Jürgen Klopp is confident Liverpool’s confidence hasn’t been dented by successive defeats to Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers as he backed his players to return to form they showed at the end of 2018.

The Reds have begun the New Year with 2-1 reversals at the Etihad Stadium and Molineux in the Premier League and FA Cup respectively.

Nevertheless, Klopp is convinced his squad have put those losses behind them as they aim to maintain their grip at the summit of the league standings, starting at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

Read on for a summary of what the boss had to say in his pre-match press conference at Melwood on Friday morning…

On what the compact nature at the top of the table says about the league…

I think it says that statistics from the past have no relevance in the present. It is always different and that is what we’ve always said. We don’t think about the season before or 20 years ago or whatever. It’s our season and so far it’s really good. Now we have to carry on. It is not important what happened, so far it is only important as a basis. I cannot change it and we have to use it – and that’s what we try to do. Two weeks ago everybody was so excited about the distance between [Liverpool and the teams below] and stuff like that. We all are really in the job and it is just one [piece of] information in of 2,000, it’s not more. We’ve had now two games we lost and that’s not nice, but it is not a real problem because these games are gone as well. Now we have to prepare, which we already did of course, for Brighton and going there and trying our best again. We only talk here [in the press conferences] pretty much about the points, the distance and all that stuff. We never do that during the week because it is just not relevant. We have to only train as well as possible with as many players as possible that are fit, then we have to play the next game. That’s it.

On how the schedule will help with fewer games to play…

If you have the full squad together it is massive. It is really good, it’s my preferred rhythm to be honest. But especially if you play in Europe, then in each league in the world you have a lot of games in midweek. It’s not that we decided to go out of the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup and thought, ‘it’s not important’ – that’s not how it is. We got Chelsea at home, which was probably – as I’ve said before – for Chelsea and ourselves the most difficult game. It was pretty tight that game and we could have won it, but we lost it. Now at Wolves, it was the situation – we had to make changes after the most intense month of the year in December. If we would have played – with all respect – a League Two team or whatever, then probably the offensive line could have played because the intensity is different then. You have the ball most of the time, you can play and all that stuff. Against Wolves, it was clear with their style of play that they would make the pitch unbelievably big; they play diagonal balls over 60 metres and stuff like that, so you have to run. You cannot have the ball all the time, so that means you have to understand the expected intensity of the game and then you have to make a line up. That’s what we did with a few injury problems on top because a lot of players couldn’t have played. We lost there, that’s all. I would love to still be in these competitions, but we are not and now we have to make the best of the time we have now. I know Pep [Guardiola] said already he prefers to be in four competitions – yes, I would prefer the same, but we are not in so now we have to make the best of the time we have now and get as many points as possible.

On the job Chris Hughton has done at Brighton…

Chris is outstanding. It is unbelievable. I don’t know exactly when and where he started with Brighton, but is it right when he went there they were fighting to stay in the Championship? So, that says all about the improvement of Brighton under him. It is pretty special, and people forget sometimes things like that. It is just a tough one to go [to]. The kind of defending they do and the style of play they have when they have the ball, makes them special. It is really difficult in this Premier League to have the position they are in with not massive money to invest. They do it really smarty. In Dunk and Duffy, they have an outstanding centre-half pair. Balogun, who I know from Germany, is a fantastic boy to step in if he’s needed. Full-backs, they are always really, really smart in bringing boys in from wherever. Midfield, I think Propper is playing his best season since he is in England – he is really, really good and full of confidence. Together with Stephens, it is a good pairing. Having Gross around them playing in midfield or a bit higher, then they are really creative. Murray or Andone are brilliant strikers. Then on the wing, you have March, Knockaert or Locadia, different players but again speed and technical ability. It is just a good team. Usually in goal, I didn’t know him [Matthew Ryan] really before I came to England, but Mitch Langerak was my second goalkeeper at Dortmund and I always thought is it possible for Australia to have a better goalkeeper than him? Yes, obviously because Ryan is fantastic on the line. It is just a really good team. He is just doing a brilliant job there, I really like that. But still, we want to go there and want to show we are a good team as well. We have to make life as difficult as possible for them and try everything to win that game.

On what challenges face Liverpool after losing their unbeaten record in the Premier League…

The normal challenges. Now we go for the big stakes. Always you prepare bases, bases, bases. The less games you have, the better it is. You have already all your points, the points you need. Then you play each other or not, but it is normal and every year the same. It is like last year when we fought for the Champions League [qualification], everything was fine and then Chelsea found their feet back and it was really difficult in the end. We had to fight, that’s how it is. It’s the situation but nothing on top of that; it is just the normal thing. As long as you can stay completely focused, completely with yourself and be concentrated on what you have real influence on, the better is it. That’s what we try to do and so far it was pretty easy for us to stay focused – and it’s what we have to show – and will show again. There is no game in the Premier League where you can go and count the three points before you’ve played the game. I like that, it’s good. In the moment it should be OK line-up wise, but we already have problems. I saw the semi-final between Chelsea and Tottenham, I saw both benches were full with players I know – that means they have full squads, lucky them! We have to make sure that we prepare ourselves as good as possible for this last part of the season. It has not started yet, but it will be from end of February. It will be there and we are still creating bases day by day. The best way to do that is to get points.

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