Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp felt his side showed their real selves in their 3-1 win over Tottenham as they ended their five-game winless run by seeing off Jose Mourinho’s Spurs in north London.
Coming into the match with just one win in their last seven across all competitions and only two goals scored in five top-flight games since a 7-0 away thrashing of Crystal Palace pre-Christmas, Liverpool were dealt another blow after Fabinho missed out due to a minor muscle injury.
But the visitors took a timely lead through Roberto Firmino in first-half stoppage time only to suffer yet another fitness-related setback after Joel Matip was forced off with a knock at the break.
The reigning Premier League champions responded after the interval as Trent Alexander-Arnold made it 2-0 early in the second half before Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg responded just two minutes later to halve the deficit.
After Mohamed Salah saw a goal ruled out due to a Firmino handball in the build-up, Sadio Mane took advantage of a Spurs defensive error to make it 3-1 and kill the match as a contest.
The victory allows Liverpool to return to fourth in the Premier League table and four points off of leaders Manchester City, although they have played one game more than Pep Guardiola’s table-toppers.
And after a miserable run of performances and results, Klopp felt he saw the “real” Liverpool at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday evening.
“What I saw today was, it’s not about shape or form, who we are, and that’s us,” Klopp reflected to BT Sport after the final whistle.
“Today, the second half especially – that was us. It was a massive fight, and football obviously on top of that.
“I don’t know the numbers but apart from a few minutes in the first half I don’t remember they had a lot of the ball.
“They were always really quick in the counter-attacking and we defended that really well. It was a good performance and I saw a lot of things I wanted to see.
“I am [delighted with the performance]. It was a great game, super intense. We scored the goals in the right moments, scored wonderful goals, the right people scored the goals. So, all good apart from, obviously, Joel Matip had to go off.
“Offensively the way we played we dealy really well with their formation, played around and in between and so often in and around the box which is really important.
“Counter-press was really good. Both halves the last line defended really well, high enough but not crazy high.
“I didn’t see it coming but I was not negative about the second half.”
Klopp meanwhile said in some post-match interviews that Matip has suffered an ankle injury that “looks like something serious”, which will be a major blow given Fabinho is sidelined and Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are unlikely to play again this term.
Goalscorer Alexander-Arnold meanwhile declared to BT Sport: “It’s what we needed and it’s what we deserved as well. We dominated most of the game.
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“Obviously they had the early one disallowed [which] probably would have changed the way the game went on but we’ve come here with a game-plan and executed it perfectly.
“It got a bit tough when they scored but at the end of the day I think we deserved the three points.
“Nothing has really changed, I think. We’re the same team we always have been. We have the same mentality going into games, we respect the opposition.
“We have that expectation on ourselves that we should be winning and today we were really up for the game. Everyone was on it and didn’t put much of a foot wrong and it was a whole performance from the lads.
“Unbelievable game and it’s always good to get the three points.”
On the news of Matip and Fabinho’s problems, with Nat Phillips replacing the former at half-time, the right-back continued: “We’ve had setback after setback, especially in the centre-back area.
“He’s [Matip] done amazing first-half and then Nat’s come on second-half and done an unbelievable job again. Just goes to show the quality that we’ve got all around the pitch.
“For myself, it’s always good to get a goal and help the team.”
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