Jurgen Klopp has taken his record as Liverpool manager from three wins in seven games to six in ten, after his Reds side defeated Swansea 1-0 at Anfield on Sunday evening to round off a good week.
The match itself showed two components associated with a Jurgen Klopp side; the relentless pressure that pins the opposition back, almost suffocating them of any space, and the organised compact style we witnessed in the second half. Both effective in their own right and both signs Jurgen Klopp is continuously stamping his style on this Liverpool side.
Before the German arrived at the club there was talk of his inflexibility with some people making out he was a 4231 kind of guy or bust. In his short time here, we have seen just how versatile he is, from playing James Milner as a tucked in right-winger to playing Emre Can as a deep lying playmaker in a 4141 system. The stereotypical 4231 has been rarer to see than a Lucas Leiva goal. Klopp is showing that he is adapting to the Premier League and his Liverpool side are responding. They have risen four places in the table in the six games since Brendan Rodgers was replaced.
Liverpool dominated the first-half but a breakthrough remained elusive with many on Twitter starting with the ‘dominate the first half and then concede like we did against Rodgers’ chatter. That first-half was the complete opposite to what we witnessed towards the end of the Rodgers reign. There’s a huge difference that shouldn’t be overlooked between the opposition sitting deep allowing you to play the game in front of them, and Liverpool actually pinning the opposition back. The former tended to happen under Rodgers, whereas the first-half under Swansea was very much the latter. Liverpool were dominant in the first-half.
Emre Can was immense. The Liverpool number 23 put in a monumental performance for the Reds today in the absence of Lucas. The German was practically the Liverpool midfield at times with James Milner on pressing patrol and he handled the pressure with relative ease. Make no mistake, this is against a good Swansea side and he bossed that area of the pitch, even got forward at times and that chipped ball over the top to Benteke in the first-half was sublime.
These pictures highlight just how much responsibility was placed upon the shoulders of Emre Can today. Klopp has the confidence to place this responsibility on the 21 year old and it has to be a huge confidence boost for him. It has been a while since we have seen a Liverpool side play with one centre-midfielder like they did against Swansea. It adds so many options moving forward.
Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge made welcome returns. Sturridge was on the peripheral for his time on the pitch but his movement and link up play seemed positive. It was Jordan Henderson who impressed after coming on. Knitting the play together with some nice threaded passes added yet another dimension to our attack, when making late runs into the area looking for knock downs and pull backs. There were also a few nice pieces of play between Henderson and Emre Can which is encouraging for the future.
Dejan didn’t do a Lovren. The Croat hasn’t really put a foot wrong since coming in for the injured Mamadou Sakho. He is doing the basics well and not getting too confident or cocky. Less is more with Dejan and in his three full games since coming into the side to replace Sakho, the Reds have only conceded two goals, neither of which were down to him so the improvement is there to be seen by all.
Liverpool did look a little blunt but it’s not all doom and gloom. Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino have yet to link up but there are signs of a partnership forming. At various times in the first-half, when the big Belgian dropped deep to get the ball, it was the Brazilian filling the void. Had the passing been a little less erratic then something may have come from this, but it’s something to watch out for as the games progress.
Liverpool are in a good run of form coming into a busy festive period. They have the cavalry incoming with the likes of both Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson returning to full fitness, Coutinho to come back into the side, the team on the whole has momentum on their side and a favourable run of upcoming games in the league. Finishing in the top four is very much on the cards.