The way Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players makes him stand out in the Premier League. That’s not for everyone of course. I wouldn’t want to be hugged by the manager every other day. As a player I would have preferred more distance. But there’s a bond there which you don’t get at any other club. Those players would go through a brick wall for their manager – more so than any other club in the league.
Pep Guardiola certainly doesn’t seem to have the same connection with his Manchester City players.
Klopp has also made a cut-throat decision, whereas Pep hasn’t. Both clubs have had goalkeeper problems this season, but Klopp has dropped Loris Karius and brought back Simon Mignolet. There was huge pressure on Karius publically after high-profile mistakes against Bournemouth and West Ham, and while Klopp defended him in the press, he changed him and dealt with the issue behind closed doors.
Since then Liverpool have won three games and only conceded once. Where some would have seen it as a weakness, Klopp showed strength under pressure and made a decisive call. It looks like the right one as well.
There are still huge question marks over Claudio Bravo at City and Pep hasn’t addressed them. Maybe Willy Caballero isn’t in a position to challenge for the number one spot, or maybe Guardiola is weighing up other options, but the keeper is still a huge issue that hasn’t been dealt with.
Formations and tactics go out of the window when there is regular human error. That is the biggest cloud over Manchester City’s league campaign.
Liverpool were good against Stoke on Tuesday, but The Potters were poor. They had no pace up top and made it easy for Liverpool at times. City will offer a far more difficult challenge now that they have become more street-wise and focussed.
Pep Guardiola’s side won their first 10 games in all competitions and everyone thought it was going to be a stroll in the park. But they hit their blip – dropping points at home to Everton, Southampton and Middlesbrough – and Pep has had to guide his team through that. There is a lot more urgency in the City team, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely faultless.
They continue to play the ball in positions in places where they just shouldn’t. At times there’s nothing wrong with going long and playing in the opposition’s half. There must be a happy balance there. If they try to play out from the back against Liverpool at Anfield then they are going to be in all sorts of problems.
Liverpool’s high pressing game tires teams out and means they’re turning the ball over in higher positions. A clear example of this is Daniel Sturridge’s goal against Stoke on Tuesday when the back pass is put under pressure, Ryan Shawcross is forced into a mistake and it leads to a Liverpool goal.
The team is playing with a freedom and a confidence to express themselves, and in their current form they’ve got a number of players who can change a game. Adam Lallana looks like a different player under Klopp – he has outstanding balance, can play the ball with both feet and now he’s finding goals regularly. Divock Origi has stepped up since Philippe Coutinho’s injury and the way he holds the ball up is brilliant. Even when the ball is played to him at pace, he controls it, protects it and moves play forward. He’s been very impressive.