Jürgen Klopp on Palace, Jota improvement and Kelleher rating

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Palace, Jota improvement and Kelleher rating

Published 21st January 2022
By Chris Shaw

Jürgen Klopp anticipates a ‘really tough game’ as Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday.

The Reds were 7-0 winners on their last visit to Selhurst Park, in December 2020, but, fresh from reaching the Carabao Cup final, are preparing for a stern test against an Eagles side now led by Patrick Vieira.

At his pre-match press conference, Klopp discussed this weekend’s contest, as well as the individual form of Diogo Jota, Fabinho, Caoimhin Kelleher and Curtis Jones.

Read a summary of his chat with the media below…

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On how a player like Jota becomes a world-class striker…

Work! But if you don’t have the basis, nobody can do or perform miracles in this department. Diogo came here and was an outstanding player, to be honest, but of course it helps – when you are a striker especially – when your team has a bit more possession than the former team maybe. And that’s already helpful. The players around help. But yesterday he had to do an awful lot to make it happen. So as good as the passes were from Trent, especially the second one, there was still a job to do.

Diogo is a really impressive person, really grown-up and really mature young man. Loves obviously football, loves working, loves training and all these kinds of things, and that is very helpful. He was in the middle of the team after three or four weeks, so there was no time really needed for adapting to whatever. Yes, for the way we play a little bit, that took probably longest. But that process is finalised obviously as well. I am really happy for him, just that he can show up because if you have this quality it’s nice if you can show it in public and that’s what he did now a couple of times.

On the unlikeliness of repeating the 7-0 win achieved on their last visit to Palace…

That was a one-off or whatever! Things like this that happen are like a freak of nature. It doesn’t happen usually. That day was incredible, we hit pretty much with each shot. They had chances but we hit everything. So, no, we don’t expect that game, that’s true. And yes, they changed and improved under Patrick, I have to say. They look like a really stable team now. I think system-wise didn’t change too much, 4-3-3 or whatever, but it’s a good team, a really good team.

I always liked the front line – all the players available for Crystal Palace were always good. When Townsend was still there, then Zaha, then Benteke and Ayew. Now Edouard, Gallagher obviously supporting everybody on the pitch, really lively boy. And good defence as well, all these kinds of things. It’s a really good Premier League team, with a few unlucky results I would say. It’s not that I now saw 20 games of Crystal Palace but I saw a couple and thought, ‘OK, that could have been the other way’ when they lost or drew. So we expect a really tough game.

December 2020: Palace 0-7 Liverpool

On Fabinho’s form…

It’s now not that Fab came back from COVID and we all thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s directly back.’ I think they all need a little bit of time, that’s an observation I have to say. Even when you have no symptoms, it’s not like seven days out, no symptoms, coming back. They didn’t look exactly the same, I don’t understand yet but maybe we’ll get more information about that over the years – or hopefully we don’t have to get this information because at one point it’s over. But, yes, he was outstanding last night. The amount of balls he won, the way he defended, the way he played, in which areas he showed up. Yes, that was a really good game, I have to say. That was nice to see. But the others who came back recently – Virgil now a really top game, Trent now a really top game. That’s absolutely helpful.

On how highly he rates Kelleher…

He is No.2 at Liverpool, which is, I would say, one of the highest ratings. I don’t think you can be rated much higher at the age he is. We are more than happy with him, absolutely. This is a John Achterberg project. There were a lot of steps to go since I arrived here. When I saw him first time, a skinny boy from Ireland and standing in this big goal, it was like, ‘OK, it could take a while until he fills it.’ Since then he made incredible steps and now he is a top-class goalie definitely. Calm like you cannot believe. Good with the ball. And on top of that, makes incredible saves. So, he enjoys the work with John, Jack, Taffa and the other goalies because what can you do better in this age than to learn from the best goalie in the world? All these kinds of things are really good for him and we are more than happy to have him.

On how pleased he is with Jones’ response to the recent chat they had together…

You win a football game, a difficult one, you only can win it because a lot of players obviously performed really well. And, yes, Curtis was really good last two games, yes. I know him for a long time now and I am one of his biggest fans, to be honest. From the first day when I saw him I can pretty much remember when the Talent Group trained at Melwood on a side pitch, I looked out of my office and I saw him there and thought, ‘Oof, wow!’ The next question was, ‘How old is he?’ I think he was 15 at the time but was already clearly a massive talent.

Talents need to work and he is doing that work. Talents need to learn the game, he’s doing that every day and trying that every day. Sometimes they need a little push and Curtis looks like he is that guy. Not that he is not concentrated or whatever; let me say not ‘pushed’, it’s a response, a proper response and then he can have that much more often if he wants. If his response is then like this, absolutely fine. Again, we couldn’t have won that game with bad individual performances and he was one of them, so he performed really well.

Published 21st January 2022