London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp has warned Liverpool to forget about the Champions League final as they aim to qualify for next season’s tournament by holding off Chelsea on the final day of the Premier League campaign.
Klopp’s fourth-placed side sit two points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea and, given their vastly superior goal difference, they should seal a top-four finish if they avoid defeat against Brighton on Sunday.
A Liverpool win at Anfield would render Chelsea’s result at Newcastle irrelevant and condemn last season’s champions to play in the Europa League for the first time since 2013.
Unbeaten at home in the league this season, Liverpool are odds-on to achieve their goal.
But Reds boss Klopp is aware of the dangers of complacency, especially with the Champions League final against Real Madrid serving as a potential distraction to his players.
“We need to be completely focused on this game,” Klopp said. “Yesterday a lot of people wished me luck for the Champions League final on May 26 and maybe two or three people said ‘Good luck on Sunday’.
“The boys face so many challenges and we need to show it again. A lot of things can happen in football.
“It’s exciting. We will try everything to make sure that next year we play in the Champions League again.”
Chelsea’s 1-1 draw against Huddersfield on Wednesday was a hammer blow to their top-four hopes and Blues boss Antonio Conte admits the odds are stacked against them.
“The situation, especially for a place in the Champions League, is not in our hands. But we have to try to get three points against Newcastle, then to drop something positive for us,” Conte said.
Chelsea have an FA Cup final date with Manchester United on May 19 but this could be Conte’s last league game with the Blues after two stormy seasons marred by his feud with the club over their failure to back his transfer plans.
– Wenger’s bittersweet farewell –
Refusing to take the blame for Chelsea’s woes, Conte said: “We’re struggling to take a place in the Champions League. But we play in a very tough league where there are six top teams fighting for a place.
“It’s not automatic that you finish every season in the top four.”
Third-bottom Swansea look certain to relegated when they face Stoke at the Liberty Stadium.
Carlos Carvalhal’s side are three points behind fourth-bottom Southampton, who secured a crucial win over the Welsh club in midweek and have a significantly better goal difference than their relegation rivals.
It would take a big Swansea victory against already-relegated Stoke and a heavy defeat for Southampton at home to Manchester City for Carvalhal’s men to make an improbable escape.
“At the end we are not in a good position but we have a tiny chance to stay in the Premier League and we will do our best. We are breathing badly, but we are still alive,” Carvalhal said.
Arsene Wenger bids farewell to Arsenal after 22 years in charge as the Gunners boss finishes his long goodbye with a trip to Huddersfield.
Since Wenger’s impending departure was announced last month, the Frenchman has been on a bittersweet trip down memory lane, lauded for winning three Premier League titles and also criticised for letting his standards slip in recent years.
Asked what he rated as his biggest achievement with Arsenal, Wenger said: “I would say from 2006 to 2015 it was certainly the period where I needed to be the strongest.
“When you build the stadium (Emirates) to work with restricted resources, I personally feel I did my best job in that period. Not the most glamorous maybe, but the most difficult.”
With the title wrapped up weeks ago, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has kept the champions motivated by asking them to rewrite the record books.
City broke the Premier League points record by reaching 97 with their win against Brighton in midweek and shattered the record for goals scored in a season as they hit 105.
Now City head to Southampton looking to cap their memorable season by securing the win that would give them 100 points.
Sunday (all 1400 GMT)
Burnley v Bournemouth, Crystal Palace v West Brom, Huddersfield v Arsenal, Liverpool v Brighton, Manchester United v Watford, Newcastle v Chelsea, Southampton v Manchester City, Swansea v Stoke, Tottenham v Leicester, West Ham v Everton