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Klopp banished Chelsea away-day woes, the challenge is to repeat at the Etihad

Jurgen Klopp instantly eradicated away-day blues at a notoriously unhappy hunting ground at Stamford Bridge, and he faces a similar challenge when he takes his squad to the Etihad Stadium.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 31, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the Premier League match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When Liverpool travelled to Chelsea on Halloween, the Reds’ record in London was something of a horror show.

Without an away victory since a League Cup success in 2011 and only four wins from the last 19 visits left Reds fans fearing the worst – that’s before even considering being winless against Chelsea altogether since 2012, with just one victory in the previous 10 clashes.

But at his first attempt, Klopp banished the fear factor that had taken stranglehold of the Reds in games against the Blues and ended the ghastly away run, treating his side to a 3-1 victory.

His next challenge is to repeat that feat at the Etihad Stadium.

Eithad Struggles

Liverpool’s recent record in Manchester against City is similarly depressing to that of Stamford Bridge.

While claiming good results against City at Anfield has become a regular occurrence, travelling to the home of the Citizens has seen a very different set of fortunes play out.

The Reds are winless in their last six league outings at the Etihad, losing four of the last five games, scoring just four goals and conceding over treble that amount, 13.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Monday, August 25, 2014: Liverpool's xxxx in action against Manchester City during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)

Roy Hodgson’s side slumped to a woeful 3-0 defeat in that time, as did Kenny Dalglish’s men a season later, while Brendan Rodgers failed to win at City despite enjoying a good home record, picking up one draw and two losses.

The Reds’ have just one win from the last seven trips – a League Cup semi-final success in January 2012 – and have won only twice in the league against City in a decade worth of away fixtures.

In fact, the last away league win came so long ago City’s stadium had a different name.

That, in October 2008, saw Rafael Benitez’s title chasers produce a stunning second half performance at the City of Manchester Stadium to win 3-2 from 2-0 down, thanks to Fernando Torres’ brace and Dirk Kuyt’s last minute winner.

The brilliant turnaround under the Spaniard is the only time Liverpool have tasted victory at City since a 1-0 win in 2005.

Apart from isolated league and cup successes, little joy has been forthcoming from Etihad outings.

But Klopp has the chance to change fortunes instantly, just as he did at Chelsea three weeks ago.

 

The Challenge

Liverpool have always found going to the Etihad difficult, and it certainly will be again.

The Etihad has become a place to fear for opposing sides in recent years – the home of the Champions in two of the last three campaigns.

The challenge will be tough, with City sitting top of the Premier League having scored the most goals, conceded the second least, boasting the highest goal difference, and with 26 points to their name from 12 games.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Boxing Day Thursday, December 26, 2013: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet looks dejected as Manchester City score the second goal to make the score 2-1 during the Premiership match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Somewhat scarily, they have been without some key men for part of the rise to the top too, with David Silva and Sergio Aguero side-lined for periods; the Argentine’s potential return on Saturday is even more frightening with Mamadou Sakho out.

City are a side moving slickly about their business this season; leading the Premier League and having already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League from an extremely difficult group with two games to spare.

Improved defensive stability has seen them concede just nine league goals, aided by the impressive form of Fernandinho in midfield, whose tenacious work in turn provides license to thrill for Yaya Toure, Kevin de Bruyne, and a certain Raheem Sterling.

Liverpool’s task of nullifying the league’s highest scorers’ while posing their own threat will be the toughest Klopp has faced yet.

 

Same Again, Jurgen

As they did at Stamford Bridge though, Liverpool must concentrate on themselves.

Klopp’s men produced a composed and controlled performance that day – even after falling behind early there was no panic – and they reaped their rewards with a fantastic first Premier League win under the German.

While City pose a far more dangerous prospect to Chelsea, encouragement can be had from two lacklustre performances that have seen them win one of their last three league matches.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 31, 2015: Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho and Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And though they have shipped only nine goals – four in one game – conceding against Norwich, Bournemouth and Newcastle at home where, like Liverpool, they lost to West Ham, offers Klopp’s side reason for cautious optimism – providing the Reds can defend better than those sides.

So does the fact the only “big team” City have beaten, again like Liverpool, is Chelsea – they drew the derby with Man United and were hammered 4-1 by Tottenham.

The Reds must respond positively to the set-back suffered against Crystal Palace with another display of character at the Etihad.

A courageous performance and showing of the new big-game mentality will be needed for Klopp to defy history and overcome previous failures again.

Ending another away-day curse in a huge fixture would provide a massive confidence boost, as the Chelsea victory did, and with fixtures relentless from this point on, a result would provide the perfect platform to build from in a crucial period.

Klopp banished the away day blues perfectly at Stamford Bridge – repeating that feat at the Etihad would be most welcome.


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