Liverpool must prove we can break down defensive teams, vows Jürgen Klopp ahead of Hull clash

Liverpool must prove we can break down defensive teams, vows Jürgen Klopp ahead of Hull clash

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp says his team know their game plan for when they come up against resolute defensive teams but says they must prove they can carry it out, ahead of their trip to Hull City this weekend.

Charlie Malam

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp insists his side know what to do when faced with a team that defend deep and in numbers as they prepare to take on a rejuvenated Hull City on Saturday.

The Reds travel to the KCOM Stadium to face a Hull side drastically different to the one they so easily swept aside at Anfield at the end of September, the East Yorkshire having come on leaps and bounds already under new manager Marco Silva.

He has particularly improved Hull as a defensive unit since taking over from Mike Phelan, as showed in their resilient 0-0 stalemate away at Manchester United on Wednesday night.

That defensive resilience could prove problematic for Liverpool, who have found it difficult against sides that keep their organisation at the back and counter-attack with pace.

Swansea CitySouthampton and Wolves all profited by adopting a similar approach last month as Klopp's side suffered three straight defeats - all at home - across three different competitions.

That trio of setbacks came after Liverpool had only suffered two defeats all season - and their draws and defeats have generally had a common theme this season, with teams keeping the Reds at bay and taking their chances on the counter-attack.

Many of those teams have also been lower down the table, with Liverpool maintaining their phenomenal record against the traditional 'big six' of the Premier League under Klopp, drawing 1-1 at home to run-away leaders Chelsea earlier this week.

But ahead of what he expects to be a "difficult" clash with Hull, Klopp says he doesn't subscribe to the theory that his side necessarily struggle against the 'weaker' teams in the league.

We know what to do, we just have to show it, vows Liverpool manager

The German told his pre-match press conference that they have "won a lot of games against these kind of teams" although they have "lost three against those teams that you would call 'weaker' or whatever."

However, Klopp feels those defeats were down to Liverpool's own errors rather than the performances of their opposition, as he said "it was about us" and his team.

"It's not about not knowing how to do it, [but] we didn't do it always that well," he acknowledged on breaking down deep-defending teams.

He explained that their defeat to Burnley was "pretty special" and "very early" in the season, suggesting that it is "almost not allowed to put it in that bunch of games."

Likewise, Klopp called the reverse away at Bournemouth "very special" because he felt his team "did really well" and in reflection he doesn't know "what happened there" for his team to throw away victory after doing "everything nearly perfect until a specific point."

The manager feels that while Liverpool's defeat to Swansea last month, their first on home soil in over a year, was "not good" but said that it wasn't that the hosts "had no chances or something like this."

He noted that even a perfect side loses games which is why "nobody wins 100 per-cent of games in a season" and said his team "are not" perfect but have "proved often enough" that they "know the way to do it."

Klopp said that "the problem" is that Liverpool's approach doesn't always work because it is "always a different situation" and "a lot can happen" in just "three or four weeks."

He called it "a job to do" for his side to "react to this" and insisted it is "about confidence, about form, about shape" and about "different things" which are "not that easy to explain", though added: "For me, the most important thing is that we know to play them [defensive sides]. But now we have to show it all the time."

'It will be difficult for Liverpool against Hull'

Liverpool are likely to face another stern test when they travel to Humberside, with Hull having done excellently to frustrate Manchester United and earn a goalless draw at Old Trafford in mid-week.

On that game, Klopp said that anyone watching "should be really impressed by the way they're playing." He acknowledged that the final 20 minutes was "one-way football" because of United's long-ball approach which Hull found "difficult" to defend, but said even then "they did well" with "one or two brilliant goalkeeper saves."

He felt that although Hull are still 19th in the league table, he "couldn't see it" in their performance against United - adding: "That shows how difficult the job is to do. [Hull have] a lot of good players now. [Tom] Huddlestone [was] outstandingly good, but when he played here it was completely different for example. That's what teams can create and Hull can obviously create a bit."

Klopp said that Liverpool's approach is "not about thinking what we have to do there and then" as he acknowledged that Hull's "really deep formation" in the latter stages of the United draw was "forced by United" and "in all other parts of the game, they [Hull] were a football-playing side."

"We will see what happens against us, we play different to Man United," the Reds boss continued, though he vowed that Liverpool "are prepared" and have "a lot of different things we can do on the pitch."

He said: "We need to bring it on the pitch and then we have a good chance, but it will be difficult."

Klopp: Silva 'obviously a good manager'

Klopp also acknowledged the early impact of Marco Silva, the Portuguese boss having only taken the Hull job on January 5.

Since then the Tigers' performance have notably improved and they appear a much more well-organised outfit under former Sporting CP and Olympiacos boss Silva's tutelage.

Klopp told journalists: "I am impressed, what can I say? They've had a lot of different line-ups and systems in the last few games and it's interesting to watch."

He noted how since Silva's arrival, Hull have faced United three teams and said that against a team with "the power and strength" of United, they "did really well" and that "without confidence because of the results" - suggesting that means Silva is "obviously a good manager."  

Issuing an update on the fitness of his squad, Klopp also revealed that Liverpool have only had "a few issues" since their mid-week draw with Chelsea, adding that Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren are all "really fine" despite knocks.

He expected the entire trio to take part in training at Melwood in the build-up to their clash with Hull, while winger Sadio Mane could make his first start since January 2 after Africa Cup of Nations duty.