Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool's defensive struggles: "We do have to be more unpredictable, definitely. Teams have worked out how to play against us when we are not at our best"; watch Arsenal vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm on Sunday, kick-off 4.30pm
Sunday 9 October 2022 17:25, UK
Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool "have to be more unpredictable" to get back to their best and acknowledged low confidence has hit their previously relentless pressing game.
Liverpool come into Sunday's Super Sunday clash at Arsenal on the back of only two wins from their last five games, and having kept only two clean sheets in their nine Premier League matches so far.
That has already dropped them 11 points behind the Gunners - who lead the table - at such an early stage, but there were crumbs of comfort for Klopp as a change in shape to a 4-4-2 earned a deserved 2-0 win over Rangers in the Champions League in midweek.
"It's important to become unpredictable again," he said ahead of the trip to the Emirates. "We need different systems for that as well, and so [4-3-3] is not the only system we can play.
"WIth a 4-4-2, is it 4-3-3, is it 4-5-1, is it 4-2-3-1, we don't want to make it more complicated but there are obviously more systems available for us and we have to choose now which is the best for us to face the next opponent.
"When you spot a problem, and you think about it, you want the solution instantly to click. Immediately. We are still in progress to find a way out, that's how it is. You can't say we were in a dark place and now we're back, we need consistency, and for that we need to defend the rubbish out of everybody, pretty much.
"I'm not interested in short-term diagnosis, that was good, that was bad, we have to be good until we are outstanding. I know, Arsenal and Rangers away and then Man City - what can I say, yes we are through the tunnel and I can see the light, but we have to perform.
"But we do have to be more unpredictable, definitely. Teams have worked out how to play against us when we are not at our best.
"They've known how to play against us for years, but it didn't work out because we were exceptional in the things we did, so the moment you are not exceptional it looks like they've only realised - but in our best games, I could show you the parts where we could've had problems, but we didn't because we put so much pressure on the opposition.
"These gaps are still there, but when we don't play at our top, they play the pass through and it looks like they have figured us out. There is no system in the world with no weakness."
Liverpool's previously revered pressing game has come in for criticism amid their recent slump, with Sky Sports' Paul Merson blaming their disorganised defence on the absence of Sadio Mane's intensity.
Klopp admitted low confidence was playing a part in their current predicament.
"The way we defend, you need to be brave," he said. "The way our full-backs defend - we put them onto the full-backs of other teams, win the ball back high, people think it's great.
But when we arrive not at the right moment, they pass it past our full-back who is obviously not in their position. People have said we can't defend like this, but yes you can - we've done it in 200 games, but if the timing is not right, if you are late to get to a challenge, there is no challenge.
"Sometimes you have to step aside, or step back, to get that timing right again. We don't talk about what we did last year as 100 per cent and this year is 80 per cent, the players still want it 100 per cent but maybe put in 97 per cent subconsiously.
"All of a sudden, a well-drilled team didn't work together any more. Not willingly, but if someone is thinking about whether they should push up and the other players are already there, pressing doesn't work like this. You commit to pressing, and you do it.
"You have to commit to a common plan, and it only works if everybody feels the same. It might have been a problem with everyone having the same confidence levels to do these kind of things at the same time."
An ageing team and a squad refresh moving too slowly - analysing the reasons behind Liverpool's stuttering form.
Liverpool scored eight goals without reply in four meetings with Arsenal last season but with the Gunners now on a run of seven wins from eight at the start of the new campaign, Klopp sung the praises of both his opposite number Mikel Arteta and the patience he has been handed to get Sunday's opponents to their lofty position at the top of the table.
"Mikel has done a really, really good job," he said. "When you need some time, nobody wants to give you it. Not all of us deserve it, perhaps, because you still have to be good to use it.
"Mikel obviously did. I have lots of respect for it. They had a lot of talent over the last few years, Martinelli I was excited about very early on and he's become the player I expected.
"Martin Odegaard I spoke to when he was 15 years old, and the whole world wanted him before he chose Real Madrid. He's become the player everyone expected, Saka from the first day he played he's been incredible and if anyone knew how good Gabriel Jesus could be as a number nine not in a Man City shirt, then it was Mikel.
"He's brought Xhaka back on track, everyone knew how (good) Thomas Partey was when he was at Atletico, and now they've found a way how they want to defend. They played a different line-up on Thursday but still with lots of quality; it's a young team, a very exciting team and doing very well, which is well-deserved."
Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, has challenged his Arsenal side to show they have raised their level in the Super Sunday clash at the Emirates Stadium.
"It is a really exciting game against one of the top opponents in this league," he said. "It will be a really demanding match that is going to require us to be at our best.
"It is a fixture that everybody is looking for against an opponent that has shown the level they have in the last five and six years.
"We have to show we have raised our level and are able to compete."
Arsenal sit top of the Premier League having taken 21 points from a possible 24 this season but Arteta believes there is plenty more to come.
"I am very conscious that we can get much better than where we are today and we have to do better to be the team we want to be and the challenge is to be able to do that every three days," he said.
"You always see the weaknesses you want to improve."
Arteta also spoke of his pride at how the atmosphere and mood has changed around the club under his management.
"I am really happy and proud for the change of dynamic and how the atmosphere is around the club," he added.
"How you measure success is lifting trophies, but as well you have to understand where we were and how fractured the club and the environment looked.
"How it looks now is a credit to everyone."
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