A month ago now, Liverpool and the club’s fans felt confident that a victory over Tottenham Hotspur was set to be their turning point, the moment when a disappointing 2017 got itself on track and the team rediscovered their best form from the autumn of 2016. It didn’t quite work out like that.
An extended layoff caused by their FA Cup exit and European absence gave the team plenty of time to train and work and prepare to face Leicester City. Then they lost the match, badly. Now, having beaten Arsenal, they have another chance to prove they’ve put their recent struggles behind them.
“We have to try to get back to what we did before,” was Joël Matip’s take on his side’s struggles, struggles he hopes are now in the past. “What gave us the strength, we have to find it again. We have to run more than the opponent, work harder than the opponent, and do more than the opponent.
“We understand the fans’ frustrations, but it was not just the supporters who were frustrated. We felt that way just as much. The difficult spell was not easy but we all tried to handle it and do our best in the situation. Pressure is always high here, but at a club like Liverpool I think that’s normal.”
Based on their performances and results against their fellow top six sides, Liverpool are the best club in England. Victories over Spurs and Arsenal, though, don’t count for much in the final table if for every big win there’s a matching loss to a bottom half side flirting with the relegation zone.
Liverpool have proven that even in the midst of their 2017 struggles, they can beat their rivals for table position. Now, Matip and co. need to prove that they can get back to beating not just the best of the Premier League, but also the rest. Leicester City was a harsh blow, one Liverpool can’t afford another of.
“It’s nice that we haven’t lost too many points when we have played against the leading sides,” he added, “but you get three points for a win whether that is against the top team in the division or the bottom. You cannot change the past but you can influence the future, so that is the way we must look at it.”