Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s Sunday match against Arsenal, the Liverpool boss addressed some of the key topics amongst the fanbase following the win against Rangers: Darwin Nûñez’s form, Liverpool’s formation options, and how much of the poor start is down to opposition coaches having figured out how to get at Liverpool.
As for Nûñez, Klopp found himself pleased with the new striker even though he didn’t find his way onto the scoresheet:
It was down to his movement and down to the movement of the boys around. One of the things he showed so far in all the games he played [is] that he brings himself quite frequently in good finishing positions, which is actually the most important thing for a striker. That’s why everybody should be, or could be, very optimistic about what’s coming from him in the future. That was absolutely good.
In other words, Klopp seems to suggest that as long as Nûñez keeps creating chances, we should be certain the goals will come.
Addressing the new formation that we saw on Tuesday, Klopp refused to note whether it was a one-off or a new direction:
For us, it’s much more important that we become unpredictable again. We need different systems for that as well. This is not the only system we can play. It was now a 4-4-2. Always when you name systems, it’s ‘Is it 4-3-3 or is it 4-5-1? Is it 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1?’ We don’t want to make it more complicated than it is but there are obviously different systems for us available and we have to choose from now on which one is the best for the next opponent, or the best for us in the moment. We have to be more unpredictable, definitely.
In terms of that potential predictability, Klopp had much to say on why it’s seemed that opponents have “figured Liverpool Out”:
Teams worked out how you can play against us when we are not at our best. Other teams have worked out how to play against us since years, but it still didn’t work out for them because we were exceptional in the moment in the things we did. In the moment when you are not exceptional then it looks like, ‘Ah, now they realise.’
No. In our best games I could show you the parts where we could have got problems: here, here, here, here. We didn’t because we put so much pressure on the opposition that they couldn’t find these spaces. That’s the risk you take. In moment when you don’t play on your top [level] these gaps are still there, then they play the pass through and now we look like, ‘Now they know how to play against them.’ No, it was always clear. Whatever system we play, we play.
There’s no system in the world with no weakness; play with five in the back, three in the back, four in the back, no-one in the back, there’s no system. It’s all about how we perform. I understand 100 per cent, ‘It’s 4-3-3 and they know exactly.’ It’s not about that, it’s really not about that. It’s about what we did and with which intensity we did it and these kinds of things.
That changed everything because defending in a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1, just if you look at it you know where the gaps are but you fill them with your movements and then the gaps are not really existing or are only open for a wing and you close it again. That’s the way you have to play. There’s no system we can now rely on and say, ‘OK, from now on this is perfect.’ Because we know how to play against other teams, that’s how it is.
You see how they play usually. That’s the problem with us – most of the time teams changed system. Arsenal will not do that now, they believe in what they are doing 100 per cent, rightly so. So we know how to prepare for Arsenal but in the end it’s how we execute it.