‘We were quite relaxed about it’: Jurgen Klopp reveals Liverpool did not panic as champions sought to turn around defence after 7-2 thrashing at Aston Villa and losing Virgil van Dijk
- Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool didn’t overreact to losing 7-2 against Aston Villa
- Liverpool boss says his side kept faith in their ability to defend resolutely
- Klopp’s side have also managed to cope without the injured Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool have conceded only twice in the five matches since Virgil van Dijk was injured in the Merseyside derby and Jurgen Klopp believes the secret was not panicking after their 7-2 thrashing at Aston Villa a month ago.
Klopp will be aware Sunday’s opponents Manchester City represent a bigger threat than recent opponents Ajax, Sheffield United, Midtjylland, West Ham and Atalanta but has been pleased with the maturity in their reaction to the Villa Park debacle.
Further good news could arrive on Sunday with Joel Matip set to return from injury to partner Joe Gomez in the heart of Liverpool’s back four.
Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool didn’t panic about their defence after losing 7-2 to Aston Villa
‘Defending isn’t usually our problem because we do it as a unit,’ said Klopp.
‘We didn’t say after Aston Villa “Come on, we start again completely about how to defend.”
‘We knew what we didn’t do right that night and maybe in one or two other games as well and we tried to sort that without overdoing it.
‘But when you concede seven goals, it is not that you have to start at nil (the beginning) again.
‘We were quite relaxed about it, as relaxed as you can be in how we dealt with it. At the moment we lost, nobody was relaxed, we were all really frustrated about it but then how we responded, it was clear that it’s not all bad.
‘We realised what was good before but some things needed to be adjusted.’
Klopp’s side have managed to cope defensively despite the absence of Virgil van Dijk
No1 goalkeeper Alisson missed out at Villa Park due to injury with Adrian deputising but the Brazilian has returned for the last four matches and that’s compensated for the loss of van Dijk who could miss the season after knee surgery required after a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
‘Yes, it helps massively when all your best players are on the pitch because there are moments when the individual has to defend what the unit couldn’t defend before. That’s how it is,’ added Klopp.
Liverpool’s last visit to The Etihad in July ended in an uncharacteristic 4-0 defeat – just after they’d clinched the Premier League title.
Klopp acknowledges that Liverpool weren’t fully focused in their last meeting against City
At the time, Klopp promised his team would be fully concentrated but now he acknowledges the scoreline indicates there had been a mental hangover from celebrating their first championship for 30 years.
‘We learned that if you are not 100% focused on the game against City, you will lose big,’ he admitted.
‘It was the first time I’d won the league in England so I had no idea how to prepare the next game. I didn’t want to overdo it: “Boys, forget the title, it’s City and we can show the whole world, blah blah, blah”
‘I didn’t do that and I’m not sure if it was right or wrong. I know my boys wanted to win the game – but we were not as focused as we are usually in these games. That explains a little bit.
‘Still we played some good football and didn’t score and they scored four times. That’s how it was. It wasn’t the most happy defeat in my life.’
Klopp says that his team must be ‘close to perfect’ to get the better of Pep Guardiola’s side
Klopp remains the only manager however with a winning record against Guardiola of those who have faced the Catalan more than six times.
‘In order to compete, you need to have close to perfect organisation and you need to be brave – really brave – and play your own football and cause them problems as well.
‘All together it sounds so easy because it’s not rocket science. But it is still really difficult because it is under massive pressure.’
Liverpool are currently five points ahead of City who sit mid-table but Guardiola’s team could overtake take the champions if they win on Sunday and their game in hand.
Though this is considered one of the most open title races for years, the bookmakers still have the two heavyweights as their clear favourites to finish on top.
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