Liverpool look to close gap on leaders Chelsea as they face Stoke City
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes a little more luck on the injury front is all that is separating his side from Premier League leaders Chelsea as the Merseyside team prepare to face Stoke City on Tuesday.
The Anfield club spent Christmas in second place in the Premier League table but trailed Chelsea by six points as they struggle to stay in touch with Antonio Conte’s in-form side.
Liverpool have only lost twice all season but are currently missing the influential Philippe Coutinho as they prepare for the first of two home games before the end of the year.
“I am pretty sure that until now Chelsea are maybe the team that have had the most luck with injuries. We lost Phil and Daniel (Sturridge) and Danny Ings in difficult moments when you really could use them,” Klopp told Sky Sports News.
“If it’s Hazard and Costa at Chelsea, is it the same afterwards?”
Coutinho is not likely to return before the new year due to an ankle injury while defender Joel Matip is also struggling as the Reds look forward to welcoming Stoke and then Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to Merseyside over the next week.
“We cannot rush the situation and we don’t want to rush it. We have to accept the more or less bigger steps in his improvement with this serious injury,” Klopp said of Coutinho.
“Whenever he is back, the season is long enough that he can help us. We cannot rush it just because there are a few games now. That cannot have an influence on our decisions.”
Klopp, who had his squad in for training on Christmas Day despite the extra 24 hours to prepare for the visit of Stoke, could stick with an unchanged starting line-up as Liverpool look to build on successive wins at Middlesbrough and Everton.
Simon Mignolet should keep his place in goal after recording clean sheets in these matches as Liverpool look to maintain their impressive record at home.
They are unbeaten in nine home games in all competitions this season and haven’t lost at Anfield since Stoke won 1-0 there in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg on January 26 -- Liverpool eventually won that tie on penalties.