Klopp wants improved discipline at set-pieces

Dieumerci Mbokani (No. 9) equalising for Norwich at 1-1 with a cheeky back-heel, as the Reds' well-established difficulty with defending set-pieces continued on Saturday. Juergen Klopp wants an improvement against Stoke.
Dieumerci Mbokani (No. 9) equalising for Norwich at 1-1 with a cheeky back-heel, as the Reds' well-established difficulty with defending set-pieces continued on Saturday. Juergen Klopp wants an improvement against Stoke.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Juergen Klopp has held "intensive" talks with his Liverpool players over their set-piece failings and demanded an immediate response against Stoke in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final today.

While delighted at Liverpool's remarkable 5-4 win at Norwich on Saturday, he was again frustrated at his team's weaknesses when defending set-pieces.

Norwich's opening goal was the eighth time Liverpool have conceded from a corner this season and they have let in goals from 13 set-pieces in total.

The defending at Carrow Road, Klopp revealed yesterday, has prompted another inquest at Melwood. And the manager admits improvement is essential against Mark Hughes' team in the return leg at Anfield, where the hosts have a 1-0 advantage.

"Of course we know about this problem, I am sorry to say it is not a problem we can ignore," Klopp, sporting new spectacles after breaking his old pair during celebrations at Norwich, told a press conference.

"It is not about the formation because we changed the formation, it is not always about the quality of the set plays, it is about what we are doing. We defended the first ball well but then struggled with the second or third so that's a normal reaction.

"It is not too late to learn but now it is time to learn and show we have learnt," said the German.

Hughes is ready to test how far Liverpool's backline has progressed in just three days.

"There are a lot of goals being scored against them, but they have the ability of scoring at the other end and so we have to be mindful of that," said the Stoke manager, who is seeking to steer the club to their first League Cup final since they won the tournament in 1972.

A draw will suffice for Liverpool to reach a first major final since 2012, when they won the League Cup and lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

Liverpool will have Dejan Lovren available following his recovery from a hamstring injury.

However, fellow defender Nathaniel Clyne is doubtful with a knee problem.

GUARDIAN, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Klopp wants improved discipline at set-pieces'. Print Edition | Subscribe