It all looked familiar to Steve Bruce.

For Anfield in 2019, read Old Trafford in the mid-90s, opponents not exactly beaten before the visiting bus makes its final turn towards the stadium, but concession speeches cautiously rehearsed before kickoff.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool do not have the Premier League titles of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United. They certainly have the same aura of near invincibility on their own turf — that strutting authority that comes with knowing you can withstand an early punch, restore your balance and win comfortably.

Whether opponents have shown ambition and stuck to tried-and-trusted principles — such as Norwich on the opening weekend — or spent the preceding week tweaking their system to defend a surprise lead and every blade of grass like Newcastle in the first 25 minutes on Sunday, the outcome has been similar for two-and-a-half years.


"The big difficulty we all have is you have to find a way when you know a team is far better than you," said Newcastle manager Bruce, who acknowledged another resemblance to the great United side in which he became a legend.

If Roberto Firmino lifted his collars, he would be a ringer for Eric Cantona, the Brazilian's flamboyant assists giving the impression playing the game blindfolded would barely hinder his uncanny ability to locate Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

"Cantona is as good a player as I've ever seen. I haven't seen Firmino week in week out like that, but just when you see him here and what he gives them, it's a perfect balance. And Cantona gave us that," said Bruce.

Liverpool's 3-1 victory over Newcastle on Sunday means Klopp's side already have a five-point lead just five games into the season, after Manchester City's shock 3-2 loss at Norwich City.

The Liverpool manager accepted Bruce's compliments with the hint of a smile — possibly wondering how politically astute it is to embrace comparisons with a great Manchester United team.

But he knows better than anyone the difficulties his adversaries face when coming to Anfield, or facing his players in any venue.

No Liverpool side has looked so formidable, so finely-tuned in each position, and so prepared to extend a record-breaking winning sequence so soon into a Premier League season. Liverpool have now won their last 14 league games in a row.

"If we are playing our football, if we use our potential, if we have a top attitude, then we are a difficult team to play against," said Klopp. "That is what we all created together here. That is why we had the results we had. It is not one reason. Or two. Or three. But it is still difficult. It is really difficult."