Jurgen Klopp claims Liverpool’s third-place finish last season is ‘just as big’ as their Premier League title win a year before, after admitting Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip injuries meant ‘we had to play with no defence’
- Liverpool had to overcome a number of injuries to finish in the top four last term
- They were hit hard in defence, with Virgil van Dijk out for much of the season
- Jurgen Klopp’s men finished the season strong and ended it in third place
- Klopp said that was just as big as an achievement as winning the title in 2020
Jurgen Klopp has claimed Liverpool’s third-place finish last season is ‘just as big’ as the club ending their 30-year wait for a league title because injuries reduced them to playing ‘with no defence’.
Liverpool were rocked by long-term injuries to key defenders last term, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all missing large portions of the season.
With numerous first-team stars out on the sidelines, Liverpool were unable to keep up in the title race and relinquished their Premier League crown to Manchester City, eventually finishing some 17 points off Pep Guardiola’s side.
Jurgen Klopp’s claimed last season’s third-place finish is ‘just as big’ as winning title in 2020
Liverpool had to play the majority of the season without key defenders Virgil van Dijk (left) and Joe Gomez (right)
At one point in the season, it seemed as if Liverpool would miss out on Champions League football altogether, but despite Klopp having to dive deep into his reserves, they managed to overcome their injury woes to finish third after a strong end to the season.
Klopp had to promote players into the first-team with the likes of Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and Neco Williams stepping up to play important roles.
Speaking about their troubles last term, Klopp told BILD: ‘The biggest problem was that we had to play without a defence.
Van Dijk suffered a horrific knee injury in the Merseyside derby just months into the season
Nat Phillips was one of Klopp’s back-up options in defence who had to step up last season
‘Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez are out. It took us until we could deal with it. Our structure was just gone. We couldn’t play what was normal for us before.
‘Third place is just as high as the championship title the year before.’
Klopp, understandably, dipped into the market this summer to bolster his defensive options in a bid to avoid the same situation, bringing in Ibrahima Konate for £36million.
Konate is yet to play this season, but is only 22 and is viewed by the club as a long-term investment.
The Frenchman is their only significant outlay this summer, and although other clubs around them have strengthened, with the return of Van Dijk and other key players Liverpool will have hopes of challenging for the title again this season.
Klopp’s men have made a bright start to the new campaign, thrashing Norwich 3-0 on the opening day and following it up with a comfortable victory against Burnley on the weekend.
Klopp bolstered his defence in the summer by brining in Ibrahima Konate for £36m
Liverpool have made a strong start to the new season, winning their opening two matches
That was the first time Liverpool had played in front of a packed out Anfield since early 2020, and the importance of having the fans back is not lost on Klopp.
He added: ‘It’s extraordinary to have them back. Great. We haven’t had it for so long, we had 529 days. I never would have thought that I would have to go without it for so long.
‘That was the start and it should hopefully stay that way so that the situation around the world improves so that you don’t only see such pictures in English stadiums.
‘There were moments when it was difficult to hold back tears. It’s only a real game if you can enjoy the atmosphere.’
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