Saturday 19 August 2017

Klopp looking for true stars in erratic displays

German looks to replicate form against minnows after Gunners victory

'When the week starts after Leicester everybody was angry, then we produce this performance. Then the question is immediately about Burnley (on Sunday) and it starts already, 'how can we do this?' I don't like inconsistency. It was part of the deal, obviously' Photo: Reuters / Lee Smith
'When the week starts after Leicester everybody was angry, then we produce this performance. Then the question is immediately about Burnley (on Sunday) and it starts already, 'how can we do this?' I don't like inconsistency. It was part of the deal, obviously' Photo: Reuters / Lee Smith

Chris Bascombe

Go to Liverpool's training ground at Melwood and the walls are adorned with perceptive and emotive quotes from the club's history.

Jurgen Klopp might be tempted to add another before his side reconvene to debrief their latest rousing victory over a top-six rival: 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.'

It was reassuring to hear Klopp confirm that beating Arsenal would not taint his assessment of what is required to ensure the real impostors are those who have failed against relegation-threatened sides this season, rather than those regularly excelling in games of this stature.

"If we judge the players after the best game of the season, then we sign a contract for another six seasons," said the Liverpool manager.

"If we do it after Leicester then you change the whole squad. But the truth is always in between.

"I never say (I am) ruthless, but I understand the question, and it's a good question, because after the last game I was low, angry, and I am not angry in this moment.

"We can already deliver very often, but we let the bad things influence us more than the good things, otherwise we would celebrate our birthday maybe longer than one day.

"When the week starts after Leicester everybody was angry, then we produce this performance. Then the question is immediately about Burnley (on Sunday) and it starts already, 'how can we do this?' I don't like inconsistency. It was part of the deal, obviously."

Erratic results are a Liverpool problem, rather than a Klopp creation. Yet it is important to recognise that in the club's history only Kenny Dalglish and David Ashworth (in 1921 and adjusting for three points for a win) have collected 100 league points quicker.

Such statistics only make those recent losses to Hull, Bournemouth and Swansea more deflating. This season should be so different. How can Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum - the architects of the goals here - be so technically, physically and tactically proficient just five days after the substandard display at the King Power Stadium?

Liverpool, the team who deliver against the best sides, performed as well as they have done against everyone else challenging for Champions League positions.

Their last three league victories have come against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. If they qualify for the Champions League, then their penchant for playing their finest football against higher-calibre opponents bodes well.

Arsenal, the team who generally flounder against the best sides, underperformed in a manner typifying the second half of Arsene Wenger's reign.

Liverpool's midfield and attack was blistering and Arsenal did not hear the starting pistol until their opponents had run the first few laps. The only surprise this time was Wenger's culpability when omitting Alexis Sanchez from his line-up - a decision which assisted Liverpool as their first-half momentum proved decisive, despite the visitors' improvement when their best player was summoned at half-time.

Wenger is starting to sound like a manager increasingly resentful that it is he rather than his underperforming players being held to account. He hinted there were private reasons for Sanchez's benching. Arsenal fans deserve to hear them now and not in his memoirs.

physically

The greatest Arsenal sides not only came to Anfield and passed Liverpool off their own pitch, they physically dominated them as well. It is curious Wenger has drifted so far from his original template, one which Klopp is trying to replicate.

Liverpool can also play pretty football and they have their own physical and psychological frailties to overcome before potential evolves into a season of substance.

The Arsenal board and Klopp face similar issues. Do they retain faith because the better days are so encouraging, or have the feebler ones been so debilitating only drastic action will generate and maintain an upbeat tune?

Liverpool and Arsenal fans commend and chastise their team with too much regularity, as even their most impressive wins are accompanied by caveats.

Klopp, just like Wenger when Arsenal are flat-track bullying, understands more than anyone the virtuosity of this performance does not discredit recent criticism of his players. It validates it.

Telegraph.co.uk

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