Jurgen Klopp has admitted he replaced Dejan Lovren during Liverpool's 4-1 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday (22 October) due to tactical reasons but the boss refused to single out the Croatian centre-back as the reason for the humiliating loss.
Lovren was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 31th minute of the game after having been at fault for Spurs' opening two goals scored by Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.
"Yes (it was a tactical decision) but I really don't want to blame players", Klopp confirmed when asked about his decision following the defeat to Tottenham.
"Dejan, to be honest, was not worse than Joel [Matip]. We had to change something, we tried to make sure that we are a little bit more stabilised; it was less about the centre-half position with Joe there, it was more that we needed more protection in the half-space. In this case, with Emre which actually didn't work too well, but that was the idea behind it,"
Klopp's side were unable to improve in Lovren's absence, with Dele Alli and Kane scoring a goal each either side of half time to punish a woeful Liverpool performance.
The Liverpool boss slammed his players defending but took full responsibility for a defeat which drop them to the ninth place in the Premier League table, 12 points behind leaders Manchester City after only nine games.
"The first goal, it's unbelievably easy to defend; when Harry has the ball not anymore, but before, easiest. It's a close, small space, we only have to clear the ball – we don't do it," the Liverpool boss admitted.
"The second goal, all the analysis, all we knew before the game, it was clear Tottenham would play in situations like this. When you then saw the line-up, it was 100% clear we had to protect all our offensive things. We make a cross, not a bad cross, but we overlap in a situation when the ball is already away. We miss the moment. It was not possible for counter-pressing I think. We miss the moment.
"Usually, we all know Dejan would make a header in this situation. He missed the ball. And on the other side, Son, because he's in a better position and he's very quick, is not to stop anymore so an easy goal. Third goal, another present, we have the ball and lose it, make then a free-kick off it, make a foul. But then it's a free-kick nowhere, it was nothing. We make the header in the middle of the park and have nobody for the second ball."
"Everything that happened today was so obvious. It was bad in these moments. The fourth one just happened like it was today. Even then we had chances – that's just a result of the potential of the team. But you cannot get results with a performance like today against a team like Tottenham, they were completely spot-on and obviously we weren't. And that's my responsibility."
Meanwhile, Liverpool were hit by a further blow after Klopp confirmed that Georginio Wijnaldum missed the clash with Tottenham due to a knee injury sustained in the preparations of the game.
"Gini got a knock on his knee yesterday. It's nothing serious but very painful," Klopp said prior to the game with Tottenham. "We couldn't do it overnight. It's not a big thing but the time was too short from yesterday to today, so he's not even involved in the squad."