Stand up and be counted, Juergen Klopp tells Liverpool after Wembley mauling against Tottenham
Another abject defensive display sees the Reds ship four goals in humbling defeat
Juergen Klopp pledged to “fix” his Liverpool team’s chronic defensive problems after a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur left them 12 points adrift in the Premier League title race.
Spurs exploited abject Liverpool defending throughout Sunday’s game at Wembley, with Harry Kane scoring twice as Mauricio Pochettino’s men moved level on points with second-place Manchester United.
Liverpool have now conceded 16 league goals – their worst statistics at this stage of a season since 1964 – and Klopp said his team could forget about climbing the table until they sort things out at the back.
“We don’t have to talk about top four today. We are ninth,” said the Liverpool manager.
“We have the worst statistics since 1964. I can’t believe it. We are where we are, so we deserve that.”
He added: “We have to prove we are better defenders than we showed today.
“We had three unbelievable big scoresheets with Watford (3-3), (Manchester) City (5-0) and today. That alone is 12 goals we have conceded. That’s crazy.
“You don’t have to talk about quality. If they don’t have quality, they would not be involved in the Liverpool squad, 100 per cent.
“The only way to fix it is to stay strong and to work on it. I cannot fix it here, but we will fix it.
“It’s an open race if you want – who shows me that he wants to play, who shows me that he’s ready to show a reaction.
“We have to show a reaction. We have no right (to do anything else).”
Klopp claimed Spurs’ first goal – when Kane ran in behind the Liverpool back four and rounded Simon Mignolet to score – would not have been scored if he had been on the pitch himself, even “in trainers”.
Kane broke the deadlock in the fourth minute and teed up Son Heung-Min for Spurs’ second eight minutes later after Dejan Lovren had completely misjudged an attempt to head clear a long throw from Hugo Lloris.
Mohamed Salah replied to give the game a misleading air of competitiveness before further goals from Dele Alli and Kane – both of which stemmed from defensive errors – allowed the hosts to put the game to bed.
Lovren had long departed by then, hauled off in the 31st minute after a disastrous personal display, but Klopp said it would be wrong to point the finger of blame at the Croatian.
“I could have taken another one,” Klopp said.
“It would not have been the biggest difference. We still conceded two more goals after Dejan left the pitch.
“I think he feels not good. That’s OK. Nobody should feel good at the moment.”
Tottenham’s swashbuckling display, allied to Manchester United’s recent struggles, suggest Pochettino’s team are best placed to take the fight to leaders Manchester City in the title race.
With victory having eluded Spurs in the first three games of their Wembley tenancy, Pochettino said results – and performances – such as Sunday’s would help the place feel like home.
“I am so pleased for the team, for our fans,” said the Spurs manager, whose side trail City by five points.
“Because we start to change that feeling that it was difficult to play here at Wembley and we start to feel that Wembley can be our home. That confidence is so important for the rest of the season.”
Pochettino said Kane was “amazing” after a brace that leaves him as the Premier League’s outright leading scorer on eight goals.
Another famous number 10, Diego Maradona, was in the stands and Pochettino said he had had an “emotional” reunion with his former Newell’s Old Boys teammate.
“I saw him before in the manager’s room,” said the Argentinian.
“It was difficult to let him go because when you’re in front of Maradona, you want to speak with him and share a moment with him.”