Jurgen Klopp wanted Liverpool to maintain more focus in a win over Brighton that he felt they deserved, even if he appreciates how tough it is to stay consistent.
Liverpool began the weekend of Premier League fixtures by keeping the pressure on leaders Manchester City with a 2-0 win at Brighton. It was not their finest performance, but they deserved the three points. The goals came from Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah.
It means they are three points behind the reigning champions as they try to chase them down. Klopp is glad they got the job done and believes they were good value for it.
However, he did admit a couple of times in his post-match interview that he would have preferred them to be more under control late on.
Klopp told BT Sport: “We were good. We knew and I said it before, Brighton is a really good team and can cause real problems. That’s what we saw in the beginning.
“Obviously in the last few games we need to get used to opponents because they try to adapt a lot to us, try to cause us problems in areas where they think they can hurt us.
“In the moment when we started playing and took the ball to the ground and started playing again the extra pass, switch the side – all these kind of things – we were really, really strong.
“We scored a great goal and had other moments obviously, really good moments after winning the ball and massive chances where we missed the final pass. But I’m really happy and I know, the last period we would have loved to control it more, but it’s an intense period for the boys.
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“Sometimes it’s only one challenge but the opponent used the body slightly smarter in that moment towards the goal and Ali [Alisson Becker] deserves his clean sheet. Really himself in a lot of moments so that’s good we have him and we use him.
“So it was the expected very difficult game. Really happy with big parts of the performance and even more so with the result.”
The scoring began when Diaz got his head to a ball forward from Joel Matip before onrushing Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez. Diaz was subsequently on the receiving end of a foul by Sanchez, who escaped punishment after a VAR check.
It continued Diaz’s fine start to life as a Liverpool player and Klopp knows he did his job.
The manager said: “It’s actually what a striker has to do and he did really well. Obviously, he’s probably the only person who knows exactly how quick he is so he can get there.
“I didn’t see it back yet but it was already spectacular enough and interesting first moment when I saw it. Getting there with the head is really brave but the right thing to do as well because if you can get in front of the goalie, you have to try it and that’s what he did. Great goal.”
Luis Diaz opens the scoring after an incredible pass from Joël Matip! 🔥
Despite being taken out by Robert Sánchez the Liverpool forward is ok to carry on 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Vka83JoN2X
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 12, 2022
However, Klopp refused to enter the debate about whether Sanchez should have seen red for the incident too. He simply replied: “I don’t know. I saw it only once. It was a discussion and then I have no idea.”
‘Consistency is the most difficult thing’
Liverpool doubled their lead from the penalty spot in the second half after a handball by Yves Bissouma. Salah powered home from 12 yards.
Klopp took pleasure from the build-up to the goal, before reiterating his desire for more focus in the following sections of the match. However, he acknowledges it is “exhausting” to remain consistent.
He said: “We had situations before that. Then we had the penalty but it was a good football situation.
“We were really around their box, we did exactly what we wanted to do, we put them there under pressure, win the ball back high and go again and that was the situation.
“We had a really good few passes, a finish and then Naby [Keita] with a really good shot to be honest. Handball. Penalty. Yes it’s fine.
“Then again, we had our chances with massive counter-attacks, all these kind of things which teams use. It’s fine again.
“I’m really not overly critical of the boys in these moments because we have to see as well. Consistency is the most difficult thing in football but the most exhausting as well. Here [pointing to his head] as well, not only for the body.
“And that’s why there are moments when I would wish we had, really, more concentration, more focus and could control it better. But how I said: I think we deserved it, clear, to win the game and that was all we were here for. So I’m really happy.”
Klopp can’t clarify Salah concern
There were concerns after Salah subsequently went off with what could be an injury. Klopp does not yet know how serious it would be, despite Salah playing it down.
The manager said: “We will see. He thinks it’s not serious but you can see when Mo Salah’s sitting down, something is not 100% right.
“I think it was the situation before when he hit the ball and got blocked, I think the foot was slightly overstretched. We have to see.”
Finally, Klopp was asked about his refusal to call their pursuit of City a title race. In his version of events, it does not mean there isn’t plenty of motivation among his squad.
He replied: “We don’t know what it is. It’s not our job to call it like that because it’s always the same.
“City plays Monday and you expect them just to win the games. As long as we are behind them, the only thing that we really feel is that we want to win football games and as many as somehow possible.
“I can see that in the boys’ faces, the body language, all these kind of things. We are ready for that. This race doesn’t need a name for us. We just want to win as many football games as possible.”