Title race turnaround unlikely as Klopp sets new Liverpool target for season

LONDON: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expects to be out of the Premier League title race before his side visit Aston Villa on Monday, but he has set his team a new target of reaching 80 points as they look to finish strongly.

Third-placed Liverpool had their hopes of winning the title shredded after a run of bad results last month and while they are mathematically still in with a chance, that might not be the case when they arrive at Villa Park.

Manchester City, in second place, face Fulham tomorrow while league leaders Arsenal play Manchester United on Sunday and if either of the top two pick up three points then Liverpool's slim hopes will be extinguished.

Klopp, who will leave Anfield at the end of the season and will manage his last Liverpool away game at Villa, is not expecting any slip ups.

"We can all read the table and see the situation," he said with Liverpool on 78 points, five behind Arsenal and four adrift of City who have a game in hand. "City have to lose three games. Difficult to see that, but you never know. Arsenal have to lose two games. Difficult. They both play before us, so let's talk on Monday if they both lose, but I do not expect that.

"I think we have enough to do. We have the chance to go above 80 points again; like pretty much everything in life, you never should take things like this for granted."

Fourth-placed Villa, who were knocked out of the Europa Conference League after a 2-0 loss at Olympiakos on Thursday, host Liverpool before travelling to Crystal Palace next week. They need three points to secure a Champions League spot for next season.

Klopp was full of praise for Villa and the work of coach Unai Emery.

"Incredible job. Unai Emery is one of the best we have in the business, 100 per cent. Wherever he was he had success," Klopp said.

"The job he is doing is absolutely exceptional. We all know how important it is for a club to qualify for the Champions League, how difficult it is to do that. And that he very likely will do that is absolutely exceptional. No other words for it."

Klopp was asked if forward Darwin Nunez would stay at the club next season after the Uruguayan deleted all the Liverpool-related pictures of himself on his social media last week.

Nunez, with 11 goals and eight assists in the league this season, missed several chances in the last few games and last scored against Sheffield United in April.

"There is no speculation. That must be external. I'm not involved in that anymore, it's just the situation we're in," Klopp said.

"He was definitely not happy missing that chance (against Tottenham last week). Unlucky in so many situations. Does everything right and the ball doesn't go in. That's really tough. No alternatives but going through it." - REUTERS

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