Liverpool joined Manchester City and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League on 20 points at the weekend thanks to a comfortable 2-1 win over West Brom, despite the scoreline suggesting it may have been a much tighter contest at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp was criticised last season for delivering in the big games against the top clubs in the Premier League but then slipping up in fixtures his side should have been winning with ease.
“James Hargreaves Stand” (CC BY 2.0) by adam.haworth
So far this season, Klopp has been able to right the wrongs from the 2015/16 campaign as the only game his side have failed to win was against Burnley at Turf Moor. Since that loss against the Lancashire club, Liverpool have gone on a seven-game unbeaten run in the league, a record which includes a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool got off to a flying start against West Brom when summer signing Sadio Mane opened the scoring for the hosts after just 20 minutes when he guided home Roberto Firmino’s cross. Philippe Countiho doubled Liverpool’s lead at the end of the opening half when he cut inside before firing home past Ben Foster into the bottom corner of the goal.
Klopp’s side should have increased their advantage in the second period as they dominated possession but failed to make the most of it. They were left with a nervy ending to the game when Gareth McAuley scored from long range with just less than 10 minutes on the clock. The hosts were able to absorb the late pressure however, to secure all three points against the Baggies who, until the last 10 minutes of the game, had offered very little in the final third of the pitch.
Liverpool have now been cut into 7-2 in Premier League title odds where they have just Manchester City ahead of them in the market at 5-4. Arsenal are on level points with Liverpool but were held to a goalless draw to Middlesbrough on Saturday and can now be backed at 6-1, while Chelsea, who dispatched Manchester United 4-0 on Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge, are also available at 6-1.
“Klopp” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by cchana
Klopp has no European football as a distraction and that was often cited as a problem last year. His side’s run to the final of the Europa League last season, where they were beaten by Sevilla, certainly had an impact on their domestic results. The German will, however, have to shuffle his players around in the cup competitions.
Liverpool beat Tottenham in the fourth round of the EFL Cup this week in a tough tie in the competition. A win has put the side into the quarter-final of the major tournament.
Klopp will already be planning for his side’s league games over the next four weeks where they face Crystal Palace, Watford, Southampton and Sunderland. That is a run of matches the German will be confident of collecting plenty of points from. If they come through those games with a decent total, it will be another clear sign that Liverpool are a much stronger team than they were in the 2015/16 campaign. Beating the smaller clubs was an issue in 2015/16 and therefore that run of fixtures should give us a greater indication as to the Reds’ title credentials.