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Klopp Talk: “It Was Like A Boxing Fight”

Jürgen Klopp gives his thoughts on a tightly contested draw with Manchester City.

Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City tonight proved to be everything we expected it to be. There were chances at both ends, excellent goals, last-ditch tackles, tactical fouls, and desperate defending. There were nervy moments throughout and the match felt like it was resting on a knife’s edge for the full 90 minutes; capable of leaning one way or the other at any time but never actually tilting to either side.

In a reversal of City’s visit to Anfield a few months ago that saw Pep Guardiola’s side draw level twice after surrendering the lead, Liverpool were the side that went down and had to claw their way back this time. It made the match very tense for the Reds and their supporters, and manager Jürgen Klopp commented on the tight battle following the match.

“Yeah it was an intense one huh!” the German manager said in his post-match interview with NBC Sports. “The best description I have is it was like a boxing fight. If you put down your arms for a second you get a massive knock, and that’s what happened to both teams.”

City got the better start and quickly took the lead with a deflected goal that Alisson Becker had no chance to save, but Liverpool were able to grow into the match and create chances when they could possess the ball.

“To start, obviously, this game was better for City with this first attack where Ali (Alisson) couldn’t make a proper save,” said Klopp. “But in around our goal which we scored that was the plan. I really think we are a step further than we were a year or so ago in possession, and that’s what we have to do in these games because it’s really difficult, they defend really well.

“It’s possible to give them some struggles and around our goals we did exactly that. I would have loved we do it more often, but obviously, the intensity was crazy and so you keep seeing both teams needed kind of a little deep breath and then thought ‘okay I’ll go again.’”

Liverpool’s biggest struggle throughout the match was stopping City as they attempted to break through the high defensive line. Guardiola deployed a speedy front three and his side were able to take full advantage of their pace with balls over the top that left LFC’s back four scrambling to get back time and time again. Klopp didn’t deny the defensive struggles, but he also pointed out there were periods when he was pleased with the defending.

“So obviously when we defended them well in half-spaces; Hendo (Jordan Henderson) stepped up, Thiago stepped up, and they had to play backpasses. When we didn’t do that then it was just like a set-piece and they chipped the ball behind our line, and it’s really difficult to have the right line. So without pressure on the ball, you can’t have a high line, but the runs for them were really good.”

“I think they were a bit more direct than they usually are, but why not? Why not? It’s allowed,” he said with a chuckle.

As for the result, the manager was happy to settle for a point even if it was not the result he was hoping for. He did, however, admit he was thankful for the intervention of VAR when Raheem Sterling appeared to score a go-ahead goal for the home side. It was a potentially deflating moment, but upon review, it was determined Sterling was just offside and the goal was called back.

“I’m fine with the game and absolutely the result of course as well. I would have loved to win, but I’m happy we didn’t lose because I think the offside decision was right but really close.”

In the end, a draw was probably a fair result, and Klopp’s measured, positive outlook on a match where his team were slightly outplayed by a superb opponent was also quite fair. Manchester City are a very tough team to beat, and a draw with them is always a decent result. The draw may mean the Premier League title race is no longer in Liverpool’s hands, but it’s far from over.