Starting on Sunday United face three matches in five days but it is the midweek games against Leicester and then Klopp’s side which will have a significant bearing on who plays Champions League football next season.
Liverpool’s less-than-convincing 2-0 win over Southampton thanks to Sadio Mane’s first goal at Anfield in 2021 and Thiago Alcantara’s maiden strike for the club in the 90th minute has put them six points behind the fourth-placed Foxes with a match in hand.
Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool can still qualify for the Champions League if they win every game
Liverpool are six points behind Leicester after their win over Southampton with a game in hand
Manchester United play Leicester on Tuesday before playing Liverpool two days later
United, who can still mathematically catch champions-elect Manchester City, will probably put out their strongest side for the rescheduled match at home to Liverpool on Thursday, raising concerns that the middle fixture of the week against the Foxes will see a weakened team fielded.
Klopp accepts that is out of his control but has faith in United counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to put out a strong enough team to challenge Leicester, whose confidence is shaky after dropping five points in their last two matches.
‘We have cup competitions and we have games and games and games, so we rotate and people always think we don’t respect the competition,’ said Klopp.
‘I think everybody is 100 per cent sure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer respects the Premier League 100 per cent but the situation is now like it is – and I really think it’s crazy what we did with that.
‘I think there could be a better situation than that, United has a weekend off after so three games in five days but then a weekend off – it looks like there could have been a window where we could have done something slightly different.
‘I understand that he doesn’t like that, definitely, and we will see what we make of that.
‘If Man United is doing it like that (playing a weaker team), we cannot change that. I think Man United has only just good players.
Manchester United face three games in five days against Aston Villa, Leicester and Liverpool
‘I expect a strong team against us and what they do in other games we obviously have no influence.’
Liverpool remain in the race for Champions League qualification thanks to only their second home league victory of 2021 and Klopp has set them the target of four more wins against United, West Brom, Burnley and Crystal Palace for them to even have a chance of staying in Europe’s elite next season.
And he is prepared to sacrifice performances for results to get them there.
‘Yes, the result is the most important but usually the result is the result of the performance,’ added the Reds boss.
‘This (Southampton performance) was not since I’m in Liverpool the best game we ever played, but it was a game we had to play.
Manchester United’s game against Liverpool was pushed back after a protest at Old Trafford
‘We are not in dreamland and say everything has to click again. Again, we didn’t use the first chances, we had really good moments and the last pass was just not there.
‘In other moments (earlier in the season) it’s not that important (but) for us in this moment they hurt.’
Southampton are still not mathematically safe after a 13th defeat in 17 matches, although the outcome of Burnley’s game at Fulham on Monday could resolve that.
Despite the continuation of their alarming slide manager Ralph Hasenhuttl remains optimistic.
‘I don’t know if this is the maximum we can do at the moment,’ he said.
‘We do what we can to be competitive in these tight games and we have to take the last four games for getting a few more points and then we are quite safe.’