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3 welcome sights from Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge

Liverpool drew 0-0 at Tottenham on Saturday, in Jurgen Klopp‘s first game in charge. We select three of the most pleasing aspects to come out of the game.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the travelling supporters after the goal-less draw with Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)

It was the match that everyone associated with Liverpool had been waiting for, and despite a low-key 0-0 draw, Klopp immediately stamped his authority on the team.

Brendan Rodgers’ three-man defence was swiftly ditched in favour of four at the back, with the German deploying something close to the 4-2-3-1 formation that brought him so much success at Borussia Dortmund.

It will clearly take plenty of time for Klopp to fully get his players in-tune with his tactics, but the early signs are certainly promising.

Here are three welcome sights that we saw from the 48-year-old’s first match as Liverpool manager.

Relentless work-rate

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp coaches his players during the Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)

Everybody who watched Dortmund in their pomp under Klopp will know that their incredible work ethic was arguably what defined them.

From minute one, it was clear that he will be expecting exactly the same from his Liverpool players, and it was brilliant to see.

The pressing was relentless throughout the side, and Tottenham, lauded by many for their own off-the-ball intensity under Mauricio Pochettino, struggled to live with it.

No side has covered more ground in the Premier League so far this season, and they ran 10 kilometers more than in Rodgers’ last game in charge, at Everton.

Whether it be Lucas Leiva and Emre Can in midfield, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and James Milner further up or Divock Origi up front, everyone deserves huge praise for the shift they put in.

It will clearly take time for their fitness to reach the unbelievable level that Klopp expects- many looked delighted to have a breather during a first-half injury stoppage- but that will come with time.

Barcelona’s greatest strength under Pep Guardiola was their amazing work-rate off the ball, Liverpool will be similar with Klopp at the helm.

There will be slick, eye-catching football too, of course, but it will be their desire to harass the opposition for 90 minutes that will grind so many teams into the ground.

Emre Can in midfield

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2015: Liverpool's Emre Can in action against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)c

Can became one of the more discussed players on Merseyside during Rodgers’ reign, with the 21-year-old failing to hold down a position in the team.

He chopped between centre-back and central midfield- the less said about his brief spell at right-back the better- but it was always clear that his best role lay in the middle of the park.

Can is a footballer with enormous talent and potential, and Klopp has immediately realised that playing him in the engine room will bring out the best in him.

Used alongside Lucas, the Germany international had a very impressive game against a good Spurs midfield.

His pressing early on was as relentless as anyone, but he was also classy in possession and a marauding attacking force when it was called for.

Many have been critical of Can’s positional sense and tendency to just play his own game, a little like that kid at school who is just bigger, stronger, quicker and more skilful than anyone, but there was a maturity about his performance at White Hart Lane.

He won a whopping 64 per cent of his duels, created two chances for teammates and made four key tackles during proceedings. Even his much-maligned fitness was supreme right up until the final whistle.

Liverpool have a real gem in their ranks in Can, and someone who could develop into one of the finest central midfielders in Europe in the future. In Klopp, they have the perfect man to get the best out of him.

James Milner no longer central

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, Ogctober 17, 2015: Liverpool's James Milner in action against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)

A big reason for Milner joining the Reds was because Rodgers promised him a central midfield role. Klopp has quickly put his foot down and seen an end to that, however.

There is plenty to like about Milner, most notably his incomparable work-rate and understated industry, but he showed prior to Klopp’s arrival that he doesn’t possess the guile to succeed in the middle.

The 48-year-old moved the Englishman to the right-hand side in his 4-2-3-1 system, and the overall balance of the team was far better because of it.

Milner actually had a very poor day at the office in a position he has occupied so often down the years, but just having him out of the way helped make a difference.

Lucas and Can showed far more tactical discipline and knowledge of the position than Milner ever has, and their partnership was key to Liverpool earning a point.

It is impossible to know how highly Klopp rates Milner- his team ethic and all-round attitude would surely appeal- but what is clear is that the 29-year-old’s Reds future lies out wide under him.

Klopp acting so quickly in changing Milner’s role is refreshing to see, and is something Rodgers sadly seemed incapable of having the courage to do.

Hopefully we will now start to finally see the best of the former Man City man in a Liverpool shirt.

(Statistics via Squawka and WhoScored)


PLAYER RATINGS – Top performers for Reds
TALKING POINTS – Mignolet, Sakho, Pressing and more
ANALYSIS – Sakho impresses, Skrtel struggles
FAN REACTION – Happy enough
KLOPP POST-MATCH – Full video of press conference

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