MANCHESTER, England (AP) With his charm, quips, tactical insights and beaming smile, Juergen Klopp made quite an impression when he was presented as Liverpool’s new manager last week.
Comparisons were made with Jose Mourinho’s arrival in English football a decade ago. Liverpool fans spoke of Klopp as a savior.
However, it will be results on the field he’ll be judged on and the Klopp era at Liverpool gets off to a potentially tough start on Saturday with a trip to Tottenham, which thrashed then-leader Manchester City 4-1 in its last home game in the Premier League.
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The international break has at least given Klopp some extra time to adjust to his new surroundings. He was pictured on a night out in Liverpool city center on Friday, a few hours after his first round of interviews, and took his first training session on Tuesday with nine players who weren’t involved on national-team duty, including Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and James Milner.
The serious business begins this weekend.
How long will it take for Klopp to deliver the ”full-throttle football” he is promising? Can he make Liverpool more solid at the back? What will his attack look like, with Sturridge, Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, Coutinho and Adam Lallana all competing for places?
Danny Ings won’t be in the attacking mix, not for most of this season anyway. British media reported Thursday that the striker will be missing for six months after sustaining a cruciate knee ligament injury. Liverpool hasn’t officially confirmed the injury.
Games will come thick and fast for Klopp over the next three weeks, on average one every three or four days across three competitions – the league, the Europa League and the English League Cup. That will likely stretch his squad and give him a chance to see who is worth keeping ahead of the January transfer window, when he may reshape the team.
Liverpool is in 10th place after eight games, but only three points off the top four. Spurs are a point and two places ahead.
Here are other things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend:
The international break did no favors for league leader Manchester City, with Sergio Aguero and David Silva – two of the team’s star players – both getting injured on duty for their countries and set to miss Saturday’s game against Bournemouth.
Aguero was in tears as he was being carried off on stretcher playing for Argentina last week and his hamstring injury appears serious. He said he is hopeful of being back for Argentina for its Nov. 13 game against Brazil, but that ”the injury must be let to recover a bit so there is no relapse.”
It gives an opportunity for fellow striker Wilfried Bony, who has struggled to make an impression at City since his January move from Swansea – scoring just two goals in 19 games.
Silva injured an ankle playing for Spain against Luxembourg.
City holds a two-point lead over Arsenal and Manchester United.
Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez is arguably the form player in the Premier League, having scored nine goals in his last five games for club and country – including two in the stunning 3-0 win over Manchester United in the last round of the Premier League.
There were concerns about Sanchez’s fitness when he left Arsenal for international duty with Chile, but he scored three goals in two games for his country and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Sanchez has texted him to say he is OK, fitness-wise.
Arsenal visits Watford in Saturday’s late game, with big wins over Leicester and United raising hopes of a title challenge this season. Center back Laurent Koscielny could return from injury for Arsenal.
The Premier League standings are starting to take shape after eight rounds and it was no surprise to see City, United and Arsenal occupying a place in the top four.
The one glaring omission is Chelsea, which continues to struggle in its defense of the title and is languishing in 16th place – two positions above the relegation zone – with only two wins so far.
The team’s last outing was a 3-1 home loss to Southampton that was followed by a public endorsement by Chelsea for Jose Mourinho, with a club statement saying he is the ”right manager to turn this season around.”
A home loss on Saturday to Aston Villa, one of the four teams below Chelsea, would really heap the pressure on Mourinho, however.
Chelsea may have to replace right back Branislav Ivanovic, who was injured playing for Serbia on international duty.