Jürgen Klopp described Liverpool’s performance in winning Wednesday night’s Merseyside derby 5-2 as ‘exceptional’.
The Reds boss made five changes to his starting XI to face Everton at Anfield and was rewarded with an emphatic performance, including three goals – two from Divock Origi and one from Xherdan Shaqiri – courtesy of players brought into the line-up.
Victory maintained their eight-point lead at the Premier League summit and set a new club record of 32 consecutive league matches without defeat.
Read a full transcript of Klopp’s post-match press conference below…
On his assessment of the performance…
Good – really, really good, especially in the circumstances I created pretty much by myself with the line-up. Making five changes can lead to some problems, of course. I didn’t see any of them. We have to make changes, that’s clear; probably some people were not too happy that we did that before a derby but we cannot make differences on that. It was clear it would be a really intense game so we needed fresh legs, as many as we could get. The only two boys I didn’t bring tonight were Joe [Gomez] and Naby [Keita] and both – with Joe you saw it and Naby I can tell you – are in outstanding shape. It was only me not being brave enough to make [those changes] as well.
But what the boys made of this difficult game was exceptional. We scored incredible goals. We had to fight. A few things didn’t work out defensively. First, we probably surprised them with our system; then, they didn’t surprise us but we couldn’t adapt as quickly as possible as necessary to their little system change. We wanted to wait until half-time – I was fine with 4-1, I was not fine with 4-2. But then we adapted to the system. It was an intense game but we controlled it much more again, scored a sensational fifth goal and job done – all good.
On Origi’s overall performance…
Outstanding! What a game he played. It was not only the goals but the goals were exceptional. The first one was a great attack in general – winning the ball, Adam [Lallana] passes to Sadio; Sadio sees the run, sees his movement and passes that ball in exactly the right moment, one touch and an open goal, great. The second one… in Germany when I was young one highlight of my week was always goal of the week and goal of the month; when they selected these, that would have been 100 per cent in contention. It was just a great first touch and then finishing it off like this. Apart from that, incredibly important runs for us, movements, used his speed, looked so natural. That was the most important thing. The understanding with Shaq and Sadio was obviously really good. So it was a pretty impressive performance of Div.
On the encouragement he takes from the performances of the players who came into the team…
That was the reason why we made the changes, then as a manager you hope for it. When the boys then deliver like they did tonight, it’s the best feeling you can get as a manager actually, that it worked out like that. It didn’t surprise me but I didn’t expect it in that – not perfection – but that manner. It was really good and helped us, not only the three points but that we could make the changes and the boys now know. Because it’s easy for me to tell them often, very often, how good they are but if they then don’t play it’s not too easy for them to always understand what I say. But if they play and deliver like they did tonight, it’s a very, very important sign for the whole squad, absolutely.
On becoming the fastest manager in Liverpool history to 100 league wins…
What I can say about it, what my feeling is, is all of these 100 wins were kind of lifesavers. It is always so important. I feel since two years it is not allowed to draw or whatever, or to lose, for sure not. Since we chased the Champions League two years ago and had a kind of advantage over Chelsea and then Chelsea came back and chased us all over the pitch without playing us. Since then, we have [had] to win each game and thank God the boys did that pretty often. But it’s not the number I am really interested in; it’s 300 points, that’s cool, but only 43 of them help us this season – all the others don’t help us. All good, a nice number, but I’m not too interested. The boys are the reason for the wins, nothing else. It is cool but it’s necessary as well. We sit here and nobody is kind of relieved, it is just a number – 43 – and three is the next number because in three days we play again against Bournemouth. They are waiting for us with all they have. They are not happy with their situation; I saw their game last night and they want to strike back, so we have to be ready for that game again and that’s actually the only thing I’m really thinking about: how can we make sure we are there for this specific fight and ready again? Then we will see. Stats are cool, if you look at it after a season then it is interesting, but in the season, absolutely not interesting for me.
On Shaqiri’s performance on his first start in seven months…
[Seven months] really? Sorry Shaq! He was injured a couple of times. If he could have scored two goals like Divock instead of one, I could say exactly the same [as I said about Origi]. He looked completely fresh, he looked strong, physically strong, so it is important players train after they get injured. He had twice this calf thing this season, so there was not a lot to change but I think he has been back in training for two or three weeks now completely normal. He understood the situation, that’s how it is in a squad when you win a lot of games, you don’t make 20 changes. It was always clear this period now of the year is where we need all of the boys and I hope they will then be in the shape like Shaq and Div tonight, or Adam [Lallana] tonight. It’s really important and gives us the feeling that we can do it more often – and we will do it more often. It was an incredible performance, the set-pieces were outstanding. It was all really good. More to follow!