Liverpool made light work of Newcastle United, strolling to a 4-0 win at Anfield on Boxing Day as title rivals Man City lost at Leicester.
The Reds enjoyed 75 per cent possession and were always in control, but the boss was far from satisfied and believes the team have a lot more to give than they showed against Rafa Benitez’s outfit.
Goals from Dejan Lovren, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho gave the scoreline a glossy look, but for a period in the first half the game drifted somewhat and Klopp clearly felt, judging by his post-match press conference, that it shows there remains room for improvement.
“I liked the start offensively, but I didn’t like the start defensively.
“The protection was not as it should’ve been, we were not as compact as we should’ve been. They had half-counters, it looked like an open game.
“We lost the formation a little bit, we were too wide offensively.
“If we played the ball in behind it was good but if they cleared it with a header when we were not there formation-wise to win the ball back.”
After the break, the Reds immediately took a two-goal lead thanks to Salah’s penalty, and the boss was somewhat happier with the control exuded thereafter.
“I was really happy about half-time that we could adjust a few things and fight back to the way we actually wanted to play. It made life easier, especially after the penalty.
“We controlled the game, it was good.
“Even Ali [Alisson Becker], apart from his football playing skills, could show what his actual job is, to preserve the clean sheet.
“It’s a pretty perfect day for us, but not a perfect performance. But a lot of parts of the performance were really good.”
From a tactical perspective, the boss explained how facing three teams in succession who played a back five could still present different conundrums, with Newcastle’s deep-lying forwards hindering the Reds’ attempts to win possession high up the pitch.
The double-pivot in midfield had to position themselves on the forwards, rather than the Reds’ centre-backs doing the job, and it left gaps elsewhere as a result.
“We had six players offensively, that’s why we didn’t win the ball back as quickly as we maybe should.
“I wouldn’t say we became sloppy but we lost a bit of concentration.
“Now we have to be focused, we need to really have tunnel vision, that’s really important. Then we will see where it leads us to.”
By the time the Reds face Wolves in the FA Cup, it will be quite apparent just how close the title race will be in the second half of the season; if Klopp gets the improvements he wants in the upcoming two games, however, the gap could yet widen further.