As The Weeks Tick By, Three Points Are All That Matters

It was, to coin a phrase, far from a vintage display by Liverpool against Sheffield United at the weekend. It would be churlish not to give Chris Wilder and his team plenty of credit for the way that they played and I think they’ll give a few of the big boys a bloody nose if they play like that every week. That being said, it was clear that we had an off day on Saturday, for whatever reason. Sadio Mané looked like he’d put someone else’s boots on, whilst Mo Salah continues to struggle to find form. The former isn’t too much of a concern considering how electric he’s been in recent times, whilst the latter is entirely down to the fact that I’ve got the Egyptian in my fantasy football team. I did spend the entire match thinking that, despite how poorly we played, we had countless opportunities to score whilst the Blades never really looked like threatening our goal.

Even when they did get into good positions the defence took care of them easily enough, with Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip continuing their excellent partnership. The addition of Adrián in the summer was a masterstroke by Michael Edwards and his team, with the Spaniard looking far more comfortable between the sticks than Simon Mignolet ever did. The Belgian never suited our style of play but the defence doesn’t have to change how it plays with his Spanish equivalent in goal. Whilst I was unimpressed with the overall play from us on Saturday lunchtime, I did think that the manner in which we were able to dig in and get the points on the board was impressive. This team seems to have found a new level of grit and determination that will have the manager delighted. It was a lucky win, but as the season progresses wins are all that matter.

We’re Good Enough To Win The League

On the one hand, feeling as though games are ‘must win’ in September is far from ideal. It will lead to a season filled with stress and the notion that any dropped points are nothing short of a disaster. Yet on the other hand the rate that Manchester City have gone at during the past two seasons means that we have no choice but to embrace that level ourselves if we hope to bring the title back to Anfield. The thing is, this team is more than good enough to do it. Last season we got ninety-seven points in the Premier League and won the Champions League. During any other era, that would have been a league and European Cup double, with the side achieving it being referred to as one of the best of all time.

We shouldn’t shy away from embracing the same sort of declaration about Jürgen Klopp’s team. We’re witnessing one of the best Liverpool teams of all time play week-in, week-out. It’s glorious. It’s also worth remembering at this point that most of us grew up watching Manchester United win Premier League titles with fortune such as we were handed on Saturday. When they did so it was always referred to as being a sign of champions, yet for some reason some people are choosing to suggest that it happening to us means that we’re running out of steam. If that’s the case then it’s steam that’s lasted for nearly two full seasons, given our two Champions League final appearances and points total last time out. We’re more than good enough to be champions.

But We Need To Keep Getting Points On The Board

Pep Guardiola’s side is brilliant, relentless and experienced. Last time out they were seven points behind us at one point and yet still won the title by digging deep and getting wins on the board in all sorts of circumstances. That’s what we did on Saturday. Jürgen Klopp can fix the issues that made us look disjointed and out of form, but one thing he can’t fix is dropped points. Once they’re gone they’re gone, which is what Pep Guardiola has found as he looks at us sitting five points clear of his side. There’s a long way to go before the campaign is over and there’ll be plenty of twists and turns before one side is crowned champions, so winning is the thing that matters the most. If last season is anything to go by then this is another league campaign that will go all the way, so win, win, win.

With a tough set of fixtures coming up over the next few weeks, including a trip to Old Trafford and visits from Tottenham and Man City themselves to Anfield, Jürgen Klopp will know that this is a make-or-break period of the season. Emerge from our next five league games with something between twelve and fifteen points, especially if three of those come at City’s expense, and we’ll be very nicely placed indeed. It’s also important that we acquit ourselves well in the Champions League during the same season. I’m far more bothered about winning the domestic title than defending our European one, but at the same time failing to make it out of the group would be an embarrassment that I don’t want us to have to cope with. Salzburg will be an interesting test on Wednesday night, but even during the match I’ll most be thinking about Leicester City and three more points.

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