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Klopp confounded by Reds' 'crazy' runaway title advantage

China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-12 09:14
Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk towers above Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne to reach a header during Liverpool's 3-1 English Premier League victory at Anfield in Liverpool on Sunday. [Photo/REUTERS]

Anfield victory pushes Liverpool nine points clear of Guardiola's City

LIVERPOOL, England - Even Jurgen Klopp cannot quite believe Liverpool's lead over Manchester City this early in the season.

"That's crazy, nine points," the Liverpool manager said. "You cannot imagine that something like this can happen."

It's very real after Liverpool beat City 3-1 on Sunday thanks to goals from Fabinho, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane at Anfield.

"Other people 100 percent said already that from now on Liverpool can only lose it," Klopp said. "Well that's a very negative approach, but you can see it like this. We don't care."

Only 12 games have been played, with another 26 to go in the pursuit of a first title since 1990 for the 18-time English champion.

Klopp is not getting carried away despite Liverpool's top spot.

"But it's not important because who wants to be first in early November?" Klopp said. "You want to be first in May."

For the past two seasons that final position has been held by City. Now the two-time defending champion heads into the international break down in fourth place.

The side immediately above them is not so unexpected, even if Chelsea's ability to reinforce the squad was hampered by a transfer ban. But it's the presence of Leicester in second place, reviving memories of its incredible 5,000-1 shot title win in 2016, that is shaking up the league. Both the Foxes and Chelsea trail Liverpool by eight points.

That leaves record 20-time champion Manchester United far from sight of the Champions League places, even after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side beat Brighton 3-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

United is nine points adrift of neighbor City in seventh place. Wolves are only behind United on goal difference after beating Aston Villa 2-1 in a local derby on Sunday.

Fast start

Liverpool netted twice in the opening 13 minutes.

City had just been denied a penalty, for a handball claim against Trent Alexander-Arnold, when Liverpool launched a swift counterattack and a thunderous Fabinho strike from distance beat Claudio Bravo, who was filling in for the injured Ederson.

City's makeshift defense was breached again in the 13th minute, again from a rapid move down the left. When Andrew Robertson sent a cross into the penalty area, Salah nipped ahead of Fernandinho to head past Bravo.

Any prospect of a comeback appeared to be extinguished six minutes into the second half when City was picked apart from another cross.

Mane got on the end of Jordan Henderson's delivery from the right, heading in at the back post.

City's only goal came in the 78th from Bernardo Silva's low strike, but City coach Pep Guardiola wasn't blaming his players. Far from it.

"Today we showed in the most difficult stadium right now in the world the reason why we are the champions," Guardiola said. "One of the most proudest performances I've ever lived as a manager in my career in this stadium."

United's win at home to Brighton was only its second in seven league games.

Andreas Pereira fired United ahead in the 17th minute before a Davy Propper own-goal two minutes later made it 2-0.

Marcus Rashford struck off the underside of the bar in the 66th just after Lewis Dunk had reduced the deficit to complete the 3-1 win.

"It's our best performance of the season," said United boss Solskjaer. "Exhilarating, entertaining and great to see the boys enjoy themselves."

Associated Press

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