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Mourinho masterclass or killer Klopp ?

Liverpool vs Manchester United- The clash of the titans.

This historic fixture has conjured up many enthralling spectacles over the years, but tomorrow’s game seems like one of the hardest to predict in recent times. 

 

Will Klopp still ruthlessly attack even without star man, Sadio Mane, who usually is the driving force in the ventures forward? 

 

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Will Mourinho park the bus just like he did at Anfield last year, as well as many times in the past too? 

 

Can Mourinho even afford to play defensively, given the fact that United’s noisy neighbours are leading the way with them at the top of the league?

 

Can United afford to drop points and allow Manchester City to charge onwards? 

 

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Will Mourinho play attacking, now that Mane has been ruled out? Does he feel more confident now without the Senegalese man to deal with? 

 

So many questions left unanswered. 

 

United have started the season very impressively, remaining unbeaten and issuing a statement of intent to the chasing pack, they mean business this time.

 

The Red Devils lead the way alongside City, and this season it  already looks like the title will be  heading to Manchester. 

 

Liverpool have had a very mediocre start to proceedings. The absence of Philippe Coutinho for the first four games didn’t help whatsoever, his creative spark in the final third was dearly missed, which has ultimately cost the Reds. But, the thing that has been most detrimental is, of course, the dismal defence. 

 

Sound familiar? Reds fans are sick and tired of the same defensive errors  that have haunted them for countless years, the same errors that show no signs of halting anytime soon. 

 

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United are enjoying their best times since Ferguson was in charge, they go into this game with confidence sky high, but even though they are on firing on all cylinders, a typical Mourinho shutout masterclass seems on the cards. 

 

This usually involves sitting deep with everyone staying in defence, absorbing the pressure of opposition attacks and then countering them. 

 

The most classic example of this against the Reds was with Mourinho’s former side, Chelsea, in a 2-0 win at Anfield in April, 2014. 

 

This was the game that severely dented Liverpool’s title charge in the famous 2013/14 season, when Brendan Rodgers was inches away from reaching the holy grail of English football, only to be stopped in his path thanks to dogged defending, time wasting and snide tactics. 

 

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A snatch and grab win was achieved, courtesy of two Liverpool mistakes.

 

The first stemmed from Demba Ba capitalising on Steven Gerrard’s infamous ‘slip’, and the second was a last minute breakaway goal, which again came from a Liverpool failure, as Iago Aspas’ short corner landed straight to Fernando Torres, who drifted through an empty Liverpool half, setting up Willian to score. 

 

Last season, United were underwhelming to say the least, especially going forwards. Fans were drooling at the prospect of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan leading the attacking line.

 

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They were not left drooling in awe, but instead sent to sleep in sheer boredom. 

 

During this campaign they have found a new dynamic, however. Summer signings have bolstered the squad and goals are no longer hard to come by, but now are coming in abundance. 

 

Because of this re-born side, would it really make sense for Mourinho to deploy defensive  tactics? 

 

The only thing holding them back is the loss of both Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba in midfield, two very physical players with the ability to stamp their authority on proceedings. 

 

However, the home side have lost their touch going forwards, worsened by the Fab Four losing their most instrumental member- Sadio Mane. This will play into United’s hands rather favourably. 

 

Klopp revels in playing ‘heavy metal football’, so it would be very uncharacteristic of him to park the bus. Even with the defensive frailties, it’s just not something he’d even consider, especially at home to your bitter rivals. 

 

Mane’s loss will be damaging, but not devastating. The Reds still possess lots of talent in attack, with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Philippe Coutinho able to fill the void. Expect Klopp to still go out for the win at all costs, it’s just whether his nemesis will view matters in the same fashion. 

 

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With Rashord, Lukaku and co in an unforgiving mood, combined with how shaky the Reds’ backline is, you’d think Mourinho would relish letting his destructive dynamos off their leash, instead of taming them.

 

But old habits die hard, Mourinho is a man stuck with what he knows best.

 

He likes to talk the talk in press conferences about rival opposition, but when it comes to walking the walk, he shies away, and instead spark fury and frustration. 

 

For all the hype and build up to this crunch encounter, don’t be surprised if a stalemate is the likely outcome.

 

Two coaches with contrasting  playing styles and perceptions of game management, mixed with injury setbacks and a splash of high expectations, are the perfect  ingredients for football played on a knife edge, but lacking  cut-throat mentality.    

 

Tom Cavilla.

 

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Romelu Lukaku has terrorised Premier League defences in recent times. But against Liverpool, it’s a different story:

Romelu Lukaku has seven goals in seven Premier League games this season, a very impressive return. But don’t bank on him finding the net at Anfield today.

The Belgian started out at Chelsea on his journey in English top-flight football, before enjoying loan spells at West Brom and Everton.

Following a successful spell at Goodison, the 24-year-old made the move permanent. He remained on Merseyside for three years, before moving to Manchester United in the summer for £75 million.

Lukaku ended last season with 24 league goals with the Toffees, making him the second highest scorer behind Harry Kane. The campaign prior to this, he bagged 18.

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He has swiftly become one of the league’s finest players, which prompted United to splash the cash on the forward.

Despite only being 24 years old, he is already ranked 32nd in the Premier League top scorers list of all time. If he carries on this season in the same manner in which he’s started, you’d expect him to hit the 25-30 goal bracket. If he bags 30 goals, that would send him sky rocketing up the list of top scorers in history to 17th.

However, despite proving to be a goal machine, he has struggled in recent times when facing the Reds.

Lukaku has just one goal in his last seven games against Liverpool, compounded by the fact he has failed to register a shot on target in five of those matches.

During his Everton days, he became renowned for failing to deliver when it really mattered against the big boys of the league. Towards the end of his time at the club, he was firing in goals left, right and centre, but still failed to show up in matches of paramount importance.

He scored three times in twelve outings against the top six of the league (home and away) last campaign, a goal scoring return that you wouldn’t place hand in hand with a £75 million player.

The Belgian striker played in eight Merseyside derbies, failing to win once.

His first league start for Everton vs Liverpool came in a 3-3 thriller at Goodison, in which he netted a brace. However, he played seven games after this against the Reds, with just a solitary goal to his name.

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These seven games he was involved in, include two 4-0 thumping’s, which for the most part, he may as well have been a spectator watching on the sidelines.

His most notable lacklustre performance came when Jurgen Klopp’s side walked away 1-0 victors in December last year at the home of the Toffees, courtesy of a last minute Sadio Mane winner.

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The Senegalese winger seized the opportunity which presented itself to him, sealing both three points and city bragging rights. Lukaku himself had little to brag about, as Ragnar Klavan kept him tucked away in his back pocket all game.

Now that he has made the move to Manchester, expectations are raised even further. He has started superbly, but one could argue he hasn’t faced a top side yet. Today’s fixture will test his ability to rise to the challenge that keeps eluding him.

Despite cutting ties with the Blues, he has managed to keep the Reds as his arch nemesis.

This weekend’s clash will really demonstrate if it was the players surrounding Lukaku or if it’s simply his inability to deliver on the highest stage that has seen him struggle to score when it truly counts.

Can he make an impact against the Reds?

 

Tom Cavilla

 

 

 

 

 

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The weakness Liverpool must exploit vs Manchester United :

No Paul Pogba, no Marouane Fellaini.

Two brutes in the centre of Manchester United’s midfield, missing.

Jose Mourinho’s side have been sweeping away teams with ease so far this season, playing some enthralling football.

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Many have put forward the case that even away from home at Liverpool, they are still firm favourites. But, the loss of Pogba and Fellaini in the centre of the park will be of paramount importance to Liverpool.

One of United’s biggest strengths is the height that they have throughout the squad.

David De Gea- 6ft 4 in

Sergio Romero- 6ft 3 ½ in

Eric Bailly- 6ft 1 in

Luke Shaw- 6ft 1 in

Matteo Darmian- 6ft

Chris Smalling- 6ft 4 in

Phil Jones- 6ft 1 in

Marcos Rojo- 6ft 2 in

Victor Lindelof- 6ft 2 in

Nemanja Matic- 6ft 4 in

Ander Herrera- 6ft

Michael Carrick- 6ft 2 in

Marcus Rashford- 6ft 1 in

Romelu Lukaku- 6ft 3 in

Zlatan Ibrahimovic- 6ft 5 in

Marouane Fellaini- 6ft 4 ½ in

Paul Pogba- 6ft 3 in

This collective aerial prowess allows them to often reign supreme when challenging for the ball from set pieces as well as anywhere else on the pitch where crosses  are flying in.

But now that these two players will be absent, just what will that mean for the away side’s midfield set-up?

Yes, Matic will still be available, but now attention is likely to turn to Herrera to sit alongside the Serbian, the Spaniard is still a towering 6ft tall; however, he does not boast the same physical presence to that of his injured team-mates.

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The duo of Pogba and Fellaini has been effective as they complement each other when playing. The Belgian is not so concerned about scoring goals and grabbing the headlines, his mind is set on the task in hand and nothing else. This allows the Frenchman to roam the midfield, acting as the creative spark to conjure up opportunities for his side.

Fellaini is enjoying the best spell of his United days, but things haven’t always been plain sailing. The former Everton midfielder has been subject to mass criticism over the last few years, mainly down to his unorthodox and predominantly unattractive playing style.

He does not offer you skill and elegance, his technique is questionable to say the least, but it’s effective.

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Mourinho has found a way to get the best out of him, using him as a target man more than anything, which has even seen him score a few goals. This has worked for the side many times now, as no one can get near him. Not only this, he brushes past opponents as if they’re an irritating fly; swatting them away with little remorse.

The fact that he’s unavailable undoubtedly plays into Jürgen Klopp’s hands.

There is a stark contrast between Liverpool and Man United in terms of the players they own. Listed above, are the players in Mourinho’s side that are notably tall, if we look at who Klopp has at his disposal there is a lengthy gap.

Klopp’s side aren’t the tallest; there are ten first-team players who are six foot and over, compared to United’s 17. But, the thing that is most striking of all is the positions the players are in.

Seven of Liverpool’s ten 6ft+ men are defensive players  ( Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip, and Danny Ward), the other three up field are Emre Can, Marko Grujic and Dominic Solanke.

The problem is; United’s are scattered all over the pitch.

Most of the Red Devils’ defensive unit are over six foot tall, with the only exceptions being Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind; who are both a close 5ft 11’.

In midfield, there are the likes of the two men ruled out; Pogba and Fellaini, Carrick, Matic and Herrera. But also in attack, Lukaku, Ibrahimovic and Rashford lead the line definitively.

By taking two very physical players out of the picture, it swings the pendulum back in Liverpool’s favour.

Liverpool are already renowned for their poor defensive abilities, especially from set pieces, and when faced with a team that has a set of players that Mourinho has, it doesn’t bode well.

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The Portuguese manager will always set up to counteract his opponent, remaining fully aware where the Reds’ weaknesses lay; therefore doing everything possible to make life hard for the defence.

Long balls upfield for Lovren and Matip to deal with is somewhat of a certainty to be prominent, what isn’t guaranteed, however, is whether they will deal with the bombardment of hit and hope hooves.

Fellaini’s non-attendance in particular, will theoretically make life easier for Liverpool in this department, though . He is quite frankly a massive nuisance, which will bring the Reds’ centre-back pairing some relief.

So, Liverpool must stamp their authority in the middle of the pitch as this could prove to be a game changer.

Mourinho is likely to shut up shop, as he tends to do in the big matches, this will make United difficult to break down and get past. But, with the two absentees; there will be inviting pockets of space for the Reds’ attacking trident to optimise.

This is a must win game for the Reds.

United’s injury woes will help the home side, but there are still plenty of other items that will need considering.

Tom Cavilla.

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 Why the Reds need three points against Leicester to avoid jaded January repeat: 

January 2017. This was a month in which Liverpool personified capitulation.  

The Reds crashed out of both the FA and EFL Cup, in nine games they managed just a solitary win, coming unimpressively in the form of  League Two Plymouth Argyle.

This occurred in a month which is affiliated with feelings of determination, hopefulness and commitment, as people set new goals for themselves to overcome and accomplish. If Liverpool’s goal was to give fans new hope going into the new year, they fell somewhat short of the mark.

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Fast forward seven months, and Klopp’s side find themselves stuck in a rut, again.

Liverpool are without a win in four games. Should they make it five against Craig Shakespeare’s men, this will mark Klopp’s longest winless run whilst in charge of the club.

The first game of this winless streak came away to Manchester City, a 5-0 drubbing; pretty hard to forget about. This was followed up by draws at home to Sevilla and Burnley, and Tuesday night’s defeat to Leicester.

The Reds must bounce back against the Foxes to ensure they do not spiral out of control, and keep mounting the pressure on Jurgen Klopp- who is under fire, despite doing a fantastic job during his tenure at Anfield.

The results in the January downslope were arguably much worse than the current streak, with three home defeats inflicted by Swansea, Southampton and Championship Wolves.

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But, there is an air of familiarity to this dismal month, where Klopp and his men stared in the face of adversity: Fans turning on the players and Klopp, Klopp himself, showing signs of matters getting the better of him, and the absence of Sadio Mane proving pivotal.

Liverpool have shipped eight goals in their first two Premier League away games this season. In Chelsea’s 2004/05 title winning season, they conceded nine away goals in the entire season.

The Reds’ defence has come back to haunt them once more, as they rely on the front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, to bail them out.

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If the Foxes inflict back to back defeats on Liverpool in the space of four days, it will leave Klopp in a tricky place, needing answers as to who he should be playing and who he shouldn’t.

However, if Klopp and his side can weather the storm it will put them in good stead going forward, with crunch games coming up against Manchester United and Tottenham over the next month. The last thing you want is to be entering games of this magnitude on low confidence.

Since the former Borussia Dortmund manager took charge, he has only lost two of the twenty matches against the top six he has been in charge of (Manchester United 22.3.15 + Manchester City 9.9.17). So, with the heavyweight clashes coming up, he will fancy his chances; but will want the team on good form going into this.

The Reds are already five points adrift of both Manchester clubs, who are reigning supreme together at the top of the table. So, these two games will allow Liverpool to make up lost ground and start their surge towards the upper echelons of the league.

After the game at the King Power Stadium, two tricky away trips loom.

Firstly, at Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, in what will be a very hostile environment, and consequently will make three points a tough ask. This is followed by a visit to the Sports Direct Arena, where the Reds will face up against former  Liverpool manager; Rafael Benítez’ Newcastle side.

The Reds lost this fixture the last time the two teams met at this ground. Current red, Gini Wijnaldum, netted a brace to leave Klopp’s men empty handed.

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If Liverpool fail to beat Leicester at the second time of asking, they will enter these two tough away games deprived of fighting spirit.

Should the Merseysiders then continue to slump against Spartak Moscow and Newcastle, it will be seven games without a win- pushing close to the deplorable January streak.

Klopp’s men cannot afford to go off the rails at such an early stage of the season and lose pace with the leaders.

After their rampant 4-0 display against Arsenal, many tipped Liverpool to be in with a shout of the trophy which has eluded them for so long now. But, just two league games later and people are questioning if they are good enough to even secure top four.

A win at Leicester will reignite belief and place the Reds back on the path to success. It’s a long road ahead, but these three points will go a long way.

Tom Cavilla.

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Five centre halves Liverpool should target in January: 

Liverpool are crying out for a new centre half. 

The new Premier League season is only five games in, yes. But, given the defensive frailties that are evident in this Liverpool side, fans are already looking ahead to January in the hope that reinforcements will arrive.  

Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan in particular have come under mass criticism, with many supporters left bemused they still remain in the starting line-up. 

Since his arrival in October 2015, Klopp has only spent £4.2 million in this position , with that money being spent on Klavan.  

It’s a position that has needed attention for a while now, but has seen little effort to address it. 

Here are five potential targets that the club could swoop for:  

 

  1. Virgil Van Dijk( Southampton) : 

Where else to start at number one?   

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The Reds were linked with the Dutchman for the entirety of the summer window.   

At one point, it looked as if the deal was all but done. But, the tapping up allegations made by Southampton scuppered the deal, and forced Liverpool into publicly apologising and announcing that they had ended their interest in the defender.  

Just as hopes were crushed, they were revitalised a couple of weeks later when van Dijk added fuel to the fire, handing in a transfer request, and issuing a very emotive statement about his situation:   

“I am incredibly ambitious and want to achieve as much as I possibly can to fulfil my potential in what is a very short career as a professional footballer.  

I want to play European football again and challenge for major honours and as such I would like Southampton to consider the interest in me from top clubs should it still exist.”  

The deal didn’t happen in the end, however, much to the disappointment of Liverpool fans.  

The Reds should go back in for the 26-year-old, he would be the ideal player to repair a broken defence. 

His pace, strength and ability to play out from the back would make him a terrific acquisition.   

2. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) : 

At 6ft 5 inches tall, Koulibaly reigns supreme in the air.  

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The Senegalese defender has been at Napoli since 2014 and has established himself as one of the Serie A’s hottest talents.   

He is 26 years old, a prime age for a centre half. The experience he has would bring some much-needed stability to a backline bereft of confidence.  

His biggest assets are his power and physicality, as well as his passing ability.   

He boasted an 89% pass completion rate last season.  

Perhaps fellow Senegal international, Sadio Mane, can help out with this one. 

 

 3. Aymeric Laporte(Athletic Bilbao) :  

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Laporte very much depicts the ‘young head on old shoulders’ expression.   

The 23-year-old Frenchman has featured in the Spanish league over 140 times, an impressive feat at such a young age.   

Not only this, he helped Bilbao to their first piece of silverware in 31 years, when the Basque club lifted the Supercopa de Espana in 2015.  

He shows incredible composure when he plays, and is an intelligent defender.   

He was named in the La-Liga team of the year for the 2013/14 season as well as featuring in the team of the tournament for the UEFA European Under 19 Championships with France (2013).  

4. Matthijs de Ligt(Ajax) :   

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This is somewhat more of a long-term successor for the Reds’ back-line.  

De Ligt is just 18 years old, and still has a lot more to give before he reaches his full potential. However, a switch to Anfield could take him to the next level.  

He broke into the Ajax first team last season at 17, coming on and scoring from a corner 25 minutes into his senior debut, making him the club’s second youngest ever scorer.  

He played in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United, in last season’s Europa League final.  

In 2016, he won the ‘ Ajax Talent of The Future’ award, at a club who are renowned for creating future prodigies.   

He illustrates a sound understanding of the game, possesses great technical ability, and has already amassed first team experience at a top club.  

Despite age not being on his side, talent sure is.   

The youngster signed a new contract at the Johan Cruyff Arena, which lasts until 2021. However in today’s game, this means very little as we’ve seen many a time.  

 

 5. Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad) : 

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Martinez has been at Real Sociedad for the most part of his career, he made his La Liga debut in 2011, six years ago now.   

Since making his breakthrough, he has rarely missed a game for the Spanish side, showing he is a dependable, regular presence at the back.  

Having played first team football in a high-quality league for such a lengthy period of time, he is aware of the ins and outs of the game.   

Although he is fairly short for a centre half at 5ft 11′, he makes amends with his profound experience and ball-winning ability.   

Martinez has won close to 40% of the tackles he has attempted over the course of the last two seasons, whilst also averaging an interception every 37 minutes over the same time frame.  

 

Tom Cavilla. 

 

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Why Didi Hamann is wrong about Klopp’s Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s memorable opening line as Liverpool manager ” I am here to turn doubters into believers” for the most part, has come to fruition. But, there are still some who aren’t convinced by the German manager. 

Former Reds’ midfielder, Didi Hamann, has been the latest to raise eyebrows over Klopp and his side. 

The German spoke of how the defence has not seen development since Klopp’s arrival, a fair assessment. “ I love the club but I think we are getting fooled if there’s £40m spent on Ox and we’re led to believe nobody out there to improve defence, he posted on Twitter. 

In an interview after Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla, he said:   

” I don’t know where this team is going to go. 

“It’s going nowhere.”  

This damning verdict however, is not a fair assessment for many reasons.

Yes, defensive reinforcements were/and still are imperative, and Klopp should have addressed thisBut labelling a team that reached two cup finals in the space of three months of Klopp taking charge, as well as now securing a return to Europe’s elite competition as going nowhere’ is somewhat short of the mark.  

From the moment he joined, the entire atmosphere in and around the club changed. 

The Reds had got their claws on a top-class manager, who was proven in the Bundesliga. 

Fans started to realise that this could be the start of something special.

This was conveyed by the ” We believe” banner with a picture on Klopp’s face imprintedflailing in the away end at White Hart Lane, in the German’s first game in charge. 

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Gone were the days of Brendan Rodgers and Roy Hodgson. This was a man who understood what the club meant to the supporters, and what the supporters meant to the club.   

This mutual connection was born through his former side, Borussia Dortmund, who like Liverpool; are renowned for their die-hard support- with the Kop and Yellow wall respectively the hubs for never-ending passion. ‘ You’ll never walk alone’ rings around both Anfield and the Westfalenstadion 

It looked to be the perfect replacement for Rodgers, someone who would most certainly fit the bill. 

Klopp’s biggest trait is undoubtedly his passion, which transmits to the fans.  Zooming down the side-lines and fist pumping mid-air has become a trademark for the animated manager, and it’s this energy, this charisma, this whole image, which attaches him to a city and club oozing endless love for the beautiful game. 

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It’s not just the fans Klopp has brought together and reinvigorated– just take a look at the squad. 

The team spirit is higher than it ever has been, all the squad buy in to Klopp’s enthusiastic style of management-  and Hamann himself, should know all about how team spirit and a never say die attitude can go a long way. 

Istanbul?…  

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Heavy metal football has been something else the Reds’ manager has installed in his side. Blowing away opponents in the blink of an eye. 

Ruthless, resilient, rampant. 

Would a side that is ‘going nowhere’ have humbled Manchester City 4-1 at the Etihad? Or blown away Arsenal 4-0?  Would a Liverpool side under Rodgers or Hodgson overturn a two-goal deficit twice in a game to knock a strong Dortmund side out of the Europa League? 

Klopp has faced top six opposition 20 times in his Liverpool tenure- losing just twice, with one of those losses coming against City a fortnight ago, not bad for a side that’s supposedly on the downslope. 

The Reds have become the team for the big occasion under his management.

There is a real sense of belief with the German in charge- a feeling that anything is possible. 

Having not won a piece of silverware since the Carling Cup triumph over Cardiff City on penalties in 2012, Klopp brought the club within touching distance of something they hadn’t won in four years, twice in the space of three months. 

 Unfortunately, the Reds lost the Capital One Cup on penalties to Man City in 2014, in what was a closely contested game. This was followed up by heartbreak in Basel, as Klopp’s side threw away a one goal lead to lose 3-1 to Sevilla in the Europa League final in May. But, despite falling at the final hurdle- it exemplified significant progress. 

 

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Klopp entered the club during a rough period and had to pick up the pieces. The previous season before he joined , the Reds lost the FA Cup Final to Aston Villa, failed to qualify out of the Champions League group stage, and were on the receiving end of a 6-1 drubbing by Stoke City, of all teams- in Steven Gerrard’s final Liverpool game. 

A lot of people have compared Rodgers to Klopp, stating there isn’t much of a difference. Yes, Rodgers will always be remembered for the 2013/14 season- a year where faded dreams were reborn, so close to glory. But, with all due respect, the Northern Irishman had a certain Luis Suarez in his side.  

How would Klopp fare if he had best striker in the world at the time; if not now too, at his disposal? 

The German is still piecing together his blueprint plan. It will be a long road to success to reach the dizzy heights of past times, but don’t doubt the man who is leading the path to the promised land. 

Tom Cavilla.

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Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool : City Run Riot As Liverpool’s Dismal Defence Comes Back To Haunt Klopp:

It was tipped to be the clash of the season thus far- end to end, pulsating, and exhilarating action. It ended with people pondering when the last time a game that was supposed to be on a knife edge- finished so one sided.

If ever Jürgen Klopp needed reminding that Ragnar Klavan , Alberto Moreno and Simon Mignolet should not be in the starting eleven for the Reds- Saturday’s 5-0 drubbing courtesy of Manchester City was the perfect wake up call.

Liverpool showed once more their unpredictable nature, as they followed up their 4-0 hammering  of Arsenal, with themselves falling victim to a demolition job.

City, on the other hand, showcased the Pep Guardiola way of playing:  Precise, persistent, pragmatic and powerful.

The Sky Blues took no prisoners as they swept aside a bewildered Liverpool.

Doubles from Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane , accompanied by a solitary Sergio Aguero goal sealed the win for the home side.

But, things could have been all so different…

The Reds’ star man and Premier League player of the month for August, Sadio Mane, saw red in the 37th minute, following a 50/50 collision with City’s keeper, Ederson.

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The Brazilian shot-stopper came surging out of goal, and was met with a right boot to  the face from the jet heeled Senegalese winger who was arriving on the scene.

Mane made a genuine attempt to play the ball, and was only chasing down a hopeful pass from defence from Joel Matip. The winger attempted to lob over Ederson, but conversely, left the keeper down and out; requiring a stretcher to leave the pitch.

Jon Moss, who was officiating the match was quick to brandish the card, a decision that prompted mass applause from the home supporters.

It can be said, Mane was dangerous with the height of his foot and the force he was travelling at- however, there was no malice or intent whatsoever, simply a moment where both keeper and forward had to challenge for.

Liverpool didn’t recover from this, and fell to pieces for the remainder of the match.

Nonetheless, take nothing away from Guardiola’s side who put the Reds to the sword and brought Klopp and his side down to reality, away from the dizzy heights reached after a dismantlement of Arsenal.

The away side actually started the better of the two sides, creating a bundle of chances in the opening 20 minutes. But, a lack of end product made the Reds rue their missed opportunities.

Mohamed Salah was the shining light in the team, as he engineered space for himself to let loose on a few occasions. The Egyptian lacked efficiency, however, and was then shown  exactly what it looks like.

Aguero, the man to put things into perspective for Salah- netting instantaneously.

The Argentine was played through on goal in acres of space, thanks to a pass from Kevin De Bruyne which carved open the Liverpool defence. Motionless they stood , only able to watch in awe as Aguero rounded Mignolet in goal and duly tucked home.

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This goal broke a Premier League record, as well as matching another.  He equalled Thierry Henry’s feat of scoring in six successive home games against the same team, and also etched his name in the Premier League history books , as 194 league goals now makes him the highest ever scoring non European player in the modern era.

City were two to the good on the stroke of half time- De Bruyne, again at the heart of things, as he found the head of youngster Gabriel Jesus, who nodded home expertly.

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Things only got worse in the second half for the visitors.

The home side headed out into the pitch, hungry for more. While, watching the game; it seemed as if Liverpool were yet to enter the fray- as the players out on the pitch did not resemble that of Jürgen Klopp’s usual resilient and courageous team.

It was 3-0 only ten minutes after the interval. At this stage, it was no longer a case of whether the away side could get back into the affair and more of ” how many more goals will they concede?”

Jesus and Aguero combined in style- Aguero, goal scorer of the first; turned provider. He laid off for the Brazilian to pocket his second goal of the day.

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The Reds shutdown and needed to reboot- City were fully charged, electric, and showed no signs of halting.

Substitute, Leroy Sane, opened his goal scoring account for the season and made an instant impact. He netted two goals in quick succession to stifle Liverpool.

His opener, a smart finish; tucked away neatly. A low driven cross from the left flank found its way to the young German, who slotted home into the bottom left corner.

The goal that followed was of the highest calibre.

As Mignolet stood between the sticks, eying Sane; who was 25 yards from goal, he was probably telling himself things couldn’t get any worse.

They could- and quite considerably.

The former Schalke man audaciously cannoned a shot from outside the box. His dipping effort left Mignolet clutching thin air, only able to watch the ball crash into the top left corner- as the Belgian fell to the ground, along with Liverpool’s pride.

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It was most certainly an afternoon to forget for Klopp and his side- but one to cherish for Guardiola.

This marked City’s first win over Liverpool in three years.

Since the former Borussia Dortmund manager took charge of Liverpool he has boasted an excellent record against the top six in the league- failing to lose a game home and away to the Premier League’s elite last campaign.

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Last season’s record of remaining unbeaten in the heavyweight clashes was monumentally ended this campaign, after a humiliating and humbling defeat, which was City’s biggest win over the Reds since 1937.

The most surprising thing of yesterday’s result was not so much how well City played, but how drastically Liverpool fell apart. They crumbled, in a similar fashion that Arsenal have become so accustomed to doing against top opposition in recent times.

This is not something the Reds do, It’s usually quite the opposite- Istanbul- no introduction required, Dortmund ( Europa League 15/16), and West Ham ( FA Cup final 2006) to name but a few. 

The never say die attitude is something that Klopp and the club as a whole personifies, this is what makes this defeat somewhat of an anomaly.

Yes, Mane’s departure made life almightily challenging and created an uphill task – but, even so, this kind of demise is still not acceptable.

Credit where credits due, though- City were excellent.

Their attack was frightening and caused chaos. This will give Guardiola confidence going forward, especially after being held at home last time out, to Everton.

The Citizens remain firm favourites for the title this season- and if yesterday’s spectacle is anything to go by, you would feel comfortable putting your money where your mouth is, tipping them for glory.

Virgil Van Dijk should have been recruited for Liverpool to fix their defensive incapabilities which were exploited, yet again. If Klopp wants to be serious about challenging for titles, he needs to address an issue sat in plain sight.

Consistency is the other downfall for the Merseysiders. There is no other side like the Reds; who can inflict a 4-0 hammering and then be on the receiving end the following match.

There appears to be no middle ground, no in-between average performance- it’s all or nothing . Destroy, or get destroyed. 1-0 or 2-0 score-lines don’t fit Klopp’s heavy metal blueprint. It’s three, four, five, or even six.

You try, or die trying.

The front three of Mane, Salah, and Roberto Firmino- simply devastating. It takes you back to the 13/14 season- where Liverpool’s ideology appeared to be, score as many as you like; we’ll just outscore you. It’s just the defence that lets the side down.

Klopp is perhaps becoming slightly naive at times. He is apprehensive about changing his ways, even when it’s evident in certain games the performance is less heavy metal, and more heavy hearted.

The title race is far from over, as is Liverpool’s calamity defending; and City’s ruthlessness you would assume.

Nothing is guaranteed in this mind boggling league, however.

Tom Cavilla.