Football News

One big difference between Klopp and Guardiola could ‘win Liverpool the league’

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 15:00, 6 March 2024

Jamie Carragher believes the respective participant’s benches will decide this season’s Premier League title race.

Two points separate three clubs with no fewer than 11 matches remaining. Liverpool are top with Manchester City and Arsenal on their coattails.

Man City faces both clubs in those remaining fixtures, with Pep Guardiola’s champions visiting Anfield this weekend.

Each team are currently on a winning streak — Arsenal (seven), Liverpool (four), Man City (three) — and Carragher feels the utilisation of substitutions could be pivotal.

“I think since the five-substitute rule has come in, no one’s utilised it better than Jürgen Klopp,” he said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.

“We spoke about Arsenal earlier on, and you think how they can win the league: they’re the best defensively. Manchester City are probably the best team with the best individuals, but this is where Liverpool can win the league, from the bench, because Klopp always uses five subs.”

To further illustrate Carragher’s point, so far this season, City have used the fewest substitutions in the Premier League (74). In the past, Guardiola has said that fewer substitutions mean less added time (against Newcastle in August 2023), but when asked about this, he speaks about in-game rhythm.

By contrast, the Reds have made the league’s third-most substitutions (119), with only Burnley (122) and Brighton (128) ahead.

It’s paying dividends, as Liverpool substitutes have scored or assisted 22 goals in the Premier League this season (11 goals and 11 assists), with only Man City in 2011-12 (24) and Arsenal in 2009-10 (23) having more sub-goal involvements in a season in the competition.

Furthermore, a substitute has scored or assisted in their last four games, with five games in a row the Premier League record for a team having a sub-score or assist, achieved by five teams previously.

Sunday’s meeting will also be the 30th between Guardiola (11 wins) and Klopp (12 wins). To say the Spaniard is having mixed feelings would be an understatement.

“I will sleep better [when Klopp goes]. The games we play before against Liverpool were almost a nightmare. Of course he will be missed. It was a shock [to hear the news]. I felt when I heard it that a part of Man City … we will lose something. We cannot define our period here without him … without Liverpool. Impossible,” he said after Klopp announced he will be leaving at the end of this season.

“They have been our biggest rivals. And personally he [Klopp] has been the best rival I ever had in my life – in Dortmund when I was in Bayern, then here. I think the Premier League are going to miss him – the charisma, the personality and especially the way his teams play.”