Jack Hallows explains why an away draw against Southampton isn’t a bad result at all.
For goodness sake. The number of people believing our title race is over following a draw – away at Southampton of all places! – is honestly ridiculous. The Saints have lost once at home all season – to Chelsea, who currently sit top – and a point was never going to be a bad result. It might hurt a little more knowing we could have won it – and probably should have – but that’s football. On another day, Firmino’s chance hits the far corner, Clyne’s header hits the back of the net, Mane isn’t denied by Van Dijk and we win 3-0. That’s football and it’s not a reason to worry.
Look at the previous international break for example. Liverpool played Manchester United in the first Premier League game back. They did what Southampton did to us – sat very deep, didn’t really play football and looked for a point – we didn’t score but we didn’t concede. We followed that game up against West Brom who tried the same approach – we won. Next up was Palace who did the same thing – they shipped 4. We won. Then just prior to this international break we not only beat Watford, but we embarrassed them.
The Leicester victory aside, Liverpool aren’t always going to be fresh and at their best after international breaks. In fact, no team that is expected to be challenging for the Champions League places looked particularly good during the course of the weekend. Tottenham needed until the last minute to beat a West Ham team that sit just one point above Hull in relegation, City laboured past Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Manchester United played out a bore draw and Chelsea scraped past Middlesbrough.
Now let’s take a look at the next few weeks. Liverpool’s next four fixtures consist of a visit from Sunderland, a trip to Bournemouth, a visit from West Ham and a trip to Middlesbrough. These are very winnable and while all could provide potential banana skins, they’re all games that if the Reds just do as they have been they should win and potentially score a fair few goals in the process.
Meanwhile current leaders Chelsea host Spurs before travelling to Manchester City the week after which will prove to be two huge tests of their resilience and true credentials under Conte while Manchester City take on Leicester, Chelsea obviously and Arsenal in their next five along with a resilient Watford side. Arsenal and Spurs arguably have the easier fixture runs of our direct opponents for the top places but Spurs still have to navigate Mourinho’s United and Chelsea this week while Arsenal have trips to Everton and of course City to play in the coming weeks.
Arsenal, Spurs and City also have to navigate Champions League fixtures before Christmas while Arsenal also have the League Cup to think about. The point is all four of these teams look the more likely to have the potential for dropped points than the Reds and if Klopp’s men take advantage of this, by the time City visit us in gameweek 19 we could hypothetically be in a very strong position.
Liverpool have shown a huge propensity to bounce back this season and there’s no reason they won’t do it again. A humiliation to Burnley was followed by a solid result at Spurs and a mauling of Leicester, the United bore draw was followed by 9 points and 12 goals in their next three games and there’s absolutely no reason why we won’t see a similar trend in our next three or four matches. This is not a time to panic. At all. Liverpool still sit second in the table and are still in with a shot at both Champions League and maybe even the title.
A season isn’t 12 weeks long. Don’t forget that.