Klopp de­fends Liver­pool af­ter Bournemouth shocker

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Jur­gen Klopp has been forced to de­fend Liver­pool’s char­ac­ter and ti­tle cre­den­tials af­ter their in­cred­i­ble melt­down in a stunning 4-3 de­feat at Bournemouth. Liver­pool’s shock loss on Sun­day came at a time when they looked set to move to within a point of lead­ers Chelsea and go into the Christ­mas pe­riod as one of the favourites to fin­ish as cham­pi­ons for the first time since 1990. How­ever, the ner­vous man­ner of the team’s late col­lapse against a Bournemouth team who had never won against Liver­pool in their his­tory, has opened up a de­bate over whether Klopp’s squad is ready for such pres­sure. Next week­end sees Liver­pool face lowly West Ham at An­field, but the Christ­mas fix­ture list also throws up far tougher games against Mersey­side ri­vals Ever­ton and ti­tle ri­vals Manch­ester City, with star player Philippe Coutinho miss­ing all of them be­cause of an an­kle in­jury. Klopp, how­ever, sees no rea­son for panic de­spite his team con­ced­ing three goals in the last 14 min­utes to turn a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 loss. “We have no at­ti­tude or char­ac­ter prob­lem,” he said. “No-one is born a win­ner. Not in the first two or three months. You have to learn it. “It doesn’t feel too good right now but some­times we need it. So I’m not an­gry. These things hap­pen and you can­not be cham­pi­ons in De­cem­ber. “I would say we were 100 per­cent be­fore now. Now we are 99 per­cent. But it’s quite sim­ple to go back to 100 per­cent.

“Noth­ing hap­pened to­day apart from los­ing three points. Ev­ery­thing else is ok.”

Klopp did ad­mit he wasn’t happy with cer­tain as­pects of Liver­pool’s per­for­mance, how­ever - ac­cus­ing his team of ‘open­ing the door for Bournemouth’ in the lat­ter stages of a match in which Liver­pool scored ex­cel­lent goals through Sa­dio Mane, Divock Origi and Emre Can. But Klopp re­fused to place any blame at the door of goal­keeper Loris Kar­ius, who spiled Steve Cook’s stop­page-time shot to gift Nathan Ake the win­ner - and was then heav­ily crit­i­cised by tele­vi­sion pun­dit and for­mer Liver­pool player Jamie Car­ragher for his mistake. “No, I have no con­cern,” Klopp in­sisted. “No prob­lem. If you make mis­takes you get crit­i­cised. That’s what hap­pens in life. “I’m sure peo­ple crit­i­cised Jamie Car­ragher in his ca­reer. It has no in­flu­ence on what I do to my team. It says noth­ing about him as a goal­keeper. It hap­pens. We go on.”

In con­trast, Bournemouth play­ers are cel­e­brat­ing a fa­mous vic­tory, hav­ing never pre­vi­ously beaten Liver­pool in nine fix­tures go­ing all the way back to 1927.

The re­sult takes them up to 10th, with matches against strug­gling Burn­ley and Le­ices­ter next on the agenda. Their come­back was in­spired by a match-win­ning per­for­mance from 22-year-old sub­sti­tute Fraser, who only came on be­cause of an in­jury to team­mate Ju­nior Stanis­las in the sec­ond half with his team trail­ing 2-0. The Scot­tish winger won a penalty with his first touch, scored Bournemouth’s sec­ond at 3-1 and set up his team’s equaliser as the game was turned on its head.

Bournemouth man­ager Ed­die Howe, whose team were play­ing in Eng­land’s fourth tier as re­cently as six years ago, said: “I don’t think I’ll ever for­get this game. It was a right con­trast of emo­tions. —AFP

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