Tuesday 17 September 2019

John Aldridge: Klopp has taken a recipe out of Alex Ferguson's league winning cookbook

Jurgen Klopp and (inset) Alex Ferguson
Jurgen Klopp and (inset) Alex Ferguson

John Aldridge

THERE was a fear factor associated with Alex Ferguson's title-winning Manchester United teams, and one key aspect of their success has crept into the current Liverpool side.

You could see opponents visibly cracking when United pushed for late winners in what became known as ‘Fergie Time', and that quality is now in evidence as Liverpool aim to end their long wait for a Premier League title.

There is no denying that Liverpool rode their luck to beat a Tottenham side that deserved to take a point from last Sunday's thrilling game at Anfield. However, there was a feeling inside the famous old stadium that Jurgen Klopp's side would find a way to win the game.

This Liverpool team have dug out so many victories in games when they have not been at their best this season and once again, the decisive moment went in their favour as Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris spilled an easy save and another three points were put on the board.

A mistake decided the game, but Tottenham were on the back foot in the final five minutes of the match and they would have been aware of Liverpool's record of scoring late in games. That puts doubts in a team's mind.

I fully expect Manchester City to reclaim top spot in the Premier League by beating Cardiff at the Etihad Stadium tonight, but they are now fully aware that this Liverpool team are not going anywhere and that pressure could be crucial as their hectic month of April heats up.

Liverpool have to see off Southampton on Friday night to keep their title challenge on track and you get a feeling that this title race will go down to the wire, with the win against Tottenham evidence of a side that will fight to the end in a bid to make some new history for the club.

One moment has been talked about more than any other from last Sunday's game, and it was Virgil van Dijk's defending as he was faced with Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min breaking on him at pace when the game was tied a 1-1.

Liverpool's defensive talisman needed some fortune to smile on him too, but I will join the ranks of those who give the former Celtic star credit for his role in averting the goal.

His decision to keep Sissoko on his left foot and deny him the chance to get the ball to Son was quality defending at its most intelligent – and he was rewarded as Sissoko's shot flew high over the bar.

Essentially, Van Dijk weighed up the best and worst-case scenario in a crisis situation and came up with the answer that gave him the best chance of coming out on top against the France international.

Dejan Lovren would have jumped in on Sissoko and either given him a chance to pass to Son or get past him, and I suspect Joel Matip may have done the same as most defenders now lack the intelligence Van Dijk showed in that situation.

He had done his homework on the two players threatening the Liverpool goal, he appreciated that Sissoko couldn't hit a barn door with his left foot and he earned the luck that came his way with the final outcome.

It was a few seconds of action that could have ended Liverpool's title challenge and if they are champions when the final ball is kicked on May 12, that moment will be one we will all look back on as being crucial.

Plenty of cynics have suggested Liverpool have all the luck going their way this season, and there is no doubt that they have had big breaks in the final seconds of the home games against Everton and Tottenham, when mistakes handed them victories.

Yet no team collects 79 points after 32 games by good fortune alone and Manchester City now know for sure that Liverpool are not going to give up in this title race without putting up a real fight.

Online Editors

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