LONDON, Aug 27, 2016 (BSS/AFP) – Jurgen Klopp returns to the scene of his first game as Liverpool manager at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday, still searching for an effective winning formula.
Liverpool won 4-3 at Arsenal in their opening league game, but lost 2-0 at promoted Burnley last weekend before bouncing back to beat second-tier Burton Albion 5-0 in the League Cup.
Spurs drew at Everton before edging Crystal Palace last weekend and Klopp believes the two teams have evolved in similar ways since the 0-0 draw on his last trip to White Hart Lane last October.
“Both teams have consistency in the squad. There are of course new players, but not too many changes,” said the German, whose side lost at Burnley despite having over 80 percent of possession.
“It will be exciting what will happen there. They are still strong, of course. They’ve brought a few very good players in with the basis of their former squad.
“For us, everything could have been better, but it could have been worse. We’re still on the way. My team gave me a lot of really good signs to work with.”
Klopp’s line-up is unlikely to be radically different from the team he selected at Spurs on his Liverpool bow, with Martin Skrtel the only starting player to have left the club in the 10 months since.
If Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi can overcome fitness concerns, Klopp could feasibly start with seven of the players who took to the field in his first match.
Should Origi miss out through cramp, it could be good news for Daniel Sturridge, who complained about being played on the right flank at Burton, where he scored two late goals.
Klopp has done his best to douse any controversy, asserting that he did not want Sturridge taking up a “fixed position” on the flank and saying that there was “absolutely no problem”.
Can is doubtful due to an ankle problem, while Coutinho missed the trip to Burton after complaining of a stiff hamstring.
– Janssen ‘proper English’ –
Another England international striker adapting to a slightly different position is Tottenham’s Harry Kane. The 23-year-old played in a withdrawn role behind new Dutch striker Vincent Janssen in last weekend’s 1-0 win at home to Palace and set up the only goal with a flick-on for Victor Wanyama.
“Vincent took some big hits for the team with all the hustle and bustle up front, which I think made it a bit easier for Harry because normally it’s him that’s doing all the battling,” Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen told the club website.
“I think there was a good connection between them and especially with Vincent, he’s something different.
“Even though he’s from Holland, he’s proper English! He loves to tackle, he loves to battle and he loves to play football.”
Kane’s next goal will be his 50th in the Premier League and in Liverpool he faces a team who have kept only two clean sheets in 13 league games.
He is yet to score this season, but took seven games to get off the mark last term and ended the campaign with the Golden Boot as Mauricio Pochettino’s men finished third behind Leicester City and Arsenal.
With Mousa Dembele serving the fifth game of a six-match ban for eye-gouging Chelsea striker Diego Costa last season, Wanyama will continue in central midfield.
Michel Vorm is due to deputise again for goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who has a hamstring injury, while Dele Alli is pushing for a recall after starting on the bench against Palace due to illness.
Spurs have gone seven league games without beating Liverpool, but both of last season’s games were close affairs.
Following October’s goalless draw at White Hart Lane, Kane cancelled out a Coutinho effort to earn Spurs a 1-1 draw in the return fixture at Anfield in April.