A tired cliché used to try to buck people up after a set back is that they can use that moment as a time to grow. It’s true, in a way, that one can sometimes reflect on what went wrong and learn to avoid making similar actions. It’s kind of built into our evolutionary development to boot: researchers broadly theorize that we retain bad memories more as part of an evolutionary tool to help us avoid life-threatening situations. I mean, if early humans went out on a hunt and realized that there was a den of saber tooth cats over that ridge, it would be important to the survival of that species to remember never to go back to that same ridge.
That advice, though, sometimes feels hollow. A trite way of noting silver linings in a pile of poop and trying to push past the uncomfortable revelations on hand. In a much less pronounced way - at least, less central to surviving an animal mauling, I guess - Liverpool Football Club found themselves this week with some time to reflect on what they may have learned from their loss to Chelsea. It was a closely contested match, but one that Liverpool might have seen through had a combination of things gone their way; notably, that they finished their chances and held firm in defense.
In football, such reflections don’t often carry with them an opportunity to trot right back out and try again in similar circumstances. (Again, if you’re hewing back to the saber tooth cat thing, you don’t want to go back into a den of giant, predatory animals!) However, Liverpool will be looking to do just that in their rematch against Chelsea on the weekend. And gleaning from Klopp’s comments at the pre-match press conference, it appears that the whole team have used the time to analyze their performance and learn a lesson or two for the re-match.
For both teams, it will not be an easy game and both teams know that. But the best preparation for the Saturday game is the Wednesday game because you can never know more about an opponent than in the match you play against them. Of course, there’ll be a few different players on the pitch for Chelsea, but we try to use our information from Wednesday to do it better. We learned a lot in the game and it was interesting to see how we adapted in a pretty short period of time with a pretty much completely new formation. That’s good, but we have to do better because Chelsea will make changes and Hazard will not only play 20 minutes, so he will give us a few questions over 95 minutes. A lot of other players will come in - Jorginho, Kante and all these boys – so it’ll be interesting again and I am looking forward to it.
Indeed, it would stand to reason that if Liverpool wish to retain their perfect record, it would require quickly cobbling together a few insights from the midweek match and executing them well.
If there’s any confidence in this year’s Liverpool squad it’s been in its ability to consistently play well with a cool confidence and that it is a much deeper squad than in years past. Because even as we know that we will likely see a more strengthened Chelsea side that will include midfield stars Ngolo Kante and Jorginho, there is a hope in Chelsea needing to answer questions of their own with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and perhaps Georginio Wijnaldum likely to be in contention for places in the starting XI.
On the weekend, then, we are greeted with another proper Big Match™ as a high-flying Liverpool lock horns with a resurgent Chelsea side. Saturday’s match, then, looks to be a proper cracker. Let’s hope the boys learned all the right lessons for one of this early season’s biggest tests.