Dave Davis explains why it’s important that supporters take a step back and consider that Liverpool still have a lot to play for.
You can admit it, you know. Everyone is either angry, disappointed, worried or even all three about the fact that we dropped two points at Sunderland. The recovery time was limited, to say the least, but as Jurgen Klopp said it was no excuse and how he may be regretting only making the one change. Perspective is needed, though, as the Reds are still in control of their season and January could be a make or break month.
After Tottenham beat Chelsea and Manchester City beat Burnley, the top six battle looks a lot tighter. We’re away at a United side who are on a roll and only five points behind us, plus a defeat at Old Trafford could even see us drop out the top four. His handball may have been disappointing, but the absence of top scorer Sadio Mane hasn’t done anything to lift the mood of some fans either.
January is where real questions will be asked of Liverpool, though. In the next five league games, we face Manchester United (A), Chelsea (H) and Tottenham (H). The results of those games will tell us if Klopp has assembled a group of title contenders or improved a group of players who finished eighth last season and should now target a Champions League. Throw in a couple of League Cup semi-finals and Wembley may or may not be in the calendar too.
Mane will be a miss there’s no two ways about it, but there’s hope that the players just back or returning can have an impact. Daniel Sturridge’s poaching instincts seemed to have returned after recent goals against Stoke and Sunderland, whilst Klopp has said the knock he picked up wasn’t that serious. Fitness is always an issue with the England striker, but he’s not played too much football which could work in his favour down the line.
Joel Matip isn’t going to AFCON and should hopefully be back soon, whilst Henderson sounds like he’ll be ready to go to Old Trafford. Joe Gomez is raring to get minutes in the F.A Cup and oh, how we and Bobby Firmino have missed the little magician. Results have still been good, but anyone at Anfield will have Coutinho as one of the first names on the team-sheet. Sheyi Ojo may even have a part to play due to his pace and that’s all before any potential arrivals.
Nerves aren’t always a bad thing. Nerves come when you are ready to compete for something achievable and success doesn’t seem far away. It’s all still to come for us, though, and Klopp and his men have their biggest tests ahead. The improvements are obvious from a team that finished eighth last season. Perspective is needed.