Can Liverpool start to cherish consistency? After the Reds responded to losing in the Capital One Cup final with a resounding victory over Manchester City, many fans weren't sure what to expect next. Here was a side that fought for 120 minutes before losing out on penalties only to take the same side apart a few days later in league action. Fortune and perseverance prevailed away to Crystal Palace before another fine midweek performance bested a visiting team from Manchester.
There are just two games left before the international break, and right now, it's difficult to be pessimistic about Liverpool's prospects for the rest of the month. The task is to secure a spot in the quarter-finals of the Europa League and to continue to finish the Premier League season strongly. Good form in the league provides confidence going into European games, where each victory edges the club closer to winning an actual European trophy once more and gaining entrance to the the bounties of the Champions League.
In March 2015, Manchester United punctured Liverpool's momentum by winning at Anfield in the Premier League to halt a thirteen-game unbeaten run. A two-point gap became five, and unfortunately for Brendan Rodgers' side, Liverpool crumbled by winning only two of the remaining eight league games. The final two games should be remembered as something never to be repeated. Fortunately, Liverpool seem to be finding a sweet spot a year later under Jürgen Klopp. Consistency still needs to be more of a hobby for a group of players brimming with confidence, but Jordan Henderson couldn't ignore what has been building in recent weeks.
"Momentum is a big thing in football and it feels like we’ve finally got that now," the captain admitted. "It’s really gathered over the past couple of weeks and now we need to keep building on that. If we keep putting in performances like that then the results will follow. You can see the confidence in the team. We’re performing well and we’ve had some good results of late. That’s given everyone a boost.
"It was such a big game against United and to play the way we did was very pleasing. When we play that kind of high intensity football and win the ball back like that there aren’t many teams who can live with us. We need to keep trying to improve. We all want to finish the season off well and that will put us in good stead for next season."
Liverpool had just lost a cup final barely two weeks ago, but the mood is vastly different three games later. The mere presence of Klopp demands hope and belief in the possibility of a red revival, but a reversal or two can easily dent any momentum gathered over the past three games. Beating the Manchester clubs by scoring five without conceding a goal in two home games cannot be easily dismissed.
This month's offerings could be evidence of Liverpool being able to rise in big matches without the capability of stringing an undefeated run of five or six games. Anfield's next visitors are Tottenham Hotspur, providing another sizeable test against a domestic rival. Before April, Liverpool must finish Manchester United off next week. The players quelled last week's concerns about Crystal Palace, but Louis van Gaal will demand a reaction from his team at Old Trafford next week.
Beating Manchester United in a first-ever European meeting between the two clubs will be special and lend credence to a sense that something special is brewing at Liverpool. A two-goal cushion without conceding an away goal should be enough of an advantage for Klopp's side to build on, but Henderson is rightly committed to pointing out the potential dangers in the second leg.
"They had beaten us in the last few games so it was nice to get the win but it's only half a job done," Henderson warned. "We need to play like that again. 2-0 can be a dangerous scoreline. We need to make sure we are fully focused on going there next week.
"It will be difficult at Old Trafford. I'm sure United will be looking to respond. They will be right up for it and they will have nothing to lose. That makes them dangerous so we need to ensure we do things properly and get a good result there. We have to go there looking to win the game on the night. We have to approach it like it's 0-0. We just have to focus on reaching the levels we did in the first leg."