Top of the table at the start of the weekend, club records and free play in attack – where are those critics of Jurgen Klopp’s lack of summer investment now?
Liverpool will face title rivals Manchester City on Sunday by a point ahead of their opponents after a staggering record in September: six played, five won, one drawn.
But more impressive than the victories achieved is the Reds’ ability for goal. For the third time in the club’s history, they scored three or more goals in six consecutive matches.
Liverpool have scored three or more goals in six games in a row ahead of their Manchester City clash
Roberto Firmino (left) and Mohamed Salah (right) both scored twice in the win against Porto
SIX IN A ROW
Sep 12: Leeds 0-3 Liverpool v Salah, Fabinho, Mane
Sep 15: Liverpool 3-2 AC Milan – Tomori OG, Salah, Henderson
Sep 18: Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace – Mane, Salah, Keita
Sep 21: Norwich 0-3 Liverpool v Minamino 2, Origin
Sep 25: Brentford 3-3 Liverpool v Jota, Salah, Jones
Sep 28: Porto 1-5 Liverpool – Salah 2, Mane, Firmino 2
They have also scored more than their title rivals to date, scoring 15 goals in six games, while Mohamed Salah tops the individual charts together.
That’s ahead of Lukaku, Ronaldo, Jesus, Kane and the rest of the Premier League’s fearsome attacking talent.
After scraping into the top four last season, Liverpool have started this season with a point to prove and a title to win back.
So, while it’s still early days and the clash against Guardiola’s side will be the ultimate test of their season credentials, how has Klopp allowed his attackers to work together so brilliantly so far?
Well, for the first time in many long years, he had his two attacking protagonists full season prep time.
Salah and Sadio Mane had a rare summer off, without international competition (the African Cup of Nations will take place in January) while the European Championship and the Copa America took place.
That allowed them to work at their own pace and on their own schedule, with pre-season camps taking place in Austria and France.
Salah was his usual prolific self in front of goal and is the league’s joint top scorer
Sadio Mané also looks back at his best after a poor end to the 2020-21 season
Mane showed his anger at Salah in 2019 at Burnley, but that has long been etched in his memory
The proof was in the pudding early doors, with both on the scoresheet in the first two weeks of the season.
Mane, in particular, is looking back at his usual self after a 2020-21 campaign that ended badly. The goals dried up, passes wandered and an annoyed look on his face was all too common.
In the past, despite how well they worked together, there was always a hint of underlying rivalry between the two African superstars. Mane memorably showed his anger at Salah in 2019 away from Burnley and there have been instances of selfishness on both parts of the box.
And while that rivalry is still there, they are definitely teammates first. While all Klopp’s forwards are driven by an individual desire to score goals, their energy and pressure on the team is a fundamental requirement.
Then add Diogo Jota to the mix. The Portuguese was great at points last season before injury hampered his progress – and his talent for scoring has not been lost so far this season.
Diogo Jota scored against Brentford and added a new dimension to the Reds’ attack
Jurgen Klopp has regularly chosen Jota, who currently has an advantage over Roberto Firmino
In fact, the ex-Wolves forward currently seems to be in favor of Roberto Firmino, who was absent for four games due to a hamstring problem. But that is the selflessness of a close-knit team, the Brazilian is not afraid of the competition.
“I’m cold,” he said TNT Sports Brazil. “Everyone who plays always tries to give their all to Liverpool and those who have played have done a fantastic job.
“That should pass from everyone, with the aim of helping the team achieve victories, helping each other build a victorious team.”
Even beyond the four leading forwards, Klopp has power in the deep. Divock Origi impressed when he got a chance against AC Milan in the Champions League and gave Salah an assist with a beautifully crafted dink on defence.
The Belgian also scored a pinpoint header in the Carabao Cup a week later against Norwich, in a win that saw Japan international Takumi Minamino score twice with two cool finishes in the penalty area.
Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino also jumped at their chance to impress for Liverpool
Their chances, as the Reds pursue glory on four fronts this season, will no doubt remain.
So to Anfield and a showdown that has been the bastion of Premier League class and quality in recent years.
City, champions in three of the past four seasons, travel to Anfield, where they won for the first time since 2003 in a 4-1 victory behind closed doors.
Memories of high-profile battles between these two are not far from memory.
Liverpool beat City 3-0 in November 2019 on their way to winning the Premier League title
Yet City won at Anfield in February for the first time since 2003, starring Phil Foden
The Reds’ victory in the 2018 Champions League quarter-final, Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty a season later and a 3-0 win for Liverpool in their 2019-20 title-winning season, when Salah and Mané were both on the scoresheet, all striking.
Those two are certainties to begin with. But, will Klopp return to Firmino for this clash in which the Brazilian has worked so brilliantly up front?
Either way, City’s rear guard will have to do their job. Because when Liverpool’s front three – whatever the make-up – shoot with the Anfield crowd behind them, they need to stop for a moment.
Before the international break, a statement must certainly be made.