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Liverpool and Chelsea compete for the Premier League title with identical records

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Like a drunken night in Berlin, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel go shot after shot.

Liverpool and Chelsea – who Klopp and Tuchel coach respectively – share incredible symmetry after five Premier League games this season. The two heavyweights are joint top of the league with 13 points each and both have scored 12 goals so far and conceded only once.

Amazingly, Liverpool and Chelsea also share the same pattern of fault lines. Their results this season are: 3-0, 2-0, 1-1, 3-0, 3-0.

Chelsea have built on their Champions League triumph

Jurgen Klopp (L) and Thomas Tuchel (R) go shot for shot after five top flying competitions

The English heavyweights share the same points, goals scored, goals conceded and score lines

The English heavyweights share the same points, goals scored, goals conceded and score lines

With Chelsea hosting Manchester City and Liverpool facing the lesser task of taking on Brentford, this pattern is likely to come to an end this weekend.

But with City showing early signs of faltering, we can already look at the two key players in this season’s title race.

With imperious defences, running midfields and talismanic frontmen, it’s easy to see why both sides have the qualities needed to take on a title challenge. Sports post takes a closer look at both sides’ title references.

AVERAGE DEFENSE

Given how vulnerable Liverpool have been defensively for much of the past period, Klopp has done a remarkable job of bolstering his rear this summer.

He has of course been helped by the return of Virgil van Dijk, whose long-term knee injury last season was a bitter pill for the charismatic German.

Klopp has put things in the background, aided by the return of behemoth VIrgil van Dijk (R)

Klopp has put things in the background, aided by the return of behemoth VIrgil van Dijk (R)

The Dutchman has been shoved right back into the squad and has formed a good partnership with Joel Matip – who has put together a series of games after being dogged by persistent injuries himself.

Meanwhile, Alisson Becker is returning to form in which he was named one of the world’s best goalkeepers after a turbulent 2020-21 campaign that was not helped by problems off the pitch.

While the outlook for Liverpool looks brighter at the back, the Reds’ tendency to push high on the pitch to force turnovers makes them vulnerable to exposure to the counter-attack. But with a fully fit Van Dijk flanked by Andy Robertson and Trent-Alexander Arnold, that threat can be tempered.

Tuchel’s near-impeccable record at Chelsea is built on the foundations of a rock-solid defence. The German has, for the most part, implemented a stubborn back-five that formed the basis of their Champions League triumph last season.

The Blues’ only goal came from the penalty spot at Anfield. Thiago Silva’s leadership has been significant, although PSG and Bayern Munich target Antonio Rudiger has stepped up in the veteran’s absence.

Chelsea's defense has been great with Antonio Rudiger and Edouard Mendy standing out

Chelsea’s defense has been great with Antonio Rudiger and Edouard Mendy standing out

Chelsea have also solved their goalkeeping problems with the arrival of Edouard Mendy. The Frenchman was named Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season last year and showed his class with a strong performance in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

While Tuchel’s side on the back is resolute, they’re not completely impenetrable. The former PSG boss was at the helm when West Brom shot past five at Stamford Bridge last season so they can be put behind.

HARDWORKING MIDFIELDS

It’s fair to say that the engine rooms of both Liverpool and Chelsea are somewhat overlooked.

While Manchester City and United boast the creativity of Kevin de Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes respectively, Tuchel and Klopp have chosen diligent, hard-working midfielders to run things right in the middle of the park.

Klopp sacrificed a number 10 for a hardworking midfield led by Jordan Henderson (R) and Fabinho

Klopp sacrificed a number 10 for a hardworking midfield led by Jordan Henderson (R) and Fabinho

Tuchel is blessed with N'Golo Kante, but he has great options to complement him

Tuchel is blessed with N’Golo Kante, but he has great options to complement him

LIVERPOOL AND CHELSEA AFTER FIVE GAMES THIS SEASON

Games played: 5

Goals Scored: 12

Goals against: 1

Results:

Following Philippe Coutinho’s £145 million move to Barcelona in 2018, Klopp has driven Liverpool off the quintessential ‘No 10’ – a move that has surprised many given the role’s popularity over the past decade.

Instead, Liverpool’s attacking power comes from the flanks, with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho tasked with maintaining a fast pace to smother opponents.

It’s worth noting that Thiago Alcantara’s £25million signing from Bayern Munich last summer was an indication that Klopp wanted to add some panache to his midfield, although the Spaniard has struggled to get going so far.

While Liverpool have set the standard for hard-working midfielders, Chelsea can certainly match the Reds.

Of course, Tuchel is blessed to inherit Kante at Stamford Bridge. The Frenchman’s energy and positional intelligence enable Chelsea to gain turnover and pose a threat on the counter. Chelsea’s 64 interceptions this season are matched only by Burnley, while Liverpool have made a total of 39 interceptions.

The German also has the luxury of switching between four classy midfielders, with Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic and Saul Niguez all offering the trickery and craftsmanship to complement Kante perfectly.

TALISMANIC FRONTMEN

Tuchel has been craving a top scorer all summer and Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia came through for the boss, pouring out £97.5million to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge.

In reality, Lukaku is ready for Premier League football. His scorching spell at United left him in ‘a deep hole’, but that misery didn’t reflect Lukaku’s talents and spoke more of the turmoil unfolding at Old Trafford.

A football training in Italy at Inter Milan has seen Lukaku return as a ‘complete player’ and the Belgian wasted no time settling on Stamford Bridge.

The Chelsea boss has long been looking for a top scorer to take the lead for the West Londoners

The Chelsea boss has long been looking for a top scorer to take the lead for the West Londoners

Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia delivered Romelu Lukaku for the German coach

Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia delivered Romelu Lukaku for the German coach

Three goals in four games is a very encouraging return, while providing the focal point the Blues so obviously missed with Timo Werner up front.

Lukaku has previously said he must be compared to players like Cristiano Ronaldo, and the challenge will be to shoot consistently to take him to that level.

Mohamed Salah continues as usual. The Egyptian has started the season well with four goals from five games, leading some pundits to argue he is not getting the credit he deserves.

“However, for some reason I’m still not sure if he gets the credit he deserves,” said Sportsmail’s Micah Richards.

“Is it because he plays international football for Egypt so we don’t see all their matches on TV? Is it because he rarely gives interviews and keeps himself out of the headlines?

“I can’t see it more clearly: Mo is the best wide striker in the world.

“He is absolutely outstanding, he has cemented the role that Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have made their own with a goal record that dwarfs many of the best No. 9 in Europe.”

Mohamed Salah has been ruthless with some pundits who claim he doesn't get enough credit

Mohamed Salah has been ruthless with some pundits who claim he doesn’t get enough credit

Salah’s influence on Liverpool’s attack is undeniable, as seen last season when the Egyptian had to carry the goal burden with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane failing to shoot well.

And Klopp will certainly have in mind the obstacle that presents this year’s African Cup of Nations.

Salah is expected to represent Egypt in the tournament, which runs from January 9 to February 6, 2022. When Mané represented Senegal in the 2017 tournament, Liverpool lost four out of five league matches. Klopp will be well aware of January’s importance to their title.

THE COACHES

They can deny all they want, but Klopp and Tuchel have many similarities.

Both coaches had quite disappointing playing careers. Klopp spent most of his playing days in the German second division, while a serious knee injury curtailed Tuchel’s career.

The Chelsea boss then followed Klopp’s management path in Germany, moving from Mainz to Borussia Dortmund before arriving in England via Paris.

Tuchel has long suffered from Klopp’s shadows, but the German has finally stepped into the limelight with Chelsea’s impressive streak to Champions League glory last season and the 48-year-old will be determined to beat his compatriot this season.

Klopp and Tuchel are truly inseparable, so who will be the last man standing this season?

Klopp and Tuchel are truly inseparable, so who will be the last man standing this season?

Chelsea and Tuchel are a seemingly perfect match, but the tactician has yet to reach the rocky waters of Stamford Bridge.

He has not been hampered by an injury crisis and his record of arguing with boards at previous clubs could pose problems in the future with Roman Abramovich, infamous for ax handling. It remains to be seen how long Tuchel can keep things running smoothly in West London.

For Klopp, the high spending of rival clubs has been a source of frustration and the January transfer window could be a crucial point in keeping the Reds’ title race alive.

The German tacticians are really inseparable after five competition matches. During this one-season marathon, something has to happen. So, who will be the last man standing?

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