Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted that the Red’s away trip to face Newcastle is a crunch clash for his side’s hopes of finishing in the top four this season and securing Champions League qualification.
The Anfield outfit won the FA and Carabao Cup last season, as well as finishing runners in both the Premier League and Champions League.
However, Liverpool’s drop-off in form this campaign has been remarkable, with Monday night’s 2-0 Merseyside Derby win over Everton the club’s first top-flight victory in 2023.
Liverpool currently sits in ninth position in the table, nine points behind fourth-place Newcastle, although Klopp’s men have played a game less.
With the top four rivals set to face off at St James Park on Saturday evening, Klopp has admitted it is a huge game for his side.
“This is a massive game. If you want to reach something this season, we have to chase everybody, especially those who are ahead of us in the table,” Klopp told his pre-match press conference.
“It will never be easy, but we have to try. It’ll be tough; Newcastle are the best defence in the league, lost just once to us, we needed a late goal. They are very consistent and that is the first step to success.”
The German coach also went on to wax lyrical about the job his managerial colleague Eddie Howe has done since taking over in the North East.
“Eddie Howe has done an exceptional job, absolutely exceptional,” Klopp continued. ”The financial possibilities they have, or will have, are exceptional, but it is not because of that, not at all. He arrived in a difficult situation, they stayed comfortably in the league, now the team is unrecognisable.
“He’s improved players like [Miguel] Almiron, I always liked him but the way they are playing suits him. Callum Wilson is a fantastic striker, Bruno Guimaraes is massive for them. But he’s turned them around and they are a proper threat.”