Jurgen Klopp was good value on Match of the Day 2, chatting pitchside at Anfield.
“I’m really happy because since I was here we didn’t win a game like this. It was the first ugly game we’ve won and I’m fine with it.”
You could argue the Reds boss was not being strictly accurate. Swansea away wasn’t exactly a festival of football, Sunderland at home three points and little else, the derby simply the derby.
But you knew what he meant.
Mark Lawrenson called it the “biggest game of the season for Liverpool”.
It’s what they said Liverpool couldn’t do, after all.
What separated them from the champions-elect at Stamford Bridge. The ability to accumulate whether their play is sparkling or decidedly dull.
There was certainly very little spark to a Reds display which will be remembered principally for its value in delivering a crucial three points in the top four race.
It was indeed the day when ugly became beautiful.
It was a game which both conformed to expectations and yet defied them. Where Liverpool struggled against a “lesser side” yet got exactly what they needed.
The first back to back victories of 2017 secured. A sixteenth Premier League win to equal last year’s total with 10 games to spare.
This was a team without character, its critics said. One which lacked leadership and heart. One which couldn’t scrap when fluidity was lost.
Yet here they were, the team in red, horribly lacking fluidity but scrapping, no doubt. Ragnar Klavan’s desperate dive in front of Ashley Barnes’ goalbound shot, with Adam Lallana alongside him, told you everything you needed about that.
And by the end, there they were, this team in red, now with 14 points gathered from losing positions. No-one in the Premier League has more.
Of the 19 other teams in the top division, the Reds have now beaten 15 of them and still have chances to add Bournemouth, Southampton and West Ham to that list.
That’s as impressive as it is frustrating. This is a team capable of beating everyone and, as we know, losing to anybody.
Of the five sides to have beaten Liverpool – Burnley, Hull, Swansea, Bournemouth and Leicester – Klopp’s men have now beaten four of them. They can complete the set against Bournemouth at Anfield early next month.
If winning ugly is some sort of pre-requisite for success, then Liverpool will need to get used to it though.
A three-game stretch next month comprising trips to West Brom and Stoke with a home test against a Crystal Palace scrapping for their lives is unlikely to offer much for the purist.
For now though “ugly” did what was required.