Having gone 20 Premier League matches unbeaten, defeat to Manchester City has provided a reality check for Liverpool fans.
Having negotiated their way past the entire Premier League, the stakes will only get higher between now and the end of the season.
Teams near the bottom of the table will be scrapping for points between now and May. There will be no easy games for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Tottenham may have lost five matches in the Premier League this season, and with no team winning the league having lost more than six matches, they will still pose a big threat to Liverpool’s title bid.
Spurs are playing free flowing football under Mauricio Pochettino, plundering the goals in with some big wins of late. They cannot be counted out. If they go on a run of winning multiple games it could take them to the title.
Meanwhile, Manchester City have that crucial experience in winning Premiership titles, which Liverpool lack. Both Pep Guardiola and City have been there and done it.
Only Daniel Sturridge and James Milner in the Liverpool team, have won the Premiership title. For this reason, Manchester City cannot be underestimated.
Liverpool will also have a crunch tie against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, awaiting them in February. So, there are plenty of obstacles Liverpool must overcome.
If injuries hit the squad, in particular last season’s golden boot winner Mo Salah, or Firmino or Mane, the goals could dry up and that could be a real problem for Jurgen Klopp. As could an injury to Virgil Van Dijk, who has been a formidable part of the Liverpool defence that has only conceded 10 Premier League goals all season.
Then there is the psychological effect the closer Liverpool get to the Premiership title, if they remain top. They will have history against them, having to end a 29 year wait for English football’s biggest prize.
Whilst, memories are still fresh of the 2008-2009 and 2013-2014 season’s where Liverpool fell agonisingly short of landing the holy grail they continue to crave.
So, how can Liverpool overcome these obstacles?
Winning. As simple as it sounds winning will breed confidence. We’ve seen it this season from Liverpool where building a consistent chain of wins in December, applied the pressure that saw City slip up to both Crystal Palace and then Leicester City.
Liverpool’s wins this season also gave them a cloak of invincibility they will be keen to get back.
There is also an immense hunger from this group of players, manager and the fans. They haven’t won the Premiership, and it’s been so long since they won the league, that you can expect 100% effort between now and the end of the season from all those connected with the club.
Liverpool are also better placed to deal with their past disappointments. This is arguably the strongest squad the club has had. Big money signings like Alisson and Van Dijk are the missing pieces of the puzzle, fans have been crying out for for years.
This has made Liverpool a much stronger and cohesive unit. They are more difficult for teams to break down and not easy to beat.
Liverpool have goals in them. The forward line of Salah, Mane, Firmino can terrify any defence. Whilst, Shaqiri, Origi and Sturridge can come off the bench and play their part when called upon.
Manchester City are still fighting on four fronts; Carabao Cup, FA Cup, Premiership and Champions League. The sheer number of matches will take its toll on City sooner or later. This should work in Liverpool’s favour when the time comes.
Liverpool should also learn from their past mistakes and disappointments. They cannot take anything for granted.
Having seen City win all of their six remaining matches before under Manuel Pellegrinni in 2014, following a 3-2 defeat at Anfield, they can easily go on a similar run of form and upstage Liverpool again.
Luckily, manager Jurgen Klopp will be aware that until it is mathematically proven, Liverpool have won nothing yet.
This is a message he has most likely, already stressed to his players. The exception of Dejan Lovren who foolishly stated that Liverpool could go the entire season unbeaten.
Pundit Mark Lawrenson was quick to point that winning the title, no matter how, is much more important than being unbeaten.
The old mantra of taking each game as it comes will be crucial for Liverpool between now and the end of the season.
There does seem to be a calmness and level-headed approach from Liverpool fans at present.
If the club is to finally end its long wait for the title, it will have to overcome all the mental challenges that come its way.
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