Jürgen Klopp insisted Liverpool remain focused on the work still ahead of them after grinding out a 3-2 victory over West Ham United on Monday night.
The Reds restored a 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League as second-half goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane overturned a deficit at Anfield.
By clinching the result, Klopp’s men equalled the all-time English top-flight records for consecutive home wins (21) and successive victories (18).
But in his post-match assessment, the manager stressed the concentration on maintaining and improving their performance rather than toasting such statistics.
Read a transcript of his press conference below…
On his summary of the game…
I liked the start of the game. Good goal, kind of cheeky, a bit quicker in mind – everybody expected the ball was out and then Trent changed the situation. Yes, everybody will speak about it: probably Fabianski saved balls like this in his career, I’m pretty sure. But the story of the game was a little bit, from that moment on, West Ham knew always there were one or two proper ways to stay in the game. That was second balls and set-pieces. Both were not good from us tonight.
Second-ball game was not good. Losing the first ball is possible because Antonio, Haller, whoever is there is just too good and you cannot win all the balls. But then the second ball, we have to pick up better. The formation was not good, we showed the boys at half-time, it just makes no sense there. And the set-pieces obviously; they were really good from them, we were not that clear in these situations and that’s how they scored the goal. So they got a little bit of momentum, or maybe they got the momentum. We were still in charge, had the ball, we had finishes – unfortunately, not all of them on target. But we had finishes, so goal-kick and again second ball, fighting for these balls. It’s difficult to reach the boys in these moments, to be honest, to change it. That was the first half.
We tried to change in half-time then, give different information. We showed them two very good football situations where we were in and around the box and did exactly what we have to do. It’s like playing easy, simple, quick. Change position, come between the lines, pass there and go in behind. We had these moments but then they scored the second goal, which I didn’t see back. I don’t know exactly how it happened. One free player at least in the box doesn’t help. First half, it was a bit patient. Second half, we conceded a second goal and we were now forced to be patient, but really increased the pressure, now we were there.
The crowd was really helpful, we had a lot of set-pieces, Ox came on, we changed the set-pieces slightly, we had these crosses. The crosses were a bit too hard from time to time, it’s easy to say but much more difficult to change. I really thought the positioning was brilliant but in the end the crosses looked like shots. But we scored the two goals. Our third goal was really good, you have to react on balls like this, a deflected ball. Our second goal was really good play but of course unlucky for West Ham in the way it went in. The best goal we scored was the disallowed one, I liked it a lot, it was exactly the way we wanted to play.
Then at the end they have the big chance where Robbo obviously thought it was offside. They had a chance and a sensational save of Ali. So, we brought it over the line. It was difficult, we knew it before. West Ham were much better than they were against us in the first game, much better than the last game against City. Tonight they were really there. I’m not here for that, but I really think David [Moyes] can take something from here as well. That looked like a proper threat tonight and that will be difficult for other teams as well if they can bring that again on the pitch.
On the influence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the pitch and for the crowd when he came on…
Yes, we needed that direction. Ox came on and the first [contribution] was a finish. Close, but still a finish. Next one was dribbling with a foul or not, if it was not a foul then probably we have the ball in a good position again. So, the dynamic helped, of course. Always, if you get direction in a game, our people appreciate that obviously. That helped.
On Trent Alexander-Arnold’s performance, which included two more assists…
I think we passed the moment where we treat him like a young boy, he is just a proper member of the squad. Everybody has to contribute, everybody has to bring on the pitch what he is able to do – and the boys do a lot to bring him or Robbo in the position and save them there. I don’t want to make the performance more than it is, I am completely happy with it, but that’s how football works on the highest level. [There were] super moments of Gini, for example, where he just wins that decisive battle, Sadio really [good], Bobby chasing back and wins the ball. Thank God in our stadium [it is like] nearly scoring a goal [with] the celebration after Bobby wins a really important ball back.
So, all of these pieces, put them together and in the end, we have a lot of time [for] a full-back in a position where he can cross, score and we can try to score a goal. I actually thought we could have crossed better because I know the boys could have crossed better. The balls were slightly too hard, maybe it was the wind or not, I don’t know. We were in good positions, but the balls were then too hard and it was difficult. Set-pieces, free-kicks looked like good curve, everything there, but we were not ready, so something had to be wrong. As I said, it was not a perfect game but still a lot of good performances and that helps, obviously.
On being 12 points away from winning the Premier League title…
The next three [points] are always the hardest – it was always like this and we’ve never seen it differently. It would be really strange if we would now say these next 12 points are so difficult… they are difficult, you saw it tonight. If we would have lost tonight, everybody would have said ‘two [defeats] in a row’, under pressure at Watford – we are still under pressure at Watford because they are just good, they are really good. I saw their game against United, they could have scored the first one [with] Troy Deeney and then they had really good moments. They played really well here and they will fight for everything because now in this moment everybody is fighting for everything.
Could I have wished for a better position to go into these last 11 games? No, I would never have thought it was possible, but each one of them is really difficult and we respect that a lot. We don’t expect one easy game, nobody wants to go through easily, we just have to be ready for work and for the hardest work. We were that tonight as a unit, together with the crowd again and I really love that fact, I couldn’t appreciate it more, it’s really special.
On equalling the all-time top-flight records for consecutive wins (18) and successive home victories (21)…
A couple of years ago, three or four, maybe in the beginning, I said we want to write our own stories, we want to create our own history. Obviously, the boys took really seriously what I said there and that’s all cool – but just not too important in the moment. It’s so special, the numbers are incredible, so difficult. We said it a couple of times, we spoke about wonderful games, brilliant games, we spoke about hard games, difficult games. Tonight was difficult obviously, so the number of wins you can only have if you win all of these games: the difficult ones, the easy ones – if there ever was one – the brilliant ones and the rougher, more grumpy ones. In the end, that’s what counts.
We all know it’s very special, but in the moment we are really just in the situation and want to recover and prepare for the next one. The next opponent is really waiting and wants to fight us, the whole stadium at Watford will go for us, that’s completely normal. There will be a special atmosphere and we have to be 100 per cent ready. I saw the boys tonight, they are ready to fight and as long as we are really ready to fight, nobody should worry, but we still have a lot of work to do.