Jurgen Klopp didn’t record his first win at White Hart Lane on Saturday, nor was he able to celebrate the first goal of his Liverpool tenure. He did however, witness a telling achievement against Tottenham in his Reds debut.
In a 0-0 draw with Mauricio Pochettino’s side that ebbed and flowed like a Rugby World Cup quarter-final, only without the scoring, Klopp’s side became the first team to outrun the Lilywhites this term.
Although he has only worked in the country a week, Klopp’s appointment at Anfield has ensured that even the most casual football fan knows the full meaning of gegenpressing. Liverpool’s first dalliance with the strategy was effective enough to fix itself within the club’s DNA for the foreseeable future.
The opening half an hour belonged to the visitors, who tore around the north London field to close their opponents down and win the ball back high up the pitch.
It was their new manager’s insistence that they harangue Spurs in the final third that contributed to Liverpool outrunning the Premier League’s fittest side. Never before this season had the Reds players covered this much distance or executed this many sprints. Of course, it could never last.
Eventually, the fact the German has only managed three training sessions with his new charges won the day. Liverpool tired and, as Michael Cox noted in the Guardian, their attacking stars became too weary from all the frantic off-ball work to be truly effective on it.
Nonetheless, this was the club’s first clean sheet since August, a far more pleasing outcome for a previously wobbly club. Scoring goals will come far easier once their fitness levels reach gegenpressing peaks.
Next on Klopp’s agenda comes the Europa League, where the visit of Rubin Kazan on Thursday provides him his first home game.
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