Heavy metal football.
That’s what Jurgen Klopp pledged to bring to Liverpool when he walked through those famous Anfield gates nearly three years ago.
All hustle and bustle, all killer no filler.
The problem was this hell for leather approach to proceedings left them equally as exposed at the back as they were bristling going forward.
So a meeting with Spurs on Saturday is particularly poignant for Klopp’s side.
In the corresponding fixture last season the Reds left Wembley battered and bruised with their tails between their legs after a humbling 4-1 defeat.
Dejan Lovren turned in a 30-minute cameo so diabolical he was shipped before half time – for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It left Liverpool with the worst away defensive record in the Premier League at the time after previously conceding three at Watford, five at Man City and two at Leicester.
Klopp described the Spurs defeat as a ‘wake up call’ and said the first goal – Lovren inexplicably allowed Kane to score – ‘would not happen if I am on the pitch, in my trainers.’
Something needed to change – and indeed it did.
Like a switch was flicked, Liverpool conceded just four goals in their next nine league games without any extensive overhaul to the lineup.
Lovren had some time out of the side but it wasn’t long before the Croat was reintegrated after his Wembley horror show.
He was even part of a back three containing midfielders Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum who spanked Brighton 5-1 in early December.
Virgil van Dijk’s impact at Anfield cannot be understated, but the crucial point is this impressive defensive run occurred before the big Dutchman arrived from Southampton.
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In fact after the loss at Wembley, combined with Van Dijk’s immediate influence, no side conceded fewer Premier League goals in the remainder of the season.
Very un-Klopp like indeed.
A platform was found for Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to run riot whilst ensuring their magnificent work wasn’t being undone at the back anymore.
After keeping the most clean sheets on their thrilling run to the Champions League final, the Merseysiders have taken their new-found defensive stoicism to new levels this season.
Alisson’s blunder at Leicester last time out was the first goal they’ve conceded all campaign, with the Brazilian, Van Dijk and Joe Gomez striking up an instant understanding.
So now to Spurs and an acid test for Klopp’s side.
Almost a year since the darkest hour in the German’s tenure, can his table toppers maintain their brilliance since or will it be a recurring nightmare?
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