“The first 30 or 35 minutes was as good as anything I can remember.”
This was Jamie Carragher’s glowing review after Liverpool dismantled Man City 4-1 at the Etihad. Gary Neville was similarly impressed.
“The game plan was executed brilliantly. Klopp will be delighted as he’d have worked on it all week and his team have gone and done it for him.”
Klopp has only been in charge of Liverpool since October 8th, but his influence is shining through already. Here are the aspects of Liverpool’s game that he has improved so far.
The most obvious example of the German’s influence is Liverpool’s implementation of ‘gegen-pressing.’ It is evident that the players have bought into Klopp’s high pressing game, and it reaped dividends against Man City. Liverpool put City under pressure from the first minute, and Manuel Pellegrini’s side had no answers.
This style of play requires each player to put in an enormous shift, and the stats show that Liverpool are working harder under Klopp. It did not take long for Klopp to introduce these tactics, as the Reds became the first side to outrun Tottenham this season just days after Klopp’s appointment.
Liverpool’s front three of Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana worked tirelessly against City. The best example of this can be seen through Pool’s first goal, which came after Coutinho robbed Sagna of the ball deep in the City half.
Beating the top teams
Brendan Rodgers was often criticized for his poor record against the top sides in England. Indeed, Rodgers only won just 5 out of 25 clashes with City, Arsenal, Chelsea and United in the league. Klopp has already won comfortably at Stamford Bridge (3-1), and at the Etihad on Sunday.
Liverpool have already faced Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City, Everton and Spurs away, and Reds fans will be optimistic when these teams visit Anfield, as long as Klopp is at the helm.
An improved defence
Liverpool have only conceded 6 goals in 8 games in all competitions under Klopp. This is impressive for a team which have been constantly berated for a poor defensive record in recent years. Liverpool have undoubtedly been more solid at the back since Klopp’s arrival, and individual defenders seem to have improved dramatically.
Mamadou Sakho said that he was like ‘a caged lion’ under Brendan Rodgers. If that was the case, he has since been unleashed. Before being sidelined last week through injury, Sakho has drawn plenty of praise for his performances under Klopp.
The massive Frenchman has led from the back, and both Klopp and Liverpool fans will be desperate for him to return as quickly as possible.
The performances of Alberto Moreno have also improved dramatically under Klopp, and the Spaniard is beginning to add more consistency to his game.
Getting the best out of his players
Liverpool looked timid and uninspired at times this season. Klopp seems to have instilled fresh confidence and belief into the players, and it has been reaping awards on the pitch.
Philippe Coutinho is back to his best, netting 4 goals in his last 3 games, including crucial goals against both Chelsea and City. As mentioned above, Sakho and Moreno have also improved dramatically.
Roberto Firmino endured a tough start to his Anfield career, as he struggled with injuries and consistency. But Klopp seems to be getting the best out of the Brazilian, and Firmino is improving week on week.
He was devastating against City. He set up the first two goals before netting the third, and Liverpool fans will be excited about his potential.
Lucas Leiva has been brought back into the fold, and has received praise for his prowling presence in front of the back four. No player has made more tackles in the league so far this season, and Pool fans will be glad to see the Brazilian’s return to form after a difficult few years.
It is difficult to assess a manager after less than two months in charge, but aside from the home defeat at Palace, both fans and critics have been very impressed with Jurgen Klopp thus far. Liverpool are just 6 points off the top four, and with Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and Mamadou Sakho to return, Liverpool fans might just fancy their chances.