Venue: White Hart Lane
Kick-off: Saturday, August 27th, 12:30pm.
FPL banker: Sadio Mané
Here comes yet another Premier League game-week, posing a whole host of uncomfortable questions for the wizened old (mostly, middle-aged) men of men to answer. Jürgen Klopp is no different. Some could argue that he’s still in the frame of time, they call ‘the honeymoon period’ in football, where the manager is afforded a bedding-in period, and given the reprieve from collective censure. There is a looming sense of certainty in and around Anfield that, that period is nearing an end.
Fans have reared their ugly heads in social media, comment sections, Reddit and the likes, and expressed mild to severe concern about the glaring, obvious shortcomings in the squad, which the otherwise jolly German refuses to acknowledge with the same degree of immediacy as the knee-jerk reactions. However, that being said, there are 3 burning questions, credible ones, that boss-man Klopp needs to address ahead of their crucial fixture at Tottenham that could set the tone for the coming weeks.
(What is interesting is that, Jürgen Klopp has always been a bit of a slow starter – in their last Bundesliga-winning campaign under Herr Jürgen, Dortmund lost 3 times in their opening 6 fixtures. Hertha Berlin, Hannover, and Hoffenheim were the lucky ones, while Dortmund remained unbeaten and blew the competition out of water for the remainder of the campaign since the middle of September. What that tells us, is that the players take a bit getting used to, to up their physical levels to adjust to the rigours of Klopp’s geggenpressing.)
Question #1 Will Klopp Release The Kraken?
Erik Lamela, Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli. *uck. That’s just downright frightening, innit? Those players, would on any given day, gobble up Liverpool’s soft, caramel-filled centre, like a chubby boy named Dudley, downing the entirety of his birthday cake and guzzling fruit punch, unapologetically, without the polite consideration for the guests around him. The travelling Kop may experience the same revolting feeling, if Klopp chooses to employ Jordan Henderson in his unfamiliar, defensive midfield role, and pair him up with a ponderous Adam Lallana, and disapparating Genie Wijnaldum. The bustling Tottenham midfielders will eat into the space on offer, and make this embarrassing for the visitors.
However, a 6’4” worth Marko Grujic could and undoubtedly should, have a say in the matter. Will Klopp finally lower the gates?
Question #2 Ragnar Klavan for Left-back and President?
The Estonian skipper, and Anfield new boy, Ragnar Klavan, has had an understated start of his Liverpool career. His virtues, though, haven’t gone unnoticed. Always on the quiet prowl, Klavan’s front-foot play – stepping out of defence, and seamlessly snuffing out attacking opportunities, with a block, a controlled tackle, or playing the ball out after another successful interception – have stood out perhaps more than it should have, considering the sheer number of alarm and the mental klaxons that go off in Liverpool’s defensive third when the ball manages to find its way there. Such calm has been out of place.
With the returning Joel Matip, who looks likely to start in the middle with Dejan ‘the ticking time bomb’ Lovren, Klopp may be well advised to play Klavan at left-back – a position that comes naturally to him from his days at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. James Milner as a left-back is only really good against teams like Burton Albion; while Alberto Moreno may have a bulls-eye on his back if he’s given the start.
Question #3 Bob or Phil?
Considering Sadio Mané is a cert for the starting berth out wide – Klopp finds himself in an unfamiliar territory, where to maintain the balance of his side, he’d need to bench one of Coutinho or Firmino, essentially, one of his best players. Adam Lallana seems to have consolidated himself as someone who will start on Liverpool’s away days, owing to his industry, and will find a place beside Jordan Henderson and Marko Grujic (we hope.) While, a back-amongst-goals Daniel Sturridge, will look to find his rhythm. That leaves just one spot for Klopp to fill, but with two potential starters.
If Klopp anticipates it to be a tight game, then Firmino’s movement and guile without the ball, would be the way to go. However, with Coutinho’s propensity to turn on the magic with a drop of a hat (if fit for the game), and being one of the big-game game-changers in the Liverpool squad, it will be a tough, tough call to make for the effusive German.