London: Fresh from a momentous Champions League night, Liverpool can continue their feel-good factor into the international break by retaking top spot in the Premier League from Manchester City at Championship-bound Fulham on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men delighted their manager with a 3-1 win at Bayern Munich on Wednesday and will be heavy favourites to make the semi-finals of the Champions League for the second straight season after drawing Porto in the quarters on Friday.
But the Reds’ immediate focus must be on Craven Cottage to keep their challenge for a first league title in 29 years on track.
Liverpool trail the champions by a single point with just eight games remaining, but with City in FA Cup action at Swansea this weekend, they can put the pressure back on Pep Guardiola’s side and take a psychological boost into the two-week break before the title battle resumes.
“That we can beat Bayern, about how we did it, I’m not surprised but I’m really happy we could prove something like that,” said Klopp, who will have taken extra glee at beating the Bavarians as a former Borussia Dortmund coach.
“So now let’s be completely, completely concentrated on Fulham and don’t think about what happens afterwards.”
Along with the ever-impressive Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool’s star performer in Munich was Sadio Mane as the Senegalese scored twice to take his tally to 10 goals in his last 10 games.
Mane’s fine form has come just at the right time as top-scorer Mohammad Salah has just one goal in his last nine matches and Roberto Firmino two in his last eight.
“It is good that we split the goals a little bit, absolutely it’s good. We have 73 points and each goal we scored brought us there,” added Klopp.
Mane’s first goal to open the scoring at the Allianz Arena in midweek was outstanding as he controlled a long searching pass from Van Dijk in one touch before rounding Manuel Neuer and confidently dinking the ball over two covering Bayern defenders into an unguarded net.
“For Sadio it is different, thank God,” said Klopp on his contrasting form to Salah and Firmino.
“The first goal that Sadio scored in Munich, probably if you have not scored for five or six games, then you will not score that goal.
“At the end everybody criticised Neuer, but it was just world-class from Sadio.”
Fulham have very different priorities at the other end of the table as they try to pull off a great escape from relegation.
After sacking two managers already this season, Scott Parker’s first two games in charge against Chelsea and Leicester have also ended in defeat to leave the Cottagers 13 points adrift of safety.
However, Parker believes his side can cause a major upset and deliver an huge blow to Liverpool’s title challenge.
“Hopefully we’ll have an influence on the title race,” he said. “We’ve got some very good footballers at the club and we need to start getting the best out of them.
“They have a chance at the weekend in front of the cameras to prove how good they are.
“If we play the way we want to play, we can cause an upset and we can get points.”