The Jürgen Klopp era begins with a 0-0 draw. It might not have been the explosive display some wished for, but it was a solid result for a depleted Liverpool team playing at White Hart Lane.
As expected, Liverpool lined up in the 4-2-3-1 formation, with Emre Can and Lucas Leiva forming a midfield pivot in the center of the park. This pushed James Milner forward to the right flank, where he was given freedom to roam about and press upfield. Adam Lallana occupied the space behind lone striker Divock Origi, who started in place of an injured Daniel Sturridge. Philippe Coutinho rounded out the attack, taking up an inside position on the left wing.
The unit was locked in and cohesive at kickoff, pressing Tottenham with intelligent swarms. Through the work of the aggressive midfield, led by Can, Tottenham struggled to get its footing over the first 15 minutes. Liverpool should have gone 1-0 up in the 10th minute when a corner met a wide open Origi, but the striker crashed his header against the bar.
Liverpool's high octane work rate isn't yet sustainable over a full match though, and soon Tottenham edged back into proceedings. The host's press created problems for Liverpool as momentum turned, and Lallana almost gifted Tottenham a goal after being dispossessed outside his own box. Fortunately, Mignolet made a fine save to deny a first-time strike from Clinton N'Jie.
Milner and Coutinho struggled to control play and keep the ball in the midfield, leaving Martin Skrtel with a lot of work to do in defense. Skrtel wasn't at all up to the task, and he put his team under pressure repeatedly with his poor play. His defensive lapse paired with a Lucas giveaway allowed Harry Kane an unabated chance on goal, but Mignolet saved well again.
In the second half, the teams struggled to break each other down. Origi moved well and showed excellent pace, but he didn't have much attacking support outside of Adam Lallana, who was near his own silky best.
Credit goes to Mousa Dembélé for putting in a world class performance for Tottenham in the midfield to keep Origi isolated. He shut down the space that Coutinho loves to work in and was in the right place throughout the match.
In Liverpool's midfield, Can continued to press like a madman, but his teammates couldn't quite keep up in the second half. Along with Jordan Henderson, Can will likely become the heartbeat of Liverpool's press, and today his leadership qualities emerged as he regularly gesticulated towards his midfield partners to push forward and work harder. Good to see.
Joe Allen and Jordon Ibe came on late for the Reds. Ibe was as bright as he's been all season in his limited time on the pitch, and it'll be interesting to see if that successful cameo translates to a bigger role in Liverpool's next match.
Unable to grab a dramatic winner, Liverpool still walk away with a respectable point. The key now is to build on this result and climb up a league table that is still wide open. Southampton looms next weekend, and a win in that one could really swing things in the right direction.