Football: Anfield pitch leaves Reds boss Jurgen Klopp high and dry

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaking to fourth official Anthony Taylor during the Premier League match against Southampton at Anfield which ended 0-0.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaking to fourth official Anthony Taylor during the Premier League match against Southampton at Anfield which ended 0-0.PHOTO: REUTERS

He blames state of home pitch for 0-0 draw, turns focus to next game away at West Ham

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp has blamed a dry pitch for Liverpool's laboured 0-0 Premier League performance against Southampton on Sunday.

James Milner had a second-half penalty saved by Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster as Liverpool failed to score against the Saints for the fourth time this season.

Klopp's side have taken only two points from their last three games at Anfield, in contrast to three consecutive wins on the road, with their recent home form stalling the pursuit of Champions League qualification.

The Liverpool manager denied his team have a psychological issue on home soil but claimed their problems against Southampton stemmed from the state of the Anfield pitch, its dry condition undermining their passing game.

Klopp, who said the wind played a factor in Liverpool's League Cup defeat by Southampton in January, said: "It is not what I want. To be successful, you have to have a fortress at home.

"We had that here for a long period. Now we have had a few results which are not that good.

"I know nobody wants to hear it but I am brave enough to say it. The pitch was really dry today. We gave it all the water we had but after 15 minutes, it was really dry again with the wind. It was difficult.

"It is not nice to drop points at home but now we play away and then we have another home game.

"We really still enjoy playing at home. It is only a mental issue if you think it is one."

The draw saw Liverpool's top-four hopes briefly slip out of their hands but Manchester United's 2-0 defeat at Arsenal later on Sunday meant Klopp's side again control their destiny.

They are five points ahead of fifth-placed United, who have a game in hand, and also seven clear of Arsenal, who have two games in hand.

The Reds can clinch a Champions League spot by winning their final two games at West Ham United and at home to Middlesbrough.

"We're still fighting and nobody has given up or something like this," added Klopp.

"Before the game, we needed three (wins), and obviously now I would say two would not be bad. It really makes sense that we are really concentrated on West Ham."

Milner had boasted a 100 per cent penalty record this season before Forster saved the converted left-back's eighth spot kick of the campaign.

"It's very frustrating," Milner said after the match.

"Southampton are a tough team to break down. We didn't play as well as we would have liked.

"The penalty was a big chance and we didn't take it. We have to win our remaining two games and see if it's good enough."

Southampton manager Claude Puel was thrilled his side, who lie 10th in the table, responded so well following the previous week's scrappy 0-0 draw with Hull City.

"I think it was important after Hull City to correct some things and I'm satisfied with this game," he said.

"It was a fantastic game and it was strong defensively. It was important to play like this against a team with good qualities.

"We had good discipline and we got good reward for that."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'Anfield pitch leaves Klopp high and dry'. Print Edition | Subscribe