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Pressure good for Reds

Former Liverpool defender Hyypia thinks City push can help Liverpool perform in title race

In Summary

• Liverpool are seeking to win a first English league title since 1990 and lead City by two points.

• Hyypia spent 10 years at Liverpool and won the Champions League in 2005.

West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna in action with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah
West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna in action with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah
Image: REUTERS

 The relentless pressure of the Premier League title race with defending champions Manchester City could bring out the best in Liverpool’s players during the final part of the campaign, former defender Sami Hyypia said.

Liverpool are seeking to win a first English league title since 1990 and lead City by two points, although they have played one match more than Pep Guardiola’s in-form side.

“I think the pressure is a good thing. When I played, I felt the pressure and I was nervous before games but that brought more out of me,” Hyypia, who spent 10 years at Liverpool and won the Champions League in 2005, told Liverpool’s website.

“When you are too nervous about something it can lock you up a little bit, you can’t perform at the level that you are able to. So I think the pressure is good... with good training and good preparation you ease the pressure and you can cope with it.

“That’s the key. When you play a game, you enjoy it... when your team is playing well together, you enjoy it. From what I’ve seen in many of the games, it looks like the players are really enjoying it.” Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s league clash with fourth-placed Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday, Hyypia said Juergen Klopp’s side had to capitalise on any mistake by City in the run-in.

“I don’t think City will drop many points this season anymore and we have to do the same and just wait for their slip-up,” added the Finn, who also won a Uefa Cup, two FA Cups and two League Cups during his stint at Anfield.

“But you need to concentrate game by game. It would be a big mistake to think ahead... Klopp is wise enough that he’s telling the players many times a day that the next game is the most important.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson said his return to a more advanced midfield position had been made easier by Fabinho’s natural ability in a deep-lying role. Henderson has been deployed mainly as a defensive midfielder to shield the back four since Juergen Klopp took charge of the club, but the 28-year-old has impressed since switching to the right of Liverpool’s midfield trio.

He came off the bench to score the final goal in their 3-1 Premier League victory over Southampton last week and helped to create the second in their 2-0 Champions League quarter-final first-leg win over Porto today. “Previously when I played at number six, we didn’t have a defensive midfielder where that was a natural part of his game,” Henderson told Sky Sports. 

"Now we do, with the likes of Fabinho, who I’d say is a natural six. You can see he’s played there for a long time, who’s suited in that role. “That’s the reason why I think the manager now feels I can play slightly more advanced and in the last couple of games he’s given me that opportunity.”