Hope. It can be a dangerous thing, hope. It can seduce you and open you up to heartache and disappointment. Surfing the highs of hope, holding on to the glimmer that something likely to be unattainable could still be within grasp, can be both a glorious and tortuous experience. We all glom on to hope because of that high, and frankly, because it feels great to believe in something, despite the distinct chance of it all crashing down around our ears.
This past weekend, Liverpool and their fans were handed a sliver of hope. The Reds continued a fine run of form that began in January, earning another hard fought win over Norwich. Just a few hours later, Manchester City conceded in the 95th minute to lose 3-2 to Spurs. Those results put Liverpool six points behind Manchester City, with the Reds having a game in hand. A win against a struggling Leeds side midweek would cut that down to three. Liverpool and Manchester City are set to play each other in April. Hope.
With the Premier League seemingly back in play, it means that the chance for the ever elusive quadruple is still a possibility. Winning any trophy is hard. Winning four in a season is a feat no English team has accomplished. In fact, to date only Celtic have be winners of a true quadruple (a European Cup, league title, and two domestic cups) of all the European clubs. But still we hope.
With Liverpool having their first chance at winning a trophy, a chance to take a first step towards an unlikely quadruple, next weekend against Chelsea in the final of the Carabao Cup, it seems like a good time to take a step back and look for some perspective. The hope we feel, however faint, is rooted in the fact that this is one of the strongest Liverpool sides ever assembled, regardless of the hardware won at the end of the season.
This is a squad that is littered with club legends or soon-to-be legends. Mohamed Salah has just scored his 150th goal for the Reds on Saturday, becoming only the 10th player in club history to do so. Salah reached the milestone in fewer appearances than everyone else on the list except Sir Roger Hunt.
Salah’s strike partner, Sadio Mane, also netted on the day, marking his 108th goal for Liverpool. His sensational overhead kick took him even with John Barnes, with Mane getting to the mark in 160 games fewer.
Jordan Henderson has grown from part of an infamous transfer window that saw the arrival of Andy Carroll, Henderson, Charlie Adam, and Stewart Downing (a group which at the time earned the dismissive CHAD moniker) to become one of the best captains in the history of the club. He may not light up the stat sheet, but the team almost always seems to be better with him in it, and his importance as a leader is unquestionable.
Liverpool are also blessed with two of the best fullbacks in the game in the home grown Trent Alexander-Arnold and relegation scrap heap gem Andy Robertson. The two have paired to break pretty much every assist record for defenders. Still only 23, Trent will likely end up near the top of the career assists statistics for all players in the Premier League, with an outside chance at besting Ryan Giggs’ mark of 162.
Anchoring the team on the defensive front are the two big money defensive signings that have truly worked in a league littered with inflated transfer fees for average center backs and goalkeepers. And in Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, this Liverpool squad also has potentially the best center back and best goalkeeper in club history.
The core of this squad, which has been together for more than four seasons now, have one of the best records ever. Don’t take my word for it, check out the stats from Dan Kennett instead.
The performance of the current #LFC squad under Klopp is historic. I think people take it for granted how good the typical team performance is. Not to mention the tribalism over favourite players and trashing other good players.— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) February 19, 2022
So I just wanted to try and contextualise this
Of course, while the stars have shined as expected, one of the most fun aspects of being legitimately in the hunt for four trophies is it takes the entire squad to reach the feat. Reserve players like Caoimhin Kelleher and Kostas Tsimikas have shined during cup competitions, and have also stepped in admirably during league play when called upon. U23 player Tyler Morton has been involved in cup, Premier League, and Champions League play. The likes of Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all come up with timely goals in important moments for the club despite not being regular starters.
Of course, none of this would likely be possible without Jurgen Klopp and his sensational staff. Klopp makes us all believe, fans and players alike, that it’s possible to accomplish the most difficult tasks if we are all in it together. Liverpool’s manager instilled the grittiness to go with the goal scoring glam a few years ago, and has the squad entirely bought in to his style and ideals. Klopp himself is a beacon of hope.
So, while it is ultimately unlikely that Liverpool win the quadruple, and could still potentially end up without a trophy on the season, go ahead and enjoy the hope. Enjoy this historic team, with contributors from top to bottom. Enjoy the ride, wherever it may take us.