Klopp faces Tottenham test on Liverpool bow

Saturday, 17 October 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Liverpool's new manager Jurgen Klopp poses with a team jersey after a press conference to announce his appointment, at Anfield – AFP Photo

AFP LONDON: The Jurgen Klopp era at Liverpool will begin in earnest on Saturday (17) when the crowd-pleasing German takes charge of his first Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur.

Klopp has been appointed as the successor to Brendan Rodgers on a three-year contract with the brief of reviving a team who have won only one of their last nine games inside 90 minutes in all competitions.

He might have preferred an easier venue for his first game than White Hart Lane, where Spurs crushed Manchester City 4-1 in their last home match, but he wants his players to embrace the challenge. “Some things you can change instantly: mentality, readiness,” said Klopp, whose side are 10th in the table, a point below eight-place Tottenham.

“That is all you can change. To get really tuned as a team takes time, but I am really not interested in the problems we could have on Saturday. I want to see more bravery, more fun in their eyes. I want to see that they like what they do. I saw that in the week (in training) and that is good.”

If his seven-year spell at Borussia Dortmund is a reliable indicator, the rewards for impressing Klopp in the early days of his tenure could be significant.

Of the 18 players called up for his first game, a 3-2 win away to Bayer Leverkusen in August 2008, seven featured in the squad that faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League final five years later.

Saturday’s match, Liverpool’s first since the 1-1 draw at derby rivals Everton that proved to be Rodgers’s last, will be closely scrutinised for clues as to how Klopp intends to reverse the club’s fortunes.

Work-rate and aggressive pressing were the cornerstones of his approach at Dortmund, who he led to two Bundesliga titles, and he is likely to find willing adherents in grafters like James Milner.

But forward Danny Ings, another hard-running player, is expected to miss the rest of the season after reportedly succumbing to a knee ligament injury in training on Wednesday.

Pochettino homework

Teenage defender Joe Gomez sustained a similar injury the day before and Klopp will also be without captain Jordan Henderson and close-season signings Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino for his English baptism.

The trip to north London will offer a useful point of comparison for Klopp because Spurs, like Liverpool, seek above all to close the gap on the heavyweight quartet of Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs.

In that respect, Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino has had a 17-month head start on Klopp, having been appointed in May 2014. Another advocate of aggressive, high-pressing football, Pochettino steered Spurs to a fifth-place finish last season - one place above Liverpool - and recent signs suggest that his philosophy is bearing fruit.

Since losing at Manchester United on the opening day, Spurs have gone seven league games unbeaten and the rout of City showcased the improvements that Pochettino has wrought from his young, hard-working squad.

He, too, must contend with missing players as new signing Son Heung-Min and midfielders Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb are injured, while Eric Dier is suspended.

Spurs have lost their last five league games against Liverpool, shipping 18 goals in the process, but Pochettino has been doing his homework on how Klopp is likely to approach the game.

Spurs star Son sidelined for several weeks


Tottenham Hotspur's South Korean striker Son Heung-Min celebrates scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane in north London – (AFP Photo)

AFP (LONDON): Tottenham forward Son Heung-min will miss Saturday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool and could be sidelined for several more weeks.

Son came off with a foot injury in Tottenham’s win over Manchester City three weeks ago, but boss Mauricio Pochettino had hoped the South Korea star would recover over the international break.

However, the problem is taking longer than expected and Son’s absence leaves Pochettino short of options up front, with Harry Kane Tottenham’s only other senior centre forward.

Son signed for around £22 million from Bayer Leverkusen in the close-season and made an impressive start to life at White Hart Lane, scoring three goals in his first three appearances.

“His injury was in his foot but it’s okay, we’re happy with him. Maybe in a few weeks he will be back,” Pochettino said on Thursday. “I think he’s nearly ready to come back, to start training with the group, but you know every injury is different and we need to assess it day by day.”