Football

Klopp: Attacking approach paid off against Man City

We are Liverpool and we should not play defensively, says Reds manager

Liverpool could have been forgiven for adopting a conservative approach against Manchester City after being thumped 5-0 in the reverse fixture this season.

But Juergen Klopp’s plan to attack was vindicated in their 4-3 win at Anfield on Monday morning (Jan 15, Singapore time), which ended the league leaders' unbeaten run in the EPL.

“You have actually no alternative to beat City,” he said. “Yes, you can win the lottery and they tackle each other or you can stand deep in your own box and hope nothing happens, but it’s not likely.

“We are Liverpool and we should not try this way, to be honest. So you have no alternative. We needed to be brave, needed to play football. I’m really happy about that.”

Klopp also felt that the victory over the league leaders was the best statement they could make following midfielder Philippe Coutinho’s big-money move to Barcelona.

The Brazil international, Liverpool’s most potent creative force, joined the Spanish club for £142 million (S$258 million) last week, but Klopp’s team made light of his absence against Pep Guardiola's men.

“It was the right statement,” Klopp said. “It’s not that I said in a meeting, ‘boys it would help if you win tonight and no one speaks about Philippe Coutinho’, because we like to talk about him actually.

“He’s probably jumping in his new living room in Barcelona and will be happy about the win tonight. Of course, for us, it’s important to show we can play without him and we did it, so that’s a very important statement, absolutely.”

England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring with less than 10 minutes played to kick-start a fluent Liverpool display and Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah struck in quick succession after the interval.

City, who still lead second-placed Manchester United by 15 points, gave nearly as good as they got, with Leroy Sane getting a deserved equaliser just before half-time and Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Guendogan ensuring a nail-biting finish.

“It was just a joy to watch,” Klopp said. “How both teams just threw everything on the pitch. Both teams tried to play football, without a lot of hard fouls.

“It’s just a nice commercial for Premier League football. The whole world was watching it. If somebody didn’t like football they would probably say, ‘Oh, that’s why you watch it all the time’.” 

City manager Guardiola, meanwhile, reiterated that he believes the EPL title race is not over yet.

He said: “In every press conference for the last few months, you have said that the Premier League is done.

“I always said 'no'. It is still to be done. Sometimes, the worse thing is when people say from one month ago that it is over.

"It’s so difficult to maintain this run, especially against good teams like Liverpool. Football is an unpredictable game. We have to fight until the end to win the league.”

Guardiola admitted City had lost their composure in the second half after being rattled by Liverpool’s relentless pressing and the ferocious Anfield atmosphere.

“We lost a lot of balls. Liverpool are so aggressive without the ball and we had little bit of a problem to control that,” he said. “We started the second half good until the goal from Firmino. After that we lost our control and we become involved in the environment at Anfield.” – Reuters, AFP

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