Jürgen Klopp on West Ham, left-backs, Oxlade-Chamberlain and more

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on West Ham, left-backs, Oxlade-Chamberlain and more

Published 5th November 2021

Jürgen Klopp discussed topics including West Ham United, his left-back options and the form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during Friday’s pre-match press conference.

The boss addressed the media from the AXA Training Centre ahead of Liverpool’s trip to the London Stadium on Sunday.

Read on for our round-up…

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On the Reds’ performance against Atletico Madrid, Kostas Tsimikas’ display in that game and how close he is to pushing Andy Robertson for a starting spot…

When I speak about a ‘nearly perfect’ performance, I mean in the circumstances. So, it’s a group-stage game, we have to get through, we have to win that game obviously. We won it, we were 2-0 up then they had one man down. We still had our chances – in the end it looks like we cannot play against 10 men but we had massive chances. We didn’t score any more but we had massive chances, bigger chances probably than the ones we scored off. So that was all fine. If you score them then it’s nicer, of course, and sounds much more spectacular. But we controlled the game, they had one goal, a deflected one, which was then disallowed so it was good defending actually, the set-piece, that he was offside. That was all good but of course then Bobby out, that’s not good, and that’s why I said ‘nearly perfect’. But a night like this, with the quality and the strengths that Atletico can provide if they are on top of their game, then I have to say we really didn’t allow them and that’s the most important thing in a game like this. That was really class and that is why I was so pleased with the performance; we played better games, we played for longer periods really good, but for that night in these circumstances, it was really, really good.

Updates on Firmino, Jones, Gomez, Keita, Milner, Fabinho and Thiago
5th November 2021

Fitness latestUpdates on Firmino, Jones, Gomez, Keita, Milner, Fabinho and ThiagoRoberto Firmino sustained a serious hamstring injury during Liverpool’s win over Atletico Madrid, Jürgen Klopp has confirmed.

Kostas is very close because all the players on the bench, when they are not starting they are very close, that’s why they are on the bench and not not in the squad, for example. Kostas has obviously a lot of quality but what I just don’t like about these kind of things is that we are always so early. What does it mean, ‘Pushed Andy Robertson’? He pushed Andy Robertson, he is doing that, but Andy Robertson is in my eyes probably the best left-back in the world so that makes it really tricky. But it’s good that we have the option that we can give Robbo a rest in moments, even when he doesn’t like it and doesn’t need it in his understanding. But you need these quality players and when you have a quality player like Kostas Tsimikas then you have to let him free from time to time. He had a long time, what he needed, to adapt to all the things we do, but this process is done now. He is obviously a really good football player and we are really happy to have him.

On how impressed he has been with West Ham this season and David Moyes reaching 1,000 games in management…

And he [Moyes] gets better and better and better, how I see it. That’s possible obviously; even after 999 games you can have still space for improvement and Moyesy, I don’t know if he reinvented himself again or whatever, I don’t know him long enough for that obviously, but it’s absolutely incredible. Honestly, it is really good what West Ham are doing and I think everyone who watches them sees that. That’s a high-energy team, a counter-pressing team, they have counter-attacking but playing as well. There were always moments in the past when you played West Ham they defended deep and we had to be really aware of set-pieces and counter-attacks. Now, it’s a full package, an absolute full package and they are rightly so really high in the table and are top of the table in their Europa League group as well. I watched the game last night completely and Genk did obviously a good job; they were nasty, they were brave, but in the end they were lucky to get a point and with a lot of changes – it was not the ‘first’ line-up we will face on Sunday – they still played how I would consider, meanwhile, West Ham football. It was all there, what you need. They could rest then Antonio from a specific moment, Soucek didn’t start. They are in a good moment. It will be a really good game, I’m pretty sure. We are in a good moment, they are in a good moment, that’s how a football game should be before a game. I’m really excited to play it. It will be a tough one, but thank God, for them as well. 

On whether he considers Liverpool to be underdogs in the title race…

Can I?! I’m not sure! We don’t consider ourselves at all like saying who we are. We want to be in it, whichever role we have there I don’t care too much but I think with the quality we have we should be in and around the top of the table. That’s where we are and that’s where we have to be, that’s the responsibility we have and that’s how we see it ourselves. We don’t have to talk too much about the quality of Manchester City, we don’t have to talk too much about quality and depth of Chelsea, and obviously we are not too bad a team as well so that’s cool. But there are so many other good teams meanwhile in the league. I think the league made a big jump again. We play West Ham, West Ham are incredibly strong. Brighton are incredibly strong, they were not only against us, they were against City as well. Tottenham are obviously now 100 per cent coming back. Arsenal are in a much better moment than they were last year, United is obviously a top-class team, Leicester are there – the league is absolutely incredible. There is no game, no game at all anymore, where you go in and think, ‘Yeah, you can rest him or him or him.’ That’s absolutely not possible and you have to be on your absolute top constantly and that makes it the best league in the world. I am not sure it was always in the last years the best league in the world but I think in the last two or three it was for sure the best league and that makes it really exciting to be part of.

On whether the Reds are under pressure to avoid dropping points for a second league game in a row…

That’s the plan, actually [to win this weekend]. Are we under pressure? If you see it like that, yes, but everybody is under pressure like that. That’s how it is, if you want to stay in the league you are under pressure, if you want to not get involved in the relegation battle you are under pressure. You cannot waste any opportunity to win a football game and that’s for us exactly the same. We fight for the Champions League spots, that’s what we do, and if you are in there that means – at least this year – then you can fight for the title as well. That’s how it looks in the moment but nobody knows how it will look after the most intense period, again, of our lives: late November until January, which we all know is an absolutely crazy schedule and we have to get through all these kind of things. So yes, I don’t see it now already like a consecutive challenge if you want, like we drew and then we have to win. We wanted to win against Brighton and we want to win against West Ham, that’s clear, but we know exactly how difficult it will be.

On Jordan Henderson’s potential 300th Premier League appearance and what made him the right captain…

My last issue when I came here was thinking about who would be captain of this group. I had one, I met Hendo and spoke to him, he couldn’t play that time, he was not fit. I spoke to people and there was nobody who told me, ‘Nah, I’m not sure about Hendo as a captain.’ They were all completely convinced he is the right one. But I couldn’t say that in that moment because I only learned about him day by day. Meanwhile, I can say after six years working with him together: perfect choice. Somebody else made it – Brendan probably, or Stevie, whoever it was. He’s a perfect role model for a footballer, he’s a real leader and on top of that – which is really important for a leader – is that you don’t want to have it only by yourself, you have to share it if you are a really good one. That’s what the boys do. Millie is a massive voice in this team. Virgil grew in that position as well. Now the next generation pretty much is coming with Trent and Robbo. Ali is a very calm asset to all these kind of things. Mo obviously is a natural leader as well. So we have a top group there, so thank God Hendo does not have to do it alone. But he is the captain of this team. Maybe in the first moment when you become a captain it’s a nice thing and you think, ‘Oh my God, I wear the armband for Liverpool’ and from that moment on it becomes a proper job because there are a lot of things you have to do as a captain which you wouldn’t have to do if you are not the captain. But he fills the role in the perfect way and I’m really happy about that.

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On consistency and a run in the team being important for Oxlade-Chamberlain…

Massive. I thought it was a really good game, he played a really good game against Atletico – very mature. He had his Oxlade-Chamberlain moments, going with the ball and all that kind of stuff. But we need Mr Oxlade-Chamberlain as well, the mature one, the calm one, the closing one and all these kinds of things. It was a really good game. We had a proper talk before the game about that, what we expect and stuff like this. He fulfilled the role really well, I was really happy for him. And that’s how you get rhythm then. If you play like this, it will not last too long until you play again and all these kinds of things. That’s how it is.

On having those two sides to his game and if it’s preferable to have them both…

Absolutely, that’s needed and Oxlade has that. The problem is when you don’t play for a long time and you are constantly in the situation that you think you have to convince people; then it’s probably more the speed-ups and stuff like this. Speed-ups, they are brilliant but there is not always a space there for that. That’s why I was so happy for him that he really could mix it up. Of course we need both and we have usually both, but when he didn’t play for a long time then it’s like this, you try to overachieve pretty much in a game, it was then a bit the case. It was now really, in a very positive way, a relaxed performance but extremely helpful for the team.

On how impressed he has been with West Ham’s attacking threat…

We just watched them and it’s fun, it’s good fun watching them. They became a high, high intense team and you can only become a high intense team when you are on the front foot, and that’s what they are. Yes, when you want to finish off the situations you create you need top strikers, that’s what they obviously have. I like Bowen a lot, he made his way up from, was it Hull, if I’m right? And took not too long to get there, to show exactly what kind of player he can be in the Premier League as well, made big steps. Antonio, since I’m in England, played five or six different positions, one of them was right-back. He is obviously a proper, proper striker. Fornals is back in the Spanish national team; had his downs maybe there but is an incredible player, scored against us in each game, if I’m right. Is a footballer, can play between the lines but has the speed to get in behind. Benrahma is a really exciting one, he was at Brentford obviously already one of the crazy front three and is now obviously a proper, proper figure in the West Ham offensive play. Then you have on the double six, two with Rice and Soucek, two guys who are a threat up front, passing-wise, Soucek with the head, Rice with all he has, so shooting, passing, all these kind of things. Incredibly quick and smart full-backs. And they have obviously now the centre-half pairing they wanted, brought in Zouma. And then have Fabianski, a very experienced goalie. So that’s a good team, a really good team. Now you saw the team playing on Thursday, made a couple of changes and they are still a really good team. That makes a successful football team. The only problem West Ham have, which we all have: this league is so incredibly good that you have to be on your top every day. Not only on Thursday, not only on Wednesday – no, on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and whenever as well. That makes it so exciting. The better you get the more pressure you have to win football games as well, that’s the development as well, we all have to go through that. We know we face an exceptionally well organised, well trained and well equipped opponent on Sunday.

Published 5th November 2021