Jürgen Klopp: Sunderland the most defensive team I've ever played against, because of Liverpool's quality

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp felt that the defensive performance of visitors Sunderland at Anfield on Saturday was due to the attacking quality of his team, insisting the Black Cats were the "most defensive team" he has ever faced in his managerial career.

Jürgen Klopp: Sunderland the most defensive team I've ever played against, because of Liverpool's quality
(Picture: Getty Images - Clive Brunskill)

Jürgen Klopp praised Liverpool for breaking through a Sunderland team he described as the "most defensive" team he has ever played against, insisting that it was the Reds' quality that forced the visitors to defend in numbers.

For much of Saturday's clash at Anfield, it appeared the Black Cats would share the spoils courtesy of a stubborn defensive-minded display.

But substitute Divock Origi, having replaced the injured Philippe Coutinho in the first-half, fired the breakthrough after 75 minutes in finding the net from a cross-cum-shot from the corner of the box.

James Milner's stoppage-time penalty, after Sadio Mane had been brought down, secured victory as the Reds deservedly claimed the full three points and returned to the top of the Premier League.

Klopp declared that the clash with Sunderland was "much more defensive" than last weekend's goalless stalemate with Southampton, when asked at his post-match press conference if he felt the two games had a similar pattern.

Sunderland the 'most defensive team' Klopp has ever played against

"I'm not sure I've ever played against a more defensive team than today," the German told journalists, citing the visitors "man-marking against Phil Coutinho" and striker Victor Anichebe playing in a position he said was "left full-back."

He also added that he didn't know "how many touches" Sunderland's other striker Jermain Defoe had in the game, later going on to say: "[I learned today] That we are able to beat even the most defensive team I ever played against. That's a nice thing to learn."

Klopp was reluctant to comment on Sunderland's approach, insisting that it is "not about me to say what other teams are doing", but insisted that it was their attacking play that "forced them into this deep position."

He continued: "I don't think Anichebe was planning to play at left full-back, but with the positioning of Nathaniel Clyne - when we saw that Anichebe follows him wherever he's going - we put Clyney in the higher position. That gave us space in other spaces."

The manager explained that "the box was quite full" and that Liverpool "had the situations where we could have made this or that better decision" but said: "The closer the space gets, the more difficult it is. You need to stay patient. It's not allowed to get frustrated or things like this."

Klopp insisted that it is "very important" that his side "are always ready for this one moment" as he explained that they had a few of "these situations" before they managed to find the breakthrough late on.

"We had a few crosses to the back post where we maybe weren't greedy enough in this moment," he added. "It's a challenge in the whole development. What we're doing at the moment is a real challenge. We're ready for the situations to play teams like this, but it's not easy."

Klopp even revealed that he managed to watch a few minutes of Manchester City's win over Burnley earlier in the day and that it "didn't look like it was easy for City there" and insisting that it is "the job to do" for all of the teams who "want to be in the top region of the table" that they "need to collect points and don't care against who."

Klopp: Origi's instant impact was 'really, really important'

Asked whether he thought the win, coming after the in-form Coutinho had to be withdrawn mid-way through the first period, Klopp said: "I'm really happy about the skills of the boys, but injury is never a positive thing. But to show that Divock Origi is still a good football player, I don't need an injury of another player."

He then spoke about the importance of "timing" and that now Origi is "ready again" which he said is "good." The Reds boss also suggested that it is a "coincidence" that the Belgian was "ready again" in "this situation."

Klopp acknowledged Origi's injury problems "after the summer break", insisting that while they weren't "big" issues, the striker "nearly played nowhere" - neither for Belgium or Liverpool - because of his problems.

He praised the goalscorer therefore for his contributions off of the bench, saying: "Today, he was switched on from the first second and it wasn't an easy situation. Nobody could have expected in this moment that we'd have to make a substitution. We did it and Div was immediately in the game. That was really, really important."

Klopp added: "You can play how you want, where you want, you can pass as often as you want, but at the end you need someone who puts the ball in the goal. That was the situation."

On Origi's goal, he explained that the "box was pretty full" but that the 21-year-old has "scored a similar goal already", calling it "a surprise" for the goalkeeper and Sunderland's defence and hailijng it a "good decision" which "helped us a lot."

Klopp felt that Origi deserved the goal "very, very much" because of how he has fared in "not very easy times", praising him for remaining a "really positive guy" who is "ready to learn" and stating: "He's still a young boy and today he got the benefit for his work."

The crowd are a 'big, big part of the game', says German

The manager was also asked about his efforts to stir the crowd in the second-half, turning to the Main Stand and encouraging them to increase the volume levels.

He admitted that he was "not sure" what he "thought in this moment" but said that in his experience in a game "like this" then "with the quality we have and the skills the players show, we force teams to defend."

Klopp insisted that the impact of that "means then that you cannot come through all the time", adding: "We all need to learn to handle situations like this. But of course I believe in the atmosphere. I think it's a big, big part of the game. A big part of the joy."

He felt that the crowd were "really, really, really good in the first-half" but that their attitude in the second-half was more 'come on, we've waited long enough' as he explained: "In a game like this, the decisions are made in the small moments, in the finer details.

"Atmosphere is more than a detail but it makes everything easier and that's why I tried to remind the crowd. They reacted more than brilliantly. I think that, after that, it was easier for everybody to enjoy the challenge."