Is this the era where concentrated pressing, counter-pressing, and hard running will dominate English football? It may be early in the season, but results, statistics, and performances are supporting the power of the press. When the top three Premier League teams in distance run were revealed last month in Liverpool, Manchester City, and Tottenham, there was a sense that an already physical and demanding league may be entering a fresh tactical phase.
Manchester City are top of the league with an approach that includes running and pressing more under Pep Guardiola, even if the next team's high press inflicted a first defeat of the season. Tottenham Hotspur are unbeaten in the Premier League under Mauricio Pochettino—a staunch disciple of pressing guru Marcelo Bielsa. Jürgen Klopp and gegenpressing is a combination that's thrilling at Liverpool with Arsenal, Leicester City, and Chelsea as witnesses to its power.
Arsenal are benefiting from Alexis Sánchez harrying away up front with Theo Walcott's improved approach to becoming a more rounded player who wouldn't look out of place in a Klopp attack. David Wagner's Huddersfield tops the Championship with a similar approach to his good friend Klopp.
The way Liverpool's players are buying into the tactics of the manager and the atmosphere he's created suggest that there is more to come from the Reds after October's international break. Hearing about pressing is nothing new to Liverpool fans after 12 months of Klopp, but it's a way of working that is drilled into the players now. This is how Liverpool approach games. This is how Liverpool win games. This is how Liverpool show ruthlessness to opponents.
"With the way he wants to play, he wants us to press, press and counter-press. We need to be really fit and we worked really hard in pre-season and training to get us to where we want to be," Clyne said.
"Everyone wants to do well for their manager because he gets involved. He basically wants to be on the pitch and you can see that from the goal celebrations when he runs up and down the touchline. If you see a manager do that, it makes you put in even more effort on the pitch."