LONDON • Jurgen Klopp praised his side for a brave performance as they ended their worrying slump in form at rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday.
The Premier League champions had gone five league games without a win and the last four without scoring – their worst run since 2017.
But they looked much more like their formidable selves as strikes by Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane secured the points in north London.
However, their 3-1 Premier League victory came at a big cost as Klopp revealed that Joel Matip, who was taken off midway through the game, had suffered “serious” ankle ligament damage.
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are out with long-term injuries and Liverpool’s centre-back injury crisis has deepened after the news that the Cameroonian defender, who himself has struggled for fitness this season and has made only nine starts from 20 top-flight games, may be unavailable for a while.
Since October, Klopp has fielded a makeshift backline with Matip, Fabinho, skipper Jordan Henderson, back-up Nat Phillips and academy player Rhys Williams all forming stop-gap partnerships. The Reds have used 16 different centre-back pairings this season.
The German was forced to throw on Phillips for just his fourth top-flight appearance alongside Henderson – a midfielder by trade – at Spurs. While his side managed to repel Jose Mourinho’s men in the second half, he later revealed Matip’s injury is likely to force his hand in the transfer market.
Klopp had spent the past month insisting Liverpool had no intention of buying players despite a lengthy injury list that also includes Diogo Jota and Naby Keita, but it appears that he now has no choice if his side are to continue to compete on two fronts, the Premier League and the Champions League.
The January window closes on Monday, meaning Liverpool have little time to get a reinforcement in and he admitted he would not be “picky” over who comes through at Anfield.
“You can imagine we think about everything, of course,” he said.
“We thought the whole time, we are thinking the whole time.
482 Minutes, and 93 shots, endured by Liverpool without a league goal until Roberto Firmino’s strike against Tottenham Hotspur.
“It’s about doing the right thing. I’m not picky or whatever, but we need to find the right player.
“We have players still, but not a lot in the defensive line to be honest – it’s really incredible what is happening there.
“We got aware of the struggle of Joel Matip with his ankle. There was no chance to play on. It is his ankle ligaments.”
Despite the only blot on the copybook, Klopp was still thrilled to send a reminder to his critics that Liverpool have not gone away.
On taking back the fourth spot from West Ham and moving to four points behind leaders Manchester City who have played a game fewer, the Reds manager said: “It was good. It was necessary as well, to be honest. It was a good moment to show up a little bit.
“We are still here, so that’s good to know. Now we go home and then we come back in a few hours to play West Ham (on Sunday).
“I’m completely happy about the performance.”
For Spurs, they suffered a double whammy in losing to their direct title contenders as Harry Kane, their joint-top scorer on 12 league goals, had to be replaced at the interval with two separate ankle injuries that is to keep him out for “several weeks”.
“Two injuries in both ankles, the second one worse than the first one,” said Mourinho, whose side fell to sixth in the table, just three points above ninth-placed Arsenal (30).
“A few weeks, I don’t know for sure. There are some players you can’t replace. When it happens, it happens, but I believe we have to fight against it, we cannot do anything else.”