Jurgen Klopp has told Liverpool players to “fight harder” and downplayed Mohamed Salah’s reaction to being substituted during the loss to Chelsea on Thursday.
The Premier League champions suffered another blow in the race to qualify for the Champions League and have now lost five consecutive home games for the first time in their 129-year history.
Liverpool face a major battle to save their season after they failed again at Anfield, falling to seventh after succumbing to a strong first-half goal from Mason Mount. Klopp’s side struggled throughout and is four points behind Chelsea, who returned to fourth place continuing their undefeated start with Thomas Tuchel.
Chelsea were a well deserved winner and they rarely seemed to be denied their first win at Anfield since 2014. It was another hard-hitting display from Liverpool, who have been in a crisis of confidence since losing their 68-game unbeaten streak at home. They barely created anything, with Salah struggling before it was taken from him, and Klopp admitted that he delivered an honest assessment in the locker room.
“I told the guys what I saw tonight,” said the Liverpool manager. “It is not that we are looking for any kind of excuse at this time. These games are decided in moments and to recover those moments you have to fight. At times you have to fight on a different level. That’s what I told the boys. It’s not about tactics or anything like that. It really is about being resilient. It’s about the heart. I am not saying that boys did not show heart.
“But we talked about the last 2, 3, 4 percent decisive and it never happened that we started to blame circumstances. That is not the case. We had a good team. A really good team on the pitch and we played good football in many moments, but not good enough in the decisive moments. There is only one person or group to criticize: that’s me, that’s us. That’s what I told the guys. “
Liverpool, who have won three of their last 13 league games, are stuck. Their winless streak at Anfield dates back seven games and they have lost their touch in front of goal, with Salah’s form as a concern.
The forward struggled to hide his disappointment after being replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 62nd minute, his first substitution since September 2017, and Klopp had a potential headache when Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas Issa sparked intrigue. with a cryptic tweet during the game, posting a single point.
“I’m happy when guys look disappointed, that’s not a problem,” Klopp said. “I didn’t see it from Mo. The reason for the substitution was that he could have changed other players as well, but the reason was that he seemed to feel the intensity and didn’t want to risk it. That’s all. It’s very rare and usually Mo looks surprisingly cool all the way. I thought it didn’t look fresh anymore. The last two or three years have nothing to do with it. “
As Klopp digested “a massive blow”, Chelsea celebrated moving a point above Everton before hosting Carlo Ancelotti’s side on Monday. It was an impressive display from Tuchel’s side, who could have won by more given that Timo Werner had a controversial goal disallowed for offside by VAR before Mount’s winner.
“We played with courage,” said the Chelsea manager. “We had moments when we needed to suffer but we never lost the attitude to defend. It was a well deserved victory and a great result. When you play at Anfield you don’t have time to think. We told the players that we don’t need anything extra super special, we told the players that we need courage to escape the pressure. It was a very good performance. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism