Curtis Jones started his fifth consecutive game at West Ham and his performance “set the tone” for Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp praising a “super important” display.
It has been a tough season for the 22-year-old, who had to carefully manage his training load in response to an injury that the club’s medical staff had “never seen before.”
It has resulted in a patchy season without consistency, up until the trip to Chelsea as Jones has since started the last five matches for a total of 394 minutes.
Against West Ham, Jones made three key passes and had a passing accuracy of 94.4 percent from his 71 deliveries, both team highs, and made five tackles, another team high.
It was no wonder, then, that Klopp was full of praise for his midfielder after the 2-1 win at the London Stadium.
“Curtis had a super-difficult season this year,” Klopp told reporters post-match.
“It started with a freakish injury – it happens to young boys but he was on the edge of being not that young anymore to get these kind of things.
“So, we had to deal with him super carefully – he was out for a long time and then we could start training again, but only a session here, then recovery again, a session there.
“You cannot build up anything. From the moment he was allowed to train properly again, it looked, step by step, really good.
“Since he was fully fit and match-ready, he plays now and he is doing really well. He set the tone again today with the first counter-pressing situation, he was super important.
“He is a good footballer, we all knew that he has to improve, we knew as well, and he knows, but he’s in a really good moment, a really good moment, [that is] super helpful.”
There has been an extra emphasis on Liverpool’s defensive application and their counter-pressing, something Klopp sees in Jones and his favoured XI of late.
“This team is set up now for the defending, for the defensive readiness. This is a ticket into the team,” the manager went on to explain.
“That doesn’t mean the other boys don’t do that, but these guys now do it like animals, if you want – and I like that, how we chase the ball again and these kind of things.
“On top of that, we are able to play quite good football and Curtis is involved in that as well, absolutely.”