Jurgen Klopp laughed off Mohamed Salah’s struggles in front of goal in the Merseyside derby as a goalless draw at Everton saw Liverpool hand Manchester City a one-point lead in the title race.
Last season’s Premier League Golden Boot winner Salah was unable to get the better of England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in a pair of one-on-one opportunities at Goodison Park on Sunday.
The usually prolific forward has not scored since the 3-0 win over Bournemouth at the start of last month, but Klopp told Sky Sports that fine margins were at play.
Asked about Salah’s form, Klopp unexpectedly let out a booming laugh before replying: “It’s difficult. When you see the situation on the iPad he is doing everything right and then in the last moment, the decision, [if] you make it a millisecond earlier and the defender can still jump in…
“We had our moments. There is no reason for him taking it or not taking it. You have to fight against the opponent and the boys did that.
“On the pitch, sometimes, the boys are able to score in situations like this but it’s [down to] an inch on the boot. On another day he scores two or three. That’s how it is.”
28′ Big Pickford save – Salah one on one with the #EFC goalkeeper! Still goalless at Goodison.[0-0]#EVELIV pic.twitter.com/hHpmayzJU6
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 3, 2019
Not for the first time Klopp flagged up the weather as a factor in a below-par performance – adding knowingly that expressing those thoughts might invite some ridicule.
“It was difficult for different reason. It was a wild opponent. I know people don’t like when I say this, but the wind came from all directions,” he said. “It didn’t help any play, especially when the ball was in the air.
“It was a game that was really difficult to control because of the two things I said.
“We had three or four really big chances – Mo, really big, Fabinho, really big, Virg [Virgil van Dijk] had a free header.
“These situations, I don’t remember really on the other side that they had many chances like this.
“It’s a 0-0 in a derby. We kept our unbeaten run against Everton. It’s not exactly what we wanted but it is something that is easy to accept.”
Everton have now gone 19 games in all competitions without tasting victory over their local rivals, but Klopp insists the fixture presents particular problems for Liverpool.
34 – This was the 34th goalless draw between Everton and Liverpool in English league football – 15 more nil-nils than any other fixture in the history of the Football League. Anticlimax. pic.twitter.com/sE4D74thYe
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 3, 2019
He said: “It’s a point against Everton, our derby is over and now we can play against the others.
“It’s not a genius game but it gave us the opportunity to get a point here, which is more difficult than for all the other teams because the opponent is doubly as motivated.
“It’s a challenge a game like this. We did it, it’s over, let’s carry on.
“Next weekend we have Burnley at Anfield. It is only 400 yards away from here, but it is completely different.”
City lead the Premier League at the end of a match week when both teams have completed the same number of games for the first time since December 7.
Klopp was keen to exude positivity over that fact throughout the interview and expects more twists and turns in a high-stakes battle.
“It was clear that can happen, when City win and we draw that will happen,” he added.
“We didn’t think about City when they were a point behind us. Now we are behind them. We have to win, they have to win and we will see who wins more often.”