LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 24 – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes a welcome mid-season break has refreshed his side at the perfect time after a 4-1 thrashing of West Ham on Saturday.
In their first outing since beating Porto 5-0 in the Champions League 10 days ago, Liverpool moved up to second in the Premier League with the prolific front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all on target.
“It was intense, it was aggressive, it was angry, it was full of desire. I saw everything I wish to see in a game of football and it’s not often you see that,” said Klopp.
Liverpool spent four days in Marbella after their heroics in Porto as their early exit from the FA Cup ensured a weekend off.
“As a football manager you like it if you can work with your team. If you can prepare a team for each game, it would make football much more attractive if you gave the teams more time to prepare the things,” added Klopp.
Salah continued his incredible scoring streak by netting for the sixth straight game to take his tally for the season to 31.
Liverpool are now a point clear of rivals Manchester United, who host Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.
“It’s a nice moment, but nothing more,” added Klopp. “If Man United win tomorrow then we were second for a few hours and I am not sure that is too important to be honest.”
Klopp’s side have now scored 103 goals in all competitions this season, and showed their intent early on when Firmino cut the ball back for Salah, who clipped a low effort at goal which rebounded back off the post.
Marko Arnautovic carried the sporadic first-half attacking threat for the Hammers and attempted an audacious chip from the corner of the box only to see Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius get fingertips on the ball before it struck the underside of the crossbar.
– Can got ball rolling –
Liverpool’s persistence paid off just before the half-hour mark as they took the lead from a Salah corner.
His high in-swinging delivery was met by Can who outjumped and outmuscled French veteran Patrice Evra on his West Ham debut to head the ball into the net.
Liverpool added their second six minutes after half-time as Salah benefitted from some determined play by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Reds midfielder bundled his way through the Hammers defence and fortuitously passed it to Salah, who clinically found the far corner of the net.
Shortly afterwards Liverpool’s grip on the game tightened further when Can won the ball immediately from Adrian’s kick up field and lifted it over the top of the West Ham defence for Firmino to chase.
Adrian raced off his line to try to intercept, but Firmino was too quick and his touch took him past the visiting goalkeeper before he slotted into an empty net in front of the Kop.
That should have sealed it for Liverpool but within a minute of Michail Antonio’s introduction, the substitute pulled a goal back to create a few nerves.
However, Liverpool reasserted their authority and Mane completed a perfect afternoon when he tapped in Andrew Robertson’s low cross 13 minutes from time.