Expectations were fairly low going into Saturday’s match against Stoke. With the injury list reaching new, heart-hardening lengths, the prospect of meeting the Potters on their home turf was downright frightening. Sadio Mané out for the season, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana MIA, and two of our Brazilians with their own ailments did not inspire a lot of confidence. But I don’t need to tell you that, nor does one need to reiterate how massive the comeback win was on Saturday. While the match started abysmally, defender Joël Matip asserted that it was no one player’s fault - including the youngsters that started - or even the absence of certain players.
“There are 11 players on the field and you cannot say it’s their fault, it’s all [of] our fault,” said Matip to the club website. “As a team we didn’t play well in the first half and then we tried to change something. They are still young and have a lot of talent. We will have a lot of fun with them.”
It wasn’t until the second half, when Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino came off the bench, did things seem to click into place and Liverpool were able to make something of what was being given to them. Of course, though, it was a team effort.
“When you have players come on like that, it helps every team,” Matip said of the changes. “We started to play better football and also Simon [Mignolet] made some great saves, amazing, and that was the reason why we won.
“It feels great even though it wasn’t our best game. After being 1-0 down it’s always good to come back and win this game.
“They didn’t have many chances [in the first half], maybe shots from outside the box and things like this, but they controlled the game and we were not at our best. But in the second half everybody wanted to improve and did his best, and we are happy with the result.”
The kind of comeback witnessed yesterday hopefully hints at good things to come with now seven matches left in the season and a top four position to defend. The absence of certain player still proves daunting, but now just a bit less so.