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history beckons The four big reasons why Liverpool can make history by winning first quadruple

Jurgen Klopp has the squad and tactics to cope with congested fixture list while rotation of players is key to clean sweep

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Liverpool's Diogo Jota (right) scores their side's first goal of the game during the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final match against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, Nottingham. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Liverpool's Diogo Jota (right) scores their side's first goal of the game during the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final match against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, Nottingham. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Liverpool's Diogo Jota (right) scores their side's first goal of the game during the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final match against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, Nottingham. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Following Liverpool's victory at Nottingham Forest on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp explained that he did not want to risk Mohamed Salah because of a foot injury and, consequently, he decided to omit Sadio Mane for what amounted to political reasons. Salah and Mane face each other in a two-leg World Cup qualifier for Egypt and Senegal over the next two weeks and Klopp did not want to stand accused of damaging a nation's hopes. Given what was at stake for Liverpool in their push for a quadruple, this was an extraordinarily charitable decision by the Liverpool manager.

Impact of Diaz and Jota

But he has rich attacking options available. Diogo Jota has reconstructed Liverpool's front three. His 19th goal of the season - and the nature of it - will draw further comparisons with the playing style of Robbie Fowler. Of Jota's 19 goals, 12 have been the opener. He is a game-changer.

But if Liverpool win the Premier League, or any other major trophy this season, Luis Diaz's arrival will be considered a critical turning point. Diaz hit the ground sprinting, and his presence has swelled belief because Liverpool's attacking strength in depth is greater than at any time since 2001, when Fowler, Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Jari Litmanen were part of the rotation plan.

Finding a way to win

While Liverpool retain hopes of a quadruple, do not forget that Manchester City might replicate Manchester United's feat of 1999 by securing the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble. City have also come close to a quadruple, the fact it was beyond them underlining how unlikely it remains.

There is a significant difference in playing style between Liverpool and City, though. Although Klopp continues to be associated with "heavy metal" or "full throttle" football, there are far more key changes in Liverpool's approach. Klopp has fine-tuned his players so they know when to adjust the volume.

City's harmonies are more consistent - dare one say predictable - to the point where the rhythm of their fixtures is identical. At their most impressive that makes them look unstoppable. But in Pep Guardiola's world, it is rather like the outcome of every football match needs scientific explanation. If plan A has not worked, Guardiola considers it an anomaly and nothing more could have been done.

Klopp's world allows for more risk and more variables - those spontaneous factors which are beyond measurement or logic. The emotion of a stadium is one of them, forcing his players to find an extra yard and the opponents to make more mistakes. Liverpool's amazing Anfield comebacks under Klopp are proof that tactical perfection is but one element for success.

Solid foundations

When Liverpool won the Premier League in 2020, they conceded just 33 goals. They are on their way to bettering that this season. Since the new year, they have conceded only four in the Premier League. Only City's record is superior.

What makes Liverpool stand out is every opponent feels they have a chance to exploit Klopp's high-line defending, but so far very few have been able to prove this is the weakness many presume. The spine of the team - Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho - is performing as well now as when Liverpool won the Champions League and title. This is the foundation upon which Liverpool have been able to keep so many clean sheets.

Van Dijk's importance to Liverpool is easily measured given what happened to the team in his (and the underrated Joel Matip's) absence last season. Van Dijk is yet to lose a Premier League game at Anfield, except for when at Southampton.

Every game is an event

Whether it is Nottingham Forest in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, or the forthcoming meetings with Benfica and City, Liverpool's approach will be identical. They have been absorbed by their manager's personality, so much so that he and his players do not count the number of games won, only looking directly to the next challenge.

The epic nature of the Liverpool versus City rivalry is pushing both sides into unprecedented territory. City are the most formidable obstacle imaginable and can scupper Liverpool by rewriting their own history. But no team at this stage have looked so well equipped to win the lot as Klopp's Liverpool.

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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