No, there's not an international break transfer rumour around these parts. Those days are dwindling fast, partner. If you still want to catch some of those rumour mongering vapours, then pack up and head east. You’ll find no transfer link clicking comfort in these words, friend. We've got no Virgil van Dijk sorts or leaning James Rodríguez around here, just your regular Merseyside Derby talk. We've also got some top four tête-à-tête if you're into that sort of thing, and to be honest, that's what everyone seems to be into these days.
In the days of Rafa Benítez, it was four into four. Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. An exclusive club where qualifying for Champions League was expected, but they could do more than that. All four of them could go far. 2005. 2006. 2007. 2008. 2009. They all reached Champions League finals, and after taking a break in 2010, they reappeared in 2011 and 2012. Liverpool’s membership effectively expired in 2010, and since then, we've been trying to get back to the good days when we were trying to get back to the halcyon days.
Manchester City struck oil in 2008/09 and turned it into gold in the 2010s, but Liverpool have only finished above Tottenham Hotspur just once during this decade. As far as we know, Spurs are still digging to find a different way to compete under Mauricio Pochettino. That's no way for Liverpool to be, but it's a different time now. From Rafa to Hodgson to Kenny Dalglish to Brendan Rodgers, and now to Jürgen Klopp. This is the Klopp era, one where Liverpool’s “failures” have been preceded by appearing to be genuine challengers.
Two finals last season shouldn't be ignored. A first domestic cup final since 2011/12 under King Kenny and a first European final for nearly a decade. We lost both. Finishing eighth in the league postponed European football for a year, but no Liverpool side in the Premier League era collected more points after 19 games—the halfway point of the league season since 1995/96. What came next was 2017 and an unravelling. Tumbled out of both domestic cups, endured a winless run of five league games, and suffered a sinister sense that a top four finish was slipping away.
Liverpool’s prospects are currently much healthier five games later with ten points from five league games, but it’s not over yet. The international break ends and the final stretch begins. The opponents in the blue corner? Everton, of course. Liverpool’s record in big games has been impressive, and Sadio Mané’s late goal in December silenced Goodison Park as part of a four-game winning run to see 2016 off to the station.
Everton are only six points behind Liverpool with designs on catching their opponent in the red corner, but they cannot be allowed to even take a point away from Anfield on Saturday. If Klopp is to bring Champions League football back to Anfield next season, Everton must be vanquished. There are always teams prowling in the top six, waiting to take advantage of a fallen rival that's played two more games with time running out. Everton, too, aren't far away either.
This should be the most exciting part of the season for Liverpool players; it's a time where they can prove that the players we saw earlier in the season and in big games can do what is necessary. The last three games suggest that Klopp’s disciples are back on track, but these are still uncertain times where one can never be too sure what Liverpool have in store for you.