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.

Watch Live: Sheffield United v. Crystal Palace

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Sheffield United host Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane on Sunrday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Blades fans will enjoy their first home game back in the Premier League.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Chris Wilder, the lifelong United fan who is now their manager, will be emotional and fans of the Yorkshire club will create a heated atmosphere for opponents to visit this season.

In team news Sheffield United are unchanged from the team which drew at Bournemouth last week, with club captain Billy Sharp on the bench.

Crystal Palace bring in star man Wilfried Zaha who starts up top


LINEUPS

Zidane says Bale will stay at Real Madrid

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Gareth Bale is staying at Real Madrid.

The Welshman was not wanted by manager Zinedine Zidane, who stated that publicly on many occasions over the summer.

But Bale started and grabbed an assist as 10-man Real beat Celta Vigo 3-1 in their La Liga opener on Saturday and it seems like Zidane is ready to brush all of this Bale talk under the carpet.

“He’s going to stay and we all have to think of that as a positive thing,” Zidane said. “The injury to Eden Hazard was bad luck for us but it didn’t change the plans we had for Bale in this game. Gareth and everyone else here is going to show this shirt the respect it deserves.”

After his move to China broke down at the last minute amid conflicting reports blaming Bale and the club for the collapse of the deal, his future at Real has seemed pretty much dead in the water.

Adding in a serious injury to Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard picking up a knock, and all of a sudden Bale is needed again. But for how long?

He was linked with a loan move to Bayern Munich but Philippe Coutinho moved to Bavaria instead, and Bale wasn’t chased by Premier League clubs during the summer due to his huge wage demands. With the transfer window across many European countries closing at the end of this month, he has run out of options to leave a club where the hierarchy and fans don’t want him.

Bale, 30, is now stuck at Real and he has another three years left on his contract. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the man who has won four Champions League trophies at Real, yet has become the main villain at the Santiago Bernabeu as fans lambast him for playing golf and not learning to speak Spanish fluently during his six years in Spain.

Ibrahimovic scores twice, 10-man Galaxy ties Sounders 2-2

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Carson, Calif. (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in each half and the LA Galaxy tied the Seattle Sounders 2-2 on Saturday night despite playing nearly the entire match down a man.

The Galaxy’s Daniel Steres was sent off in the sixth minute for the denial of obvious goal opportunity.

Ibrahimovic tied it at 1 for the Galaxy (13-11-2) with a header in the 45th minute. In the 65th minute, he was taken down by Kim Kee-hee while going for a header in the area and converted the penalty, making it 2-1 with his 20th goal of the season.

LA defender Jorgen Skjelvik scored an own goal in the 82nd minute when he inadvertently deflected goalkeeper David Bingham’s attempted clearance into the Galaxy net.

Raul Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 42nd minute for the Sounders (11-8-7). Harry Shipp hustled to round up a loose ball and fed it to an open Ruidiaz, who slotted it home.

MLS Wrap: What we learned

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Three unanswered goals from FC Dallas to earn a draw, a late Jozy Altidore goal and Chicago cruises past Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union: Saturday’s early slate of games had it all. Here’s what we learned from the busy action.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Montreal, Dallas split points in six-goal thriller

The Montreal Impact, up 3-0 in the 56th minute, probably thought they had the game in the bag. Dallas said, ‘not so fast.’

With three unanswered goals – one of those in stoppage time – Dallas did the unthinkable, stunning the Impact and flying back home with a point that tastes like three.

Dallas, like practically everyone else in the West this season, is dreaming of cracking into the final seven. Whether that happens or not is yet to be seen. What was palpable on Saturday, however, is that Dallas played with a lot of determination on the road and with all the odds against them.


Chicago gets by Philadelphia with ease

The Philadelphia Union are good but not good enough to beat the Chicago Fire, apparently.

It could have been the league’s well-known parity, or the fact that the Union were on the road, but the Fire were able to squeeze out the three points, winning 2-0 with 10 men. Nicolas Gaitan earned a straight red right before halftime.

The Union, a proven side time and time again this season, alternatively, have questions to answer and a set of defects that were unearth Saturday (including finishing) to polish up on. But as they shown several times this season after suffering loses, they’ll bounce back under Jim Curtin.

The Fire (33 points) sit one point behind Montreal, Toronto and Orlando, while Philadelphia (45 points) remain clear leaders in the Eastern Conference.


 

NYCFC too much for Cincinnati 

NYCFC had quite the showing.

With Valentin Castellanos and Heber recording a brace each, Allan Cruz’s goal stood no chance. City, who are now third in the Eastern Conference with 41 points (one behind Atlanta), are clearly in midseason form, while FC Cincinnati is yet to win under Ron Jans.

With a defense that has allowed 61 goals – like the one above – Jans’ rest of the season is looking bleaker than brighter. But then again, it’s with a team he purely adopted. It worth noting that New York’s attack has produced eight goals in the last three games, so maybe that was the determining factor.

 

 


 

Altidore earns last-minute draw for Toronto

Like in many other instances, it was Altidore to the rescue for Toronto FC.

Its goal No. 10 for the 29-year-old goal, making it his fourth season with double digit goals. Jonathan Osorio, too, pitched in a goal in the 42nd minute. 26 games in, this is exactly when Greg Vanney needs his big-time players to step up.

The Columbus Crew, in contrast, can’t catch a break. Once again the superior team, a lack of finishing and defensive concentration make it three-straight draws for the Caleb Porter’s men. With seven games to go and seven points out of playoff contention, even a late run might not be enough for a postseason regular.