Following a disappointing league loss against West Ham on November 7th, Liverpool have since recorded five league wins and a pair of European victories to close out Champions League group stage play with a perfect record.
It was the perfect reaction by the squad, a stumble that helped to steel them. Now, a month on from that, captain Jordan Henderson says that the focus is on not allowing their recent good run of form to turn into complacency.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our response to the setback at West Ham,” he said in the matchday programme for their match against relegation battlers Newcastle. “It is exactly what was needed and the lads have delivered on all fronts.
“I should stress, though, that none of this is a boast. If anything, it’s the opposite. If there’s one thing that football has taught me, it’s that if you ever feel comfortable it won’t be long before someone makes you feel uncomfortable.
“The Premier League is a place where complacency or even just a slight drop in standards can be costly. You only have to look at our last two games. If we had shown any weakness we would almost certainly have been punished.”
Given Liverpool’s recent good run and the status of their opponents, it makes some sense that avoiding complacency would be the big talking point this week as Henderson and the Reds prepared for the mid-week league game.
The Magpies and their fans were happy to turn their backs on their history and become the sportswashing public relations wing of a human rights-abusing petrostate in October, but a change in ownership didn’t improve results.
Becoming a soft power front for Saudi Arabia might have meant getting rid of the reviled Mike Ashley, but it didn’t turn into victories in November. Neither did the departure of Steve Bruce as manager and arrival of Eddie Howe.
Newcastle sit in 19th place with just ten points from 16 games. They have had one league win so far this season. They are deserved relegation favourites. If Liverpool don’t take three points, it’s likely complacency will be to blame.
“There can’t be any letting up,” Henderson added. “Not tonight or at any time in the future. I’m not foolish enough to think we can’t be beaten, but I also know that this group of players has all the qualities needed, individually and collectively, to ensure that at the very least we should be difficult to beat.
“This is our minimum acceptable standard and if we take it into every game we won’t go too far wrong.”