Jurgen Klopp hailed Emre Can’s technical skill and physical resilience after the German midfielder won all three points for Liverpool with a brilliant improvised overhead kick at Vicarage Road on Monday night.
Can scored the only goal of the game at the end of the first half with a spinning bicycle kick from Lucas Leiva’s clever pass. Klopp admitted that they had not planned for Can to score that goal, although he insisted that they had worked on that through-ball from Lucas in training.
“We weren't patient enough last week, but it was better today,” Klopp said. “We didn't train a bicycle kick for Emre, but [we trained] that pass from Lucas, the run from Emre, from the number six position to the number eight. So that was really nice.”
Can has had some difficult moments this season and has been criticised, but Klopp praised his commitment and revealed that he has been playing through a calf injury at times which has impeded his performances.
“He is a good boy and a good player,” Klopp said. “He had had a calf problem but we could not leave him out. We had a lot of talks about this. People wondered what was wrong with him, but we needed him in these moments. Sometimes he wasn't as good as he could have been, but now those problems are sorted. He is physically strong and he can build on these performances. And he can score goals like this!”
The win strengthens Liverpool’s hold on third place. If they win their last three matches then they are guaranteed fourth and only an unlikely goal difference turnaround from Manchester City can deny them third. Klopp was delighted in the “positive pressure” of being in charge of their own destiny.
“We need to stay focused, we need to stay concentrated,” Klopp said. “We have pressure until the end of the season but that's a positive pressure. It means we are fighting for something. So we'll do everything for the points we can get, but it won't be easy. If people think we already have the three points against Southampton then they've not seen them play this season, another really strong side.”
This evening was not without drama, as Watford centre-back Sebastian Prodl hit the bar in stoppage time when he could have made it 1-1. Klopp was very relieved afterwards and joked that he felt his heart skip a beat when Prodl thumped his volley towards the bar.
“I said to the players after the game, if they want to kill me, that's a good way to try it,” he said. “I thought I felt something in this area [tapping his chest]. We'd already defended this situation so often. They tried everything over 97 minutes, but one mistake could have led to the goal. That's how football at this level is.”