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Klopp Talk: “We Played Good In Different Phases”

The Liverpool manager felt his side responded well after conceding an equalizer late in the first half, and was thrilled to see Darwin Núñez score the winner.

Liverpool FC v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images

Liverpool continued their strong start to the season after knocking of a West Ham side coming into the match with top four aspirations. Jürgen Klopp’s side started brightly, earning a penalty that was finished off by Mohamed Salah in the 16th minute. The Hammers worked their way back into the match to equalize the score just before the half, but the Reds roared to life yet again in the second half to score two more goals for a 3-1 win. After the match, Klopp was overall pleased with how his side dealt with situations and how they performed in different phases of the match.

Yeah, it was [as] expected: a difficult, difficult game. There were very good moments in the first half but we were not enough in control to deny them completely, which is anyway super-difficult. But I really thought again we played good in different phases. Lost some balls we shouldn’t have lost, that’s clear, but around [that] we scored our goal – which was a super counter-attack. Especially counter-attacks we had really good ones, and then we were asking a little bit for the equaliser, if you want. When they scored I was not completely surprised, it was not like, ‘How can that happen?’ We should have defended it better, that’s clear. But most important is that you stay in the game and that’s what we did in the second half obviously. We controlled it much better, we gave them a proper challenge, we really caused them some problems and scored super goals.

Of course, that’s now a really special one the second one. Incredible. Everybody is looking at me when talking about the goal with wide eyes but I saw it only once yet. So I can’t wait to see it properly back. Third goal, again a top set-piece, we all know how important they are. On the other side, how well we defended the set-pieces of West Ham; again, everybody should know how good they are at that. Ali with an unbelievable save in a pretty important moment.

Macca lost the first ball or the second, I don’t know, but then started really playing and was really there. Dom similar, really playing and stayed in the game until late, late, late. Until the end actually. Joel Matip with a super performance against Antonio. It’s a key moment in the game. They chip the ball there and I don’t know how often in the past we suffered when he could control the ball. Today he had it once or twice and immediately the chaos starts. He [Matip] did that really well. Darwin and Lucho after Thursday. Mo, top, top, top – involved in defensive stuff and offensively everybody knows.

I don’t want to forget anybody. Curtis good, Virg, Robbo. And the most important thing, the boys who came on had again a super-positive impact. Yes, it’s a goal of Diogo but I really thought Cody came on and that looked really, really good. This is the most important thing we can learn besides the three points obviously. That’s the way we have to deal with this situation, we have to use them all. Too many games, Thursday-Sunday is a tricky one, we have to get used to that. And for today, really happy.

After struggling with slow starts for most of the matches so far this season, Klopp was pleased to see his side get on the score sheet first against West Ham. Despite taking the early lead, he acknowledged his side gave up too much space throughout the rest of the first half, which lead to the equalizer.

Yeah, the start is promising, how I said. We have to get used to different things, that’s how it is. The penalty came from a counter-attack, that was a sensational pass from Darwin I think to Lucho and then he is the one in the box as well, if I remembered right. And then Mo arrives there completely free and if he is not getting fouled then he probably finishes it off from a similar position like he did then with the penalty.

That looks positive. Again, these boys are good footballers and when they have a great day they are extremely good. But when it doesn’t start as well – that’s why I liked the development into the game. This time we didn’t concede first but we conceded anyway. It feels the same, to be honest, not great. But again the reaction was really top and that’s for us in the moment the most important thing because we have to become this kind of team where it is really difficult to deal with. When we are not playing well we are solid, when we are playing well we are really good then. That’s how you can get kind of consistency and that’s what we obviously need.

Despite the hiccup to end the half, Liverpool came out and absolutely dominated the second half. Klopp said it mostly came down to controlling possession of the ball as well as the space provided.

It’s the way we played, they didn’t get into the challenges anymore. First half, the goal they scored was a ball we didn’t expect in that moment – the long ball behind. At half-time, we looked at it back; Robbo couldn’t put him offside, so it was clear then we should have maybe reacted in the centre slightly earlier so they can’t play the ball. It was like a little breather in that moment, then the ball came again. In the second half, a similar situation when Robbo was there then. It was in the back of Virgil and then Robbo got there. Very often we controlled that. We were better in possession, clearer. I think there was a really intense period, we were 2-1 and that was the best phase in the game and we really controlled it. We thought about changing, but then we really kept them calm with our own possession.

That’s what you have to do; the best way to protect your own offensive style is with finishing it off but as long as you cannot finish it off then you should keep the ball. That’s how it is. A lot of good stuff I saw today. It feels really good because before the game when it was clear, you play Thursday – West Ham as well – and you arrive here and you know it is a really tricky opponent. Then on top of that, I am not sure but I think with the first whistle the wind started. I didn’t remember before the game it was windy and then we got out and it was like, ‘Huh?’ You saw it this time with the big chance of Antonio, I think, the header he missed. I’m pretty sure if the wind is not there that is even more. So, it makes it very often a 50-50 situation in these moments and you have to get the ball down on the ground, keep playing, try again, learn from the game, use the formation as much as you can and then defend with all you have. That’s what we did.

Klopp also made sure to call out the fantastic work by striker Darwin Núñez. The manager highlighted how much of a threat he was on the attacking end, as well as how much he has progressed in his understanding of the press and his defensive work rate.

Massive steps in the last few weeks. He is a threat. You all saw the goal, it was probably pretty good, right? That was really strong. He was always available for us, it is super-important for us that we have now – I am not sure it’s the right word – a ball player. Chip the ball there, get it on the chest and play from there, like we scored the third at Wolves for example. I think that was a similar situation and super-important for us. The defensive work he puts in now, that’s probably the main difference. He always wanted, but it was less coordinated. Now that looks much better and we found a way how we can do it around him. Curtis and Dom help there a lot with how flexible they are in that way. Really good, absolutely.

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