Jurgen Klopp spoke a few weeks ago about the need for Liverpool to win ugly. On hearing his words in press conferences most listening would’ve thought he meant it metaphorically, but now, based on the evidence of recent performances,it seems he was dead serious in a literal sense.
It has been far from pretty in the last couple of games for the Reds, but pretty effective. Liverpool are doing something they’ve mostly failed doing….they are effectively managing games.
Grinding out results was unheard of in recent years, mostly because Liverpool have a nagging habit of conceding goals on a regular basis.
But there is a steel about them recently. Not aesthetically pleasing for the 1st half of games, they seem to mostly bide their time, recycling the ball, keeping shape, being patient… One can almost picture Klopp shouting at them before heading towards the tunnel just before games: “Make it to half time 0-0, we’ll take it from there”
That instruction in itself is the hardest it seems, but they have persevered. Liverpool have discarded style for steady, and it has worked a charm.
Key to keeping things tight in the back has been a return to confidence and form of Simon Mignolet. He had let down his team mates earlier in the season but has more than made up for it in recent games, stopping what could only be described as definite goals, with most times those shots saved coming at crucial times in games and thus saving the Reds much needed points heading into the last stretch of the season.
In Midfield is where things really have improved drastically. Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum have struck up a fantastic partnership in the centre of the park. Can’s driving runs, sliding tackles and all round energy and courage in this recent run in the absence of Henderson has won over hearts and minds of the naysayers. One fan tweeting “Why is Emre Can’s armband invisible ?” A bit tongue in cheek and wishful, but i does show how the Reds have managed to do well despite the long absence of the skipper through injury.
Having Brazilian Magic in the ranks helps a tad bit too. Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have come back guns blazing since the last international break, a sore point usually because players often return country duty injured or jaded. The duo have returned full of life and confidence, all of which has benefited Liverpool tremendously.
Firmino is in fine goalscoring form and his workrate is something special to behold. His name is probably the first on the team sheet when Klopp picks his team. A huge relief is seeing that Coutinho’s injury hassles seem to be a behind him now as the magic feet have returned to full strength and defenders have been left in their wake wondering what had just happened. Real magic.
Speaking of which, rumours have now sprung up that Zidane wants to take him to Madrid. [Of course this story only came up after the Barca rumours were put to bed.]
Liverpool are confident that he is happy at Anfield will be ready to be part of the wonderful team Klopp will have at his disposal next season…IF top 4 is achieved.
It’s in the Reds hand now and fans are hoping for more of the same…slow and steady.