Liverpool are a better jersey side than they were at the end

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Liverpool are a better jersey side than they were at the end
Welcome back, then, the Premier League. Now. Where were we? Tasked with hitting the big dramatic notes from the start after two weeks of international break, the Premier League’s focus groups and script-editing teams could hardly have come up with a better opening act than Manchester United’s trip to Liverpool this Saturday lunchtime. Skip the intro. Let’s just turn it all right back up to 11.

Not that there’s anything new here, just some old, fond, familiar flavours. Cut the Premier League season open anywhere Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Authentic Jersey you like in the last decade or so and the chances are you’ll find José Mourinho contemplating another potentially season-spoiling trip to Anfield. Or the latest eminent tactician scratching his head and wondering why previously workable defensive systems have been infected with the dreaded Premier League flakiness. Not to mention an agreeably sweeping clash of styles, in this case muscular team defence versus adrenal, scattergun attack.

As ever when these teams meet the occasion will be touched by a genuine spike of north-west derby bile. But this is a significant moment for other reasons. Most obviously the result on Saturday will bring into narrower focus Liverpool’s progress under Jürgen Klopp, seven games into a season that has seen them looking a little feverish and flustered, all trapped energy, legs whirring like a cartoon roadrunner suspended above the canyon floor, still trying to work out whether to fall or fly.
There is a tendency to obsess over the influence of managers, to hoist them aloft as a straw man, patsy and all-round piñata for every misstep, every note of misfortune, every beached ambition. In this case there is an unavoidable circularity. On Saturday it will be almost exactly two years since Klopp became Liverpool manager. Progress has been made. Albeit, as ever in the Premier League, this raises the more metaphysical question of how exactly progress is measured, what gauge you apply to success.
There are plenty of obvious ticks. Liverpool are in the Champions League. They have reached two cup finals. They play nice, engaging football, certainly nicer and more engaging than the tail end of the Brendan Rodgers era. But they are still to make the kind of alchemical step up some might have hoped for given Klopp’s record at Borussia Dortmund and his enduring aura, a way of engaging with those around him that suggests all possibilities are open, a managerial Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Authentic Jersey presence that even in defeat has something oddly evangelical and proselytising about it.
Opponents have been less amenable. Liverpool will pick up their season on a horrible run of one win in seven across all competitions since the end of August, with no clean sheets and 14 goals conceded. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Authentic Jersey Sadio Mané is out for six weeks with a hamstring strain. Even the manager has begun to gripe a little, looking bemused by the recurrent defensive mistakes of players he coaches every week, selects every weekend, and in some cases brought to the club himself.
Last week Klopp insisted, as he must when asked a silly question, that Liverpool are still in the title race. Given the lavish spending elsewhere, the sense of a three-team elite ready to break away at the top, few will have expected Liverpool to be pushing for the title right to the end of the season.


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