The disappointment of a crushing home defeat to West Ham followed by an interminably dull international break has rather taken the excitement out of the start of the season for many Liverpool fans. But now the break is nearly over. And a match against Manchester United is only a few days away.
The excitement and the nerves; hope and the fear. The start to the season has been a mixed bag, with largely positive results matched to mostly middling performances and capped off by the West Ham debacle. None of that will matter, though, when kickoff comes against United. All that will matter will be the game; the moment.
"One of the reasons I signed for Liverpool was to play in big matches like this," Nathaniel Clyne told the club's official website. "Playing at Old Trafford last season with Southampton and getting the three points was a great feeling, and you have to be on top of your game if you want to come away with three points."
Clyne and England have a Euros 2016 qualifier against Switzerland to worry about first, but once it's done, all focus will be on United. And the hope will be that Liverpool showed their true selves battling Arsenal to a well earned draw at the Emirates earlier in August and not the side that failed to compete against West Ham.
"Working hard, playing on the front-foot, and taking the game to them is key," added the right back. "We can't allow them to pass the ball around as they like to or have too much free space. We have to be at their throats from the start, not let them settle in the game, and with the quality we have up front we can cause problems."
So far, that quality has been mostly theoretical. Across four games, Liverpool have just two goals—one a wonder-strike by the suspended Philippe Coutinho, the other an offside goal by Christian Benteke that was wrongly allowed to stand. The talent is there, though, and a month into the season the time for excuses is over.
Clyne has stood out as Liverpool's best performer of the early season. Now it's time for his teammates to raise their collective game to his level to give United a difficult match at home just as they pushed Arsenal. Do that, and Liverpool will again appear on the right track. Fail as they did against West Ham, and it could get ugly.
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