Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has issued Premier League title rivals Manchester City a warning ahead of this weekend’s heavyweight clash.
Pep Guardiola’s side lead the way atop the table, but victory at Anfield for the Reds will see the champions move within just four points of the leaders.
Taken from his match-day programme notes, via the club’s official website, Klopp compared Liverpool and City to Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed.
“I know it’s often portrayed that City and ourselves have driven each other’s improvements over the past few seasons,” the German writes.
“I get that – I understand the sentiment behind it, the idea that having a direct opponent who is so intense means the other cannot afford to relax for the most fleeting of moments.
“There have been moments where it’s felt like a scene from a Rocky film where Balboa and Apollo Creed are just trading punches but neither will go to the canvas.
“My only issue with this notion is that for us, with our situation, to stand any chance at all of achieving the things we dream of, we have to be entirely focused on ourselves. This is more important than ever right now.
“Respect rivals, of course. Enjoy the drama and focus of a head-to-head battle when it comes. But we must not lose sight of the fact that our progress comes from making sure we squeeze the maximum out of ourselves each and every day and then being at peace with what that brings us.
“We must view every opponent as standing in our way – having the points that we want – not just one.
“There will no doubt have been big focus on the contrasting forms going into this game. City are flying. We have had mixed fortunes. It is what it is and it won’t matter when the whistle goes and the ball starts to roll.
“The key message for us today is to simply attack the contest with all we have. The only team to worry about and concentrate upon is ourselves. Focus on being us. That’s always been enough for me and always will be with these incredible men.”
There is nothing quite like Klopp banging the drum ahead of a big game, it’s music to our ears, especially as Liverpool tend to fare better against stronger opposition.
The playing style of teams like Burnley and Brighton really attacks our weakness to break down low-block teams, but when the opposition are prepared to commit men further up the pitch, that’s when the Reds strike.
This weekend’s clash at Anfield will be Liverpool’s biggest test of the season so far, with anything less than a win detrimental to our hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
As Klopp said in his pre-match musings, we are after points – not just one.