After a rather stumbling start to the season in which Liverpool seemed to have played generally well but dropped a number of points, a thumping 9-0 demolition of Bournemouth was seen by many as a sign Jürgen Klopp’s Reds had turned a corner.
Instead, it turned out that victory was probably more down to Bournemouth’s problems than to Liverpool’s qualities, and the poor results soon returned—only now it seemed those poorer results had poorer performances to go along with them.
A month on and following a solid performance and 2-0 victory over Rangers, then, few will be standing up to suggest that Liverpool are back to their best. Still, the hope will be that Tuesday night’s victory is at least a step in the right direction.
“I think overall the performance level was really good,” captain Jordan Henderson reflected. “I thought first half especially we started the game really well. We could have got a couple more but overall we’ve got to be happy with the performance.
“We controlled the game from the start to the end, which is important. Of course there are going to be things we can improve on, but I think it is a step in the right direction. We need to take tonight, build on it, and try to be even better on Sunday.”
That will be the challenge. Rangers, who Liverpool beat 2-0 and looked solid against—though without, it must be noted, scoring a goal from open play despite having four forwards on the pitch—are the second best side in Scotland.
On Sunday, Liverpool will face Arsenal, the Premier League leaders after eight rounds. Then, a week on from that, they face sportswashing front Manchester City, currently sat second but favourites at this stage to win yet another league title.
Running out four forwards—and only two midfielders—and looking solid against Rangers is one thing, but it’s fair to wonder what abdicating midfield in favour of an attack that still doesn’t score from open play results in against Arsenal and City.
All of which is to say that Tuesday’s result was positive, and that it was positive shouldn’t be ignored. Liverpool, though, will almost certainly need to be better still on Sunday, and Tuesday’s tactical tweak may not be a real, long-term answer.