Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp did not downplay the abilities of Eddie Howe and his Newcastle side, despite their poor form and injuries.

The teams will face each other at Anfield on New Year’s Day for their first game of 2024.

Klopp said: “Newcastle did incredibly well – it is unlucky that you have that amount of injuries but then on top of that you play international football – that whole system has to get used to that.

“The games that I saw they had really good spells and they have a really good idea – but Eddie had to play too often the same line-up – credit to the players and the effort they put in.

“The guys who play all the time get tired and the players who come back have no rhythm -we have had that situation plenty of times.”

With statistically the best defence this season and the Reds now top of the Premier League, Klopp touched on what has changed about his Liverpool side this campaign.

“The general defending, obviously – everyone buys into the way he have to work.

“Now recently we stepped up counter pressing wise which helps as well that means everyone reacts better in the frontline, midfield line and the last line obviously as well.

“If you feel that that the midfield and front three are really involved in counter pressing then you can have a higher line, then because (of this) you are in challenges, and they cannot skip balls behind you.”

Klopp hinted that Alexis MacAllister could train today and provided a fitness update on Thiago and Bajectic.

“If you ask Stefan (Bajcetic) how does he feel he will say good and that he wants to train – but it’s just we have to be sensible. It’s a medical decision.

“Thiago is in a very good moment as well, we just have to make sure we don’t use him too early as well.”

After more VAR drama in Premier League games, Klopp was asked about whether VAR is fit for purpose.

“We can talk about this – on and on and on again – we know this already… Our two against Burnley were goals.

“Take VAR away? No, use it better.”

Watch the full press conference here:

(Pic by Alamy Images, used under agreed licence)