There was a lot of narrative going into Liverpool’s matchup against Chelsea on Sunday, a lot of people and pundits and social media managers (looking at you Chelsea twitter) were trying to make it seem like this was going to be it for our historic title challenge. And sure, in years past, it might’ve been, but this is a different team. Different players, different manager, different situation. Because Liverpool took the ball on Sunday afternoon and made sure that Chelsea knew whose house they were in for a good part of the game, which is exactly what manager Jürgen Klopp wanted. Even when the first half ended goalless, it didn’t take long for Liverpool to take control again and make something of the restart.
“Just to be a bit more flexible. We speak at half-time, we show a few pictures. A lot of things were really good in the first half already,” the boss said in his postmatch, speaking of what he told the team before the second half.
“In the first half we were a bit left-dominant, we had too many balls there. It was good on the right side, we had moments as well but not as flexible as we wanted.
“That was one of the things we spoke about at half-time and it was wonderful that we scored a goal from that situation, Hendo in the box chipping the ball – a fantastic goal. The second goal was a nice strike from Mo obviously, a fantastic goal as well. Apart from the 10 minutes when Chelsea changed system and had their chances, when Ali saved our life, we controlled and dominated the game for 80 minutes, which is probably the best you can say about a game against Chelsea.
“But in these 10 minutes, if they were 10 minutes, they could have changed the game completely – [hitting the] post and two saves from Ali. That was a bit dangerous, of course, but then we controlled the game again. It was a fantastic performance, an even better atmosphere and a very, very important result.”
A result that everyone, fans and club, should be proud of going into the tail end of the season. Liverpool now have 85 points with 12 points left up for grabs and all of the big six team neutralized - things are looking pretty good but definitely not a time to rest. The prospect of winning the title, for the first time in 29 years, looks better than it ever has before. Klopp, of course, isn’t focused on that.
“We see it game by game. We go to Porto now, which will be a tough one, and we will play there as good as possible. We know they get at least two players back – fixed line-up players, very important, Pepe and Herrera coming back makes it a different side. It will be an interesting and difficult challenge,” Klopp continued. “Then we play Cardiff and everybody knows they fight for [staying in] the league, everybody knows it is a tough place to go. We go there and we will try everything to win there. The biggest challenge for us is always facing the world outside – you [journalists] and other people – because we don’t think like that.
“Today, they [City] win and [did it] ask a question for us? If we think about them, yes, and if we don’t think about them, no. We play our game. If, for example, City lose today and we know it five minutes before our game, somebody tells us, ‘City lost’, that’s not a help. Then you lose your focus in that moment.
“What we want to do is collect as many points as possible, really. 85 points, four games to play, that means [we can get] 97. Good, let’s try. Let’s try that. If that’s enough, perfect, and if not, we cannot change it.
“We didn’t lose it here or there or in this or that game. Very smart people will come out and say, ‘Yeah, but if you would have won against Leicester then you would be champions now’ and stuff like this. Only weak people bring something like this up. By the way, at this point we can finally close the slipping book – Robbo slipped and nothing happened, so it’s not a Liverpool thing. Done. All good.
“I am so proud of what the boys did today, and I loved, loved, loved the atmosphere – it was outstanding what the people did today. You could feel it, they are all on their toes, so let’s try to do that seven more times and then we see what we get for it.”
Liverpool proved today that they’re strong, stronger than they’ve ever been, and they’re more equipped than ever to fight for the title. As the boss said, Robbo slipped and nothing happened, the season isn’t over. 12 points, four matches. We’re in this until the end.