The numbers are backing up what has been obvious to observers of Liverpool so far this season: the Reds are tops of the distance covered table, and it’s not close. The Mirror tallied up things up (feel free to first dwell on the beginning bit in the article on how comparatively ‘lazy’ Jose Mourinho’s stumbling Manchester United have been) and concluded that Jürgen Klopp’s squad have legged it 581.6km thus far.
The results of all that running have been readily apparent, as wins against title contenders such as Arsenal, Leicester City and Chelsea as well as a hard-fought draw at Tottenham can be attributed in large part to Liverpool’s pack hunting approach to team pressing that has, at times, left normally-disciplined opponents error-prone and shell shocked.
This point has been a long time coming for Klopp, since, due to taking over the team from Brendan Rodgers in the middle of last season, the German manager was understandably not able to fully implement his signature gengenpressing style. Although the players themselves were willing, a lack of physical preparation for what the boss wanted in addition to a busy domestic and international schedule meant they were physically simply not up to the task. A rash of fatigue-related hamstring injuries forced a temporary halt to the frenetic pace and the team simply managed for the rest of the year.
This season however, after a few key backroom changes and full off-season of brutal triple training sessions to achieve the required conditioning, Klopp’s squad are blowing the Premier League away in electrifying fashion. Led by the tireless captain Jordan Henderson in a new holding role, the ever-running Adam Lallana, himself the current holder of the individual distance record through five games, both James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne performing heroics in both attack and defense from the full back positions, as well as Roberto Firmino and even Daniel Sturridge harrying opposing defenses and midfields from the front, this Liverpool team are increasingly reminiscent of the German’s famous energetic Dortmund squads.
Notable also are the teams in the positions immediately after Liverpool on the distance table. Despite taking the helm of one of the Premier League’s older teams in Manchester City, manager Pep Guardiola also appears to be successfully fielding a squad well versed in his high-octane pressing philosophy, while Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham in third place continue to employ their new trademark youthful energy in doing the same.
Relative positions in the overall league tables at this early stage could potentially provide insight into how this season might play out, as the title in part could come down to which teams are willing to run the hardest and for the longest. And of course, it’s worth mentioning again, that as of this writing, United are still dead last in that department. Just in case anyone needed reminding.