Football

Klopp: We can close the gap at the top

Liverpool boss remains confident because his players have 'quality'

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was left feeling "disappointed and frustrated" after a Newcastle United side under the guidance of former Reds boss Rafael Benitez held his team to a 1-1 draw at St James' Park yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Victory would have seen Liverpool leapfrog champions Chelsea into fourth place.

But, instead, Klopp's men go into the international break in seventh spot, behind unheralded north-west rivals Burnley on goal difference.

Liverpool took the lead through Philippe Coutinho's stunning 30-metre effort just before the half-hour mark only for Joselu to equalise for Newcastle minutes later with the Magpies' only clear attempt on goal all game.

Klopp then saw Liverpool, repeatedly criticised for their defensive frailty this season, squander several chances to take all three points.

"I am disappointed, frustrated, whatever you want," Klopp told the BBC.

"They (Newcastle) got one chance and scored. That doesn't feel too fair... If you don't help yourself, no one else help you. It will be like this until we score."

Klopp, however, remains confident that the Reds, who have yet to win the league title in the Premier League era, are equipped to mount a challenge at the top of the table.

"I cannot talk about our football and the gap between us and other teams," he said.

"We are having our hard moment and other teams will have their hard moment.

"I really think it looks like we are not far away from a real challenge.

"If we do what we are good at, then we can score more goals and we will win more games.

"We don't have to think about other teams and we will close the gap.

"Yes, we have one win in seven but, in most of those games, we have been the better team.

"We are still confident. It's our duty to be confident because the players have quality."

Perhaps someone should tell Klopp that besides quality, there has to be also defensive organisation, which was lacking when Joselu scored Newcastle's 36th-minute equaliser following an excellent through ball from former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey.

"It was a good pass but, if the defenders see it, they have to step forward and get him offside," Klopp said.

"We made one mistake and it's 1-1. They (Newcastle) made a lot more mistakes."

Former Liverpool players Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness criticised Liverpool's poor defending.

"It came from Daniel Sturridge losing the ball, which happened far too often and again," said Carragher.

"Liverpool's centre backs were all over the place. It's so poor.

"Liverpool's centre backs are never switched on.

"As soon as that ball is lost, you have to think about what Shelvey is going to do - he'll probably play it forward and get in position early.

"A lack of concentration has cost Liverpool again."

Souness added: "When you're in such a good passing team as Liverpool are, for the people at the back, when the ball goes into midfield and beyond, they start to admire the game.

"They start watching rather than noticing the centre forward drifting off them. This goal was a classic case in point."

Benitez was pleased by his team's performance against the club he guided to a Champions League triumph in 2005.

"They are a very good team and that is why I'm pleased with the performance of my players," said the Spaniard.

"They were really working hard and, if we had shown a little more composure on the ball, maybe we would have scored a second goal." - WIRE SERVICES

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