It’s Time For Klopp To Get The Measure Of Goodison Park

Sometimes I feel as though I’m kicking a puppy when I’m critical of Liverpool, especially in the wake of a 4-0 win over a side that took points off Manchester City earlier in the season. Even so, I was surprised to see the overwhelming positivity aimed at the Reds in the wake of Saturday’s win over the Saints. That is not to say that I thought that we were poor, of course. Indeed, the goals were all brilliantly worked and it looked as if Jürgen Klopp has got his Liverpool side purring once again as we head into the Christmas period. The problem is we looked defensively shaky at times. I do think that that was partially down to Ibrahima Konaté’s presence in the side, even if the French defender didn’t do anything glaringly obviously wrong at any point. There were times in the first-half that I felt as though the Reds were determined to pen a novel entitled ‘Our Own Downfall’, such is the extent to which we were giving Southampton chances out of nowhere.

Alisson Becker was called into action far more than the manager will have been happy with, especially when you consider that most of the breaks that Saints enjoyed didn’t come from their own brilliant play but from our sloppiness. That being said, Alisson proved what many of us were saying throughout the period of time when Simon Mignolet was our first-choice goalkeeper: the man between the posts can win you football matches. The Brazilian is one of the best ‘keepers in the world, especially when facing a one-on-one scenario. I should also make clear that this is very much me nit-picking a Liverpool performance rather than suggesting that it was awful. I want us to win the title and in order to do that we need to ensure that we don’t give teams an inch. The manager still seems to be struggling to find the balance of giving the attack what it needs whilst also offering the defence necessary protection, which I’d like to see us handle better on Wednesday.

We’ve Only Won Once At Goodison In Nine Appearances

Despite our success versus Everton in the Anfield derbies under Jürgen Klopp, with last year being the obvious exception, our record at Goodison Park under the German is remarkably poor. The manager took over in October of 2015, since which we’ve visited the home of our neighbours five times. In only one of those matches did we claim all three points, with even that being when Sadio Mané scored in second-half injury time. The four results before the manager arrived were all draws too, meaning that it isn’t just Klopp that has struggled to figure out how to cope with playing at the Old Lady. The good news from a Liverpool point of view is that the German does seem to know what he’s doing once he’s figured something out for the first time. We struggled against Burnley under him for a time, for example, but now seem to have the measure of Sean Dyche’s team. The same thing can be said about visiting Old Trafford, which certainly was a problem this year.

With that in mind, our visit on Wednesday feels like the perfect time to get a solid result on the board in order to convince the manager that he knows how to beat the Blues in the future. All is not well in the state of Goodison, given the fact that most of the supporters absolutely despise the manager and they have haven’t won a game since defeating Norwich City 2-0 at the end of September. They did earn a 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur recent that we should be aware of, but they are not playing well and have been dealt a load of injuries that will leave the team looking thin on the ground when we turn up. My natural pessimism means that I fear the worst when coming up against a poor, injury ravaged team, but hopefully Jürgen Klopp has got his team primed and ready to go in a match that is one of the most important for most Scousers of either persuasion. This is a massive chance for Liverpool to end their Goodison Park hoodoo once and for all.

It Will Be A Season Of Small Margins

In some ways, this campaign will be far more alike to 2018-2019 than either of the past two seasons. That is to say, I can’t see any team running away with the title and it will likely come down to which side can be most consistent over the course of several matches. We’ve already seen both Manchester City and Chelsea drop unexpected points, to say nothing of the manner in which we’ve thrown away points of our own against the likes of Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion. With that in mind, then, we really can’t afford to drop stupid points again this season if we want to bring the Premier League title back to Anfield. If you take away the fact that it is Everton, we really don’t have an excuse not to be beating a side that has lost five of its last six games and has won just one out of ten in all competitions. Yes it is a derby and ‘form goes out of the window’, but Everton are not a very good football team and should very much be put to the sword.

It is a massive week for the Reds in the title chase, having dispatched Southampton with ease and with Wolverhampton Wanderers to come at the weekend. Manchester City are away to Aston Villa and Chelsea have a trip to Watford in the same gameweek, so it’s not likely that either of them are going to be dropping points. Having cut the deficit to the league leaders to just two points, it is vital that we maintain our form heading into the busy Christmas period. Rafa Benitez might not be doing all that well at Goodison Park but he is still an exceptional manager that will have a plan to deal with us. We should have won the game there in the corresponding fixture last year, so it really is important that we make up for those dropped points and get some revenge on a team that all but ended our campaign in 2020-2021. The Reds are more than good enough to beat our neighbours, so let’s ensure that we do just that and get the Christmas period started in style.

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