Are Liverpool responding to Manchester City push like champions?
Background photo: Vincent Teeuwen, CC BY 2.0
Manchester City's midweek win over Everton was all that was needed by Liverpool to get their head turn to realise that any slip now will put them in the chasing position for the Premier League title. Their win against Bournemouth came at the right time, as it sends the signal that Jürgen Klopp's men are still the front-runners in the English top flight.
If anything, earning those three points eases some fo the pressure that was piling up on them. Pep Guardiola and his City side had regained top spot, thumping Chelsea 6-0 at The Etihad, sending out a strong message to their title rivals. Ten, it was Liverpool's turn at home to AFC Bournemouth. An early (and somewhat fortunate) goal got them on their way. From that point forward, they didn't look back and looked as brilliant as ever.
Momentum plays a huge part in football. After dropping some points recently, Liverpool have wrestled it back and calmed the storm. It was a victory worth more than three points. It was a reminder that this Liverpool side is different to others. They have a real mental toughness, showing grit and determination in abundance.
The next run of fixtures could well define Liverpool's season. Their early FA Cup exits means that their players will get some rest before a crunch tie against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Following that, Klopp's men travel to Old Trafford to take on a rejuvenated Manchester United side who themselves are fighting it out for a top-four finish. It's a game in which so much is at stake. It's a chance for the Anfield side to show the footballing world they're ready to win their nineteenth title.
Liverpool may not be sat atop of the tree mathematically but they do have a game in hand. This plays into Klopp's favour as the fixture list continues to pile up for City. The Blues are still fighting it out on four fronts, whereas Liverpool can potentially focus solely on the Premier League as beating Bayern Munich over two legs isn't going to be easy.
A Premier League title is the one they all want Liverpool to win. Right now, they're in the thick of the race. You'd have to make them favourites all things considered, and they did send out the right message this weekend. It's up to Klopp's men to kick on from here and continue to push.
It just feels as though this squad has more of a backbone than ones in years gone by. Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool came oh so close to winning a title a few years ago, but in the end, it was actually City who came out on top. With Mohamed Salah fit and firing, Sadio Mane in the form of his life and Roberto Firmino doing what he does best - they'll always have a chance at scoring goals.
On the other end, Virgil van Dijk is showing just how good he is. Liverpool have kept more clean sheets than anyone else this season and when you're building a title-winning side, it always starts with a solid back line. They've found their winning combination, and if they continue playing like this, it could well be a special season for the Merseysiders...