Klopp lifts spirits but yet to revive Liverpool fortunes
As Liverpool prepare to face Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, a glance at the table might suggest that not much has changed at Anfield in nearly six months since Juergen Klopp took charge of his first Premier League game against the north London club.
Before Klopp’s arrival in October, Liverpool, under the increasingly forlorn stewardship of Brendan Rodgers, were 10th in the table averaging 1.5 points a game.
Fast forward and the Liverpool fans are still enthused by the near-boundless optimism of their German coach, but results have stubbornly remained mixed.
If you created a Premier League table for the 22 games since Klopp made his bow at White Hart Lane on Oct. 17, then Liverpool would be ninth, averaging 1.5 points a match.
As the German pointed out on his arrival, he has no magic wand to revive Liverpool’s flagging fortunes and so it has proved.
Their home form is just as inconsistent as it always was — they still have not recorded back-to-back league wins at Anfield this season — while an error-prone defence that dogged Rodgers’s time in charge, remains an issue.
Liverpool have kept just two clean sheets in their last 10 league matches dating back to the beginning of 2016 and one of those came against rock-bottom Aston Villa.
Their home form in general remains a problem as they have taken just 20 points from 13 league matches at Anfield, which ranks 12th in the top flight.
Liverpool fans may point to facets that are more inscrutable to statisticians, such as playing style and attitude, but ultimately it seems the optimism at Anfield stems solely from the coach and his potential to get the most out of his players.
Certain individuals such as playmaker Adam Lallana and centre back Dejan Lovren, who had both become symbols of a supposedly failed transfer policy under Rodgers, seem to have been revived.
Perhaps more than any other player, Lallana has shone under Klopp and was handed the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for March on Friday, an award his manager said was richly deserved.
“I’m really, really happy that a few more people recognise what a great player he is,” Klopp told reporters on Friday as he previewed the game against Tottenham.
When the two sides played out a 0-0 draw in October, Tottenham were one point ahead of Liverpool in the table, but are now battling for the title and hoping to reel in leaders Leicester City at the summit.
Being an unfancied team fighting for the title is a familiar story for Klopp, who twice beat Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund — a tale he hopes to repeat with Liverpool.
“I like stories like Spurs… if I wasn’t manager of Liverpool then maybe I could enjoy it more,” Klopp said.
“Hopefully, in future we can be more a part of it.”