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Liverpool even better when the big guns return: Klopp

By Timothy Abraham

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp reckons Chelsea are their major rivals for the Premier League title - but thinks the Blues have been lucky with injuries.

Chelsea, who host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day, could be nine points clear by the time the Reds welcome Stoke City a day later.

Antonio Conte's side have won 11 consecutive league matches although Klopp thinks they, unlike Liverpool, have been fortunate not to have lost any of their key players for significant periods of the season.

"Of course they (Chelsea) are the team to beat because they are very experienced, maybe the most experienced team in the top flight at the moment," Klopp said.

"If they go on like this they are the deserved champions, nobody could have a doubt about this.

"I am pretty sure that until now Chelsea are maybe the team that have had the most luck with injuries. We lost Phil (Coutinho) and Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings in difficult moments when you really could use them.

"If it's Eden Hazard and Diego Costa at Chelsea, is it the same afterwards?

"It's a long season and they have to play us again and not only us, they have to play Arsenal again and all of the others."

Klopp also believes he is more prepared for the Premier League's frantic festive fixture schedule this time round.

The German had his first taste of English football's hectic Christmas period, where there is little recovery time between matches, last season.

It was in complete contrast to his experiences in the Bundesliga with Mainz and then Borussia Dortmund where the players have the luxury of a winter break.

Klopp believes the strength of the bond which has grown between his players will carry them through a notoriously demanding part of the campaign.

"We are better equipped than last year," Klopp said. "We were only together three months and of course it was my first time with a game on Boxing Day.

"Of course we are in another situation now but we know each other much better. We have a big bunch of wonderful experiences together and that makes us all stronger of course.

"You have to play Stoke, City and Sunderland and they have all their things what they want to reach. It is difficult, but not impossible, and as long as it is not impossible I am ready to fight."

Chelsea have a less intensive festive schedule than the Reds as they face three matches in 10 days, while Liverpool face the same number of games in seven days.

However, Klopp refused to complain about the vagaries of the fixture computer.

"Would I like to change? Yes. Can I? No. So why should I think about it," he added.

"I have never had this moment of 44 hours between two games in a family celebrating period for nearly everybody in the Christian world.

"Then you have to go out and play two games within 44 hours. That is a challenge. We have to accept it.

"We accepted it a long time ago, it is nothing."

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