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Home Comforts Before Traveller's Tales

Anfield may not quite be a natural fit for Klopp's Liverpool just yet, but improvements at home could be the key to unlocking a successful season.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester City may have been below their best and missed two key players in Vincent Kompany and David Silva, but Saturday's 4-1 victory at the Etihad was one of Liverpool's finest in the Premier League era. A recovering Daniel Sturridge spent the entire game on the bench, Christian Benteke saw action from the bench in another big away win, Jordan Henderson was still making his way back from injury, and Mamadou Sakho won't be available for the rest of the year. Both sides were missing key players, but the away side had far more injury concerns going into the game.

Liverpool's approach to in the first half hour took the hosts by surprise with the coordination and intensity of pressing as well as movement. The home side threatened, but Liverpool continued to create chances in the second half. It was a day to remember for Liverpool fans against a team of real quality. The relentless schedule for sides involved in European football mean that another game is never far away, making it difficult to dwell on results for too long. Bordeaux visit Anfield on Thursday evening before Swansea City following suit on Sunday afternoon. Talk of Champions League football at this stage feels premature for a number of reasons, and Jürgen Klopp is sensibly wary of making any promises or claims on the back of one or two results.

Regularly winning at home, keeping players fit, avoiding further injuries, building momentum with a sequence of positive results much like Tottenham have done, using the ball more productively in central areas, Dejan Lovren continuing to operate at what passes for a competent level alongside Martin Škrtel, and a January signing or two settling in quickly will all make a difference. Some of these things are developing well, and while Liverpool have a chance of finishing in the top four, it's more of an outside one.

Liverpool's Premier League home fixtures haven't been particularly difficult so far this season, but just two victories by a one-goal margin from six games is simply underwhelming. The vanquished? You can find them in the relegation zone, supporting the other 18 teams in England's top flight. This was a problem before Klopp arrived, and four games in all competitions isn't a large enough sample size to draw any definitive conclusions. Two draws, a victory, and a defeat nonetheless spell room for improvement.

Away from home, Liverpool have thrived under the former Borussia Dortmund manager. Seven points away to Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Manchester City is top four form. Becoming the first English side to beat Rubin Kazan in Russia cannot be easily dismissed either. Four home games and four away games to date under the 48-year-old Swabian tactician. Is it any ground-breaking revelation that Liverpool are impressing more away from home under a manager who excels at creating sides that can press wonderfully, counter effectively, and manage space expertly during various transitions?

Liverpool's task this week is to consolidate the victory over Manchester City by qualifying for the Europa League knock-out stages and beating Swansea in the Premier League. Anfield is all Liverpool have left this month, and the task is to deliver before December's travels. The team's growing durability and effectiveness will be tested on the road next month, as Merseyside's finest play five out seven games away from home. Bordeaux and Swansea are struggling to match last season's promise, languishing in 13th and 14th respectively

Crystal Palace enjoyed a win over Liverpool at Anfield before the international break but returned to club action only to lose against struggling Sunderland at home. Tottenham followed up a notable 4-1 victory over Manchester City to end September by drawing three (Monaco, Swansea, and Liverpool) and losing one (Anderlecht) of their next four games in all competitions. West Ham opened the season with a win at the Emirates over Arsenal before losing at home to Leicester and Bournemouth, although it must be said that a comfortable victory at Anfield ended a two-game losing streak for the Hammers.

Being consistent is difficult, especially after rousing victories where a team "has arrived" and played excellently. For any side looking to finish in the top four after a difficult start (even in the event of a good one), it's about more than just one signature victory that raises eyebrows. Those are undoubtedly welcome, but Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp must prove their credentials at home this week against opposition that may not attempt to play as expansively as Manchester City. Liverpool under Klopp may be naturally suited to picking up results away from home, but if a formula for a formidable Anfield can be found, there may be more to Liverpool's claims for success than hasty and somewhat idle chatter.

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