Too early to cheer, Klopp says after win

An exuberant Jurgen Klopp carrying Sadio Mane after the forward's fourth goal in their 4-3 win over Arsenal, with Adam Lallana (left) and Dejan Lovren joining in the celebrations.
An exuberant Jurgen Klopp carrying Sadio Mane after the forward's fourth goal in their 4-3 win over Arsenal, with Adam Lallana (left) and Dejan Lovren joining in the celebrations.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Liverpool coach admits excitement almost let Gunners back into the game

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp said his over-exuberant celebrations were to blame for his team almost throwing away victory in their pulsating 4-3 English Premier League win at Arsenal on Sunday.

The Liverpool manager beat his chest and, in the frenzy, had his glasses knocked from his face. Adam Lallana had just put his team 2-1 up early in the second half and, when the passions had cooled, Klopp fished around on the ground in order to reacquaint himself with his lenses.

It was an afternoon when Klopp and everybody else inside the Emirates Stadium could rub their eyes in disbelief.

Liverpool were irresistible for a golden period after the interval, which climaxed in Sadio Mane, the £30 million (S$51.83 million) signing from Southampton, fizzing home their fourth goal.

Klopp was central to the celebrations on the touchline, allowing Mane to clamber on to his back. He would later say that he regretted that. The game was not over, even if it felt like it was.

"I played a big part in the excitement of the last half hour, because it's not allowed to celebrate the fourth goal like this with 35 minutes to go," the German said.

"At this moment, we switched off the machines. The game was not over. Arsenal lost, but we gave them a path back into the game.

"Over the whole 90 minutes, though, it's a deserved win. It's always difficult winning in London against Arsenal."

But on the whole, Liverpool were vibrant and clinical, with their other expensive new boy, Georginio Wijnaldum - the £23 million purchase from Newcastle United - also prominent.

Then, there was Philippe Coutinho who, not for the first time at this venue, was a joy to watch. He had equalised for 1-1 in first-half stoppage time with a scintillating 30-yard free kick while also scoring his team's third goal.

It was some game to open the season in north London but it was enjoyable only for Liverpool, where they feel that something is stirring.

Klopp restored belief and unity last season and, after a full pre-season in which to hammer home his high-intensity methods and play the transfer market, he has talked of this as being his team. There were defensive glitches on display but the optimism could surge.

For Arsenal, there was bitter frustration and the same old questions, despite a gallant attempt to bounce back off the canvas after Mane's goal for 4-1.

The substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a fine solo goal and when Calum Chambers flicked home a header for 4-3, there were thoughts of the crazy 4-4 draw between the teams at Anfield in 2009.

An Arsenal equaliser, however, never looked like materialising and, instead, there was the familiar sound of a chorus of boos from the home crowd at full-time.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had been without seven players because of fitness concerns and his makeshift central-defensive pairing of Chambers and Rob Holding, the new signing from Bolton Wanderers, was left exposed, although he did not blame them.

The Gunners started brightly and they were the better team in a first half in which Theo Walcott missed a penalty but partially redeemed himself by scoring the opener.

But it was shocking to see how sharply the tide turned and, yet again, there could be questions about the team's mental fortitude.

"I am always under pressure," Wenger said. "We played a very good first half and were unlucky to concede a goal just before half-time because the free kick was harsh.

"After that we paid for a lack of experience. Physically we are also not ready."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Too early to cheer, Klopp says after win'. Print Edition | Subscribe