Written by : George Curley (@George__Curley)
The often referred to rivalry of Klopp and Guardiola is one of the many talking points in the league – but last week provided the opportunity for the German to be compared to another manager, this one further down the table.
West Ham – in particular, Manuel Pellegrini – knew how they were going to play against Liverpool. With high intensity and a well-drilled defence they executed that plan to perfection. The Reds came into the game only having dropped five points this season and Klopp was starting to believe his own hype – or at least he was, until his saw Pellegrini’s Claret and Blue army.
At the start of the season, it couldn’t have been more different. West Ham continued their opening day bad luck when they got Liverpool in their first game. West Ham subsequently lost that game and Klopp already looked like he was running away with the title. However, when the two sides met again in the league the Hammers approached it with a different mindset – which flabbergasted Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp.
The Reds, lined up with the obligatory triple threat of Salah, Mané and Firmino, met with a solid midfield and defence. Anticipating this team selection, West Ham took a slightly different take on the game and lined up with a lone striker in Hernández complemented by an equally favoured supporting three in Antonio, Snodgrass and Anderson.
West Ham looked to utilise the wings and set plays whereas Liverpool looked to play from the back. This worked when Sadio Mané scored a controversial goal to put the Reds ahead. As if it was a drill in a training ground, Michail Antonio equalised with a smart through ball from Felipe Anderson from a free-kick. The game ended 1-1 and although the game was at an end, the talking of the managers certainly was not.
Let’s just say Mr Klopp didn’t hold back. In Jurgen Klopp’s interview after the game he exclaimed how Liverpool ‘struggled a bit’ and how his side was plagued with injuries but ultimately he said that both teams deserved a point. He addressed the Divock Origi incident as ‘lucky’ and he claimed that he ‘never the saw the offside goal’ until after that game. In response to Mark Noble’s statement that that West Ham ‘scared’ Liverpool he questioned why the West Ham captain hadn’t said that about other top teams when they’ve won against them.
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini didn’t differ in his response, mentioning Klopp and how ‘he is used to scoring offside goals to win games’ (referring back to his time at Malaga when the side went against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League quarter-final and the German team won when four players were offside for the winner.) Although the points were shared on Monday night, Jürgen seemed to have met his match in Manuel Pellegrini in terms of attitude and tactics.
This goes to show how much West Ham are able to compete and how vital Pellegrini is in formulating this progression.