After our last two underwhelming games against Leicester at home and West Ham away which ended in draws, I have spent hours thinking about the implications of the results, our recent performances and the general belief that Liverpool have thrown away their best chance for the title in years.
I understand that people are annoyed and frustrated with the last two results (myself included) but to say we have “thrown it away and bottled it” and “we've seen it before” is a massive overreaction. The league is won over thirty-eight games, not two. After twenty-five games we are still top and have a three-point cushion. Admittedly that cushion only gives us small room for error. I understand the frustration in that we have had chances to extend our lead at the top of the table, and unfortunately, we haven’t taken them. But is that any reason to throw the towel in and start slagging off the manager, the players and fellow fans? Some of the things I’ve read on Twitter has been unbelievable.
You never know, at the end of the season we may have won the league by 1 point and then these two draws have ended up being massive points won when not playing well. That's the beauty of football. It is not won in January or February.
Can I see us dropping more points this season? Yes I can.
Can I see City dropping points? Yes I can. For those who say City won't drop points.....did you expect them to lose to Chelsea, Leicester, Palace and Newcastle, or draw with Wolves? We have only lost to City and that's it.
Can I see Spurs dropping points? Again, yes I can. All three teams are capable of putting a good run of results together, but all three are also just as likely to drop some points along the way.
These have been two disappointing draws but have we thrown it away? Have we lost the league? No.
One word that keeps on popping up when I think about our situation is ‘PERSPECTIVE’. Just looking at the last two games played, we have got 2 points and City 3 points. So City have only gained 1 point on us, yet if you were to believe everything in the media, we have bottled it, and are buckling under the pressure.
Going further back, in the last ten games City have dropped 12 points, yet we’ve only dropped 7. City have also lost to 3 of the teams outside the top 6, we’ve drawn against 2 of them.
Look at this league table after we beat Everton at the beginning of December.
We have gone from being the chaser to being the chased. So to get into the position we are in and be top is great and by no means a bottle job.
This is why I believe people need perspective when they look at our last two results. We haven’t bottled it, and City aren’t running away with it.
I loved Andy Robertson when he rightly queried if people asked if City were showing nerves after losing back to back games against Palace and Leicester. I loved Milners response when asked if he was concerned. “Concerned about being top of the league in February? No I’m happy”. Klopp has remained defiant throughout, and the likes of Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Henderson, etc are all making the right noises.
I don’t see nervousness in this squad, I just believe that we have played poorly in two games against well-drilled teams. These things happen in football and it is our job to make sure we respond and get back to winning ways starting against Bournemouth this weekend. I’m not going to complain about officials as we’ve had some big decisions go against us and some big decisions go for us. We need to be ensuring that these decisions don’t have a chance to impact the game.
The strength of our squad has been exposed the last few weeks and I definitely feel that has had an impact on our results. Gomez is a huge loss and as erratic as Lovren is, I would rather he starts than Matip, but again injuries have struck. Trent has been a huge miss at right back as he brings so much to our attacking game that people don’t appreciate until he is out. Henderson and Wijnaldum missing was also a big loss. We can deal with a few changes at once, but to have so many enforced on us will no-doubt have an impact on the fluidity of our football. Also don’t forget the likes of Van Dijk, Fabinho, Milner have suffered from illness on or after the Dubai training camp, which can take a while to get back to full strength. Every club suffers injury problems (Spurs have also had a terrible run of luck with injuries), but the big difference between us and City is the players they can bring in. Look at Man City’s bench against Arsenal this week – Danilo, Stones, Delph, Sane, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Muric. Then look at ours against West Ham – Sturridge, Moreno, Mignolet, Origi, Camcho, Shaqiri, Jones. There is no comparison.
I am hopeful that this has just been a blip, and even if you go back to the start of January, if our blip is to be losing away narrowly to the champions, a 1-0 win away at Brighton, grinding out a 4-3 win against Palace and then these two draws, I’ll take it.
In one of my previous articles titled Have Liverpool Turned a Corner I said that it’s going to be an exciting run-in with more potential ups and downs along the way and I have not changed my view on that at all. I fully expect this year’s title run-in to go down to the penultimate game or even the final game of the season. That’s how tight I feel it will be. I will not be overreacting if City beat Everton this week to go top on goal difference, nor would I overreact if they drop points at Everton. There is so much football still to be played.
I am not saying we will definitely win the league but deep-down I have a belief that we will (You can all shoot me down at the end of the season if I’m wrong!). Both teams will drop points but at the end of the season when the points are tallied we've just got to make sure we have dropped no more than 2 more than City and 5 more than Spurs.
The last week hasn’t been great, but the club can come through this and push on. The meaning of You’ll Never Walk Alone has so much relevance at the moment. As a club, as a squad, as a fanbase, we should all stick together and give the boys the push they need. We shouldn’t be arguing with each other, or slagging off anyone to do with the club.
One final word………