Once, Liverpool were known for late goals. For having belief, from the fans watching to the players on the pitch, that if a goal was needed to turn a loss into a draw or draw into a win it was never too late. In recent years, that belief has faded, and poor results have begun to seem inevitable before the final whistle.
On Monday, at the end of a long and sometimes difficult game against Everton that looked to be heading towards a nil-nil conclusion, Liverpool seemed to get some of that old belief back when Sadio Mané pounced on a Daniel Sturridge rebound to give the Reds a victory over their local rivals.
They will surely need more such late results—points earned when they’ve begun to seem unlikely—if they’re to keep pace with Chelsea and challenge for the title this season. Vice-captain James Milner, for one, believes they’re capable of that belief; capable of turning more losses into draws and draws into victories.
“The belief is there,” Milner noted, speaking to the club’s official website as the players prepared for a short break for Christmas before getting back into the action against Stoke next Tuesday. "I’ve said it since I’ve been here—I don’t think it has been in people realising in the squad how good we are and can be.”
After a brief stumble to start December, Liverpool have shown belief in their quality by bouncing back with a pair of shutout victories. Chelsea, though, are six points up on them—the biggest Christmas lead in the Premier League in the past decade, and one that marks a tough road for Liverpool to travel.
If they can keep racking up the points, though, they can look to capitalise on any stumbles by Chelsea, and so that belief—that ability to rebound from two poor results and to grab a late victory over Everton—will be necessary. Pleasing football is always nice to see, but what counts in the end are the points.
“It was a different type of game, a game which was never going to be a very pretty game,” Milner added. “To be able to come out of it with a victory and also the way we kept going in the second half, kept playing, kept trying to do the right things—we were on the front foot for the majority of the second half, definitely.
“To keep probing, to keep playing the way we want to play, and then be rewarded is obviously pleasing. It shows good patience from the lads and shows we were not getting too anxious. Derbies are all about the victory and the three points and the bragging rights. Any win will do in a derby.”