Sunday, 27th August, 5pm, GMT. A goal down. A man down. A baying crowd. An incandescent fanbase given the transfer dealings (or lack thereof) of the summer. Staring four points out of nine down the barrel. Dar but for the grace of God go Win.
A week on and things seem a whole lot brighter as the international break comes around. Ten points out of 12, a 100% home record with six goals scored, a first clean sheet of the season, players coming back from injury, new signings settling in and to top it all off, real competition for places which should keep everyone on their toes.
When the fixtures came out, there could have been legitimate grounds for some trepidation – Chelsea and Newcastle away looked difficult on paper and Villa will take points off many teams this season.
Add to this seemingly tricky start the fiasco around Caicedo and Lavia and general unease around the Club and I’m sure many Reds would have been happy with seven or eight points from our first 12. To be on 10 out of 12 at this stage is great. And it means we haven’t lost since the 1st of April (no fools us!) in the League. Taking 35 points out of a possible 45.
Sunday – against Villa – was very impressive. From back to front, The Reds were utterly dominant. Alisson is imperious and our most important player. Without his saves last week against Newcastle, this could be a very different article.
On what was a momentous day for Trent – from West Derby to captaining The Reds – he showed how good he can be in that new role. A Rolls Royce of a footballer. The Virgil-less back four was more than solid. Since his sending off against Newcastle, around 150 minutes of football, we’ve not conceded. He’ll probably come straight back in but I’m not sure he should.
It’s from ‘6’ on though that things were really impressive. As much as we were a yard – or more! - off the pace last year, late to the tackle, gasping for breath in the middle of the park, leaving our central defence exposed, today we were everything you associate with a Klopp team. The ‘press’ was back. The hunting in packs was back. The niggle was back. The bite was back.
This was evident throughout the team – Matip and Gomez were highly alert, always on the front foot, something Virgil would do well to try. But it was typified by the front six, especially. The midfielders had never started together – you’d never know it. They produced sensational performances: great off the ball in terms of positional awareness and fantastic in terms of their use of the ball. The pedestrianism of much of last year is behind us and there is a new freshness there that should see us continue to progress.
The relentlessness of our front three set the stage for everything we did today. It’s full of pace and power and with Trent pulling the strings and Diaz and Salah making the pitch as wide as it’s been for us in a long time, goals are coming aplenty. And there seems to be a bigger spread now, taking the pressure off Mo, hopefully.
Look at the goals we’ve scored this season.
1 Mo to Diaz; 2 Jota to Diaz; 3 Dom wins pen, Mo; 4, Dom shot saved, Jota; 5 Jota to Darwin; 6 Mo to Darwin; 7 Dom; 8 Darwin for the OG; 9 Darwin to Mo
Those five players all heavily involved already and hopefully there is more to come from others, like Gakpo, Mac Allister (when he moves further up the park), Curtis, etc.
Liverpool under Klopp version 2.0 was probably forced on us a little bit earlier than we would have expected due to the Saudis’ coming in and upsetting our summer plans. For now at least, it’s working out well.
Up The Reds!