Jürgen Klopp on Villa victory, Gerrard's return, penalties and more

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Villa victory, Gerrard's return, penalties and more

Published 11th December 2021

Jürgen Klopp felt Liverpool merited the 1-0 Premier League victory they earned over Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.

The Reds registered a seventh consecutive win in all competitions as Mohamed Salah’s second-half penalty defeated Steven Gerrard’s stubborn Villa side on the legend’s first return to the stadium as an opposition manager.

Extended highlights: Liverpool 1-0 Aston Villa

Post-match, Klopp discussed the key factors on the day – including his satisfaction with his team’s display up to 75 minutes, the occasion around Gerrard and the importance of Salah’s proficiency from the spot.

Read a transcript of his press conference below…

On Villa’s performance…

So, what can I say? I think we were the better team; for 75 minutes, for sure, and opened up the game in the last 15 minutes because we lost rhythm a little bit, we changed offensively and all of a sudden there were some situations, half-chances, situations that were a little bit tricky. But for 75 minutes we were the clear better side. I don’t know exactly what that says about Villa now because I’m not so much in that. My job today was to make sure that we caused Villa a lot of problems and I think we did that over 75 minutes with the way we played. We could have been better around the last pass, our decision-making there could have been better. One or two more bodies in the box in one or two moments would have been helpful. But that’s it.

Salah spot-kick settles Gerrard's Anfield return as Reds beat Villa
11th December 2021

Match reportSalah spot-kick settles Gerrard's Anfield return as Reds beat VillaMohamed Salah’s second-half penalty helped Liverpool edge Aston Villa 1-0 as Steven Gerrard returned to Anfield for the first time as an opponent.

On the words he and Gerrard exchanged at full-time…

He said congratulations and I said thank you. We won the game, it’s now not about that we really have to talk a lot. Nothing will come between him and me. But around the games we are both pretty focused. That’s the idea of this game, that you can be the best friend with somebody and when you play against each other you want to beat him anyway. I had this situation with David Wagner, for example, in the past. The whole fuss around it was absolutely right but there is one person it was not so easy [for] and that’s Stevie. He is a Liverpool legend – we cannot change that now, we shouldn’t try to. They did really well, they obviously fought really hard for a result here today, pushed by Stevie. It’s all fine and I like as well that we at the end got the three points anyway.

On his discussions with the fourth official during the game…

Not ‘discussions’. ‘Talks’. I have to say, it was an incredible performance of the fourth official. I felt really well. He cannot make any decisions, it’s not that he will whistle or whatever. He helps the ref from time to time, of course, when it’s directly in front of him. He was good in that as well. But we had conversations, no arguments.

On Jordan Henderson’s input to attacks on the right…

Yes, we worked on it. Not only on the right side, we have similar things on the left side and I thought there were plenty of top situations [there]. It’s just the formation is slightly different on the left side, Thiago is not as high in the formation so it’s more Sadio and Robbo. Yes, Jordan’s position on that side is pretty flexible, we just have to make sure that one of the three thinks about protecting as well, but as long as we keep the ball it’s all fine. Yes, his role changed slightly, that’s true.

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On the importance of Salah’s reliability from the penalty spot…

I tell you what, in the moment when you get a penalty I hate when people start celebrating in that moment because there’s still a shot and a possible goalkeeper save in between. I am really happy – really, really happy – and think it’s exactly the same difficulty and importance like each other goal. There are goals during a season that are much easier than a penalty, when you tap it in from two yards, a square ball or whatever. If somebody says they [penalties] don’t count the same I don’t understand it, I think they count exactly the same – and should always.

On keeping consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League…

It’s difficult for us to really work on it because our problem is that we obviously play all the time. Yes, in the few moments when we have time, that is something we have to be completely committed as a squad to – defending. That’s our idea. If this squad, this team defends on the highest level we always have a chance to score a goal and if we don’t do that then we need to score two, three, four or whatever and that makes no sense because that’s not always possible. Yes, it’s something we’ve absolutely worked on and it’s about balance, it’s about offensively and defensively that you don’t get too exposed but it is important you are exposed because you need the spaces to create space for other players and all these kind of things. There are so many things you have to think about, but the most important thing is that you are well protected because then you feel really free for offensive things. I am really happy with that, but the last 15 minutes I am not happy with, of course. How could I [be] because we really opened the door for the game, but the 75 before were absolutely outstanding so I’m really happy about the performance.

Published 11th December 2021