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The Liverpool that Jürgen Klopp wants to see is showing signs of coming back. It is still a way off being perfect and back to full tilt, but the version of the Reds that has beaten Everton and Newcastle inside six days should have enough to achieve its main aim.
It was not the desired target at the start of the campaign, but reaching the Champions League next season after the events that have transpired across the last few months would be something to celebrate (at least quietly, before preparing for a drastic improvement and plenty of transfer activity in the summer).
With their win over a top-four rival, Liverpool completing the double over Newcastle could prove decisive in the race for fourth, with Arsenal and both Manchester clubs likely to tie up the top three spots.
READ MORE: Liverpool unlocks new Darwin Núñez as dangerous Jürgen Klopp duo emerges at perfect time
READ MORE: Liverpool just produced 17-minute masterclass as Jürgen Klopp training ground plan works a treat
Fourth position, though, is an open race, with Liverpool pushing to make themselves a proper contender, Newcastle faltering and Tottenham continuing to be inconsistent — beating Manchester City one week and losing 4-1 to Leicester City the next.
It was not to send a message to Newcastle by any means, but one Klopp moment on the touchline summed up why Liverpool should give itself every hope of beating Eddie Howe's side in the final league standings, at least.
Ravaged by injuries throughout the campaign, Liverpool has not often been able to make a quadruple change on the hour mark, with Thiago Alcântara and Luis Díaz still out
Fábio Carvalho, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arthur Melo were all left out of the matchday squad for the second successive game. Naby Keïta was among the substitutes but was not called upon.
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In one swoop came Diogo Jota, James Milner, Harvey Elliott and Roberto Firmino — all Champions League regulars who could have started. Klopp simply had options that Howe didn't.
Seemingly from nowhere, Liverpool suddenly has depth and numbers available again, even in the center of the pitch. That does not in any way negate the need for a big spend in the summer when several senior options will depart at the end of their contracts, but for now, does offer some major short-term hope.
Newcastle, sorely missing their star man Bruno Guimarães, had to field youngster Elliot Anderson in the Brazilian's place. Matt Ritchie and Jacob Murphy emerged from the sidelines — two solid enough Premier League pros, but not players you might associate with a Champions League push.
(Image: Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Newcastle has, undoubtedly, done well to make itself a part of the conversation for the top four with the squad that Howe has at his disposal. In the coming seasons, as more and more Saudi money is pumped in, their depth will increase significantly and a place in the Champions League is inevitable sooner rather than later.
Should Liverpool find sufficient form in the final few months of this particular season, though, it should have more than enough to overhaul Newcastle and make the most of the advantage in depth that it currently has.
Right now, only one of the two squads should be capable of finishing in a Champions League place, as one quadruple substitution proved. It is up to the Liverpool players, though, to prove that they are deserving of more top-level European football by finding some consistency at last.
Sign up for our EXCLUSIVE Liverpool.com newsletter! Sign up to the Liverpool.com newsletter here — it only takes a few seconds! Without him, Liverpool did not look like forcing anything through in the final third, and their intricate passing went awry. It is always hard to read exactly what people are thinking and things can change quickly, but Alexander-Arnold looked furious from the off. The only way things drastically improve is by a couple of additions to the squad, which cannot arrive until the season is over.1 month ago Liverpool.com
But Jürgen Klopp vowed a reaction from his team and that's seeming what he was expecting with the Liverpool starting XI which included Naby Keïta. There was the promise and hope at the start of the game; the opportunity to offer something new. Sign up for our EXCLUSIVE Liverpool.com newsletter! Sign up to the Liverpool.com newsletter here — it only takes a few seconds! Sure, Liverpool has made it clear the club's stance to allow Keïta to leave on a free in the summer.1 month ago Liverpool.com
Palace went closest in the first half, with Jean-Philippe Mateta striking the crossbar from close range after a mistake from Trent Alexander-Arnold. Mohamed Salah then hit the woodwork himself in the opening moments of the second, but Liverpool never really looked like scoring aside from that. Trent Alexander-Arnold — Lucky not to be punished for some big blunders, and couldn't argue with Klopp's decision to withdraw him in the second half. Virgil van Dijk — 6/10Much more like it from Van Dijk. Stefan Bajčetić — N/AGave the ball away in his own half but Liverpool dealt with it, then redeemed himself by snuffing out Olise's late counter.1 month ago Liverpool.com
Jürgen Klopp made four changes to his side from the team that started the heavy defeat to Real Madrid, but Liverpool showed no signs of looking fresh as a result. Sign up for our EXCLUSIVE Liverpool.com newsletter! Our newsletter subscribers get a rundown Monday to Friday from one of the best Liverpool FC writers — straight to your inbox, and completely for free. Sign up to the Liverpool.com newsletter here — it only takes a few seconds! Liverpool looked much quicker in possession and his creativity produced chances that simply never looked likely in the first period.1 month ago Liverpool.com
At one time, it was pretty much expected that Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard would eventually succeed Jürgen Klopp as manager, when the German boss eventually departs. Even more impressive is the fact that the former Reds midfielder has largely pulled off the feat with a reliance on youth prospects. Sign up for our EXCLUSIVE Liverpool.com newsletter! Our newsletter subscribers get a rundown Monday to Friday from one of the best Liverpool FC writers — straight to your inbox, and completely for free. Sign up to the Liverpool.com newsletter here — it only takes a few seconds!1 month ago Liverpool.com
Like Núñez, he instigated chaos on the field, which is why Rio Ferdinand sees the comparisons between the pair. Sign up for our EXCLUSIVE Liverpool.com newsletter! Sign up to the Liverpool.com newsletter here — it only takes a few seconds! He’s aggressive, he’s strong, he likes to run in behind, he’s a nuisance, he’s a bit unpredictable.”Indeed, Virgil van Dijk has touched on his qualities, having faced him as an opponent in the Champions League. Overall, when neither Ferdinand nor Van Dijk want to defend against you, it can't be a bad sign.1 month ago Liverpool.com
One intriguing player who may emerge in the coming years is Jamie Bynoe-Gittens of Borussia Dortmund. Given the rise of compatriots Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham at Signal Iduna Park, the England U-19 international will sense his best route to establishing himself as a first team regular will come in Germany. He said: "I just think he's one of those players who, if he gets the chance to grow, will become fantastic. The issue, for him, might be getting that chance at Dortmund as [they] have got a lot of forward players. Our newsletter subscribers get a rundown Monday to Friday from one of the best Liverpool FC writers — straight to your inbox, and completely for free.1 month ago Liverpool.com
"But now we have to show that we are the real Liverpool and show to the world our real potential." Instinctively, then, it seems the players weren't necessarily excited to face Real Madrid again, or relishing the opportunity to gain revenge, as much as Konaté tried to bang the drum. It must genuinely believe that, after four unsuccessful attempts, it can beat Real Madrid. In 2017/18, they convinced themselves they would beat a Real Madrid side that looked past its peak. Having overwhelmed Manchester City, then the best team in Europe, in the quarter-finals, Liverpool might have felt destined to triumph.1 month ago Liverpool.com