Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp defiant that his side don't have problems with open play defending

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp defiant that his side don't have problems with open play defending

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp batted away suggestions that his team are poor defensively, although he once more acknowledged that they are conceding too many goals at set-pieces.

Charlie Malam

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has staunchly declared that his side have no problems defending in open play despite acknowledging their set-piece frailties. 

The Reds failed to keep a clean sheet for the eighth time from nine Premier League games this season as they conceded late on from a corner in their 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion last Saturday.

But the three points took Klopp's side joint-top of the table on points, level with Manchester City and Arsenal but below the two on goal difference having conceded two more goals.

Yet the manager is insistent that his team are improving defensively and said that he has no real problems with the goals his team have conceded in recent games.

Klopp: Lovren and Matip 'outstanding' vs West Brom

Speaking to the national newspapers in the aftermath of the win over West Brom, he said that he is aware people have suggested his team are suspect defensively and said: "I lose respect when people say this."

He joked that his respect for others is "not important" because he doesn't "need most of the people", explaining that he's "the coach of this team" and that he is "really close to them" and so can "see all the games from quite a good perspective."

"We defended well against Manchester United, brilliant," he continued. "And then against West Brom it was so difficult that we have no defensive problem. We needed to be really aggressive to defend their long balls from the first moment [but] without making fouls."

The Reds boss acknowledged that as "quite a challenge" for his team but praised them for doing "brilliantly" and lauded centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip as "outstanding" for the way they dealt with Salomon Rondon, whom Klopp said "wants the ball or a foul" when "the ball is in the air."

He is also more than satisfied with the back-up options available to him as he said that people "cannot imagine in what good shape" the likes of Alberto Moreno, Lucas Leiva, Ragnar Klavan and even Trent Alexander-Arnold are.

Liverpool boss recognises set-piece problems

West Brom's late effort, stabbed in by Gareth McAuley, proved to be only a consolation for the visitors at Anfield but represented the 17th set-piece goal Liverpool have conceded since Klopp took over last October.

But having insisted that they are working on it, he added that they were up against a team who were "brilliant at set-pieces" and that as well as all being the same size of him, they brought on a "set-piece specialist" in Chris Brunt. 

"When people say we have some issues with set-pieces, how can I say they are wrong?" admitted Klopp, who said that near "70 per-cent to 80 per-cent" of the goals they concede are from set-pieces.

"But they're all different and we're still working on it," he said, insisting that it is "not the same problem" they had last year when "whoever was scoring" against them.

He said that he understands the concerns but promised that Liverpool "work on it" in training and added: "I like it more than them [the opponents] all creating chances like they want to because we defend crazy. I'm fine with this, but only for the moment. Today I don't care they got a goal like this. We won and it was well deserved."

'No European football isn't that big an advantage'

In his post-match press conference, Baggies boss Tony Pulis said that Liverpool were as good as any other team they had faced so far this season and that they were well primed for a title race without European football to contend with.

But Klopp suggested that playing in Europe last season "never stopped us actually doing what we had to do", saying that instead "playing good football" and "having good players" are both "a big advantage."

"Not playing in the week can be a big advantage when you take injury worries out of it," he said, adding that it is only an advantage if they "use the extra time for training."

Klopp told reporters that he has "no idea" where that added training time will "lead" his team, insisting that they "will start again" after Christmas when other Premier League teams drop out of the Champions League and Europa League.

He jokingly thanked Pulis, despite admitting he did not know if it was meant as a compliment or as a way to pile the pressure on Liverpool, and went on to look ahead to their coming fixtures.

Insisting that the performance of everyone inside Anfield - fans and players - "was really great" and said that he enjoyed "each second" of Saturday evening, even the goal they conceded because it "made the excitement [last] a little bit longer."

"I know sometimes people say we have a problem with 'park the bus' teams, but we already have a plan," Klopp continued, noting that it "takes time" to see that plan in action on the pitch.

He added that they will continue "to work on it" but said that "there will be another challenge" on the way, insisting Tottenham Hotspur - who they face in the fourth round of the EFL Cup on Tuesday night - "park a lot of things but no buses."

He said that they "have to be ready" for the visit of Spurs and said that they haven't seen Crystal Palace, who they take on in the league on Saturday, "too often this season" but vowed they "will be prepared."