Jürgen Klopp: The boys dug deep to secure win over West Ham

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp: The boys dug deep to secure win over West Ham

Published 5th March 2022
By James Carroll and Sam Williams at Anfield

Jürgen Klopp was satisfied to see Liverpool dig deep to claim a hard-fought 1-0 win over West Ham United at Anfield.

Sadio Mane's goal midway through the first half settled a tight affair on Saturday evening, with the Reds battling their way to a seventh consecutive Premier League victory and 12th win in a row across all competitions. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Naby Keita all made vital defensive interventions to secure the clean sheet and a victory that cuts Manchester City's lead at the top of the table to three points. 

Read every word Klopp said during his post-match press conference below…

Extended highlights: Liverpool 1-0 West Ham

On winning seven Premier League games in a row to close the gap on City...

We had to. There was no other choice. We will come to that point pretty soon probably that when you win seven - or for us, 12 in all competitions in a row - then you cannot not only win the ones where you are flying. Today we were obviously not flying, we had to dig really deep and that's what the boys did. It is necessary to get something out of this season that we keep on going and [there is] no time to rest, so just keep going.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: It doesn't matter how, we got the job done
5th March 2022

ReactionTrent Alexander-Arnold: It doesn't matter how, we got the job doneTrent Alexander-Arnold spoke about the importance of Liverpool's defensive resoluteness after the 1-0 victory over West Ham United on Saturday.

On the importance of adding quality to the squad and Luis Diaz's early impact...

Again, it was necessary, we cannot rely on these boys and we have on top of that, not to forget, Divock Origi and Taki Minamino, we had Shaqiri here, all brilliant players who helped us to win the things we won in the past. You need to bring in quality and fresh energy. That's what we tried and it looks like it worked out. The boys have now really proper quality in depth, but we cannot play all competitions and go far in the competitions if we don't have this depth, there is no chance. You can do it for a year when you are lucky with injuries, but I think we had years where Bobby, Sadio and Mo played pretty much all the games, if I am right. Sometimes they came from the bench, but the next game they started again.

In a week, especially like this - Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday and Tuesday, when we play again against Inter - there is no chance that you try to get through with the same line-up. It is the same situation in midfield. The last line, even there, that we have now Kostas, who when he plays shows he is an incredible player, Millie can play at right-back and is doing that from time to time or Joe plays there, so that's all really important. The centre-halves we can change, so that's all important and the only chance we had to try to be successful in the long term because so far, yes, we won one competition with this squad but nothing else. We just need energy in these different games, like we needed it tonight. Can you imagine if we would have played this game after making no changes on Wednesday? There is no chance and that's why it's exactly what we had to do.

You have to accept cookies in order to view this content on our site.

On Liverpool's defensive performance...

We should have done it differently but there were different counter-attacks. The first goal they nearly scored when Trent cleared the situation with a long leg, that was really bad defending, we have to admit that. No pressure on the ball in midfield, no close last line and too high so both centre-halves were surprised by Fornals' run and Trent was just not close enough. That we could sort it in the end was for different reasons. First I would say, Ali was really calm and made it not easy for him and Trent is then at least close enough to clear the situation. Second half, we had different moments, there were different moments. It was a problem of the first half because in the first half we defended Antonio extremely well with these high balls and long balls.

We took some risks in the last line for their build-up, we played with three against five and that we should have enough time to get into the right position to clear the situation or to win the challenge. Second half then, it was slightly different. I think it started directly with the ball where Antonio and a little push for Virg was enough, Virg deflects the ball and then Bowen is through. It was like a sign for them - 'Let's do that' - and we never found it back to the 100 per cent again. It meant we were now always a little bit late; even if Antonio did not win the ball, he made sure that we could not win it as well and then they were in much better positions for the second balls.

That's two different problems and we could have done both [better] - we have to do the first better, that's a mistake we should not make, and the rest is as well a little bit because of the quality of Antonio. He is doing that extremely well, I couldn't see one foul of him, he didn't need that, he just used his body. So that was pretty impressive. How it is, when you are not perfectly organised or you don't win the decisive challenges in the first place then you need your legs and you need passion, a big heart, to defend it anyway and that's what we did. First Robbo and then Naby and all these kind of things and Ali. We know that we needed some luck in these moments and proper defending just in a different way, but I think it is difficult to deny them over 95 minutes. These things can always happen, but first half they didn't happen and second half much too often.

On the team's dogged defensive work that was crucial to the victory…

All these situations were for me like scoring a goal, to be honest… after a goal the game is interrupted and that's why you can celebrate it, but the game is obviously not interrupted after we clear these things because the ball is still in play so we do not celebrate it. But inside it is exactly the same importance for me. If we speak about the game again then I will consider that exactly like that, like we scored a goal. How I said, if the organisation is wrong for a moment that doesn't mean you cannot defend the situation, you just have to do it in a different way. We did that here quite well. West Ham defended us a lot of times with blocks, so we were in good positions to finish the situation off but in the end we always hit the West Ham player.

The box was quite full but that's passionate defending as well, I just would have loved us to be, in these moments, more patient. So if they do this, we took too often the first opportunity to shoot. It was too easy to defend there, to block the ball – not that it was easy, but too easy a little bit. And if you wait there, if you are calm in these situations, then we wait a second longer and the opponent slides through the picture and then we have a clear sight again and can finish the situation better off. But I think because of the situation West Ham had, we felt a little bit in a rush, that we have to finish the game now off instead of just being calm in these moments and really do the right things in the right moment. That was the story of the game: we couldn't finish it off so the door stayed open and they went nearly through.

You have to accept cookies in order to view this content on our site.

On Alexander-Arnold's defensive work… 

Absolutely, I don't understand that [criticism of his defending], that's true, but I don't think I will change that with whatever I will say tonight. But if he couldn't defend, he would not play here - at least not that in that position. He improved in all departments and defending of course as well. But he is that young that he can improve and has to improve, but yes, his defending is not a problem we have.

On Alexander-Arnold reaching a new personal best of 16 assists in a season and what he provides in the final third…

So, when you see him playing I think we help him a little bit with positioning and stuff like this. We try to bring him into positions, formation-wise, where he can be that influential but of course it's all about him and his skillset and his quality and his right foot and his overview. That's it, that he is really in the situation and focused to set up goals in these moments, that he knows where are the dangerous situations and positions in the opposition box or around that and really tries to bring the ball there. It's very helpful if you work together for a longer time because the strikers obviously expect that as well. It was a brilliant run from Sadio for the goal - and I don't think it was a shot, by the way, I really think he wanted to… bring the ball in the box and then you need somebody who picks it up. That was Sadio in this moment, a really good goal.

Published 5th March 2022