London: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp shrugged off comparisons with former Anfield great Bill Shankly on Saturday after his side beat Bournemouth 2-1 to move a step closer sealing their first league title for 30 years.
Goals by Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane cancelled out an early Bournemouth opener from Callum Wilson as Liverpool clocked up a 22nd consecutive home win in the top flight, breaking a record set by Shankly’s men in 1972.
Klopp, who steered Liverpool to the Champions League trophy last season and who has achieved cult status at Anfield where Shankly is still revered, said: “Oh yes, I will never compare with this fella.
“Great, I think it was 23 today. We didn’t think about the number before the game, but after the game we can think about it for a couple of minutes.
“It’s nice. It’s absolutely nice. It’s special, not normal.”
After three defeats in their previous four games in all competitions, it was clear how much a return to winning form meant to Klopp, who was incandescent with rage after Wilson got away with a push on Joe Gomez in the build-up to Bournemouth’s goal which silenced the home crowd.
Klopp said the way they recovered from the setback illustrated the mentality of his side.
“Today is an example: we have to fight hard. We are not geniuses, but we can really fight until the end of the season, and then we’ll see what we get for it,” he said.
With a 25-point gap restored at the top of the table, Liverpool’s title will be sealed with just three more wins.
Klopp’s focus is on next week’s Champions League second leg against Atletico Madrid, however, when they must overturn a 1-0 deficit to reach the quarter-finals.
“Three wins to go? No, no, it’s Atleti 100 percent,” he said. “That’s a tough one, as we know. Of course, they will not come here and try to play a friendly game.
“It will be the opposite. Today helps, 100 percent. Maybe [there will be] one or two players coming back -- we will see --- and then with a good line-up and with Anfield, we’ll try to change it.” Klopp confirmed that Jordan Henderson had a good chance of playing after being sidelined since injuring his hamstring in the first leg in Spain, a period during which Liverpool’s form has dipped.
“Hendo was out, I don’t know exactly in this moment, but I think he will train tomorrow. If that looks good, I have to make a decision,” he said. “For sure it will be good to have him back.”
Liverpool 2 Bournemouth 1
Arsenal 1 West Ham 0
Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0
Sheffield United 1 Norwich 0
Southampton 0 Newcastle 1
Wolverhampton 0 Brighton 0
Burnley 1 Tottenham 1