Liverpool are quietly going on a bit of a run under Jürgen Klopp, having racked up three wins in their last three matches and going unbeaten for the entirety of his six-match tenure. The much-exalted gegenpress is proving difficult for opposition teams to bypass, leading to a stellar defensive record of three goals conceded. The goals haven't started flowing quite yet, but the team are getting into dangerous areas and creating higher quality chances than has been the case for the past sixteen months.
Another development has been the improved individual performances. Roberto Firmino is starting to look like a £30m playmaker with 2 assists and generally dominant displays in the last two matches, and Jordon Ibe, who had been having a nightmare of a season up until a few weeks ago, looks full of confidence. He displayed that again Thursday night, completing a preposterous 11 dribbles, scoring the game-winner, and generally looking dangerous.
Klopp had this to say about the reinvigorated winger:
He is a very good lad, a very skilled player and a really big talent – he is fast, strong, good at dribbling.
"He has a lot to learn, but has a really good base. He feels good at the moment and we could see it tonight. Like everyone, he has to work hard – he is very young and has a long way to go. He has to learn and if he is prepared to listen, everything will be good."
An accurate appraisal of Ibe's talent if we've ever heard one.
The Liverpool manager also explained the choices made in rotating the squad after the Chelsea game, and revealed the reason Philippe Coutinho remained on the bench:
"It would have been great if I could have brought Phil Coutinho on, but I didn’t want to risk him because he had a little hamstring issue – only a little one and everyone told me he is fit. But I am not a believer in things like this and it was a heavy pitch to play on, very intensive, so I didn’t want to take this risk. (...)
"I only build teams or make squads to win the next game, not to give someone a rest if he doesn’t need it. That’s what we did today.
"We had Adam Lallana and Phil Coutinho with some problems, not the biggest ones, and so they were on the bench. They could have played but we didn’t risk it in this case and tried to win without them. At this moment, the squad is big enough and strong enough.
"The same thing with Martin Skrtel – he played nearly all the game against Bournemouth after coming on for Kolo Toure. We gave him a rest today because Dejan Lovren is a strong player."
A knock on Coutinho isn't the greatest news we've ever heard, but given that he was on the bench, we'll choose to believe that it's not serious enough to keep him out of the squad for Sunday's visit from Crystal Palace. Oh, yeah, that's coming up, and one would hope Klopp is putting together a German-engineered dreamcatcher to keep Bolasie-themed nightmares away from Dejan Lovren. Sweet dreams, everyone!