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Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp. Picture: REUTERS / PHIL NOBLE
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp. Picture: REUTERS / PHIL NOBLE

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has his side purring like a well-oiled machine ahead of the huge forthcoming showdown against Manchester City.

Everyone in Klopp’s squad has been on top of their game, none more than midfield playmaker Thiago Alcantara who was in sublime form in the weekend’s win over Watford.

This and other talking points from the Premier League weekend.

Thiago hitting top gear ahead of Man City clash: Diogo Jota and Fabinho grabbed the headlines after scoring in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Watford on Saturday that made it 10 league victories in a row, but Klopp will be particularly pleased with the form of Alcantara.

The Spanish playmaker was at his best as he called the shots against Watford and wowed the Anfield crowd with a no-look pass that sliced open the defence, before going close with a volley.

Watching with interest will be Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola — who previously managed Thiago at Bayern Munich — ahead of next weekend’s big home clash with Liverpool, which could decide which way the league title is headed.

Chelsea hope for a post-blip repeat: Almost a year to the day before Chelsea’s shock 4-1 home defeat by Brentford on Saturday, the Blues lost to West Bromwich Albion 5-2 at Stamford Bridge in an equally inexplicable thrashing by one of the league’s less glamorous teams.

In 2021, that upset proved to be just a blip — a few days later Chelsea beat Porto in the first leg of a Champions League quarterfinal as they went on to become European Cup winners.

Coach Thomas Tuchel saw no need to make a big drama of the Brentford loss ahead of Real Madrid’s visit on Wednesday in the first leg of this year’s Champions League last eight.

“We will find out, analyse and then we will digest it because there’s no other way,” he told reporters. “It’s hard to take because it’s very unusual for us what happened today.”

Phillips return a boost for Leeds and England: The sight of Kalvin Phillips making his return off the bench for Leeds United in their 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday will be a welcome one for manager Jesse Marsch and England boss Gareth Southgate.

Phillips has been missing with injury since the beginning of December and in that time Leeds have suffered without his stability in midfield. Had he stayed fit there is a good chance Marcelo Bielsa would still be manager at Elland Road.

Marsch will hope Phillips gets back up to speed as quickly as he can, while Southgate will also be an interested spectator as thoughts begin to turn to the World Cup in Qatar.

United struggle again without Ronaldo: Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence through illness left Manchester United seeming neutered up front as they drew 1-1 with Leicester City, looking a shadow of a side they are with him in the team.

Paul Pogba and Fred had to deputise in United’s front line but the Reds struggled, with few serious chances and their only goal from a Fred tap-in off a rebound.

Ralf Rangnick’s United were electric when a Ronaldo hat-trick fired them to victory over Tottenham Hotspur before the international break but they are a different side without him.

Conte’s methods put Spurs back in top-four mix: Tottenham Hotspur's 5-1 home win over Newcastle United moved them ahead of Arsenal into fourth place in the race for a Champions League qualifying spot but it was the manner of their victory that most pleased manager Antonio Conte.

Spurs initially struggled to find their stride under their new coach but have now won six of their last eight with the Italian, who has got them playing with a flair and intensity that was a trademark of his Chelsea and Inter Milan sides.

“You can see a team that has specific characteristics and you can recognise your football,” he said. “For this reason I said we’re in the race for the Champions League ... every single player knows what will happen during the game, what they have to do.”

Reuters


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