It’s funny what a win can do for your mood.
I looked at the league table for the first time in a month, I’ve plotted our root to 70 points, I didn’t duck my head when I drove past my United supporting neighbour putting his bin out this morning. Yep, football and life feels alright again!
I thought the performance was good. We’ve seen this film before though…
A solid start. Opposition keeper Aaron Ramsdale having a worldie. Half time 0–0, despite being on top. All felt very familiar.
But this time the Reds got the rub of the green and that made all the difference.
Perhaps had VAR not intervened against Leicester or had Richarlison not scored in the second minute of the derby then maybe I would have had this feeling after those games instead.
Fine margins win matches and as good as the Reds were, it was just nice to see Lady Luck on our side for once.
Saying that, I liked what the manager did with the setup. I’ve always been a believer that you make your own luck and the team trying to force the issue stands more of chance of winning the jackpot just by the virtue that they are hitting spin more often than their opponents.
This wasn’t just Liverpool aimlessly hitting spin and desperately crossing their fingers though. Klopp made changes to the shape in order to give us a fresh approach when attacking.
When asked before the match about the fledgling centre-back partnership’s readiness for the game, Klopp alluded to the fact that they’d had four sessions together this week. The manager loves time with the team. From the evidence that last night’s match, as much of that time was spent on attacking movements as it was on defensive play.
Perhaps that’s what comes from having two actual centre-backs starting a game together for the first time since November? Yes, there are complexities to any system, but having two proper centre-backs meant he could just say, ‘do your job, win your battles’ and instead spend some time focussing on the team going forward.
I also wonder if having Diogo Jota back in training gave Klopp more freedom to try a few new things. At times the setup reminded me of the one we used at City away. Salah out wide, a front two, with two players in a more recognised 6 role. At the Etihad we started Jota alongside the front three. We’ll never know but I do wonder if Jota hadn’t pulled up sick at the last minute then his name would have been on the team-sheet?
As it worked out, Curtis Jones thrived in his free role. Everybody loves to point out that Curtis has bags of confidence, but I want to see him showing that more in and around the box.
It’s clear that he’s been asked to play a more disciplined game and he’s done that very well. But I know there is a player in there just waiting to announce himself and dominate every aspect of a match. To be scoring and assisting and forcing the issue on a regular basis. It was good to see that version of Curtis last night. The sky really is the limit for this lad.
One player who certainly dominated the game last night was Trent.
Since being hooked against Southampton in that now infamous performance, he’s actually been one of our best performers. The tactical tweaks last night allowed him to continue to flourish and it felt like we gave him more responsibility.
He played quarter-back and number 10 in the same game last night, all from right-back. He’s some player is Trent.
Klopp clearly gave some thought about how to allow Trent to be involved in the game as much as possible. It worked. Now a fully confident Trent can bounce into the next game, against one of his favourite opposition to boot. Think I’ll be putting a sneaky bet on him banging in another free-kick Thursday night…
And that’s how winning makes you feel!
Suddenly I’m all about Thursday night…
I’m already buoyed by the news that Jota doesn’t have appendicitis and, alongside Fabinho and Ali, looks likely to be involved against Chelsea. Add to that last night’s performance and tactical adjustments and suddenly I’m looking upwards again.
When thinking about my own mood or confidence I always try and remember that the players are human too. They feel the ups when we do and they suffer the lows when we do. I think so anyway.
So perhaps James Milner finally brought himself to look at the league table too this morning? Maybe, like me, Thiago didn’t need to duck his head when putting the bins out in case his Manc neighbour spotted him?
Anyway, I hope the lads are feeling something akin to how I’m feeling, because I’m well up for this again.
Up the Reds.