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Sport OLIVER HOLT: Thiago and Jota signings game-changers for Jurgen Klopp

02:02  20 september  2020
02:02  20 september  2020 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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OLIVER HOLT : Thiago and Diogo Jota 's arrivals at Liverpool are game - changers Pep Guardiola does not have enough answers to the question of how In the wake of Liverpool’s signing of Thiago Alcantara this week and Friday night’s confirmation they have also sealed the purchase of Diogo Jota

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In the wake of Liverpool’s signing of Thiago Alcantara this week and Friday night’s confirmation they have also sealed the purchase of Diogo Jota from Wolves, the tide of opinion has swung away from Manchester City winning the Premier League title this season towards Jurgen Klopp’s side retaining it. Call me fickle but I think the new arrivals on Merseyside are game-changers, too. I’m running from City and putting my money on Liverpool.

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The arrival of Thiago Alcantara, confirmed on Friday afternoon, is a game - changer ; a world-class The ink was barely dry on Thiago ’s four-year contract before news of Diogo Jota ’s signing broke. Victory at Stamford Bridge came with a bit to spare for Klopp ’s side, who were dominant even before

OLIVER HOLT : Thiago and Diogo Jota 's arrivals at Liverpool are game - changers Pep Guardiola does not have enough answers to the question of how to catch Jurgen Klopp 's side.

It is going to be a two-horse race and when Liverpool began the season without adding a major signing to their roster with a shaky win in the classic against Leeds, it felt as if inaction might cost them. Any side, no matter how good, needs fresh momentum and renewed competition within the squad. It needs to evolve and to progress and to thwart any hint of complacency. The addition of Thiago, in particular, ticks those boxes.

There are not many players who could improve the Liverpool side that won the title by a runaway 18 points last season but Thiago is one of them. He is a cerebral, elegant footballer, the kind of orchestrator of a match that Liverpool have not possessed so far under Klopp. Liverpool’s biggest weapon is their front three and the addition of Thiago may mean they are even better supplied than before. The addition of Jota insures against one of that trio getting injured.

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Midfielder refreshes Jurgen Klopp ’s team and changes their dynamic - as evidenced on his debut. Brilliantly influential as Thiago was, it would be a stretch to say he transformed this game . It had felt like the gap between the two might be cut up until his signing . That was not because of any major

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Pep Guardiola standing next to a football ball: Pep Guardiola still does not have the answers as to how to claw the title back from Liverpool © Provided by Daily Mail Pep Guardiola still does not have the answers as to how to claw the title back from Liverpool Thiago Alcantara holding a sign: The Reds' signings of Thiago (pictured) and Diogo Jota are game-changers for the champions © Provided by Daily Mail The Reds' signings of Thiago (pictured) and Diogo Jota are game-changers for the champions

City will be close. Closer than they were last season. But as they prepare to play the first game of their season against Wolves on Monday, there are too many question marks building up against them to suggest that, especially after developments last week, they can overhaul the champions.

The first, and most obvious, is the news that Sergio Aguero could be out injured for the next two months. City still have a fearsome frontline but it is not quite the same without Aguero. Gabriel Jesus is a brilliant forward but, so far, he has failed to show that he can be as prolific as the Argentina striker when he has been given the chance to step in. Two months is a long time to be without him.

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Jurgen Klopp was appointed the LFC manager in October 2015 - replacing Brendan Rodgers after 8 games of that season's Premier League campaign. His first signing as Liverpool manager was Marko Grujic but he continued to play for his club for the remainder of the season on loan.

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There are also unaddressed concerns about City’s defence. Yes, it was the second meanest defence in the league last season but Liverpool’s was better. So far, City have added Nathan Ake from Bournemouth to it, but the consensus is that that will still leave them short. Defensive frailty cost them in their final match of last season, the Champions League quarter-final against Lyon, and it will cost them again if they do not secure more reinforcements.

a group of people watching a football game: City will run them close, but may be found reeling from the two-month loss of Sergio Aguero © Provided by Daily Mail City will run them close, but may be found reeling from the two-month loss of Sergio Aguero a group of men playing a game on the court: Guardiola has an array of attacking talents, but still has defensive issues to resolve © Provided by Daily Mail Guardiola has an array of attacking talents, but still has defensive issues to resolve

City are a beautiful side. They will probably be the best team to watch in the Premier League again this season. But any team anywhere would be poorer for the loss of David Silva and quite how they cope without him now that he has returned to Spain is another area of uncertainty. The hope is that Phil Foden, already such a wonderful talent, will continue to develop to the point where he fills the void but Silva is going to be the toughest of acts to follow.

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How Jurgen Klopp could set up his Liverpool side next season in terms of starting XI, formation and his tactics! Having missed out on their first ever Premier League title by just a single point, how can Liverpool tactically As the cliche goes, he truly will be like a new signing for Jurgen Klopp ’s men.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has had to make an unusual change to his starting line-up to face Chelsea. Liverpool fans react to 'terrifying' Jurgen Klopp team decision for Chelsea game . But there was undoubtedly some excitement from Liverpool fans at seeing new signing Thiago Alcantara

City have the most talented player in the league and one of the best players in the world in Kevin de Bruyne, they have Raheem Sterling, who has also matured into a world class talent, they have Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Ferran Torres, the winger newly signed from Valencia as a replacement for Leroy Sane.

Their quality going forward is not in doubt. City are a team that can bewitch an opponent and paralyse them with their mix of energy and technical ability but for all their talent in attacking positions, there is still a feeling they are vulnerable, particularly to pace and that they have not quite done enough to address that deficiency.

Nathan Ake wearing a blue shirt: The signing of Nathan Ake is positive, but may not be enough to shore up their defence © Provided by Daily Mail The signing of Nathan Ake is positive, but may not be enough to shore up their defence

In those heady few days earlier this month when it seemed they might sign Lionel Messi, it did not seem to matter they had not dealt with their most pressing issue. With Messi, who needed to worry about defence? But when that deal died, the worries returned.

They still have Guardiola, of course, the man who most still consider the best football coach in the world, the man around whom the modern City is built. But there is uncertainty around him, too. His contract runs out at the end of this season and, despite all sorts of positive noises, he has not yet signed a new one.

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Maybe Messi will come to City next season and he and Guardiola will join together in a golden autumn at the Etihad. Or maybe Guardiola will return to Barcelona to help Messi through the last years of his career at the Nou Camp. Speculation about all that will grow as this season progresses. It would be easy for it to become a distraction.

The last few days have been pivotal in trying to read how the season will develop. Of the two title contenders, suddenly it is City who look more like the team that is standing still. Liverpool have the edge.

Jurgen Klopp standing on a baseball field: The last few days could prove crucial and now Liverpool have the edge going into the season © Provided by Daily Mail The last few days could prove crucial and now Liverpool have the edge going into the season

I hope Bale proves me wrong at Spurs

Gareth Bale is a wonderful footballer, a player blessed with pace and vision and a talent for producing the spectacular in the biggest matches. In terms of the trophies he has won, he is one of the greats of the British game.

His capture by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is, at the very least, a public relations stroke of genius. It has injected a shot of excitement and hope into a Tottenham season that was starting to look moribund almost before it had begun. At its best, the move may just provide the antidote to the dolefulness creeping through the club under the Jose Mourinho regime.

Gareth Bale posing for the camera: Gareth Bale's return to Spurs is fantastic for the club and the Premier League as a whole © Provided by Daily Mail Gareth Bale's return to Spurs is fantastic for the club and the Premier League as a whole Daniel Levy wearing a suit and tie: His capture, at the very least, is a public relations stroke of genius by Spurs chief Daniel Levy © Provided by Daily Mail His capture, at the very least, is a public relations stroke of genius by Spurs chief Daniel Levy

The heart wants the Bale move to work, not just for Spurs fans but because anyone who loves the game wants players of his grace and style to prosper and because his arrival will provide the Premier League with a great boost as it continues to play to empty stadiums.

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The head says that Bale may be a sticking plaster loaned to try to hide the wounds opening up at the club under Mourinho. The head says that seven years after he first left Spurs for Real Madrid, it will be hard for him to live up to expectations. The head says that, at 31, it will only get harder for him to stay free of the injuries that have dogged his career.

I’m going with what my head tells me but I hope Bale, who has already shut up the critics who said he had no ambition left and would sit out the rest of his Madrid contract on the bench, proves me wrong.

a man in a baseball game: But Bale may be a sticking plaster to hide the wounds under Mourinho opening up at Spurs © Provided by Daily Mail But Bale may be a sticking plaster to hide the wounds under Mourinho opening up at Spurs

Scott is right choice for Question of Sport host seat

The question is not whether Alex Scott would be lucky to be given the gig as the new presenter of A Question of Sport. The question is whether A Question of Sport would be lucky to get Alex Scott.

Part of the reason why giving the job to Scott is a superb idea is I’m not a fan of the outgoing presenter, Sue Barker. I respect she was a pioneer in sports broadcasting and if you’ve lasted 24 years in the job, as she had, you’ve obviously been doing something right but Barker’s brand of smug sycophancy never quite did it for me.

If Scott gets the job, it will be because she’s an accomplished, personable, diligent broadcaster, who was in the right place at the right time.

A Question of Sport would be lucky to get Alex Scott, who would be superb in the hosting role © Provided by Daily Mail A Question of Sport would be lucky to get Alex Scott, who would be superb in the hosting role Read more

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