Saturday 17 August 2019

John Giles: 'One-trick' Klopp has been exposed too often this year

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Can Jurgen Klopp bring Champions League football back to Anfield?
Can Jurgen Klopp bring Champions League football back to Anfield?

John Giles

THE Premier League season draws to a close on Sunday but unlike other years, there is not a lot left to be decided and there won’t be much in the way of excitement.

The one thing up in the air is the race for the Champions League, with only Chelsea and Tottenham already assured of qualification.

Liverpool face relegated Middlesbrough in a must-win game to book themselves a place at Europe’s top table next season, with Arsenal ready to pounce if Liverpool slip up.

It’s been an inconsistent season for Liverpool but if they are denied on the final day, it won’t be down to falling at the last fence.

They will be paying the price for their failures throughout the season.

I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating ahead of Sunday – Jurgen Klopp is a one-trick pony, with one very good trick.

The German has a ‘go, go, go’ approach to football, based on winning the ball and counter-attacking at pace.

That works very well against the better sides in the Premier League and, sure enough, Liverpool have an excellent record against the top six teams this season. Where it comes unstuck is against the lesser lights, the teams who come to Anfield and set up defensively.

Those teams are happy to allow Liverpool enjoy the majority of possession and try to break through the defensive cordon.

The problem for Klopp is that he does not have midfielders with the skill and vision to break down a massed defence. Philippe Coutinho is perhaps the exception but he plays in a more forward role.

Added to this is the fact that Liverpool have been brittle in the extreme at the back and have actually been very open to conceding soft goals on the counter and from set-pieces.

Klopp does not seem to place a premium on defence and is committed to a press and counter-attack style. The shortcomings in his system have been exposed on numerous occasions this season and that is why Liverpool did not challenge for the title and are still not assured of a Champions League place.

That being said, you would still have to fancy them to beat Boro on Sunday and Manchester City are also unlikely to hand Arsenal the lifeline they need.

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