Sunday 22 October 2017

Defiant Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refuses to give up on title chase

Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrate after the final whistle
Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrate after the final whistle

Simon Hughes

Jürgen Klopp and Maurico Pochettino refused to concede the Premier League title to Chelsea after contrasting evenings at Anfield.

While Klopp was buoyed by victory – Liverpool’s first in the league in 2017, Pochettino spent most of his post-match press conference expressing his concerns at his team’s lack of aggression, especially in the opening 30 minutes when Liverpool’s dominance was overwhelming and Sadio Mané’s goals gave them a deserved cushion.

From his position in a television studio Steven Gerrard’s assessment of the game probably summed it up best. “Liverpool bullied Spurs all over the pitch for the first 45 minutes and then they defended like men for the second half,” he said.

The result means Chelsea will open up a twelve point gap at the summit of the Premier League if they win at Burnley tomorrow. It also means only two points separate Tottenham in second place and Manchester United in sixth.

“I’m not interested in this at the moment because the only possibility is to win football games,” Klopp responded when asked about the possibility of anyone catching the pace-setters. “Chelsea do not look like they will struggle too much over weeks but if they do, maybe there will be somebody waiting.”

Pochettino was unable to explain why Spurs were beaten so comprehensively, warning, “It is difficult to fight for the Premier League title if you show that performance and the lack of aggression.”

Sadio Mane, left, scored twice as Liverpool saw off Tottenham
Sadio Mane, left, scored twice as Liverpool saw off Tottenham

While Pochettino now faces the prospect of three cup games before his next league fixture, Liverpool have a clear 16 days ahead of their trip to Leicester City.

Klopp plans to use the break in fixtures as a mini pre-season, telling the media that from Roberto Firmino, he’d never witnessed a better performance from a striker without scoring. He was right to be delighted by the application of all his players after a miserable start to the year.

“Really strong, really direct, really clear,” was his view of Liverpool’s start to the game. “We knew we had to show a reaction. You cannot expect the highest confidence so we had to fight.

“The second half was a different game. We had to adapt to the change Tottenham made in formation. We dealt really well with it in terms of our concentration.”

When Liverpool play like this, you wonder how on earth they slump so low – as they have done over the last month.

“It’s about rhythm, shape, and a little bit of luck. It’s not about attitude,” Klopp insisted. “I don’t want to find excuses for bad performances. But we are still in a good position. You need the boys in the best shape. It is an issue of will.”

Independent News Service

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