Much like a boozy night in Berlin, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are going shot for shot.
Liverpool and Chelsea – of whom Klopp and Tuchel coach respectively – share an incredible symmetry after five Premier League games this season. The two heavyweights sit joint top of the league with 13 points each and both have scored 12 goals and conceded just once thus far.
Astonishingly, Liverpool and Chelsea also share the same pattern of score-lines. Their results this season read: 3-0, 2-0, 1-1, 3-0, 3-0.
Jurgen Klopp (L) and Thomas Tuchel (R) are going shot for shot after five top flight games
The English heavyweights share the same points, goals scored, conceded and score-lines
With Chelsea hosting Manchester City and Liverpool facing the lesser task of taking on Brentford, it is likely that this pattern will come to an end this weekend.
Yet with City showing early signs of faltering, we could already be looking at the two main protagonists in this season’s title race.
With imperious defences, hard-running midfields and talismanic frontmen, it is easy to see why both sides have the qualities needed to mount a title challenge. Sportsmail takes a closer look at both sides’ title credentials.
Given how vulnerable Liverpool were defensively for the majority of last term, Klopp has done a remarkable job to shore up his back line over the summer.
He has been helped, of course, by the return of Virgil van Dijk, whose long-term knee injury last season was a bitter pill to swallow for the charismatic German.
Klopp has shored things up at the back, helped by the return of colossus VIrgil van Dijk (R)
The Dutchman has slotted straight back into the fold and has formed a good partnership with Joel Matip – who has put a run of games together having been dogged by persistent injuries himself.
Meanwhile, Alisson Becker is returning to the form that saw him dubbed one of the world’s top keepers after a turbulent 2020-21 campaign not helped by off-field issues.
While the outlook looks brighter for Liverpool at the back, the Reds’ tendency to push high up the pitch in order to force turnovers does leave them vulnerable to exposure on the counter attack. But with a fully fit van Dijk flanked by Andy Robertson and Trent-Alexander Arnold, that threat can be mitigated.
Tuchel’s near-flawless record at Chelsea has been built on the foundations of a rock-solid defence. The German has implemented a stubborn back five for the most part which formed the basis of their Champions League triumph last season.
The Blues’ only goal conceded came from the penalty spot at Anfield. Thiago Silva’s leadership has been important, although PSG and Bayern Munich target Antonio Rudiger has stepped up in the veteran’s absence.
Chelsea’s defence has been superb with Antonio Rudiger and Edouard Mendy standouts
Chelsea have ironed out their goalkeeping issues, too, with the arrival of Edouard Mendy. The Frenchman was named last year’s Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season and displayed his class with a strong performance in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
While Tuchel’s side are resolute at the back, they are not completely impenetrable. The former PSG boss was at the helm when West Brom put five past them at Stamford Bridge last term, so they can be put on the back foot.
It is fair to say that the engine rooms for both Liverpool and Chelsea are somewhat overlooked.
While Manchester City and United boast the creativity of Kevin de Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes respectively, Tuchel and Klopp have opted for industrious, hard-working midfielders to run things in the middle of the park.
Klopp sacrificed a No 10 for a hard working midfield led by Jordan Henderson (R) and Fabinho
Tuchel has been blessed with N’Golo Kante but he has great options to complement him
LIVERPOOL AND CHELSEA AFTER FIVE GAMES THIS SEASON
Games played: 5
Goals scored: 12
Goals conceded: 1
Following Philippe Coutinho’s £145m move to Barcelona in 2018, Klopp has ridden Liverpool of the typical ‘No 10’ – a move that had taken many by surprise given the popularity of the role over the past decade.
Instead, Liverpool’s attacking verve comes from the flanks, with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho tasked with maintaining a high tempo to suffocate opponents.
It is worth noting that the £25m signing of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich last summer was an indication of Klopp wishing to add some panache to his midfield, although the Spaniard has struggled to get going so far.
Although Liverpool have set the standard for hard-working midfields, Chelsea can certainly match the Reds.
Of course, Tuchel has been blessed with inheriting Kante at Stamford Bridge. The Frenchman’s energy and positional intelligence allows Chelsea to win turnovers and pose a threat on the counter. Chelsea’s 64 interceptions this season is matched only by Burnley, while Liverpool have made 39 interceptions in total.
The German has the luxury of rotating between four classy midfield operators, too, with Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic and Saul Niguez all offering the guile and craft to perfectly complement Kante.
Tuchel yearned for an elite goalscorer all summer and Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia came through for the boss, splashing out £97.5m to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge.
In truth, Lukaku is ready-made for Premier League football. His torrid spell at United left him in ‘a deep hole’, but that misery was no reflection of Lukaku’s talents and spoke more to the turmoil unfolding at Old Trafford.
A footballing education in Italy with Inter Milan has seen Lukaku return a ‘complete player’ and the Belgian has wasted no time in settling in at Stamford Bridge.
The Chelsea boss has long sought an elite goalscorer to lead the line for the West Londoners
Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia delivered Romelu Lukaku for the German coach
Three goals in four games is a very encouraging return while he has provided the focal point that the Blues were so glaringly missing with Timo Werner up front.
Lukaku has previously said he should be compared with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, and it will be the challenge of firing consistently that will take him to that level.
Mohamed Salah just keeps on going. The Egyptian has started the season in fine fettle with four goals from five games, prompting some pundits to claim he is not getting the credit he deserves.
‘For some reason, however, I’m still not too sure he gets the credit he is due,’ Sportsmail’s Micah Richards said.
‘Is it because he plays international football for Egypt, so we don’t see all their games on TV? Is it because he rarely gives interviews and keeps himself out of the headlines?
‘I can’t see this any clearer: Mo is the best wide forward in the world.
‘He is absolutely outstanding, he’s enhanced the role that Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery made their own with a goal record that puts many of the top No 9s in Europe in the shade.’
Mohamed Salah has been relentless with some pundits claiming he does not get enough credit
Salah’s influence on Liverpool’s attack is undeniable, showcased last season when the Egyptian had to carry the goalscoring burden with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane misfiring.
And Klopp will surely have the obstacle that this year’s African Cup of Nations presents on his mind.
Salah is due to represent Egypt during the tournament that runs from January 9 to February 6 2022. When Mane represented Senegal during the 2017 tournament, Liverpool lost four out of five league games. Klopp will be acutely aware of the importance of January to their title charge.
They can deny it all they want, but Klopp and Tuchel share many similarities.
Both coaches had fairly underwhelming playing careers. Klopp spent most of his playing days in the German second division while a serious knee injury curtailed Tuchel’s career.
The Chelsea boss then followed Klopp’s managerial path in Germany, moving from Mainz to Borussia Dortmund before arriving in England via Paris.
Tuchel has long been bothered by the shadow overcast by Klopp, but the German finally stepped into the limelight with Chelsea’s impressive run to Champions League glory last season and the 48-year-old will be determined to get one over his countryman this season.
Klopp and Tuchel are genuinely inseparable, so who will be the last man standing this season?
Chelsea and Tuchel present a seemingly perfect match, but the tactician is yet to hit rocky waters at Stamford Bridge.
He has not been hampered by an injury crisis and his record of falling out with boards at previous clubs could pose problems in the future with Roman Abramovich, notorious for wielding the axe. It remains to be seen for just how much longer Tuchel can keep things smooth sailing in West London.
For Klopp, the heavy-spending of rival clubs has been a source of frustration and the January transfer window could prove a critical point in sustaining the Reds’ title challenge.
The German tacticians are genuinely inseparable after five league games. Over this marathon of a season, something has got to give. So, who will be the last man standing?