They do love a slogan at Liverpool. Perfect for a manager who has a way with words and Jurgen Klopp has a cracking new motto for this season. ‘Our identity,’ he says, ‘is intensity.’
Coming to a banner on the Kop soon, where the only note of dissatisfaction among the terrace poets will be that they didn’t think of it first.
For it is the perfect encapsulation of what Klopp’s Liverpool represents. Identity. Intensity. The most obviously recognisable playing style in English football and a ferocity that exhausts opponents. Breaks them, Klopp insists.
‘Physically?’ he was asked, for clarification. ‘Yes, of course.’
When Klopp’s players arrived, exhausted, in the dressing room at half-time, he greeted them with a simple message.
‘I said to the boys, “OK, but how do you think they feel?”,’ Klopp explained. ‘Because it was an intense first half, but Arsenal had to make all the runs as well.
‘Sure, we did them, but that means so did they. And the tempo we put in the game from the beginning was really incredible. There was no time to breathe.
‘Adrian catches the ball, throws it out, now go. Andrew Robertson gets the ball. Oh really, again? We did it constantly. And I like that.’
Other teams do not. There was a marked drop in performance level for Arsenal after half-time and Unai Emery’s team only sparked back to life in the final 10 minutes, by which time the game was lost.
They couldn’t handle it. Couldn’t handle Liverpool’s constant running, their power, their energy, their tempo.
When Klopp decided Georginio Wijnaldum had done enough — he misplaced one pass the whole game — his replacement was James Milner, ensuring no respite at all for Arsenal’s midfield.
It is a brutal way of winning which is perhaps why some professional observers believe Klopp’s team cannot sustain it across this season. Not after the last one, certainly.
It is not an opinion Liverpool’s manager can afford to share. He does not have an alternate strategy where his players can knock off.
Yet here is the conundrum: while Liverpool break other teams, will Klopp’s intense strategy ultimately break Liverpool? Jamie Carragher’s suggestion at pitchside that he might have considered resting Sadio Mane for this one met a snort of derision.
‘I would love to hear Jamie Carragher if I had left Sadio out,’ Klopp retorted. ‘This punditry is a world-class business.
‘I have to think about if I do it after my management career, because you can say whatever you want and you always put a finger in something.
‘So yes, we try with Sadio. I did it today. I took him off and he doesn’t have to go away on international duty this time which will help him. We have an eye on it. You have to ask the players and that’s important as well.
‘As long as I see in their eyes that they really want it and I see it in our session in midweek, then I know. It’s about having that intensity always.
‘We still only train two hours a day. In pre-season, four or five hours, but it’s not training like you are always exhausted. It’s making you stronger, more resilient. And if you win you don’t feel it like you do when you lose.’
And Liverpool have not dropped points in the league since a goalless draw with Everton on March 3. Frank Lampard once said that, under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, confidence was so high he felt he could have played two games in a day, if asked. Liverpool have that defiance now.