Liverpool may be top of the league with a 100 percent record having not yet conceded a goal but manager Jurgen Klopp insists they are still a long way from being the finished article.
Mohamed Salah’s 29th goal in 29 appearances at Anfield secured a 1-0 win over Brighton in a game when the Reds failed to reach the levels which is now expected of them.
However, they ensured they capitalised on Man City’s draw at Wolves earlier in the day to go top of the table for the first time since November 2016.
“Nine points after three games, I never heard anything negative about that. We didn’t concede a goal, nothing negative about that,” said Klopp.
“If you watched the games—we knew before the game but now a few more people know—we have a lot more to do.
“First half was a good mindset, really patient in the right moment, and we scored the goal and could’ve score more and I don’t think they had a chance in the first half.
“Then there was half-time and we didn’t do exactly the same, the boys changed a little bit and it was not the best idea.
“We didn’t show the same patience and it was a more open game and there was absolutely no need for that.
“The last 10 minutes [Brighton] had their moments as we started passing through an area where they was no space.
“They had their chances and Alisson had to make a big save; nice, good for us.
“We won the game very deservedly. One-nil is not a result we’ve had very often since I was in but I am very happy because it was the best we could get today.”
While Alisson was becoming only the third Liverpool goalkeeper in 51 years to keep a clean sheet in the opening three league matches of the season the man he replaced, Loris Karius was joining Besiktas on a two-year loan.
The Turkish club will pay a £2.2 million fee now and are obligated to buy him for a further £7.25 million in 2020 if appearance and European qualification criteria are met.
“We said goodbye yesterday. He is really looking forward to it, it is good for him and I really think Loris is a fantastic goalkeeper at a very good age,” added Klopp.
“A lot of people spoke about our improved defensive things and as good as Alisson was in the last three games we were good when he was not here and Loris did a lot of good things.
“Besiktas have a good team who have a good chance to win the league and they now have a really good goalkeeper and I am really happy for him.”
Brighton boss Chris Hughton was disappointed with the manner of Salah’s 23rd-minute goal but pleased with the way his side responded.
“We conceded a very poor goal and you have to make sure you stick in the game,” he said.
“At that stage you can crumble a little bit, particularly here with the quality they’ve got, but we stuck in there.
“When you concede a goal like that, the disappointment can spread through the team and that can show, but I don’t think it showed. We raised our game again.”
Last Updated: 26/08/18 12:20am
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Watch Jurgen Klopp‘s post-match press conference after Liverpool just about did enough to take all three points with a 1-0 win over a spirited Brighton.
The Reds pounced on a Brighton mistake to grab all three points as James Milner kickstarted a typical Klopp press.
At the other end, Alisson pulled off a number of excellent saves to remind everyone why Liverpool were so keen to secure his services from AS Roma.
Jurgen Klopp meanwhile was in a more philosophical mood when he spoke to the press after the game:
“Nine points after three games, there’s never anything negative about that. But if you watch the games, you will see we have a lot of work to do.
“After half-time, we didn’t do exactly the same [as the first]. Maybe it’s my English or whatever, we didn’t show the same patience any more.
“The players are not exactly 100 percent fit. That’s how it is, we cannot give players a very short summer break then expect to be at the level. These games are the most important ‘session’ we can have.”
The Liverpool manager expected a difficult game, mentioning Brighton’s performance against Man United before a ball was kicked.
“I knew before the game that we have a lot of work to do, maybe now you know it as well.”
Klopp then spoke on Alisson, who denied an almost certain goal in the final moments—saving well at close range from Pascal Gross.
“They had their chances, Alisson had to make a big save. Nice. Good for him, good for us. 1-0 is not a result we had very often, so I’m very happy.
[The Alisson chip] was not too cool. I had a few centre-halves—like Mats Hummels—who did things like this. Alisson is obviously a very good footballing goalkeeper. I like the save more than the chip.”
On the departure of Lorius Karius he was reflective—wishing the German well in Turkey:
“We said goodbye yesterday. He’s really looking forward to it, it’s good for him.
“I really think he’s a fantastic goalkeeper, at the right age.
“I’m really happy for him, and he’s happy to have the opportunity.”
“Today was a big test, Brighton thought they could pick on Joe for the long ball, and he did really well.
“I don’t think he made one foul, he won 70 or 80 percent of his duels—he is a good footballer, I like him. He has a lot of nice things for a centre-back.
Liverpool are away to Leicester City next Saturday in the last fixture before a two-week international break.
Can the Reds make it 12 points from 12 and continue their impressive start to the 2018/19 season?
The Reds announced Karius’ departure minutes after the final whistle in Saturday’s 1-0 win at home to Brighton, with the 25-year-old arriving in Turkey earlier in the day.
Karius will spend the next two campaigns in Istanbul, and will join Besiktas on a permanent basis if he meets certain performance-based criteria.
This comes after Klopp’s decision to replace his troubled compatriot with Alisson, who moved to Merseyside in a then world-record £65 million deal with Roma in July.
The manager has insisted plans to sign the Brazil came prior to Karius’ nightmare performance in the Champions League final.
But nonetheless, speaking at his post-match press conference at Anfield, Klopp acknowledged the reprieve Karius would enjoy at Besiktas:
“We said goodbye yesterday, he’s really looking forward to it, so that’s good.
“It’s good for him, I really think Loris is a fantastic goalkeeper, at a very good goalkeeper age.
“A lot of people spoke now about our improved defence, and as good as Alisson was in the last three games, in most of the games when we were already really good he was not here.
“It was Loris in goal, and he did a lot of good things.
“When I saw the Besiktas team, it’s quite an experienced team so they have a good chance to win the league in Turkey.
“Now they have a really good goalkeeper, I’m really happy for him and he was very happy for the opportunity as well.”
Fulham and Napoli both baulked at the finances involved in signing the Belgian, and now Klopp is planning for the season with him as No. 2.
Further cover is provided by academy duo Kamil Grabara and Caoimhin Kelleher, who both impressed in pre-season and have since reverted to sharing duties with the Liverpool U23s.
“It’s all good. We have Simon Mignolet here: a wonderful, perfect goalkeeper as well for us,” he added.
“So that’s the situation now, plus the two kids of course.”
Alisson has now kept three clean sheets in his first three competitive games, with his performances further vindicating the big-money fee paid.
Liverpool had to endure a nervy end to the game but ended up with a 1-0 win over Brighton at Anfield to continue their 100 percent start.
Premier League, Anfield
August 25, 2018
Goal: Salah 23′Wijnaldum’s Statement Start to the Season
The Dutchman started as the deepest of three once again, before shifting further forward later in the game as Jurgen Klopp altered his team and tactics.
In both halves of the pitch and both roles he played, Wijnaldum was near-faultless: aggressive in winning the ball, diligent with his passing, forward-thinking on the ball but always helping out defensively.
One excellent piece of first-half skill and drive had the Anfield crowd applauding; late in the match Wijnaldum was one of several making sure the Reds weren’t overstretched.
Amid more competition for places this season, the No. 5 is doing all he can to show he, at least, should remain on the pitch.Misfiring Forwards
Indeed, the third member—Sadio Mane—was perhaps the most out-of-sync player on the pitch, working hard but misplacing passes with regularity, steering one shot wide early on and being subbed off first.
Salah was not much better. He scored the all-important goal, highlighting again an ability to be influential without being at his best, but he should have scored at least one more and maybe two.
Firmino was the best of the lot thanks to some link play, non-stop running and getting himself between the lines, but none of them can claim to have been on top form.
It’s a reminder that the entire team must be responsible for beating teams, not just the forwards, and also another push for those on the bench—Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri in particular—to give everything when called upon to try and earn a starting spot.Alisson’s Importance
Thankfully, at the other end of the pitch there was a man very much in form.
Alisson kept his third consecutive clean sheet for the Reds, prolonging the run of not conceding at Anfield for the team overall and coming up with more than one big moment when needed.
His late save from Pascal Gross’ header was imperative, but some good aerial work beforehand relieved pressure too.
A note on his footwork: a cool chip and clearance had the Kop delighted—Klopp less so after the match—but he cannot afford to make it a signature move.
The next forward can anticipate something like that and it only takes a slight touch or deflection to go horrendously wrong. We’re not, of course, about to say ‘we don’t want confident footwork’, but Alisson must merely remain unpredictable in how he tries to avoid a forward.
Later he was almost closed down, but this was more due to defenders not splitting for him than any missed piece of control, and Alisson still wanting to pass it out.
So far, so very good.Consistency vs. Complacency
It’s imperative to not come into games like this assuming that a win is just a whistle and 90 minutes away.
Pre-game, understandably so, many fans expected three, four, five goals and a victory; after big wins over Brighton last term, it’s no surprise.
But the atmosphere felt flat and so did the performance, very slow and lethargic, not taking the game to Brighton with any measure of deadly speed and penetrating runs, waiting for rather than creating danger.
There are no complaints at another win, even a stressful and difficult one as this was in the end, for all types of challenges must be overcome in the pursuit of success.
But after two low-key performances from an attacking perspective, the Reds will be looking to pick matters up against Leicester and then after the international break.Three Points, Wins and Clean Sheets!
Top of the table, three games in, not a point dropped and not a goal conceded: what more could you ask for?!
If the start to the season hasn’t been precisely perfect in every regard, it has been a lot closer to it than any other club has managed thus far.
Clearly a lot of good work over the summer has seen the team hit the ground running at enough of a pace to do damage to teams, and the confidence should only increase with wins behind them.
The clean sheets are just as important: there isn’t the feeling of being an instant from disaster as the games head toward the closing stages.
It can happen, and no doubt will at some point, but the absence of inevitability is a massive step in the right direction.
Top of the league: now to try and stay there heading toward the international break.