The Reds face their toughest test yet next week as they host Chelsea at Anfield next weekend in a two-team game in preparation for this year’s title.
It will be a major test not only for Jurgen Klopp’s winning streak, but also for their defensive record – having got every win with a clean sheet.
Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip started the season as a defensive pair after recovering from long-term injury issues that marred their 2020-21 campaign.
Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
That record will be tested against the Blues who appear certain to give their club record a start of £ 97.5million by signing Romelu Lukaku to Merseyside.
After Saturday’s win over Burnley, Klopp was asked what it would be like to face the Belgian next week, but he gave an ambiguous answer to the storyline.
Klopp told reporters: “Playing against Lukaku will be interesting. “
The German also spoke of the importance of the return to form of his defenders.
The Reds boss added: “Virgil van Dijk’s package is really useful. I like to talk about Virgil but I don’t like it when we talk about last season [that it’s about] “Virgil van Dijk did not play”.
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“Just to mention again, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip didn’t play as well which didn’t make it easy and people tend to forget how good they are.
“But of course it’s cool to have Virgil back.
“He was in for sure tough times today, not physically, not in a dangerous way; just the intensity of the play was incredible – especially for the centerbacks.
“You’re in the air all the time, the referee isn’t blowing a whistle at all, the attackers are in your body. It was a good test today and honestly I love football, I love all these challenges, all that kind of stuff, yes, but we have come to protect the players a little more to let the game flow. There is a gray area between which we will certainly have to adjust again during the season because letting the game unfold doesn’t seem to make too much sense. “
The Liverpool boss was also unhappy with Burnley’s physical character at Anfield and questioned officials who were not repressing challenges to his players.
Klopp explained: “We always had to be ready for a proper fight and we have been”,
“You saw these challenges with [Ashley] Barnes et [Chris] Wood and Virgil [van Dijk] and Joël [Matip].
“I’m not 100% sure if [officials] are going in the right direction with these decisions. It’s like going back 10 to 15 years. The rules are as they are, but you cannot defend these situations. This is how it makes the game really complicated.
“I don’t think it’s fair, but I can’t decide these things. I heard about quitting the game [to] flow, but now we have these situations. Brentford’s second goal [against Arsenal on the opening day] must be a foul – you can’t cut off the goalkeeper’s arm and say ‘this is football’. I think maybe we need to think about it a second or a third time.
“The message now is to let the game play out, but no one knows exactly what that means.
“I like decisions that favor the offensive team, that’s good. But we have to stick to the protection of the players. We cannot deny it. If you like that sort of thing, watch the fight.
“In many moments we played a brilliant game without scoring. In all other moments, we had to fight incredibly hard. We won it and no one got hurt. “
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