Spurs Remain Strong in The Midst of Klopp-Mania
**An article published earlier in the week for Yahoo! Sports.**
The giggly, love-struck eyes of Soccerland were fixed on White Hart Lane this weekend, for the much anticipated presentation of Jürgen Klopp’s beard as the new Liverpool manager. Between the three-hour televisual circus before kick-off and the high-definition KloppCam positioned in the bottom corner of the screen during BT’s live broadcast, the agreement was unanimous: it’s a very fine beard indeed.
It was a shame, and somewhat of an inevitability, then, that the game itself didn’t quite live up to the enthusiastic pre-coverage of Klopp’s arrival. A contest plump with bright-eyed endeavour from both sides- a wild start is better than a boring start, as Klopp himself declared- but one which rather waned in creative spark as the minutes rolled on. Both sides, perhaps, concluding that a hard-fought stalemate would be a perfectly good result to be going on with.
For Spurs, who have a short history of getting pummelled in this fixture, the additional Klopp-factor meant that anything could’ve been expected of this Liverpool rebirth. There’s nothing more unpredictable than a group of players desperate to ignite the soul of their new manager. From this side of the fence, it’s a point gained.
Unlike Dion Dublin, who hasn’t got time for that sort of nonsense, Liverpool already look remarkably receptive to Klopp’s gegenpressing system. Quite an achievement considering the time in which he’s had to transmit his ideas could be measured in hours rather than days.
They came out of the traps like a swarm of fire ants. Chasing every cause, either lost or worthy, and generally making themselves a nuisance to each of their opposite number in possession.
There’s not many more patronising tributes you could bestow on them, but in the opening half, Liverpool pressed like a Spurs team. Indeed, the stat du jour currently doing the rounds is that the Merseyside club were the first team to outrun Tottenham this season.
Of course, there’s a debate whether these running figures could be misleading in the wrong context. Would you herald a player who spent an entire game sprinting pointlessly around the circumference of the pitch? Sure, he’s not touched the ball once and his heatmap looks like the flag of The Maldives: but he’s outrun everyone, Geoff!
As the game wore on, however, and Liverpool players’ lungs and legs began to wheeze and creak, their level perhaps understandably sloped off and Spurs might feel this is when the game could’ve been settled.
Apart from an early Divock Origi header which clunked the underside of the cross bar- inducing a highly GIFable touchline shuffle from Klopp- Tottenham fashioned the best chances. Harry Kane was presented with two openings which last season’s incarnation of Harry Kane would’ve dispatched quicker than you can say I’ll Just Keep Plugging Away and the Goals Will Come.
The upside for Kane is that he continues to make the goalkeeper work; he’s not firing them out of the stadium like a woefully calibrated trebuchet, he’s hitting the target. You’ve got to assume that something will click sooner or later.
Mousa Dembélé was Spurs’ stand-out performer, an opinion soundtracked by the bleeping noise of a vehicle reversing, in light of the ’What’s The Deal With Mousa Dembélé’ article someone might’ve published last week. Glad to hear that person was able to motivate him so directly.
In all seriousness, this is the Dembélé we’re all desperate to see. Intelligent, physically commanding, elegant and unshakable in possession. It’s what makes it so infuriating when, more often than not, he plays like he’d rather be teaching a yoga class.