While Jose Mourinho struggled to influence proceedings at Stamford Bridge, the former Borussia Dortmund boss is beginning to put his imprint on his new side in the Premier League.
The contrast between the managers on the sidelines was huge. Jose Mourinho, the beleaguered Chelsea coach was aggravated and antagonistic throughout.
Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, radiated energy and optimism on the Liverpool bench, masterminding his first win in the Premier League.
A 3-1 victory away from home against the champions reinforced the excitement with which the German has been greeted at Anfield. The former Borussia Dortmund boss is unbeaten since taking over at the club, returning confidence and swagger to the side, who put in an accomplished performance.
Klopp, though, is keen to keep expectations in check.
“Oh please,” the Liverpool manager responded when asked about the possibility of his side winning the title. “We think about the next game, improving our game and our style. We can do much better than today, much, much better.”
But following a comprehensive victory over the current Premier League champions, albeit going through a difficult spell themselves, questions about Klopp’s ambitions are valid. After dominating possession at Stamford Bridge with a carefully executed game-plan, more will be expected of Liverpool in the coming weeks and the German looks like the man to deliver.
There were two phases of Klopp’s plan to pile more more misery on the Stamford Bridge faithful. In the first half, Liverpool looked to dominate possession and packed their midfield, with no recognised striker on the pitch. Christian Benteke started on the bench, while Adam Lallana and Robert Firmino were often the furthest players forward.
AVERAGE POSITIONS | Liverpool started without a recognised striker
No strikers and a bunch of attacking midfielders allowed Liverpool to control the game, despite going 1-0 down early on via a Ramires header. From then, Klopp’s side dominated possession for much of the first half, but the tactical arrangement required a moment of individual brilliance to get the Reds back into the game. Thankfully, Philippe Coutinho obliged twice with spectacular curling efforts.
The Liverpool boss outlined his gameplan in the post-match media conference, saying: “Within a few minutes Chelsea made their goal… but we stayed in the game, we had our moments. Our build-up with quick, short passes, that’s what we want to do, it was good.”
At 1-1 and with a whiff of victory in the air, Klopp played his ace, sending striker Christian Benteke into the fray and immediately providing a physical, powerful focal point. The Belgian personified a drive from careful possession to attacking intent, as Liverpool looked to win the game, building on Coutinho’s excellent strikes with a goal of his own and wrapping up a memorable win.
ACTION AREAS | Klopp’s packed midfield dominated possession
Every managerial plan needs a bit of luck, for something to go their way, and without Coutinho’s long-range inspiration, Liverpool’s controlled possession may have come to nothing. Their dominance was made good by the exact sort of individual brilliance that a manager cannot plan for, but it fitted seamlessly into Liverpool’s ambitions.
Traditionally, it has been Mourinho that has received praise for attuning his tactics to specific matches and situations, but with the Portuguese manager struggling to retain control of the situation at Stamford Bridge, Klopp was able to impress himself upon the game. Where the Portuguese once excelled, the German is now dominating.
It looks increasingly likely that Klopp will outlast Mourinho in the Premier League this season, with Saturday’s 3-1 win deepening the chasm between Chelsea and the top four. And after such a dominant display at the home of the champions, the feeling is that the Liverpool manager may be set to match some of the Portuguese’s achievements in the coming years.
The signs are promising for Liverpool and Klopp.
Source: Eliot Rothwell || Goal.com, Stamford Bridge