Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he is happy for his team to win “ugly” during the remainder of the Premier League season if it brings results such as the fortunate 2-1 victory over Burnley at Anfield on Sunday.
Klopp’s team improved their chances of finishing in the top four, and qualifying for next season’s Champions League, thanks to Emre Can’s superb long-range shot after 60 minutes.
But, against a Burnley side with just two points away from home this season, Liverpool were forced to work hard to come back after Ashley Barnes had shot the visitors into a shock, early lead.
“You cannot plan an ugly game. But this was not our best game so, yes, if we want to stay where we are, then we need to win football games and we can’t make the choice and say ‘yes or no we want to play this way’,” the German added.
“We all have to get used to it a little bit. It is the first ugly game we won. Usually when we are not at our best we have lost.
“It is really good today that we could do it like this. We usually win good games, but the bad games and the average games we need to be challenging too. We were today,” he added after a victory that saw Liverpool remain fourth, still in the final Champions League place open to English clubs, and move five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.
Liverpool were fortunate to go into the half-time interval level with Burnley after Georginio Wijnaldum scored an equaliser deep in injury-time.
– ‘Outstanding attitude’ –
Can’s goal ultimately kept Liverpool ahead of both Arsenal and Manchester United in the chase for fourth place and, while Klopp felt the Germany midfielder should have done more to prevent Matt Lowton crossing for Burnley’s goal, he was pleased to see that his star has finally recovered from persistent injury troubles.
“Emre has an outstanding attitude,” said Klopp. “He has had a few problems with a calf which we couldn’t sort quickly enough.
“We had a lot of specialists to try and find it out and it looks like we found a solution now and he does not have these problems any more.”
Klopp added: “I like to speak positively about a player, second half Emre was very good but first half it was a challenge he should have had before their goal but things like that happen in football, it does not make you a bad person.
“We have to react and he reacted really well.”
Klopp also confirmed that midfielder Jordan Henderson will miss Liverpool’s trip to Manchester City on Sunday and will be unavailable for England’s forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Lithuania following a foot injury.
“No chance,” said Klopp. “The (international) break hopefully is two weeks, we hope that will bring him back but there will be no game in this time.
“He cannot train, for sure he cannot play against City. It makes sense he is doing the rehab. Hopefully he can run in the second week of the international break and then we will have to see.”
Burnley manager Sean Dyche now faces two more consecutive away games, halfway through a run of four in a row, with his team visiting bottom-of-the-table Sunderland on Saturday.
“It’s another ‘nearly’ for us and we have had too many ‘nearlys’ on the road,” said Dyche. “The main thing is to keep performing, and if we keep performing like that things will come our way over time.”