Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool’s attacking approach will sometimes leave his defenders exposed as the Reds seek to respond to last weekend’s surprise loss at home to Crystal Palace.
Liverpool suffered an unexpected 2-1 defeat to Sam Allardyce’s Eagles at Anfield, where the home team’s backline proved unable to cope with the return of striker Christian Benteke, who moved to Selhurst Park from the Merseyside giants in August.
Speaking ahead of a trip to face Watford in the Premier League on Monday, Klopp claimed he was unconcerned at the site of the powerful Belgian bullying Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren.
“If you defend deep then you have a lot of legs and help around, that’s how it is,” he said.
“The first goal last week, this is not an excuse, but it can happen with a misjudgement and a counter-attack. A centre-half for a top team is playing with a lot of space at the back. That’s how Tottenham act, how [Manchester] City act and sometimes how Arsenal act. Manchester United are for sure a bit different,” he added, referring to Jose Mourinho’s more defensive approach at Old Trafford.
“You have to involve a lot of players in offensive things usually, you cannot be offensive with just two players in a counter-attack when there are already eight from the other team in their own half or box. So of course it is more difficult. If we go for a centre-half we need to know how he acts in big spaces, but on the other side centre-halves can feel pretty alone in certain moments if we don’t react the right way after losing the ball. That is why counter-pressing is a pretty useful skill.”
“It makes sense only to think about the next game.”
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Liverpool are expected to reinforce their backline in the off-season, although Klopp knows the quality required to improve the side may not be readily available.
“I saw a lot of centre-halves, that is how it is,” he said of his recent scouting missions.
“We cannot go for a centre-half from Bayern Munich, for example – they have similar problems to us – but you have to imagine how a defender will react in different situations. All clubs defend in some moments high. It is about being football smart and they have to make the right decision in the right moment, stepping back and all that stuff.
“For example, Palace’s second goal was after a set-piece but it came after we lost the ball in the build-up. If the defender steps back in this moment then for a few seconds there could be help from somewhere. It was two wrong decisions in one situation. But defending high is not a problem, it is only a different job.”