Friday 16 November 2018

Madcap implosion at Arsenal fails to dim Klopp's belief in Reds

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Mark Critchley

If not for a madcap five minutes at the Emirates on Friday night, Liverpool would have spent Christmas toasting their 10th league victory of the season. Instead they were left lamenting an eighth draw.

At the Premier League campaign's halfway point, only relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion have shared the points on as many occasions as Jurgen Klopp's side.

On the other hand, though, only the unbeaten runaway leaders Manchester City have lost on fewer occasions.

Liverpool have become difficult to beat under Klopp this season, but his challenge now is to make it difficult for opponents to get any sort of result against his side.

More consistency is needed to put a long streak of league wins together and kick their habit of dropping two points, but Klopp (right) believes the signs are already there in his players' displays.

"We found it (consistency) already," the Liverpool manager insisted.

"Not result-wise but performance-wise. We cannot force results."

In defence on his team's cavalier style, Klopp added: "We have to perform to get a result. We cannot stand deep and defend with 10 players.

"That doesn't work at Anfield to be honest and doesn't work anywhere else, so we need to be creative in a few moments.

"I spoke about consistency of performance and I really think that we are there. Results-wise we can improve 100pc."

Critics might argue that the only consistent thing about Liverpool is the defensive frailties which regularly undermine their brilliant attacking football.

Klopp's vulnerable backline was exposed once again at the Emirates, with only 388 seconds between Mohamed Salah's goal increasing their lead to 2-0 and Mesut Ozil's strike to put Arsenal 3-2 ahead.

Swansea City, the Premier League's basement club and visitors to Anfield today, should pose less of a threat, having only scored 11 times in the league this season.

Yet much attention will still be on how Liverpool's defence - particularly goalkeeper Simon Mignolet - cope.

In the latest of several high-profile errors that have pockmarked his Liverpool career, Mignolet allowed Arsenal's second - Granit Xhaka's long-range strike - to pass through his hands before it hit the back of the net.

Minutes earlier, Joe Gomez had allowed Alexis Sanchez to give Arsenal a foothold in the game.

The young full-back failed to track his opponent's running, allowing Sanchez to blindside him, nip in and score.

Both were costly individual errors that could easily have been avoided, but Klopp defended both players post-match and, in the case of Mignolet, insisted his goalkeeper will not make such an error twice.

"It's obvious that everyone saw the mistakes and Simon… that will never happen again," Klopp said. "He never conceded a goal like that (before) so we don't have to make a big deal of it.

"Joe, so good, such a fantastic improvement, development, outstanding," he added.

"Played for England, played for us, super. He is still a young lad and we all have to learn."

football on tv

Tottenham v Southampton

Sky Sports Main Event, 12.30

Dundee v Celtic

BT Sport 1, 2.30

Liverpool v Swansea City

Sky Sports Main Event 5.30

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