Jurgen Klopp has brought sheer joy to all Liverpool fans. Here are my favourite five matches under him

Written by:

Share the love

By Dave Prior

Where on earth do I start by talking about Jurgen Klopp? For starters, there’s nothing that I can say about him that hasn’t been said already far better by someone else.

The man, quite frankly, is a marvel – a modern incarnation of Shankly, mixing brilliant man management with cutting-edge tactics and being a thoroughly decent bloke into the bargain well. And that summary doesn’t even really come close.

But I wanted to write about five of my favourite matches under him. Keeping it to just five was a nearly impossible task and I feel like I’ve left out some matches that have made even me incredulous that I have left them out. Madrid ’19 fails to make it, for example. Mainly, in that case, because I sat in a bar in a Majorca for about 88 minutes a total nervous wreck in the desperate hope that the referee would blow for full time any minute. The final whistle was magnificent, but I’m not sure I enjoyed the game.

Neither of the cup finals from 2022 make it either and neither do any of the mailings inflicted upon Manchester United – as enjoyable as they always were. There are one or two more obvious choices and one or two that may raise an in- inquisitive eyebrow. But they are my choices and each and every one of these sparks great memories for me. I didn’t have any criteria for choosing the games, but they do span most of the Klopp era. A glorious era. And an era to cherish as a Liverpool fan.

Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool (Coutinho 2, Lallana, Mane) – August 2016 – Premier League

An opening day fixture at the Emirates in Klopp’s first full season in charge. A place where Liverpool had not had much success over the years. But straight away, you could see the benefit of a Klopp pre-season and how this team were going to play. The 4-3-3 was here to stay, with Jordan Henderson anchoring the midfield, alongside new signing Gina Wijnaldum and a lively Adam Lallana. Up front, Sadio Mane played the first of three roles under Klopp on the right, with Coutinho on the left and the irrepressible Bobby Firmino in the false nine role he so perfected.

Simon Mignolet saved a penalty from Theo Walcott, following a mistake by Al-Berto Moreno, before he promptly made up for it by scoring. Seconds before half-time, Coutinho smashed in a free kick that I would wager stands as probably his best in a Liverpool shirt.

After the break, Adam Lallana drilled in from close range, before Coutinho finished off a sumptuous 19-pass move for his second and Mane marked his debut by driving into the Arsenal defence, cutting back and smashing it into the top corner. From 1-0 down just before halftime to 4-1 up 20 minutes into the second half, Mane’s celebration by getting a piggyback from Klopp probably mirrored how all Liverpool fans were feeling at the time.

Arsenal rallied and pulled it back to 4-3, but Liverpool held on for a brilliantly entertaining win. And it wasn’t just the three points away at a rival, or the thrill of an opening day win, it was the way it was done and the tone set for a full Klopp season.

Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool (Mane 2, Van Dijk) – March 2019 – Champions League

Now, it’s possible that this one might actually be my favourite of them all under Klopp. I wonder if it’s Klopp’s favourite. It must be right up there for him.

The first leg had ended 0-0, which prompted some pretty over-the-top Bayern celebrations at the final whistle. In the days of the away goals rule, I never thought a 0-0 at home was too bad. Effectively, the team playing at home in the second leg in this situation has to win. Bayern obviously fancied themselves to do this – and why wouldn’t they, they’re Bayern Munich – but I had a real pull that Liverpool would do it. Especially the Liverpool of that season.

Mane opened the scoring in the 26 minute with the most exquisite touch, turn and chip, following a trademark Van Dijk long pass. It was a truly special goal, reflecting the brilliant football intelligence Mane possessed, alongside the pace and vigour he also brought.

Bayern equalised shortly before halftime – Joel Matt unluckily turning the ball into his own net, but Liverpool remained in control, both of the tie and the tempo of the match. Van Dijk headed in from a corner midway through the second half, before Mane scored his second with a header from a Salah cross.

This was not the blood and thunder Liverpool from earlier in Klopp’s earlier games – exemplified by the above game against Arsenal. This was a controlled, measured and ruthless performance in the backyard of one of the giants of football. Klopp’s team didn’t crash their way into the Allianz, screaming and shouting before smashing it to pieces and legging it when they were discovered; no, they calmly strolled in, set about dismantling it piece by piece with steely determination and no fuss, before calmly strolling out again. It was ruthless and it was brilliant.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (Origi 2, Wijnaldum 2) – May 2019 – Champions League

I mean, I couldn’t include this, could I? Even trying to think of some different matches not everyone would include on a list like this, how could I possibly not include this?

This may actually be my favourite of the lot. I know I said that for the Bayern match, but when I think back to this one and remember the night, the drama, the songs, the incredulity and the sheer feelings I felt at the time, it really is unbeatable.

The 3-0 loss at the Nou Camp six days previously was not a fair reflection on how well Liverpool had played. They were undone by some unusual profligacy in front of goal and the brilliance of Messi. Being heavily involved in the title race as well, they had had a bruising and exhausting win at Newcastle just three days prior, as well as watching Vincent Kompany thunder one in to put Manchester City on the brink of the title the night before. Added to that, there was no Salah or Firming, with Origi and Shaqiri joining Mane up front.

Everything was against them: it was a proper backs-to-the-wall situation, with possibly the last chance to salvage anything from such a brilliant season. But Anfield is made for nights and situations like that – a coliseum and bear pit of vibrancy, noise and intensity.

With everything that went on to happen, it is easy to forget that the first half was very even. Origi’s opener was the perfect start, but Barcelona threatened throughout and created some good chances.

But it was the second half where the magic happened. Barcelona creaked when Wijnaldum scored, they staggered when he scored again, and were knocked flat out when Origi turned in the ‘corner taken quickly’ chance for the winner.

The scenes with You’ll Never Walk Alone after the game were memorable too. It wasn’t just a special night for us Liverpool fans – it resonated worldwide. In a special period with Klopp as manager, it was probably the utter pinnacle. And that says a lot.

Liverpool 4-0 Crystal Palace (Alexander Arnold, Salah, Fabinho, Mane – June 2020 – Premier League

My choice to raise some eyebrows, but I can explain.

I’ve been a Liverpool fan since 1990 and my greatest wish has always been to see us win the title. In all honesty, there was not much chance of anything else happening before COVID hit that season – or any chance of anything else happening once the season resumed. Liverpool’s lead was massive, but we still needed 6 points and the dour draw with Everton a few days previously had got me unnecessarily and ridiculously nervous. I started imagining scenarios of losing against Palace, Manchester City then winning and Liverpool having to scrape and scrap for those remaining 5 points.

I needn’t have worried.

Liverpool were far too good that season – pandemic or not – and they were hungry and focused that night. The Everton match had shrugged off any lingering rust and they set about Palace with real purpose.

Trent curled in a beautiful free kick, before a chipped Fabinho through ball found Salah to make it two. Fabinho himself pile-drove in the third before the three forwards combined for Mane to slot home.

All four goals were brilliant in their own way – dead ball, through ball, long-range shot, passing move – and they all showcased Liverpool at their brilliant best from that season. Fabinho was supreme as well – a genuinely world-class midfield performance from a player who had become so key.

It was the most enjoyable match to watch and it finished with there being no doubt Liverpool would be crowned champions for the first time in thirty years. And that was the best thing of all.

Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (Van Dijk) – February 2024 – Carabao Cup

The only trophy win on my list and, also being so fresh in the memory and the circumstances around it, one of the most enjoyable too.

It was a strange period that preceded this match, with an injury crisis engulfing Liverpool and the news of Klopp’s end-of-season departure still hanging heavily.

There were also echoes of 2022 and the quadruple charge – albeit with the Europa League to go for instead of the Champions League.

First up – Kelleher, Van Dijk, Konate and Endo were magnificent all match. The victory was built on that diamond of solidity. Endo even left the stadium that evening with his leg in a cast from his non-stop running all afternoon. Van Dijk rightly took the plaudits for his captain’s performance and beautifully taken winning-headed goal, but the other three shouldn’t be forgotten.

Nor too should Jayden Danns, Bobby Clark or James McConnell – all substitutes, all young, all fearless, all brilliant.

But as with a lot that happened under Klopp, so much of this was down to him. His unwavering belief, his passion to win, the loyalty he received in bucketloads because of the manager he was. “Bottlejobs” became the word of the day to describe Chelsea. We couldn’t care less: we had Klopp, we had our club and we had a new trophy. I’ve rarely celebrated one more.

Liverpool fans of a certain age like to rightly regale everyone younger with their stories of Shankly and Paisley. I’m already doing the same to anyone younger about Klopp. And he’s not even been gone long. I suspect we’ll all look back in years to come and reminisce about the Klopp era. “We were there”, we’ll say, “and it was the best.”

Spread the love
Supporter's Section

With over 30 shows a month

we cover every aspect of Liverpool FC, past present & future.

Now is the time to subscribe.

Previews, reactions, analysis, interviews

and more through the ups & the downs!

Join Redmen TV Plus Today

Subscribe Today Or
| Website designed & hosted by Cyberfrog Design Web Design Liverpool