It was a rough day at the office for Liverpool Football Club, who managed to squeeze a 2-0 win against Sunderland despite a brutal display of ugly and physical anti-football from the opposition. After the match, manager Jürgen Klopp talked through the game, leading off with Philippe Coutinho’s injury in the first half. After updating reporters on the squad’s injury status, Klopp shifted toward the things that went right for Liverpool during the match.
A big thing that went right was Divock Origi. The Belgian forward overcame some fitness concerns over the summer to earn a consistent place in the matchday 18 and has established himself as strong late-game relief for the forward line. Origi was brought in for Coutinho just after the half-hour mark and was tasked with trying to keep the attack rolling and find a crack in Sunderland’s 8-man defense. He ultimately did score in the 75th minute, giving the Reds the opening they needed and sending them on their way to three points.
“We have more players for different situations, that’s all good, but two more defensive, two very young [on the bench today]. I am fine, really happy about the skills of the boys, but injury is never a positive thing. Only to show that Divock Origi is a good football player, I don’t need injury of another player. But when Div came in, it’s how it is in life, timing is very important and now he’s ready again and that’s good. Maybe it’s a coincidence in this situation, but he’s ready again. He had a few problems after the summer break, not big, then he nearly played nowhere, not for Belgium, not for us and that’s not good. Today he was switched on from the first second, and it’s not an easy situation, nobody could’ve expected in this moment that we had to make a substitution, but we did it and Div was immediately in the game, that was really, really important. I saw the goal now, - you can play how you want, where you want [but] in the end you need someone who shoots the ball in the goal and that was the situation. The box was pretty full, but he scored a similar goal already – I’m not sure against who, but it was a surprise for their goalkeeper and it was a good decision. He deserved it very, very much because even in these not very easy times for him, he is a very positive guy and always ready to learn. He’s still a young boy and today he got the benefit for this work.”
Klopp touched on a few other topics in that post-match presser, including whether he was worried about a repeat of last week’s draw at Sunderland.
“No, I didn’t think for a second in this game today about Southampton. Today was much more defensive. I’m not sure I’ve ever played against a more defensive team than today. Man-marking against Phil Coutinho, [Victor] Anichebe left full-back, don’t know how many touches [Jermain] Defoe had, so that [comparing the games] would not be nice to Southampton.”
Toward the end of the press conference Klopp reflected on what he learned today.
“That we are able to beat even the most defensive team I have ever played against. That’s actually a nice thing to learn. It’s not about me to say what other teams are doing, but we forced them in this position. With Anichebe, I don’t think the plan was for him to play left full-back, but with the positioning of [Nathaniel] Clyney, when we saw he follows him wherever he is going, we put Clyney in a higher position and that gave us space in other spaces. The box was quite full and we had the situations where we could have made this or that better decisions, but the closer the space gets the more difficult it is so you need to stay patient, it’s not allowed to get frustrated or things like this in their body language – you must really stay straight and in the situation, then you’re always ready for this one moment. We had the situations before we scored, Gini [Wijnaldum] was close, but maybe [we were] not greedy enough in this moment but it’s a challenge in the whole development. We are ready for this situation, to play against teams like this, but it’s not easy. I saw a few minutes of Burnley v [Manchester] City and it did not look like it was easy for City there. That’s the job for all of us to do when you want to be in the top region of the table, you need to collect points and don’t care against who.”