“No one thought we’d be here.” Those were the words of Jurgen Klopp following Liverpool’s hard-fought 1-0 win over Brentford on Saturday.
Three months ago, Liverpool were slumped down in 9th, level on points with Saturday’s opposition and fourteen points adrift of Manchester United. Now, the margin with United has been cut to just one point due to a combination of a Liverpool resurgence and a United debacle- albeit Erik Ten Hag’s men do have that all-important game in hand.
Nevertheless, the fact that Liverpool are even within a shout has shown the powers of recovery that Klopp has conjured up over the past few weeks- adding some much-needed optimism going into the new season.
“We have to finish the situation in the best possible way,” Klopp said.
“Imagine if [Man Utd slipped up]. I don’t think they will but imagine if they did and we weren’t there. We would really regret that. If United win their two games in hand, then they are seven points away and it’s pretty much done.”
“Maybe it’s a bit too late but better late than never.”
United’s loss to West Ham a day later means that game advantage is now just one.
Liverpool’s six-game winning streak may have come at the wrong time but even three wins from the three remaining games against Leicester, Aston Villa and Southampton- coupled with a spot in the Europa League is enough to salvage something from this tumultuous season.
Klopp’s tactical tweaking of Trent Alexander- Arnold has played a huge part in Liverpool’s recent resurgence. Prior to the readjustment, Alexander- Arnold’s attacking output was not compensating for his defensive deficiencies.
However, since the 9th of April- when Klopp first flirted with the idea of playing Trent further infield against Arsenal- he has ranked first in assists, chances created, passes into the opposition half, touches and penalty area entries.
Some of these statistics weren’t even associated with Alexander-Arnold during his more enjoyable seasons. He is even the top-ranked for possession won.
He is once again living up to the label of a ‘generational talent’ and is a massive reason why Liverpool’s fortunes have changed over recent weeks.
Although there are two players who have performed to their usual standards amid the club’s turmoil and without them- Liverpool’s position in the table would undoubtedly be in the realms of where Chelsea are at.
Mohamed Salah and Alisson Becker are the glue that has kept Liverpool’s season together.
Both reached a centurion landmark for Liverpool in respective categories this weekend- with Salah reaching 100 goals at Anfield and Alisson keeping his 100th clean sheet in the sticks, the 4th quickest to do so in the club’s history.
For Salah, a player who is supposedly having an ‘off-season’, he has still managed 19 goals in the Premier League and 30 in all competitions.
He has now scored 30+ goals in four of his six seasons at the club. Form is permanent for the Egyptian King who continues to perform at a world-class level every season.
Salah’s goalscoring prowess has kept Liverpool’s season afloat but without Alisson and his freakish performances- the club would be at the foot of the ocean.
According to Opta, the Brazilian has prevented Liverpool from conceding 9.7 goals this season in the Premier League- only Bernd Leno (10.8) betters that.
And from data provided by John Henderson- Head of Data Science at Goalkeeper.com- Alisson is the number one ranked best goalkeeper at preventing one-on-ones amongst all 78 Premier League goalkeepers from 2018-2022. He has prevented 13.1 one-on-one scenarios from ending up in the back of the net.
His save against Fulham to deny Carlos Vinicius last week illuminated this and is just one of an enumerable number of examples from this season alone.
Both he and Salah have overcome this whirlwind season for the Reds and have maintained a level of consistency and class that has given Liverpool a chance at an unprecedented top-four spot.