Liverpool could only manage a 3-3 draw with Watford at Vicarage Road in their opening game of the season but then bounced back with an important 2-1 victory at Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off first leg on Tuesday.
Klopp’s men ended up finishing in 4th position last season, having stunned the Premier League in the early stages with their pressing ethos and high-tempo possession based football in the opening half of the campaign.
In their Champions League qualifying match in Germany this week, the same defence errors came back to haunt the English side, with Mark Uth popping up to give the Bundesliga side a lifeline in the 87th minute.
Support from the keeper
However, Liverpool’s last line of defence is goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has backed Klopp’s system, insisting this style is how his team know how to play and that they have the quality up front to ensure success.
“We can only play one way and that is forward. We know that we can always score. We have so much style up front. We took a lot of steps defensively against Hoffenheim. We were solid, set pieces we defended well too and that is what we have to learn. We know what we have to improve after Watford and we have a good dressing room that will deal with that.” said the Belgian keeper.
On the night, Mignolet made two crucial saves to keep help his side to victory. He made a first-half penalty stop and managed to keep out Serge Gnabry with a superb save.
“I think we have so much quality inside the team and with what we learned in the last ten games of last season we can definitely be successful. We have to look in the mirror and say it is only us who can change it. We know how long we had to fight to get that fourth place in the Premier League and we didn’t want to throw it away by coming to Hoffenheim and spoiling the chance.”
Enough to cause anyone trouble
The goalkeeper believes in Klopp and understands that, with players like Sadio Mané, Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, his side have more than enough technical ability, and athleticism to cause any defence trouble.
Last season, Klopp chose to use a 4-3-3 for most of the season. Using a trio up top, his team are able to press from the front as soon as they lose the ball. The press is used to try and stop the opposition from counter-attacking as quickly as possible.
The pressing starts from the three players highest up the pitch, often where the ball is lost and is then supported by the three midfielders who squeeze up the pitch to limit the space the opposing team has to try and play.
By pressing, Klopp hopes to force the opposition player in possession wide and stop any pass across the pitch, forcing the player to either play a long pass down the line that can be easily defended or play back to a teammate in a more dangerous area who can then be put under pressure as well.
Improvement still needed
Though Mignolet sees the benefit of this style he also recognises that his side do need to improve at the back. Last season Liverpool were notoriously poor from set-pieces and this carried over into their draw with Watford onto the opening game of the season when Okaka netted from a corner just eight minutes into the new season.
Mignolet explained: “Our natural game will be attacking and we know we have to fill that in with a real defensive spirit. We know that is where we have to improve. We are not blind. Everybody knows it in the dressing room, but there is no point throwing everything away.
You cannot change a natural footballing side that goes forward but we know we have to mix that with a good defensive, aggressive spirit to make sure they don’t score the goals. But we know we have so much talent in the squad that we have to use it.”
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