Three things we learned from Klopp’s Liverpool debut vs. Tottenham

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LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool played out a 0-0 draw on Saturday at White Hart Lane, as the Jurgen Klopp era began with an entertaining stalemate.

[ RECAP – Spurs 0-0 Liverpool ]

Klopp’s side started brightly but faded as the first half wore on, and in truth a draw was a fair result as these two top four hopefuls squared off.

[ MORE: Klopp cool, praises attackers ]

Here are three things we learned from Klopp’s debut at the Lane.

XMAS TREE, KLOPP PASSION

Standing in front of dozens of photographers before the game, Klopp stood with his arms crossed and looked poignantly towards Liverpool’s fans holding up banners and flags with the German flag emblazoned across many. “Liverpool Uber Alles” read one. For breaks in play during the first half, Klopp often looked back over to the fans as he seemed to be trying to make sense of it all and cultivate his famed ability to connect the club he manages with its supporters. He punched the air in delight when corners were awarded to his team and was hugely positive in his approach towards his players with his Germanic gesticulations causing plenty of chuckles among fans and media members surrounding Liverpool’s bench.

The German applauded high-pressing down the right flank from his forwards early on and stood on the edge of his technical area in an eased, yet somewhat agitated state, throughout. When Divock Origi‘s early header came off the underside of the bar, he first winced but then applauded his team. Time and time again he let out a whistle, reminiscent of a kettle, when Liverpool lost the ball and waved his right hand in a circular motion to let his team know it was time to get back in defensive shape. That whistling and motion will become commonplace for Klopp. Yelping “Yaaaa, come on!” when Emre Can made a crunching tackle in the first half, Klopp’s passion was clear on the sidelines just in front of the press box. What was also clear was the formation he started with. Klopp favored a Christmas Tree (4-3-2-1) formation which allowed Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho to create just behind the willing runner of Origi. When Daniel Sturridge and Christian Benteke return from injury they could well force Klopp into playing two up front, but youngster Origi led the line well and the solidity the all-action display of Can and experience of Lucas and James Milner in the middle made sure the back four got plenty of protection. The narrow formation worked well and allowed both Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne to push forward from full back. It remains to be seen whether this festive formation will be Klopp’s first-choice moving forward, but in a case of horses for courses in his first game in charge, he got the balance between fast paced attacks and staying tight at the back spot on.

SPURS DISJOINTED

Mauricio Pochettino was almost as animated as Klopp on the sidelines, as the Argentine coach was not only infuriated with several refereeing decisions as Liverpool broke up his teams attacks, but also seemed agitated with the his teams lack of fluidity in attack.

Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Harry Kane drifted in and out of the game, and missing the destructive force of Eric Dier in the center of midfield, Spurs failed to get the ball to their danger men often enough. Kane and substitute Clinton N'Jie (who looked lively) both tested Simon Mignolet and on another day Spurs could have nicked this. Overall, a draw was a fair result and Spurs have now lost just once all season and that was on the opening day, 1-0 away at Manchester United in another narrow encounter. Pochettino’s side aren’t far from being a very, very good team but they are just lacking that extra bit of nous in the final third. With Kane’s poor run in front of goal continuing — it’s just one goal in nine outings so far this season in the PL — those games Tottenham were sneaking 1-0 and 2-1 wins in last season have all of sudden turned into a plethora of draws. Spurs have five draws from nine games this season, more than any other team.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool instructs his players during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on October 17, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Klopp instructs his players. 

FITNESS, TRANSITION KEY FOR LIVERPOOL SUCCESS

Without a preseason to whip his team into shape, it was always going to be a case of slow progress for Klopp in his first season in charge at Liverpool. Known, like Spurs boss Pochettino, for his high-pressing style of play and his intense training sessions, Klopp’s men came flying out of the traps early and looked fitter, sharper and stronger than Spurs. However, it was unlikely that high-tempo would remain throughout and past the half hour mark Spurs began to take control. Kane and N’Jie went close as Mignolet brilliantly denied them, and for the rest of the game it was an even encounter.

Liverpool’s players, at times, looked visibly tired and although they gave their all for Klopp on his debut, it is clear that fitness levels need to improve if they are going to live up to his lofty expectations. Stats following the game showed that Liverpool’s players covered more distance and made more sprints in this game than any other during the current season and also became the first team to outrun Spurs, who are renowned for their all-action displays. It was a decent start for the German coach, especially with key players out, but there is plenty of hard work to come on the training ground in the weeks and months ahead.

Everton season restart preview

Everton season restart preview
Photo by Everton FC via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Everton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Toffees when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Located six points back of the top seven, Everton will hope their long pause allowed Carlo Ancelotti’s system to sink deeper into the minds of his Toffees players. A three-match challenge of Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea which yielded a lone point would’ve left Everton feeling burnt and sour for a good, long time. Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s strong attacking seasons are ready for the rebound.

[ MORE: Ranking every Everton player in 2019-20 ]

The return to the training ground hasn’t come without worry; Yerry Mina suffered a quad tear and may be out for the season, while summer signing Jean-Philippe Gbamin has experienced another setback and won’t be able to pitch into the fight for Europe.


Tactical analysis: Whether it’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin alone up top or partnered with Richarlison, Ancelotti likes power in the final third. He’s deployed Gylfi Sigurdsson a bit further back at times, trusting that Fabian Delph or Tom Davies could handle the lion’s share of the dirty work. Everton’s full back pair is one of the best in the game, so much so that back-ups Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman would start an awful lot of places. The crosses will be whipped into the mix. The biggest questions remains in goal, as Jordan Pickford is an excellent shot-stopper who hasn’t been very good at that this season but can distribute at a very high level. That part of his game is why he’s still there, and could be a big part of the 2019-20’s conclusion.


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Pickford —–

— Sidibe— Keane — Holgate — Digne —

—– Gomes —– Delph —–

— Bernard — Sigurdsson —  Richarlison —

—– Calvert-Lewin —– 

There are still plenty of questions here, with Alex Iwobi, Tom Davies, Seamus Coleman, and Theo Walcott would love to get their places in this XI. Mina’s injury means Micheal Keane will need to find his form of last season or even the one before that (or the one before that).


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Remaining schedule
Home: Liverpool, Leicester City, Southampton, Aston Villa, Bournemouth
Away: Norwich City, Spurs, Wolves, Sheffield United

Predicted finish: Presuming a start versus Liverpool, Everton has a chance to make a major statement to anyone who’d fathom listening. There are 12 points of the remaining 27 that really should be in the bag and another three (Leicester at Goodison) that look solid. Leave the derby out of it and the remaining three away tilts (Spurs, Wolves, Blades) are European six-pointers. Everton has one of the more interesting stories to tell when the PL resumes.

Premier League social media wrap: Antonio, Pereira urge unity

Premier League social media
Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images
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The Premier League’s social media world was again focused on activism on Wednesday.

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West Ham forward Michail Antonio’s mind is understandably still on the racial issues which have gripped the world in a particularly strong way the past nine days.

A day after all 20 Premier League clubs and a large number of players and coaches spoke out against racism, Antonio wants to make sure that people don’t think one day of speaking up is enough to change a historical struggle.

He’ll appreciate another statement from Leicester City’s squad.

The Foxes gather center circle to take a knee, with Ricardo Pereira saying “humanity coms first” and echoing Weston McKennie’s “Enough is enough” video.

A huge number of Premier League players have donated shirts for a raffle to raise funds for the National Health Services’ charities as part of their #PlayersTogether campaign.

It’s a challenge to find more Premier League stars that have not posted about #ShirtsForHeroes than those that have, so we’ll choose should-be PFA Player of the Year midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.

It must’ve been chilly in Manchester.

Odion Ighalo is clearly happy to be back with United through January after it looked like the Nigerian striker was going back to Shanghai Shenhua.

But, man, both Ighalo and Luke Shaw in the wool hats/toques/skullies/whatever you want to call them.

Christian Benteke was none-too-pleased with the hassle he got from teammate Jordan Ayew at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

The Belgian striker’s words were in jest, no doubt, after Palace gave him photos of the club’s leading scorer taking advantage of being allowed full contact in practice.

Benteke hasn’t been scoring and will always be judged by his price tag(s), but he’s been better this season as a hold-up man and pest up top. Let’s see if he can lead the Eagles onto something special.

Eintracht nears safety with second-half surge past Bremen

Werder Bremen v. Eintracht Frankfurt recap
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Andre Silva and Stefan Ilsanker sent Eintracht Frankfurt to Bundesliga safety and sent Werder Bremen crashing to a new reality in a 3-0 at the Weserstadion on Wednesday.

Eintracht’s 35 points put it eight points clear of the bottom three with five matches to play, while Bremen’s three-match unbeaten run ends with it standing three points back of 15th-place Mainz.

Silva has scored 12 goals on loan from AC Milan, eight coming in the Bundesliga and four in the five matches since the league returned from the coronavirus pause.

For Ilsanker, his goals mark his first ever in the Bundesliga over 87 appearances, and first in any competition since scoring for RB Leipzig in the 2015-16 2.Bundesliga season.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

The first half was very cagey, with little to report aside from a penalty denied Bremen, who again looked nothing like the side that’s been in the relegation places for so much of the season.

Eintracht thought it’d gone ahead with a Dominik Kohr goal before the hour mark, but either a slight offside or handball by the passer counted against his hopes.

The visitors scored as the clock struck 60:00. Makato Hasebe starts the play and Filip Kostic crossed for Silva to head inside the near post.

Bremen boss Florian Kohfeldt responded by putting USMNT striker Josh Sargent in for Davie Selke.

Davy Klaassen wasted a 78th minute counter attack as Bremen showed some desperation and Leonardo Bittencourt hit a wayward attempt a minute later.

Ilsanker made it 2-0 within moments of subbing into the match, a Bas Dost-redirected corner kick landing in his path for a close-range finish. Fellow sub Jonathan de Guzman then spun a free kick around the fray for an emphatic Ilsanker header.

Americans Abroad: Sargent’s half-hour was non-descript. Dost flicked the corner kick before Sargent could head clear. He was eight-of-eight passing on 11 touches and completed his lone long ball. Sargent won 2-of-3 duels and drew a foul. Judging by what we saw from Davie Selke, Sargent could get another turn in the Starting XI versus Wolfsburg.

Timmy Chandler was an unused sub for Eintracht, a little over a week after playing super sub with a match-winning goal.

Crystal Palace season restart preview

Crystal Palace season restart preview
Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Crystal Palace is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Eagles when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Palace has navigated injuries and a disappointing season from superstar Wilfried Zaha to sit within striking distance, or at least hoping distance, of a place in the Europa League. The journey won’t be easy, with six of nine matches coming against top five hopefuls, but Roy Hodgson’s done a good job at Selhurst Park despite limited contributions from the center forward position.

[ MORE: Ranking every Palace player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: The club can line up in what looks to be either a 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3 depending on what Roy Hodgson is asking of his Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew, and/or Andros Townsend. Zaha hasn’t lived up to his standards this season but remains the club’s best threat, with Ayew enjoying his most productive season since leaving Ligue 1 in 2015 (or Swansea two seasons ago if you’re being generous).

A lot of of what Palace has done well this year revolves around center midfielder James McArthur and the two men who join him (some combination of Cheikhou Kouyate, Luka Milivojevic and James McCarthy).


Possible XI (4-1-4-1) 

—– Guaita —–

— Ward — Dann — Cahill — Van Aanholt —

—– McCarthy —–

— Ayew — McArthur — Kouyate — Zaha—

—– Benteke—–

McCarthy had played quite well in the three-match streak leading into the pause, and was much, much better in 2020 than he’d been while struggling for starts in the first half of the season. Gary Cahill and Scott Dann have been steady if unspectacular in front of Vincente Guaita, while Van Aanholt’s best days are still elite, if fewer and farther between. Pretty solid side and good work from Hodgson with plenty of injuries to handle over the first 29 matches.


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Remaining schedule
Home: Burnley, Chelsea, Manchester United, Spurs
Away: Bournemouth, Liverpool, Leicester City, Aston Villa, Wolves

Predicted finish: The only thing certain is that Palace would have to fall all over itself to finish anywhere near the bottom three, even given a tricky schedule. Really, it depends upon the intensity of the competitors, because Palace is safe from relegation barring something traumatic but needs a number of signature wins to be involved in the top seven fight. And how will the Eagles react if Arsenal and Sheffield United get points from their June 17 matches-in-hand and the Europa League looks more and more an unlikely dream? Tenth seems the place, but anything can happen when eighth may be a Europa League place.