Michael Baddeley discusses whether or not Liverpool can begin to dream of a title challenge yet.
Something BIG is happening at Liverpool Football Club. Jurgen Klopp is building a team to take the Premier League by storm. Nearly a year after being appointed Liverpool manager we are finally seeing the pros of Kloppo’s ‘heavy metal football’.
But how far can we go this season? Are we really ready to challenge for the title?
The weekend started with a bang. A show of blue lasers, lights and smoke illuminated Stamford Bridge. It was something as pathetic and manufactured as their plastic flags in all honesty, but that was followed by authentic red fireworks and after the dust settled it was clear that a marker was laid down, a huge marker at that.
Liverpool went to Chelsea and annihilated them for 45 minutes. Alright, the second half was nail biting and nerve-wracking, but we held on and took all three points from a Chelsea team that was unbeaten and have been tipped to do big things this season. Let’s not forget that this victory was without Chief Gengenpresser Firmino too!
We might have given the plastics a few chances, let’s be honest, it was nothing meaningful, but we always made sure we were there and ready for the fight, something we haven’t seen from a Liverpool team for a very, very long time.
After watching the game you can really see the cohesion the boys have. The plan is there and every single one of the lads believes in that plan. We have players who will play out of position and will put in lung-busting performances just to help the cause of the team. It’s like the gaffer has taken his passion and belief and injected into the lads.
The second half saw Chelsea press on and take a few shots, but other than the goal there wasn’t anything very meaningful. Regardless, pundits picked up on one mistake and managed to turn it into something a lot more serious than it was.
Yes, it was a defensive mistake that led to a goal, but other than that what real problems did Liverpool face? One? Maybe two?
So many times we’ve sat and watched pundits tear our defensive efforts a new one and we’ve had to begrudgingly agree with them. I’ll admit we haven’t seen defensive stability since the days of Benitez. But every week they all sit there in their chairs, smug faced, almost as if to say “we told you so”. And this weekend was no different.
Despite showing resilience in the last half an hour and marshalling the likes of Diego Costa, the pundits still couldn’t give Lovren and Matip the praise they deserved. Their unhealthy obsession prevailed and had to pick out one case of poor judgement and blow it up to be more than it was.
Klopp is building a defence made of granite and as soon as they realise that the better. In the past we’ve been two goals up, the opponent has got one back and we have crumbled under the pressure. But so far this season, we have stood strong and managed to see the game out against Arsenal and Chelsea, then when Leicester scored we pushed on and scored more to make sure there was no way of them coming back.
Then, we come to the attack. The fluidity of the movement and the link up play between the more attacking four of the team has been terrific to behold. Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana all linked up well last season, now with Mané added to that, it looks like they are always going to cause problems for any team. The intensity, the tenacity and the sheer natural quality across the line is brilliant.
But we can’t get to carried away with ourselves. Klopp won’t be looking too far ahead, so we should stay level headed too. No knee-jerk reactions and over hyping the lads like the media has done.
A mere 13 hours after the final whistle was blown and Jeff Stelling and the team on Soccer Saturday were discussing whether we could be title contenders. Oh, by the way, if you didn’t watch it then they all said no because our defence is too weak. Surprise surprise, ey?
Anyway, they did discuss other points and I just couldn’t help but to agree with them.
Let’s be honest, our start to the season has been brutal. If you’d told me at the start of the season we’d have picked up 10 points from 15 then I’d have snapped your hand off!
But as the likes of Phil Thompson said, our problem isn’t against the top teams, it’s when we face the less abled teams. The example this season is Burnley.
To sum it up, Jamie Carragher retweeted a stat the other day:
Klopp vs Chelsea, City, United, Arsenal and Spurs:
P14 W6 D7 L1
And 6 of the goals conceded in 2 games vs Arsenal #lfc
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) September 16, 2016
It just proves that we don’t have a problem against these teams. We are a big game team, no questions asked.
But any team that sits back and soaks up the pressure, we struggle to break down. Maybe it was because the team was tired coming off our Europa League games last season, so playing fewer games in the season might help us with that. But as it stands, we can’t be considered title challengers while we can’t beat teams who don’t attack.
We might have sent a message out to the rest of the so-called ‘big teams’. But while we are still playing Jekyll and Hyde we are only a team that’s going to be fighting for top four, not a team that’s fighting for the title.
I have every faith in Klopp and I know full well that he will get it right. He might even find us that consistency this season, and if he does then why can’t we mount a title challenge this season? Until then, though, let’s stay grounded and make sure we get top four first!
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