One area that Jurgen Klopp chose to address in his post-match comments was the threat of Arsenal attacking duo Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang that Liverpool were successfully able to contain during their 3-1 win on Monday night.
Liverpool’s defence nullified Arsenal expertly following and reduced Mikel Arteta’s team to just four shots all evening – the Reds had 21.
After the game, Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher both suggested that Liverpool may have been disappointed to give up some chances in the contest that was eventually settled in the 88th minute courtesy of a debut goal from £45 million signing Diogo Jota.
However, Klopp swiftly responded and insisted that he couldn’t be frustrated following the rare chances that Arsenal were gifted particularly in the second half as the system the manager opted for always presented the risk of Liverpool conceding opportunities due to their high-line approach.
“Could they have scored? Yes. Because of the quality they have. How can you defend Aubameyang with a high line constantly? But with not a high line you also cannot defend Arsenal,” he said.
“They were really brave, but we punished them from time to time and killed a little bit, in these moments, their match plan.
“A team who builds, you need more players in the area that they build.
“We cannot press them all the time, but we prepare it constantly because it means that if you are slightly too late, then Auba is on his bike, or Laca is on his bike, so it’s really difficult to deal with them.
“In these moments [when they got through] they were either offside or Ali had to make a save, but there were not too many.”
What Klopp demands from his players
Indeed, both Keane and Carragher are right to reflect and analyse when a team of Liverpool’s quality concedes chances yet Klopp was also was within his rights to counteract such notions are only a referral to how the Reds set out to play.
It’s a lazy analogy to reflect that Klopp should be disappointed that Liverpool conceded chances yet this was forward-thinking approach that saw the Reds on the front foot for 99 per cent of the match.
Klopp has huge expectations on his players who are encouraged to be brave and bold. They are ordered to take risks rather than be cautious. If the team are to deviate from that bullish approach then their collective powers are diminished.
This was demonstrated especially in Liverpool’s defensive approach which saw the backline pushed well into Arsenal territory. While it opposes defensive risks it did allow both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to utilise the ball more effectively any other players on the pitch.
Van Dijk, 29, produced more passes (128) than any other player on Monday night and what was most telling about his passes were the range in which they were able to constantly propel Liverpool onto the front foot.
Arteta referenced VVD in his post match. Just look at that…a 1 man game plan wrecker. pic.twitter.com/Upbn5t0wux
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) September 28, 2020
The diagram above supplied by journalist Dan Kennet analyses all of Van Dijk’s 128 passes he attempted against Arsenal. Remarkably, only 11 were unsuccessful which is even more impressive when considering the variety of passes that the Dutchman looked to utilise against the Gunners.
This is something that the Arsenal manager Arteta admitted that his team couldn’t live with against the champions and typified the range of options Klopp has at his disposal to make his team much more unpredictable for opponents.
“We tried to put them under as much pressure as we could but Van Dijk plays 60 yards to Salah and they are out,” Arteta said.
“This is real quality and that is why they have spent the money they have.”
Arteta’s comments are the perfect example of why Klopp’s philosophies and core values make Liverpool a class above the rest of the league.
The Reds boss demands perfection from his players; no backward steps, no retreating into their shell, no compromising their beliefs. The Premier League champions are at their blistering best when they are playing on the front foot, going full throttle and seizing the initiative.
This certainly opposes risks defensively, but if last night was any indication then the rewards far outweigh the risks.
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