Klopp slams defensive Chelsea; Conte calls Liverpool “lucky”


LIVERPOOL — Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte both believed their teams deserved more than a point from their clash at Anfield on Saturday.

It was a draw, which helped neither team in their quest to try and drag themselves back into the Premier League title race.

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Mohamed Salah‘s opener was canceled out late on by a Willian goal as both managers were left ruing unlucky breaks after a long week which saw them each travel on the road in the UEFA Champions League before two more games in the next six days matches in the Premier League.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Klopp hit out at Liverpool for a more defensive style of play as he said their plan was to play with “eight defenders” and then give the ball to the excellent Eden Hazard.

“It was a very intense game, very difficult game for us against a very strong Chelsea team who had quite a different approach tonight. Deep defending and then giving the ball to Eden Hazard… Wow,” Klopp said. “It was not the most thankful job to defend him alone, with the second player it was a little easier but the third player you have a good chance and Alvaro Morata running around. That was quite difficult and we had to work really hard.

“Our situation was playing football. We did it. I am happy with big parts of the performances… Everything was good until Willian crossed the ball and still most parts of the game were good but that’s not how it feels. The world is a strange and crazy place at the moment and there are so many more important things that are happening. I can easily live with a point against Chelsea.”

In truth, a draw was probably a fair result. Both goals had more than a hint of fortune to them as Chelsea were dispossessed and the ball ricocheted into the path of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who teed up Salah, then Willian’s attempt was clearly a cross which looped in.

Asked by Pro Soccer Talk if he agreed with Klopp’s comments about Chelsea’s defensive tactics, Conte thought his tactical plan worked a treat and his side deserved to win as he labeled Liverpool “lucky” to get a point.

“I think that today we had a tactical plan and I think for Liverpool it was very difficult to make chances to score today,” Conte said. “I think we prepared the game very well and it was a tactical decision, especially in the first half to be very solid and then to try with the ball to be dangerous. In the second half I think the game changed. In the second half we dominated the game. We created many chances to score and I think that Liverpool was lucky to score and then to draw.”

The reality is that neither Liverpool or Chelsea wanted a draw on Saturday with Manchester City now able to move 11 points ahead of third-place Chelsea and 14 ahead of fifth-place Liverpool if they beat Huddersfield Town on Sunday.

With a third of the 2017-18 season gone, Klopp insists he is not focused on the record-breaking start from Pep Guardiola‘s Man City.

“In our situation, all other clubs, if we all think about Manchester City we would all be really crazy. ‘How can we get Manchester City?’ It doesn’t work. We have to win games but if they go on winning games we can do whatever we want,” Klopp said. “It is really important in life that you have your own targets and right targets and you can be a happy person and you can stay a confident person and a confident person can reach a lot.

“Maybe it is Man City. I have no idea and I’m not interested. Today I didn’t think for a second after the game about Manchester City. What I thought was we should have won the game we could have been even with Chelsea, closer to Tottenham maybe. The position is still okay. We have to improve. We can do better but the boys did well and after a performance like tonight it cannot be taken for granted because it is so difficult. I am happy about that but not happy about the result.”