Jurgen Klopp played with the mind games a little bit with his Jose Mourinho praise on Tuesday. The Liverpool boss faces his Portuguese counterpart later today.
Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur is one of the biggest games of this Premier League season. It may well be the biggest.
Liverpool are the reigning champions, of course, and while they’re competitive, injuries hold them back from being the juggernaut of last season.
Spurs may well take advantage of that. They’re level on points with Liverpool but lead the Reds on goal difference to top the Premier League.
Thus the game at Anfield is a huge one. Win and Liverpool assert themselves as a wounded but strong top-dog.
But lose and Spurs come away feeling like the throne is there for the taking.
No wonder, then, that Klopp and Mourinho are playing their mind games.
Earning an edge
Mourinho has gone into this one with his classic mind game – we’re massive underdogs, all the pressure is on you. It’s the only way to explain him downplaying Liverpool’s obvious injury crisis and pointing out that Klopp has been in charge far longer the he has (per the BBC).
You see, Spurs are the ‘little pony’ in the title race. Liverpool are a big, powerful, thoroughbred horse. So sayeth Mourinho, anyway.
Well, Klopp has his own thoughts on that. In his eyes, Spurs are playing like a ‘top team’.
“I think [Mourinho] asked for time at the beginning and obviously it paid off,” he said, per Sky Sports. “Tottenham have the quality of the top teams and when they have the ball they show that.
“They defend like a top team and at the moment probably have the best counter-attacking movements.
“It is not that they play just a little bit of football, they are a proper package at the moment but that doesn’t cost me confidence when I think about my team. It is business as usual.”
Pressure on Spurs, then – you’re a top team, lads. Don’t listen to your manager, you’re competing with the thoroughbreds.
The things is, though, Klopp is barely playing mind games here – certainly not to the Mourinho level. He’s calling Spurs a top team and they clearly are as they’re top of the league.
But that comment about how Mourinho asked for time – and got it – is clearly a mind game of sorts. Klopp is making sure to point out that Spurs are playing like a built team, one that Mourinho has developed and trained over a year now.
They’re a top team – and don’t let Mourinho tell you otherwise. This will be a competitive game and the winner may well be favourites for the title.