Jurgen Klopp on Diogo Jota’s Impact, Nat Phillips’ Impressive Debut & Squad Character

Liverpool v West Ham United - Premier League
Jurgen Klopp congratulated debutant Nat Phillips on his impressive debut performance | Pool/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was delighted with the impact of substitutes Diogo Jota and Xherdan Shaqiri as the Premier League champions came from a goal down to beat West Ham 2-1 at Anfield.

The Reds trailed early on to Pablo Fornals’ 11th minute strike, but Mohamed Salah’s penalty and a late goal from Jota, supplied by Shaqiri, turned the game on its head.

Diogo JotaDiogo Jota
Liverpool struck late on to claim all three points | Pool/Getty Images

There was also a Premier League debut for Nat Phillips in central defence, as he stepped up to partner Joe Gomez in the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip.

It was a game Phillips will never forget, as he was named Man of the Match, and Klopp was effusive in his praise for the 23-year-old after the game. Here’s everything he had to say in his post-match press conference, quoted by Liverpool’s official website.

Diogo JotaDiogo Jota
Jota netted Liverpool’s winner from Shaqiri’s slide rule pass | Pool/Getty Images

“Both were good, obviously. It is not difficult to bring Diogo and Shaq on in the moment because they train in an exceptional shape, so it makes absolute sense that they get their minutes.

“Yes, Diogo, is in a good moment. He is a good player and we are really happy that we could make that signing, so it is a proper win-win situation. I think we can help him and he can help us a lot. Yes, a very good night.

Jurgen Klopp, Xherdan ShaqiriJurgen Klopp, Xherdan Shaqiri
Klopp’s substitutions worked wonders | Pool/Getty Images

“It was not about doing things different, it was about doing the right things with different players, pretty much.

“That was more what it was about. Curtis Jones, for example, I don’t know how many starts he’s had, [but] he played an exceptional game tonight, not to forget how old he is. It is intense and Bobby is the one that always has to fight for us in the closest area of the pitch, so bringing in there kind of fresh players, in similar areas and especially Shaq on 10 in that case – we changed the system slightly but with the dominance we had tonight, that’s not a problem.

“Together with the runs. Mo and Sadio did exceptional runs there, so it is very important – if the two players are moving and the other two not, it is too easy to defend, so we needed these connected movements and that’s why we made the change.”

Many had tipped young Rhys Williams, who played in the Champions League midweek, to start again, but Klopp opted for Phillips, who has previous top level experience after a season-long loan at Stuttgart.

“If you know the story behind and all that stuff it makes it even more incredible. I am really pleased for him, he deserves it more than anybody.” Klopp said of Phillips.

“He is a great guy, a smart guy, knows exactly everything about himself as a footballer. He kept it really simple tonight, which was incredibly important for us. The boys supported him well and he supported the boys; he was vocal and he spoke on the pitch.

“In the challenges he was there, really aggressive but no fouls really, maybe one. It was a really good game and he deserves the [man of the match] award.”

Jurgen KloppJurgen Klopp
Klopp’s side always find a way to win | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

“The basis for all what we do and did is the character of this group, that’s how it is. I cannot convince them to fight if they are not fighters, that’s not possible. And if they are not ready to put all the desire in the game and show all the determination, I cannot do that.

“I can find reasons why they should do it but I cannot convince them. So, it was always easy with this team to show them the right path and then that they follow it, but again it’s an incredibly difficult time – in the outside world, 100 per cent, and for the boys as well.

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David Moyes on Positives From West Ham Performance & Dubious Liverpool Penalty

David Moyes
Moyes was unimpressed by the award of Liverpool’s penalty | Pool/Getty Images

West Ham manager David Moyes was left ruing referee Kevin Friend’s decision to award Liverpool a first half penalty in the 2-1 defeat at Anfield.

The Hammers had taken a surprise lead at the Premier League champions through Pablo Fornals, and looked good value for the lead as the first half drew to a close.

But Arthur Masuaku was adjudged to have fouled Salah just before the interval, and the Egyptian converted the resulting penalty with aplomb. Liverpool went on to pick up all three points thanks to a late goal from susbtitute Diogo Jota, but Moyes felt West Ham could easily have got something out of the game after a spirited display.

Here’s everything he had to say to Sky Sports after the game, quoted by West Ham’s official website.

“I thought tonight we looked as if we could have got something. Liverpool played well and had lot of the all, but I thought we did some really good things as well so there’s a lot of positives to take from it.

“We did have some half-chances to score more goals and we weren’t quite clinical enough two or three times. I have to say Liverpool were very good with the ball and we defended really well, but that’s what you expect.

“We knew the game was going to be really tough and we’d need to be disciplined, but we missed a couple of really good opportunities to get another goal, but it’s a good sign that we’re playing some really good stuff.”

“I’m amazed that a penalty kick for the action in the first half, I really am. I’m getting disappointed now, not with the decisions, but I’m getting more disappointed that we’re going to allow those sort of penalty kicks to be accepted.

“People may debate if it is or it isn’t, but in my book it just isn’t a penalty.”

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Haller was quiet throughout, with debutant Nat Phillips having no trouble keeping him quiet | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Sebastien Haller was brought in for the injured Michail Antonio, but struggled to have much of an impact before he was replaced in the second half. Moyes was quick to defend the former Eintracht Frankfurt striker, insisting that it was always going to be a difficult game for the Frenchman to influence.

“I think for Seb Haller’s first game back it was always going to be tough, coming here and not having a great deal of the ball,” Moyes remarked.

“I think Sebastien’s got something to offer us and he’s got a lot of good attributes and hopefully he will show them in the coming weeks and months to come.”

Jurgen Klopp, David MoyesJurgen Klopp, David Moyes
Moyes with Jurgen Klopp before kick off | Pool/Getty Images

“We feel like we can play and challenge our opponents in all the games. We’ll not win all of them like tonight’s, but I think we feel, going into them, that we’ve got a chance. We came here last year and were unlucky to lose 3-2.

“I wouldn’t say we were unlucky tonight, but we just needed a couple of decisions to go for us, even if the VAR decision did go in our favour.

“I’m just really disappointed with that decision for the penalty kick in the first half.”

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Newcastle vs Everton Preview: How to Watch on TV, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Newcastle versus Everton preview | James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Everton will look to get back to winning ways and return to the summit of the Premier League when they face Newcastle at St James’ Park on Sunday.

The Toffees had their blistering opening to the season ended by Southampton last time out, suffering a 2-0 defeat against the Saints to bring their unbeaten start to an end.

Carlo AncelottiCarlo Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti saw his side slip to defeat at Southampton | Robin Jones/Getty Images

They face a Newcastle side who currently sit 14th after grabbing a late draw with Wolves in their last top flight outing.

Here’s 90min‘s preview of the game.

When Is Kick Off? Sunday 1 November
What Time Is Kick Off? 14:00 (GMT)
Where Is it Played? St James’ Park
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
Referee? Stuart Attwell

Newcastle have a number of injury concerns, with Martin Dúbravka, Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle all unavailable.

Captain Jamaal Lascelles is also a major doubt with a foot injury, but there’s hope that the former Nottingham Forest will be fit enough to start the game.

Lucas DigneLucas Digne
Digne is suspended after being sent off against Southampton | Pool/Getty Images

Everton are without the suspended Richarlison and Lucas Digne, with the former serving a three-match ban after seeing red in the Merseyside derby, and the latter out for one game following his sending off against Southampton.

The Toffees are also without the injured James Rodriguez, Seamus Coleman, Mason Holgate, Cenk Tosun and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.

Newcastle's possible lineup (via buildlineup.com) Newcastle's possible lineup (via buildlineup.com)
Newcastle’s possible lineup (via buildlineup.com) | buildlineup.com

Newcastle: Darlow; Fernandez, Schar, Lascelles; Murphy, Hendrick, Hayden, Lewis, Almiron; Saint-Maximin, Wilson

Everton: Pickford; Kenny, Mina, Keane, Nkounkou; Delph, Allan, Gordon, Doucoure, Sigurdsson; Calvert-Lewin

Everton's possible lineup (via buildlineup.com) Everton's possible lineup (via buildlineup.com)
Everton’s possible lineup (via buildlineup.com) | buildlineup.com

Newcastle have made a steady start to the Premier League season; winning two, drawing two and losing two. New signing Callum Wilson has proved a very shrewd acquisition thus far, with the former Bournemouth man netting four goals in six games.

Callum WilsonCallum Wilson
Wilson has enjoyed a strong start to life at Newcastle | Stu Forster/Getty Images

Everton suffered their first setback of the season last time out as they lost 2-0 to Southampton. Prior to that, the Toffees had been enjoying their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, with forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the form of his life.

Newcastle

Wolves 1-1 Newcastle (25/10)
Newcastle 1-3 Manchester United (17/10)
Newport 1-1 Newcastle (30/09)
Tottenham 1-1 Newcastle (27/09)
Morecambe 0-7 Newcastle (23/09)

Everton

Southampton 2-0 Everton (25/10)
Everton 2-2 Liverpool (17/10)
Everton 4-2 Brighton (03/10)
Everton 4-1 West Ham (30/09)
Crystal Palace 1-2 Everton (26/09)

Carlo Ancelotti, Steve BruceCarlo Ancelotti, Steve Bruce
It could end all square on Sunday | Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Everton have been hugely impressive this season, but Sunday’s clash will be a real test of their strength in depth as their much depleted squad take on Newcastle.

The absence of Rodriguez is obviously key, but missing both first choice full backs in Digne and Coleman – who have both been consistently excellent this season – could be equally as detrimental.

Steve Bruce’s Newcastle can easily frustrate good teams as they proved against Wolves last time out, and with Everton down to their bare bones, the Magpies could take a share of the spoils again on Sunday.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Everton

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Curtis Jones Failed to Shine Against West Ham – But Through No Fault of His Own

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Jones struggled to influence proceedings as he’d have liked | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

When asked prior to the 2-1 win over West Ham what he hopes to see from midfielder Curtis Jones, Jurgen Klopp simply replied: “I expect him to defend like a soldier and attack like a Scouser.”

Klopp went on to explain that Jones is most effective when having the freedom to drift into pockets of space and break the lines with incisive passing or by making penetrating runs.

Pablo Fornals, Curtis JonesPablo Fornals, Curtis Jones
Jones was set a challenge by Klopp | Pool/Getty Images

With Klopp needing to manage his players’ fitness levels, especially considering the current injury problems, he handed Jones his first Premier League start of the season.

Indeed, it was a chance for the young midfielder to impress and show that he isn’t just a talented player for the future, but also someone who is ready to make an impact now.

But the 19-year-old found it challenging to get involved, often trying to float into areas where he wouldn’t be able to influence the game just so that he could get on the ball. Jones was often left frustrated as the Reds continued to push forward down the right and despite his best attempts to drift over to get involved, he was unable to show off his quality on the ball.

While he may come in for some criticism for not taking his chance, the reality is that it was through no fault of his own that he was unable influence the game. Instead, the balance in the midfield was off from the first minute and Klopp’s men struggled as a result.

Liverpool v West Ham United - Premier LeagueLiverpool v West Ham United - Premier League
Jones lacked the space to really trouble West Ham | Pool/Getty Images

The hosts were slow and passive in possession, but even when they did increase the tempo and look to break down a resolute Hammers defence, it was far too easy to defend against. With Roberto Firmino dropping deep to collect the ball, there was simply no space for the likes of Gini Wijnaldum and Jones to make late runs from deep to support attacks.

Instead, it closed off the space in the centre of the park and forced the Reds to look for the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah down the right.

But this all changed when Klopp made his double substitution on 70 minutes.

When Firmino came off, it opened up the space for the midfielders to get in behind Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek. Immediately, there were more options and the Anfield turf appeared to increase in size drastically.

That’s not to say Firmino is the root of the problem here. But his game simply didn’t compliment Jones and Wijnaldum’s in the system Klopp was utilising. Indeed, the German boss challenged Jones to be ‘cheeky’ during Saturday’s clash, but there was simply no opportunity for him to play in such a way.

When Xherdan Shaqiri and Diogo Jota came on, the complexion of the game changed completely. While the Portuguese was denied a goal after coming on, he was eventually rewarded for a bright performance when he was fed through by Shaqiri five minutes from time.

The defending Premier League champions finally began playing with purpose and a greater intensity, while players were also looking to make runs off the ball and open up the pitch. But this was only possible as Klopp’s substitutes brought a better balance to the team, with players complimenting each other’s game.

Sure, Jones didn’t enjoy his most creative display, but he deserves praise for being one of the few Liverpool players to show the constant hunger and desire to get on the ball and make things happen during his time on the field. This is despite the fact that the triangle involving him, Wijnaldum and Firmino clearly wasn’t working.

The Reds may have made it over the line eventually, but Klopp has decisions to make moving forward. For Jones, it was a frustrating evening for him through no fault of his own, but better days most definitely lie ahead.

For more from Adam Aladay, follow him on Twitter!

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Liverpool 2-1 West Ham: Player Ratings as Reds Leave it Late at Anfield

Diogo Jota
Liverpool battled their way to a 2-1 win | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Liverpool equalled their club-record of 63 league games unbeaten at Anfield as they fought their way to a 2-1 win over West Ham.

The away side raced into a shock lead after just 11 minutes through Pablo Fornals, the Spaniard firing in from the edge of the box. But the Reds drew level four minutes before the break, Mohamed Salah stepping up to slot home a penalty after winning the spot-kick himself.

Liverpool thought they had taken the lead through substitute Diogo Jota in the second half, but following a VAR review, his strike was ruled out for a foul on Lukasz Fabianski.

But the Portuguese did make it 2-1 with just five minutes remaining, finishing cooly after being sent through by Xherdan Shaqiri. It was a bitterly disappointing end to a game which the Hammers had felt quite comfortable in for large parts, but they ultimately fell just short.

Right, let’s get into some player ratings, shall we?

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Nat Phillips made his Premier League debut | PETER POWELL/Getty Images

Alisson (GK) – 6/10 – Could he have done better for West Ham’s opener? Perhaps, but he may have seen it late. Will be disappointed not to come away with a clean sheet.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 5/10 – Alexander-Arnold’s ability going forward has been well documented, but once again, he was at fault in the build up to the Hammers’ opener.

Nat Phillips (CB) – 7/10 – Making his Premier League debut, Phillips was confident in his work and was absolutely dominant in the air. Excellent debut.

Joe Gomez (CB) – 4/10 – As the main central defender, Klopp will have wanted Gomez to step up and show the required leadership to lead the line. But he was at fault for the opener as well and had a few shaky moments.

Andy Robertson (LB) – 5/10 – Was unable to get involved as much as he would have liked down the left, with the Reds focusing their play down the right.

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Jones found it hard to get involved | Pool/Getty Images

Jordan Henderson (CM) – 7/10 – Operating mainly at the base of the midfield, Henderson’s passing was typically precise. Was constantly organising and instructing his teammates as well, looking to increase the tempo of the play.

Curtis Jones (CM) – 5/10 – Struggled to really influence the game. Tried drifting across the field to get involved, but was kept quiet by a hard-working Hammers midfield.

Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 6/10 – Similar to Jones, Wijnaldum saw the game pass him by somewhat. Advanced with the ball on occasion, but his link up play was shy of his usual standards.

Roberto Firminho, Mohamed SalahRoberto Firminho, Mohamed Salah
Salah drew Liverpool level | Pool/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah (RW) – 6/10 – When Liverpool needed him, Salah stepped up…again. At a time when the Reds were struggling to create chances, he won the penalty before converting it to make it 1-1.

Sadio Mane (LW) – 6/10 – Wasn’t at his blockbuster best, but still looks capable of making things happen.

Roberto Firmino (FW) – 5/10 – Sure, Firmino is essential when it comes to linking play and bringing the best out of those around him. But he never really posed a threat in front of goal, and not for the first game either.

Diogo JotaDiogo Jota
Jota has made an excellent start to life at Liverpool | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Diogo Jota 7/10 – Another appearance from the bench and another goal under his belt. Had another ruled out and looked generally sharp.

Xherdan Shaqiri 7/10 – Looked like his career at Anfield was over for much of the summer, but another impressive cameo will quickly dispel exit talk. Lovely slide rule pass for Jota’s winner.

James Milner – N/A

Mohamed Salah, Lukasz FabianskiMohamed Salah, Lukasz Fabianski
Fabianski was unable to keep out Salah’s penalty | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Lukasz Fabianski (GK) – 6/10 – Coming to Anfield, Fabianski will have expected to be put under all sorts of pressure…..but this didn’t happen. That said, he still leaves having conceded twice.

Fabian Balbeuna (CB) – 6/10 – Another calm and composed display by Balbuena, doing an excellent job at tracking the runs of Mane and keeping him quiet.

Angelo Ogbonna (CB) – 5/10 – A decent showing on the whole at Anfield, but was guilty of a few momentary lapses in concentration.

Aaron Cresswell (CB) – 6/10 – Was unable to get forward and supply the crosses for Haller as much as he would have liked, but worked hard out of possession to frustrate the Reds.

Arthur Masuaku, Trent Alexander-ArnoldArthur Masuaku, Trent Alexander-Arnold
Masuaku looked to get forward when possible | Pool/Getty Images

Vladimir Coufal (RWB) – 6/10 – Coufal sure is proving to be a shrewd acquisition, isn’t he? The no-nonsense wing-back was resolute defensively and looked to get forward whenever possible.

Tomas Soucek (CM) – 6/10 – As expected, the Hammers didn’t see too much of the ball, but most things positive went through Soucek. Worked hard off the ball as well.

Declan Rice (CM) – 6/10 – Wasn’t the most glamorous display from Rice and it won’t be one that grabs the headlines, but his closing down and reading of the game was vital for Moyes’ side.

Arthur Masuaku (LWB) – 5/10 – Actually had a solid game….y’know, penalty aside. Unfortunately, the penalty came at the worst possible time.

Pablo FornalsPablo Fornals
Fornals opened the scoring with a wonderful strike | Pool/Getty Images

Jarrod Bowen (RF) – 6/10 – Another fine performance from Bowen, working tirelessly when out of possession and looking dangerous when on the ball.

Pablo Fornals (LF) – 7/10 – Hammers fans are now seeing the best of Fornals on a consistent basis, and he was once again impressive against Liverpool, opening the scoring with a well-executed strike.

Sebastien Haller (ST) – 3/10 – It’s just not working for him, is it? Didn’t really show any kind of ambition or desire to get involved either.

David MoyesDavid Moyes
Moyes’ substitutions didn’t have the desired impact | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Andriy Yarmolenko – 5/10

Said Benrahma – N/A

Manuel Lanzini – N/A

Let’