LONDON, October 17 – Jurgen Klopp’s tenure as Liverpool manager began with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday.
Greeted by Germany flags in the away end bearing legends like ‘Liverpool Uber Alles’, Klopp handed a league debut to 20-year-old striker Divock Origi, who hit the bar in the early stages at White Hart Lane.
But he was also indebted to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for producing three important saves, which meant that although Liverpool have now won only once inside 90 minutes in their last 10 games, their manager was spared defeat on his first outing.
Klopp will have drawn encouragement from his team’s combativeness, particularly against a team who had crushed Manchester City 4-1 in their previous home game, and will now turn his thoughts to his first home game against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on Thursday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs, meanwhile, are now unbeaten in seven games — the longest run in the division — having ended a run of five straight league defeats against Liverpool.
Klopp made just two changes to the last team selected by his sacked predecessor Brendan Rodgers as Adam Lallana and Origi replaced knee ligament injury victim Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge, who was absent with a knock.
Clad in a black tracksuit, Klopp was quickly out on the touchline to offer encouragement to his new charges, who lined up in a 4-3-2-1 formation with Lallana and Philippe Coutinho supporting lone striker Origi.
Aggressive pressing was the cornerstone of Klopp’s approach at Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool made an energetic start that saw Origi head against the crossbar from one of a succession of early corners.
– Mignolet denies Njie –
Spurs’ rearguard effort cost them the services of Nacer Chadli, who was injured defending a corner and ceded his place to Clinton Njie.
Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela also found themselves on the end of shuddering challenges, from Mignolet and Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno, but the early exertions seemed to fatigue the visitors and Spurs assumed the upper hand.
A loose pass from Lallana allowed Harry Kane to tee up Njie, whose outside-of-the-foot shot was brilliantly tipped around the post by Mignolet.
The Belgium international also parried from Kane, with Dele Alli’s follow-up blocked by Lucas Leiva, while Eriksen had an attempt deflected wide and Njie and Mousa Dembele, in for the suspended Eric Dier, shot over.
After a feisty, open first half, the tempo fell in the second, with attacking caution on both sides restricting attempts on goal to long-range potshots.
It remained a physical game, however, and the Spurs dug-out flew from their seats in protest after Danny Rose was flattened in a collision with James Milner.
Klopp waited until the last 10 minutes before making any changes, with Joe Allen and Jordon Ibe replacing Lallana and Coutinho.
In the latter stages, Mignolet had to plunge to his left to repel a strafing effort from Kane, while Emre Can shot narrowly wide for Liverpool as a finely balanced game reached an appropriate conclusion.