Klopp has no issues with winning 'ugly'

Liverpool's Emre Can (left) celebrating with Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne after scoring in the 2-1 win over Burnley.
Liverpool's Emre Can (left) celebrating with Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne after scoring in the 2-1 win over Burnley.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

He is happy for Liverpool to win regardless of how well they play as long as they finish top 4

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he is happy for his team to win "ugly" during the remainder of the English Premier League season if it brings results such as the fortunate 2-1 victory over Burnley at Anfield on Sunday.

Klopp's team improved their chances of finishing in the top four and qualifying for next season's Champions League, thanks to Emre Can's superb long-range winner after 60 minutes.

But, against a Burnley side with just two points gained away from home this season, Liverpool were forced to work hard to come back after Ashley Barnes had given the visitors a shock early lead.

"I would say you need to be ready for both," said Klopp when asked if it was important for his team to learn how to win "ugly" games.

"You cannot plan an ugly game, but this was not our best game. So yes, if we want to stay where we are, then we need to win football games and we can't make the choice and say, 'No, we want to play this way'.

  • 14

  • Points Liverpool have picked up when coming back from a losing position. Only Tottenham have collected as many points when conceding the first goal.

  • 2

  • Away points Burnley have won all season.

"We all have to get used to it a little bit. It is the first ugly game we won. Usually when we are not at our best, we have lost.

"It is really good today that we could do it like this. We usually win good games, but the bad games and the average games we need to be challenging too. We were today."

For all that Liverpool's season has been built upon free-flowing performances, it is the qualities they embodied here in clambering off the canvas against Burnley that will be needed if they are to cross the finishing line in the top four.

Then again, this was their 16th win of the season - the same number they managed in the previous campaign.

Anfield's guttural roar at the final whistle was borne of joy and relief and will have provided a sharp contrast to the mood amid their north London and Manchester rivals.

When Burnley struck inside seven minutes, and Liverpool toiled and laboured to muster a meaningful response, it felt that the narrative decreeing Klopp's side trip up against the lesser lights would be faithfully adhered to once more.

Yet, in dealing with the pressure, Liverpool recovered to apply some of their own.

They sit five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal and the gap to Manchester United is six points in the chase for a Champions League berth, even if their rivals still boast two games in hand each. There is no margin for error.

Liverpool were fortunate to go into the half-time interval level with Burnley after Georginio Wijnaldum scored an equaliser deep in first-half injury time.

Can's goal ultimately kept Liverpool ahead of both Arsenal and Manchester United in the chase for fourth place and, while Klopp felt the Germany midfielder should have done more to prevent Matt Lowton crossing for Burnley's goal, he was pleased to see that the promising player has finally recovered from persistent injury troubles.

"Emre has an outstanding attitude," said Klopp.

"Second half he was very good but first half it was a challenge he should have had before their goal but things like that happen in football, it does not make you a bad person.

"We have to react and he reacted really well."

Klopp also confirmed that midfielder Jordan Henderson will miss Liverpool's trip to Manchester City on Sunday and will be unavailable for England's forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Lithuania following a foot injury.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche faces two more consecutive away games, halfway through a run of four in a row, with his team visiting bottom club Sunderland on Saturday.

"It's another 'nearly' for us and we have had too many 'nearlys' on the road," said Dyche.

"The main thing is to keep performing, and if we keep performing like that things will come our way over time."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp has no issues with winning 'ugly''. Print Edition | Subscribe