Tuesday 21 January 2020

'The boys played sensational' - Jurgen Klopp hails his Liverpool players as they complete unbeaten year in the Premier League

Sadio Mane was on target for Liverpool once again as they beat Sheffield United Getty
Sadio Mane was on target for Liverpool once again as they beat Sheffield United Getty
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described his side's performance as 'sensational' as they restored a 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 win against Sheffield United.

Klopp's side has now gone through an entire year unbeaten in the top division of English football, with their seemingly unstoppable march towards the club's first title in 30-years boosted by goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane against the Blades.

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"The boys played sensational," declared Klopp. "You saw these glimpses in the game where we were a bit sloppy, but overall, it was fantastic.

"They wanted two or three situations in which they could score in. We needed that concentration and that was incredibly tough but the boys did so well. Nothing ends. We have to make sure we are ready again.

"I am really happy and really proud of the boys. We should not take things like this for granted. The way we controlled Sheffield United tonight was exceptional. In possession we were incredible, we were calm but lively as well. The goals we scored were exceptional.

"It's obviously good (to go through a year unbeaten) but the target tonight was not to extend this, but to win the game. The best thing you can say when you play against Sheffield United is to keep the game not spectacular. We controlled the game.

"We played around their formation, played behind, in-between, broke the lines and had counter-attacks. All the things we want to have."

Sadio Mane wrapped up the win (Peter Byrne/PA)

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admitted his top six contenders struggled to get close to a rampant Liverpool, as he accepted his Blades had been blunted.

"Little bit drained. Disappointed in our performance, we never laid a glove on them," he stated. "If there's ever an example of a team doing well and with the desire, that's Liverpool.

"The first balls, second balls, running forward, tackling, defending, being aggressive; they showed all those qualities. It's a great example for our team.

"We were off pace today. Maybe the Manchester City game took more out of them than I expected. I think our goalkeeper kept us in the game. For us to get anything, we would have had to perform really well and we didn't.

"Every time we tried to press they played around us with the quality they have got. All the stuff that gets talked about in academies, with young coaches - just look at what they did tonight in terms of the basic stuff that gives you an opportunity to play and dominate. That's what they did to us. Not only technically, but tactically, they are a fantastic side. We have been well beaten tonight.

"People talk about us having afternoons and nights like this when we came to the Premier League. We have not had that done to us all season until now so that's small comfort, but it still hurts, we are still professionals. I believe if we played near our best we could have got something but we weren't anywhere near it.

"We need to dust ourselves off. I wish Jurgen all best. I love everything about them. The physical and mental part of it is amazing."

Mo Salah opened the scoring against Sheffield United (Peter Byrne/PA)

There is a chance that Liverpool could equal Arsenal's unbeaten record from their 2003/04 title-winning season and maybe even eclipse their record 49-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, yet Henderson insisted his side were only focused on winning the trophy.

"I am not really bothered about that," declared Red captain Jordan Henderson when asked about the prospect of breaking Arsenal's record. "I am bothered about next game and next challenge and see where that takes us come May.

"The performance level has been really high for a long period of time. We want to continue that, keep doing the things we are doing, keep improving and keep concentrating on the next challenge.

"I still think we can improve. The last 10 or 15 minutes they had a good chance. We can't afford to give teams those chances. Overall the intensity was really good. We have coped well and need to improve for the derby (against Everton in the FA Cup) on Sunday."

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was also doing his best to sidestep questions about what now appears to be an inevitable Premier League title triumph, as he gave his post-match thoughts to BT Sport.

"We are doing okay," he declared modestly. "We just focus on the next game ahead of us. Sheffield United are a great side. We prepared very well. It showed on the pitch. We were calm, composed and yeah, it was a good victory.

"When we keep a clean sheet it gives us a big chance to win the game as we have so much quality up front. It gives us confidence."

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