Peter Stevenson explains how Jurgen Klopp is making Liverpool dream of winning silverware with his balanced Reds side sweeping the board clean this season.
This is our longest undefeated streak in the top flight since 1990 and we all know what happened that year but we’re not quite halfway through the season yet so it’s imperative we don’t get too carried away.
Teams have fallen away in better positions than ours. Those are the sort of things you’d like the management to be telling the players but as fans, it’s difficult not to get carried away and start dreaming.
Of course, it would be a lot easier if other teams hadn’t started off so well. Top of the league, undefeated yet still just a point above Man City and only six ahead of Spurs. Sky Sports must be overjoyed that Man City aren’t running away with it again and can still sell it as the most competitive league in the world.
Wolves, Newcastle, Arsenal and Man City the next four fixtures, coming thick and fast. If last week showed us anything it’s that Klopp has his team ready for any challenge. With Oxlade-Chamberlain probably out until April, he won’t have the full squad to choose from and he’s been forced to make some difficult decisions with personnel.
Plenty of people were shocked when Nathaniel Clyne was named in the starting line-up against Utd but it’s a testament to how Klopp has everyone pulling in the same direction that the right back didn’t appear out of place. The squad will be tested to the maximum now especially with Lovren and van Dijk the only fit centre-backs until Gomez and Matip return in just over a month.
All teams need to deal with injuries but what worries me the most with City is that they’ve played most of the season without their best player, Kevin De Bruyne, and have had to deal with Sergio Aguero’s absence recently also. What brings hope and encouragement though is that our summer signings appear to all be clicking at the right time.
Social media can be a very poisonous place to try to gauge how well players are adapting. For all of the anticipation that followed Fabinho’s signing, many fans were too ready to write him off after a few loose passes against Arsenal at the Emirates, overlooking the number of interceptions and duals won.
Yes, he was caught in possession a couple of times and didn’t appear to be prepared for the speed of the game and lack of space but people forget it’s usually toughest for central midfielders, above any other position, to adapt to the Premier League because of the pace of the game.
He’s a Brazilian international and he showed his class against Man Utd and the exact reason why he was bought. Not taking anything away from the captain who has been criticised for always passing backwards but that’s obviously orders from the coach not to take unnecessary risks and keep possession.
Finally, Klopp has different options in midfield. You win the big games by bossing the midfield and it’s where we came unstuck against Real Madrid but also in other big games like Spurs at home.
For all of Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum’s industriousness they are not particularly capable of controlling a game against the bigger sides. On too many occasions the midfield would be by-passed and the expectation would fall on the front three.
The midfield additions have given the team the base from which to build now. But the addition of Shaqiri has meant we have a game-changer to bring off the bench (with all due respect to Sturridge, Lallana and Origi their contributions are quite sporadic). Last season going into the last 20 minutes of a big game all level, I don’t remember Klopp having the option to bring on someone to change a game.
The most encouraging part for me though of this season is that the team has evolved. 14 years ago Liverpool needed to win 1-0 or if we conceded a goal by a difference of two goals.
The same applied against Napoli but where 14 years ago we had one of the most iconic Steven Gerrard moments, this year we managed to keep a clean sheet against a much stronger side. And just, on Sunday, playing our fiercest rivals and suffering a setback, managing to find that extra something to score twice against a team very clearly set-up to defend.
So regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, the squad is ready for the challenge. Jurgen has definitely made us dream.