Pressure can help Liverpool perform in title race, says Hyypia

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 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 https://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/first-team/345638-sami-hyypia-liverpool-title-chelsea-interview.

“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 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.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)