The countdown is on until Liverpool take on bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday. But unlike recent seasons, the Reds go into this volatile fixture being 16 points ahead of the Red Devils. They’re also second on the table, but could retake their first place position with a win in this game.
It’s a good feeling, and Captain Jordan Henderson is saying what we’re all thinking about this incredible change of fortune.
“We have defended very well – we’ve got a lot of clean sheets this season,” he explained. “To win trophies, you need to have that really, along with the attacking power and goals we’ve got. So far, it has been a good combination and we need to keep that going for the rest of the season if we want to do something really special. So far it has been good – hopefully it can get better, we can keep improving and keep winning games.”
It’s been undeniable that the introduction of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, plus the emergence of Joe Gomez as a defensive force, has already paid dividends. It’s easy to point out victories where, in past seasons, Liverpool would have givens up points thanks to a shaky back line. It’s telling that, despite injuries to Joe Gomez and Joël Matip, Liverpool still have a center-back pairing that they can count on to see through games.
“I can definitely see that the maturity has helped us win games and keep clean sheets. But our style of play is there for everybody to see. We’re still an exciting team to watch, we want to be at a high intensity level,” Henderson continued.
“There are a lot of leaders in the group and there is a lot of experience in big games as well. That helps, of course. The group has got so many good players in it, a huge squad. The lads that haven’t been playing have been coming in and doing a really good job as well – everybody is fighting for their place and I think that can be really healthy if you use it in the right way. So far, we have. Hopefully we can continue that.”
Ask five different Liverpool fans to name the team’s best midfield and you’ll likely get five different answers. Klopp has, over his years at the club, created a team with depth and talent. Even more impressively, they all seem to be thriving on the competition and enjoying the experience of working with their teammates and learning from their manager — unlike the players on another team, working for another manager. A team who just happen to be visiting tomorrow.
Hopefully Liverpool manage to use this new maturity and clarity of purpose to send a message to Manchester United and the whole league tomorrow as they continue their league title push.