Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants the Premier League to change its rules to protect players as he criticised Burnley and their strike partnership of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood for “dangerous” challenges. Klopp’s side beat Sean Dyche and co. 2-0 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon but told fans who welcome the new laws that see match officials acting more leniently towards fouls to “watch wrestling” instead.
The Reds played in front of a sold-out Anfield for the first time in 17 months and got revenge on the Clarets for ending their 68-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League back in January.
Diogo Jota got in front of Ben Mee to head in Kostas Tsimikas’ cross at the Kop end in the first half, while in the second half Sadio Mane capped off a lovely team move by firing low past Nick Pope after a cute Trent Alexander-Arnold flick.
Burnley had dangerous moments though and Alisson was on hand to keep out Barnes late on. As a result of the Brazilian’s strong stop Liverpool have now scored five and conceded none after two Premier League matches.
The Merseyside outfit will now keep a watchful eye on their rivals across the weekend, with title rivals Chelsea facing Arsenal on Sunday and Manchester United taking on Southampton on the same day.
Yet despite the victory, Klopp used his post-match interview with BT Sport to point out some challenges he felt were unnecessary, although the game was allowed to play on with referees deliberately allowing more fouls this season to improve the flow of games.
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The Liverpool manager said: “Burnley was never a game where you’re flying and you can outplay them, at least not for us. We always have to be ready for a proper fight. We were today in a really difficult game.
“You saw these challenges with Barnes and Wood with Virgil [Van Dijk] and Joel [Matip]. I’m not 100 per cent sure if we’re going in the right kind of direction with these kind of decisions. It feels like we’re going 10 or 15 years backwards.
“It’s just too dangerous. You cannot really judge the situations. How you get up in the air is fine but when you come down and they stand still into the defender, it’s just hard. The rules are like they are.
“You cannot defend these situations or avoid them. It makes the game really tricky. We scored two goals. A wonderful third one which was offside but I loved the pass from Harvey [Elliott] to Mo [Salah] anyway. Sadio could have scored a few more. In the end it’s 2-0, all fine.”
Klopp added: “It all started 20 years ago when we changed the rules to protect the players. I don’t think it’s right but I cannot decide these kind of things.
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“I heard we want to let the game flow but it’s always like this. I stick to it. The second goal from Brentford, they did brilliantly, but it must be a foul. You cannot clip the arm of the goalie and say, ‘That’s football.’ These kind of things…
“It’s all fine. We need to get used to it. But we have to think about it maybe a second or third time. There’s one message now, let the game flow. Nobody knows exactly what that means. I’m not sure.
“I like decisions in favour of the offensive teams, like offsides now, that’s fine, but we have to stick to protecting the players. We cannot deny that completely and say ‘That’s a challenge, I love watching that.’ Watch wrestling if you like these kind of things!”
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Asked about Jota’s goal, which put Liverpool 1-0 up, Klopp reserved praise for Andy Robertson’s stand-in Tsimikas who delivered the ball for the Portuguese attacker to nod in.
He continued: “Without the cross of Kostas, this goal wouldn’t have happened obviously. It was great movement and a great cross. It’s a nice goal and that helps massively.
“We played a lot of moments a brilliant game but we didn’t score, it’s these kind of things you forgot after a game.
“In the other moments we had to fight incredibly hard. Burnley had a really good start in their way. But we won it and nobody got injured, all good.”
Captain Jordan Henderson, returning to the starting eleven with Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both absent due to personal reasons, said: “It was the result we wanted but not the performance. the performance was good at times but there’s still places we can improve.
“Overall delighted, fans are back. Great to have them back and we got the result, that’s the most important thing.
“Burnley are a good side, we knew that. Overall we dealt with it well and could’ve scored more goals if we’re being honest.
“People don’t like to come here to Anfield to play games, speaking to players [I know that]. Without the crowd it’s a totally different game. I think now we’ve got the fans back, it’s a different ball game.
“Hopefully we can keep our fortress and teams won’t like coming here. We’ve got to make it difficult every time they do.”