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How has Jurgen settled in at Anfield?

February 09, 2016

- Grant Whittington

Making Premier League predictions can be difficult at the best of times, but it is even in a season when all 20 EPL sides appear to be more evenly matched than ever before. You need only look at Liverpool’s results since the fabled Jurgen Klopp has taken over to understand this, with the German having enjoyed wildly fluctuating results including a stunning 4-1 win at Manchester City and a thoroughly humiliating 3-0 defeat at Watford.

The wild variation of these results makes it hard to appraise Klopp’s tenure so far, despite the fact that his side are poised to make the showpiece game of the League Cup with a narrow advantage over Stoke in the two-legged semi-final. The fairest summary is that Klopp has much to learn about the Premier League and his players, as he looks to launch a late charge towards the Champions’ League places.

After last weekend’s frustrating 1-0 loss at home against Northern rivals Manchester United, Liverpool have slumped to ninth place in the league and a staggering 13 points off the top. They are also 6 points behind Manchester United in fifth, which quite a gap when you consider the close and competitive nature of the league. With seven defeats and just eight wins from their 22 game so far, the Reds have certainly failed to deliver in the short-term on the initial promise of Klopp’s arrival.

Looking back to his debut in October, Klopp seemed to impose himself and his philosophy almost instantly in a pulsating 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane. The Reds’ energetic pressing game was too much for Spurs, who were lucky to escape with a point on the day. Klopp quickly followed this with an impressive 3-1 win at Champions Chelsea and a 4-1 thrashing of Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, while Southampton were also dispatched 6-1 during a League Cup quarter-final in November.

The win at City was particularly eye-catching, as Liverpool’s deployment of a false number nine and a relentless pressing game stunned the Citizens and left them 3-0 down after 30 minutes. Former Reds defender Jamie Carragher described it as one of the best away performances from the EPL era, especially at the home of a leading club.

The common theme that runs throughout Klopp’s best performances is that they games were all away from home, as while the Germans’ style work exceptionally well when exploiting the space in-behind an opposing defensive unit it is less effective against deeper, well-drilled opposition. Klopp is also learning that pace of the EPL makes it difficult to play such a relentless pressing game, so he may he need to adapt his style over time (particularly when playing at Anfield).

There’s no doubt about it though, Klopp needs time. His squad isn’t in the greatest shape and when it comes to strikers there’s a lot to be desired until they get a fit Sturridge and a Benteke that can actually score a goal. Next season is when he should be counted.

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