Jürgen Klopp’s 2018 iteration of Liverpool has managed what so many Reds teams in the recent past have failed to do; follow up a strong season with improvement in the following campaign. After falling to threepeaters Real Madrid in a surprise Champions League final appearance back in May, the table was set for the Merseysiders to either go from strength to strength and build on their achievement, or fail to transfer the energy of their sensational European run to the grind of an ever more demanding domestic league.
Fortunately, the German manager and his players have — thus far — managed to avoid the latter, charging to the top of the Premier League table in a 19-game unbeaten run that sees them lead second-place Tottenham by six points at the halfway stage of the season. The defense has been historically successful, and while the front three have received almost none of the plaudits they got last year, Liverpool have actually scored two more goals than at the same point in 2017.
Things are good, but the campaign is only halfway done, and considerable challenge are immediately ahead, with Arsenal and Manchester City waiting in the coming week. Jürgen Klopp refuses to think more than one game ahead.
“Arsenal are in a good moment; they have a fantastic team and a fantastic manager, so that will be really difficult,” the Normal One told the club’s official website.
“A completely different game, of course. If we let them counter-attack like we did [against Newcastle] I don’t think we have a chance because they are really strong in that. So we have to improve so many things.
“On the other hand,” Klopp continued. “We have 51 points and that’s unbelievable. We played the first part of the season unbeaten – that’s all good and we feel it, it feels really good.
“We need tunnel vision, all of us, being in the situation – dig in and try to make the best of each game. Then we will see where it leads us to.”
This is boilerplate manager stuff, of course, and the thought that players will manage to stay away from the results of rival teams or fantasies of holding the Premier League trophy aloft in six months time seems absurd, but if any gaffer should prove able to reign in those fanciful ideas and force focus on the immediate future, it is Jürgen Klopp.
One game at a time. It starts again on Saturday night.