Liverpool’s 17-game unbeaten run a result of improved control, says Klopp
Mohamed Salah’s hat-trick sees table-topping Liverpool beat Bournemouth with ease
Jurgen Klopp believes table-topping Liverpool’s impressive club record-equalling unbeaten Premier League run boils down to improved control.
Liverpool now sit top of the Premier League, boasting the last remaining unbeaten streak after champions Manchester City lost 2-0 at Chelsea on Saturday night.
Klopp’s men led 2-0 then 3-2 before capitulating to a 4-3 Premier League defeat at Bournemouth in December 2016 but the German coach hopes his players are now far more robust than that.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe branded Liverpool “stronger mentally, physically and tactically” now than two years hence, leaving Klopp hopeful of maintaining that ruthless streak.
“I could probably draw for you the goals we conceded that day; we let Bournemouth come back into that game,” said Klopp, of Liverpool’s dramatic 4-3 defeat at Dean Court two years ago.
“Unfortunately I cannot say that will never happen again but we are really more controlled in these situations now. It was a big step for us; very important.
“Last year we were really flying and everything was brilliant, until we were not flying.
“The difference between flying and not flying was quick last year.
“It was something we wanted to work on. It’s worked out. That’s good. A few new players have come in and other players are more mature.
“This squad is still not too experienced, that’s how it is. But we still have to improve, that’s clear.”
Liverpool equalled the class of 2008’s 17-match league unbeaten run at Bournemouth, and could now eclipse that record by avoiding defeat against rivals Manchester United on December 16th.
When quizzed on the difference the outstanding defender Virgil Van Dijk has made to Liverpool’s spine, Klopp insisted the collective must take the credit.
“I could write a book about Virgil’s strengths, I could write a book about Alisson’s strengths, but look what Joel Matip did at Bournemouth, how good he was,” said Klopp.
“He has absolutely no rhythm, but he trains on the highest level, and he’s not even in the squad sometimes. But then he plays and is excellent.
“So it’s not about one person.
“James Milner, it’s Premier League game number 500 and he plays at right back. It’s the least favourite position he would want to play, but he did the job, so that all comes together.
“The centre-half alone can do nothing. Nobody can perform wonders. So we need all these boys around.”
The Italians sit top of Group C, one point clear of second-place Paris St Germain and need just a point at Anfield to secure their progression.
It is a game Liverpool need to win to be sure of going through. Victory by more than one goal will guarantee Liverpool’s progress, while a 1-0 win or a victory by two goals or more will be needed if PSG beat Red Star Belgrade in the other game in the group.
Ancelotti insists that Napoli, who are second in Serie A and thrashed Frosinone 4-0 on Saturday, have no intention of heading to Anfield to play for a draw.
“I have lots of memories of Anfield,” Ancelotti told the Napoli website. “And my last one is a good one because I won the title there with Chelsea.
“It’s going to be a tough, exciting match. We’ll go there and play our usual game. It would be counter productive to try and park the bus. Besides anything else, that’s not how we play.
“We’ll try to boss the game and I’m sure the lads are ready and fired up to give their absolute all.
“We’ll go there with an attacking mindset.”
The 59-year-old Ancelotti, whose AC Milan side lost the 2005 Champions League final against Liverpool in Istanbul before beating Liverpool in the final two years later, hopes Napoli will be fresh for the Anfield clash after making changes to his line-up.
“I rotated the squad not just to rest a few legs but also to give playing time to some of the other lads. I need everyone and this is the way forward,” Ancelotti added.
“The lads who came into the team performed well. They all did good things. This game was a potential banana skin and we cleared it well.”