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Criticism only fuels Liverpool’s burning desire to ‘strike back’

Premier League Liverpool V Burnley
The champions head to Tottenham on Thursday night without a league victory since they thrashed Crystal Palace 7-0 on December 19

Jurgen Klopp insists criticism of his Liverpool side is only making them more determined to end their dip in form.

The defending Premier League champions head to Tottenham on Thursday night without a league victory since they thrashed Crystal Palace 7-0 on December 19, taking three points from five games since.

But Klopp said he and his players were “on fire” with their desire to get back to the levels which saw them win the title with 99 points last term.

“We want to be the team nobody wants to play against,” he said. “We have the chance to be that team tomorrow night and on Sunday and again on Wednesday and again and again. It’s what we want.

“People told us we were the best team in the world. We weren’t but that’s not a problem. We could beat the best team in the world and we still can, but we want to prove that on the pitch and we will.

“We are on fire to strike back, and the more negative things that are thought about us and said about us, the more we want it.”

While Liverpool’s injury problems in defence have been well-documented, the current issues are at the other end of the pitch with the once-deadly attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino without a league goal between them in 2021.

But Klopp said his faith in his players remained absolute.

“Football is like this,” he said. “In this world we are losing trust much too quickly in everything. Everything is great or everything is the opposite, but there are so many stages in between.

“We have a commitment to each other. It doesn’t mean they can play how they want, it never did, but I see them trying and working on all this stuff. We are working as a team on the solutions.”

Though they suffered another defeat on Sunday, losing 3-2 to Manchester United in the FA Cup, the performance at Old Trafford was seen in some quarters as a sign that Liverpool were back on the right track as they created a string of openings, but Klopp played that down.

“Everybody is asking if that was the turning point and I want it to be the turning point, that would be really nice of course, but we conceded three goals and that is not what we want,” he said.

“The situation is a challenge and a challenge is good, that’s fine with me. I’m not at a point in my life where I think everything should be perfect.

“If something is wrong then we work at it and that’s what we’re doing.”

When Liverpool and Tottenham met last month – a match decided in Liverpool’s favour by Roberto Firmino’s last-minute winner – the two sides were first and second in the table, but both have dropped out of the top four in the weeks since.

Klopp said that only showed how quickly this season can change – and how quickly they can get back into the title race – given the unique circumstances.

“We will give our absolute everything this season,” he added. “It’s not about defending the title. It’s about winning football games. It was always about this.

“We have the potential to fight for the title and we will see if we can make that happen this year. If not we will try next season.

“We will give our absolute everything for the next game. With all the difficulties we have we will try all we can.”

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