It’s always nice to enter a protracted interval of inactivity with a win, and Liverpool were able to do exactly that in seeing off Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 ahead of a sixteen day pause before they visit defending champions Leicester City. There are hopes that the vibrant performance against Mauricio Pochettino’s side will serve as a solid foundation upon which a top four push can be built, but Liverpool aren’t that far removed from an absolutely disastrous January, and will have to be wary of a wounded Leicester.
Perhaps “wounded” is understating Leicester’s situation a little bit. The defending champions are on life support right now, hopping around on their one good leg and bleeding from their wherever (in the parlance of our times), while insisting that “it’s just a flesh wound.” The Champions League has been a solitary bright spot, and even that may be in peril if Claudio Ranieri’s side cannot right the ship before they face off against Sevilla midweek.
Liverpool supporters have seen this situation all too often before, and know that things rarely follow the expected script. Which is perhaps why the manager, from the club’s temporary base in La Manga, has gone to great pains to put everything in context and remind everyone - players included - that they don’t give out points for recent form, and that Leicester remain a threat.
“Each win can change the mood but if you lose, you have to use it, to get more greedy and if you win, you have to stay greedy,” Klopp emphasized. “That’s the life of a professional footballer.”
“Of course, Leicester, it’s a difficult situation for them,” said the manager about the defending champions. “They’re fighting for the league 100 per cent now and maybe this is the moment they recognize there’s really nothing else to do in this season other than to stay in the league and be really concentrated so we, if you want, could be the first team to face this ‘new’ Leicester.”
Turning to the big picture, Klopp did what he has consistently done since taking over at Liverpool, which is remind everyone that one impressive victory does not guarantee a string of success, and likewise a few dispiriting results do not undo the gains from previous hard work.
“January was nothing we needed, but we had it,” noted Klopp. “It was kind of an experience, kind of a reminder. Everything is good until the moment when it’s not that good anymore - then it’s not only not good anymore, it’s as bad as it ever was!”
“I can understand that people feel like this, but it’s not real, it’s not true. The truth is that we always have a chance. I’ve said a few times, I’m not the best manager in the world but I’m really good at staying on track.” The next step on that track takes place on Monday in a week, at the King Power Stadium, and supporters will hope it will be a step forward rather than another step back.