Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool: Pepijn Lijnders' reaction

Press conferenceChelsea 2-2 Liverpool: Pepijn Lijnders' reaction

Published 2nd January 2022
By James Carroll and Sam Williams at Stamford Bridge

Pepijn Lijnders spoke of his pride in Liverpool’s performance in drawing 2-2 with Chelsea, but rued the Reds’ inability to control an action-packed contest after they went 2-0 up at Stamford Bridge.

Watch extended highlights of Chelsea 2-2 LFC

The visitors held a commanding advantage with 26 minutes of Sunday’s pulsating Premier League clash gone, thanks to goals by Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

However, Chelsea got in at half-time level after Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic both scored in the latter stages of the first period.

Caoimhin Kelleher made superb saves to deny Pulisic in each half, while Edouard Mendy produced excellent stops to thwart Salah and Mane in quick succession around the hour mark as the teams were forced to share the spoils following a frenetic game.

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With Jürgen Klopp absent following a suspected positive COVID-19 test, Lijnders led Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Read a transcript of the assistant manager’s post-match press conference below…

On the result and Liverpool’s performance…

We should have controlled the game better. We had moments already before the 2-0; we were lethal in our counter-attacks. In the moments we played, we really connected well and we were quick in mind, thought about the next pass. The way we opened up spaces was incredible and we used these spaces really well in the whole game – maybe sometimes the last pass, maybe sometimes a better timing with our movement in behind to create even more. Overall, I can speak a lot about tactics and all these ideas but for me [the feeling is] pride because we could have come here with a lot of excuses, the team could have come here with a lot of excuses, but they fought with all they had. Getting a result away at Chelsea is always good, it is just we could have avoided it better if we’d played more football, more often better football in their half and they would not have had that many situations. We could have avoided these two goals with better defending.

On Liverpool’s display defensively…

I don’t think the problem was defensively. We corrected a few things at half-time, but I think the problem was we didn’t keep the ball for long enough in many moments when we went to their half because that’s the moment they have to push wing-backs back in and that’s the moment where we can really also rest with the ball. This balance was not right today, but again, you can always do things better in a draw. We are happy, we take this point because it’s a positive point in a very difficult situation.

On how today’s result impacts the Premier League title race…

It’s never boring with us. We never look at others. A title race is only decided on the last matchday and there are so many points to collect. We have this difficult situation and you never know if the opposition will get a difficult situation. We have to focus on ourselves, that’s how we always did it, that’s how we got into the position we are, that’s how our team developed, how our team is in this moment in time. We only focus on the next game to make it a final and give everything we have and with this we become better. With this we became champions, we won the Champions League and we won the other two cups, so this is what we have to keep doing. Again, a big compliment to our team because if we keep this fighting spirit up and we play a little bit better, then we have a big chance as well in the next games.

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ReactionVirgil van Dijk on Chelsea draw, Kelleher performance and moreVirgil van Dijk detailed the disappointment Liverpool felt at ceding a two-goal lead in Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Chelsea.

On whether he and Klopp are concerned about how the squad will be stretched in the coming weeks, with injuries, COVID-19 issues and Mane, Salah and Naby Keita now departing to the Africa Cup of Nations…

You can try to plan it but you can never prepare it. It is not a worry because we have faith in the boys we have and a few boys are coming back as well. We know that certain players can play more offensively as well, they have been playing in midfield but they can play more offensively as well. I just told the boys as well that Naby, Mo and Sadio: that they should try to win the AFCON because it is a prize to catch and the careers are never long and they deserve to fight for each prize. This prize now comes in front of them – it’s a tournament with so much passion, so much culture and it is a really proud situation if you can play for your country, if it’s England or Germany or Holland or whoever and that’s what they have and feel. So they are African legends, they are legends for me, but if they win it they will probably be even bigger legends so they should try with all they have to win it.

On whether he is expecting the likes of Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino to be available again soon…

Let’s see. Some of the boys plan to be back but they still didn’t start team training, so we have to see. That’s what I say: coming here, we could have made many excuses but we didn’t and I think it’s a positive point.

Published 2nd January 2022