Jurgen Klopp was fiercely critical of Burnley’s physical approach in Liverpool’s win over them, but on the positive side, celebrated the impact of a fringe player in his own squad.
Liverpool beat Burnley 2-0 upon their return to Anfield with goals from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane. It was a lively encounter from start to finish. Burnley were competitive, but Liverpool saw them off in the end.
It marked a winning return for the Liverpool crowd and saw Klopp’s side win without conceding for the second match in a row.
However, the manager was far from all smiles at the end of the game. Somewhat surprisingly, he issued a lengthy complaint about Burnley’s battling style.
He told BT Sport: “Burnley was never a game where you are just flying or whatever and can outplay them, at least not for us. We always had to be ready for a proper fight but we were today in a really difficult game.
“You saw these challenges with [Ashley] Barnes and [Chris] Wood, and Virgil [van Dijk] and Joel [Matip]. I’m not 100 per cent sure if they are really going in the right direction with these kind of decisions. It’s like we go 10, 15 years back to, ‘that was the football we wanted to see’ or whatever.
“It’s just too dangerous; you cannot really judge the situations. How you get up in the air, it’s fine, but when you get down and they stand still in the defender, it’s just hard.
"We always have to be ready for a proper fight, but we were today."
Jürgen Klopp reflects on a physically demanding game at Anfield as his side triumphed Burnley 2-0…
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“The rules are like they are, I don’t know exactly, but the thing is you cannot defend these situations how you want to avoid these situations. [Nick] Pope is the first one, then [Ben] Mee and [James] Tarkowski the next one. That’s how it makes the game really tricky.
“That’s not the only balls they play but they are the most difficult to defend.
“We scored two goals. We scored a wonderful third one which was offside, that’s fine, but I loved the pass from Harvey [Elliott] to Mo [Salah] anyway. Sadio could have scored one or two more.
“So that’s the game you play and in the end you win it 2-0, it’s all fine.”
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Klopp continued his debate by picking apart the concept of letting the game flow. While he agrees with giving the attacking side the benefit of the doubt sometimes, he brought the concept of player safety back into focus.
He added: “I think it all started when we changed the rules 20 years ago to protect the players. So more contact, a player cannot judge when you are in the air, you have no influence, you are in the air. You head a ball but the player’s in you, you get on the floor again, your leg is not in the right [position].
“I don’t think it’s right, but I cannot decide these kind of things. But I heard that we want to let the game flow, but it’s always like this.
“We need to get used to it but I think we have to think about it maybe a second or third time. It’s always like this. There’s one message: ‘let the game flow’. And now nobody knows exactly what does that mean?
“Obviously that’s fine, that’s fine, that’s fine, there’s no foul any more and these kind of things, it’s always like it was. But I’m not sure. I like all the decisions in favour of the offensive team, that’s fine, like offside now and we get back to that, or in doubt, then the striker is right.
“But we have to stick to protecting the players. We cannot deny that convenience. ‘That’s a challenge, I love that’, then watch wrestling.”
His comments drew a perplexed reaction from the BT pundits, who had not noticed any such issues.
Klopp praises Tsimikas role in goal
Turning the focus to more positive aspects, Klopp was asked about the opening goal, which saw Jota head in smartly.
The Reds boss was keen to point out the quality of the delivery from Kostas Tsimikas, who gave a positive account of himself while Andy Robertson returned to the bench.
Discussing Jota’s role in the goal, Klopp said: “Yeah, but I have to say without the cross of Kostas Tsimikas, this goal wouldn’t have happened, obviously. So yes it was a great movement, but it was a great cross as well.
“Kostas in these moments is obviously ice cold and helps massively.
“We played a lot of moments, brilliant game, but we didn’t score. These kind of things you forget after a game. But in all the other moments we had to fight incredibly hard.
“Burnley had a really good start in their way. But again, we won it and nobody got injured or hurt.”