At last, the international break is (almost) over and the return of Liverpool’s Premier League campaign is just around the corner. The Reds enjoyed a perfect start to the season, notching up four wins from their opening four fixtures leaving them top of the table as the international break began.
Now that the players have all but completed their duties for their respective countries, attention once again turns to the league, with a mouth-watering clash awaiting Klopp and his men as they travel to Wembley to take on Tottenham Hotspur. Last season, the same game brought about perhaps one of the lowest moments in an otherwise very good season for Liverpool, as a woeful defensive display and all-round disappointing showing saw Liverpool slump to a 4-1 defeat.
Such was the turnaround in Liverpool’s form after that defeat that many fans have erased it from their memories as there were far more memorable nights to come last season. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten – not only to help keep the squad’s feet on the ground, but as a reference point to judge themselves as to how far they have come since that fixture last term.
Strength in depth
One of the key differences between now and then is the personnel Klopp now has available to him.
Many criticised the charismatic German for showing too much faith in certain players for too long, ultimately costing his side precious points causing them to fall away in the title race. However, he has addressed these issues during the summer window, and suddenly Liverpool’s squad has been transformed into one that offers a plethora of options.
This variety from the bench could well be something that Klopp utilises to execute his game plan at Wembley, or even help him to rescue a bad situation if needs be.
Players are constantly improving
Should we need to reference one individual in particular for this, we should look no further than Dejan Lovren.
Thoygh the Croatian is yet to feature this season due to injury, it’s safe to say that after the Wembley fixture last term, he went from strength to strength.
After enduring a horrible half of the first half, he was hauled off and replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain, leaving his Liverpool career seemingly irreparable. Yet despite this, he can back, improved, matured and went on to be one of the stand out performers of Liverpool’s Champions League run and Croatia’s close shave with World Cup glory.
He is the shining example, but look at players like Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Sadio Mané and Gini Wijnaldum continue to get better and better – and so does the squad.
Squad unity is at an all-time high
This has never been in doubt under Klopp in particular, but it seems the events of last season have unified this Liverpool squad beyond levels I’ve ever seen personally.
This alone can be a huge driving force to push the lads forward. Many managers say that they’re players are happy and content, but it is rarely so obvious as it is at Liverpool right now. Spurs have had one or two issues, whether that be with players not signing new deals or managers having a pop at the board, there doesn’t seem to be the unity there that has swelled out of every corner of Anfield ever since the start of last season.
Reds have found the consistency last year’s fixture lacked. The start of their season last year was promising until the Spurs blip. This year looks to be more of the same. However, this season looks different already. Liverpool are winning even when they don’t look at their best.
While winning four from four, they’ve not set the world on fire. They seem to have found some mettle and grit to get through games with what’s needed. The guile and determination they’ve shown so far could be exactly what’s needed in London this weekend. Spurs won’t be easy to beat by any means, but the will of the start of this season makes me think that the Reds can do the business.
Such a big result ahead of a run of big and important games and would really set the tone.