Jürgen Klopp was very impressed with Liverpool's performance in a 3- win vs. Aston Villa. The boss claimed it was the Reds' best performance in a while and also evaluated the performance of the defence, Joe Gomez and Dominik Szoboszlai.
Klopp is the kind of manager who always gives an honest assessment of his club's performance, highlighting the good and the bad. However, he could not pinpoint many mistakes by the Reds in this match.
“It was a top game, the best for a while, a long time,” Klopp said. “I don't know the last time we were that convincing, and we had a few good games obviously now – especially the end of last season and these kinds of things. That was really good. And you're right, in both departments, offensively like defensively. You cannot do one step less against this Aston Villa team, then you struggle immediately. But the early goal might have helped, I'm not sure, we don't know how the game would have looked without scoring, but we looked really, really good. The mix in possession between control and direction was close to perfect. That's how it felt. We could use the formation today properly, everybody wanted the ball or protected or showed or offered. So, it was a top game, cannot say differently. I don't know when I can say that the next time, but for today it was as good as could be, because the opponent is extremely strong and we didn't let that happen today. That's a massive compliment to my boys.”
Facing one of the most potent offences in the Premier League in Aston Villa and missing captain Virgil van Dijk, it looked as if Liverpool might give up some goals. But Joe Gomez filled in admirable and the Reds posted their first clean of the season.
“Both centre-halves played an exceptional game,” Klopp said. “With different jobs, to be honest. Diaby hiding in midfield on a nine-and-a-half, 10 position. So Joey (Gomez) had to step in there. Leaves Joel (Matip) in a one-vs-one with Ollie Watkins. And Joey – I'm really pleased for him. Against Newcastle, by the way, it was like that already, to be honest, when he came on. It looked really like that. It's very helpful when you have strong centre-halves, but if you leave them alone then the pitch is too big to defend. Today we were really together, really compact, the commitment was top-class and that's why we played the way we played.”
Not only did Szoboslai score his first goal in a Liverpool shirt, but he also created other chances and dropped back in defence when needed.
“That's now all four games. Pretty impressive, absolutely impressive,” Klopp said. “Tactically smart, absolutely ready for the dirty part of the game – meaning hard work where it's not the fancy stuff where they are shooting, crossing, running forward, stuff like this. No, he is really closing down opponents. So important how Curt (Curtis Jones) and Dom defended the half-spaces next to Darwin, super-important. And what a goal! I saw it directly from behind. That was the cleanest strike I've seen for a long time. And that was his slightly lesser-good foot. That was, again, a top performance.”
Klopp heaped praise on his players after the game and with good reason. He said it was the best the team had played in a while and I agree. I'm sure he will use this match as a template for how he wants the Reds to play for the rest of the season.
“It was a top game, the best for a while, a long time.”
“Today we were really together, really compact, the commitment was top-class and that’s why we played the way we played.”