Jürgen Klopp overcomes an injury crisis to start life in the Liverpool hotseat with a commendable point at Tottenham Hotspur…
New Kop boss Jürgen Klopp had an already difficult inaugural team selection complicated further by the unexpected absence of Daniel Sturridge.
The injury-plagued England striker picked up a knee problem in training on Friday to take the total number of first team players missing to nine.
Devoid of any other senior forwards, with Christian Benteke and Danny Ings already out, the German had little option but to hand Divock Origi a first Premier League start.
Unsurprisingly, with the players clearly eager to impress their new manager, there was a good intensity about Liverpool’s play early on as they pressed vigorously in the middle of the park via a flexible 4-3-2-1 formation.
After a trio of early corners, an Origi header from close-range hit the underside of the crossbar as the visitors initially threatened to overwhelm Tottenham.
The hosts also had some notable absentees heading into the contest and they were inconvenienced further when Nacer Chadli limped off inside the opening 15 minutes.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who were increasingly getting joy down the flanks, began to wrestle control of the contest away as the half hour mark approached.
Liverpool were soon indebted to a fine diving stop from Simon Mignolet; the goalkeeper repelling an angled drive from substitute Clinton N’Jie.
The Belgium international was needed again in the 36th minute to deny Harry Kane before Mamadou Sakho did well to block Dele Alli’s follow-up.
For all their continued industry, creative conduits Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana were now struggling to get hold of the ball in advanced areas, leaving Origi somewhat isolated.
N’Jie, who had been heavily involved, if a little erratic, since his introduction, again went close to opening the scoring as the half drew to a close with a dipping strike from distance.
Both sides struggled for fluency during a scrappy start to the second half and any efforts at goal were largely speculative in nature and from distance.
Liverpool enjoyed a decent period of possession around the hour mark but their early spark had vanished and no opportunities of note were created.
Adam Lallana had a muted penalty appeal ignored in the 68th minute but still neither side looked likely to break the deadlock.
Kyle Walker, who had looked destined to become the latest play to succumb to an injury moments earlier, fired over wildly, while, at the other end, Hugo Lloris got down well to stop a low Origi shot following a quick counter-attack.
With few attacking options to call upon, Klopp looked to freshen things up in the midfield by sending on Joe Allen, who badly needs a haircut, for Lallana.
Good work from Christian Eriksen created an opening for Kane inside the final 10 minutes but Mignolet did well to palm the shot away despite a slight deflection off Sakho.
Wingers Andros Townsend and Jordan Ibe were introduced late on but, other than an Emre Can effort from the edge of the area, neither side came close to finding an illusive winner.
A bit of a low key opening to life under Klopp in terms of the on-field action but there is no doubt the point is a positive one. Although it’s early days, the improved tenacity and intensity on show was a welcome sight and Klopp’s record and general outlook on the game suggest that they are more than just a temporary byproduct of the players looking to impress the new man. Given the lack of time he’s been able to spend on the training ground and the lengthy absentee list, it would have been folly to expect anything more from this match. Better should hopefully follow in the coming weeks and months as the ex-Borussia Dortmund coach begins to truly stamp his mark on proceedings.
Lucas Leiva – The Brazilian personified the intensity and work-rate required in a Klopp team. Instantly closed down anything in white but also remained neat and tidy when in possession. Simon Mignolet and Mamadou Sakho also performed very well.
Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel. Sakho, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Milner (c), Lallana (Allen 81′), Coutinho (Ibe 87′), Origu.
Unused subs: Bogdan, Toure, Randall, Teixeira, Sinclair.
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