Well that was satisfying!
A big eight days that started with a 4-0 romp over Bournemouth, followed by a highly professional performance under pressure in Europe, has now concluded with an emphatic 3-1 demolition job on United – that frankly flattered them and flattened Jose Mourinho’s tenure. We may have been reliant upon two deflections and were still level with just 20 minutes to go, but we’re now demonstrating different ways to win under Jurgen Klopp, whereas previously it was all boom or bust without a shade of pragmatism in sight.
We for one prefer the take no prisoners approach, but it can’t always be that way and the tactical adjustments Klopp’s introduced this term aren’t the only reasons to get excited.
Indeed, this is the first time we’ve gone 18 Premier League matches unbeaten, with the next best a 17-game spell under Rafa Benitez between March and October of 2008. Those 18 matches include 15 wins, 41 goals and just seven conceded, while over a whole season our current rate of 2.65 points per game extrapolates to a neat 100 points.
Amazing squad depth, plus a new best midfield trio?
Fabinho deservedly took the majority of plaudits for his intelligent display in the centre of the park, forming an effective double pivot alongside Georginio Wijnaldum, while Naby Keita continues to be a bundle of energy and you get the sense he just needs the single goal to really spring to life in a Liverpool shirt. That puts Jordan Henderson under pressure to retain his place in the set-up, especially with the sublime and versatile Xherdan Shaqiri able to play in a deeper role as well, let alone the catalogue of options Klopp will have at his disposal next term when the Ox returns! It was also fantastic to see Nathaniel Clyne put in a diligent performance, having had to bide his time after injuries and the arrival of Trent Alexander-Arnold on the scene. Although the latter has made “surprisingly good” progress on the injury front, Clyne is no longer a forgotten man and has a significant role to play yet.
Klopp’s key substitutions
Whereas Mourinho ignored Paul Pogba and turned to Marouane Fellaini at half time instead, as he attempted transforming his parked bus into a double decker, Klopp showcased a real winners’ mentality with another decisive switch. However, the introduction of Shaqiri into the fray hasn’t been his only success from the dugout recently, with Divock Origi fulfilling a similar function against Everton, while Roberto Firmino gave us the lead over Burnley with his first touch of the game. Even Daniel Sturridge was patched up enough to deliver scorcher to equalize at Stamford Bridge earlier in the campaign, and that’s now seven goals scored this season by players off the bench – compared with just three across the entirety of last season.
Challenge for Lovren
While there were really only positives against United, Dejan Lovren’s occasional shakiness at the back still threatens to spell a catastrophe at some stage. Joe Gomez has of course firmly established himself as first choice alongside Virgil van Dijk, but since picking up his ankle injury, Joel Matip had slotted in nicely and delivered some reassuring performances before a broken collarbone curtailed his own progress. However,
Lovren now has another crack at making his own case for a starting birth and he needs to take it if he wants to be in the frame long term.
Tricky opponents to see out the year
Wolves are first up on Friday and they’ve applied themselves well against the ‘Big Six’, going W1-D3-L1 this term as they’ve even taken a point off City at Molineux. However, we’re on a roll and though we can see ourselves conceding with Lovren back in the line-up, momentum should take its course. Meanwhile, Newcastle are a poor W3-D1-L13 against ‘Big Six’ opponents since returning to the top flight, losing all eight that came on their travels, and given we’ve been victorious in 26 of 36 unbeaten home games in the league and Europe since the start of last season, we should still be top of the table come the New Year.
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