The Big Match

Klopp sure Reds' rearguard can hold their own

LONDON • Liverpool, so often criticised for their defensive fragility this season, have kept two clean sheets in their last two games and manager Jurgen Klopp believes that his defence is showing signs of improvement.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's trip to Wembley to face Tottenham in the Premier League, the German said on Sky Sports: "Because we concede one goal and it is always one player who is then not good enough or whatever. It makes no sense to me to be honest.

"We conceded three the first day, that's so long ago I can't even really remember and five against (Manchester) City with one man down.

"We know we have to improve and we improved the last two games. I said after the 0-0 draw against (Manchester) United (that) we were much better and much smarter in protection, to protect our own offensive situations.

"It will be a different game against Tottenham so we don't have to talk too much about this."

Spurs have not played well at Wembley, their temporary home this season while their new stadium is being built - winning just once in four games in the Premier League.

However, Klopp has struggled with matches there as well, having lost in Cup finals with both Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.

KEEPING IT TIGHT AT THE BACK

We improved the last two games. I said after the 0-0 draw against (Manchester) United (that) we were much better and much smarter in protection.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, believes his much-maligned defence has shown signs of improvement.

"We don't feel bad when we see Wembley. It's a good place, a wonderful stadium, and we've never played against Tottenham there," he added.

"We only think about the game against Tottenham and not where we play."

In-form Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah - who has scored four goals and provided one assist in eight league games - is set to feature tomorrow.

Klopp was full of praise for the Egyptian at his pre-match conference yesterday, noting his instant impact since his £39 million (S$69.6 million) move from Roma in the summer.

"He is a fantastic boy and it always helps if you settle as a person very quickly," the Liverpool manager said.

"It helps you settle in as a player. And I don't think he needed even half an hour to settle in the team. If he can stay fit, that will be very important for us."

Klopp's opposite number Mauricio Pochettino said that he expects a "very, very tough game" against the eighth-placed Reds.

"I think every single game is important. They're an amazing team with a great manager," the Tottenham manager said on Sky Sports.

"If we want to fight to win the title at the end of the season, it's so important to get the three points.

"Of course, it will be tough but our mentality is to try and to win. It's not only to play Sunday, we have (the) League Cup against West Ham (on Wednesday). That's another derby.

"It's so important for us to assess every player and try to be competitive in every single game.

"We have a lot of good games, a lot of exciting games, but we are taking it step by step and now it's Liverpool."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp sure Reds' rearguard can hold their own'. Print Edition | Subscribe