Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Spurs the other night was safely one of, if not the best game so far this season, and it should terrify Manchester City in their chase for the Quadruple.
The Reds started strong and quickly established an advantage with a series of – albeit, unsuccessful – shots on goal and a handful of fouls for Tottenham, all leading up to a fantastic downwards header from the centre of the box by Bobby Firmino (+16). Spurs slowly took control of the game though, with Lucas Moura sending the ball flying past a preoccupied Allison (+70) to score an equalizer for the Lilywhites. It looked as though it might all be over.
Most Anfield supporters spent the next 20 minutes cowering in fear as our chances of taking the League title slowly slipped away. After all, a draw here would leave City in pole position with a game in hand. However, the rest of this nailbiter was brought to a wholly satisfying climax with a (Salah-assisted) own goal from Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld in the 90th minute, sealing the fate of both teams: a loss for Spurs and another three points for Liverpool, now back at the top of the table.
Klopp’s a modern manager. His energetic, exhilarating and explosive style has finally, fully reaffirmed what I have known for a long time but didn’t really believe until now… that Liverpool actually have a shot at the title.
Why were Liverpool’s prospects ever in doubt in my mind?
Well, maths aside, consider back in January: flying high off a key win over Brighton, we were seven points clear at the top. Unfortunately, a bout of complacency in games against Leicester, West Ham, Man United and Everton led to some close draws which really should have been easy, nay decisive, wins. All the while, Man City achieved a series of substantial victories and slowly closed the gap.
Nevertheless, right now, Liverpool are at the top of the League. The attacking trifecta of Mohamed Salah (love you), Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino consistently impress with their general versatility and dynamism when working in tandem with one another; one game, Salah might take a break while the others focus on breaking down the defense, then the next game it will be Salah in focus while Mané takes a back seat.
An added incentive to win this year is the disappointment that was the last season. A 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the 2017/18 Champions League final last year saw the desperately close prize snatched away. Critics branded this another standard performance from Liverpool, all talk and no action. The summer break however, proved reflective as we were seemingly spurred on to aim higher than ever before. Conceding just 19 goals so far (compared with 35 this time last season), it’s Liverpool’s defence that has improved the most. Pivotal to this transformation was the £75m signing of Dutch centre-back Virgil van Dijk, who has performed exquisitely over the course of this season, and is a new favourite of Kopites as he consistently boots the ball out of their end. Between him and Brazilian Alisson, the Reds are almost borderline-impossible to get the ball past.
To consider a couple of weeks back I had this article in my back pocket almost ready for publishing: “This isn’t our year: why Liverpool will not win the League.” You can either look at that as a reflection on my own infidelity, or a sign that things really are looking up.