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Thursday 21 March 2019

Heaven 17 after Klopp's leaders equal record

Salah's treble helps Liverpool crush Cherries to leap-frog City at the top

Salah leaves keeper Asmir Begovic grounded as he completes his hat-trick
Salah leaves keeper Asmir Begovic grounded as he completes his hat-trick
Mohamed Salah keeps the matchball after his stunning hat-trick against Bournemouth on Saturday

Jurgen Klopp believes table-topping Liverpool's impressive club record-equalling unbeaten Premier League run boils down to improved control.

The Reds notched a 17th league match without defeat in Saturday's 4-0 thumping of Bournemouth at Dean Court, where Mohamed Salah bagged a stunning hat-trick.

Liverpool now sit top of the Premier League, boasting the last remaining unbeaten streak after champions Manchester City lost 2-0 at Chelsea on Saturday night.

Klopp's men led 2-0 then 3-2 before capitulating to a 4-3 Premier League defeat at Bournemouth in December 2016 but the German coach hopes his players are now far more robust than that.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe branded Liverpool "stronger mentally, physically and tactically" now than two years hence, leaving Klopp hopeful of maintaining that ruthless streak.

Dramatic

"I could probably draw for you the goals we conceded that day; we let Bournemouth come back into that game," said Klopp, of Liverpool's dramatic 4-3 defeat at Dean Court two years ago.

"Unfortunately, I cannot say that will never happen again but we are really more controlled in these situations now. It was a big step for us; very important.

"Last year we were really flying and everything was brilliant, until we were not flying.

"The difference between flying and not flying was quick last year.

"It was something we wanted to work on. It's worked out. That's good. A few new players have come in and other players are more mature.

"This squad is still not too experienced, that's how it is. But we still have to improve, that's clear."

Liverpool equalled the class of 2008's 17-match league unbeaten run at Bournemouth, and could now eclipse that record by avoiding Anfield defeat by rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

When quizzed on the difference the outstanding defender Virgil Van Dijk has made to Liverpool's spine, Klopp insisted the collective must take the credit.

"I could write a book about Virgil's strengths, I could write a book about Alisson's strengths, but look what Joel Matip did at Bournemouth, how good he was," said Klopp.

"He has absolutely no rhythm, but he trains on the highest level, and he's not even in the squad sometimes. But then he plays and is excellent. So it's not about one person.

"James Milner, it's Premier League game number 500 and he plays at right back. It's the least favourite position he would want to play, but he did the job, so that all comes together.

"The centre-half alone can do nothing. Nobody can perform wonders. So we need all these boys around."

In hailing Liverpool's growing resolve, Bournemouth boss Howe says he hopes for positive news on striker Callum Wilson's hamstring injury.

England hitman Wilson was a late withdrawal from Saturday's clash, but Howe hopes he will be back in action with little delay.

"Liverpool were stronger mentally, physically and tactically than they were in the past," said Howe.

"We did miss Callum, that unique mix of pace and trickery that might have caused Liverpool's backline problems.

"I don't think it's going to be long-term for him, though. It's a grade one hamstring injury, so we'll try to get him fit for Wolves next Saturday."

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