To all outward appearances, this looks to be the ideal time for us to go into Anfield and come away with a vital win for the first time since 2012. Afte rall, Liverpool haven’t won in their last four outings (yes, two of those were tough away losses to Real Madrid and Man City, no shame in that) and sit in 8th place, their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League hanging by a thread. Even Klopp sounds like he’s thrown in the proveribal towel.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash, Klopp sounded genuinely at a loss for what’s gone on this season:
“With smart recruitment we will improve [next season] – definitely. That is the plan. It is one of these moments where it is really not good. I can’t explain it better in English but you get in this whirlwind and it sucks you in that direction and all of a sudden it’s like: ‘Wow, where are we?’
Smart recruitment to improve…next season hardly sound like the words of a man brimming with confidence for this run-in or even one grimly defiant in the face of a season that has fallen far, far short of last season’s quadruple chase. What’s more, players look jaded, fatigued, diffident. Even his midweek roster shake-up didn’t yield any improvement against an even-shakier Chelsea side.
This is still the side that humiliated Man U just a few weeks ago. We have to know that this is still the squad that finished second in the Prem a season ago, won the FA Cup and League Cup, and lost to Real Madrid 1-0 in the Champions League final. For as much as playing every possible match (63, by the way), in every available competition has taken out of them, there’s just too much quality and experience in this squad for us to think we can sashay in and seize thre points.
Will Thiago Alcantara be 100% fit after missing the last two months with a hip flexor injury? Will Van Djik continue to struggle with the illness that prevented him making the trip to face Chelsea? Hard to say. How miuch will Ramadan sap Salah’s strength? That’s perhaps more likely. A 4:30 kickoff is a difficult time for a Muslim player; he won’t have had anything to eat or drink since 6am, and iftar (the fast-breaking evening meal) won’t be available until close to 8pm.
Having said all of that, we really have to hope that Arteta and the lads have prepared themselves foa hungry, desperate side ready to fight tooth and nail to protect their home turf. Arteta did signal as much, stating that we are going “to a jungle on Sunday”. Indeed, the Kop will be seething and caterwauling and shrieking through every minute of the match until the place reverberates like some hellish zoo of the damned. We’ll get no help from Paul Tierney and even less from Chris Kavanagh on VAR.
We simply have to go into the belly of the beast (sorry to switch idioms) prepared for the cacophonous cauldron if we expect to come away with anything to show for our efforts. I believe in our boys; what’s more, they seem to believe in themselves. Let’s all of us summon all of our energies and direct it to our amazing away end fans so that they can shout and stomp and chant enough to give the lads on the pitch energy, confidence, and inspiration.
We can do this. Liverpool may not be as vulnerable as they seem, but they’re vulnerable.