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Jürgen Klopp has found new Liverpool playmaker that Manchester United result should not hide



Jürgen Klopp has found a new Liverpool playmaker who can’t hide Manchester United’s result

Liverpool are notorious for counterpressing him, but have recently added another string to their bow. It wasn’t necessary against Manchester United, but it’s still there.

If they build a statue of Jürgen Klopp outside Anfield, what do you think the inscription on the base might be? “The normal” or “TREE” might be appropriate. While not quite as gritty, his most widely used comment was about the concept of counter-pressure as an attacking midfielder, and if anything sums up the German’s time at Liverpool, it certainly is this. Yet Klopp’s preferred method of creating chances hasn’t been as effective for the Reds this season. According to the Opta analyst, Liverpool have achieved a high 236 turnovers this season, which is when a team recovers the ball in the last 40 meters of the pitch to start another possession run. The total amounts to 9.4 per game, while the average in 2021/22 was 11.7.

The Reds are still third in the Premier League for this stat, so it could be worse. However, they are tied for 11th in goals from shooting and 16th in goals generated by high turnovers. Klopp’s favorite playmaker has gone AWOL.

On a positive note for Liverpool, they have seen an increase in goals with longer build sequences lately, and there have been many very important goals scored in this manner. This was best summed up by Cody Gakpo after Manchester United’s remarkable 7-0.

The Dutch international was asked which of his two goals was better. “The nicest was the second, the most important was the first,” he said (via the Liverpool Echo) and it’s impossible to argue. The madness that unfolded in the second half certainly wouldn’t have happened had it not been for three goals in seven minutes either side of the break and Gakpo getting the ball rolling.

He did it after an 11 pass streak. It was mainly the recycling of possession among the back four before Alisson Becker sent a pass down the halfway line to Andy Robertson near the touchline.

The Scotsman then played a through ball to Gakpo who did the rest from there. The longest unbroken passing streak for any of the other goals was just three, but Liverpool opened the game with one of eight 10+ passing streaks they had that day. A relative lack of long periods of possession has been another problem in the 2022-23 season. The Reds have averaged 15.1 chains with at least 10 open passes per league game this season, three less than the season before. With ball possession down 3.5% overall, which is a natural result, they had much less control in games.

Liverpool have even been below the lower average of 15.1 in six of their last nine games, but that hasn’t affected their efficiency. In the first 21 games of the season, the Reds have scored four goals after racking up at least 10 assists. Among them, important goals: the winner against West Ham, the opener against Tottenham and equalizers against Crystal Palace and Arsenal.

However, this total has been reached in the last four games. As well as the Gakpo United goal, there were also the two goals against Newcastle and the second in the win over Wolves. Each member of the now very strong front three found the net after a relatively long period of possession, which is not necessarily what one would expect from a Klopp side.

And their second-half outburst against United will have disguised that fact, with several goals conjured up from almost no buildup, just spirited counter-attacks, liveliness from set pieces and superb finishing. These attacking aspects will always remain a hallmark of Klopp’s football and although long possession streaks are never his favorite playmaker or engraved on a statue, his side are showing just how effective they can be.

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