Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool are well equipped to “play against parked buses” and are responsible for opposition teams adopting a defensive mind-set more frequently this season.
The Liverpool manager labelled Sunderland the most defensive side he had ever seen after Saturday’s hard-fought 2-0 win at Anfield, when late goals by Divock Origi and James Milner secured a sixth home win in seven games. Not for the first time Klopp harangued the Anfield crowd for what he perceived as impatience, with the game goalless in the second half. Southampton were also on the back foot throughout Liverpool’s goalless draw at St Mary’s last weekend and Klopp believes opponents have been forced on to the defensive by his team’s vast improvement.
“There is no doubt this team is ready to play against parked buses,” said Klopp, who is awaiting results of a scan on Coutinho’s ankle injury. “We have all the skills but you need to be patient. If you score early – and you saw it, if we scored the first goal, then we get the second, the third, the fourth or whatever – that’s how it is. That opens the game. It’s about the timing of when you get the first one. And the longer you don’t, the most important thing is you don’t get frustrated because we need to get used to situations like this.
“Last year the games were different. Last year of course a few teams played defensively against us but, this time, because we are better, we have forced them into situations like this. I’m sure, for example, Victor Anichebe is not a left-back and shouldn’t be playing there. But obviously there is no one else there to do the job for Sunderland so he’s trying to stop Clyney [Nathaniel Clyne]. If you want to say it, it’s our fault teams are playing that deep but we can improve a lot and we are ready for teams doing that.”
David Moyes, the Sunderland manager, made no apologies for an approach that included the on-loan Belgian defender Jason Denayer man-marking Coutinho to good effect until the Brazilian was taken off on a stretcher with an ankle injury after 34 minutes.
“Maybe if I was a foreign coach I would’ve been praised for that,” said the former Everton and Manchester United manager. “We don’t have the same quality as Liverpool. I knew we had to come here and defend. They won 6-1 here the other week [against Watford] so we didn’t want to come here and get rolled over that easy.
“I was at the Euros all summer and saw a tournament like that. A tournament of big teams having to play against teams who shut up shop and made it difficult to get through. It’s a big part of modern football now as well. It can’t always be one way. I hope soon I can come with a team that can give Liverpool an open game. At the moment I don’t have the team to do that.”