Not perfect, but better. That about sums it up for Liverpool FC on Tuesday night in their FA Cup third round replay against Wolves. It doesn’t hurt, either, that a heavily rotated Reds side came away with the victory a first choice eleven couldn’t at the first time of asking.
Ahead of the match, manager Jürgen Klopp said his struggling side needed to get back to basics after their initial draw against Wolves that forced a replay and then a dire 3-0 loss to Brighton in the league. And after the match, the payers said that’s exactly what they did.
“The last few days have been about getting back to basics, making sure we’re compact and hard to break down,” said goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who replaced Allison and earned a shutout in Tuesday’s 1-0 replay victory. “I think we showed we’re capable of doing that.
“The most important thing was the result and I think we bounced back really well from the weekend. That was the main idea—to bounce back and put in a good performance. I feel we did that. The team shape was really good, really strong. The whole team did very well.”
The real test, though, comes against Chelsea when the Reds return to Premier League action on Saturday against perhaps the only presumptive top side that has struggled more than them this season—though a look at the table suggests that there won’t be much in it.
With Liverpool’s loss to Brighton on the weekend and Chelsea’s victory against Crystal Palace, the two are now level on 28 points, standing ninth and tenth with the Reds only ahead on goal differential and holding a game in hand. The top four is a full ten points away.
Given the gap, a draw does little good for either—not when they need at least three more wins than the sides they’re chasing over the second half of the season to even get in the conversation. Still, Tuesday seems a step in the right direction. Now they need to build on it.
“Sometimes you just need to grind out results and that’s what we did tonight,” Kelleher added. “We showed some great character. A win tonight will fill us full of confidence and hopefully we can use this result to push on at the weekend and hopefully build from there.”