Jurgen Klopp played down concerns over Liverpool’s form after they were knocked out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
Goals from Willian and Ross Barkley consigned Liverpool – unbeaten in the Premier League until Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Watford – to a third defeat in four games in all competitions.
It represents a significant dip for a side who had only failed to win one of their previous 12 games, but Klopp insisted he is not worried about their loss of momentum in his post-match press conference, adding that he was pleased by his side’s overall performance.
“Losing 2-0 is not good, but in this case it’s relatively easy to explain,” he said. “We made two massive mistakes around the goals.
“The performance tonight was completely different to the performance against Watford. Against Watford, it was really bad. Tonight, it was not bad.
“I liked the reaction. I liked the way we played. There was some good stuff.
“It was a super intense game. We made seven changes because we knew it would be intense. But I’m not concerned about momentum. It’s football.
“We never thought that it would be an easy season, that it would be an easy period, that it would be an easy game tonight. Nothing. It was always difficult, but we did very well. We were just not good enough in decisive moments, and that’s what we have to accept.”
The questions over their form are unlikely to go away, however.
Liverpool retain a 22-point advantage over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, but their FA Cup hopes are over and next week they must overturn a one-goal deficit against Atletico Madrid in order to keep their Champions League challenge alive.
Klopp accepts that defensive improvement is required if they are to turn the recent results around.
“It went our way for so long because we defended outstanding,” he said of Liverpool’s season. “Usually, you don’t get a lot of chances against us. Now, we have to admit that in the last three or four games we have conceded too many goals.”
Frank Lampard, meanwhile, felt Chelsea’s performance showed their potential to compete with the top sides.
“It was an impressive performance,” he said. “It is hard to be comprehensive against Liverpool because of the team that they are, but I couldn’t have asked for any more with the spirit, the work ethic and the quality.
“You’ve got to defend well to keep a clean sheet against them because of the team that they are, but we deserved to win the game.
“I think we may have played some better football in the two previous games against Liverpool, but today we had an extra spirit about us and we need to take the positives from that. We can compete against the big teams.
“Wins or losses can come down to what you do in both boxes, and we got a slice of luck today. We took two chances that won us the game. We are still in transition and working towards closing the gap on [Liverpool], and to do that we have to find consistency.”
“We are not the Chelsea of different ers gone by with Hazards, Costas and Terrys. We are in a different place with young players, and some older players, and we are trying to bridge the gap upwards,” he added.
“It is important to know that unless we work hard every day in training and unless we go home and all we think about is how we improve then we can’t make that jump up.”