Belfast Telegraph

Klopp still defiant after Liverpool are bitten by Wolves

Liverpool 1 - Wolves 2

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has not lost faith in the quality of his squad despite seeing a second-string side dumped out of the FA Cup.

Three times in the knockout competition this month the German has fielded a team lacking most of what would be classed as first-teamers, and on every occasion they have struggled - only getting past League Two side Plymouth in a scrappy replay.

Saturday's 2-1 fourth-round defeat to 18th-placed Championship side Wolves capped a miserable week of three home losses - including two cup exits.

With Premier League leaders Chelsea next to visit on Tuesday, it raised the very realistic prospect of four defeats at Anfield on the bounce for the first time since 1923 and only the second time in their 125-year history.

Klopp has been criticised for not strengthening in January - a month they began in second place and still in two cup competitions, just 180 minutes away from Wembley in one - and instead relying heavily on fringe players and youngsters to fill in.

It has backfired and increased the scrutiny on him and his judgement from some quarters.

"It is not about not wanting - it is about not getting the right players in the transfer window," Klopp said of his attempts to bring in new faces.

"But it is not right to judge people in a bad moment. Faith is not something you have today and tomorrow you don't have. For each single performance there is an explanation. I am not sure we should look for it.

"We have to go through situations like this and, even in the history of Liverpool, better sides lost against worse sides. That is football. I don't like it but it is true. I don't start doubting decisions because it makes no sense.

"Hopefully we all can recover and the crowd can recover and look forward to the game on Tuesday."

The visit of Chelsea suddenly takes on a significance, both in terms of psychologically and in Premier League reality, much greater than would usually be attributed to the arrival of the league leaders.

Klopp needs a performance from his first-choice side, who, combined with the second string, have won just once in eight matches in January.

They will need to defend much better against Antonio Conte's table-toppers than they did against Wolves, who took the lead through Richard Stearman's header after just 52 seconds.

From that point it was almost inevitable which way the game would go as, after successive defeats to Swansea and Southampton, confidence is a quality in short supply at Anfield.

When Andreas Weimann waltzed unopposed through the middle of Liverpool's defence to comfortably round goalkeeper Loris Karius the visitors were as good as in the fifth round.

The hosts did not register a shot on target against 20-year-old Harry Burgoyne until the hour mark and Divock Origi's close-range effort came too late, although the Belgium striker was denied an equaliser by the goalkeeper's legs on the line.

Portuguese midfielder Helder Costa, on loan from Monaco, caused plenty of problems with his pace, and manager Paul Lambert is hopeful of securing a permanent deal before the end of the transfer window.

"It is something brought to my attention on Friday. The parties are talking," he said.

"As a footballer and a guy you would take him, hands down. The other side of the coin, finances, I can't influence."

LIVERPOOL: Karius, Wijnaldum, Firmino (Sturridge, 65 mins), Gomez, Klavan, Moreno, Lucas, Origi, Ejaria (Can, 74 mins), Randall (Coutinho, 46 mins), Woodburn. Unused subs: Mignolet, Milner, Stewart, Wilson.

Wolves: Burgoyne, Doherty, Coady, Edwards, Stearman, Hause, Costa (Ronan, 67 mins), Evans, Dicko (Bodvarsson, 71 mins), Saville, Weimann (Mason, 76 mins). Unused subs: Lonergan, Batth, Enobakhare, Morgan-White.

Referee: Craig Pawson

Man of the match: Richard Stearman

Match rating: 7/10

 

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