Imperious Man City won’t concern Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool come into their own
Many managers would have been daunted by the sight of a thumping Manchester City victory, but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp knows what to do in the Premier League title race
Not for the first time this season, Manchester City put on a Premier League clinic to stamp their authority as the team to beat in the title race with a seventh consecutive victory.
Their victims on Tuesday night were a disorganised Leeds side who showed none of the character or determination which went unrewarded against Chelsea three days earlier.
Such was City’s dominance that they found themselves 3-0 up just 32 minutes into the Etihad encounter thanks to Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne.
Four more goals followed in the second half as Riyad Mahrez, De Bruyne, John Stones and Nathan Ake ensured it was a historic day for the Sky Blues – and one to forget for Leeds.
It was a masterclass by a team oozing quality, composure and identity, and one which lived up to City’s billing ahead of kick-off.
“They’re the best team I’ve seen so far this season,” BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves declared.
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The former City midfielder added: “Maybe the goalscoring is slightly down but keeping clean sheets, best defence in the Premier League. I think Pep Guardiola will be very, very happy with where his team is at right now.”
The Sky Blues’ goalscoring prowess certainly was not “down” against a muddled Leeds outfit in midweek.
Foden punished lax defending to find the opener, Grealish scored a confidence-boosting header and Kevin De Bruyne powerfully extended the lead after yet another slick passing move.
In a less-competitive league or season, the trophy guardians may already be preparing to engrave City’s name as we approach the halfway mark.
Hargreaves’ co-pundit Peter Crouch understands this and heaped praise on the reigning champions, saying: “There’s so much strength in depth.
“I think they’re going to go all the way in the Champions League and Premier League as well, it’s going to be interesting.”
As it happens, however, this is no ordinary season and City’s competition in the title race is anything but bog-standard.
Indeed, if there is any wisdom to be gleaned from Jurgen Klopp’s reign in the Anfield dugout, it is that Liverpool are at their most deadly when they are given a target to chase.
The German arrived on Merseyside in October 2015 faced with a rebuilding job of vast proportions, yet within five years his side had been crowned champions of England, Europe and the world.
Of the many wonderful seasons Reds fans have enjoyed recently, the most-memorable was one which ended in both elation and disappointment.
The 2018/19 campaign saw Liverpool avenge their heartbreak from the previous year by lifting the Champions League trophy, but they fell agonisingly short to City domestically with a remarkable 97 points compared to the champions’ 98.
Many view that term’s title race as the greatest in Premier League history as Klopp’s ruthless winning machine – whose sole loss was a 2-1 defeat by City – relentlessly pursued Pep Guardiola’s side until the very final day.
The Reds went unbeaten in their final 15 games but were ultimately unable to close the gap on City, who won their last 14.
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There is no doubt the two great teams spurred each other on, while Liverpool have also proved they can be motivated by more than just a great adversary.
Their European and domestic triumphs in the seasons after finishing runners-up show they can channel their frustration into success.
In the 2019/20 campaign, Liverpool’s pursuit of an unbeaten top-flight term saw them obliterate their competition and you only need look at their nosedive in form after losing at Watford and clinching the title to see what happens when they lift their foot off the gas.
Piero Cruciatti/Getty Images)
Even in the current season, Klopp is continuing to push boundaries and Liverpool became the first English team to win all six games in a Champions League group stage.
They will need to be equally perfect in the Premier League if they are to have any chance of snatching City’s crown in May, and, of course, Chelsea cannot be discounted in the race.
But Klopp knows his Liverpool stars thrive when pushed to their limits, and he will not have been daunted even as City cruised to Tuesday’s 7-0 drubbing.