“Undeniable proof about how they have developed” – How the media assessed Tottenham 1-1 Liverpool

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Following Liverpool’s entertaining 1-1 draw with Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham on Saturday afternoon, we take a look at how the media assessed the stalemate.

Klopp’s return to where his Reds reign began ended just as it started as his side battled to a hard-fought draw at White Hart Lane.

James Milner slotted Liverpool into a deserved half-time lead, converting from the spot after Roberto Firmino was fouled following a strong surge into the box, but the Reds were denied three points when Danny Rose levelled with 18 minutes left.

It was a much improved display from the last league outing from Liverpool, who imposed themselves well and produced some excellent football at a tough venue. But it was one that could, and perhaps should, have seen the Reds return to Merseyside with all three points.

Here is how the watching reporters assessed the entertaining draw.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match again st Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Returning to the scene of his Reds bow 10 months ago, reporters reflected on the progress Liverpool have made in that time under the German – with a lot of positivity that Klopp’s men are on the right road.

The BBC’s Phil McNulty felt Liverpool resembled much more of a Klopp team this time around:

…the result may have been the same here but this is much more like the German’s side.

Melissa Reddy of Goal felt the display proved Liverpool’s progress is “indisputable”:

The result may have been the same as it was 10 months ago, but it is indisputable at how much more in tune Liverpool are with Klopp’s full-throttle philosophy.

They are still under construction, but the nips and tucks have combined to create a side that can be staggeringly assertive, if somewhat wasteful.

The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce noted the contrast in the two White Hart Lane clashes of Klopp’s tenure:

Back then the Reds played akin to a bunch of headless chickens. With gegenpressing the new watchword, they happily ran themselves into the ground for the new boss but rarely posed a threat.

Achieving progress since then hasn’t been plain sailing but here was undeniable proof about how they have developed under Klopp’s guidance.

McNulty felt the performance pointed towards a positive future:

Liverpool still have a maddening streak of inconsistency that sees them deliver results such as the 2-0 defeat at Burnley last week but this performance, and the opening weekend win at Arsenal, are significant signposts for the future.

The Independent’s Jack Pitt-Brooke felt the Reds were the better team and looked a step ahead of their opponents:

They were the better team and should have won. They already look closer to being the side their manager wants them to be than Tottenham.

Sam Wallace of the Telegraph echoed:

The first half belonged to them, they went in with the lead at half-time and for most of the game Jurgen Klopp’s team seemed to be fulfilling their manager’s vision for the future.

Klopp’s side look closer to the finished article, despite the injuries, and once again there was no place for Daniel Sturridge in the starting line-up.

However, the Liverpool Echo’s Kristian Walsh feels Liverpool are still a “work in progress” in regards to the squad at Klopp’s disposal:

Liverpool’s side still resembles a work in progress. There sits James Milner, excellent at left-back, resembling a luminous box of tools. There is Jordan Henderson, marooned in midfield, like a misplaced hard hat. Both do the job, both shouldn’t be there, but what else can be done, for now?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2016: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia sees his shot saved by Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper Michel Vorm during the FA Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Seeing chances come and go and the opportunity for a big three points passed up as a result, reporters bemoaned Liverpool’s lack of killer instinct in front of goal.

McNulty wrote:

Klopp urged on in typically animated fashion and it was only a lack of a killer touch from his side that prevented another victory.

Reddy echoed:

The Reds should have had what was a really good contest all wrapped up before Spurs finally found their stride, but will be filing the match in the ‘missed opportunity’ folder.

Pearce penned:

This was a contest the Reds could and should have won. Instead they were left cursing their wastefulness in the final third after some gilt-edged chances went begging.

The Daily Mail’s Matt Barlow praised the quality of the Reds’ play that lacked the finishing touch:

They were explosive and destructive on the break, tearing through Spurs and yet unable to convert any of the many clear chances they created.

Oppositely, ESPN’s Iain McIntosh felt the Reds lacked precision in their play:

They exploded into counterattacks again and again, pouring over the halfway line with more speed than guile. Passes were played on instinct, sometimes to great effect, sometimes to no one.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2016: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino in action against Tottenham Hotspur's Erik Lamela and Danny Rose during the FA Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Reporters praised the relentless energy of Liverpool’s play which proved a key factor behind Liverpool’s dominance of the home side for large parts of the game.

The Telegraph’s Jonathan Liew wrote:

Like all the best Jurgen Klopp teams, they pressed superbly from the front before releasing the pace of Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane on the break.

[…]

They had mobility, fluidity and momentum.

Wallace credited Roberto Firmino’s industry leading the line:

They are led by Roberto Firmino, the centre-forward who sets the tone with his chasing and strength and who won the penalty from which left-back James Milner scored.

Pearce echoed those sentiments:

But Firmino has led the line in some of Liverpool’s finest away triumphs under Klopp and this should have been another for his collection. The Brazilian sets the tone in that role with his relentless work ethic.

The Guardian’s Amy Lawrence noted the contribution of Liverpool’s other two attackers:

From the start the thrust of Mané and trickery of Philippe Coutinho tested Tottenham. They set about the challenge here with swift movement and energy.

Reddy also felt the Reds front line was “too dynamic” and praised the industry and dominance of Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana.

They struggled to match Liverpool’s steam and fluency, with the visitors’ front three proving too dynamic. The north Londoners were outdone in midfield too, where Jordan Henderson turned in an authoritative performance and Adam Lallana was instrumental in all aspects of play.

Meanwhile, Walsh felt fellow midfielder Wijnaldum struggled with the intensity and went missing as a result:

The Dutchman scored every one of his 11 league goals last season at home, and it’s beginning to emerge why.

Neat and tidy in possession, the furious pace of the game saw him struggle off the ball; a fair number of the players acquired and refined by Klopp seem to thrive in manic situations, but for the former Newcastle man, it is all too easy to become anonymous.

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 23, 2016: Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Burton Albion during the Football League Cup 2nd Round match at the Pirelli Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Producing an impressively assured Premier League debut at the heart of defence, Joel Matip earned plenty of plaudits for his performance.

ESPN’s Steven Kelly was among those impressed:

New signing Joel Matip, who made his Premier League debut, looks as safe as any central defender Liverpool have had in years, at first glance.

[…]

Easy to look secure against Burton Albion — not so easy against Spurs, but Matip passed his first proper test well. Strong when he needed to be and covered for his partner on occasions.

Liew felt Matip was man-of-the-match as a calming influence in a frenetic game:

In a high-energy, high-tempo game, it was the more measured presence of Joel Matip in the Liverpool defence that stood out. Strong in the air when he needed to be, not shy of stepping up to cut out the pass, and marked Vincent Janssen brilliantly.

Pearce also praised the Cameroonian’s display:

Defensively, this was a huge improvement with Matip starring on his Premier League debut alongside Dejan Lovren.

Matip’s physical presence is a welcome addition to Liverpool’s backline. He won his aerial battles and used the ball intelligently.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2016: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren in action against Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane during the FA Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Walsh felt there were promising signs over the makings of a good partnership between Matip and Dejan Lovren.

The duo look to have the makings of a fine partnership, and from a manager who believes so much in teamwork and synergy, his reshape is starting to make sense.

With the Premier League now pausing for an international disruption, some offered thoughts on Liverpool’s opening to the season.

Lawrence feels positives can be taken, despite Klopp’s frustration over a lack of points:

Despite the positives he can take from a complicated early season cluster of games all away from home, he made no bones about his disappointment that there were no more points on the board to show for it.

The Mirror’s John Cross believes this can be a good season for the Reds:

Klopp sets up his team to entertaining, they work hard and their movement causes problems for opposing defences.
Early results have been mixed, but this can be a good season for Liverpool.

Pearce felt confidence can be taken from Liverpool’s north London displays:

Context is provided by the fact that Liverpool have spent the opening weeks of the campaign on their travels as work is completed on Anfield’s new Main Stand.

They have also gone away to two of their major rivals for a top four spot and emerged unscathed having outplayed them both.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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