Liverpool 2.0 reminds me of Jurgen Klopp’s best Reds teams – Shay Given analysis

MOTD2 analysis

Jurgen Klopp calls his remodelled Reds team ‘Liverpool 2.0’, but watching them is a reminder of what his best Anfield sides have always been like.

Liverpool definitely needed some freshening up over the summer, because last season I’m not sure some of their players had the legs to play the way Klopp wanted them to.

The front three were still pressing, but the midfield could not get up the pitch to back them up. Teams were playing through them, and causing them lots of problems.

It’s different now, and what we are seeing is more like the kind of ‘heavy metal’ football we saw when Klopp won the Champions League and Premier League.

Liverpool are pressing all over the pitch again and having a younger, fitter and stronger midfield has been massive in that.

Graphic showing Liverpool XI v West Ham: Alisson, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Jones, Salah, Diaz, Nunez

For Sunday’s win over West Ham, the Reds midfield trio were Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister and Curtis Jones; who had an average age of under 23 and provided the energy that Liverpool need.

This new team is far from perfect, of course. They are still unbeaten in the Premier League, and only Manchester City are above them in the table, but defensively there are still a few question marks and they need to tighten up.

Nunez is never bothered by a miss

Liverpool went a goal down in four of their first six games of this campaign, including their Europa League tie with LASK on Thursday, and it would have been a similar story on Sunday if West Ham had not wasted a couple of excellent early chances.

The Reds are still conceding too many goals but they have got enough firepower to recover when they are in trouble and, even when they are not playing well, they always look like they can score.

Snapshot of the top of the Premier League table: 1st Man City, 2nd Liverpool, 3rd Brighton, 4th Tottenham, 5th Arsenal, 6th Aston Villa

When I watched them beat Newcastle with 10 men last month, Liverpool got a bit lucky, I suppose, but Darwin Nunez did brilliantly to win the game for them – and he scored another big goal against the Hammers to put Liverpool 2-1 up.

Nunez was very hit and miss with his finishing last season, but I love the fact he doesn’t let it faze him if he fails to put away a big chance.

It happened in the second half against West Ham, when he saw his shot skim the post from close range, but then less than seven minutes later he buried his next chance, which was actually a lot harder.

Having that mental toughness is such a big positive for any striker and the more goals he scores, the more relaxed Nunez is going to be in front of goal.

Darwin Nunez scores for Liverpool against West Ham

I can see why the Reds fans love him so much because he brings so much to the team without the ball as well, with his work-rate when they press, and he doesn’t stop for the whole game.

I said before the season started that I was expecting Liverpool to make a serious comeback at the top of the table after they finished outside the top four last time out, and I think Nunez is going to play a big part in that.

Since the start of last season, he has hit the woodwork eight times in the Premier League, more than any other Premier League player.

He was only millimetres away from taking those chances, and it won’t take much of adjustment for his goals to really start to flow.

Salah still the talisman of this Reds team

Part of Liverpool’s rebuild was forced upon Klopp, because I don’t think he expected to lose two of his main midfielders, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, in the same transfer window.

I think it was absolutely vital that Mohamed Salah didn’t leave too, despite the bids for him from Saudi Arabia that were reportedly getting bigger and bigger as deadline day went on.

Liverpool have plenty of attacking options but the psychological impact on the club would have been huge if Salah had gone – he is a brilliant player of course, but it would also have done serious damage to the belief of the squad if they had lost him.

I would not be surprised if the Saudis come back in for Salah next summer but, in the meantime, he is hugely important for what they will hope to do this season – and a title bid is surely part of that plan.

Liverpool won’t like being in the Europa League but it will help them challenge City, because their midweek games will not be as demanding as Champions League matches are.

I am not saying the Europa League is easy, but the facts are the teams are not as good, and it means Klopp will be able to rotate his squad.

He did it against LASK in Austria on Thursday, when Salah came off the bench late on to score, but was still fresh to face West Ham. It is another reason why this strong Liverpool start might be hard to stop.

Shay Given was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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