Jurgen Klopp has found a formidable new Liverpool  partnership undo Man City  | soccer4u
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Jurgen Klopp has found a formidable new Liverpool  partnership undo Man City 

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While there is talk of a new look Liverpool, there is a familiar feeling about where they are now.

While there is talk of a new look Liverpool, there is a familiar feeling about where they are now.

After extending their unbeaten run since early April with a 3-1 win against West Ham United on Sunday, the Reds moved up to second in the Premier League and moved back ahead of Manchester City.

The club, winners of the last five titles, are just two points away and English football could be set for another quality slide away from the genuine heavyweights.

While the suggestion that the last five titles have been shared makes Man City’s four look bad, the scores for both clubs give a much more accurate picture of how close the pair have been on the pitch.

Since the start of the 2018/19 campaign, City and Liverpool have amassed 905 points out of a possible 1,176, with the reigning champions amassing 465 points to the Reds’ 440. That’s a significant return, especially when you consider that the closest is Arsenal’s collection of 354.

Of course, there is a great deal of football to be played before the second chapter of this particular story is written, but despite all the tweaks and changes to Jürgen Klopp’s squad in recent months, there is a sense that normal service is slowly returning.

Since that 18-match unbeaten run began with a goalless draw at Chelsea, the Reds have scored 43 goals and won 13. An impressive Tom Werner could not have been more impressed as the Liverpool chairman watched from the manager’s box on Sunday afternoon.

And while the obvious praise was Darwin Nunez’s superb strike to seal a 2-1 win against the Hammers, Klopp instead chose to highlight his No.9’s finer points. “The defensive work he does is probably the main difference,” enthused Klopp. “He always wanted [to do it], but it was less coordinated. It looks a lot better now. He’s made big strides in the last few weeks. He’s a threat. You all saw the goal, it was probably pretty good, right? It was really strong.

“Really special. Unbelievable. Everyone looks at me when I talk about goals, but those eyes, I’ve only seen it once and I can’t wait to see it right again.”

Pressuring Liverpool is a tactic made famous – at least in modern times – by Roberto Firmino, who carried his manager’s strategic instructions for much of his brilliant eight-year stay here, but Nunez was a work in progress. . Klopp claimed at the end of last season that the £64m forward didn’t quite work in the same scheme and was one of the reasons why Cody Gakpo was recommended at the time.

The former Benfica man, who has suffered a major slump in a lucrative pre-season, has been more in tune with his team-mates when opposition defenders have been under pressure recently, as evidenced by the manager’s post-match comments on Sunday.

His pass to Mohamed Salah on Thursday night at LASK was further evidence that he had robbed a defender high up the pitch before playing for the Egyptians. His growing partnership with Salah should excite supporters. All six of Nunez’s Liverpool assists have been to Salah. Only three times in the Premier League era has a player provided six successive assists to the same team-mate, with Nunez and Salah joining Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler in 1996-97 and Emile Heskey with Michael Owen in 2001-02.

Nunez is averaging a goal every 52 minutes for the Reds this season and has four goals and two assists in 311 games. Widen the lens to include his exploits for Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay and the record is four goals in nine games and as many assists in five starts. That’s a goal or assist every 61 minutes for both club and country, and the occasional touch or quick goal are very impressive figures that paint a picture of a more determined and now fully tuned forward.

“He was always available,” Klopp added of Nunez. “It’s very important for us now, when we have the ball, we spread the ball, get it on our chest and play from there. That’s how we scored the third goal at Wolves, which is very important for us.”

But if Nunez can be encouraged by the numbers behind the catchy term, it is Salah’s facts and figures that are truly extraordinary. His penalty on Sunday was his 190th goal for the Reds and with 32 games to go, few will deny that the Egyptian has surpassed the 200 mark. He became the fifth player on Sunday to score or assist in his side’s first half-dozen Premier League games, joining David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Sergio Aguero and Erling Haaland.

Salah scored 54 goals, 34 goals and 20 assists since the start of last season; he somehow managed to normalize what should be considered elsewhere as consistency and longevity. If Liverpool are to seriously compete with City, these are the sort of stats that will need to be stretched over the coming months.

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