Photo: Peter Powell/EPA
Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool showed signs of rediscovering their true form as his team recorded a maiden Premier League win of 2023 in the Merseyside derby against Everton.
Mohamed Salah scored his first league goal at Anfield since October, while new £35 million signing Cody Gakpo converted his first goal for the club in a comfortable defeat of relegation-threatened Sean Dyche side. Salah claimed the performance: “looks like the old Liverpool” and revealed that captain Jordan Henderson and vice-captain James Milner had called a team meeting last week to discuss the recent poor run. Klopp agreed his team had provided the ideal response to the 3-0 defeat at Wolves in the last time out.
Related: Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo scores first Reds goal in victory over toothless Everton
The Liverpool manager said: “Both goals for both players were very important. The next player who needs a goal like that [Gakpo’s tap-in] is Darwin [Núñez]. Darwin produced a frenzied run for the first goal and a super pass. It was a very important moment, not conceding from their first chance (when James Tarkowski headed into a post 15 seconds before Salah scored). I’m not sure how much luck you can force, but it was nice to get it. It was a very important night. It gave us all the signs that we were sure tonight, and now we have to make sure we are from now on.
Klopp admitted his overriding emotion was one of relief after a damaging run of four league games without a win. He added: “Relief. That is it. I am happy with the performance. It was imperative that we play the game we wanted and not the game Everton wanted. There were a really large number of set pieces. These set pieces are a huge threat and I thought we handled that very well. On top of that we were super dominant, switched sides and I loved both goals on the counterattack. We had real options in the penalty area for both goals. A lot of things were different tonight, so it was the best game for a while.”
New Everton manager Dyche admitted his players failed to reproduce the quality or intensity that brought him victory over Arsenal in his first game in charge. He said: “They had the upper hand in the early stages without opening us up too much. Our form was good, our covering form was good and then it changes in 15 seconds. We hit the post and don’t react that fast.
“We know that Liverpool are good in the transition phase. We conceded a goal without need, Jordan [Pickford] has a bit of a reading error. The players have taken on a lot in a short period of time, so I’m not going to be too critical, but we need to find that balance in and out of possession and then try to convert that into good possession.”