Jürgen Klopp insisted that his Liverpool side will not focus their attention to their Champions League commitments until after Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace.
The Reds return after the international break to take on Roy Hodgson’s side at Selhurst Park. Their last Premier League fixture saw a 5-0 thrashing against Watford, thanks to four goals and an assist from Mohamed Salah.
Klopp’s side will take on Manchester City in the first leg of their much-anticipated European tie at Anfield on Wednesday – however the German was adamant his side will treat both games with the same importance.
“The decisive word in this sentence is ‘afterwards’. [The Champions League tie] will be very important then but not at the moment,” said the boss at his pre-Palace press conference.
“[There is] no ‘balance’ – we play Crystal Palace with all we have, with all intensity and all concentration.
“For a player or manager of Liverpool, the whole year everything is at least about qualification for the Champions League.
“Both games are about qualification for the Champions League; one is for next year, one is for this year. That’s the only difference. But they have the same importance, so no difference for us.”
Ahead of the international break, Palace secured a vital 2-0 victory against Huddersfield Town. Although the Eagles remain in a tight relegation contest, Klopp insists he has seen enough in the south London side’s performances to know his side must be at their best.
“I saw the full 95 minutes against Manchester United and during the analysis I saw the other games as well. Only Arsenal, an away game for Palace, did it quite comfortably but that’s not really likely,” he said.
“They had big injury blows. People only talk about [Wilfried] Zaha, who is a fantastic player no doubt about it, but Mamadou Sakho was injured, [Ruben] Loftus-Cheek was injured, [Joel] Ward was injured. They had a lot of their key players out.
“I think we all agree if they would have been all together constantly on the pitch, with the little bit of luck you always need, then they would be in another position. It’s not a typical team for fighting for [a place in] the league, with the individual quality of their players.
“They are in good shape, even when they lost a few games. Roy is doing a fantastic job there; it was the most difficult job to take, I think. [They had] no goals and no points. What he did there is outstanding, I’m not surprised about that.
“It will be tough – but for Crystal Palace as well. I don’t think Roy Hodgson is sitting in his office and thinking, ‘thank God Liverpool are coming, we have the three points already’.
“It will be a tough fight. They fight for the league, we fight for the Champions League. Hopefully everybody can see we fight for the Champions League.”