‘It is possible’: Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp tells Pep Guardiola title race is still on

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<span>Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP</span>
Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

Jürgen Klopp has said if he was in Pep Guardiola’s shoes he would not consider the title race to be over despite Liverpool requiring an unlikely series of events on the final day of the season to prevent Manchester City from retaining their Premier League crown.

Liverpool, who came from behind to brush aside Southampton on Tuesday, will topple the leaders and keep alive their hopes of an unprecedented quadruple if they beat Wolves at Anfield on Sunday and City drop points at home against Aston Villa, who are managed by the former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

Related: Liverpool take title race to final day after Joël Matip header sees off Southampton

“If I was in the other situation, then I don’t feel like I am champion already, that is how it is,” Klopp said.

“From my point of view, in second you are thinking that of course City will win that game. But it is football. We have to first win our game. It is not like we are talking about Wolves like they are not there. It is possible, not likely but possible. That is enough.”

Klopp made nine changes to the team that lifted the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday for the trip to St Mary’s and his gamble was rewarded with Takumi Minamino, who finished last season on loan at Southampton, and Joel Matip overturning Nathan Redmond’s early strike to secure victory.

Klopp praised his squad, comparing those who came into his team to “Ferraris in the garage” and conceded that if his rotation backfired it would have been “1000%” his fault.

“I am so happy about the performance. It was a bit touching,” he said. “You think: ‘Wow, these boys.’ It is like having Ferraris in the garage. You let them out and they do it like this. Harvey [Elliott], I’m not sure the last time he played; Curtis [Jones] no rhythm, he has only played from time to time; Takumi Minamino, it is a crime he is not playing more often. [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain] did not even play and he is in outstanding shape. It is really tough for the boys sometimes. Whatever happens this year happens because of this group.”

The only scenario whereby goal difference could play a part on Sunday is if Liverpool draw and City lose heavily. City, who drew 2-2 at West Ham on Sunday, have a superior goal difference: +72 goals to Liverpool’s +66. Guardiola’s side have not dropped points in successive league games since December 2020.

James Milner, who captained Liverpool until Jordan Henderson replaced Joe Gomez at half-time when the defender was withdrawn with an ankle injury, said a “mental reset” in January when Liverpool were third and trailed City by 11 points helped them to close the gap.

“We’ve really pushed,” he said. “City are an incredible team to go up against. Whatever happens we’ve done ourselves proud.”

Asked about the Blackpool teenager Jake Daniels becoming the first male footballer to come out as gay since 1990, Klopp said: “The whole football community will support him with whatever we can do, I’m 100% sure. He was right [in] what he said – he didn’t want to hide any more. Good.

“I don’t know him but I’m really proud of him. It was an important step. We live in 2022 and that we have to make such a big thing of it is crazy but we’re getting there. It is a good start and now I hope that others will follow and can do that as well. I’m really happy for him.”

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