Liverpool’s last two games have seen them earn a pair of clean sheets without Jürgen Klopp’s first choice centre half and with a goalkeeper most assumed was done in Red the day Loris Karius signed. The manager, though, insists he isn’t particularly surprised by the outcome.
Some might have had doubts about Simon Mignolet coming back into the side after the goalkeeper had three seasons to prove his worth and Klopp decided to look elsewhere. Many more would have had doubts about the side’s defensive surety without Joël Matip. Klopp says he believed.
“It's very important but I'm not surprised,” Klopp noted following the match when asked about another clean sheet earned by his changed defence. “If a player does not play from the beginning, it doesn’t mean he is a bad player—it only means I have decided on another one.
“They all need to be ready for their moment, and they were obviously ready. It's good how it is and we have to be ready for Stoke in a few days, Man City. But tonight it's good. We gave no real chances away with Lukaku up front. We did really well even when they played long balls and stayed cool.”
Liverpool stayed cool, dominated possession, and in the end got their late reward of a goal to go along with the clean sheet and earn the points they needed to keep Chelsea just in sight at the top of the table. The same can’t be said for Everton, and especially for Ross Barkley.
The Everton midfielder got caught up in the pressure and intensity of the derby and was lucky to avoid a sending off not just for his horror challenge on Jordan Henderson that should have earned red but also for a series of fouls that on another night could easily have seen him earn two yellows.
Fortunately for Barkley, the referee was in a lenient mood—one that doesn’t say much good about the standard of officiating in the Premier League. Fortunately for Liverpool, that lenient mood and Barkley’s rashness didn’t result in a serious Liverpool injury to go with the result.
“The first derby at Anfield was different, but I would actually prefer tonight because nobody is injured,” Klopp added. “Better 1-0 with all the players fit than 4-0 with one player out for a long time.”