After an uplifting autumn that saw Liverpool push the pace in the Premier League and cruise through their Champions League group of death with the greatest of ease, the post-Christmas period and turning of the calendar to 2022 has been deflating.
Against a club like Manchester City, backed by the wealth of a sovereign state intent on sportswashing glory, even the slightest stumble can appear to end a title challenge by the season’s half-way point, and so the league appears to have slipped away.
With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané having left for the Africa Cup of Nations, a nil-nil against Arsenal in the League Cup seemed more weighted with meaning than it otherwise might have. A response felt needed, then, against Brentford on Sunday.
“We needed these three points,” reflected Fabinho following a 3-0 victory. “We needed a good performance as well. It was nice to win in front of our fans. For the next games we have before the internationals it will be good to grow our confidence.”
Before Brentford, Liverpool’s post-Christmas record had been a loss and draw in the league to go along with their draw against Arsenal in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. Their lone victory came against lower league Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.
Liverpool needed to be better on Sunday against Brentford, and were. Now, they have the second leg with Arsenal and Crystal Palace in the league to show they’re still that confident side from the autumn—and that silverware remains a realistic goal.
“It’s always important to score first and to score in the first half,” Fabinho added of Sunday’s match. “So, my goal just before the end of the first half was really important for us to keep going, keep pressing them and keep trying to score the second goal.
“That’s what happened, we scored the second goal and after that we played with much more confidence. We scored the third goal and yes, three points.”