Thursday 19 September 2019

'It was perfect football' - Jurgen Klopp hails his Liverpool players as they secure the Christmas No.1 spot

Jurgen Klopp has guided Liverpool to an unbeaten first half to the Premier League season. Photo: REUTERS
Jurgen Klopp has guided Liverpool to an unbeaten first half to the Premier League season. Photo: REUTERS
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp saluted his unbeaten Premier League leaders as they moved four points clear at the top of the table with a 2-0 win against Wolves at Molineux.

Goals from Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk secured a victory that ensured Liverpool would claim top spot in the Premier League at Christmas, with Klopp struggling to contain his delight as he gave his post match verdict.

"It was clear that the whole game would be difficult," he stated. "Everybody wants to press. We want to be compact but wide as well which makes it difficult. We defended it pretty well. The heavy rain was difficult for both teams tonight. It was a big fight. We knew that we needed to be ready.

"The first goal was brilliant, it was cool. And the second goal - yes, well done! I am completely happy with the result and it is big for us. We wanted to surprise our opponent. It was brilliant - both goals. It was perfect football, especially on a night like tonight when it was difficult to play proper football."

Liverpool's latest clean sheet laid a platform for their victory, with Klopp suggesting they are building momentum ahead of festive fixtures against Newcastle and Arsenal before their top-of-the-table clash against Manchester City on January 3rd.

"I saw some really good things tonight," he added. "We will be training on Christmas morning so it is like every other day. It is an outstanding number of points - it is absolutely cool.

"We have Manchester City waiting and that will be really tough for the boys. We need to have different game plans but the boys showed they are ready for that.

"I don’t know how many points a team will need this season. Everybody asks me about the situation, first in the table and all that stuff and that the last four times a team was first in the table at Christmas they won the league, but was it ever such a tight race?

"If you want to do the headline ‘Klopp says you need 105 points [to win the league]’ then do it. I don’t think about it. I didn’t think before about it and I don’t think now about it; I only just try to answer in a polite way."

Van Dijk could not stop smiling after he scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool, as he suggested Klopp's training methods are crucial to their defensive consistency.

"It feels amazing to score," said the Dutch centre-back. "It was a bit of a tough day for me as I had a bit of a cold so wasn't 100 per-cent, but we got the job done. These nights are very important for us. We got the win and it’s a big step for us.

"The win was very important. Wolves are very good, they’ve shown it all season. We lost the ball too easily in the first half, especially in the middle, and they did well.

Credit to them but we won the game and that’s always the most important thing and we are managing this season so well.

"It's important you don’t train too much. We know how to grind games out and keep it tight, with our midfield in front of us.

"All my partners are very good and it is a joy to play with all of them. I’m enjoying every minute of it and have been all season."

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santos suggested his side his side did not make the most of promising opportunities, especially in the first half.

"We started the game well, chances for both teams," he said. "We didn't maintain the consistency through the game. The start of the second half is not good. Better decisions or composure we could have harmed a very good team.

"The boys worked very hard and it's difficult to play against Liverpool especially when they're in front.

"We deserved one goal at least. We have to now rest. I'm happy because of the way we work and pass the moments football gives. We are consistent - the table doesn't mean anything."

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