With the much-vaunted Jurgen Klopp managing his first Liverpool game against improving Tottenham in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff, let’s take a look at five of the talking points from the German’s debut in the hot-seat:
A team in Klopp’s image
From the word go on Saturday, it was clear that Klopp has already put his imprint on this side. Pressing high up the pitch, from Origi and Coutinho to Moreno and Clyne, it was obvious that the German had instructed his team to press and counter-press to try and force the opposition into mistakes.
As he showed at Dortmund, this tactic can be extremely successful and although it didn’t result in any goals on Saturday, there’s every chance that, as the side gets more used to the style, it will begin to bear fruit.
A recipe for rearguard success
In the clamour to talk about Klopp’s attacking football blueprint, it should not be forgotten that Liverpool were away to a side who put four goals past league leaders Man City just a few weeks ago.
Given that the Liverpool side has looked defensively shaky for all of this season and most of last, Reds fans will be heartened by what seemed to be a much more sturdy defensive display.
Liverpool fans may disagree with this, but Klopp notwithstanding, they were not favourites for this one and consequently 0-0 is a pretty decent result which reflects the quality of the opposition, in addition to how far Liverpool will be expected to improve under the German.
A defensive masterclass from Toby Alderweireld
The Belgian is a class act, and a key reason why Spurs have conceded less goals than almost any other side in the league this season. After a successful loan spell at Southampton from Athletico Madrid last year, the centre back has slotted perfectly into the back four at White Hart Lane, and it is his calm efficiency that must claim responsibility for Spurs’ uncharacteristically impressive defensive record so far.
When will Daniel Sturridge be fit again?
After a lengthy layoff, Sturridge will no doubt have hoped that his injury nightmare was over, but he was again unavailable on Saturday, prompting concern that he will face another lengthy spell on the treatment table.
Klopp was quick to play down the concern, insinuating that Sturridge was left out as a precaution, but his omission will still elicit genuine worry in the Liverpool ranks.
The fact of the matter is that Sturridge has now been unfit for a very long time, and one imagines that he needs to start playing again soon if he is to return to his former glory – long-term injuries never tend to do much for a player’s long-term prospects.
Is Kane paying the price for a lack of rest
Since the end of last season, Harry Kane has not stopped. Thrust into the limelight at Tottenham, the striker went on a post-season tour, headed to the Euros, then, after a short break, headed back out on a pre-season tour. Since then he’s played almost every game for Tottenham AND England.
Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that Kane is not playing well this season. He is. What is undeniable, however, is that he isn’t quite firing on the same level as last year.
Not because he’s a one-season wonder. Not because he’s been ‘found out’. Because he’s knackered.
Give him a break Mauricio, before you end up breaking him.