind leaders Arsenal.

Ahead of the season pausing next month, the Reds will face Leeds United on Saturday, before visiting Tottenham after a Champions League clash with Napoli and hosting Southampton following an EFL Cup tie against Derby County.

Klopp's side at least head into the Leeds game on a high, having secured their progress in Europe with a 3-0 win at Ajax.

Since losing 4-1 at Napoli, Liverpool have been flawless in the Champions League, although they have only won one of the three domestic matches that have followed directly after European successes.

Asked about the prospect of taking confidence from the win in Amsterdam, Klopp replied: "I think we've had this conversation or a similar conversation after all the games we won or won convincingly – Bournemouth, Rangers, Ajax."

But he added: "We have to. It's a better feeling. Of course, I sit here with a different feeling than if we'd lost to Ajax and we had to play Leeds and then we have a final against Napoli.

"I would feel different, I can tell you. At the moment, it's not too important.

"We have to see who we can use again. The situation is it's a tough five games until the World Cup break; for us, they're all super important.

"Then there's a long break and we'll see how we come back and how others come back.

"We have to create the basis for the time after, and we have three games in the league, which are all difficult. I can't find an easy one. After the World Cup break, we are the first to face Unai Emery with Aston Villa, and we have no idea what they will do then. Great.

"That's our situation. Yes, the moment is okay, we are ready to fight again, I hope the people are ready to fight again.

"It's 19:45, Saturday night, a great time to play a football game. Everybody is in the right shape, and let's go for it."

For opponents Leeds, Klopp has seen "a massive difference between the results they got and the performance they put in".

It was suggested Leeds' struggles might be evidence of a highly competitive Premier League, and Klopp answered: "City is not running away, which makes it already more competitive.

"There is not only two teams or one team up front; there are three, four, five teams up front. My problem with that is only that we are not one of them."

Five points behind Newcastle United in fourth, let alone the title contenders, Klopp is looking to swiftly get Liverpool back on track.

He should at least be boosted by the presence of Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson in midfield. Thiago is back, while Henderson should "be okay" after he was substituted at Ajax.