Klopp 'not surprised' by Elliott display for Liverpool in win
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Liverpool have made a solid start to their Premier League campaign, winning both of their matches without conceding a goal. The return to fitness of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip has been at the heart of the Reds’ wins over Norwich and Burnley, but there has been another star in their side.
Kostas Tsimikas endured a difficult first season with Liverpool following his £11.75million move from Olympiacos last summer.
The 25-year-old made just seven appearances during his debut campaign as coronavirus, as well as thigh and knee injuries kept him off the pitch.
With Andy Robertson such a consistent performer at left-back for Jurgen Klopp’s side, Tsimikas was not an obvious miss.
Robertson started all 38 Premier League matches in 2020/21, contributing one goal and seven assists, but the Scotland international has been absent at the start of this season with an ankle injury.
He was back on the bench for Saturday’s 2-0 win over in a major boost for Klopp, but the Liverpool manager won’t need to rush him back into the starting line-up.
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That’s because Tsimikas has been a revelation during the opening moments of the 2021/22 campaign, turning in exciting performances from left-back.
It has taken him a year to find his feet, but the Greek defender has definitely found them now.
After helping his side keep a clean sheet in the comfortable 3-0 win over Norwich on the opening weekend, Tsimikas was even more influential against Burnley.
Putting crosses into the box against Sean Dyche’s side can be a futile exercise. The delivery needs to be absolutely spot-on to get the better of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.
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Tsimikas was not put off. Roared on by a packed Anfield, he looked up and swung a perfect ball in for Diogo Jota to flick past Nick Pope to make it 1-0 in the first half.
“Without the cross of Kostas, this goal wouldn’t have happened,” Klopp told BT Sport post-match. “Great movement, great goal.”
It was a moment reminiscent of Robertson and underlined the depth in Klopp’s squad this season.
While he was desperately short on players due to injury at times last season, bar Robertson, he has started this with a fit and firing squad, despite barely using the transfer market.
“I can tell you now because of the things that happened last year, we needed four centre-halves, now we have six,” Klopp said in his post-match press conference.
“We needed that and the first four will all play. We’ll mix it up when we have to. After a long injury, they shouldn’t play three times a week.”
Now he has the luxury, Klopp will use the same principle across all positions. Robertson is undoubtedly his first-choice left-back, but Tsimikas’ emergence provides him with a viable alternative.
For a team which creates so many chances from the full-back positions, that could be a game-changer.
The £11.75m spent on Tsimikas initially looked like a gamble gone wrong. It is still early days this season, but the early signs are hugely positive for Liverpool’s squad depth.
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