Klopp praises 'incredible job' of Liverpool academy after thumping win over Chelsea

Defender Conor Bradley grabs first Liverpool goal as well as two assists as Reds beat Chelsea 4-1 to open up five-point lead at the top of the Premier League

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Conor Bradley after the Premier League win over Chelsea at Anfield. PA
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Jurgen Klopp praised the "incredible job" done by Liverpool's academy after several graduates stepped up to the plate to see the Reds finish January top of the Premier League.

Wednesday's 4-1 win over Chelsea was Liverpool's sixth win in seven matches in the month, giving them a five-point cushion at the top of the table and raising expectations of a first league title since 2020.

In the other match they drew 1-1 with Fulham to secure an aggregate win and a place in the Carabao Cup final.

During that time Klopp has been without several first-team regulars including star forward Mohamed Salah, who was away on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Egypt where he picked up an injury that will further delay his return to the starting line up.

Also missing are Klopp's three senior full-backs – Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kostas Tsimikas – as well as the likes of midfielders Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister at varying times.

Deputy right-back Conor Bradley has impressed hugely and put in his second successive man-of-the-match display with his first Liverpool goal and two assists in the victory over Chelsea at Anfield.

But with Alexander-Arnold close to full match fitness after two substitute appearances, it has given Klopp a decision to make ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal.

“There is no situation. It is just how it is,” said Klopp.

“We had seven games in January with 11 days off in between. We couldn’t have put the string of results together without the kids, [Jarell] Quansah, Conor and we had midfielders out so we played with James McConnell at six.

“These boys used this situation. I am happy they all could perform the way they did. The academy is doing an incredible job.”

Striker Darwin Nunez had one of those games where he did everything but score, becoming the first player since Opta records began in 2003 to hit the woodwork four times, once from the penalty spot.

It was at the extreme end of what has become a frequent trademark from the Uruguay international, who set up the fourth goal for Luis Diaz, but Klopp is not concerned.

“Insane first half, unbelievable. Outstanding. Why do we speak about Darwin? Obviously because he has so many situations where he missed,” he added.

“The first time since we count a player hits the woodwork four times in a game. Think you are in his boots and how that feels. Missing a penalty you could see at half time he was really upset with himself.

“It’s just crazy that he creates that many. Imagine for a second he would take them all. The numbers would be absolutely insane, to an extent where we wouldn’t understand it any more so it’s normal.

“For us, it’s unimportant. We scored four goals, who cares if we could have scored a fifth or sixth?”

For opposite number Mauricio Pochettino the result could have a demoralising effect ahead of next month's meeting with Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.

Liverpool's 28 shots was the joint-most on record (since 2003/04) any side has had in a Premier League match against Chelsea, while their 13 shots on target is the most the Blues have faced in a league match in that time. Diogo Jota, Szoboszlai and Luis Diaz were the other Liverpool goalscorers with Christopher Nkunku grabbing Chelsea's sole reply.

The cup final will be the third meeting between the clubs this season – the first ended 1-1 on the opening weekend of the campaign – and the Argentine conceded his side will come off second best at Wembley again if they perform like they did on Wednesday.

“I think it is not to find excuses. The performance was not good enough from us. They deserved to win, they were better than us,” he said.

“We didn’t perform in the way we wanted to. In this type of game you need to say ‘well done Liverpool’.

“In the final [next month] we need to compete in a different way. If we compete the same way as today for sure it is going to be the same result.

“For us it is about learning. We are competing against a team that is on the top and is consistent to always be challenging for the big trophies.”

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Updated: February 01, 2024, 8:21 AM