Cruising to a decently comfortable win against Leicester on a Thursday evening wasn’t completely terrible. Diogo Jota scored both goals, one in each half, and new signing Luis Diaz made his first start in a Red shirt in front of the Kop to help along the victory. The Foxes didn’t know what to do with themselves, it seemed, especially as Mohamed Salah came back into the fold from his time away with Egypt.
It was a result anyone would be pleased with, including hard to impress Jurgen Klopp.
“I am [pleased] because winning 2-0, I will never – and it’s not allowed to – take something like that for granted,” the manager said in his post-match press conference.
“I saw a lot of good football tonight but there were moments when I wished we would have controlled the game a little bit more, when we gave Leicester at least a bit too much possession.
“It didn’t lead to anything properly, that they had massive chances or things like that, but it costs you kind of energy and we could have invested that in the other direction. But anyhow, it was two wonderful goals, could have scored more and we are the deserved winner. So, I’m really happy about that.”
Much has been said of new signing Luis Diaz and Thursday was his first opportunity to show everyone what he’s capable of from the get go. While Klopp is well aware, the comfort that Diaz played with wasn’t unnoticed by the manager.
“That’s exactly the impression he made in training and that’s why we thought, ‘Come on, let’s give it a try,’” said Klopp of Diaz “looking at home” in the iconic red shirts.
“There were a lot of things when we saw him playing for Porto where we thought, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what we want him to do as well.’ On top of that, he seems to be a really smart football boy, has obviously watched Liverpool quite a lot. We didn’t overload new players with information in the first week and tell them everything we want them to do, we just have a look. And when we looked at it, it looked like a Liverpool player, that’s true.
“The last few minutes when he came on against Cardiff already, and now the situation was just made for it because Sadio came home only last night and is probably still in bed. And Mo after four times 120 minutes, it was clear he will not start as well. So, just the situation was there and he obviously enjoyed the game.”
Now only nine points remain between Liverpool and first place Manchester City. While City may be stacked, it’s unrealistic to expect them to win every game from now until May, and Liverpool need to be ready to capitalize on whatever points they drop between now and then. Is that something the Red Men can do, though?
“I’m not sure we are in a position to get them on their toes, to be honest. But it’s not important in the moment, to be honest. Actually, if we had no chance to catch them, would that mean we shall not try to play the best possible season for us? I can’t see that,” the manager continued.
“First and foremost we have to win our football games. This football club is massive and since I’m here I can’t remember a game we lost and everybody said, ‘Yeah, you can lose that game.’ It’s always the same situation: there’s a game, we put on the shirts and then we have to win it. It doesn’t work out all the time but thank God, it happened a couple of times.
“That’s the situation we are in. It was really important for us tonight to win, because there’s not only Man City to catch or whatever, there are a lot of teams in behind us who want to get closer – and that’s a very important task as well.”
Integral to that charge will be Diogo Jota, who has so far scored 12 goals in 22 Premier League appearances, and the return of Mohamed Salah from the African Cup of Nations - oh and the winner of that tournament, Sadio Mane. Jota scored both goals against Leicester on Thursday, easing the tension a bit both times with his strikes - something he has a knack for.
“Absolutely true. I love 1-0s, to be honest… I love 2-0s and 3-0s as well! Yes, I know what you mean. He is obviously in a really [good] goalscoring moment, which is incredibly helpful,” Klopp added of Jota.
“It is always helpful, but it was now in the absence of Mo and Sadio extremely helpful. We knew he is good, [but] we had no idea how good – or where – his limit is or where he can go and I am not sure he is already there, he is just improving. If you speak to him you will realise he is a really smart person, so he will judge all that right and then will use that for the next steps.”
Speaking of Mo, the Egyptian came off the bench today hardly a few days from the AFCON and immediately got to work - something everyone missed, regardless of our results without him.
“What a quality he has,” Klopp gushed.
“I think the first situation was incredible, the counter. The first move was genius; the defender slipped and he walked away. Unfortunately, Kasper Schmeichel is not a bad goalie, so he made an incredible save and the player from behind… OK, we won 2-0, [but] that was a tackle for sure, I am not sure 100 per cent how you will judge that from a ref point of view. Then the crossbar or the edge of the goal, an incredible situation, and the other one I forgot but that’s just Mo.
“He had 35 minutes roundabout, it was the idea to bring him early, that we really can use him then. We played a lot of football in the first 55 minutes, so that’s tiring for the opponent as well, and that Mo can then come on gives your game a different dimension and we nearly used that.”
Liverpool now look ahead to Burnley on Sunday afternoon, with a nearly fully fit squad visit Turf Moore and Sean Dyche’s men (and his worms).