Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp: Beating Plymouth 3-0 would have been perfect, but 1-0 is also good

Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp: Beating Plymouth 3-0 would have been perfect, but 1-0 is also good

Jürgen Klopp defended his team selection and acknowledged the quality of Plymouth Argyle's performance as Liverpool beat the League Two side 1-0 in an FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday night.

Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp acknowledged the challenge that Plymouth Argyle posed his young Liverpool team in their FA Cup replay on Wednesday night but declared himself satisfied with the Reds' performance as they won 1-0.

The Premier League giants could only draw 0-0 at Anfield in an initial tie 10 days ago and travelled to Home Park to take on the League Two outfit a second time with the reward of a fourth round clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers on offer.

Having named the youngest ever line-up in the club's 125-year history in the first game, Klopp opted for a blend of experience and youth in Devon - Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho both starting.

But it was another senior player, Lucas Leiva, who put Liverpool in front with his first goal since September 2010 by meeting Coutinho's corner with a firm header.

Despite that 18th minute opener, the visitors couldn't add to their advantage as Divock Origi saw a penalty comfortably saved late on following a foul on Alberto Moreno.

Yet, thanks to the width of the post as Jake Jervis' acrobatic effort almost drew Plymouth level, Liverpool held on to progress to the next round and set up a clash with Wolves a week on Saturday.

Klopp laments Liverpool's failure to kill game off earlier

In his post-match press conference, Klopp admitted that Plymouth ensured "it was tough again" but praised his side for playing "better" at the start than they did in the first game on Merseyside.

"In the right moments, we had good timing for direction, so after second balls players could break behind the last line," continued the German, insisting that they "should have got a penalty" early on "after the situation with Daniel Sturridge" which he felt "was pretty clear."

But he accepted that it wasn't awarded and stated that for his young players, one of their biggest challenges was "playing live on television against a fourth division team and everybody thinks you are three or four classes better, and then not feeling embarrassment when you lose a challenge or something like this."

Klopp admitted that he "really saw it" in the first-half, "when it started happening to them" and said that he "could fix this a little bit" at half-time which meant they were "kind of back in the race and controlled the game."

He admitted that Plymouth "did really well" after "a few long balls" but said Liverpool "defended the first ball not too well" and that "the last line struggled a little bit with this."

Klopp said that the Pilgrims "had one or two chances" and "two or three more difficult situations" and continued: "But I heard, meanwhile, the biggest chance was offside. We had more chances and the penalty, so 2-0 or 3-0 would have been perfectly okay and would have been for me, the perfect result. 1-0 is also good, so I'm fine."

The Reds boss was asked about the team he named and whether he was concerned about the possibility of a cup upset. 

But he refuted any suggestions he could have named a strong team, insisting: "I named, again, the team I could name. That's what I always do. Only you judge it as stronger or weaker, I don't do this. It's all about who is available."

Klopp added that when his whole squad is available, then he "can maybe decide about stronger or weaker" but insisted that they "are not all available." 

On their upcoming schedule, he noted that Liverpool "now play Saturday, then Wednesday, then Saturday, then Tuesday" - insisting that if he "would always let the same players" he "would be a real idiot."

"I don't do it," continued the Reds boss, insisting "that was the team" to face Plymouth and they "will see who we can line up on Saturday."

We will do everything to act on potential of young players, vows Reds boss

The 17,048 sell-out was more vital experience for several of Klopp's young prospects, with Ben Woodburn making just a second ever start and Trent Alexander-Arnold following up a 90-minute full league debut in the draw at Manchester United on Sunday.

And Klopp insisted that he saw "a few really good things" from Liverpool's young players, but warned that they "still have to learn" and they "are not here to celebrate each single performance" of their youngsters.

He declared that is what the club "expect" and is "why they play" and suggested that they "need to get ready to be criticised", not from the media, but the management staff, as he explained: "I don't care what you say, but it's important that they really listen to what we have to say."

Klopp said that he "liked" the "reaction of [Sheyi] Ojo" as he suggested that many expected he would starter, but revealed that he "was not too happy with one or two things" of the winger's performance last time out.

He declared that doesn't mean it's "about something you need to feel and then go again", but said: "Today I thought he made a big difference when he came on, with his speed and there was sharpness involved. He's a wonderful player, but without sharpness, it's nothing."

Klopp also said that he is "happy" about the "potential" of the club's young players, vowing to do "whatever we can to let it grow" but reiterating that they themselves "have a big job to do too."

Plymouth did "really well", admits Klopp

The Liverpool manager also praised the test that Plymouth provided his team, despite admitting their stubborn defensive style didn't make for the most entertaining two games of football.

Klopp felt the performance of Derek Adams' charges was "good in both legs" and "especially when you are a top team in League Two and have to play obviously completely differently."

He said that there were "10 to 15 minutes" when Plymouth "became really stronger than what they are obviously capable of" and praised his Liverpool team against for doing "that well" to ensure "they really had to defend all the time."

"This is not the most exciting football but you have to stay patient to do it," Klopp enthused. "They did really well."

While the extra game in a hectic January fixture schedule was largely unwelcome, it did at least allow Philippe Coutinho to start his first game since November 26 after recovering from injury.

On his display, Klopp said: "[He] Was good. I expected you to ask me about Lucas. I'm happy, really happy. It was very important for us. I thought 60-65 minutes was the perfect intensity for today. Good for him and good for us."