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A few thoughts from the Spurs game - by Paul Natton

1. Five wins from five to start a season is hugely impressive no matter which way you cut it. This was a huge win; no doubt.

2. We pretty much dominated Tottenham from start to finish, looking very much in control. However, I have to admit to feeling pretty frustrated throughout - albeit tempered by moments of real admiration for some of our players and what they are capable of doing. Then, after the game, I started reflecting on point one above and putting things into their proper context. Yes the forwards are still not fully on song and some of their decision-making is infuriating. However, even allowing for the late goal concession and penalty bullet dodged, this was a really one-sided game away from home against a side that has finished higher than us for much of the last decade. It really was a great win!

3. As the match ended I said to the lads in the TLW WhatsApp group that I thought some of the attacking players would be in for a bollocking from Klopp once they got into the dressing room. However, I quickly revised that view when I heard what he had to say, never mind when I then reflected on the work the front three had put in because they did all the things they're expected to under Klopp except take every chance - and that can never be an expectation.

I think what I've been guilty of is expecting the absolute roller-coaster attacking football we produced for much of last season and when you see multiple chances - and good ones at that - go begging as they did today, it seems like a massive let down. However, it's not actually the goals that are the hallmark of what we're about under Klopp. They're just a very significant by-product. What we're really about is that controlled aggression and constant movement and pressing. And in that sense - as Klopp himself made clear - we were brilliant. 

4. I think we actually need to fully recalibrate how we think of this team, because there is now a significant body of evidence that demonstrates we're a really focused, intelligent and dominant side in all areas of the game, rather than the unpredictable footballing dynamite that's just as likely to explode at the back as up front from game to game. I'm not just talking about the outdated "crap at the back" narrative here, mind; that one was volleyed out of the stadium pretty much from the moment Virgil arrived. It's more about our ability to control the game throughout, even when in moments where we're under pressure from top class opposition. 

For me, I think it stems from the point Klopp himself has been making from the day he walked into the place, in fairness: it takes time for his style of football to become embedded and it's actually considerably more demanding and complex than most people seem to give it credit for. There's got to be a reason why he holds most new players back and why it takes almost everyone (Mo and Virgil excepted) months to understand what he wants. Obviously this can be seen in the oft-cited examples of Robbo, Ox and now Fabinho. However, look at Gini too. The player so many Reds were singularly underwhelmed by now looks imperious in that Number 6 position.

I absolutely love his strength on the ball: he doesn't ever seem to lose it when challenged. But he matches that with a highly underrated technique and ability to distribute it at the right time to the right player, too. I liked Gini pretty much from the off at Liverpool. However, to be fair to his critics, the attributes which I admired were pretty underwhelmingly employed for his first year or so. No longer though. He's a crucial member of the team who has risen to the challenge provided by the extra competition for places and he seems to get better by the week, these days.

He finally broke that away goal hoodoo today - and it was a cracker, by the way; superb header - but that's not why I'm praising him. It's his all-round intelligence and ability to deliver Klopp's tactics at the highest level that now stand out and hopefully more people will give him the props he's due.

5. Speaking of overdue credit, how is it that James Milner isn't routinely described as one of the best players in English football? I mean, he is absolutely sensational! The perfect blend of intelligence, character, physicality and - yes - class. Why is it that his technique is so under appreciated? I mean, he's pretty much two-footed, has a deadly eye for a pass and can comfortably accept almost any ball even when under the most intense pressure. This was all on show when he played left back, was emphasised even more when he set a new Champions League assists record last season and is still staring us in the face this campaign as everyone seems to miss the fact that Klopp appears to be building his whole system around Milner's ability to be about five players in one during the same match. 

He was awesome today, once again, and I simply cannot understand why every Red in the land isn't screaming from the rooftops about his brilliance. Maybe it's the age thing and there's an expectation that there'll be a sudden and rapid decline, so his is not the basket to put your favourite player eggs into. Whatever it's about, two things are certain: he's a truly great player and if we're going to win big this season, we will need him to be available for the full campaign.

6. And while I'm warming to my great players theme, Virgil van Dijk...

I think that ellipsis says it all, even though I could go on and on and on about his class, composure, intelligence and leadership here, exemplifying each trait at length. However, I'll pick one moment from today's game that absolutely took my breath away. It was about ten minutes into the second half when he just materialised as he always does to win a ball in the air. It wasn't his aerial ability, physical dominance of his opponent or preternatural reading of the game that struck me though, as I pretty much take those qualities for granted now. No, it was that he laid the ball off with a precise header to his right, onto the toe of Trent who was breaking forward into space and collected it in his stride to take us on to a dangerous counterattack.

Here's the thing: it wasn't a fluke. I think Virgil might be the only centre half I have ever seen who can consistently defend and attack at the highest level in one single interaction with the ball! He is ridiculously good. You know how it seems sacrilegious to rate contemporary Liverpool players at, or even near, the top of our pantheon of greats? How it's club lore that trophy-less footballers are automatically inferior to their medal-laden forebears? Well I'm not having it. Van Dijk is the best player I've seen for Liverpool at centre half. And yes I did see all the 80s-and-beyond greats and therefore fully understand what I'm saying. Quite simply he is an unbelievable footballer.

7. So what else did I notice today? Robbo was Robbo - again. Joe G had a couple of wobbles and yet emerged unscathed, which bodes very well for his continued development in light of his inexperience in the position. Allison was fine. Bobby's eye injury looked horrible and will worry me if I let it as he's so important to us. However, I'm not letting anything take the shine off this brilliant start to the season today. So I'll worry about Bobby when the club says something to worry about.

8. I'm excited and feel fully justified in being so. However, I think this level of excitement will pale into insignificance if we can get through this next run of games undefeated, which is very much a possibility. You look at how we're playing and it's really hard to see how teams are going to beat us. We can't be ripped open on the break as we have too much pace. We can't be fluked by a parked bus counter attacking side keeping us blunted because even this half-cocked attack is still outscoring almost everyone else in the league and will hit its stride sooner or later. We can't be out-fought because - d'uh - aggression is our thing. And we can't be done on set pieces because that door was slammed shut when Virgil arrived and now Allison looks like he's padlocked it. No, we're looking like a really serious title contending team right now and I think this challenge we're embarking upon will be proven to be the real deal.

9. So PSG on Tuesday with Neymar and Mbappe. That'll be a test... for them. I hope they're ready because they're coming to Anfield and we're Liverpool. Shit just got real. Come on you Reds!!!

Paul Natton

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You’re right about it being a different team now and we should look it at differently.   We are really solid defensively.  Yes they got some chances near the end and in previous years it could have cost us but it does feel different now though.

Attacking wise though there’s no getting away from it.  The lads aren’t just misfiring, they’re wilfully making selfish decisions for personal glory.  By lads I’m not including Firmino because that would be unfair.  There’s something going on with Mane and Salah.  Salah was throwing his hands in the air plenty in the first half when he wasn’t given it and then followed it up with his own greed in the second half.  It happens in every team obviously but with City and by the looks of it Chelsea the way they are the margins are going to be very fine this season.  We haven’t got the depth of city and our differentiator was how well our front 3 worked together.  It worked because they played each other in when they should and took it on themselves when they should.  They haven’t been doing it this season and we rode our luck their today and we got away with it.

Yes it’s great beating Spurs and they have been above us plenty now over the years but in reality they didn’t sign any players, their keeper was out, Kane looks finished and Alli was missing with Son only returning a few days ago.  We had our first choice 11 out so it shouldn’t have been close.

The only other negative for me was Keita looking like he doesn’t know what he’s doing defensively yet.  When you see this it’s very easy to see why Klopp keeps players out of the team until they understand what he wants from them.  He clearly just wants Keita in the team because he believes his positives outweigh not fulling knowing the role yet.  It’s understandable.

I don’t want to come across like an overly negative knobhead because really I’m not. What Klopp has put together is remarkable.  He’s covering all the bases and give us the best chance of winning the league in decades.  Giving young lads he knows are going to be the heart of the team for a decade a go because he cares about that sort of shit can’t be understated.  Robertson is going to end up our player of the year.  I just hope that we don’t miss out on the title due to Mane and Salah not passing the ball to each other.

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I don't agree with point 4. Imperious to describe Gini? He's improving...but imperious is just too far.

Love point 5. I am loving Millie's work. That crunching tackle on the touchline yesterday is a single representation of his whole attitude.

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When we lost in Kiev I was thinking about Milner and his legacy at Liverpool. We need to win something big for him to really be held in the esteem he deserves I think. Gary Mac is a Liverpool legend because we won stuff when he was here. It would be a terrible shame for Milner if he didn't win anything big with us, because he's fucking boss and I love him.

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8 minutes ago, dave u said:

When we lost in Kiev I was thinking about Milner and his legacy at Liverpool. We need to win something big for him to really be held in the esteem he deserves I think. Gary Mac is a Liverpool legend because we won stuff when he was here. It would be a terrible shame for Milner if he didn't win anything big with us, because he's fucking boss and I love him.

Further to that is Klopp winning a European trophy. If you look at his record through all of Mainz, Dortmund and now Liverpool, his record in Europe is exceptional, but he doesn't have a trophy to show for it. No reason why both men can't settle this matter while at Liverpool. 

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15 minutes ago, dave u said:

When we lost in Kiev I was thinking about Milner and his legacy at Liverpool. We need to win something big for him to really be held in the esteem he deserves I think. Gary Mac is a Liverpool legend because we won stuff when he was here. It would be a terrible shame for Milner if he didn't win anything big with us, because he's fucking boss and I love him.

100%.  I saw an article somewhere this morning where Stuart Pearce said something about him being the best all rounder the Premiership has ever produced.  When you look at everything he brings to the table and how consistently he does so, it could well be a justified claim.

And we got him for fuck all !

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3 hours ago, scudger99 said:

100%.  I saw an article somewhere this morning where Stuart Pearce said something about him being the best all rounder the Premiership has ever produced.  When you look at everything he brings to the table and how consistently he does so, it could well be a justified claim.

And we got him for fuck all !

I love Milner, he's fucking boss. But Pearce is forgetting Steven Gerrard!

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My mates thought Hamann was shit and didn't do anything whereas I thought he was brilliant, his ability to win fouls was second to none, I'm not sure that's a great footballing trait, but I loved it.

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Gini actually reminded me a bit of Dembele on Saturday.  Dembele is the king at holding players off in possession but Gini is not too far off.  I was surprised to read he’s only 5’7 the other week.  For some reason I thought he was about 6 ft.

He’s been a revelation in that number 6 role and almost made the Fabinho signing a bit redundant.  He’s the guaranteed started there for me now.

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