Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said the team’s 7-2 defeat by Aston Villa this month was like a punch to the face and could prove to be its most important game this season.

A stunned Klopp said the league champion lost the plot in its defeat at Villa Park before the international break, but the German backed his players to respond in Saturday’s Merseyside derby against league leader Everton.

“Maybe after all the positive things that happened to us, it needed a proper knock in the middle of our face to shake us through,” Klopp told reporters on Friday.

“That’s the way I take it,” he said. “There’s no other reason why 7-2 should be good. If it was for that, it could have been the most important game of the season, so that’s why we try to use it and we’ll see.

“The challenge in this situation is that you don’t want the players to be affected or influenced in the next game….

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