By Dave Davis- @DaveD0106
‘We all knew after the World Cup, especially when England went so far in the tournament they had no rest. You go through the line up of Tottenham and realise they can replace even Dele Alli, Lloris’- Jurgen Klopp
Despite Jurgen Klopps pre-match comments, Liverpool dominated a lacklustre Spurs side in a game where the 2-1 score line flattered the hosts. The effects of this summer appear to be shining through for the Reds so far and whilst it’s been a case of positives so far, there’s far more hurdles to come.
Contrasting this, Spurs’ exploits in the World Cup have left them looking worse for wear- with Pochettino’s men already suffering defeat twice in the Premier League courtesy of both Liverpool and Watford. Inter Milan also overcame the Lilywhites in the Champions League by a score of 2-1.
Tottenham had nine players performing in the semi-finals of the World Cup, mostly from their first team, whereas Liverpool had only four- Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet. Only Trent is a regular starter for the Reds, and he received a minimal amount of game time in Russia.
Liverpool’s start has caught the eye of many, with certain pundits effusive in their praise.
‘You go back to Barcelona at their very best, you enjoyed their passing and moving football with their magicians like Messi and Iniesta – but it was easy to overlook their work rate. ‘It’s the same with this Liverpool team. If they can keep this intensity going, whoever finishes in front of them this season will win the league’- Graeme Souness
Whilst it’s great to hear Graeme Souness and others praising aspects of our game, comparisons to Barcelona aren’t what Jurgen Klopp will want to be hearing.
Whilst it’s not right to talk about rivals in depth, Liverpool’s summer transfer success needs to be understood in the context of their opponents. No-one spent more than Klopp and all his major targets were landed. Whilst the likes of Fabinho and Shaqiri are yet to make an impact, their presence alone gives Liverpool depth they’ve been lacking for so long.
Place that in context of their rivals where many missed out on their top targets, failed with alternatives or in Spurs’ case added no-one and it had to be labelled a success.
The World Cup has rightly been a focus for many players and the impact on the Reds squad cannot be ignored. Virgil van Dijk, James Milner, Andy Robertson, Joe Gomez and Gini Wijnaldum all had the summer off, before enjoying a full pre-season campaign.
All five have been crucial for the Jurgen Klopp so far as the reliance we had on the front three last season appears to be eroding. Of the trio, only Firmino made the knockout stages, although little seems to effect the Brazilian’s incredible energy levels. Klopp has made it clear that Henderson isn’t at the level of his team-mates as it stands, hence the reduced minutes to date.
Liverpool’s convincing 3-2 win over PSG in the Champions League has only fuelled domestic expectations this season, with the Reds aware that they possess the ability to beat the worlds best. Whilst the Spurs’ win was a barometer of where Liverpool are in terms of development, the PSG win is a sign of where this side can reach in future.
The title can’t be won in September, but history clearly tells us that the race takes it shape by then and only so many points can be recovered. Rewind to last season and after a 4-1 hammering at Wembley, not even the most optimistic red believed we were serious contenders.
It’ll be interesting to see the impact a summer AFCON has on Salah, Mane and Keita next summer but Liverpool have certainly looked fresher than many of their rivals. Liverpool’s summer has given them a great platform towards a big period. That’s all it is at this stage though.