Thursday 22 February 2018

Reds aim to go fourth as bold Klopp is content to play hand he has been dealt

Chelsea 1 Liverpool 3

Philippe Coutinho scores Liverpool's second goal
Philippe Coutinho scores Liverpool's second goal
Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (L) vies with Liverpool's Spanish defender Alberto Moreno during the match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates his team’s win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with Mamadou Sakho
Liverpool's English defender Nathaniel Clyne (L) vies with Chelsea's Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa (R) during the match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London
Adam Lallana of Liverpool and John Mikel Obi of Chelsea compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge

Matt Law

Jurgen Klopp had spent the majority of the 90 minutes talking to the officials, so it was no great surprise when he consulted the referee Mark Clattenburg one last time after Liverpool's victory here.

"They are asking me about the top four," Klopp called over to Clattenburg in an attempt to deflect inquires as to whether Liverpool can snatch a Champions League place this season.

Clattenburg, who did Klopp a huge favour against Chelsea by electing to let Lucas stay on the pitch, offered little sympathy, replying: "Welcome to England."

While there has been much fanfare over Klopp's appointment as Liverpool manager, this was the moment the German truly announced himself to the Premier League. He made a bold decision ahead of kick-off by starting with Roberto Firmino in the centre of a front three, instead of Christian Benteke, with Philippe Coutinho cutting in from the left.

The move worked spectacularly, as Coutinho scored his first goals since the opening day of the season and Benteke stepped off the bench to seal Liverpool's first victory from a losing position in 10 months after Ramires had opened the scoring for the home side.

With champions Chelsea struggling near the bottom of the table and Manchester United short of goals, Liverpool are four points off the top four but Klopp is in no hurry and his main focus is to get the best out of the players he has inherited.

Klopp said: "I can't believe that England is so impatient. It is much more difficult. I have been here three weeks. Everyone tells me: 'You want to buy this player, this player, this player.' But development is to work with the players you have. It's like if you have a problem with your wife, you don't want to change every day.

"That is the thing, you just work and work and get better. You don't think about the summer of 2016. I don't know what will be there. We have to try and work, and get closer and see what we can achieve.

"We have to improve everything and then we can talk about where we will be in the table but, at this moment, in November, we cannot talk. I have my first free day since I am in Liverpool and then we start again. We will see what we can do."

Getting the best out of Coutinho, or Phil as Klopp calls him, will certainly leave Liverpool in a stronger position. "Phil is a brilliant player and we don't have to talk about his qualities," the Liverpool manager said. "Sometimes you have to work really, really hard to make football look easy. That is what he did against Chelsea.

"It was not a perfect start for Phil, but he came back and he was cool enough in the right moment, to shoot at the right moment. That is his quality, of course, but not always is the sun shining. We have to work hard on days when it is raining for the team.

"I'm not interested in what happened before. I have spoken to Phil, yes, of course. But my job is to help him, not to say what he is not doing good. He knows the last three games were not perfect, but he needs the games.

"He needs the experience in games to feel what is good and what is wrong. This is the perfect example. The start was not good, but then we came back."

Lucas got his lucky break in the 67th minute of the match. Already on a yellow card, the midfielder tripped Ramires but Clattenburg awarded no more than a free-kick, much to the frustration of the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, who sarcastically applauded.

Rather than talking about the incident, Lucas, 28, concentrated on the changes being made at Anfield by Klopp. "There has been a clear plan for what to do," the midfielder said. "Of course we still have a lot to improve, especially in the way he wants us to play, but it's better improving when you are winning games. We get the confidence.

"We just need to make sure that we keep going, because football can change very quickly. We just need to keep working and improving. If we keep doing what he wants, it's going to be a good season for us."

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