The Jürgen Klopp International Break of epic proportions. It was all going so well. Undefeated for a start, aced his opening press conference, hates the paparazzi and spends too much time in city centre restaurants and bars. Then the news started filtering through about Danny Ings’ knee injury, compounded by the news on Wednesday evening that Joe Gomez was also out for the rest of the season. It is devastating news for both players, and just imagine for a second how it feels (especially when you consider these quotes from Spurs’ Harry Kane), itching to get back and train for your new boss, and then have it all taken away for months, maybe longer. Kind of puts football in perspective sometimes; that’s their careers on the line.
The Season So Far:
Tottenham started the season with a series of draws, some fortunate, some when they deserved the three points. No-one, however, can take away the credit after they thrashed Man City 4-1 at White Hart Lane. Pochettino’s side are an effective attacking unit: third in the whole league in total attempts (131), big chances (16) and shots on target (52). Liverpool are below their opponents on all of these metrics, especially in terms of quality chances; nevertheless, there is still only one point separating the two sides in the league table.
Danny Ings and Joe Gomez join Jon Flanagan, Jordan Henderson, Christian Benteke and Firmino on the injury list, although Klopp did confirm the latter two should be available for the next league match.
Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason remain out due to respective ankle and knee injuries, while Heung-Min Son is still sidelined with a foot problem. Eric Dier misses this match through suspension.
Pre-Match Press Conference:
Klopp on journalists
- “I don’t read what you write. My pressure comes from what I make myself.”
On fans asking for photos:
- [‘Normal One’ shirt shown to him…] Klopp just laughs. “Yesterday we were having dinner as a family, and two people wanted photos, but I had to say no to them. All these photos end up on Twitter. It looks like I am always in restaurants and in bars.”
On the Spurs match:
- “I expect to see some difference. More braveness. More fun in their eyes. I want to see that they like what they do. Maybe we can be organised. We need to think about defensive things. We need to feel stability. Once this is sorted, we can be free for creativity.”
Olli Emmerson prepared this analysis for Anfield Index, looking at the likely formation for Klopp’s first game, and with the recent injury news, this section seems appropriate:
I’m leaning towards thinking that Jordon Ibe will take up that final place (on the right), as he’s the only out and out winger in Liverpool’s current squad, due to Lazar Markovic being out on loan. Klopp likes playing with at least one winger in his team, if not an inside forward, which Firmino may be perfect for in the long run.
Another analysis by James Nalton, this time based primarily on the tactical detail of the 4-2-3-1 at Dortmund, gives you an idea about how our new manager might set up the Reds:
Klopp also spoke in his press conference of the importance of speed, which immediately brought to mind Lazar Markovic who’s currently out on loan at Fenerbahçe. The Serbian could be used in any of the four forward positions previously mentioned, and could even be a slightly rawer version of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, making incisive runs into the opposition box from attacking midfield positions.
As mentioned earlier, these variations on the 4-2-3-1 are the most common formations associated with Klopp as they were used during his successful Champions League season, but he has used numerous set-ups during his time as a head coach. There’s no doubt that he and his assistant, Željko Buvač, will look at how to best use the players at their disposal in order to implement their overall philosophy.
My ‘Preferred’ Line-Up:
First of all, this is purely based on the players available. Because, if fit, you can add Gomez, Henderson, Ings and Firmino to this starting line-up.
Klopp is likely to start with a high defensive line to compress the space and distance needed to cover from his “chaos press” (Copyright Simon Brundish? ) that we all expect to see. By removing Milner from the middle of the pitch, we can have Allen dictating the pace and Lucas covering if Can bursts forward with the ball. Clyne and Moreno are both crucial to stretch the play if Spurs sit deep; and as an attacking option on the break. Both have pace, and by stretching the width of the opposition defence, create spaces in the middle for Milner and Lallana to drift inside, work the ball with Coutinho, and pick out Sturridge’s intelligent runs in behind the defence; or off the shoulder of Spurs’ central defensive pairing.
Spurs have impressed this season; the Reds have flattered to deceive. Both teams have suffered a series of injuries (although the visitors have lost two players for the rest of the season, so the extent is rather different) that impact their current team selections. Yet, the Reds are riding a wave of Klopptimism that has engulfed the fanbase, who will chomping at the bit to see some counter pressing, some intensity and the start of a new beginning. On that positive note, I’m going for a draw. One-all.