The influence of Jurgen Klopp was clear in the Carabao Cup clash between Aston Villa and Liverpool. That’s despite it being one of the more bizarre games of recent times.
Liverpool would pretty much always be favourites against Villa but Tuesday was an exception. The Reds put out a team with an average age of 19 as the senior side was in Qatar for the Club World Cup.
And it went quite predictably. Villa were 4-0 up at half-time, proving to be far too experienced and skilled for the teenagers.
But while the Liverpool performance was far from perfect – for obvious reasons – the positive influence of Klopp was still there.
No, it wasn’t there in the defending or the finishing. It was, however, there in the pressing.
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Because Liverpool’s pressing was a real worry for Villa for the first twenty minutes. They frequently forced their experienced counter-parts into slack passes and rushed clearances. The Reds even created several chances from it.
Villa would prove to have too much in the end, of course, but it’s incredibly encouraging to see how the kids can trouble Premier League opposition.
And that comes from Klopp. ‘Gegenpressing’ is his forte, after all, and he’s the one who introduced it to Liverpool. Now, years later, you can see the style throughout the youth system and that they’ve progressed to a top level.
It’s an exciting prospect. In theory, every youth product moving into the senior team will have this weapon in their arsenal, able to seamlessly integrate with Klopp’s ideas and have a way to threaten teams at the top level.
So while Villa may have put Liverpool out of the competition, we did still see a positive influence from Klopp that should last for years to come.