After months of dire performances and poor results, Liverpool look like they may be back on track after a pair of convincing 2-0 wins over Everton and Newcastle. While two matches isn’t a big sample size, and there is definitely still work to do, the side finally seems to be figuring things out, and they look to have some of their confidence and swagger back.
The player interviews after yesterday’s win at St. James’ Park have shown just how happy everyone is to finally be back to winning matches. The hopelessness and dejection that have been creeping in since the new year have been replaced by a sense of relief and cautious optimism.
Those feelings clearly shone through in Alisson Becker’s interview with the LFC website after yesterday’s win.
“It’s really satisfying,” Alisson said of the win. “We are really happy about the three points, the clean sheet, about the performance as well – the way we played, the way we started the game.”
The biggest takeaway for the Brazilian goalkeeper was the high-flying start after LFC have made a habit of conceding early goals in so many matches this season. In the first 22 minutes, the Reds scored twice and got Newcastle keeper Nick Pope sent off for handling outside the box in an attempt to stop a Mohamed Salah breakaway.
“In the last month it’s been a big challenge for us the way we are approaching, the way we are starting the matches – we were talking a lot about it. We did a really good start [against Newcastle] and scoring two early goals was massive for us. Having an extra player, the way we kept the performance was really important for us.”
In their last two matches, the Reds have looked like a completely different team than the one that was beaten 3-0 by Wolverhampton 15 days ago. It’s been a pleasantly surprising turnaround, but Alison knows they can’t rest on their laurels. They have to keep pushing to improve and show that this is still largely the same group that was two matches away from winning the quadruple last season, even if they haven’t shown it during this campaign.
“A week ago we were talking about a bad moment, a bad situation. And now we are talking about a really good performance,” said the shot-stopper. “That’s how football works, we know that. Obviously, you don’t like the feeling of going through a difficult moment. But we worked hard, we keep working hard to change our situation.”
“I think we are getting the momentum again, getting the confidence again but we can’t take things for granted. We must keep working hard and approach the games the way we approached the game [at Newcastle]. We have a massive opponent coming in the Champions League and big things to come.”
Despite the 2-0 win against an opponent playing with 10 men for nearly 70 minutes, Alisson was still called on enough to keep the clean sheet that he ended up earning Man of the Match honors for his efforts. He was understandably pleased with his game, but he was more than happy to share the credit with his teammates.
“It feels good when you work a lot. I think in the last game I didn’t have too much to do – the players did all the hard work. But [against Newcastle] I did a few saves but, of course, with the help of the defenders, being closer at the moment, closing the gaps, closing the shots, making things possible for me, making the saves.
“Nearly an assist to Mo but that moment was the moment of the red card, so having an extra player was important for us as well. But it was a tough match, a really good performance from our side and we’re going to keep this confidence, keep the good things with us and bring it to the next game.”
The near assist to Salah was perhaps the key moment of the match. Alisson collected the ball on a Newcastle freekick and immediately found Salah with a well-timed punt. Nick Pope came out to meet the speedy Egyptian and appeared to try to head the ball away, but he missed and ultimately reached out to grab it in desperation. Pope was rightfully sent off, and while it didn’t lead to a third goal, the man advantage was crucial in securing the win for the Reds.
It wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Alisson and Salah link up like that to create chances off of opposition free kicks and corner kicks in Liverpool’s defensive third, and the keeper ended his interview by giving some insight into their connection on those plays.
“I know him, he knows me. I know he’s going to catch the ball, he’s going to run like crazy, I know how fast he is. The only thing I need to do is a good pass, a good volley – I think this is one of my qualities as well. But in the moment, you don’t think too much, I just see things happening, players running and then I see the space in behind where I can put the ball.
“That moment helped us in the game and nearly an assist – unfortunately not – but I’m happy with the three points, with the win, with the clean sheet and with the performance.”