Last season’s trip to Wembley ended badly for Liverpool. Jürgen Klopp’s players lost their heads and were defeated by Tottenham Hotspur 4-1. The loss was a pivotal moment for a squad who may have been destined for a come-down after having just demolished Maribor in a 7-1 away win in the Champions League.
Liverpool were unprepared for Mauricio Pochettino’s game plan. Klopp’s players lacked defensive cohesion on the day and were punished by Tottenham’s counter attack.
Harry Kane scored early and Son Heung-min followed him into the headlines shortly after. Mohamed Salah pulled one back for the Reds in the first half but it wasn’t nearly enough to put Spurs off.
It was a loss that irked. But beyond the October Wembley loss went forward a team that used their failure against Spurs to good effect. After losing to Tottenham, Liverpool went on an 18-match unbeaten run that included the 7-0 win over Spartak Moskow and the 4-3 win over Manchester City where Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did that thing.
Klopp’s team went on to prove themselves to be elite contenders again and again last season, shoring up their defensive positions all the way to the Champions League final. But every match is a different challenge with unpredictable qualities.
“We showed it but we have to show it again, again and again,” Klopp said.
“If you go through the statistics then you will see over a season we don’t have a lot of shots on target against us.
“We defend well but there were a few moments in the season where if they shot the ball it was in. That’s not too cool.
“It was not a goalkeeper error or whatever, just a good finish. That’s possible still.
Klopp has a far superior and experienced squad at his disposal than he did this time last season. Liverpool have had a near perfect start, sitting in first place, and the manager will be aiming to prove that his team’s show of strength in the previews four games was more than a stretch of good form—it’s the new normal.
“We’ve worked on all things and I don’t think it makes sense to look back on all the things we did since then only because we are playing Tottenham again,” said Klopp.
“But yes, we feel we would like to use it a bit like: ‘Strike back, go there and really show our real strength.’”