LONDON • Jurgen Klopp's work in turning Anfield back into a fortress has been underlined after Georginio Wijnaldum claimed that teams are "scared" of visiting Liverpool.
The Dutch midfielder made the assessment before tomorrow's showdown with Manchester City, when the title credentials of both sides will come under scrutiny.
Liverpool have not lost at home since a 1-0 defeat by Manchester United in January, and Tuesday's 4-1 win over Stoke City was the fourth time they have scored four or more goals at Anfield this term.
"Every team in the Premier League has more confidence at home," Wijnaldum said.
"When I was playing in Holland (for PSV), it was the same. The way we are playing and the way we are scoring goals in the home games, I think it will scare opponents."
Points from Liverpool's 12 matches involving the Premier League top six, a mini league which the Reds top. Manchester City, whom they host tomorrow, are bottom on 11 points.
City's visit to Merseyside tomorrow is billed as a battle between title contenders - but study another table and it is actually top versus bottom.
Pep Guardiola tried to spy chinks in Liverpool's armour as he discreetly took his place in the crowd to watch the mauling of Stoke, but he will be all too aware of the influence Klopp has had.
Since the German arrived in the Premier League, his record against the top clubs speaks volumes for the confidence he has injected into a team who previously struggled to lay a glove on them.
Liverpool sit at the summit of a mini league involving England's "big six", with 21 points from 12 matches since Klopp took over in October last year.
The contrast with City is stark. They are bottom with 11 points from 12 matches, which is somewhat surprisingly given their expensively-assembled squad.
It is a record that reflects poorly on Guardiola's predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, and one that the Spaniard has only partially addressed.
There have been the wins over United and lately Arsenal, but the defeats by Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea exposed a soft underbelly, and shone a light on the glaring inadequacies Guardiola is trying to smooth over in his first season on the job.
City will be boosted by the return of Sergio Aguero from suspension, but even then they may not possess the attacking might to go toe-to-toe with a Liverpool side whose willingness to flood forward is reflected by the fact that they scored 48 goals last year but have plundered 86 this year.
"We have a lot of players who can score goals and win the game for us," added Wijnaldum.
"They (City) also have a good attack. They have a lot of good players who can score, so I don't think there is a big difference."
Four of Liverpool's next five home league games are against City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. There is a visit to Old Trafford to factor in, too, on Jan 15 - and if they continue to impress against their closest rivals then thoughts of a first title since 1990 will truly crystallise.
In a bid to assemble a squad with extra depth and durability to sustain a challenge for the Premier League title, Klopp is monitoring Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's potential availability.
The midfielder is thought to be concerned about his future at Arsenal, with the London club not having offered him a new contract.
But there is also an awareness at Anfield that turning that interest into something concrete will not be straightforward bearing in mind the various politics between the two clubs and the current state of the Premier League table.
Arsenal are fourth, nine points off Chelsea at the top and three behind second-placed Liverpool, and would have obvious reservations about allowing any of their players to join a direct title rival in the January transfer window.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN