After a week that saw Manchester City and Arsenal on…
Klopp’s Liverpool side was tipped by many to be the Premier League’s dark horse this season. Where they don’t have the squad depth and quality compared to the Manchester sides, the Reds have a second season with Klopp and the togetherness that the manager brings that is rivaled by few. Yet once again, Liverpool look to continue where they left off last season; challenging the strong teams, then losing to the “smaller sides” of the Premier League.
As continued from Dortmund, Klopp still employs the high pressing, in your face football that once challenged Bayern to the brink in a Champions League final. We saw that style once again to glorious effect against Arsenal on the first matchday at the Emirates, where Klopp’s men scored 4 goals in a space of twenty minutes. The momentum and hype quickly went to a sputtering halt however, when the Reds lost 2-0 against the newly promoted Burnley on the following match day.
The losing side had 80% possession against the home side, considered one of the highest possession stats in Premier League history. Yet Liverpool played incredibly poorly, barely carving out clear out chances and constantly looking exposed at the back once they forfeited possession. Philip Coutinho, who looked to be the most impressive player in the league the opening week, had no influence on the match; continuing his inconsistent nature like last season. In fact, much of Klopp’s side can be attributed to Coutinho’s form; having a screamer of a match against the Arsenals and Man Citys of the league, while flopping and looking mediocre against the more ordinary sides in England.
This is the unfortunate side of Klopp’s tactics. In his last season with Dortmund, the side was plagued with disappointing results against the more mediocre sides in Germany, where teams would stay back, absorb pressure, and counter attack a brittle Dortmund defense. As it stands, Liverpool does not have a recognized quality defensive midfielder. Klopp has relied on Jordan Henderson as his center midfielder to recycle possession and screen the back line. This setup, flooding the offensive side with Roberto Firmino, Phillip Coutinho, Sadio Mane, and Georgino Wijnaldum; relies on their talents to simply outscore the opposition. Many saw the Reds’ inability to shut up shop and maintain a minimum of conceded goals when they were up 4-1 against Arsenal, only to end the match 4-3. When sides sit back and close the space down for Liverpool’s technicians, ala Burnley, the side from Mersey look flat.
Of course, this is only the beginning of the season, and Klopp still has time to delve into the transfer market, but as it stands; Liverpool may continue to look incredibly dangerous sometimes, while also looking disappointingly flat at other times.