Jürgen Klopp on Arsenal stalemate, second-leg aims and more

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Arsenal stalemate, second-leg aims and more

Published 13th January 2022
By James Carroll and Sam Williams at Anfield

Jürgen Klopp acknowledged Liverpool did not do enough to beat Arsenal after the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg finished goalless at Anfield, but the boss is optimistic his team can emerge victorious from next Thursday's second leg.

The Reds were thwarted by a stubborn Gunners defence after the visitors had been reduced to 10 men on 24 minutes when Granit Xhaka was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Diogo Jota.

The hosts dominated possession but were unable to find a way through their opponents, meaning the sides will contest the second leg at Emirates Stadium in one week’s time with the tie finely poised.

Read on to see what Klopp told reporters in his post-match press conference.

On the result and Liverpool’s performance…

First and foremost, I don’t think even you saw this for the first time in the history of football – things like this happen. Our situation – and I said it before and it’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation – [meant] for obvious reasons we had to change the line-up tonight. I really liked the way we started in the game, I saw absolutely everything we wanted to see in the beginning. Front-footed, lively, direct in the right moments, we switched it in the right moments. We started in the game like we wanted to start and then there was the red card and then we play against a low block. Against a low block with the most finely-tuned team is difficult and obviously we are not – then on top of that, we made a few wrong decisions, we felt too much rushed, it looked like all of sudden we felt under pressure, which doesn’t make sense but it looked for me a little bit like that. It is a typical situation. 

You go forward to win something tonight and in a second you turn into a situation where you can lose something. That’s what I saw in the first half, then we tried to change a couple of things in the second half. We wanted to change the way they had to defend us, especially Curtis now – a dribbler on the wing, he is really active there and tries to give them some different problems than before. I thought it worked out quite well, then we tried to do the same thing on the right side with Neco, which was not bad as well, but we couldn’t create enough, of course not, for the situation we were in with playing against 10 men for I don’t know how long. That’s clear, but, again, this is a cup competition, it is a two-leg semi-final, it is half-time, it is 0-0 and even when probably Arsenal feels in a better position at the moment we don’t feel this tie is over for us so we will give it another proper try next Thursday.

On how he thinks the second leg will pan out…

I have no idea what Arsenal will do when we face them, we will see that. It is not in my mind in the moment – my mind is already Brentford, so from Monday on you can ask me these kinds of things about what we will do there. As I said, we know we can play better and we know we have to play better and that’s what we will do, what we will work on, that’s clear. A lot of things I liked, but the general outcome was not good enough, that’s the truth of this game and we have to accept this for the moment and from here we go.

On whether Liverpool ‘tried too hard’ to win the game after Xhaka’s dismissal…

Yes, in moments, yes. After the red card, yes. As I said, it looked like we felt under pressure, that makes no sense but it’s human, that’s how we are. You go out there and you go for winning something special and then all of a sudden it feels like from now on, from this moment on, you only can lose. Again, it is difficult but if we have then a well-settled formation, fine-tuned patterns and all these kind of things [then] it’s still difficult but it’s a bit easier and tonight, on top of that, with a pretty new line-up we had to face that. That’s the situation. We were not creative enough, definitely. We did a lot of things not good enough. But again, in the end it’s 0-0, half-time. Let’s go.

On whether it is a ‘tough blow’ to potentially be without Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah for the whole of January…

Tell me one team who wouldn’t miss Sadio Mane and Mo Salah and Naby Keita! Of course we miss them. We have known that already for years that it could happen. So, could we have been better prepared for it? I don’t think so because all the things we did in the past were because we had the team we had, so that’s the situation. What I don’t like too much is when journalists ask me questions about what our fans worry about, I don’t understand it. Are you that close with our supporters that you can ask these questions [and] worry about contract situations and stuff like this? That has nothing to do with the game tonight, absolutely nothing. Tonight we had a football problem and this team which we lined up tonight can play or sort that football problem, definitely. But we should not ignore there is an opponent as well fighting for something and it was a very passionate performance from Arsenal tonight. That’s why it was a 0-0, we accept that. But from here we go. 

Published 13th January 2022