Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren believes manager Jurgen Klopp has found the missing pieces to the puzzle which have frustrated previous hopes of a title challenge.
One vital piece is undoubtedly Virgil Van Dijk, with the Dutch centre-back having overseen a 12th clean sheet of the season – the same number kept by Liverpool when they last won the title in 1989-90 – in the 4-0 win over Newcastle.
Others who have made a difference are keeper Alisson Becker, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho – the latter two both scorers against Newcastle.
With Mohamed Salah – now on 15 goals for the season – Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane interacting better in their second season together there is a feeling of cohesion all the way from front to back.
Asked what the difference was from previous years, Lovren said: “I think experience. There are quite a lot of players still here and it was like a puzzle, you just keep bringing these players you missed and now I think it’s a perfect match.
“There has always been something missing all these years but I think now we have everything.
“But it doesn’t mean anything. Even Manchester City has in every position two players, top players.”
Liverpool have reeled in City’s two-point and 14-goal advantage from the start of December and the gap to the third-placed champions is now seven points.
The Reds have conceded just seven goals in 19 matches – eight better than City and 11 better than second-placed Tottenham – but Lovren stressed the success is down to an overall gameplan.
The Croatian said; “The foundation isn’t about five players at the back. It’s about Mo, Bobby, Sadio, Shaq, everyone up front, they are the first defenders. We know when we don’t concede a goal, we score. That’s the key for us and we need to always stay hungry. When we lose the ball, get it back quickly.”
Liverpool have been installed as the new title favourites following the Boxing Day results but Lovren said that would not affect them.
“There’s no pressure, to be honest. In the previous years, yes, but now when you look in the dressing room, when you go into Melwood in the morning, everybody is happy,” he added. “Nobody talks about anything else than the next game. We can’t talk about something that will happen in five-six months, we go game by game and we will see where we finish.”