Defensive solidity proving a pleasing platform for Klopp and Liverpool

Merseysiders have only conceded three goals in nine league games to date

Liverpool’s  Mohamed Salah steers his shot  past Huddersfield Town’s  defender Christopher Schindler and   goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to score the winner at  the John Smith’s stadium in Huddersfield. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah steers his shot past Huddersfield Town’s defender Christopher Schindler and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to score the winner at the John Smith’s stadium in Huddersfield. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

 

Jürgen Klopp says his Liverpool team remain a work in progress but that collecting victories while developing a more balanced style augurs well for the rest of the campaign.

Liverpool are level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, having won seven and drawn two of their nine matches so far.

They have achieved those results while adapting their pressing game, both to draw out defensive opponents and to make themselves more solid, resulting in only three goals being conceded in nine league games so far this season.

“You cannot win only with offensive football, it’s not possible,” said Klopp, after the 1-0 win at Huddersfield on Saturday.

“Because you are open and the pitch is too big for that. So you need to be organised and, on the other side, you need to create. I would love to see us do that a little bit better.”

The German said that although his team were not at their best at the weekend they at least demonstrated a solidity that enabled them to prevail thanks to the one cutting move they managed to finish.

“We have created a kind of consistency in that department and that’s very important. It’s developmental. We were 1-0 and defended in a different space. Last year our big strength was high pressing and then when there were moments when [the opposition] didn’t play football, it was like ‘sorry’.

“It’s like a dog – if you don’t give him his favourite toy and you throw something else, he thinks: ‘No, I don’t want that, I want the other one’. I want to play high press. So that’s how you develop, step by step, doing different things. Now we have to be better in the midfield press.”

Klopp said his team got their balance and intentions right at Huddersfield but let themselves down with sloppy final passes, which prevented them from scoring more goals on counter-attacks.

“Here our midfield press wasn’t the problem, it was that we could have done better with the ball. It was really just the last ball – one touch. Everything was fine apart from that.”

Goal trail

On Saturday Mohamed Salah got back on the goal trail as Liverpool won 1-0 at Huddersfield to reaffirm their Premier League title credentials.

Salah slotted home his fourth goal of the season and first in five matches midway through the first half, but it was a far from convincing victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Much of that was down to Huddersfield, who matched their illustrious opponents for long periods only to still be left searching for the killer touch.

David Wagner’s side hit a post through Jonathan Hogg and had an effort ruled out for offside as they set an unwanted club record of failing to score in seven straight home league games.

Liverpool were clearly not at their best as they clinched their first win in five matches in all competitions and extended their unbeaten league start to nine.

Neither side had had an attempt on goal when Liverpool broke the deadlock in the 24th minute with two incisive passes and a consummate finish.

The visitors had just started to build some pressure by retaining possession when Joe Gomez’s ball into Xherdan Shaqiri split Huddersfield down the middle.

The Swiss midfielder then spotted Salah’s darting run into the penalty area and he slipped the ball inside for the Egyptian to steer beyond Jonas Lossl and inside the far post with the outside of his left foot.

Salah had been a fitness doubt all week, but overcame a muscle strain to make the starting line-up.

Huddersfield stuck to their task, though. Hogg’s brilliant long-range effort struck Alisson Becker’s right-hand post and Philip Billing’s free-kick flashed narrowly wide as they pressed for the equaliser.

Town fans raised the volume some more when Alex Pritchard turned home Hogg’s pass into the box in the 43rd minute, but his effort was correctly ruled out as he had strayed offside.

Dangerous cross

Georginio Wijnaldum, half-brother of Huddersfield substitute Rajiv van La Parra, replaced Jordan Henderson at half-time, while Daniel Surridge lifted two efforts off target soon after play resumed.

Huddersfield impressed again in the build-up to Laurent Depoitre’s goalbound header, which was comfortably saved by Alisson, with Aaron Mooy, Mathias Jorgensen and Florent Hadergjonaj all involved.

Town skipper Christopher Schindler’s sliding near-post block thwarted Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson’s dangerous cross, but that was as close as the visitors got in the second period.

Huddersfield spurned their best second-half chance in the 82nd minute when their two substitutes combined.

Winger Isaac Mbenza’s cross bounced off Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren in the area and Steve Mounie snatched at his chance, firing off target from six yards.

The miss summed up Huddersfield’s season and they remain without a win, while Liverpool remain level with Manchester City at the top of the table.

– Guardian

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