Soccer-A good week's work for Klopp as Liverpool hit stride


By Martyn Herman

LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp could barely contain the smile when asked after his side's 2-0 win at Chelsea on Sunday whether it had been a good week for the Premier League champions.

The answer was pretty obvious. Two wins from their opening two Premier League games and, more significantly, they ended the week with an even stronger squad than they boasted last weekend.

Sadio Mane's double earned Liverpool what turned out to be a routine victory after Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen was red-carded for pulling down Mane just before halftime.

But what will concern Liverpool's title rivals will be the sight of Thiago Alcantara, signed for 20 million pounds ($26 million) from Bayern Munich on Friday, coming off the bench at halftime to slot seamlessly into Liverpool's midfield machine.

The Spaniard did concede a penalty, thankfully for him saved by Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker, but looked every bit the class act that made him a such a favourite at Bayern.

"He needs to get used to his team mates, but when they went one man down it became the perfect game for him," Klopp said.

"I liked his game a lot. Defensively it was tricky for him, but offensively, with the ball, that's him, he wants to pass the ball. Everything he did today was completely natural."

Factor in the signing of Portuguese forward Diogo Jota, recruited from Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday and who did not feature on Sunday, and no wonder Klopp looked happy.

His side were given a scare in a 4-3 win over Leeds United last week, but they put down a big marker at Stamford Bridge that they will take some toppling from their perch.

"Last week I was very happy, this week I am very happy but for different reasons, maybe. I liked both games. Look, we win 2-0, could have scored more," Klopp said.

While Liverpool have new options to look forward to in midfield and attack, it was the usual names who proved too much for Chelsea on Sunday.

Mane worked tirelessly, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino linked effortlessly and Fabinho earned rave reviews from Klopp for a superb display helping nullify Chelsea's attack.

The only time Klopp looked irritated all day was when scolding his substitutes and assistants for celebrating the sending off of Christensen, while there was also the slight worry of a thigh injury for captain Jordan Henderson that forced him off to be replaced by Thiago.

"After the red card, the second half is a different game. Clean sheet, Ali saves a penalty, Thiago debut. If Hendo has absolutely nothing (no injury), it's the perfect day."

($1 = 0.7744 pounds)

(Reporting by Martyn Herman Editing by Toby Davis)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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