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    Friday, 6 November 2020

    Liverpool send clear warning as Jurgen Klopp change underlined

    Today sees the anniversary of a notable moment in Jurgen Klopp's reign that pointed at what was to follow

    Jurgen Klopp.

    It was a notable landmark in Jurgen Klopp's reign as Liverpool manager. And it proved a precursor of what was to follow.

    The Reds' Premier League rivals cannot say they hadn't been warned.

    Four years ago today, Liverpool moved to the top-flight summit for the first time under Klopp having thrashed Watford 6-1 at Anfield.

    Coming less than 13 months after the German had taken over from Brendan Rodgers in the Anfield hotseat, it underlined the huge change he had engendered during such a relatively short period in which the League Cup final and Europa League final had already been reached.

    Sadio Mane scored twice - the fifth and sixth goals for his new club - while Phillipe Coutinho, Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Gini Wijnaldum also netted with the Reds five up after an hour.

    The result moved Liverpool a point clear of Chelsea after 11 games, with Manchester City and Arsenal a further point adrift.

    Almost a year earlier to the day, Klopp claimed he had "never felt so alone" after watching Anfield empty towards the end of a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

    But with the new Main Stand having been open for almost two months, the stadium was bouncing to the exciting brand of attacking football produced by the Reds.

    "Congratulations to Liverpool because I am very, very impressed," said Watford manager Walter Mazzarri. "It is not only their psychology and their tactical play but on their running, their pressing. They are really a great team."

    It meant Liverpool had won 11 of their first 14 games in all competitions that season, netting 40 goals in that period.

    Of course, it didn't last. A 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth the following month bumped them off the top while the loss of Mane to Africa Cup of Nations duty in January sparked a run of just two wins in 12 games that saw them tumble out of the League Cup and FA Cup.

    The foundations, though, were there. And with it came evidence that Liverpool, under Klopp, were firmly on the right track, finding their second wind in the closing months of the campaign to seal fourth place behind title winners Chelsea and a Champions League qualification berth.

    Of the 18 players in the matchday squad that afternoon against Watford, seven - Jordan Henderson, Mane, Firmino, Wijnaldum, James Milner, Joel Matip and Divock Origi - remain at the club.

    Most are likely to be in contention for Sunday's Premier League visit to Manchester City, where Liverpool will hope for the victory that will maintain their lead at the top of this term's early table.

    The Reds have become a more refined side since the whirlwind that did for Watford, possessing greater strength in depth and experience at the very top level.

    What hasn't changed, however, is the belief that was already coursing through their veins back when they first hit the Premier League heights under Klopp.

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