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SPORTS

To Liverpool, derby days are as easy as 1,2,3

FOOTBALL By Reuters | December 3rd 2021

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp. [Reuters]

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said his team had shown they have learnt to handle the unique atmosphere of derby games after they turned on the style to beat neighbours Everton 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Klopp had tried to talk down the special nature of the Merseyside derby for his players in the build-up to the game and he felt they had shown maturity in their display.

"It was, for sure, the best performance we’ve shown since I'm at Liverpool, at Goodison," he said.

"We had some good games here, but we were never as good as tonight. We were never as calm as tonight, we were never as convinced as tonight and that’s why we won the game and I am really happy about that," said the German, who won the title in 2020 a year after winning the Champions League.

"Obviously since I'm at Liverpool we had to learn these kind of games. We had to learn to play at Old Trafford, we had to learn to play at Goodison, and tonight we showed that we made a big step in our development and that's really good," he said.

Liverpool beat Manchester United 5-0 in their North West derby in October and he said Wednesday's display set the standard.

"That's what we have to reach now in each game when we play these kind of teams, because emotions are important in football. We are a very emotional football team but, first and foremost, you need the right mood and mindset. Yes, emotion (is) good but not the only important thing," he said.

Mohamed Salah scored twice for the Reds while Jordan Henderson opened the scoring and set up the Egyptian's first goal.

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring their first goal against Everton on Wednesday night. [Reuters]

The Liverpool skipper was full of praise for Salah, who has now scored 13 goals in 14 league games this season.

"He's been outstanding this season and at the moment you wouldn't want to play against him. It makes my job easier because you just give him the ball and he goes and puts it in the net. It was outstanding from him."

Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admitted his side was fortunate to emerge with a 2-1 victory at Watford that kept them top of the Premier League.

With six changes to the side held at home by Manchester United at the weekend, Chelsea never got into their stride but goals by Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech sealed the points.

Both came from well-worked moves, although they were an exception to the rule on a night when struggling Watford could easily have earned at least a point.

"We were lucky. We should admit it. Today we could not reach this level. We were not ready for this game. We are to blame. We never found the right attitude," Tuchel said.

"It got better in the second half. We conceded a lot of chances in the first half and didn't create much. The two situations we had, we scored. We were lucky to escape with the win."

Tuchel accepted some of the blame for his team's approach.

"It felt like we were not ready for the long balls, the pressure. When we won the ball, how to escape out of the pressure. We had big problems individually and as a team. We never felt solid, it felt like we were never in control."

When the dust settles, however, Tuchel might look back on Wednesday as a vital victory in his attempt to keep ahead of Manchester City and Liverpool in the title race. 

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