Liverpool head coach Jürgen Klopp spoke to the press ahead of Sunday’s match against a challenging Arsenal side, and the German discussed whether he hopes the Reds will build on previous performances against the Gunners:
Will we improve? We will see. What we learn is that we have to be much more dominant in possession. There it was a typical away game. Yes, we had a few problems here and there, that’s true, and it’s a cup game, it’s all about the result, stuff like this. But I think everybody who saw the game knows that Arsenal could have scored before we scored and that could have given the game a completely different direction obviously. But even these kind of games you can win, but I would prefer us to have more moments where we are in charge – as difficult as it is because they are really good.
You saw it in the home game when we played, first half they were super-physical in a good way, not kicking or whatever, really strong on the ball and they won these one-v-one situations, they won press balls, 50-50 situations, they won all that. But they could not cope with us for 90 minutes and probably in the second half we should have won that game, but that’s quite normal in football and quite common. I try to give the boys the right information [so] that we can just be better and being better means being more in the game, being more in the game means you have a bigger chance to win it.
Though the members of the press tried to get him to bite on multiple occasions, Klopp refused to engage with specifics on the weekend match’s meaning for the title race:
No idea [if this is a “must win”]. I think what we learned over the years is if you want to be around [Manchester] City then you better win all your football games because they do. That’s all. This is the league, this is the time where City is dominating, that’s how it is. They play incredible stuff and would probably consider themselves not playing their very best season but are where they are. We play a very good season and are in the moment two points ahead of City, and they play kind of a season and are two points behind us, which is really interesting. So, that’s the situation we are in. We could discuss that or we don’t do it and just take it like it is and go from here and try to play the best season we can play. And when we face them, we want to beat them. In the other games we don’t have anything to do with them. That’s the thing.
Arsenal, they beat us, they are definitely there. If they don’t beat us, then ask them or other people, I don’t know what that means. But there are so many games to come and we always judge then the moment and then it’s like, by the way, you play there, there, there. You can lose all these games unfortunately, that’s how it is. You can win them as well, that’s cool, but you could lose them as well and then you lose key players in absolutely the wrong moments. We all have to get through this. You ask these questions and you try to get answers, the only problem is that we cannot give the answers – and not only me, we cannot give the answers because we don’t know. But we will try to make it as hard as somehow possible for everyone who wants to finish the season above us. Let’s see if we can do that, it’s just what we want to try.
Klopp was willing to speak more in-depth about his team’s current make-up, and how the squad — including new signings — is based on a solidity that is always a thread:
The profile we wanted to sign was pretty clear. It was pretty clear that we wanted to have these eights which can play both directions, good at that, leggy, technically good, stuff like this. But that will not change anything because if you have these kind of midfielders but the rest of the team is not defending on their absolute highest level, it doesn’t change. So, the main subject from the first day when we came to the season was that we have to defend better. That means we and not they. That’s what we did. It is much clearer again. Offensive line, the way it starts, the high press, the midfield press, everywhere, it is clearer they are all in. That makes a difference – not so much to do with the midfielders that they are there now.
The midfielders we had last year were some of the best this club ever had, so that’s how it is. But everything has its time and this maybe as well, but still some of the best we’ve ever had and some of the best stories I experienced in my life happened because of them. All fine. But it was clear we needed to change and we did. But especially we improved as a team again. We found a way back to our ways, how we want to defend and how we want to be kind of dominant in possession when they have the ball. Yeah, that’s the reason, that’s all. I think everybody in the team hated the goal Chelsea scored, just because it took a clean sheet away from Ali [Alisson Becker] by not being present for a second. But we all know that with all our good defending, without Ali in decisive moments, it would still look slightly different.
But so far that’s good, that’s how it is. If you want we can talk about everything. We are top of the table, so we are obviously in a good moment and do a lot of good stuff. The problem is only that I’m more interested in the table after the Arsenal game and then after the Burnley game and then after that – not that I think about it but that’s what I’m more interested in. So far we played a good season, we developed throughout the season, step by step we became a better version of ourselves, and there’s still so much space for improvement, so that’s what we will try to make sure.
Liverpool will hope to continue their good form at a challenging test away at the Emirates this Sunday.