Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp praised his players for adapting to a new system after his silky side threatened to run riot in a 4-1 thrashing of West Ham United on Saturday. Two weeks ago Liverpool left the capital with their tale between their legs after a 4-1 mauling by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, but have racked up 10 goals and conceded one since.
“We changed the system and yesterday was the first time we did it, 4-4-2, which looked maybe from the beginning like a very offensive line-up,” Klopp, criticised for his gung-ho tactics against Tottenham, told reporters after his side moved level on points with Chelsea and Arsenal in sixth place.
“We had a different idea — we wanted to defend deeper, more compact and using the space which we had for the counter-attacks. We will never know how it would have been if we don’t score the first one. We had to get used to it a little bit.
“It looked like a very offensive lineup but it was a very defensive lineup. We had two No.6s, clear No.6s, two real midfielders on the wing in Sadio Mane and Alex Oxlade-Chamerlain and Roberto Firmino and Mo (Salah) had to really defend. That helps the last line and that’s what we did.
“It was a counter-attacking lineup to use our speed from a deep situation. 3-0, 3-0, 4-1, it’s a really good week. “It’s a good moment to have a little break.”
Klopp was without skipper Jordan Henderson, who was ruled out late on, and Philippe Coutinho, but was boosted by the return of Sadio Mane after a month out with a hamstring problem.
Mane lasted 77 minutes despite having had only two training sessions, while Georginio Wijnaldum lasted the full game despite looking certain to miss the match with an ankle knock.
“We lost our skipper overnight and Gini Wijnaldum did not have his boots here,” Klopp said. “Then he said he had improved overnight. But we only brought him here so he is nearer to Amsterdam, he was flying there to see the doctor, and he played 90 minutes.”
Senegal forward Mane’s searing pace terrorised West Ham’s defence and Klopp said it was a boost to have him available again. “Sadio is a naturally fit player…he is a little machine. In training you could see he enjoyed the intensity.
“I said yesterday he was ready for 25 minutes but it was 25 minutes plus and it was good for us. We brought in Mane after one session. I never did it before, to be honest. “It was not the worst idea I ever had!”