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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Jurgen Klopp warns of tougher tests to come as Liverpool slip-up again

Michail Antonio goal for West Ham cancels out Sadio Mane's opener as Liverpool register second consecutive 1-1 draw

West Ham's Declan Rice in action with Liverpool's Roberto Firmino. Reuters
West Ham's Declan Rice in action with Liverpool's Roberto Firmino. Reuters

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has warned his team they will face tougher tests than Monday's at West Ham United before the end of a season in which they hope to be crowned champions.

The Premier League leaders drew 1-1 at the London Stadium, where they were largely outplayed and perhaps fortunate to avoid defeat, when victory would have taken them five points clear of second-placed Manchester City.

Klopp remains without influential players including Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold, but he regardless insists his squad can handle the pressure of a title race following their latest setback.

"If you want to be at the top of the table at the end of the season, you have to deal with much tougher situations than we had [at West Ham]. That's the truth, that's always clear," he said.

"But of course you need players fit and available, that helps a bit.

"We have to fight, it's not about pressure, it's about enjoying the situation. We have 62 points, lost one game in a full season so far, which is very positive.

"I have seen your faces already, you feel a bit sorry with us, you don't have to, we are fine, everything is good. Tonight was just a tough game."

After posting a perfect record against opposition outside the top six in their first 23 league games, Liverpool have now slipped up twice in as many matches to mount the tension in their chase for a first title in 29 years.

However, Klopp played down suggestions it is the pressure and the weight of history that has dragged his players down over the past week.

"It's not about pressure, it's about enjoying the situation you are in," added Klopp. "We have 62 points, have lost one game in the whole season so far which is very positive.

"I think from your faces already you [the media] feel sorry for us. We are fine. Tonight was just a tough game."

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini claimed it was "impossible to play worse" after his side's 3-0 capitulation to Wolves last week that followed a deeply disappointing FA Cup exit to League One AFC Wimbledon.

Even without the injured Marko Arnautovic, Pellegrini got the response he wanted in West Ham's performance if not their end product and the Chilean was angered that Liverpool's opener was allowed to stand despite Milner clearly being offside when he crossed for Mane to score his 12th goal of the season.

"They have two clear chances, one that is one-and-a-half metres offside where they score a goal, and one in the last minute with [Divock] Origi in front of the linesman again one metre offside.

"Of course, you must be disappointed," added Pellegrini, who recalled a series of controversial calls that went in favour of Klopp's Borussia Dortmund when they beat Pellegrini's Malaga in the 2012/13 Uefa Champions League quarter-finals.

"Klopp is used to win with offside goals. He beat me against Malaga with Borussia Dortmund with a goal seven metres offside, so he can't complain about nothing."

Klopp is used to win with offside goals. He beat me against Malaga with Borussia Dortmund with a goal seven metres offside, so he can't complain about nothing.

Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham

Liverpool's lead lasted just six minutes as the visitors switched off from a well-worked free kick and Antonio drilled Felipe Anderson's pass in off the far post.

More lax set-piece defending should have cost Liverpool again three minutes before the break when Rice headed wide another wicked Anderson free kick delivery wide when completely unmarked 10 yards out.

Anderson continued to create problems in the second period and another positive break from the Brazilian should have created the winner when Noble fired over.

Origi replaced the ineffective Roberto Firmino 15 minutes from time and the Belgian had a huge chance to make himself a hero as he did with a last gasp Merseyside derby winner against Everton in December.

This time, though, Origi shot meekly into Lukasz Fabianski's grateful arms with the final action of the match.

Updated: February 5, 2019 08:49 AM

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