Liverpool fought back from 2-0 down but were held to a 3-3 draw by Brighton at Anfield leaving them 11 points off the top spot.
Jurgen Klopp admits he was never convinced Liverpool would see it through after fighting back from two goals down before being held 3-3 by Brighton.
Roberto Firmino scored twice either side of half-time to cancel out Leandro Trossard’s early brace before Adam Webster’s own goal, just after the hour mark, gave the home side the lead.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, however, Trossard became the first opposition player since Andrey Arshavin in 2009 to register a hat-trick at Anfield and Klopp says he was never truly of the belief that he side could hold on at 3-2 given their shortage of confidence at present and the nerves around the stadium.
It is not the first time, [the nervous atmosphere] has been like that for a long time, but it just didn’t happen too often because we were more convincing, but it’s normal,” said Klopp. “I don’t blame anyone from the stands. Not at all.
This feeling was obvious that it was not done and dusted. The good part of the story is we were 2-0 down to 3-2 up but that costs energy. So the boys came back from everywhere in the world [after international duty].
“You could see they had played two games and stuff like this. Some of the boys like Hendo (Jordan Henderson) didn’t play but it makes it much more difficult and we have to control the game much better.
“I think we have talked about controlling the game for two or three years and this was definitely a moment we should have controlled better in possession, but we didn’t. And then it looks a bit like it looked today. It was not the part of the game I liked the most, let me say it like this.
“We fought ourselves back into the game and the gaps were no longer open for them, they couldn’t play the passes in the half-spaces. Then [at] 2-1, 2-2, 3-2 and if you watch enough games for long enough here we had situations years ago where we were only one goal up and it happens that everyone nearly has a heart attack because we were just not convincing enough.
That reminded me of that a bit today, so I cannot say I was 100% convinced that we would not concede a goal at 3-2 up. We should defend all three goals better, there’s no doubt about that and in different areas. At 3-3 it feels like a defeat. We have to fight through this.”
The Reds manager added: “It was a sign the confidence level is now not extraordinarily high. In our situation you want to get confidence back and you want to keep it, increase it, build on it and it was obvious that the first goal especially and the second goal didn’t help.
“The set up of Brighton surprised us because we had no idea what they would do. It was clear we could not use one situation [to analyse] Brighton. They had obviously before a set-up under Graham Potter and under Roberto de Zerbi they did exactly the right things but that is not new, it happens quite frequently but we usually adapt quicker. And before we adapted we were 1-0 down and then 2-0. Then we understood better what they did, reacted better and kept them on the outside.
The boys can play much better. My job is to create a situation where they can deliver. For that you need stability, consistency and you get that with top defending. We had much better moments, it was absolutely fine that we went 3-2 up, but we were not sitting deep, we were not attacking high, but we were somewhere in between. That’s how they got their moments.
“I don’t know how many times today their offensive players could just turn between the lines, it was horrendous, really horrible to watch. Again, that’s the same job that you have when you’re winning all the time, just more difficult because you have to create a situation where we can make it easier for the boys to deliver.”