Klopp calls for top notch performance at Wembley against Tottenham
There will be a point before kick-off when Jurgen Klopp takes a leaf from Sir Alex Ferguson’s book and paraphrases one of his famous team talks.
But Klopp’s version of ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham’ will have not be laced with any kind of disparagement. Those three words will be emphasised to remind Liverpool’s squad of the perils that await at a stadium in which they were stripped bare last year.
This is only round five of 38 in the rumble for the Premier League yet it is one loaded with significance. Tottenham, with their speed and their style, have it within them to blow a hole in the optimism that is flooding around Liverpool and Klopp will be at pains to stress the message.
It was at Wembley 11 months ago, after all, that Liverpool were torn asunder; individual mistakes contributed to a 4-1 defeat but it was the complacency in the build-up that left most of a mark on Klopp and he will not tolerate any repeat.
‘Last year we made it too easy for them,’ said Klopp. ‘We lost the ball and they only had to play one pass behind our lines. It is Tottenham. It is a top team in Europe, not only in England. We should be much better organised this time.
‘If we do, we can get something. It is not that you go to Tottenham, have an average day and still get something. You get nothing for an average day at Tottenham. We need to be on our top level.’
He is aware of what will happen if they are not. It has been a case of so far, so smooth for Liverpool, with four straights wins and only one goal conceded, but they went to Wembley last October similarly buoyant after dismantling Maribor in the Champions League.
The defeat that followed was one of four away from home they suffered against their top-six rivals. Those five fixtures saw them ship 15 goals.
‘In a big stadium, with a big pitch, if we use it then it is good,’ said Klopp. ‘If we don’t use it, not so good. It will be interesting, very interesting.
‘It is not just thinking too much about how can we pass, how can we play? It must be a proper fight for both teams.
‘The Tottenham manager knows that as well. But Tottenham last year, it was a wake-up call that we cannot do it like this. After that we had pretty good results and I don’t think we conceded a lot of goals.
‘Yes, we learned, the experience was that one game can be completely different from another. But on the other side we still knew we had a good team. It was the moment where we could show that we are convinced about what we are doing, we just had to do it more often and in a better way.’
Klopp is right when he says Liverpool have moved on. The first thing he did after that game was show his side a video of the areas in which they had been lacking and the results since have been consistent. However, you still suspect this will be the toughest examination Klopp’s team have faced.
Tottenham were the most impressive team to visit Anfield last season and could justifiably have felt aggrieved at leaving with only a point. They have had some troubles of their own at the start of the season but Klopp has maximum respect for the threat Pochettino poses.
The intention, nonetheless, is for Liverpool to impose themselves on Tottenham and extend their winning sequence at the start of a run that sees them host Paris Saint-Germain and play Chelsea twice in 14 days.
‘Life as a Premier League manager is never perfect,’ said Klopp, who reacted with incredulity at Gary Neville’s suggestion that Liverpool should forget about Europe to concentrate on winning the Premier League. ‘He should come and tell me exactly how that would work,’ said Klopp.
‘We never have all of the players together, six or seven sessions to prepare for a game. From now on, we have one day to rest, one day to prepare and one day to play. That’s the challenge. It’s always a big ask.
‘They really have to remind themselves immediately what we actually do. We had quite a good session on Friday. We just need to be ready.’