Football News

“That always makes him difficult” – Jurgen Klopp hails Napoli’s “cheeky” Khvicha Kvaratskhelia despite Liverpool defeat

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:02, 2 November 2022

Jurgen Klopp has praised Khvicha Kvaratskhelia for his performance in Napoli’s 2-0 Champions League defeat to Liverpool in which he went head-to-head with Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool ended Napoli’s perfect run in the Champions League to move level on points with the Italian side thanks to late goals from Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez at Anfield. However, it was not enough to see Liverpool overtake Napoli at the top of the group, due to the 4-1 defeat in the first game in which Kvaratskhelia starred again.

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Kvaratskhelia recorded an assist in the 4-1 win over Liverpool at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, and thought he had another in the return fixture at Anfield. Just after half-time, Kvaratskhelia sent a wonderful cross from a free-kick into the box for Leo Ostigard to head past Alisson, but after a long review the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.

Even without the assist, Kvaratskhelia had a good performance against Liverpool and Klopp used his showing to also back up Alexander-Arnold’s credentials, as he has done so in the past with Gabriel Martinelli.

“He (Kvaratskhelia) is a good player, both are good players,” Klopp said of the battle between Kvaratskhelia and Alexander-Arnold.

“It was a really difficult one. I know people will talk about one or two situations with Trent when he tried to get in front of him and the ball goes through. He is really good, the boy. Really quick, we have to defend it well together in these moments. When he has the advantage of the first moment, then he is already gone.

“You have to try to be there in the moment when the ball arrives. If you cannot to do that, you need to be protected because he has speed. He is cheeky, he can go inside, he goes outside, that always makes him difficult. A good player.

“Trent played a really good game against him, was really on fire. Didn’t get frustrated by one or two situations where he was second-best. Stayed in the game. I liked Trent’s game tonight.”

As mentioned, Klopp has previously spoken highly of Martinelli and used his ability to prove Alexander-Arnold’s defensive capabilities, and Kvaratskhelia does look fairly similar to the Arsenal man in some aspects of his game. In league play this season, Kvaratskhelia has averaged 0.7 goals per 90 minutes with Martinelli hitting 0.5 goals. Kvaratskhelia is also performing better than Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz in front of goal per 90 in the league, looking at Liverpool’s two main wing options before the latter was injured.

Kvaratskhelia also has a good conversion rate and averages 0.6 assists per 90 minutes, but he is slightly less creative than Salah with 2.4 chances created per 90 minutes in Serie A to the Egyptian’s 2.5 in the Premier League. Kvaratskhelia also falls just behind Diaz and Martinelli in take-ons completed per 90 minutes but still averages 2.