Published:  10:08 PM, 13 September 2019

Liverpool leave title rivals breathless

Liverpool leave title rivals breathless
Liverpool’s sizzling start to the Premier
League season has left their title rivals breathless and the red-hot leaders
are expected to maintain their perfect record against Newcastle on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have seized the early initiative in the Premier League
with four successive wins to open up a two-point lead over second placed
Manchester City.

The European champions’ relentless tempo has overwhelmed Norwich,
Southampton, Arsenal and Burnley, sending a message that they are determined
to make amends for narrowly failing to pip City to the trophy last season.

Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos is new to English football after joining on loan
from Real Madrid and the Spain midfielder admitted to being gob-smacked at
the intensity Liverpool displayed in their 3-1 victory against the Gunners in
August.

“I had never seen anything like it. I’ve not seen up until now a team that
plays better, that presses better. That game had quite an impact on me,”
Ceballos told the Daily Mail.

“They suck the air out of you. You spend so much time defending and when
you want to catch your breath and get on the ball for a bit, they’ve taken it
from you again.

“I think Jurgen Klopp now has the team he first had in mind when he started
four years ago.”

That glowing testimony underlines the size of the task facing City as they
try to stop Liverpool winning their first English crown since 1990.

City may have won the last two Premier League titles in scintillating
fashion, but Liverpool look better than ever this term and Newcastle are
unlikely to halt their progress at Anfield this weekend.

With City playing Norwich in Saturday’s late game, the champions could be
five points behind Liverpool by the time they kick off at Carrow Road.

Pep Guardiola’s team are unbeaten and have already thrashed West Ham and
Brighton, but their lone slip — a draw against Tottenham — allowed
Liverpool to seize pole position and they can’t afford another against second
bottom Norwich.

Across Manchester, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United can only dream of gate-
crashing the title race after a disappointing start showed how far they have
fallen off the pace.

– Maguire in spotlight –

United have won only once in their first four games, adding to the
incentive for their England defender Harry Maguire to inspire a victory
against his former club Leicester.

Maguire is the world’s most expensive defender after his œ80 million close-
season move from Leicester, but he is yet to play like it, as his creaky
showing in England’s midweek Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo emphasised.

Leicester will arrive at Old Trafford above Maguire’s men in the table
after an impressive unbeaten start.

But, whatever his shortcomings in some areas, Maguire’s personality has
made an impression on his new team-mates, who expect him to come good soon.

“It’s been seamless,” said United reserve keeper Lee Grant. “Harry has
definitely slotted straight in, in terms of the social side and in terms of
his mentality and attitude, which has been first class.

“The most important thing, though, is his quality and he was able to show
that against Chelsea. We could all see he is quite at home in front of the
Old Trafford crowd and quite at home as a Manchester United player.”

Mauricio Pochettino must hope the closure of the European transfer window
lifts the mood at Tottenham, who host fourth placed Crystal Palace looking to
secure only their second win.

Pochettino was concerned that speculation over the futures of several
Tottenham players, including Christian Eriksen, had unsettled his squad.

But Eriksen remains with Tottenham in the final year of his contract and
Pochettino said: “He was always happy. He never said he wasn’t happy here.

“Everyone of course has aims, goals, challenges. His qualities are there
and important for the team.”

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham will become only the third player aged 21 or
younger to score two or more goals in three consecutive Premier League games,
matching the achievement of Cristiano Ronaldo and Dele Alli, if he bags
another brace at Wolves.

Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated)

Saturday

Brighton v Burnley, Liverpool v Newcastle (1130 GMT), Manchester Utd v
Leicester, Norwich v Manchester City (1630 GMT), Sheffield Utd v Southampton,
Tottenham v Crystal Palace, Wolves v Chelsea

Sunday

Bournemouth v Everton (1300 GMT), Watford v Arsenal (1530 GMT)

Monday

Aston Villa v West Ham (1900 GMT)


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