Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expects a “really tough” clash at title rivals Manchester City after his side won 2-0 at Wolves to stretch their lead atop the Premier League to four points.
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring with his 11th Premier League goal of the season in the first half, then set up Virgil van Dijk after the break as Klopp’s side eased to victory.
Liverpool’s lead means they are guaranteed to top the table on Christmas Day and each of the past four sides to do so have gone on to win the league, the Reds themselves the last exception in 2013-14.
And although unbeaten Liverpool moved to 48 points from 18 games, Klopp expects a January 3 showdown at the Etihad Stadium to be critical, although his side first host Newcastle United and Arsenal over the festive period.
“It was clear that the whole game would be difficult,” Klopp said to BBC Sport after Salah starred at a wet Molineux.
“Everybody wants to press. We want to be compact but wide as well which makes it difficult. We defended it pretty well. The heavy rain was difficult for both teams. It was a big fight. We knew that we needed to be ready.
3 – Liverpool have topped the Premier League on Christmas Day without going on to win the title more times than any other side in the competition’s history (3 times). Chalice.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 21, 2018
“The first goal was brilliant, it was cool. And the second goal – yes, well done! I am completely happy with the result and it is big for us. We wanted to surprise our opponent. It was brilliant – both goals. It was perfect football, especially on a night when it was difficult to play proper football.
“I saw some really good things. We will be training on Christmas morning, so it is like every other day. It is an outstanding number [of points] – it is absolutely cool.
“We have Manchester City waiting and that will be really tough for the boys. We need to have different gameplans, but the boys showed they are ready for that.”
— Simon Mignolet (@SMignolet) December 21, 2018
Wolves had won their three previous Premier League games to move up to seventh, but an inability to test Alisson from good positions marred their display against the leaders.
However, Nuno Espirito Santo felt his side performed well enough to at least score against a Liverpool side that have only conceded five away goals in the top flight this season.
“We started the game well, chances for both teams. We didn’t maintain the consistency through the game,” the Wolves boss told BBC Sport.
“The start of the second half is not good. [With] better decisions or composure we could have harmed a very good team.
“The boys worked very hard and it’s difficult to play against Liverpool, especially when they’re in front. We deserved one goal at least. We have to rest now.
“I’m happy because of the way we work and pass the moments football gives. We are consistent – the table doesn’t mean anything.”
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