Mignolet: "There Is Only One Thing on Our Minds"

Clive Brunskill

When players talk about focusing on just next match it can sometimes sound a tired cliche. For this Liverpool side, it can help to show just how far they've come from a narrow 1-0 opening day victory.

If Liverpool do go on to capture their first title of the Premier League era, many will look back to the first match of the season in search of the moment that started it all. Up a goal late on against Stoke, Liverpool had controlled the match but failed to convert too many of their chances, leaving fans and players looking nervy as the clock ticked towards stoppage time. Then, Daniel Agger handled in the box off a Charlie Adam free kick. Penalty.

Jonathan Walters stepped up while new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet bounced on his line, hammering his palms against the crossbar, shaking it wildly while behind him the home fans screamed. Walters fired but Mignolet guessed right. Then the 'keeper stopped the follow up, preserving a one goal lead, salvaging two points that would have been lost, and giving the squad the confidence to take each of their first three matches by 1-0 margins.

It was a moment that helped to build the confidence that has often seemed to set this Liverpool side apart from past years' editions, along with the togetherness and camaraderie that have become its hallmarks. Though the moment that started Liverpool's unlikely title challenge this season is often overlooked these days, the confidence and togetherness that came out of it is still on display, and Mignolet believes it's been key to their success.

"Everyone works for each other and everyone is demanding of each other, which is always important if you want to win games," said Liverpool's Belgian shot stopper. "It is not about being 'nicey nicey' with each other, it is about making sure we do the things right individually and as a group. We have some characters in the dressing room who are always there to make sure we train in a perfect manner."

That growing belief in each other and in an ability to get the results if everyone pulls together has only grown as the season has progressed, leading to Liverpool embracing one of the signs of a top team. While accounting for the opposition is important, this is a side that is now confident enough in its own quality and its own approach to seek to impose that on the opposition, no matter who that is or where the game is played.

"We are very organised and we work very well as a unit," he said. "Everyone works for each other and when we lose the ball we try to press as quickly as we can to get the ball back. Everyone pushes each other forward and that is what happens in training every single day. We don't really think what the opponents have to do, we think about what we have to do and think about our jobs. That is far more important for us as a team."

That confidence is also reflected in a newfound ability to deal positively when results elsewhere go their way. In past seasons, when results around the league were most favourable to Liverpool it seemed almost inevitable Liverpool would crumble under the added pressure and fail to capitalise on the chance to move up the table they had been given. As they proved by demolishing Tottenham on Sunday, that isn't the case any more.

"We knew what happened on Saturday with the results coming in but in all fairness it doesn't make any difference," added Mignolet. "You just win your own game and look at your own performance. It is not about the other teams around us, it is more about what we have to do than looking over our shoulder.

"The next game is West Ham and straight after the Tottenham win we were speaking about that game next Sunday. There is no point in looking beyond that. We did our jobs against Tottenham and from Monday onwards there is only one thing in our minds and that is to prepare ourselves for the game against West Ham."

Whatever happens the rest of the way, this is a Liverpool side that has turned the corner. Whatever happens, this is a stronger and more confident side than has been seen at Anfield in many years. And whatever happens the rest of the way, a lot of that can be traced back to a penalty stop in the dying minutes of a 1-0 win against Stoke City.

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