Liverpool are no Man City, but the exploits of Coutinho, Salah & Co. should still be enjoyed

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Jurgen Klopp's side are in fourth spot — 18 points off the league leaders — but their strides forward should not be ignored on that account

For every top team not named Manchester City in the Premier League this season, the outstanding can be made to seem ordinary. 

Each setback, meanwhile, is magnified for those residing in the shadows of Pep Guardiola's side.

In a 4-0 victory at the Vitality Stadium, Liverpool offered a reminder that, while they may not be the all-conquering juggernaut from down the M62, they are still progressing at pace in their own lane.

They became the first team in English top-flight history to have won four consecutive away games by a margin of at least three goals. Four were converted against Bournemouth, but that number could've quite easily been doubled.

Five of them were celebrated at Brighton & Hove Albion, with Sadio Mane — Liverpool’s reigning Player of the Season — kept in reserve, as was the case on Sunday.

Bournemouth vs. Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp thrice fist-pumped at Stoke City, as Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah started on the bench. And he could rejoice at London Stadium too, where the Reds - sans Coutinho - stuck four past West Ham.

These are the kind of fixtures that undid Liverpool in the previous campaign — the 4-3 defeat away to Bournemouth most haunting — but the Merseysiders have now lost only one of their last 23 league matches against teams outside the 'big six'.

It is not just about the goals scored, but that they have stopped going in with regularity at the other end. Klopp's charges have not conceded a single effort from open play in the last six games in all competitions, with just two controversial penalties breaching the defence.

Post the self-inflicted humbling at Tottenham, Liverpool's nine top-flight fixtures have seen them punish opponents 24 times, while only letting in four goals.

Bournemouth vs. Liverpool

This has been achieved as the manager looks to strike a balance between rhythm and freshness, making 15 more changes to his starting XI after 18 games than was done in the entirety of 2016-17.

Having watched his team head into this year as Chelsea's closest title challengers, before the effects of fatigue and Mane's departure for the Africa Cup of Nations combined to see them combust through January and February, Klopp added to his squad with the intention of easing the workload with heavier demands this season.

It's easy to forget that Nathaniel Clyne has not kicked a ball yet in 2017-18 — largely thanks to the performances of Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold — while Adam Lallana was involved for only the second time this term on Sunday. 

The German could field Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Eddie Howe's men and count on a dynamic, direct display packed with intention and authority.

The England international continued his man-of-the-match showing through to the post-match TV interview, in which he interjected when Coutinho was asked about his future to highlight the Brazilian’s professionalism and the unfairness of such a question.

The 25-year-old, still the focal point of Barcelona’s transfer planning, was again unplayable. Adam Smith's reaction to the opener — jumping on the spot with his arms in the air to suggest a feeling of utter helplessness — summed up how phenomenal Liverpool's No.10 was. Coutinho was fed by Ragnar Klavan and flicked a pass to Andy Robertson, who returned possession and made a distracting dart.

Coutinho goal Bournemouth

The playmaker then drove at Bournemouth's defence with Simon Francis, Lewis Cook, Nathan Ake and Smith left to look ridiculous as he planted a finish inside the near post.

Roberto Firmino was then brilliant in keeping a corner alive at the far post, with Dejan Lovren diving in to double Liverpool's advantage before Salah's pace, persistence, power and precision saw him record his 20th goal of the season in just his 26th outing for the club.

Firmino — marginally offside — nodded in a typically classy Coutinho delivery to round off the triumph, in which the latter and Oxlade-Chamberlain were also denied by the post.

The forward's header was the 24th away goal Liverpool have registered in the league this season, a tally only matched by City.

The Reds may not be equal in many other respects to Guardiola's giants at present, but that should not take any shine away from their own strides forward. 

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"We have so many things to play for and I enjoy the season in the moment," Klopp reminded.

"It is really hard, it is really intense, it is unbelievable how many points you will probably need at the end of the season to get anything.

"Most of the time, we played our football — it is really nice to watch and successful."

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