Did the last gasp victory over Tottenham feel like a big step towards the Premier League title?
The way the game went, it looked as though Liverpool could have gone on to win quite handsomely for a brief period after Firmino‘s goal, but to Pochettino’s credit, he changed Spurs’ shape away from five-at-the-back and that completely changed the dynamic of the game in their favour.
We’re building up to Jurgen Klopp’s pre-Southampton press conference HERE
In the end, having survived that Sissoko missed chance (defended brilliantly by Van Dijk), to snatch the three points in such dramatic style with a massive slice of fortune feels like an enormous relief. It keeps the pressure on City and means Liverpool have got arguably their hardest remaining fixture (on paper, at least) out of the way with another win in the bag.
It was a must-win scenario, and Liverpool ultimately had to risk losing in order to get all three points. It’s another moment which you feel could well turn out to be season-defining. We could all do without another situation like that for the sake of our health though!
What did you make of the midfield selection and the reaction to it?
I would always start Fabinho when fit and available. I think he’s been Liverpool’s best midfielder for several months now since coming into the side, and offers a great balance of defensive solidity and the ability to play incisive forward passes.
I wasn’t all that surprised to see Klopp go with his tried and tested trio, and in fairness, it looked to be working reasonably well in the opening stages until Spurs changed their system.
After that point, Liverpool lacked control in the middle of the pitch and individually none of Henderson, Milner of Wijnaldum played to the level they’re capable of. The contrast when Fabinho was introduced was immediately obvious, as he broke up play, regained possession and got Liverpool moving forward quicker.
Clearly, Klopp is far better placed to make judgements on team selection than anyone else, but the midfield does seem to perform much better whenever Fabinho is on the pitch, so it is frustrating to see him left out in these big games.
Personally, I hope to see him start all the remaining games this season. He’d be one of the first names on the team sheet for me.
Do you see Man City dropping points? If so where and when?
The pessimist side of me fears they’re just in such formidable form and have such strong squad depth, that they could quite feasibly just win every single game for the rest of the season.
The hope is that going deep in all four competitions will eventually take its toll, but they seem capable of just steamrolling the majority of sides at the moment without breaking sweat.
Even when hit by injuries, they still have world class players in the squad to come in and their level hardly drops off. If they are to drop points, then Man United away, Spurs at home (juxtaposed with playing them twice in Europe), and away trips to Crystal Palace and Burnley are the potential banana skins for them.
United and Spurs will be needing the points to finish top four, and City have of course lost to Palace already this season.
The solace I do take is that their defeats so far have come completely out of the blue when no one expected it, so of course it’s possible. Liverpool will need to be pretty much perfect at the same time. There’s simply no margin for error.
Is Southampton potentially one of the most difficult games Liverpool have to play?
Definitely. They’ve picked up under Ralph Hasenhuttl and beat Spurs recently, also giving United a major scare at Old Trafford where they were unfortunate to lose.
They’re not totally safe from relegation yet, and that lingering discontent among their fans having seen Liverpool poach their best players repeatedly in recent years means they’re usually fired up for the occasion.
That said, Liverpool won comfortably there last season and will not be taking anything for granted here, given what’s at stake. I’m not expecting it to be straightforward, but if Liverpool are on their game from the first whistle and control the game as they have done impressively for the majority of the season against the bottom half sides, it shouldn’t present too many problems.
If Liverpool can get through this block of three (Spurs, Southampton and Chelsea) with maximum points, they’ll be in a fantastic position to strike should City slip up anywhere along the way.
Coutinho. Would you have him back, and how would you feel if he moved to a rival club?
There’s been some talk about this one recently, given how things haven’t gone too well for him at Barcelona this season. I’d take him back if the price was right and he was keen on the move, because we all know just how good he can be.
The one thing Liverpool have really lacked this season is a regular creator and goalscorer from midfield, and Coutinho offers exactly that. It’s a position I’d look to strengthen in the summer, and he’d be on my shortlist if Barcelona were willing to sell for a reasonable fee.
That said, the major caveat is the sour taste left by the manner of his departure. Publicly, Klopp won’t admit it, but handing in a transfer request on the day before the new season and making himself unavailable for selection while Liverpool had a Champions League qualifier tie to deal with cannot have gone down well.
I don’t blame him for making the move, but the way he went about it could’ve been handled more respectfully. I’m sure his teammates would welcome a player of his ability back into the squad.