February 27, 2024

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had a message for his team’s fans ahead of their table-topping Premier League match with Arsenal on Saturday: “We need Anfield on their toes.”

Klopp’s side, one point behind leaders Arsenal in the table, was coming off a runaway 5-1 win over West Ham United in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals and the German coach seemed to call into question the level of enthusiasm he heard from fans during the match.

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“But I have to say, it’s long ago that I said it, I thought it in the first half a little bit, when the boys played really exceptional, I was not overly happy,” Klopp said after the match. “I have to say it now, with the atmosphere behind me. I asked people, ‘What do you want?’

“So, we changed a lot of things, we dominate West Ham like crazy, we missed chances. If I would be in the stand, I would be on my toes, 1,000 percent.”

Curtis Jones scored two well-taken goals before the hour, but it wasn’t until Dominik Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo and talisman Mohamed Salah, who came on as a late substitute, scored that the game turned into a rout.

Liverpool were also coming off a disappointing 0-0 draw against Manchester United on Sunday — a game in which Klopp said his team had played well without getting a win — and he acknowledged that might have affected the crowd’s attitude on Wednesday.

“I don’t know if the Man United game was that bad that we have to say, ‘Oh sorry that we didn’t smash them,'” Klopp said. “We need Anfield on Saturday. Without Anfield, I would say…[Arsenal] didn’t play this week…they prepared for this game and [those] who know a little bit about them, they will be prepared.

“So, we need Anfield on their toes from the first second — without me having an argument with the opposition coach, whatever. We need you from the first second. If you really want, if it’s too much football in December, I don’t know, sorry, we have to play it as well. But if you are not in the right shape, give your ticket to somebody else.”

Wednesday’s result puts Liverpool, who haven’t lost at home since February, in the semifinals of the League Cup for a record 19th time and sets up a semifinal match against Fulham on the week of Jan 9. Chelsea play Middlesbrough in the other semifinal.

The Carabao Cup final is Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium, and fans at rain-lashed Anfield — keen to see their team in the final — chanted “Wembley” in the final minutes on Wednesday.

With the amount of football his team is set to play in the coming weeks — four games between now and Jan. 7, including two against Arsenal — Klopp allowed that perhaps the Anfield faithful were just warming up for the festive season.

“No, the negativity was around us and the stadium not,” Klopp said. “Just not the excitement I felt about the performance. I thought it’s a performance you really can enjoy — so many good performances, so many good individual performances, so many challenges to celebrate, stuff like this.

“But we were only 1-0 up and had a game where we had a lot of shots and didn’t score. But if it’s warming up for Saturday, I’m happy.”

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