Tottenham Hotspur look to snag another three points this weekend before the first international break of the season comes upon us. While Tottenham sit on four points with a solid draw at Everton and a gritty 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace, their opponents this weekend have had two of the strangest matches of the Premier League thus far. Here to talk about Liverpool with us is Kevin from The Liverpool Offside and just what to expect from the Reds this week as well as his thoughts on the upcoming season.
CFC: Liverpool are not quite a year into the Jurgen Klopp era. What do you think the biggest differences are between him and Brendan Rodgers?
TLO: There are some elements of Brendan Rodgers' reputation that I believe are slightly undeserved, and the products of some early mistakes by a youngish manager new to the spotlight. That said, the one word that comes to mind when considering the last phase of Rodgers' career with Liverpool is "incoherent." That doesn't necessarily mean that he was always ineffective - in fact, I believe there were spells in which he was effective despite the air of incoherence. But my impression is that he wasn't entirely sure, by that point, what he should be trying to convey on the pitch, or how he should be communicating those objectives to the supporters.
Klopp, despite being a non-native speaker, has proven himself to be quite adept at slicing through the blather of typical manager-speak, which I think is something both players and supporters value. He's either the most brutally honest manager we've seen at the helm of our club in many seasons, or the best liar I've had the honor of witnessing. I suspect it's the former. That quality at least allows supporters to have a more straightforward discussion of the merits (or lack thereof) of his approach.
Realistically, what are the expectations in the first full season for Klopp and Liverpool?
I think it's going to be a challenge this year. Our traditional rivals have all either consolidated and built on recent successes, or have taken bold steps to make course corrections. I'm concerned about the renewed sense of purpose over in Mordor (you know whom I mean). Even setting aside Leicester City, there are some new names among the nouveaux riches of the Premiership who are showing ambition in the market and fearlessness on the pitch.
Liverpool's owners appear to have committed to Klopp's long-haul approach. I felt that the latter part of last season was an information-gathering exercise for Klopp, and I suspect that process has not entirely run its course. Personally, I'm thinking a 5th place finish, unless we get on a lucky run or a few competitors have a Moyesian year (yes I just coined that).
Is everyone over at Liverpool Offside still wearing sackcloth and ashes over the injury to Loris Karius?
What's that? Did you say something? Sorry, couldn't hear you as I was wearing headphones and listening to Joy Division records in my darkened bedroom, quietly sobbing while I eat Nutella out of the jar with my fingers.
Liverpool have conceded 5 goals from 12 shots, none of them obviously clear scoring chances. Is this a good defense running in bad luck, a keeper issue, something the stats are missing, or what?
As tempting as it is to point to fresh fruit aficionado Simon Mignolet as chief culprit, I think a number of those goals were partly the result of a couple of attacking midfielders briefly forgetting that they were playing deeper than they might have been used to, and partly the result of being caught flat-footed against perfectly executed counters.
Which is not to say that the defense and Mignolet have been blameless. I think Nathaniel Clyne would admit to being somewhat at fault for at least one or two out of that lot, and while Mignolet managed to avoid a serious brain-fart at Burnley, there are some corners of the fanbase who feel he might have done just a little bit better.
Liverpool’s midfield has looked a little… open lately. How should the Reds construct their side to counteract a high pressing side like Spurs?
This has been the subject of no small amount of conversation in our world, so I informally canvassed some of the other contributors at The Liverpool Offside for their thoughts. First thing to note is that a couple of our central options - specifically Adam Lallana and Gini Wijnaldum - may be used to featuring a little farther up the pitch, so there's probably a little bit of adjustment that needs to be done there.
In terms of personnel changes, Jordan Henderson hasn't been a liability, but has been a far cry from the player we saw during the 2013-14 season. We'll see how long Klopp's patience persists, but Henderson has proven doubters wrong before, I wouldn't put it past him to do it again. Interestingly, with Emre Can likely to be unavailable due to injury, there were some shouts for a name familiar to Spurs fans. Could Kevin Stewart make a surprise appearance this weekend? Klopp seems to value the young man, so we'll see.
Between Origi, Sturridge, Firmino, and uh, Balotelli, will you actually have a legit striker that manages to survive the entire season?
You know what will happen if I answer yes, right? I'm operating under the assumption that Origi and Sturridge will be sidelined for some stage of the campaign, but I also do think Danny Ings will surprise people if he's given the chance to string a few starts together. One of two things will happen with Balotelli. He'll either be taking the field for my Colorado Rapids in the near future, or he will be cast in The Expendables 4.
If there is one player in you Starting XI you're worried about over the course of the season, who is it and why?
Jordan Henderson, for the reasons I hinted at above. He's got to prove he has a place and a role to play in Klopp's side, and he hasn't been quite the same player since his heel problems became A Thing. Which is an awkward situation what with the whole captain thing. Still, some of the recent criticism has echoes of the whining that accompanied his early days with the club, and he was able to silence those voices then.
How about a prediction for Saturday's match?
I'm going to say 1-1, provided Liverpool don't wear their "toxic thunder" kit. If they do, I'm not sure I'll watch the match.
We want to thank Kevin for answering our questions this week in Know Your Opponent. I did the same for them over at The Liverpool Offside so be sure to check it out when you get a chance as I answer questions about Spurs being in Champions League, if Harry Kane has work with Ryan Gosling in the future, and whether or not Hugo Lloris is a better actor than John Travolta.