Arne Slot has big priority at Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp just hinted at it

Arne Slot during a pre-Champions League training session with Feyenoord.
Arne Slot during a pre-Champions League training session with Feyenoord. -Credit:Photo by ANP via Getty Images

When Arne Slot takes over from Jürgen Klopp this summer, the idea is that Liverpool will not be performing a U-turn in terms of the way that it plays. There will be continuity in terms of style and system in the main.

Before trying to work out exactly what that means, the misconception that Liverpool is some kind of counter-attacking, swashbuckling and 'heavy metal' team should be discounted. Klopp's side has long moved away from that toward a more controlled method, with players like Thiago Alcântara and Alexis Mac Allister.

Liverpool still has intensity and it still wins the ball high upfield. It is not, for instance, anything like the Tiki Taka, pass-to-death Barcelona team that Pep Guardiola constructed. But it is closer to that than it once was.

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The evolution, however, is not yet complete. This season, Liverpool has been at its best when it is at its most controlled. Perhaps the 3-0 win over Aston Villa last September — a result that looks a lot more impressive now considering where Unai Emery's side has ended up — was the epitome of exactly that.

Liverpool had two-thirds of the ball that day, completing nearly 700 passes. With a 91 per cent passing accuracy, the Reds were able to stifle an Aston Villa team filled with quality.

Too often in recent weeks, though, the control has been temporarily lost. The classic examples are against Manchester United at Old Trafford, with the two matches there being the opposite of what Klopp's side is aiming for. Hectic and end-to-end games are what Erik ten Hag loves, but they ultimately mean a coin toss to determine a victor. It was a similar story in the dismal Merseyside derby.

The best teams in the division — Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool — are much more dominant than Manchester United aims to be. At their best, they each leave as little as possible to chance. For the first 70 minutes or so against Spurs on Sunday, Liverpool did that successfully before Richarlison and Son Heung-Min got two goals back.

"[The substitutions disrupting the Liverpool rhythm was] not helpful, and then they were flying," Klopp said post-match. "We had that game before [in last season’s 4-3]. Tottenham are just really good. But we controlled them for so long, that’s obviously most important. Somebody else can sort that next season!"

It is something that will need to be further worked on. Klopp might have been jovial when speaking about the necessity for further refinement in terms of keeping control, but it will be vital that Slot's tactics continue to address that.

With players like Mac Allister and Stefan Bajčetić capable of dictating things and Curtis Jones and Dominik Szoboszlai experts at winning and keeping the ball, Slot will have the tools to carry on with that Liverpool transition. Perfecting that, though, needs to be his biggest tactical priority.