Louis van Gaal slams Paul Merson for saying Liverpool should abandon the Champions League

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Now that Liverpool are four points clear at the top of the Premier League with 17 games remaining, there's real sense that this could be their year.

Never before have the Reds looked in such a strong position to go all the way and they only suffered their first league defeat of the season last weekend.

Manchester City - who else? - were the ones who ended Liverpool's unbeaten run, but the Citizens are still some way behind.

It's going to take a monumental effort from Liverpool to be crowned champions, though, due to their commitments in other competitions like the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp's men take on Bayern Munich across two legs in the last 16 and if they win, the fixtures will continue to pile up.

And so, in Paul Merson's opinion, Liverpool should abandon the Champions League and focus on winning the Premier League instead.

"Get out of that (the Champions League). Get out of it. Get out. Make history," said Merson on Sky Sports recently. "This club not won the league in 29 years, get out of it.

"Win the league. Win the league. Get out of it. Get out. Get out. These players can go down in history. Get out of it. Get out. You're going to win the league."

Okay then. Merson's rant caused quite a stir as Liverpool fans argued that they have the quality and depth in their squad to challenge on all fronts.

And they're not the only ones who disagree with Merson after ex-Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal told Liverpool to ignore the much-maligned pundit, describing him as "not normal".

"This man is not normal," Van Gaal said of Merson on Dutch TV. "Liverpool shouldn't take his bad advice into consideration."

Merson is going to need some ice for that burn. Van Gaal added that he thinks Liverpool will win the Premier League because they're much better defensively than City.

"Klopp has turned Liverpool into an ­absolute fighting machine - both ­attacking and defending," he continued. "So, if I was to put my money on one club for the league, it would be Liverpool.

"The moment [Guardiola's] team have to defend, they look terrible. ­Liverpool have a team that can defend much better.

"Don't get me wrong, I still love to watch the way City play, but the way Klopp makes Liverpool play is absolutely fantastic."

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