Another set piece concession made a 2-1 win over stubborn West Bromwich Albion appear closer than it was, but Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool enjoyed a dominant afternoon against a manager in Tony Pulis who they had beaten in only four out the last 16 tries, and a club they had not won against in the last three contests.
Rather than simply the big statement victories against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal that have been a hallmark of Liverpool sides in recent years, it is these wins against the well-drilled mid-table clubs such as Hull City, Swansea and now West Brom—banana peels even the German’s squad of last term had trouble putting away—that are proof that this is shaping up to be special season.
“I’m quite happy with the performance of my team,” Klopp said in the post-match interview, “It was a great game; it is unbelievably difficult to play against West Brom. So many balls in the air, you have to always be concentrating so that you don’t make fouls. I think they had three set pieces, and these set pieces are so dangerous, it’s unbelievable.
However, I think it would’ve been kind of a joke if we had drawn today or did not win. It was unbelievable how we played.”
“We wasted a little bit of energy in the second half with the style we played [and] with the chances we created. We didn’t score,” the German lamented, “we [needed] to finish the game much earlier; but like I said, the performance, really good especially against a team like this.
They were here to get something but we never let them back into the game. In such an intense game, that is quite difficult. When you always have the ball, it is a big challenge to stay concentrated...Outstanding, I was really pleased with our performances.”
In a match in which the likes of Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho each had had chances to add a third goal and put the game to bed prior to Gareth McAuley’s 81st minute pull back goal, Klopp put his side’s failure to keep a second straight clean sheet into perspective:
“Who wants a clean sheet when you get three points?...Their corner kicks are so good, between soft and hard and you cannot really defend them. I had a feeling that 15 players in a white kit were in the box. It is like it is. We did really good, but in this moment [when West Brom scored], the first ball, we were where we had to be, and the second ball there were more consequences.
It was not too cool, but it was not the real problem. It is also not a problem that we didn’t score the third, the fourth or the fifth goal so that it was an exciting game until the last minute.”
Lastly, Klopp, who has advocated for consistently strong performances from the Anfield faithful as the 12th man, wrapped up by giving a shout out to the fans at the stadium for their part in the win, “I have been here a little bit more than a year, and that was the best performance of the crowd in a non-European game or against an opponent [like] Man United or something,” he gushed.
“I was really, really happy how the crowd, respected...West Brom and showed that they knew it was a difficult game. The atmosphere was outstanding; it was Anfield at it’s best.”