Jurgen Klopp claimed Liverpool did enough to warrant their win over Sheffield United, but he knows Thursday’s clash with Chelsea presents an altogether tougher challenge.
Liverpool stopped the rot in the Premier League on Sunday, ending a four-match losing streak by clinching a 2-0 win at Bramall Lane.
Curtis Jones opened the scoring with his second league goal, before Roberto Firmino’s wayward effort diverted in off Kean Bryan. That brought up Liverpool’s 7,000th top-flight goal – only Everton have scored more.
Oli McBurnie and Oliver Burke both missed good chances for the home side, who suffered their 21st Premier League defeat of the season, with the Blades the first side since Newport County in the fourth tier in 1970-71 to lose as many as 21 of their first 26 matches in an English Football League season.
Liverpool’s focus now switches to a clash with Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea at Anfield.
Tuchel succeeded Klopp at Borussia Dortmund before going on to coach Paris Saint-Germain and now the Blues, who drew with Manchester United on Sunday.
A win would see Liverpool move above Chelsea, though a fifth straight home defeat could see the Reds’ Champions League hopes take another blow.
“Very important. Many people have written us off, that’s completely fine,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“Tonight we showed that we are still there, but on Thursday we play Chelsea and we have to show it again. But with all the problems we have we are still around the exciting places. That’s where we want to be, what we will fight for.
“I have never thought about controlling the situation. We have to win football games and the rest is controlled by itself. It’s always like this, there’s no way without results to get into the Champions League.
“It’s normal and right that we get criticised, but if it’s just about the performance it makes it so tricky. We cannot fight like other teams, sit deep, let them come and hit on the counter-attack.
“That’s not how we can get back on track, we have to keep being dominant and deal with the situation, disappointments and frustration in the games. In other games we might have reacted differently. Tonight we stayed on track and scored in the right moment, it always helps.
“I think we could have scored three goals in the first half. It just shows what we created was really, really good. The finishing was good enough today, but we know we can improve that.”
7,000 – Liverpool’s second goal was their 7,000th in the English top-flight, becoming only the second team to reach that tally, after Everton (7,108 goals). Milestone. pic.twitter.com/8r1a2CDJVY
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 28, 2021
Liverpool kept a first Premier League clean sheet since January 17, with Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips starting together for the first time in defence, in front of Adrian, who stood in for Alisson.
Kabak led the way for tackles (three) and clearances (four – level with Adrian) in Liverpool’s team, though he did still have some shaky moments.
With Jordan Henderson set to miss a prolonged spell, Klopp is hoping to have Fabinho – himself a makeshift defender – fit to feature against Chelsea, while at the other end of the pitch, Diogo Jota is also set to return, having missed Sunday’s match through illness.
“Probably [Jota and Fabinho] both back for Chelsea,” Klopp said.
“Diogo was with us in the hotel but got sick, so he wasn’t with us in the squad. I would think that he is ready for Thursday but I don’t know at the moment.
“Fabinho has had two training sessions with the team, he should be closer, ready for the squad I am sure.”