Seven points - Liverpool’s current total four games into the new Premier League season.
Having already travelled to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, plus one home game against Leicester City, the champions of England, most Liverpool fans may have taken seven points from those fixtures.
However, perhaps they would not have expected how Liverpool themselves would accumulate the points – winning for only the second time at the Emirates Stadium, securing a point at White Hart Lane before a superb 4-1 victory over Claudio Ranieri’s side.
Liverpool’s one defeat came at Burnley, which sums up the big match mentality of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp as the German nears one year in charge at the club.
Another big game coming up
Liverpool have certainly enjoyed some memorable results in the past twelve months, but complete inconsistency against the ‘smaller’ teams.
Nevertheless, as Liverpool face another away game, this time against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the Reds can add another big victory to the swelling list.
Under the fiery Antonio Conte, Chelsea have rediscovered their mojo that they had lost last season under Jose Mourinho. With three wins and a draw, they sit second in the Premier League table, only behind Manchester City.
Beyond the game at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool have a encouraging fixture list, with matches against Hull City, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace, with Manchester United’s trip to Anfield sandwiched in-between.
Chelsea can be used as a springboard
Therefore, the opportunity is there for Liverpool to use a result at Chelsea as a springboard to go on a run of form needed by teams wishing to finish near the top of the table. However, this is hazardous talk given Liverpool excel against their peers but struggle badly against teams traditionally below them.
The latter has to stop for this season to be a success under Klopp, given the greater number of teams who frequently sit behind the ball and wait for Liverpool to unsuccessfully break them down.
Yet already this season there are plenty of areas to take confidence and hope from a Liverpool standpoint for the future ahead.
Anfield looks great with its new Main Stand, potentially only the first step in a revolutionary expansion of the grand old stadium. With 54,000 Kopites now on board in home matches, the atmosphere promises to be even more intense.
This was definitely the case against Leicester, but needs to be maintained for all matches – although, as Klopp has repeatedly stated, the players themselves need to perform on the pitch.
Yet this new era at Anfield could be the catalyst that sparks the revival of a fortress. Liverpool’s pressing game is more effective away from home, yet the Reds now have so much attacking quality that they should be able to stretch those teams who arrive in an unadventurous mood.
Certainly Liverpool created gaps and openings last weekend, against one of the league’s toughest defences.
Who will star?
Sadio Mane has quickly become key to all of Liverpool’s good work, and with the Senegalese’s pace and direct play he is currently indispensible, as the loss at Burnley proved.
Yet there are other options – keeping everyone fit is the only concern. This applies especially to Daniel Sturridge, who, when on form, is Liverpool’s best player, but is fighting to keep a place in the hugely competitive front line.
The 27 year old’s performance against Leicester was impressive, and the England international would hope to keep his place. Undoubtedly, the balance of the front four – Sturridge central, Mane on the right, Roberto Firmino on the left and Adam Lallana from midfield – was excellent, and extremely hard-working, as Sturridge proved with his work in the build-up to Firmino’s opening goal.
Moreover, Lallana has made a fine start to the season in a new central role, having been earmarked as a potential casualty with Mane’s arrival. Yet Klopp loves Lallana’s energy and the 28 year old operates as the link between midfield and attack in Liverpool’s 4-3-3 formation.
Having also scored his first goal at international level for England, now is the time for Lallana to step up and show some real consistency in a Liverpool shirt. The talent and work-rate is obviously there – now he must start scoring on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, for all of the magic Philippe Coutinho possesses, the Brazilian needs to do more in matches, as while he can run the show, the 24 year old does it too infrequently. Firmino is more reliable while Mane, as stated, is ‘undroppable’.
Consequently, that leaves only Sturridge, who could well make way for Coutinho against Chelsea, with Firmino as the main striker. Yet this is a brilliant headache for Klopp to have, and Divock Origi and Danny Ings have not even been mentioned yet!
Liverpool will petrify a Chelsea defence lacking John Terry, with the haphazard David Luiz set to make his second debut for the London club.
Attack is the best form of defnece
Avoiding defeat would be a positive result; however Liverpool do not know how to see a game out at the moment, so attack is simultaneously their biggest strength and best form of defence.
Chelsea have firepower of their own, so Emre Can’s return from injury would have been a significant bonus, however Jordan Henderson is growing into the role, alongside Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana.
The only potential saving grace for the 25 year old is that he is slowly improving, and the midfield trio of Lallana, Henderson and Wijnadlum are becoming more effective and balanced together, and Klopp may not want to disrupt that progress.
Joel Matip is also quietly impressing since debuting after injury, and needs a regular partner from Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva, with Mamadou Sakho out of the reckoning for now. Finally, Loris Karius has yet to make an appearance for the Reds because of a broken hand, and may get the nod for the trip to London.
There is a potential spine at Liverpool, providing solidity, but it will have been a promising first five games for Liverpool if they can emerge unbeaten against Conte’s Chelsea. Nonetheless, the Burnley defeat was a reminder of what Klopp needs to address most ahead of the run of fixtures post-Stamford Bridge.