Jürgen Klopp does not want to give up the Liverpool principles despite a tough Arsenal test

Jurgen Klopp brings up his seventh anniversary at Anfield this weekend. It may not be a happy one. Liverpool have had their worst start to a season of his tenure and things could get worse with Arsenal and Manchester City at stake. He admits opponents have figured out Liverpool: but not in recent months. Actually years ago.

Perhaps it was before Liverpool won the 2019 Champions League or won 26 of their first 27 games when they secured 99 points in the following season’s Premier League. Certainly before they threatened an unprecedented quadruple win last season. Knowing what Liverpool are doing, Klopp argues, is not the same as being able to stop them.

“Teams have worked out how to play us when we’re not at our best,” he readily admitted. “Other teams have spent years figuring out how to play us, but it still hasn’t worked out for them because we were exceptional at the things we did.”

It’s optimistic, a belief in the blueprint that hasn’t been marred by the lows of the last few games. However, there’s also a sense that Kloppball was never a safety-centric approach. In a game of risk and reward, Liverpool were rewarded for their bravery. Their consistency was exceptional considering what gambling entailed. This year, especially away at Napoli and in the first 20 minutes against Brighton, the system collapsed and they looked chaotic. “Suddenly a well-established team no longer worked together,” said Klopp. None of this bodes well for a meeting with an Arsenal side who have the fluency and cohesion Liverpool have shown in the past.

All of that was always the danger. “In our best games, I was able to show you where we could have had problems: here, here, here,” Klopp explained. “But we didn’t do it because we put so much pressure on the opposition that they couldn’t find those rooms, that’s the risk you’re taking. In those moments when you’re not playing on your top [level]those gaps are still there and they play through the pass and it looks like they know how to play against us.”

In the process, Trent Alexander-Arnold became the scapegoat for the entire world, seemingly out of place when he was caught in the field. “The way we defended, you have to be brave,” explained Klopp. “We jump to the other team’s full-backs with our full-backs and it was great when we win the ball and put pressure on them. But if we’re not in the right moment, they just go past our full-back and they’re not in their position in the back line and you’re all saying, ‘You can’t defend like that.’ Oh yes you can: we did it for 200 games.” In that way, high pressing with a high defensive line and often 4-3-3 is imperfect, but always its way. “In every system we play, there was always clear that there is no system in the world without weaknesses: five behind, four, three, nobody,” he added, although defending no-one might be too much of a risk for him. “It’s all about how we perform.”

Even when he changed the formation to a 4-2-3-1, which he described as a 4-4-2, against Rangers midweek, he felt unrepentant and unchanging. Seven years later, Klopp is sticking to the same formula. At his unveiling, he stated he wanted to make Liverpool the hardest team in the world to beat; at times in his reign they were.

Not this season, even if the record of two defeats is actually respectable. The problems felt deeper though. Klopp’s response this week when told his team had been criticized was an interjection: “Rightly so.” Now it’s about becoming awkward opponents. “We have to defend the shit of everyone we face,” he said. With every game leading to different conclusions, Klopp doesn’t get carried away by temporary signs of improvement.

“We need consistency, and for consistency we have to defend everyone’s trash, and that’s what we have to do,” he said. “I’m not interested in this short-term diagnosis: ‘That was good, that was bad.’ We have to be good until we’re outstanding.”

What he thinks is Arsenal. Liverpool met Arsenal four times last season, never conceded a goal and scored eight goals. Now his team can go to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday as outsiders. Klopp is an Arsenal admirer. He was an early Gabriel Martinelli fan – “I loved him and he became the player I expected him to be,” he said – and tried to recruit Martin Odegaard when he was 15 just for the in-demand Norwegian Real Madrid. Now everyone sees their potential.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Jesus’ penchant for pressing made him a Klopp-style player, although he argued City would not have sold him to Liverpool while they could let him go to London. “The distance was geographically large enough,” he said. The gap between Liverpool and Arsenal last season was 23 points; now it’s 11 and Liverpool are following. Right now, if there’s one team the opponents haven’t worked out against, it’s the Gunners.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/liverpool-arsenal-preview-klopp-b2198045.html Jürgen Klopp does not want to give up the Liverpool principles despite a tough Arsenal test

Fry Electronics Team

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