Premier League • England

Carragher reveals deadly enemy Klopp ‘wishes’ was at Liverpool, whose own equivalent is pale imitation

Jamie Carragher, Sky Sports pundit

Jamie Carragher has named the main difference maker between Manchester City and Liverpool, who he is “certain” Jurgen Klopp is envious about.

Liverpool will face off with Manchester City on Sunday at Anfield. It will be the first meeting between the two sides since the Community Shield, which the Reds won. However, their form in the Premier League since has differed greatly.

Manchester City, boosted by the impact of summer signing Erling Haaland, are the only remaining unbeaten team in the English top flight. They are currently in second place, one point behind Arsenal.

On the other hand, Liverpool have won just two of their opening eight fixtures in the Premier League. As a result, they go into the weekend sitting in 10th place.

In recent seasons, clashes between Liverpool and Manchester City have effectively been title deciders. For now – even though it is at an early stage of the season – Liverpool are too far down the table for that to be on their minds.

Still, there will be a great deal of anticipation about the fixture. As usual, it will see several of the Premier League’s top talents go head to head.

All eyes might be on Haaland at the moment, but former Liverpool defender Carragher has identified another Manchester City superstar who has already set them apart from Jurgen Klopp’s side on the whole in recent years.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Carragher enthused about how Kevin De Bruyne is better than anyone in midfield that Liverpool have had during Klopp’s reign.

De Bruyne the ‘only difference’ between Liverpool and Man City in recent years

He said: “When Jurgen Klopp prepared for games against City over the last five seasons, you can be certain De Bruyne is the player he wishes he had at Anfield.

“In those seasons where both sides collected over 90 points, De Bruyne was the only difference between Manchester City’s and Liverpool’s starting XI.

“Throughout the period in which Liverpool and City have gone head-to-head, it is the presence of De Bruyne which consistently dragged City across the line when the title race went to the final minute – his ability to pick the right pass at the right moment creating a sense of inevitability City will find a winning goal.

“Look at his pinpoint ball for Ilkay Gundogan against Aston Villa last May – an assist in the latter stages of a game which ultimately won the Premier League for his club.

“Assessing both teams’ qualities during the Guardiola and Klopp era, it has always been midfield where City have the edge. Liverpool have had nothing like De Bruyne since Gerrard was at his peak.”

That may be demoralising to Thiago Alcantara among Klopp’s current crop. The Spaniard is supposed to be Liverpool’s equivalent of De Bruyne in terms of being a creative yet combative midfielder.

Despite flashes of his quality, he hasn’t produced the same kind of consistency since joining the club in 2020. But with some other injuries in that department for Liverpool, he may have a part to play himself on Sunday.

Fabinho and Jordan Henderson could also feature in the midfield, depending on what formation Klopp goes for. They would add further steel in that region, which might be important. But it is fair to say neither are a De Bruyne in terms of what they can create.

Carragher identifies Klopp’s ‘biggest worry’

It is no wonder that midfield is the main area Liverpool are looking to strengthen in 2023.

For now, their current options will have to give their all to limit De Bruyne’s impact on Sunday. Restricting his creativity could cut out any threat relating to Haaland before it happens.

Hence, Klopp will make it a major part of his pre-match instructions to alleviate his “biggest worry”, Carragher believes.

The columnist concluded: “In his final team meetings, Klopp will be hoping his centre-backs deal with Haaland as they did in the Community Shield.

“His biggest worry is whether Liverpool’s midfield has what it takes to get close to De Bruyne.”

Indeed, they might have their work cut out for them. But if they can be competitive in that battle, it could be a close game still.

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